BAVARIA, AUSTRIA, ITALY, SWITZERLAND, ending in PARIS
August 20-September 18, 2014
For several years we’ve been wanting to do a driving trip to explore parts of the Alps during a season when we’d have good chances for favorable weather. We are a couple of warm-weather-loving Midwesterners, who had visited a few of these areas on previous trips, and had inclement weather. Although late summer wouldn’t ordinarily be our choice for traveling, since that is a warm weather season at home, we decided that this was the year to pursue our journey through the Alps
We’d been saving our Delta FF miles, and this spring were feeling fortunate to be able to cash them in for a desirable itinerary: Cincinnati through Atlanta to Munich, and returning from Munich, with a 3-day stopover in Paris, and then a non-stop flight back home
Following are some of the background steps in our planning which we detailed for three reasons. First, we want an account for ourselves of the process and time required to plan such a trip. Secondly, since we began getting input from friends on Fodors early on, and wanted to share how their ideas helped the process. And, finally, for those planning an independent driving trip, we hoped that sharing some of the experience might prove beneficial.
Since flights had been booked, we researched car rentals, and with some information from Fodorites, decided to go with Auto Europe, based in Maine. Our car in Munich would be through Europcar, VW Golf or comparable model. That seemed adequate for our needs.
With our flights lined up, and car booked, we began the preliminary work of mapping our travel route. Lots of time was spent perusing guidebooks, combing through new and older TRs from Fodorites, and map study. The task seemed awesome and, at times, overwhelming! Much more challenging than signing up with a tour, but much more rewarding! We knew from some experience in the past that it’s a step-by-step process.
Narrowing down our areas of travel proved to be a challenge. Even with 27 days in the Alps, we really had to tighten our itinerary, passing up some desirable sights, with a promise to re-visit them at a later date
We purchased maps of each country, and relied upon Google, Michelin, Bing etc. for printing maps getting us from Point A to Point B along our journey, being careful to limit our travel distances. We didn’t want to rely solely on technology as we feared that “connectivity” and “reception” might be spotty.
Our finalized driving “loop” included Munich to Berchtesgaden, Salzburg and some towns in western Austria. Then the Dolomites in Italy, followed by Switzerland: a bit of the Engadine, Locarno, Brig (to access Zermatt, weather-permitting), the Berner Oberland, and completing our loop back to Munich via a detour to Montreux and Lucerne. From Munich we would fly to Paris for three nights and from Paris non-stop home.
With our itinerary fairly well-established, we began the researching of hotels, planning length of stays, etc., This was begun a few months before travel, interrupted at times with a couple of shorter trips in the US and some local events. We attempted to book most hotels in a mid-price range, but did splurge a bit in a few locations. We made a few of our bookings directly with the hotels, but found using “booking.com” to be a convenient and satisfactory option. In fact, when we wanted to make a couple of changes of dates, they handled it very efficiently and promptly for us
With flights, car, itinerary, and hotels locked in, we began the organization of stuff to take. In planning to pack, our goal was having enough clothes/shoes for differing kinds of weather and occasions, but no more than needed. We knew that we’d need rain-proof jackets and layers. And toiletries, OTC meds, practical items like scissors, etc. etc. for 30 “living-out -of-luggage” days. CHOICES! CHOICES! CHOICES!
Then there were issues with Sim cards for our unlocked Vodafone, DACH+maps to research, purchase, and download into GPS. Also, money decisions: getting EUR’s to start with, bank ATM card hassles, etc. We tried to get “Chip and Pin” credit cards, but apparently US companies haven’t as yet gone with the “Pin”. So with chip only, we knew we would have to patronize only “attended” fuel stations.
Then other details: bills, paying and pre-paying; lawn-cutting and gardening needs, and arranging for cuts & watering while gone, itineraries and contact info for family, etc. And, naturally, right before leaving, Murphy’s law is in effect: a problem with water from R/O water filter raised its nasty head, and needed attention.
At times, we questioned our decision to do a trip of this length. The news that central Europe had been having a chilly, rainy summer had us hoping that this would subside before our arrival. We would be leaving home with beautiful, sunny weather and our garden in its glory. But with all the plans in place, we chose to focus on the positives and had confidence that we would have a wonderful trip!
