Thursday, Aug 27
Osterhofen, Schliersee, Bayrischzell
Oh, the luxury. Today I don't have
to go anywhere. Yesterday I had
to get up, had to catch the train to Brannenburg, etc. Today I'm just going to go to Schliersee, 20 minutes away by bus.
I got up at 6:30, got mostly ready by 7:30, then had a nice leisurely breakfast, and still had plenty of time to catch the 9:05 SEV to Schliersee. Normally I would go by train, but they are working on tracks (here too) and shuttling us around the work area. The SEV (Scheinenersatzverkehr) bus runs from Bayrischzell to Schliersee, stopping for Osterhofen on the highway down the hill from where I am staying.
I learned something about SEVs today. It's exactly like riding the train, just a substitute bus. You must buy your train ticket at the station in advance. I'm used to buying bus tickets on the bus, but SEV are not like regular buses. They don't check your ticket when you get on, but you must have one. In this area, as in Munich, the tickets must be validated (Entwertet
The Osterhofen "Bahnhof" is half way down the hill from where I am staying, in a different direction from the bus stop. It should have a ticket automat, but that has been taken out for maintenance while the track is closed. Because there is no ticket automat at the Osterhofen Bahnhof, there is a special rail agent on the bus just to sell tickets for those from Osterhofen. She explains that for tomorrow, when I am going with the train to Bad Tölz, I should buy the ticket from Osterhofen to Bad Tölz today while I am in Schliersee.
The trains here are run by BOB, Bayrischeoberlandbahn.
|Schliersee||Hotel in Schliersee|
Schliersee is a very pretty resort town on a lake. It's a quiet town. I don't know what vacationers do here. There are boats you can rent to ride on the lake, and there is a cable car (Seilbahn) somewhere from the town to a mountain top around here. Other than that... Oh, but it does have good GSM service. I get to use the Internet and upload pictures from the last few days to my website. Afterwards I walk down to the lake, follow the shore around a ways, then return through the town to the Bahnhof. There sure are a lot of classic Bavarian chalets in towns, with flower covered balconies.
After a very filling lunch of Schweinelenden (boneless pork chops) and potato salad, I return to the Bahnhof and buy a ticket to Bayrischzell, which is on the other side, only a few minutes away, from Osterhofen. Bayrischzell is another typical Bavarian Alpine town like Schliersee, but with out the lake. I find that the Tourist Office has a reading room with newspapers, so I read a little about Ted Kennedy. Then I have some light dinner (Abend Brot) and return with the SEV to my room in Osterhofen. Tomorrow will be a big day - Osterhofen to Mittenwald, taking the non-rail route from Bad Tölz to Mittenwald.
Friday, Aug 28
Osterhofen to Mittenwald via Bad Tölz, Kochl
This morning I walk west to the Osterhofen Bahnhof to validate my ticket. Because they are working on the track around the station, there are barriers up all over. I have to walk up the grass bank to get to the station and the "validating" machine. Then I walk to the east to catch the SEV. The same agent is on the bus and she explains to me that, because the station is out of order, I could have waited to Schliersee to validate the ticket. Oh, well.
My trip today is convoluted. First the SEV to Schliersee, then the train to Holzkirchen, then another train to Bad Tölz, then three buses to Mittenwald. I could have gone from Schliersee to Munich, then from Munich to Mittenwald in about the same time, but I have been over most of that route before. The buses give me the opportunity to see some less often seen Alpine towns.
The sign over the tracks in Holzkirchen shows two trains arriving on track one in 5 minutes. One train is on the C part of track 1, a short train, going to Bayrischzell. On A & B is a longer train. The overhead board says part of it is going to Lenggries, the other part to Tegernsee. I go up to a A section. A train comes in with the front sign saying Bayrischsell, but it takes up sections A and B, also. Apparently the front part, opposite C, is going to splint off and go to Bayrischzell. The car in front of me says it is going to Lenggries, by way of Bad Tölz, so I get on. When we get to Shaftlach, where to train is supposed to split, I get worried. The announcers says that passengers to Lenggries should be in the last cars, but I have no way to tell if I am in a front car, or not, but the display in the car say Lenggries, so I say put. When we get to the next station, it is on the Lenggries line, so I relax.
