Day 4 ~ "Rainy Days & Mondays"
The only good thing to come out of this day is breakfast, and the fact that tomorrow we are out of here. All plans have been canceled due to the incessant rain. It hasn't let up since I arrived and today is no exception. Funny... when the weather is nice we always think "Man I could spend a week here with no problem", but when it's lousy then each day seems like a week. Go figure.
Since there is nothing pressing on the agenda today I take my time and head down for Frühstück a little after 8:00. The room is warm and cozy, and a German news program is on the telly showing areas of heavy snow in Bavaria.
I noticed the Deml filled up quickly yesterday,
and upon entering the breakfast room I find the Frau setting up all the other tables in preparation for the other
guests. I am the first one down.
There is a nice buffet set up next to the bar and I select the usual fare and take a seat by the door, which is my table. Large pot of coffee and basket of rolls and I am soon munching happily away. Suddenly, a young girl enters and takes the table next to mine. We start a casual conversation, her English is excellent, and I am surprised to learn she is a soldier in the German Army sent down for a few weeks of special operations training. She too is bummed out by the weather as she will have to work in it, whereas I have other options.
I am really not too keen on hanging around all day and being bored. I figure I can be out in this weather and still accomplish the same thing. It got really cold last night, and the rain feels more like tiny pin pricks as it pounds down mercilessly. I make a beeline for the car, and immediately crank up the heater to defrost all the windows.
Just for grins I head over toward the Königssee. The clouds are so low you can't even make out the surrounding mountains. Who in their right mind would try and scale Kehlstein on a day like this, not to mention the boats on the lake, but you never know. There is always some diehard willing to try their luck against the elements.
There is nothing going on down here so I turn around and head back to town. I decide to try and find the Internet cafe Ben had used back in June. This might be a good time to read those 50+ messages. Up on the main drag I check out several shops but can't find anything resembling the place. I even asked at three different shops, and would you believe got three different answers. So much for that.
To keep the day from being a total loss I head over to Ramsau to check out what's going on over there. The crowds are almost nil, so I park over near the wooden bridge and stroll over to the church. If you are ever here be sure and stop in at the cemetery on the backside. It is immaculately maintained by the locals, and most interesting are the ornate wooden grave markers, no doubt all handmade.
By mid-afternoon I have had about all of this I can stand so it is back to the Deml to pack for an early departure (Yay!!), and try to relax with a few biers and some TV before dinner. As if things weren't bad enough now I can't get the TV to work. What next? :0(
Around 5:00 it is already starting to
get dark and I head over toward the Saltworks to the Gasthof "Salzberg", a nice little pension where
Ben and I stayed back in '89. I grab a table next to the window and order up a bier. The waiter brings a Speisekarte
and I decide to go with the schnitzel, pommes and salad, and a delicious bowl of goulasch soup....and of course,
another bier. An excellent meal and the tab is only €13.
Thankful that my time here is almost over, I have some twinge of regret for not having done these two days in another area. Oh well..you pays your dollar, you takes your chances. Come the morning happiness will be Berchtesgaden in my rear view mirror.
Day 5 ~ "From one extreme to the other"
Another cold night was the order of the day, but thankfully the duvets came to the rescue. Up early,it is still dark and cold as I load the car, anxious to get on the way again. Time for a final Frühstück and at 8:00 sharp I am passing the Bahnhof to pick up the B305 out of town.
The plan is to follow this road for a short distance to the B21, then cross country for about 60km to the B312 into Austria, then the A12 on into the Innsbruck area. Despite two straight days of rain it is still coming down, and the weather report on the tube this morning at breakfast showed a line of this stuff extending deep into Austria. This could get interesting.
The drive cross country is slow going as I start to encounter quite a bit of traffic also headed that way. As soon as I cross the border I stop at the first gas station I see to get a vignette (€ 7.90 for ten days). Around 9:30 I finally pass thru St. Johann, and within a few minutes am on the A12 headed West. The steady rain is now starting to be accompanied by fog and low hanging clouds, which makes sense as this part of Austria is in a deep valley.
The signs indicate it is less than 5km to Innsbruck, but as I enter the outskirts the fog is so thick you can barely see more than about a hundred yards. A sure sign of danger, especially on the Autobahn, and so I start to formulate a Plan "B" because of weather conditions. I had decided last night that would be the determining factor as to my plans.
I had originally intended to stay on a farm in the hills above Innsbruck, but after the experience in Berchtesgaden somehow the thought of being weather bound again just doesn't have any charming appeal. Mentally, I switch gears and decide to forego Austria this trip and take my chances somewhere TBD back in Germany.