A final comment about our TR: We habitually mark or annotate things at home as “TK” (DH) and “MK” (DW), our initials, so we kept those designations in our journal. We made notes on our Surface as we traveled, thinking that the daily details of a month could easily escape us. Each evening, we’d work together to make plans for the following day: study the maps, get the pertinent ones ready, plug addresses into the GPS, get tech stuff plugged in, and organize clothes. Either one of us would write some notes on the Surface. So two writing styles are interwoven. This TR is a tweaking and expansion of those notes
So. . .here we go! We hope that some of you will come along for the journey.
WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY AUGUST 20 and 21, 2014:
DEPARTURE DAY/ARRIVAL IN MUNICH
The airport shuttle was in our driveway at 8:30AM sharp; a good feeling using a home-airport service. As is our habit, we planned for an early arrival at the airport. The driver handled our two medium-sized luggages, dropping them off at the Sky Cap desk. We were off to security with just our small roll-aboards (Costco purchases; $29.99). Security went smoothly, so we had plenty of time for coffee and a bite to eat before our flight to Atlanta, where we would catch our to flight to Munich, Germany.
So far, this day was such a huge contrast from our busy, overwhelmed, daily preparations that had gone on for weeks, but more so during the final week, where a couple of unexpected events popped up. After a smooth flight to Atlanta, we had time to enjoy a light lunch before boarding our flight to Munich.
ON TIME! ALL BOARDED! SET TO GO! Then an hour and half delay on the tarmac, due to lightning and rainstorms in the area, resulting in a long line of jets awaiting take-off. Then 9+ more hours of flying (probably 11+ hours in the 767 counting the hour early boarding). Sleeping is a tough thing to accomplish. Fortunately, we did not have a full plane and we each able have an empty seat next to us. Even with eye masks and a dark plane…it’s tough to be sitting mostly fully upright with poor back support (lumbar, ugh!). But not to feel too sorry for ourselves, we thought about folks from Australia, NZ, and Asia, and elsewhere whose flights are much longer than ours.
Upon landing in Munich, we were impressed with the very modern, large airport. Quite a bit of walking from de-planing to baggage. All went well. Then on to car rental. We passed several restaurants, and were surprised to see people having beer with their meals so early in the morning. Maybe it’s just the enthusiasm for tasting that good German beer? We experienced our first airport conveyor belt with a downhill pitch. Hang on to your luggage!
Eurocar went smoothly; a silver Opel hatchback. ($836.72 pre-paid). Regular gas, no diesels available. In fact, the agent said that the Opel was the only available car in our category. OK with us. We were given directions to the car park, the keys, and a parking spot number for the car.
Our plan was for TK to be the driver, and MK have the role of navigator. (We decided that it wasn’t worth the daily charge for a second driver.)
As we arrived in the area of car pick-up, there were no personnel around. We had our first experience with “non-attended” service. Just find the car. . .no matter that the signs and instruction manual were in German. ..figure it out, and exit the garage. So far, so good.
Now the fun began! We didn’t think the adage “Expect the unexpected!” would apply so soon. Frustration exiting the parking garage because the “pass” given to us would not activate the gate. We noticed another guy having the same problem. Still no personnel in sight. Round and round and round we went! The inside of a parking garage wasn’t quite the scenery we were hoping to enjoy! What to do?
Just as we were wracking our brains to come up with a plan (like park the car; one of us wait, the other try to find a way to return to the floor of the car rental desk). . .an additional try luckily triggered the gate.
Garmin, aka “Gilda” would not/could not find the satellite. But we had our trusty map, so we were on our way to our destination for the first night, the Marriott in Freising. We found Freising, a small city about fifteen minutes away, with no problem. However, the directions from the Marriott website to their hotel weren’t accurate. We circled around the downtown area of this little town; made a couple of stops to ask locals. No one had heard of the Marriott or the street named on the map. Finally, at a restaurant stop which, conveniently, had a restroom, a lady gave us directions (without street names), and hope rebounded. Just then, wonderful Greta came alive, found the satellite, and quickly we were at the Marriott Munich Hotel.