When I board the bus in Bad Tölz, I tell the driver I want a Tageskarte. He says a Tageskarte is for the train. So I say I want an RVO (Regional Verkehr Oberbayern) Tageskarte and he sell me a day ticket for the RVO buses for &euro'9,-. Was that so hard? I guess, hearing my American accent, he figured I couldn't understand the transit system.
The bus I take to Kochel am See is RVO 9612. I get off in Kochel and go to the schedule board expecting to see a schedule for bus 9608, which I am taking to Walgau. I don't see a schedule. I turn and look at the bus I just got off of, and he has changed his sign to "9608, Walgau". So, in Kochel I stay on the same bus but the number changes. In Walgau, I have to change to another bus, but the number (9608) stays the same. Go figure.
I arrive in Mittenwald shortly after noon. It's just a short walk to where I am staying. The woman at the door is the mother of the guy I have been emailing. She speaks no English :o). We have a nice little conversation. She asks me where I started from today and where I am going tomorrow. She asks me if I am French.
Mittenwald is pretty, but so are so many Alpine towns. The 9000' Karwendel right outside of town is impressive. There is a Seilbahn to the top, but I don't think I will have time to do that.
After settling in for a few minutes, I head into town for a late lunch. The town is swimming with tourists. It is more touristic than anyplace I have been to yet. Well, maybe Hallstatt was as touristic, but not more. Mittenwald has a nice Fußgangerzone (pedestrian zone), with lots of shops and outdoor restaurants.
I find an outdoor restaurant off the crowded pedestrian zone. They have a combination of 3 Weiswurst and a .5 l Weisbier on the menu. I order that. I remember years (>20) years ago reading about how the Münchners eat Weiswurst, very deftly pealing the skin off the sausage with their fork. Two years ago I sat across from an obviously German man eating a Weiswurst at the Hofbräuhaus. He disected the sausage like he was a brain surgeon. It's harder than it looks. It wasn't pretty, but I got the job done.
I go back to my room and wash cloths so that they will have time to dry for tomorrow, then later go back into town to look around and have some dinner. I stop at the TI. There is a terminal outside to check on rooms. I find seven Zimmer frei, six for less than I am paying. While I am in the restaurant, it rains, but when I come out it has almost stopped and I don't need my umbrella to get home.
Saturday, Aug 29
Mittenwald to Pfronten via Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Reutte
It rained alot last night, and it is overcast this morning. Every time a spend a day traveling by bus, with many connections, it rains the next day. Why?
Years ago, when I visited my relatives in Baden-Württemberg, I noticed I could understand them when they talked to me, but not when they talked to each other. I asked my cousin if they were speaking "High German" with each other. He said no, that they were speaking their dialect. I said, "Do you ever speak High German?" He said "Only when you are here."
And that is how it is in Germany. Most of the time people speak their dialect with each other. This morning there was a young couple in the breakfast room with me. They were speaking to my hostess, but I could not understand much. I did hear her say I was from Colorado. So the couple knew I was from the U.S., but they never spoke English to me. After they left, she talked to me for a while. I asked her if they had been speaking High German and she said no, they were speaking the local dialect.
There is a 9:37 train to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I get to the Bahnhof just at 9:37 and have to buy a ticket. I'm not going to catch the 9:37. The next train to GaP is a 11:37. I can go from Mittenwald to Pfronten today with a Werdenfel-Ticket for €10,50. For €14,- I can get a Werdenfel + Seefeld Ticket and go up to Seefeld, which is in Austria, the high point on the line from Mittenwald to Innsbruck. The train coming back will be the same one I would catch at 11:37 in Mittenwald anyway, so that is what I do.
The trip up to Seefeld is nice. Again, the mountains are heavily wooded and remind me of the northern Cascades. Seefeld is just another quaint Alpine town. If the weather were clearer, perhaps I would be impressed by the mountains, but I can't see any.
