21st August – 28th August
Our plan for today was to ride our bikes to Tegelbahn, catch the cable car up to the top, hike to Neuschwanstein, King Ludwig’s fairytale castle, have lunch, hike back to the cable car, 4-5 hours we thought. At the ticket office for Tegelbahn, they advised us it would take 4-5 just to hike to Neuschwanstein. Plan B was actioned. We rode our bikes instead on a good bike path with lovely scenery to Hohenschwangau which is at the base of both of Ludwig’s castles, Schloss Hohenschwangau and Schloss Neuschwanstein and parked our bikes.
There is a road that takes you up to Neuschwanstein that you can walk or ride up. Alternately you can take a bus or pay for a horse drawn cart. We chose to walk on the path through the forest and past a lovely waterfall. The view from the top was just stunning with paragliders floating down on the wind in the distance, views across to the village of Schwangau and to Forggensee, a huge lake that feeds into the Lech river. We had not seen this view before even though we had previously visited this place back in 2009, it was under several feet of snow so it was great to see in the summertime. It was extremely busy with bus loads of tourists visiting both castles. You have to book to do a guided tour of both castles, and we got there at around 10.30 and you couldn’t get in to see Neuschwanstein until 4.45pm! Luckily we were happy not to go in again and had a nice walk around before heading back down, where we had lunch at the Hofbräuhaus before walking to Alpsee, a small lake near Schloss Hohenschwangau. Back on our bikes and a lovely ride from there back to Fussen with many places on the way where we could stop to view the castles in the hills. The ride back was difficult in one spot as the hill was very steep and we had to walk the bikes up, but other than that it was a very enjoyable ride. We stopped at Lech Falls on the way home which is 700 metres on the German side from the Austrian border. It is only a small waterfall but nice just the same.
We had a lazy day today. Read for awhile before riding our bikes down to Forggensee where we took a 2 hour boat ride. We ate our lunch while we zig zagged across the lake which gave us views to Fussen’s old town, the mountain ranges that surround the lake as well as Neuschwanstein. Lots of paragliders out today on several of the mountains. There were many places on the foreshore where people were lying in the sun (some minus their clothes) and some brave enough to swim. It is warm today but the water looks cold. We had a nice German couple sit with us and we spoke about our travels and she told us of hers. It was a very pleasant two hours.
We had a very exhausting day today. We rode to a lake called Alatsee (878 metres), about an hour from Fussen. From there we did a really difficult hike up to Saloberalm (1293 metres) where we had views back to Fussen, Neuschwanstein Castle and Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak although it was a long way off in the distance. The hike took us two hours through the forest with views to Weisensee along the way which is where we hiked the other day. There were lots of people out and about. German people of all ages really enjoy their outdoors, either swimming, hiking or riding bikes. It’s great to see. Back to Alatsee where we had lunch by the lake and Dave had a swim before heading back. We stopped at Forggensee, the lake where we did our boat trip yesterday and had a well earned beer before riding the rest of the way home. It was our biggest day yet and I think tomorrow may be a quiet day.
We did end up having a quiet day today. After breakfast we wandered back into Fussen along the main road which was much quicker than along the river. We walked down to the Ice hockey rink and watched some young girls practicing their routines, perhaps a contest coming up? We would have loved to have seen an ice hockey match but there were none in the near future, maybe we can see one somewhere else. We had a walk around the square at Hohes Schloss (castle) a one time retreat for the Bishops of Augsburg. The inner courtyard dates back to 1499 with many frescoes covering the walls. Our lunch was eaten in the park next to the castle overlooking the river then we walked home again to rest as we are on the road again tomorrow.
Sadly it was time to leave Fussen and make our way 50kms to Oberammergau. Along the way we stopped at Echelsbacher Brucke (bridge) which spans the Ammer river 76 metres below. It’s a huge drop to the valley with the tops of the fir trees on the same level as us. The drive was lovely with the Alps to our left most of the way. We arrived at Oberammergau and got settled at the stellplatz where we had our lunch before setting off into town. There are lots of painted houses here as well as woodcarving shops. Woodcarving trade here dates back to the late Middle Ages. Most of the frescoes on the houses are of a biblical nature however two stand out. One is the story of Hansel and Gretel and across the road is Little Red Riding Hood. The town is very touristy with 2 Christmas shops, lots of souvenir shops, shops that sell traditional German outfits (not cheap either) and many restaurants. We visited the Parish church of St Peter and Paul which from the outside looked quite plain. Open the doors and OMG, built in the 18th century it is said to be one of the most beautiful village churches in Upper Bavaria. Being of Baroque/Rococo design, it is a bit over the top for me but it is still very impressive. Back to Tilly to bathe in the sunshine and admire the mountains that surround us.