Our room was not quite ready, so we ate a not-so-tasty lunch at their outdoor restaurant. We revved up the Surface, and after a short time, we could check-in. At the front desk, we purchased an S-Bahn ticket (21 euros), valid for one day. which would get us to Marienplatz and back via train S-1.
We were grateful to have a partly sunny day for our trip into downtown Munich. During our forty-minute ride, it was interesting to observe that the terrain was flat, with mostly farmland dotted with clusters of houses. It didn’t appear much different than some areas of the US Midwest.
The station in downtown couldn’t be any more convenient to Marienplatz. As expected, the walking street outside the station and the whole area around Marienplatz was filled with tourists. But this venture proved to be a good thing to do when stricken with “jet lag”. We milled around the square for a while, had our first German beer at the RATHAUS KANTENE (self-serve), and were present on the square at 5 PM when the little statues of the Glockenspiel rotate for five minutes telling the story of the city’s history. Interesting that in the entrance to the Rathaus beneath the Glockenspiel, was a concrete plaque with several city names, among them our city “Cincinnati”. Upon reading the inscription, we learned that these were the cities which have a “Hofbrauhaus”.
Following the “Glockenspiel” show, we had our first German dinner at the outdoor RESTAURANT CAFE AM MARIENPLATZ on the square: a tasty 9 EUR weisswurst and sauerkraut dinner with another beer. Our waiter was a fun guy, and we enjoyed our meal amidst the tourist buzz
To walk off our dinners, we strolled around the square and surrounding streets, admiring the church and other buildings, making our way to the HOFBRAUHAUS, known to be the largest beer garden in the world. It is said to date back to 1589. The story goes that Wilhelm V, the emperor at the time, did not like the beer which was brewed in nearby towns, so he began the project of building this brewery to serve the Royal Residence. Over the years, many famous people, like Mozart, and more recently JFK, Gorbachov, GW Bush, and other world leaders, visited the Hofbrauhaus. There were also the infamous, like Hitler, who used the Hofbrauhaus for political events and for declaring policies.
Upon entering the packed hall, it was evident that there was little room at the tables among the jovial visitors, enjoying their steins of beer and good food. We stayed only long enough to hear the band for a few minutes. Since we had visited the Hofbrauhaus on a former trip, we felt no need to add to the crowd
We returned to Marienplatz where a four-piece chamber music group had begun to entertain. Quite a different vibe than the Hofbrauhaus! Conveniently, we found a seat at a café right on the square. . .a great place for dessert, and enjoyed listening to the music, while observing the world of tourists of every size, manner of dress and language pass by. We were aware of the many other things to be experienced in Munich, but this trip our main goal was to focus on the Alps.
Before heading back to the station to catch the train for our return to the Marriott, we picked up some pastries for the morning. Once inside the station, we recall the hassle of finding the proper side of the train track. Also, of not sitting in a train car that was toward the rear, as part of the train would separate and go to the airport…gads. Thankfully, we were aware of this separation of the train cars to Freising and the Airport, thanks to Dukey1 and Cowboy1968, who early on provided good info to us. But even with this awareness, finding the correct train presented our first possible travel dilemma. After seeing a train marked only “Airport”, we decided to wait for one more train on that line, and fortunately, it did list “Freising”.
Soon we were on our way back to the Marriott.
Home via a 10 EUR taxi from the Freising Train Station. It’s about 10:15 when we reach our room. Time to organize our luggage for day-to-day travel, and get a good night’s sleep, something almost assured in the comfort of those Marriott beds.
Friday, August 22, 2014: OFF TO BERCHTESGADEN
Up around 8AM; we enjoyed the Marienplatz pastries with coffee right in the comfort of our room. TK made a couple of trips to the garage with the luggage while MK checked out. We were on our way to the mountains.
In preparing for our trip, we had looked up the German “rules of the road”, which helped our confidence as we approached our first day of driving on the highways. We felt good that the trucks all stayed in the right lane, and abided by their lower speed limit. Speed limits for other lanes were clearly posted in neon signs. As we traveled east, we were thrilled to see the mountains appearing in the distance.