The train from Innsbruck, to Garmisch comes into the Seefeld station, and I get on. There are some people congregating in the car in front of me. A blond girl comes out to the vestibule and seems to be giving information to the conductor. Pretty soon men appear outside the car with a "rescue" chair. They bring it into the train and come back out pretty soon with a young woman on it. I don't see any blood; she is holding her hand to her neck, but they have not put on a neck brace. They take her away, but the blond gets back on. Maybe she is not a friend, only a witness to whatever happened. this incident makes us 20 minutes late. We lose another 5 minutes waiting for a train to pass. Had we not been 20 minutes late, that pass probably would have taken place in the Garmisch Bahnhof.
They are doing track work between Garmisch and Reutte, so we have another SEV. They announce it on the train, that it is waiting in front of the Bahnhof. Judging from the number of people already on the bus, it has waited for us.
I just had an hour and a half stopover in Reutte. There has been some discussion recently on the Wall about Reutte, why rick seems to favor it, is it anything special. From what I saw today, I would count myself with the "nothing special" group. I don't think I would make a special effort to go there. I am making a special effort to go the Pfronten. I have been through the town five times, four times on the bus between the Allgäu and Füssen, once on the train to Garmisch. Although I saw it mostly from the train station, I alway thought it looked nice. Anyway, they send me christmas cards (Internet kind) every year. I think Pfronten has at least as good bus access to Füssen as does Reutte.
The train arrives in Pfronten 5 minutes late. The bus I was supposed to take to my hotel doesn't wait for the train, but leaves at about the same time we arrive. So I walk to Hotel Löwen (Lions). It doesn't take to long and I have gotten used to walking on this trip. For dinner tonight I try something a little different, for me, trout. They serve the trout on a plate, with the head. In France, they can only sell rabbits in the market with their heads, presumable so they can't sell cats as rabbits. What, then, is the purpose of serving the trout with the head?
Sunday, Aug 30
This morning I walked from my hotel to the Pfronten-Ried Bahnhof. Pfronten is actually a collection of 11 villages (Ried, Steinach, Dorf, Melingen, usw) that have grown together. Ried is the largest village, I think (it has the biggest Bahnhof). I'm staying in Steinach, just to the east.
No doubt I prefer Pfronten to Reutte. There was something uncomfortable about Reutte. I don't think Pfronten is smaller than Reutte, but it feels smaller - more intimate.
I take some pictures of the hotels on the street leading from Steinach to Ried and some of the Ried Bahnhof. Now is am sitting at an outdoor Biergarten waiting to take the bus to the other end of Pfronten, to the Steinach Bahnhof and the Breitenbergbahn. Maybe I'll go up the cable car.
I've blown off any idea of going to Walkenstein. It would just take too much of my day. I want to really experience Pfronten.
Since Saturday morning in Freilassing, only eight people have spoken English to me, and most were incidental contacts. For instance, while I was looking at the bus schedule in front of the Ried Bahnhof, a man said something to me in rapid German, probably dialect. I told him, in German, that he must speak more slowly, so he asked me in English, "Where is the bus to Tannheim?" I've seen buses on the main road with "Tannnheim" on them, but I don't think that bus stops here. In Mondsee I ordered a Sachertorte and the waitress recognized my accent and answered in English. I didn't need that. A waiter in Schliersee recognised my accent and started to explain the menu in English. I told him that just because I have an accent didn't mean I am dumb. On the other hand, most of the people I have met either didn't realize I speak English (doubtful) or can't speak English. I have had significant discretionary conversations in German with at least four people. My host here in Pfronten complemented me on my German (he speaks Bosnian and German). I'm so-o-o ecstatic!
Ok, enough already. I went to get on the bus and said "Steinach Bahnhof, Breitenbergbahn". I started to say "Breitenburgbahn", then changed it to "Breitenbergbahn". He said, "One eighty" (€1,80)! Americans say "burg" and "Berg" the same, and incorrectly, I said both correctly, and he still knew I spoke English. I'm going to start playing dumb when they respond in English. "Wie, bitte, ich kann nicht Englisch verstehen". I did that once in Boppard, after I had been engaged in an English conversation with the Brits next to me, and the waitress just laughed and repeated the question in Geman.