A 10km return walk saw us visit the small town of Unterammergau. We had a great walk along the Ammer river past some of the lovely houses in the valley. The town was very small, and like Oberammergau, some of the houses were painted with biblical murals. There was an overpowering smell of cows in this town and the fact that a lot of the houses had barns built under the main roof tells us why. While we didn’t see any they were obviously there somewhere. On the way home, we stopped at Steckenbergalm where in the winter is a ski lift and in the summer it is a toboggan ride. My baby, oops sorry my husband wanted to go on it, so I stood back while he rode the toboggan up and promptly came back down again. It wasn’t anywhere near as long as the ride in Immenstadt but he did say it was just as fast. We had our lunch by the river before heading back into Oberammergau to take a few more photos as the weather today was lovely and sunny. It is such a pretty town, not so many people around today which was nice. We popped into the chocolate shop and bought some hand made chockies, €5 for 10 so they should be lovely. We sat out in the sunshine when we got home just gazing out the alps that surround us. A scene we will never tire of.
We didn’t realise how high up we were until we left Oberammergau to head towards Garmisch-Partenkircken. The first part of the journey was going downhill on winding roads through forest on one side and the valley below on the other. We thought the alps we could see previously were huge until we went round a bend and saw Zugspitze and the surrounding peaks. It was an awesome sight and you could see the lines for the cable car going up the side. We are staying at the Wankbahnplatz which is at the base of Mount Wank and there is a cable car ride at the end of the stellplatz however we can’t go on all of the cable cars so we won’t venture up on this one. You would need a second mortgage to do all of them. We are surrounded by alps again however these ones are so big, no vegetation grows on them past a certain point. We walked into Partenkircken and then into Garmisch. We have been here before in 2009 and again it was under snow so looks very different although there were several places that were familiar to us. We went to the tourist office and have the info we need for the next few days. It’s nice to come back to a place that you have visited before and find that even though progress has caused many changes, some things have stayed the same.
An early start today as we figured we could beat the crowds as it is peak season and we have heard you can wait up to 70 minutes just to get the cable car to the top of Zugspitze. It costs €52 ($75.36) to go up to Zugspitze each and while that is so expensive, you can’t come to a region like this and not do it. We rode to the Zugspitzebahn which is the only station that you can use. We caught the 8.15am train to Grainau. From there it was a cogwheel train to Eibsee. You could stay on the train from Eibsee or catch the cable car to the top so we opted for the cable car which was a good choice given most of the people stayed on the cogwheel train. The view up to the top overlooking the valley below and the alps above was spectacular with the cable car going straight up for 1km to reach a height of 2976 metres. We walked down to the glacier first which sadly is shrinking due to climate change. Dave went for a walk on it however I didn’t as it was really slippery. You could ride toboggans on one section of it but we decided against that as it was a long walk down to the toboggans and it appeared not to be going very fast. We then headed back up to the top of Germany and walked round the many platforms that give you a view in each direction. Some of the mountains in the distance still had snow on them. A lady on trip advisor said it had snowed at Zugspitze when she was there last week when the weather was a lot cooler. We walked over to the Austrian side of Zugspitze which was considerably colder than the German side due to the winds coming up the mountain. It’s odd that you can cross into another country almost 3000 feet up! The crowds were really starting to get bigger so we ventured back down to Eibsee where we walked to the lake and had our lunch, with a nice cold glass of beer. The lake was a beautiful colour with lots of fish close to the surface and of course ducks. Back on the trains and a bike ride home.
