Thurs. Oct 4
We left Philly about 45 min late due to a delay loading catering. It is now 9:50 CET and we just passed over the channel. I don’t think we will land in Munich at 10:40. The pilot seems to have lost his voice – no announcement of ETA.
Remind me not to fly a US airline again. They rented the earphones for the movie for $5 (or €5!), then sold wine and beer for $5. “Breakfast” was a doughnut and the coffee was definitely not up to German standards. At least without earphones I did not watch the movie, so I got some sleep. The woman making the announcement in German talks too fast for me to understand her, but then, she makes the English announcements too fast for me to understand, too.
Just off the coast of England, in the channel, was a windmill farm.
Just switched my wallet from USD to Euro; haven’t done the coins yet.
Let’s see. When I get to Munich, use the ATM, buy a Bayern-Ticket-Single, talk to German Rail (reservations, night trains, strike).
I got out of the airport without seeing a DB center, but used the ATM and got the BTS. Went to the Hbf and stashed my stuff in a Schliesfach, then walked down to Theresienwiese to have a look at the Oktoberfest. The beer company venues are not big tents; they are permanent wooden structures. I went into the Augustiner bldg. It looked like every seat was taken. The band was not playing, and the din of people talking was deafening. In addition to the beer bldgs there is a large carnival midway.
Throughout the Bahnhof and between there and the Theresienwiese are lots of people in Bavaraian dress. Some of it looks like real Trachten, other just an approximation.
After snooping around and having a sandwich and a warm beer, I went to the Starnbergerbahnhof and boarded the train for the Oberammergau. I took the train as far as Murnau and the SEV bus from there.
I arrived in Oberammergau about 2 hours later than the earliest projected time, and Frau Richter was not there. There was a sign on the door to ring the bell, and if no answer, call a phone number. Of course I have no phone. A guy in a delivery truck, Herr Saulgrub, who obviously knows her, saw me standing there, stopped and called her to tell her she had a guest waiting.
The room is small, but adequate. Frau Richter speaks very good English, which was a big help setting up my wireless connection. There are other English speaking guest here – a couple from western NY.
There seems to be some problem getting the WiFi signal on the end of the house where my room is, but I can get it fine in the breakfast room. Boy, am I hungry. Breakfast isn’t until 7 AM.
Gaestehaus Richter, Oberammergau
After sending some emails home, I went to bed about 6:30 and slept until midnight (4 PM Denver time). I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I figured I would take care of some administrative work, and here I am.
Friday, Oct 5
I got back to sleep around 0030 and slept until about 0600, got up and was ready for breakfast at 7AM. I love the German Brötchen. So much better than American rolls.
Apparently the first day of the locomotive drivers’ strike against DB went off this morning from 800 to 1100, with major delays for workers in the cities. The projection is for no more strikes over the weekend, when I need to use the trains, but maybe some action next week. The only day I have to use the trains is next Friday. We will have to just wait and see.
Talked a little to the NYers sitting next to me. At first he thought he might go to Linderhof with me, but then his wife convinced be that their group was having a tour there on Sunday. Now he says he might go to Füssen on Saturday, which means he leaves on the bus with me at 10:38. We’ll see. He didn’t sound real sure.
Anyway, I got out to the bus in plenty of time. When I got on the bus I said very carefully, “Schloss Linderhof, hin und Zurück”. The driver punched in the points and then showed me the fare on the display. I guess he didn’t think I would know the numbers if I heard them. Maybe I sounded too rehearsed.
When I got off I explained to him that I could understand German and he could have said the numbers in German. After a few sentences in the conversation, he actually told me that my German was very good.
So I went up to the kiosk to buy a ticket for Linderhof. First I examined the board to find the terminology - Mehrtageskarte – then went up to the window and asked for that. The woman somehow picked up on the accent and insisted on speaking English to me, even though I was responding in German.
Linderhof is really small. Apparently the king was such a recluse that only a few servants actually were in his presence in the palace. No one, for instance, had to attend the fireplaces, since the rooms were heated from fireplaces in the servant’s area underneath and the hot air came up through the fireplaces in his chambers. The dining room was set for only one person. The table could be mechanically lowered to the kitchen below, completely set, including the food, then raised into position for him without his having to see any of the kitchen staff.