The first thing is to get out of this mess on the Autobahn, and fortunately the sign to Garmisch pops up and I am soon skirting Innsbruck back towards the border. Crossing back into Germany I start tossing mental coins as to where I might like to take root for the next couple of days. Mittenwald, Garmisch and the surrounding area, Murnau perhaps? There are lots of possibilities and as I daydream on suddenly the rain turns to snow!
I am about 20km from Garmisch and decide to continue on, having made a decision about where to stay. Passing thru Garmisch-Partenkirchen the snow is now getting a little heavier, which I must admit I always find attractive no matter where I am. Probably because we only see this stuff about every ten years in Texas, so for me it's a big treat. Besides, it probably won't last long. Yeah...right.
Clearing town I am soon in third gear and climbing up into the hills toward Oberammergau. Coming into Ettal the snow is now coming down in steady heavy flakes. How quaint... And yes...the parking lot is full of buses, and the tourists are scurrying around under umbrellas.
It is only 4km to O'gau and by the time I reach the outskirts it turns into a heavy blowing snow. The surrounding fields are taking on a blanket of white as the stuff starts to stick. Yay....:0)
Entering Oberammergau I am greeted by a scene right out of Currier and Ives. The snow is falling heavily, the lights of the shops are all on even though it is just after noon, and best of all the streets are almost empty! It is at this point that I decide to borrow a page from Bill Hickock's play book, "if it looks good from the outside give it a try". On the third attempt I strike paydirt.
- - - -
Right in the center of town, just past Käthe Wohlfahrt, and right next to the big church I happen across an attractive looking place with a zimmer frei sign. It is the "Pension Sonja", and lucky me, they have plenty of rooms. The owners, a young german couple by the name of Verleigh, welcome me in and show me upstairs to a beautifully furnished DZ overlooking the churchyard. Wonderful smelling pine paneling on the walls and ceiling, and as an added attraction an old, but genuine, ceramic stove in one corner of the room. The price, including breakfast, only €20.
This is great. I quickly unload the car, getting covered in snow in the process, and I am soon sitting in the Aufenthaltsraum sucking down a delicious "Rappen Hell" from the well stocked fridge for guests. Herr Verleigh comes in with an armload of wood and quickly gets the large ceramic covered fireplace going strong. A crackling fire, good bier, and heavy snow coming down outside. Now this is a vacation!! :0)
After a couple of biers, and some pleasant conversation with Herr Verleigh, I force myself to leave the comfort of the cozy surroundings to venture out and about to record the scenery. I head over to the main drag, feet crunching in the snow, and come out at the Hotel Post.
I stroll down the street and cut over
on a side alley to the Passion Playhouse. Surprise..it has undergone a complete transformation for the play held
in 2000. New paintjob, and most noticable, the area in front which used to be a parking lot for cars and busses
is now enclosed by metal fencing, forcing traffic to keep moving on the road around the playhouse to get thru the
The heavy snow drifts silently down, and I am the only one over in this area. Even the souvenir shops nearby have practically no activity. It has turned bitter cold and my fingers are starting to feel like icicles. I think I need another bier!
Back on the main street I duck into a local "stube" and grab a table by the front door. The room is wonderfully warm and toasty, and the dark yellow wavy window panes enhance the appearance of the falling snow. Hunger pangs have set in after the rigors of the day, after all it was another long drive, and so I order up a "Putenschnitzel mit spatzel" and a couple of large biers vom fass. The tab....€9.50. Another great bargain.
It is now late afternoon as I head back
out onto the street, stuffed and with just a slight buzz from the biers. :0) Another few minutes of trudging
in the snow has me thinking I need to make a pit stop for some "supplies" at the nearby Spar Markt before
heading back to the pension. Darkness is approaching and even though I would love to stay and frolic in the snow,
the temptation of a hot shower, a little Rotwein to ward off the cold night ahead, and the last of MIB2 prevail.
It had indeed been an interesting day. Unlike my time in Berchtesgaden, where I felt the weather gods had conspired against me, I feel just the opposite about being in this place under these conditions. Back at the pension I spend the next few hours in total bliss. The window is cracked to let in a little of the night air, the duvets are up to my chin, and my last thoughts before zonking out are how lucky I am to be here while the folks back home are sweltering under the A.C. - Nighty night.....
- - - -
Day 6 ~ "Dashing through the snow"
True to form I am awake long before the
alarm does its thing. Not only is it still dark but the room is cold enough to store a side of beef. I hop over
to the window like a ballet dancer, (those hardwood floors are like ice), and in the same motion of closing the
window I also turn the radiator up a couple of hundred degrees. Brrrrr.......