We had our first experience with a “rastplatz” or rest area. We needed to purchase a vignette for driving on Austrian highways. We were “out of luck” at a previous fuel station stop. Perhaps it was too far from Austria?
MK went inside the restroom and realized that they were not free. There were turnstiles requiring 1.70 EUR to activate. Luckily, TK had coins. Following the restroom experience, we headed to the convenience store to purchase the vignette, and cappuccinos. We didn’t realize that our ticket from the restroom had a small credit toward store purchases. More new learning
As we traveled another stretch on the Autobahn, TK began to feel sleepy, so we looked for a lunch stop in a small town, Rosenheim, which others have described as a nice stop-off en route to Berchtesgaden. Rosenheim is a charming place. It’s our first experience with parking: learning the meaning of the signs “P1”, “P2”, and automatic pay machines. “Park-cheiner”, we learn, means you pre-pay and put the receipt on your dash. More new learning!
We found a garage which was convenient to a walkway leading to a little platz area. Here we were attracted to the outdoor deck of a restaurant WIRSTHAUS ZUM JOHANN AUER. The owner Tony (Anton) and his wife, who waitressed us, were delightful. The daily special, Rindsgulasch and Knodel (dumpling), suited TK more than MK who shared her knodel with TK. Both of us had a refreshing beer. MK later ordered a side salad; very fresh.
As we were finishing our meal, Tony came to our table and seemed eager to share his knowledge of English and the US. He described his visits to New York and Las Vegas and shared pictures taken with Siegfried (Tony’s friend from the area) and Roy. The tragic incident with the tiger during their Las Vegas Show caused Roy to lose most of his physical well-being. Roy told family and friends that he is no longer Roy, but his real name Uber, which was his given name growing up. Tony had pictures of himself with Pope John Paul II, who is from Bavaria, and other famous people. All of these were displayed in an inside hallway. He enjoyed telling stories about these experiences and a lot about the history of the Tyrol area.
Our interaction with Tony proved to be a highlight of the day so far. Our conversation lasted so long that we determined that we did not have time to do justice to the Herrenchiemsee Palace of Mad Ludwig in nearby Prien. Oh well! Maybe next trip!
Onward to Berchtesgaden by way of Prien, where we find the signage is sparse and the ability to go places with a map and Garmin is challenging. We consumed some time with wrong turns onto minor highways, which, on the positive side, led us through some charming towns set in beautiful mountain scenery. There are always stops for cappuccino. In one town, we saw a large white billboard or banner with our last name in gold letters. Too bad we didn’t snap a picture!
After our leisurely drive on the scenic back highways, it was getting to be later in the afternoon, so we settled on taking the Autobahn to the highway turnoff toward Berchtesgaden. We were awed by the surrounding mountains! We were initially alerted to the beauty of this area by the Fodorite pja1. We would discover that Berchtesgaden, tucked against the sheer wall of the Bavarian Alps, was surrounded on three sides by Austria.
Since it’s approaching 5PM, we decide that we best take care of hotel check-in. Our Hotel Krone is high up on the mountainside of Berchtesgaden, an area called Nonntal. Given its location on a narrow, steep road requiring a sharp hairpin turn, we were pleasantly surprised that Gilda could find it! With its position, the Hotel Krone has a great view of the town of Berchtesgaden. In fact, that was our reason for choosing it, and we weren’t disappointed
The hotel décor is typical Tyrolean style, with light pine wood and carved trim. Quaint and clean and pleasant. Our room has a corner niche with a bench and table, convenient for organizing maps and making use of their Wi-Fi. The bed is very low, actually two single beds pushed together, designed with a shallow frame and narrow mattress. Each side has a single duvet. Another new experience for us. We think Hotel Krone will probably take the prize for the smallest bathroom of our travels. The door opening was less than 2 ft. But all the fixtures were new. Our coordination skills will be tested! Since the room has a small balcony, and a pretty view, we know it will be fine for us. We were glad that we had booked three nights in this surprisingly beautiful area
We used our couple hours of daylight to take in the gorgeous mountain surroundings. Wow! Just walking the property of Hotel Krone, plus the surrounding streets, gave us a wide view in several directions. We overlooked the valley of Berchtesgaden town, the salt mine, and the impressive mountains surrounding. This area was much more beautiful than we had anticipated and we were only into the first day of our trip!
