Saturday, October 10, 2015

Austria & Bavaria

Eden in Innsbruck
We drove over Brenner pass into Austria from Italy and descended into the town of Innsbruck.  The increased elevation definitely made it cooler but we found a restaurant near the old town that had outdoor seating in the sunshine.    After a few minutes in the sun, we actually got quite hot.   The Weissbeer was refreshing, and we have really enjoyed the wheat beers in Europe with Edelweiss being our favorite.  Enjoying a beer with the backdrop of the surrounding mountains was relaxing.  It reminded me of some of the larger mountain towns in Colorado.    After lunch we wandered around the old town and got gelato which ended up being the least expensive so far, only 1.30 euros per cone.   Speaking of cost, Innsbruck had a similar feel to some of the cities in Switzerland and also with the fantastic Alps mountain views, but everything was definitely much less expensive here.   We explored the city a bit more and then headed to Bichlbach which is where we were stayed for a few nights.   Bichlbach is a small town which is likely more active in the winter when the local ski area is open but since we were here in the summer it was very quiet and serene with the beautiful greenery.    

Innsbruck Street

Mountain view from old town Innsbruck

We took a short 30 minute drive across the border into Germany to the town of Hohenschwangau to visit the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.  I knew it would be busy with tourists, but I was hoping that it wouldn’t be too bad given that we were in the middle of the week and at the end of September.   Turns out that it was still extremely busy.  We waited in line for a bit more than an hour to buy tickets for a tour that wouldn’t start for another 5 hours.   Luckily, Caroline was able to get us tickets to an earlier tour when she saw one open up after a tour bus canceled.  We needed to take a bus up the hill to the Castle and the line for this was longer than what we now had time for, given our new tickets to the castle.   Caroline was able to talk the bus driver into letting us bypass the line and we made it in time.   The area surrounding the castle was beautifully green with a few lakes nearby.   It was very interesting to learn about the castle on the tour and to see the inside.  My favorite room was the grotto near the King's bedroom which had colored lights.   How many places have a grotto?? King Ludwig II was quite an interesting and eccentric person who supposedly identified with many different people and apparently tried to be someone he wasn't.   He wanted to make the castle feel as though he was living in medieval times although it was being constructed in the late 1800s.  King Ludwig II was removed from the castle by the government as they claimed he was insane.    He died shortly after, although he was only 40 years old.  They say the reason of his death is unknown but I’d guess that he committed suicide.

Castle Neuschwanstein

Interior courtyard of the castle
On the steps at the Castle
At the Castle
View of Hohenschwangau Castle in the distance
View of surrounding region and lake from the castle
Our first selfie (and no I didn't use a stick, just my long arm.)
We drove back into Austria for dinner and went to a place called Landgasthof Krone.  We tried the Weiner Schnitzel and something called Feurtoast.  The Feurtoast was amazing and was basically some pork steaks on top of toast with a fire sauce.  It really wasn’t that spicy.  In the menu the pork steaks were called Schweineruckensteaks.   It’s crazy how long some of the Germanic words get.   At any rate, this is one that we will try and re-create ourselves when we get back home.

We left Austria and headed back into Germany towards Munich as that is where our flight out of Europe departed from.   Our first stop was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen which is a nice town at the base of the Zugspitze (highest mountain peak in Germany).  Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also where the 1936 Winter Olympics were held.  We next stopped at the southern outskirts of Munich at one of the larger Biergartens in the city called Waldwirtschaft.  We were here right before the Oktoberfest celebration and during lunch hour so it was quite empty versus the thousands that would soon fill the place.  We got some wurst and pretzels.  I’ve had plenty of pretzels before, but none as good as these. They were warm, soft on the inside and they came with a house honey mustard to dip in.  They were great!  No tour to Bavaria would be complete without a visit to the Bavarian Motor Works factory, also known as BMW Welt (World).  We took a look at all the cars on display as well as the exhibits. The kids liked the exhibits that were effectively glorified video games where you got to drive a car.   I liked sitting in the new BMWs.

We finally headed to the airport in Munich to drop off our Renault Grand Scenic.  12857 km in the last 90 days.  It worked out great for us and after we had finished dropping it off, Caroline and I said that we were both surprised that we didn’t get in an accident or have any dings given the somewhat chaotic driving.  

Now, we are off to the island of Mauritius.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen with obscured view of Zugspitze in the background

Waldwirtschaft Biergarten in Munich

Sitting in an M3 at BMW Welt in Munich.

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