Glancing out the window it looks like the snow eased up during the night. After piddling around to get ready for the day I head to the Frühstück room promptly at 8:00 to find Herr Verleigh just finishing topping off the buffet table. The surprising thing is that he went to such trouble, as it turns out I was the only guest last night. I can only give high marks to this place and the treatment I received. They get a 10 out of 10. Definitely recommended for any of you looking for comfort and convenience next time you are in town.
I am soon digging into an assortment of
goodies as Herr Verleigh stokes up the fireplace, and then pours himself up a cup. We proceed to make small talk
and I think he secretly enjoys practicing his English.
By 8:30 I am headed out the door to clear the snow off the windshield and get the heater going. Everything is covered in a blanket of white. I crank up the camcorder and make a slow drive through town, circling around the Playhouse, then back on the main drag heading out of town.
The plan is to cruise over to Linderhof,
which should make for some great pics in this weather. There is very little traffic, and once on the road to the
castle I have the backroads to myself. The scenery is breathtaking and looks like a painting. Smoke is curling
from the chimneys of the scattered farms and houses along the way. At 9:00 sharp I am pulling into the parking
lot. There is only one bus and a couple of cars....a good sign.
From the parking lot I head up the gently sloping hill toward the castle. A short line has formed for the 9:15 English tour, and as they head inside I have the whole place to myself. The fountain is shooting a stream about 50 feet in the air, and the spray feels like needles on my skin.
I head down the steps and walk alongside the pond toward the opposite end of the courtyard. Climbing the steps to the top the view is spectacular. The castle and surrounding grounds are a solid blanket of white. Not a single person is in sight, and the fresh snow is still undisturbed, but no doubt not for long. After a pleasant hour of playing tourist I head back to the parking lot just as several buses pull in and start to unload. Once again, timing is everything.
- - - -
The snow has stopped as I exit the grounds and head back the way I came in. The rest of the day is entirely spontaneous and have I no specific agenda to follow. Force of habit takes over and I cruise past Ettal on my way to G-P. I hit the usual stop and go traffic as I enter the town, and the crowds are out in force. The weather looks a lot clearer down here as I cruise through familiar territory from previous stays here. The Zugspitze however is another story. Completely covered in clouds... I doubt if there will be any long lines at the cable car today. After circling the town a couple of times I am back on the road for a liesurely drive in the country.
The entire countryside is a blanket of
white and I spend most of the afternoon getting some good pics and video. Next thing I know I have taken a big
loop on the backroads and am soon coming off the B472 at Eichelsbacher Brücke. Good timing, as I am ready for a bier
break, and in short order I am sitting in front of a cozy fire knocking back a vom fass.
I will be back this way in the morning as I head for the next stop in Füssen. The weather report says the snow is pretty much over so we will just have to see what awaits us over in this area. For now, this day is just about done as I finish off the last of the bier and head back over the bridge toward O'gau.
The streets are now clear and it feels like the temps have warmed up a bit. This stuff will probably all be gone by tomorrow. Back at the Sonja I finish packing and open up a Löwenbräu while I finish up my notes for the day. It's been a good one and I have really enjoyed my stay here.
The next order of business is a good dinner. There is a cozy little cafe about 50 feet from the front door of the Pension and I order up a yummy schnitzel which turns out to cover the whole plate. Salad and fries to top it off...and of course another you know what. :0) A great way to end the day.
Nothing left to do now but look forward to the next two days over in Ludwig land.
Day 7 ~ "A wetsuit would be nice"
Another good Frühstück from Herr Verleigh to get the day started, and it's time to move on. Today will be the shortest drive of the trip and I look forward to having a full day to play around the Füssen area.
The clouds look a little omnious as I leave town. There is hardly any traffic on the road and I am soon crossing the Eichelsbacher for a left turn towards the Wieskirche. Right on cue the skies open up and it feels like I am back in Berchtesgaden. :0(
I head over to the church in a heavy downpour and as I pull up to the place I only see two cars and a bus in the lot. I have no desire to dodge the raindrops so I just get a couple of pics from the car and head right back out.
Within 20 minutes I am passing along the Forggensee and hang a left on the road past St.Coloman's. The whole valley is cloud covered and I can barely make out Neuschwanstein. It is so dark it looks more like late evening than 10:00 in the morning. The parking lots are practically empty. A few brave souls huddling under their umbrellas are starting the long trek up the hill, and will no doubt be soaked and exhausted by the time they arrive (good luck, the only way I go up these days is by bus). Looks like there will be no pics from the Marienbrücke this day. :0(
I continue on over to Füssen to check
things out and see that the Füßgangerzone is looking pretty sparse. Traffic is almost nil so I cruise
over by Suzanne's B&B and then head back out. It is time for another gas stop...second one of the trip..so
I pull in to top off. This time it is 44 liters at € 1.08. We are good to go for a few hundred more klicks.