29th August – 4th September
We popped outside this morning before breakfast to see the Alps in all their glory, a truly spectacular site. While we miss our family and friends terribly, scenes like these make it all worthwhile. Today we rode along the river which was a lovely glacial blue colour to just past the Olympic stadium where we parked our bikes. We then walked about 3 kms to the Partnacklamm, which is a narrow 700m gorge with walls rising up to 80m. There is a circular walk cut out from the rock that takes you through the gorge. There was a huge amount of water coming through and the sound was deafening. It was beautiful with waterfalls glistening in the rays of the sun. Once through, we started our climb up to Eckbauer, 1236m up on a path that zig zags up the mountain. It was a tough climb, very steep in parts so we rewarded ourselves with a beer at the top while we ate our lunch. We caught the cable car back down to the Olympic stadium and our bikes and headed home through town. Another amazing day.
We have had a busy few days so decided to have a quiet day to rest. Dave cooked a breakfast of sausages and eggs on the BBQ which was delicious. We sat and read for awhile but got a bit restless in the afternoon so we went for a walk around the back of the cable car station, up to St Anton’s church, a small baroque/rococo style church which had quite a number of plaques on the wall remembering locals who had died during the war. There were some lovely homes in the back streets with a few of them having murals painted on them, very pretty streets. It was very hot today and we would have loved a swim but that meant a huge walk to the river which we decided against, we only wanted to loosen our leg muscles, not over exert them again. Back down the hill and a restful afternoon reading.
Our adventure today started with a bike ride to the Zugspitzebahn where we boarded the train for Alspitz. Once there we hopped on the cable car up to Osterfelderkopf which is at 2050 metres and is where the AlpspiX is, which is a steel mesh platform that reaches out over the side of the mountain with over a 1000 metre drop. There are two platforms in the shape of an X (hence the name) with both platforms looking straight down the face and across to Zugspitze and the surrounding mountains. There was a spot where the tandem kites were taking off and we watched them for quite a while, looks awesome. We had a small hike around Osterfelderkopf to see the Zugspitze glacier from the other side and then back down to watch the kites again. We got another cable car down to Hochalm and walked a couple of kilometres down to Kreuzeck where we had lunch. Down on the Kruezeckbahn (cable car) Landeplatz to await the train back to Garmisch. We rode to the river thinking we might have a swim until I put my hand in. This water was glacial water and very very cold. Dave braved it with his feet for about 5 seconds before hopping out and said it was like an ice cream brain freeze except it was his feet, not his brain! We watched a young American girl dunk her head which was a family tradition when you reach a cold river, go figure!
Our journey today has taken us from Garmisch-Partenkircken to Bad Tolz. We had to change our original course due to one of the roads being way too narrow for Tilly. Our change of direction saw us reach Walchensee, a large lake, however there was a private toll on the road which ran along the shore of Walchensee, so another change of plan. We stopped for a cuppa and rerouted our journey to bring us to Bad Tolz for a quick look around and some lunch. The road was extremely windy, not too dissimilar to the road out of Bad Hinderlang. What we have noticed while travelling through Germany is the level of trust the German people have. Along the way on several occasions, not just today there has been produce in stalls on the side of the road with an honour box for payment. We have seen this for pumpkins and flowers mainly. Some shops in the smaller towns and villages even leave their produce out overnight rather than packing it away. This sadly wouldn’t be possible in Australia, the produce would be stolen and the stalls trashed. We had a walk around the old town in Bad Tolz which had many buildings with beautiful frescoes before stopping by the river for our lunch. We walked a bit further down the path and found the stellplatz. As it is hot again today and the stellplatz is right on the river, we decided to stay for the night. Bathers on we headed out for a swim. The river Isar is glacial and cold. I dipped my tootsies in, Dave went for a float downstream. We sat by the river for awhile before taking the bikes out for a ride along a good bike path that followed the river. We rode for a couple of kilometres before finding ourselves back at the stellplatz. Down to the river again for a couple of hours, people watching, reading and feeding the ducks. The dark clouds rolled in, some rain but no thunder or lightning until after dinner. Nice light show and it lasted about an hour. The rain has freshened everything up after the hot weather of the past week or so.
