A Travellerspoint blog

Germany

All This Way & Not Even a Piece of Black Forest Gateau

overcast 18 °C

Day 60 Sunday July 23 2017
Innsbruck to Bad Herrenalb / 396 km

  • Early morning light in Innsbruck is gorgeous.
  • Known by the Romans as Oenipons ( bridge over the river Oen ) Innsbruck in German also means bridge over the River Inn. It rose to prominence from the 13C when its proximity to the Brenner Pass ( the easiest route across the Alps ) made it strategic for transport & communication between northern and Southern Europe. Then with the Hapsburg & Austrian Empires dominating European politics between 16 - 19C, it remained an important place on the historical map.
  • We return to the old town through Innsbruck's famous Triumphforte. A sort of Austrian version of the Arc de Triomphe ( or was it the other way round?). It was built in 1765 by Empress Maria Tesesa to celebrate the wedding of her son, the Duke of Tuscany, to a Spanish princess. With clear Roman Empire aesthetics & perhaps aspirations, it sits rather incongruously in the midst of more conventional Central European architecture. But if that's what an Emperess, wants, that's what she gets.
  • Sadly it turned out that the Triumphforte was not only a celebration of happy & auspicious nuptials but also a commemoration of the death of Maria Teresa's husband. Kaiser Franz Stehan 1. He died during the wedding celebrations! Whilst the south facade is celebratory, the northern facade is a sombre tribute to the late Emperor. .
  • Looking north through the archway, you can see the great ski jump construction. We are both snow sport lovers. Innsbruck has obvious scenic appeal to us. We recall that the city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1976. It was the era of a famous Austrian skier called Franz Klammer. If that doesn't ring a bell, then maybe the names Robin Cousins and John Curry do! John did GB proud and won a gold medal.
  • We have an early breakfast at a place called the Breakfast Club, located between the arch and the old town area. Our hotel, the Nala is famous for its Sunday brunches but service only starts at 10 a.m. That's too late for us.
  • There are beggars on the streets of Innsbruck, admittedly much fewer than in London. They too have dogs.
  • Today's drive is another hard slog. Particularly for AG of course. It is made worse by the volume of traffic. Today's journey takes us across into SW Germany where we will inevitably encounter Germans returning from their holidays in the sun.
  • Caravans and campervans and have become too numerous to mention.
  • Constant sunshine & blue skies are no longer a given.
  • Temperatures struggle to reach the mid 20's.
  • We are spending more money in the last 3 days than we have during the previous 30. AG's comparison and possibly somewhat of an exaggeration. But you get the gist.
  • Last night's wonderful meal hit London price levels, due in part to the poor value of sterling.
  • Today's traffic is indeed awful. A painful acclimatisation for the M25 on Tuesday evening.
  • Yes we're headed home & don't we know it.
  • Our journey takes 7.5 hours with only a short 'comfort' stop. AG is an endurance driver but even he is exhausted and fractious.
  • We're staying in a spa resort in the Black Forest. Bad Herrenalb. A very genteel type of domestic tourist comes here to take the waters and breathe the fresh air. But expensive spa treatments are the last thing on our mind - as usual we arrive hungry and finding somewhere to eat is our main focus. A 10 minute walk into town helps rejuvenate. As does a glass of German beer and a meal of Wiener Schnitizel and for SG, Käsespaetzle. We both resist the temptation of local gateau.
  • Bad Herrenalb has several churches that chime beautifully on the quater hour and go to even more trouble on the hour. This is after all a region famed for its cuckoo clocks. We just hope that mullahs, minarets and dawn calls to prayer are not replaced by the Christian equivalent - the church bell!
  • Now where are those ear plugs?

Bad Herrenalb - We're in Cuckoo Land

Bad Herrenalb - We're in Cuckoo Land

Posted by sagbucks 09:27 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Exploring the Vosges in Alsace