It is now nearing noon and I decide to head on over to Waltenhofen to get settled in. I have made reservations over the net at the Gasthof "Moarhof" located right on the Forggensee.
The place is run by the Family Huber,
and Frau Huber, who speaks impeccable English, greets me with the good news that the weather report is for steady
rain for the next few days. Hmmmm...I think I'm starting to see a pattern here. The weather gods are having a good
laugh at my expense. Of the first seven days of the trip, the last 5 have been a mixed bag of weather...all bad.
I am given a comfortable EZ on the top floor (this was the only time I didn't have a large zimmer on the whole trip), but it is nicely furnished, huge shower, and a nice balcony, at only € 18 per night. Not bad.
The weather is so lousy there isn't much
reason to venture back out until later in the day. Unpacked and settled in, I plop down on the very comfortable
bed with a book and just chill for the next couple of hours. The steady beat of the rain on the roof is very relaxing.
A little after 5:00 I decide to head out for some grub, so back we go toward the castles for another peek at the situation. The lots are about half full so I guess there were a few hardcore folks who decided to brave it despite the conditions. From here it is back into Füssen where I decide to check out the local Wienerwald. Nice place, not crowded, and lots of goodies on the menu. I opt for a halb haunchen mit pommes and a large bier. I even get what almost passes for an American salad which is quite good. The tab...only €9.00
I know there is an Internet cafe nearby
as Ben had used it on his trip, so I ask the waitress for directions. Which one..there are several in town..she
responds. Cool says I, how about the closest one? Lucky me, it is only about 100 meters from the restaurant so
with chow out of the way I do the hundred yard dash in the rain and am soon seated in front of a terminal in a
local version of Blockbuster's. It is €2.00 per half hour, so I do some catch up on my reading. There are now over
60 messages but they will just have to wait.
With the e-mail duties out of the way I head back to the car and decide to call it a day. It is almost dark, and the rush hour traffic is backed up for a couple of blocks due to clogging at the round about next to the Hotel Sonne. I just have to creep and crawl until I finally break free and can make a mad dash out of town.
There is one last duty to perform and I head for the large Spar Markt on the edge of town to pick up a few "things" for the cold rainy night ahead. I am now deeply engrossed in Pat's book and anxious to find out what Abby will be up too next.
Now where did I put that corkscrew??
Day 8 ~ "Nice weather...if you are a fish
or a frog"
I should probably stop here and go straight to Day 9 but what the heck. Today is a mirror image of yesterday, and the previous 6, and all I can do is go with the flow.
Downstairs Frau Huber is laying out the tables for the guests, the place is full up for the next few days she says, but I am the first one down. She gives me the latest weather report which calls for colder temps and, of course, more rain. :0(
There is not much on the agenda for today. My plans for the rodelbahns in Biberwier and Tegelberg are down the drain, along with going up to the Marienbrücke. I do feel bad however for those coming here for the first time from great distances, all pumped and excited only to get washed out. No doubt I too would be torqued to the gills if I were in their position.
After breakfast I head over to Füssen, but first there is a slight detour. I cut over toward the road to Reutte, and just inside Austria at the old border crossing checkpoint I stop at the newly built reststop/gift shop. It is time for my annual Stroh run (just to ward off those cold winter nights back home) and am soon lugging a six liter case of this firewater/varnish remover back to the car. A case usually lasts me a full year and I now have three of them at home. I must be slipping in my old age. Ben has his thing for Asbach and I have mine for Stroh's...what can I say. :0)
Back to Fussen for a stroll along the Fußgänger zone for some light shopping and a visit to Woolworth's. Ritter's are €1.10 (highway robbery!) so I will wait til further down the road. The weather is still gloomy, and the steady rain has kept the crowd level down considerably.
The rest of the day is spent tooling around the local area...over to Hopferau...drive by the Ludwig musical theater..cruise the Forggensee...etc. and by mid-afternoon I am back at the ranch to pack up for an early departure tomorrow. Around 5:00 I make my last run back into town for another tasty meal at the Wienerwald. This time it is a nice fish fillet covered in creamy sauce, with several large home fried potato cakes on the side...yummy, and a large "Spaten bier" just for good luck. Another fine meal for €9.50.
There is time for one last trip to the
Internet cafe where I screen through some of my 60 odd messages and get it down to about 50. There are some postings
from some of the other Stammtisch travelers telling about their experiences. Looks like I'm not the only one on
the weather gods black list.
These two days have been pretty laid back. Mainly just to recharge the batteries, as we hit the halfway point and move into the second week. I am looking forward to moving on to the the next stop and little do I know I am in for a major break. Tomorrow....the Schwarzwald!
~ Part 3 ~