I'm now having "lunch", Hachfleish (ground meat) in a mushroom gravy with Spätzle, at a Gasthof at the bottom of the Breitenbergbahn, a gondola up the Breitenberg. After lunch I'll take the gondola to the top of Breitenberg.
I'm currently sitting in my room, updating my webpage. I've added pictures. In case you haven't noticed, all of the pictures from this trip are thumbnail. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger view. On that view there will be an icon in the lower right corner (shows up under the mouse pointer after a second) for an even larger view.
After lunch I went up the Breitenbergbahn to the Breitenberghaus. It was not the top of the Breitenberg; that takes an addition chairlift and some walking. The view from here was enough. Across the valley I could see the Falkenstein, the castle ruins on which Ludwig planed to build his last (next) castle. Over the ridge with the Falkenstein I could see Füssen and, on the side of the mountain behind Füssen, Neuschwanstein.
The weather here in the Allgäu has been just beautiful - sunny but not to hot, low humidity. The owner mentioned to someone else tonight that the temperature is supposed to go down to 5° tonight. That's 5°C, not F. That's 41°F - still pretty chilly.
Monday, Aug 31
Pfronten to Poing (Munich)
Sunday, when I was exploring Pfronten, I stopped at the Bahnhof and bought a Bayern-ticket for Monday. I wasn't sure how hard it would be buy one in the bus. So, I have a full day of unlimited travel on regional trains. I'm not sure if this is the fastest way to Munich, but I am going to take the bus to Füssen and the train from there to Munich. The point of going via Füssen is to check on some questions people always ask and to take some pictures for this website.
The bus stops in front of where I am staying at 9:48. On the way to Füssen we go by the ruins of two castles, Hohenfreyberg and Eisenberg, and the bus stop right below them. I'm going to have to come back some time and spend more time in Pfronten, hiking up to Falkenberg and visiting these ruins also.
from Bahnhof door
We get to Füssen Bahnhof at 10:33 and the bus to Hohenschwangau doesn't leave until 11:05, so I have plenty of time to check out the lockers at the Bahnhof. There are 30 of them, 12 small (€2) and 18 large (€3). Most are empty. I put my carryon bag in one of the small ones and go to the bus, which is already waiting. It's an 8 minute trip to Hohenschwangau. The visitor's center is right at the bus stop, on the same side of the road. I go in and have a short conversation with the girl behind the counter. Yes, they will hold visitor's luggage for them. No lockers, but they put them behind the counter.
Then I walk the hundred yards around the corner to the ticket kiosk. There are two lines, one for walkup tickets to Neuschwanstein or both castles, one for reserved tickets and Hohenschwangau only. There are quite a few people in the serpentine for Neuschwanstein, but is serves several counters and is moving quickly. It is 11:30 and the are booking the 12:40 English tour of Neuschwanstein. The is no line for ticket pickups or Hohenschwangau.
I walk back down the hill and find a cafe for lunch. Again, I have Weißwürste (2).
After lunch, I take the bus back to Füssen Bahnhof and catch to train to Munich Hbf, where I transfer to the S2 to Poing. In at Hotel Stasser in Poing now. In a little while, I'm going up the street to the little restaurant I alway go to when I am here.
I'm back. For the restaurant up the street, "Montag ist Ruhetag",so I couldn't eat there. The first time I stayed here, in 1988, the restaurant downstairs had traditional German. I was here in 2002, and it was Italian. We ate there twice, not because we wanted Italian, but because it was early January and somewhere around 15°C and we didn't want to go outside. Now it is Asian. I looked at the menu and said "no". I didn't come to Germany to eat asian food. There is a Kabob stand down the street, but I didn't feel like that. I finally found a little place down near the S-Bahn station. It didn't look like much, but the food was really good. I had Rahm Schnitzl. It's much like Jäger Schnitzl (hunter sytyle, with brown sauce with mushrooms). This had a dollup of whipcream on top of the Schnitzl.
Tuesday, Sept 1
Today is German Museum day. That's it. Although I suspect all I can do is to scratch the surface, I'll go there. But I'm going to try to make today leisurely.