We learned that the Berchtesgaden area forms a National Park with numerous alpine lakes and is dominated by the third highest peak in Germany, Mt. Watzman, which is the highest rock face in the Alps. Mt. Watzmann faces Hitler’s Kelsteinhaus, all in view from our hotel. So much to take in, but the sun was fast fading. It was getting to be dinnertime.
At dark, we drove down the mountain road to the city center and found a great beer garden, BrauStuberl. The oom-pa-pa band was a bit loud for our taste; but the locals were thoroughly their Friday evening, and the dance floor was packed. Luckily, there were several rooms where we could enjoy a meal with the music as a backdrop. Our Romanian waiter was very pleasant and offered to snap a picture of us. He said that he was living in Berchtesgaden because he could not find work in Romania. The weisswurst, sauerkraut and potatoes meal for 8.60 EUR was excellent. Back up the hill to Hotel Krone by 10:30, the last guests to return.
Saturday, August 23, 2014 KELSTEINHAUS and the
Up about 8AM and off to continental breakfast, included with room fare. Average, low key breakfast, not fancy, but satisfactory. The atmosphere is stiff; we seem to be the only Americans. We later learned that the lady taking care of the breakfast is the owner’s wife, and that she speaks very little English.
So today our plan was to make the trip to Adolph Hitler’s Kehlsteinhaus (or Eagle’s Nest). The skies were overcast, and we had hopes that it would clear a bit later in the morning. Our Surface did fire up, so we used the time after breakfast to double-check our credit card and bank balances, and look up some local info. And hope for a clearing in the skies.
As the morning wore on, it seemed evident that we were in for an overcast, rainy day. We initially came to Berchtesgaden wanting to learn more about the life and activities of Hitler. If our goal had been only a beautiful, mountaintop view, we would, no doubt, have changed our plans for visiting Kelsteinhaus. But given our interest, we decided to just go ahead with the trip.
We bought tickets at the Kasse for the twenty-minute bus ride to the top of Kelstein. This was all very organized in that your ticket indicated the number of your bus. For us, Bus #4, leaving at 11:50. Only enough tickets were sold so that all passengers were seated. As we had assumed, it would be rainy and cloudy the whole day…@$#!
The road up the mountain is impressive, rising 2275 ft. with only one switchback. It is said that 3000 men, German, Swiss, and Italian, worked day and night, winter and summer, blasting five tunnels, at times carrying heavy boulders on their backs to reach places where machinery could not go, to make the deadline of Hitler’s 50th birthday. Kelsteinhaus was to be a birthday present for him from some of his party leaders.
As we arrived at the end of the bus ride in a hard driving rain, we were glad that we had purchased good rain gear. As we departed the bus, we were informed that we had to declare our time to descend the mountain and have our ticket stamped. Given the rainy conditions, we decided to give ourselves 1 ½ hours.
To begin the approach to the Kelsteinhaus, there is first a long walk through a dimly-lit dark tunnel lined with rough marble sides. It is said that Hitler was driven through this tunnel. At the end of the tunnel, the line forms for the gold-plated elevator ride to the top at 6000 ft. We probably waited about twenty minutes for the elevator.
The Kehlsteinhaus has thick granite walls and heavy beamed ceilings. Upon entering, the first room is a smallish, paneled dining room with the original sideboard. Apparently, Hitler used a long dining table, which is no longer there, to host a few banquets. This room is now a restaurant. Through this room, and down a few steps, is a large room which was used for conferences, and a few parties. This room had the red marble fireplace given to Hitler by Mussolini, but none of the other original furnishings. Now the room felt like a large beer hall. In the corner to the left of the fireplace, there were counters of Kehlsteinhaus memorabilia for sale. The former sunporch area is now a hallway of pictures of the construction process back in the 30’s. This area would be a gorgeous viewing location but for the foggy weather. Standing outside on the large patio, hoping for a break in the clouds, we did get a feeling for why this location was chosen by the Nazi leaders.
