Thursday, 5 May 2011

56 Bavaria and the Tirol

Saturday 30th April

Once again, we packed up and set off for our new campsite in Fussen, Bavaria.  We are only planning to stay here two days and on arrival, we set up camp.  What a beautiful place.
We’ve done Italian traffic, now German Cows!!!!

The views from all of our windows were quite spectacular and we decided to go for a long walk around the lake that wasn’t.  It turned out, that true to form, we were a month early, the lake had been drained, something to do with the water being used for electricity and would not be returned until the first of 
June, however it was a very fetching mud flat. 
Lake! What Lake?

We had hoped to see some wildlife, but all we could see was a group of swans that were so far away, they looked small even with binoculars.  The surrounding area of hills, flat ground and scenery made you forget about that.
Mud flats.

Sunday 1st May
After pinching and punching Ray for the first day of the month, we took off on Wallace to visit Neuschwanstein Castle. 
On the way there, this is what was on offer, but we can’t do it justice.

To some of you this will be more recognisable as the castle that the child catcher took the children to in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  I had been singing many of the songs from the film all the previous day, and quite frankly it is a surprise that I didn’t get the pinch and the punch. 
 We signed up for a tour of the castle and were left to our own devices to get up to it.  You could walk, get a bus or as we did went by horse and carriage. Our horses were called Donny and Valeska.
Donny to Valeska……”I think someone has been at the curry wurst again dear, don’t you?”

Whilst waiting for our carriage, we had a good look around. It is almost a little holiday village at the bottom of the castle, (the reason is that there are three castles in total to visit, we only wanted to do the one).  There was a May Pole being erected and loads of people all dressed in traditional dress. 
Erecting the May Pole.

The whole place is beautiful and the views from all angles of the castle, the scenery and hills and lakes, (full ones), I can understand why King Ludwig II built it there.  If I lived in a place like this, I would spend my life walking from window to window and never get bored.
Front view from the courtyard as we entered the castle.

A view of the Hohenschwangau Castle, from the hallway.

A view of the dry lake and Schwangau, “Schwangau” means Swan which Ludwig loved with a passion

A brief history of the place is that it was built by King Ludwig and was inspired by his love of the composer Richard Wagner’s music and operas, and was built between the years 1869 – 1886.  Apparently King Ludwig never got to live in it permanently and he never married. It took 11 years for 14 carpenters to carve the ornate furniture in his bedroom alone, and the walls are painted from scenes from Wagners operas. King Ludwig was declared insane on 10th June 1886, 2 days later he was arrested and taken to Munich. The following day he was found dead in Lake  Starnberg,  alongside the psychiatrist who had certified him insane.  This is now one of the oldest cold cases in Bavaria, although the more cynical of you may suspect the Prussians, as they were then.
No one has resided in the castle and it is now used for opera and music festivals. However this is one of the most beautiful places I have visited.
From the castle we walked up hill to Marien Brucke (Mary’s bridge,) you can just spot it in the picture,  it is quite narrow and looks down into a ravine, again spectacular.

Castle from the bridge.

As I said previously, we didn’t really want to visit any more of the castles  on offer, so we walked back down to the village through the woods and had a beer whilst listening to Bavarian bands and watching the thigh slapping, lederhosen clad dancers.
The pretty village of Neuschwanstien

The Bavarian Umpah band, note the beers, that is how they manage to yodel!

A bit of thigh slapping and rubbing leather never hurt anyone.

We then took Wallace and went into Fussen, the local little town.  Typically Bavarian, beautiful, clean, and friendly and I just don’t have the vocabulary to tell you how impressive it is.  I have loved every minute here. We popped into a Chinese restaurant and decided not to have this:
Not our first choice

Monday 2nd
A gentle start to our day, we are going just over the border into Austria, up here in them thar hills. 
As we were pulling out of the site and paying, bearing in mind that we had heard the news that the Americans had dealt with Bin Laden, we had to laugh at the sign above the shop, needless to say we hadn’t bought anything from it.
Speaks for it’s self.

Again we have found a fabulous camp site called Feriencenter Camping in Biberhof, situated in the Tiroler Zugspitzen area, we are looking to do some walking and cycling and will be here until Friday when we head back down into Italy, Monza, for the World Superbike meet.
Lizzy and Wallace enjoying the view ..

This Devil Cat turned up and would not shut up till we fed it.

Tuesday 3rd
The best laid plans.  It has absolutely tipped down today with thunder and lightning, so we stayed put.
Wednesday 4th
Today the weather was still dubious, but we decided to brave it.  Ray planned a route and we were going for a reasonable walk.  I have been married for 12 years now and you’d think I’d know better by now, but no, I tripped off after him like a lamb to the slaughter.    The weather did come out lovely and we wandered off into the hills.
Approaching Blindsee.

The route around the lake was precarious in places but beautiful.

We made our way to Rasthaus Zugspitz blick   which is the Austrian side of the mountain from when we were in Garmish, last year. 
View from our lunch break.

Another just for luck.

We had lunch there and then Ray said “It’s only 4 km’s to home, follow me”.
Ray before being beaten up for underestimating (i.e. lying about) the distance.

Hours later we got home.  I have to say the scenery was beautiful and the walk was lovely, but I was glad to get home.  We have been un-impressed by Austria. Yes it is beautiful, yes we have been reasonably comfortable, but it has taken the total mickey where money is concerned and for such a forward thinking place, in many ways,   they have no concept of providing internet or useful services such as this, that we felt quite let down.  Also, when it came to paying the camping bill,  (which we have done tonight as we are moving on tomorrow), the extras that were charged, did not impress.  Don’t get Ray on the subject of the vignette either. 
We have elected to leave a day early due to lack of internet access. It’s a small thing but it does get annoying. We could use their computer(with an Austrian keyboard)  but we could only read/send e-mails and would not be able to publish photos or this blog. On top of that, they want us to spend 1 Euro per 20 minutes for the privilege. Sadly, all they need to do is put in a WiFi hub in place of their own router (the box that connects to the internet at the phone socket) and they could provide access for a sensible fee.   
Thursday 5th April 2011
A relatively long drive to the “Lakes” area of Italy. We arrived at about 5:30 pm and what a beautiful place. Situated on a peninsular of land in a large lake with access to the lake from both sides of the campsite. We elected to park up on the West side to watch over the lake with the setting sun. The birdlife here is amazing. All the time there is a chorus of different types of bird and within an hour of arriving we had seen several species that are very rare in the UK. Bliss.

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