After seeing the palace itself, I went back to the hotel at the entrance and had “Mittagessen”, pork roast with a potato dumpling and shredded cabbage salad. I was so full. After lunch I went back to see the Grotto. The Grotto (die Venusgrotte) is an immense manmade cave with a lake and a boat, in which could be rowed around. Yeah, the guy really was a little out of touch with reality. By then I was so tired I came back to the hotel and took a nap, omitting Kloster Ettal in the process. After the nap I went out to get my Abend Brot, which is supposed to be a light evening meal. Instead I had “Surbraten”, which was the same price as a couple of sausages. Wrong choice! Too much food in one day. I am going to have to cut down tomorrow.
So, tomorrow I take the bus to Wieskirche, then head north to Schongau and then to Landsberg am Lech for the night. I will take buses until I get to Schongau, but then I need the trains to get to Landsberg.
Saturday, Oct 6
On the actual Romantic Road
For the most part, this was a disappointing day. I never expected Wieskirche to be impressive, and it lived down to its expectations. Like almost every other church in Bavaria, it is overly gawdy. I could not go all the way to the front, because there was a German language tour being conducted by a man dressed as (probably was) a priest. I just stood at the back and looked until I felt I could say I had seen it, then went to the nearby gasthof and had lunch (Backerbsen suppe and a bier). Then I caught the bus headed north. We got to Rottenbuch Post just in time to catch the bus to Schongau, which started there.
I got off the bus at Schongau Bahnhof and started to walk along the road towards the south end of town, as the maps seemed to indicate to do. After maybe a hundred feet, there was a lane headed west with a sign “Altstadt”. So I followed that path and soon found byself at the foot of the hill on which the town is built, facing a steep switchback trail up to an arch in the wall. After going through the arch I found myself on the road to the Rathaus, which I followed up to the town square. I went about a block south and tuned back to the direction of the wall and followed the street that went south parallel to the wall. I took a couple of alleys over to the wall, which was topped with a covered walk (I think that is called a “Wehrgang”). I never found a way to get close enough to it to inspect it or to get on it.
Eventually I found myself where the nowadays road enters the southern end of the city, near a preserved gate tower and short piece of wall. Again, there was no access to the gate or to the wall.
I decided that Schongau is a complete waste of time. I followed a trail along the base of the wall back to the original trail, and from there to the Bahnhof. I had been there less than an hour, and I caught the next train to Weilheim. In Weilheim I caught a train going to Munich Hbf. The train was loaded with young people obviously headed for Oktoberfest – guys in lederhosen, girls showing off their ample breasts with low cut dirndels.
I changed in Pasing to an outcoming train from Munich, changed again in Kaufering, and arrived in Landsberg am Lech at about 4 PM.
If I had it to do all over again, I would have skipped Wieskirche and gone directly to Landsberg. Landsberg is neat. It has a large open town square, the Hauptplatz. On one side is a tall stone tower, part of the first city wall built in the 13th century. I checked into my hotel and immediately went back out with my camera to get some pictures before the sun went down. I also found the northernmost gate of the 2nd city wall, built a few hundred years later. Now, here is some real stuff.
So, after a hard day of travel I am now convinced that the only thing worth seeing on the Romantic Road between Augsburg and Füssen is Landsberg.
Sun Oct. 7
Boy, are my legs tired. I walked so much today. I started by walking from Augsburger Hof, where I stayed, to the Hauptbahnhof. I don’t think it would have taken more than about 10 minutes, but I made a wrong turn a block early for the station, then kept going down that street thinking I would find a cross street soon. When I finally turned back, I was beginning to feel like I might not have enough time – I did have to buy my Bayern-Ticket when I got to the station. As luck would have it, there were two women trying to figure out the Nahverkehr automat, so I went over to the Fernverkehr one. I was holding my €20 note, but didn’t pay any attention to the guy who said something to me in German, until I was ready to pay and noticed that the Fernverkehr automat did not take cash. By then the two women had finished with the other automat, so I bought my ticket there with cash. Then, because the train had arrived, I grabbed my ticket and started to run for the train. As I got to the door I heard him say, “Geld”, and realized that I had not picked up my change. I almost pointed my finger at my head, then remembered what Tim had said, and didn’t.