We had lots of rain last night, and that helped with the decision to move on as more rain was predicted for today. Our journey of 70kms took us to Chiemsee down the valley through a few small forests. Our view was impeded by the weather as there were alps on our left however we couldn’t see them due to cloud coverage. We experienced our first autobahn and apart from the speed limits and courteous drivers it was no different to the motorways in the UK or our freeways. Tilly did love it though, getting the wind in her grille and mudflaps! We saw some more produce on the side of the road with the honour box with a number of people checking out the pumpkins on sale. We arrived in Chiemsee and found what we thought was a wildcamp spot until we went for a walk around part of the lake and saw a sign that basically said no overnight parking for Motorhomes. So what did we do? There was a gravel road that went down the side of the soccer field at the end of the car park so we parked there instead!
Our adventure today started with a bike ride to Prien jetty before hopping on a paddle steamer boat to Herreninsel, an island on which King Ludwig II Versailles inspired palace Schloss Herrenchiemsee was built. It was built as a homage to absolutist monarchy, as epitomised by Ludwig’s hero, the French Sun King Louis XIV. Ludwig only spent 10 days here before he died however it cost more than his two other castles Neuschwanstein and Linderhof combined. Cash ran out in 1885 and 50 rooms remain unfinished. To say the remaining rooms are opulent is an understatement. Frescoed galleries, marble staircases, gold leaf emblazoned furniture not to mention the 55 candelabras and 33 chandeliers with 7000 candles in the Great Hall of Mirrors which took the servants 30 minutes each day to light. All of the rooms were Baroque style and very ornate with one room that housed very elaborate and expensive porcelain ware. Beautiful fountains on either side of the palace and in the garden were spouting water and even though the flower beds were small they were very colourful. We also visited the museum where we saw the king’s christening and coronation robes, more blueprints of megalomaniac buildings including a model of a music hall he was going to build for Richard Wagner the composer whom he had a very close relationship with. His death mask as well as a picture of him in his coffin was also on display. How bizarre! We returned to the boat and once back we hopped on our bikes and rode into Prien am Chiemsee town. Not much to see so on our bikes again and homeward bound.
We decided to take the scenic route to Berchtesgaden even though it was the longer way around and are we glad we did. The scenery, as with most of Germany to date was fantastic with the Bavarian Alps on one side and valleys and rivers on the other. We pulled into a car park along the way at Ramsau to have our lunch. The view from here was unbelievable with a glacier at the top of one mountain and snow on top of another. What a beautiful lunch spot it was, clearly a favourite place for hiking with both car parks full of cars.
We decided to take the scenic route to Berchtesgaden even though it was the longer way around and are we glad we did. The scenery, as with most of Germany to date was fantastic with the Bavarian Alps on one side and valleys and rivers on the other. We pulled into a car park along the way at Ramsau to have our lunch. The view from here was unbelievable with a glacier at the top of one mountain and snow on top of another. What a beautiful lunch spot it was, clearly a favourite place for hiking with both car parks full of cars. We were on the autobahn again for a little while and had a chuckle when the road signs directed us to either our destination, Innsbruck in Austria or the Brenner pass to Italy. Difficult decision! We drove to the ACSI campsite just outside of Berchtesgaden and found the lady in the office quite unfriendly. Not only was she charging more than what we thought she should, she failed to mention the €5 tourist tax that would be added onto the bill. Suffice to say we left! €25 for an uneven pitch in a not so nice campsite was more than we were prepared to spend. We then drove to the stellplatz in Oberau which was 11km in the other direction and this is only €12 per night with power! The road up to it was quite narrow and windy and we weren’t sure we were on the right road. We persevered and are now parked up with a fantastic view over the little town of Oberau below and the alps surrounding us. We met a lovely couple from the Netherlands whose daughter lives in Perth and had a good chat to them. They have travelled a few times to Norway and Sweden and are happy to give us some tips when we eventually head in that direction.
5th September – 10th September
It is the first day we have had where it has rained constantly all day. We did chores in the morning but got a bit restless after lunch so we donned our wet weather gear and headed out. We went up the hill and around the back of the houses before heading downhill to visit the little village of Oberau. There is only 1 cafe, a few guest houses, one or two hotels, private houses (some were farmhouses) and a church and that was Oberau. It is a pretty little place and we were glad for the exercise. We have been looking out of the front window of the van and even with the rain, the view is just lovely with clouds hovering in the valley, green pastures, some with cattle and the flower boxes on the house fronts. Makes trying to read a book very difficult.