We had a beer and pretzels in the large hall, and bought a book illustrating the outrageous tactics and cruelties created by Hitler. Later, when driven back down the mountain, we bought a DVD about the construction of road and the Kelsteinhaus, along with a German-made beer stein. Had it been a clear day, the view would have been amazing into Austria. We could only imagine!
Even though the weather did not cooperate, the experience gave us a reality base for understanding the lengths to which Hitler and his party men went to build a secretive and protected haven. Later, in the Dokumentation Museum, we would learn how the Nazi Party had, one by one, forced the people from their homes in Obersalzburg, so that they could establish their own homes in this protected area.
We found it interesting to learn even though Eva Braun spent a lot of time at Kelsteinhaus, Hitler visited fewer than twenty times. Apparently, he was claustrophobic and feared heights. He spent most of his time at his home, Berghof, located in the woods along the Obersalzburg Road. He had had the original home reconstructed into a presidential palace. After Berlin, the Berghof served as the secondary headquarters for the Nazi Party. This home was finally demolished. Only a rock wall and the underground bunkers remain.
There are so many other fascinating facts about the area and Kelsteinhaus, Eva Braun, and the activities at this location which could consume hours of study.
After returning to the bus depot, it was past time for lunch. We enjoyed a “special of the day” lunch at the BERGESTAURANT AT KELSTEIN. The delicious meatloaf and great potatoes were complemented by the beer and a dessert of apple strudel. A much larger meal than usual for us, but so tasty!
Next stop was the Dokumentation Museum, located just down the hill from the restaurant. We had only two hours, as it closed at 5PM. Had we known the volume of displays, we would have planned for a much longer time. The English audio was invaluable, as all the exhibits were in German. The experience was sad and depressing, yet so revealing of the drive of the Nazis to make the Aryan race superior and get rid of (kill) those Jews, Gypsies, Polish, etc. etc. and others whom he considered not able to contribute to his great plan, (like elderly, disabled, etc.) After euthanizing many, letters were sent to the families with a false cause of death. Only much later did they find out the true fate of their loved ones.
The gradual rise of Hitler’s National Socialist Political Party was detailed; the annihilation of all opposition by fear of punishment, including the concentration camps. Jews were blamed for all the problems of the time. Intelligent and ruthless leaders were appointed for control of the various divisions of the Socialist Party. On display was a huge flow chart of Party personnel, all part of Hitler’s plan to exert control throughout the whole country. The fate of these leaders was also detailed. Many of them committed suicide or fled.
There were videos of older people describing the horrors they or their families endured, and actual letters from the Nazis that individuals had saved and subsequently shared.
There were old movies showing the frenzy that Hitler could whip up among the crowds; as one historian said, their use of religious symbolism to “raise the emotions but minimize the intellect.” Through his personal photographer, and his handlers, Hitler was promoted as paternalistic and a friend of children, as well as the powerful political leader that should be worshipped.
This museum was chilling and left a deep impression upon us! We were glad that we went, but now it was time to concentrate on more uplifting things.
Since the time is still early (5:30), we decided to drive a couple miles south of Berchtesgaden to Konigssee, a crystal- clear alpine lake, described as Germany’s deepest. It’s about 8 miles long and very narrow, flanked on each side by vertical rock walls. The calmness of the silky lake waters would be appreciated in contrast to the experiences of the day!
We had read about the small electric boats for rent at Konigssee, and the large electric boats for tours of the lake. But with the still overcast skies, we knew either of those would have to wait until tomorrow.
After figuring out the parking pay system, with help from a local who could read the German sign, we took the long paved walkway to the lake. This path was lined with restaurants and shops. We stopped by one shop where MK bought two scarves (needed to keep comfortable in this chilly, damp weather). We had a great discussion about traveling with the owners, a German couple, who own the shop and close it for four months to travel Hawaii, Bali, New Zealand, Australia, etc.
We milled around the lake’s edge and the boat dock area, and had a beer at an outdoor restaurant overlooking the lake, where blankets were provided for comfort. (In Germany, the beer tastes good at any temp!) As we wandered back to the car, via the long row of shops, we were attracted to the restaurant of the HOTEL KONIGSSEE, which had candle-lit tables and seemed a welcome respite from the chilly weather.