Feeling guilty doing it by truck

sunny 25 °C

Day 3 Saturday May 27 2017
Xonrupt-Longemer to Landsberg am Lech 517 km

  • What bliss to be woken by an alarm set at a respectable time 7-45 a.m. It means AG and SG have had a long overdue & untinterrupted sleep. With house sale, trip planning and other 'stuff', it's been a while.
  • Its another gorgeous day. We really are being spoilt here in Northern Europe. But within just over a week we'll be in Turkey, so it's good acclimatisation.
  • We continue our meanderings on minor roads through the forested hills of the Vosges in Alsace, heading mainly SE. We climb lots of cols ( high spots).
  • It is only 10 a.m. but there is already a hive of outdoor activity: cyclists, pony trekkers, walkers, motorcyclists are out and about in impressive numbers. This region offers lots of beautiful curves for motorcyclists to navigate and a tough day's riding in the saddle or walking by foot.
  • We follow a scenic detour called Route des Cretes. We soon have the feeling of being at the top of the world, the Alsace world at least. The fine weather means the views are outstanding and the wind non existent.
  • We reach the highest point of our journey - Col du Grand Ballon, altitude 1424m. It is the summit of the Vosges area. Guide books warn of adverse weather and strong winds. They do not however mention the swarms of midges that we encounter as soon as we stop the truck for the obligatory summit photo. The air is thick with them & It's not a pleasant experience. It also deters us Sent from my iPad
  • Outside a shop selling local honey ( many different pollen types with presumably unique flavours ) there is a rudimentary collection of apiary tools & equipment. SG momentarily mistakes it for an anti midge suit rather than bee protection gear. Marketed differently they might even sell a few of those netted hats at this time of year.
  • The road' summit is a popular gathering point for those who have just made some substantial effort to get here. The cafe is full of cyclists, hikers and motorcyclists alike. We feel guilty having expended no energy, used no muscle power but rather arrived sat comfortably in our Landcruiser truck.
  • But we would be kidding ourselves not to realise that our truck trip does require a form of both endurance & stamina - to cope with: long & consecutive days of driving in hot climates, a massive agenda of sightseeing, 9 weeks in each other's company and in confined space, a different bed and bathroom almost every night and lastly but not least uncertain & unfamiliar nutrition. Yes we need to be fit physically & mentally for our journey ahead.
  • As we descend from the summit towards the pretty vineyard village of Uffholz we pass by the Hartmanswillerkopf War Memorial (HWK). It's sometimes easy to overlook that there was significant World War 1 hostility that involved no British soldiers and which are not therefore a primary point of military pilgrimage for Brits. This site of fierce trench warfare between 1915-6 in particular is also known as Vieil Armand. 30000 French & German soldiers died here, with another 30000 being wounded or taken prisoner.
  • In 1921 it was declared an historic monument. Bodies from other nearby battlefields and temporary war graves were exhumed and brought here. There are 12000 bodies of unknown soldiers also laid to rest in the crypt here. Imagine such a number. There are 3 chapels on site - Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. The HWK is located in an area that back in 1915 had been annexed by Germany since 1871.
  • Not surprisingly HWK has been dedicated to Franco German friendship and there are new (EU sponsored) facilities being built. It is busy with visitors, both French & German. If you are passing it is worth a quick stop.
  • The rest of our journey to Landsberg am Lech is on motorway. Just after Mulhouse, thanks to the Schengen Zone, we pass imperceptibly into Germany and cross the mighty Rhine - Germany's main river artery.
  • Almost counter intuitively we are first heading NE again towards Strasbourg before continuing East from Karlsruhe along the A8 direction Munich. We are impressed with the road infrastructure, both current and being built. We pass by countless zones of light industry & warehousing. But nicely so, interspersed with long stretches of woodland and farms. It is a prosperous part of the world. No wonder Germany is the powerhouse of the EU.
  • Traffic is heavy but flowing. The Germans are escaping for the weekend too. It has been difficult to find accommodation for this evening - most Gasthaüser stipulated a minimum of a 2 night stay. However we are most definitely on the move and do not wish to linger. We have also booked tonight's restaurant, Nonnenbraü - we have been allocated the 8 p.m sitting. No choice was given. They must be busy.
  • We decide to walk to and for our supper. It's important to get some exercise whenever we can. AG navigates the way on maps.me ( a great navigational app for your mobile that uses GPS and is FREE! ). A 40 minute walk is indicated since our hotel is on the outskirts of new suburbs whilst our chosen restaurant is on the other side of the Old Town.
  • Nestled beside the River Lech it is a very attractive place indeed. It's a fine, balmy evening, riverside cafes and bistros are buzzing with people relaxing at the start of the weekend.
  • We find the Nonnenbraü at the top of a steep hill. The garden is full, the nicely decorated interior empty. Fortunately we have reserved a table and we too dine outdoors. Why wouldn't you after so many months of winter.
  • As already mentioned it is asparagus season and in this part of the world they seem to revere the rather insipid looking white variety. There is a special asparagus menu which SG samples - asparagus soup ( creamy white colour) with toasted almonds, followed by grilled fish with more asparagus ( also white ). AG chooses soup as well and then gets stuck into some burger or other. Even he is not sure what kind. We drink a red Austrian wine, recommended by the restaurant owner. He seems to take pride in his wine cellar and nowadays rates Austrian wines. The wine is a mixture of Syrah, Cabernet & Merlot grapes and is very palatable.
  • We opt to walk back to our hotel. Dusk is merging into night. We don't have a torch so we stick to the main roads. In Germany street lights remain switched on and pedestrian crossings are well illuminated. ( SG is having an ongoing 'dialogue' with Bucks County Council - they switch off street lights to save money. And a zebra crossing on the very busy A404 has had a non functioning pedestrian light since before Christmas ).
  • Did SG mention that we have changed hotel rooms? It seems the norm that we are allocated rooms on the noisy side. Maybe it's the booking.com price we pay? Despite specifically requesting a quiet, calm location even at the expense of a view. Frankly we'd rather face a brick wall than be kept awake by traffic. From now on SG must get into routine of first checking rooms before unloading luggage. At Landhotel Erdhart we have to pay an additional 16 euros for peace & quiet.

And Our Room for Tonight - Also to be recommended

And Our Room for Tonight - Also to be recommended

We have That Top of the World Feeling

We have That Top of the World Feeling

You Can Ski in Alsace Too

You Can Ski in Alsace Too

Nearly at the Highest Road Point in the Vosges

Nearly at the Highest Road Point in the Vosges

Some Folk Work Hard to Get Here

Some Folk Work Hard to Get Here

It's Season for Midges & This is the Kit You Need!

It's Season for Midges & This is the Kit You Need!

Hartmanswillerkopf War Memorial

Hartmanswillerkopf War Memorial

And the Statistics

And the Statistics

The Franco German Border in this Area Until 1918

The Franco German Border in this Area Until 1918

Gorgeous Town of Landsberg am Lech

Gorgeous Town of Landsberg am Lech

Landsberg Architecture in Evening Sun

Landsberg Architecture in Evening Sun

Gorgeous Old Town Facades

Gorgeous Old Town Facades

River Lech at Dusk

River Lech at Dusk

A Good Recommendation @ the Nonnenbraü

A Good Recommendation @ the Nonnenbraü

Posted by sagbucks 07:01 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

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