I made the train, and several hours later found myself in Donauwörth. I left my big bag in a locker and went to find the statue of the “Junge Donau” at the confluence of the Wornitz and the Danube. After photographing the statue, I went looking for ruins of Mangold castle. It was closer than I thought, so then I went looking for some of the remaining wall on the side away from the river. I amazes me how they apparently let people buy the land right up to (sometimes spanning) the wall. I short, there were only short sections of the wall visible; the rest was covered up with buildings built up to it.
I walked back to the Kirchplatz just in time to hear all the church bells in town chiming out noon. From there I cut down to the riverside wall, through it, and then along the river to the bridge back to the island where the station was. While I was waiting at the station, I noticed the departure board was not displaying any departures. Instead it had a statement about being on the emergency schedule because of the strike. I had thought they were not supposed to go on strike over the weekend. There was a Reisezentrum right in front of me, so I went in and asked him about the notice. He reassured me that these was no strike today, the message had been posted by mistake.
Leaving my bag in the locker, I headed north for Harburg. The walk from the station to town was not as bad as I had imagined, although it did take longer than the 10 minutes the tourist bureau had said it would take – maybe twenty minutes, total. The hard part was the walk up the hill (they do build these things on the top of hills for a reason) to the castle. That was probably 25 minutes if you include my rest stops. I caught the next tour (about 30 minutes later). Harburg is a very pretty and interesting castle. I am glad I went to the effort to see it. However, if you are traveling like I do, that effort is very substantial.
After seeing the castle, I made my way back to the station. Mercifully, it was almost all downhill.
I took the train back to the Donauwörth station, picket up my bag, and headed to Nördlingen. The walk to the hotel was short. It is just outside the wall, within a short distance of the Deninger Tor.
With all the walking I did today, my legs ache, particularly my knees. I take two aspirin before going to bed.
Mon, Oct. 8
I ate breakfast at 7 AM this morning so I could go out at 8 and look for an Internet café. I didn’t find it, but I did have the unique experience of watching the town wake up. While I walked narrow, winding streets lined with fachwerk houses in the cold (32 deg F), crisp, morning, delivery vans unloaded their goods on soon-to-be-busy streets, bundled up workers scurried to work, and shopkeepers swept already immaculate sidewalks before setting up their wares.
Later I climbed the 200 plus foot tower of the church in order to look around at the vast meteorite crater in which Nördlingen was built. It was scary. The church tower is hollow, and they have built in it a sort of scaffold to provide a path to the top. I wasn’t able to see as much as I wanted to see; it was hazy. Maybe if I had gone up earlier, but then it was so cold.
I went back to the hotel and finished packing (took two more aspirin), than caught the bus for Dinkelsbühl. In contrast to Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl is lacking in something. I suspect what it lacks is authenticity, but I can’t really put my finger on it. It might be the wall. In Nördlingen and Rothenburg, the walls are topped with a walkway, the Wehrgang, from which the wall was defended. In Dinkelsbühl, or at least the part I saw, there is nothing. Was it just a security wall, not intended to be defended? Or is it just a hurried reconstruction?
Anyway, I had scheduled 3 ½ hours for Dinkelsbühl, but I left an hour early for Feuchtwangen.
The walk to Wildermann was shorter than it appears on the map. After checking in, I walked into town and looked for the statue. It is not there. I am sure I found the spot, just in front of the Kleine Gallery. It must have either been sold or move as an unwanted attraction.
Tues, Oct 9
Today should be a much easier day. I will spend most of the day riding on the bus.