Our main reason for coming to Berchtesgaden was to visit The Eagles Nest, a diplomatic meeting house that was built for Hitler’s 50th birthday. Called the Kehlsteinhaus, it is perched on the side of Mt Kehlstein at 1834m and has breathtaking views. You need really clear weather to visit and as it was raining yesterday and today, we didn’t get there. After a walk around the old town, which again had murals on some of the buildings, we drove to Konigssee (Kings lake) which is only 5kms from Berchtesgaden so if the weather clears up in a day or two, we can go back. From Konigssee you can actually see the Eagles Nest and also the Jenner mountain next to it which has a light covering of snow and is right outside of our window. We walked down to the lake which is 8km long and has an average depth of 150m so we won’t be swimming in it. We had a hike along the Malerwinkle weg which took us along the lake and through a pretty forest and out to the base of Jenner mountain where there is a ski lift that takes you up to 1874m. On a clear day you can see Salzburg.
We had a great day today. We did a boat trip on Lake Konigssee with our first stop being Salet at the end of the lake. The scenery along the way was very nice with a number of waterfalls from the peaks as well as a cliff side called Echowand where the boat captain plays a flugelhorn or trumpet and the echo repeats 1 or 2 times depending on the weather. We took a short walk of around 1km and we were rewarded with views of Lake Obersee and the Rothbachfall (Germany’s highest waterfall). Back to the boat and the next stop was St Bartholomew. There is a chapel at St Bartholomew which dates to the 17th century. Until the beginning of the 19th century it was a summer seat for the prince abbots of Berchtesgaden. Later the Bavarian kings designated it as their hunting castle. Today it is a restaurant. We then hiked for about an hour and a half up the side of the Watzman mountain to the glacier where there is an ice cave. The cave is formed by water running off the mountain and under the glacier. At the end of the official path was a sign saying that to continue any further was dangerous but we had come so far, we weren’t going to be put off by the possibility of an avalanche or a rockfall! It was a hard climb from there but well worth it. There were two glaciers however the bigger one was where we were headed. It was very cold and wet with water dripping from the roof of the cave which joined the glacial stream below. There were a number of other people there as well so we weren’t alone. We stopped on the way back to have our lunch with a view to the snow covered peaks. It was just beautiful. The hike back didn’t take as long and we made it back in just over an hour, so it was a big day. A nice cold beer at the Hofbräuhaus before boating back to Konigssee and an early night I think.
It was very overcast this morning so we decided to move on and not visit the Eagles Nest, which in all honesty is just another lookout but with a history. We drove a short distance of 17kms to Bad Reichenhall in some parts coming very close to the Austrian border. We had the Bavarian Alps on one side and the Austrian Alps on the other. We walked into town which is only small with no buildings of any significance due to the town being almost totally destroyed during the war. We walked along the river past the cable car up to the weir and back again, a round trip of 14 kms. A poor lady was frantically looking for her dog who got spooked by a motorbike. She had been looking for two hours when she asked us if we had seen her dog, I hope she finds her.
Another short drive to Freilassing where we will be based for the next day or so as it is only 7kms to Salzburg. There is nothing here really apart from its proximity to Austria. The town itself has very little character although it is clean and tidy. We did talk about venturing into Austria with Tilly but it all seemed too hard with having to get a vignette as well as the expense of their aires and this was the easy option so we took it. The train into Salzburg takes 7 minutes, so why bother with the stress. A quiet afternoon, which was a nice change.
We had a nice day which we spent in Salzburg. We caught the bus from the stellplatz, the journey taking only 20 minutes. We arrived just outside of the Alstadt (old town) and spent the next five hours just wandering around the streets and alleys, past many market stalls selling all kinds of produce. We visited the Mirabel gardens which on our last visit didn’t have any flowers on show, only snow so it was lovely to see it in bloom. We went into the Dom, a beautiful cathedral dating back to the 1700’s with bronze portals and ceiling frescoes. We had lunch at the Zipfer Bierhaus before taking a walk along the river in the sunshine and back to the bus stop for our trip home.