We were seated next to a couple from the Netherlands. Very recently, an airliner was shot down over Ukraine, with many Netherland citizens on board. We discussed the seriousness of this situation, and even though they spoke only limited English, it was enough (with effort) to have a pleasant exchange. After a satisfying dinner, we returned to Hotel Krone, hoping for a better weather day tomorrow.
Sunday, August 24, 2014 KONIGSSEE DAY
Up around 7:30, dressed, and then the average continental breakfast. Rainy and cloudy again this AM, but we remain hopeful. Jorg, the owner, assures us, with his limited English, that in a couple of hours we should see the sun.
We decided to return to Konigssee, hoping that a boat tour would be possible. Again, parking is awkward because of our ignorance of German and uncertainty regarding the rules. TK assumed that he could pay the same amount as he had the last two days. Wrong! We returned to a 30 EUR fine! But on the bright side, the sun did come out for much of the day.
As we walked down the path to the lake, we stopped by a little café for some warm coffee cake and cappuccinos. “Cash only.” This energized us for the boat ride; 16.90 EUR each for a 55 minute ride up and back. The sign at the ticket window indicated “English commentary”, but when we heard no English on the trip, and asked the guide, he brusquely let us know that he didn’t speak English. So we just enjoyed the gorgeous scenery. About mid-point on the ride, the boat stopped and a guy with a trumpet played some measures and the sound echoed back from the rock walls. Very interesting!
We got off half-way at St. Bartholoma’s church, (now a souvenir/restaurant area), once a monastery and the site of a hunting lodge for the Bavarian royal family. With pretzels in hand, we took in the long views of the smooth waters, looked inside the old church, and walked around the grounds where the east face of Mt. Watzman is impressive!
Next, we boarded another boat to the terminus of the lake, Salat, and took time out for a beer as we stared at more dramatic scenery. It’s difficult to describe the surrounding beauty of the long, narrow lake ensconced in moutains. Just to the side of the café was a crude shrine of the crucified Christ, decorated with artificial flowers. We began to observe these shrines or crucifixes all over the Tyrol area, even in public businesses.
The boat ride back to the dock was so relaxing that we were almost lulled to sleep as we reached the end. Earlier in the day, we had discussed taking the cablecar to Mt. Jenner to enjoy the mountaintop view. But, by now, the clouds were appearing, so we decided a ride up to Mt. Jenner wasn’t going to happen. Next visit, perhaps!
We hadn’t had lunch, and needed another fix of Bavarian food…this time at the SEEHAUS RESTAURANT, located along the walkway. TK ordered a pork roast and “house made” dumpling with another bier; Mk had 2 weisswurst with a pretzel & salad. We shared the tasty meals. Again “Cash Only”…gads! We could have, maybe should have, planned our cash/credit cards differently.
Back to the car and that damn parking ticket!!! Since it is early, 5:30 ish, we decided to visit the Intercontinental Hotel which we had spotted yesterday on our bus ride to Keltsteinhaus. It is an attractive structure and has a wonderful setting. The hotel doorman invited us in. We had a nice chat with one of the cooks at the Stube Restaurant who filled us in about their opening in ’06. When we commented that, as yet, we had met no Americans, he said that Americans usually visit for one day, and just go up to Kelsteinhaus ; maybe visit Konigssee, and leave. He suggested that we could pay our ticket at the police station, and gave us directions.
En route to Hotel Krone, we decided to let the GPS lead us to the police station and show us the way back to our hotel. Well done Gilda! The police station was not in the town center, as we would have expected, so we were happy to discover a back road and alternate route back to our hotel. Very beautiful scenery! We did pause long enough to have an ice cream, just making it before they closed the shop. Back “home” by 8:30 or so…need to pack and be on our way to Salzburg tomorrow morning . . . after our attempt to pay our fine.
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27-DAY ODYSSEY IN THE ALPS with 3 FINAL DAYS IN PARIS
BAVARIA, AUSTRIA, ITALY, SWITZERLAND, ending in PARIS