The bus doesn’t leave until 10:57, so after using the ATM and taking a walk around town, I went into the restaurant at Wildermann and had a cup of coffee while I wrote some in my journal. I was the only one on the bus from Feuchtwangen to Dombuhl, where I changed for Rothenburg. I got to Rothenburg about 12:30, with 40 minutes for lunch. I bought a Döner sandwich at the kiosk next to the train station. The bus appeared at the stop well ahead of time, so I got on and took at seat. Well before departure time, she pulled out and drove around town, stopping a coulple of times to pick up school kids, until the bus was almost full, then returned to the bahnhof ZOB. Good thing I got on first. As she headed west towards Creglingen, she progressively dropped kids in little dorfs, until by the time we got to Creglingen there was only one kid left. She took great pains to explain to me which bus haltsstelle to use and the name of the bus company. I didn’t tell her that I had thoroughly researched the trip and knew which buses to take. Even without the research, it would be easy. There are always a number of “stalls” at the ZOBs, and they are clearly marked with the bus number and the destination.
The connecting bus to Weikersheim was a little late (~10 minutes) which worried me a little. The rest of the trip was uneventful; we arrived at the ZOB at the Weikersheim Bahnhof with plenty of time to buy my ticket and catch the next train to Laudenbach. Laudenbach is just a little village. It took only a few minutes to walk to my hotel, Gasthof Traube. I found that there is also a bus stop next to the hotel, and some buses go to Weikersheim Marktplatz. So, after checking in, I took the next bus to Weikersheim to look for an Internet café. I had seen something on the Internet to indicate that there was one there, near the Marktplatz. The woman in the tourist information office gave me direction. Some internet café. They had two computers, only one of which worked. The one working computer was being used by the prototypical computer hog. I wailted for two hours, then had to leave to catch the last bus to Laudenbach.
Wed, Oct 10
Took the bus first thing to the Weikersheim bahnhof, then walked to the Marktplatz. The woman at the tourist amt let me leave my bag in the corner in the lobby so I could see the palace. It was very interesting. They had the rooms used by the next to last count. He and his wife had their own bedrooms connected by a long hall with 4 intervening rooms. No wonder they only had one child – he died young in a riding accident without any heirs, ending the family line..
The fare box on the bus from Weikersheim to Bad Mergentheim wasn’t working, so I got a free ride.
In Bad Mergentheim there were twelve lockers in the station, all full. I had to carry my bag to the Schloss. Wouldn’t have been so bad, but the entrance to the Schloss complex is through a different building than the actual museum, and there is no sign –only a big sign on the museum building, so I ended up carrying my bag all the way around. I did discover that, although the shoulder strap is handy for short distances, the packpack straps are more comfortable for distances.
I found the museum (Deutschesordens -> Order of Teutonic Knight) to be very interesting. One could well spend a day there. It’s all in German, so, for expedience I just skimmed to descriptions.
I returned to the station; it’s not so bad if you know the direct way. From there I took the train to Würzburg. I tried to take some pictures from the train, but the bushes along side kept getting in the way. I was a typical German countryside – rolling hills dotted with the red roofs of villages.
From the station in Würzburg I quickly found my way to Pension Spehnkuch, my home for the next two nights. It’s small, barely bigger than by first fraternity room. I don’t really like having the bathroom and shower down the hall.
Thurs, Oct 11
My day of rest. I bought an all day transit pass. It cost about half of my first streetcar ride would have alone. I went by streetcar to the base of Marienburg hill, got off and found the bus stop. It was just before 10, and according to the sign at the bus stop, the next bus was at 10:30. I hunkered down in the cold to wait. I was reading some brochure when I looked up and saw the open door of a bus and the # 9 and “Festung”. I jumped up and boarded the bus at the middle door, much to the amusement of the people already on the bus. The bus then took us up the short steep road to the castle.
Festung Marienburg is as impressive as I thought it would be. I took the tour in German but didn’t understand much. The museum had a model of Würzburg after allied bombing in March 1945. That was just before the end of the war. What a shame.
After Marienberg I caught the bus to the Residenz. I guess I am really not into in-town palaces. It is just a bunch of big overly ornate rooms.
I got vertigo walking around staring at the molded ceiling. I couldn’t walk straight all the way back to the room.
to continue with my trip.