I get to the S-Bahn station before 9 AM, buy my MVV Tageskarte, and sit on a hornet. At least, I think that is what happened. The seats in the Bahnhof are an open mesh design, and when I sat down I felt a sharp sensation on my leg. I saw a hornet fly away - they are all over the place here. Later I felt a welt on my leg, but it isn't bothering me too much. I think the thickness of my pants kept it from getting in deep.
Now I am sitting in a snack bar of the German Museum. If been here two hours and I have already walk miles. I'm on a mezannine over the aeronautic exhibit. This is the best part of the museum. The have a German built F-104, a Messerschmidt 109, and a Fokker triplane, like the Red Barron flew. I'm amaze at how tiny the triplane is. The also have a V-1 and a V-2. In a minute I'm going to go up to the computer exhibit. The museum is open until 5 PM. I don't think that I will last that long.
It's 3 PM. I'm finished. I've been here since 10 AM. Except for about 1/2 hour when I had lunch I have been on my feet and walking almost all of the time. I think I actually walked more today, without leaving the building, than I did at Herrenchiemsee.
The German Museum is interesting. I started the day in the part on bridge and tunnel construction. That was interesting. Lots of models. Then I found the section on aeronautics. As I already said, that part was interesting to me. I've seen F-104s in the air, but never up close. The astronautics section had a mercury capsule. Some of the other sections were not so interesting to me. The computer section had a lot of information on the development of the microchip, some thing I have lived, so nothing new for me, but I thing there was something of interest there for everyone. I'm not going back tomorrow.
Tomorrow I will go to Dachau. The tours start in the early afternoon, so I can have a fairly easy morning.
This morning I noticed that there were no Eier (eggs) on the breakfast buffet. They always have soft boiled eggs at Hotel Strasser; it's one of the things I look forward to in Germany and have only had one time since Friday morning, here. I mentioned it to my hostess and she looked aghast; she had forgotten. "Morgen" (tomorrow), she said. I'll look forward to that.
Wednesday, September 2
Today, I guess, is even more relaxed than yesterday. All I am going to do today is to go to Dachau. I've been to Munich six times already, and I have never seen Dachau. It's not so much that I have avoided it. There are just more interesting things for me than Dachau, and I have never found the time. The tours at Dachau don't start until about 1 PM, so I have a relatively leisurely morning in Poing before heading to Dachau. Because I am going on to Freising for the night, to be close to the airport, I buy a Gesamtnetz Tageskarte (€10) for the trip, which gives me unlimited travel in Munich for the entire day. I start with the S-bahn in Poing and go to the Hauptbahnhof, stash my bag in a locker, then to on to Dachau.
From the station in Dachau, it is very easy to find the right bus (the bus stop is marked with "Dachau memorial" signs, duh). I reach the memorial and sign up for an English tour. I am relieved to find out that despite the harsh treatment of the prisoners at Dachau, this was not an "extermination" camp. It was a labor (slave) camp and a facility for the "rehabilitation" of socially unacceptables (criminals, political dissidents, gypsies, homosexuals, and eventually Jews). "Only" about 30,000 inmates died at Dachau, mostly from overwork. Unfortunately, many more at the camp were ruled unfit and transferred to cames where they were killed.
After Dachau, I went back to the Hauptbahnof, picked up my bag, and went on to Freising where I spent the night before heading back to the U.S.
Other than being right next to the S-bahn tracks into Freising, my accommodations were quite nice - a large room and a modern bath. I had emailed my host about how I had to leave for the airport first thing in the morning. He had everything prepared in typical German fashion. Everything for my breakfast was in the room - rolls, a refrigerator with sausage slices, cheese, preserves, yogurt. The coffee pot was preloaded with just the right amount of coffee and water. All I had to do was plug it in. Even the envelope with the bill (Rechnung
), which was €45, had a €5 note as change in case I wanted to leave a €50 note.
The Gästehaus owner had left a folder with the instructions of how to find several restaurants in town. I passed on Weihenstephen, the oldest brewery in the world, because I have been there before, and because it is a considerable climb up the hill. With help from the instructions he left, I found the Parkcafe, where I had Spaghetti Carbonara.
While I was at the Parkcafe, it started to rain (I knew I should have brought my umbrella), and I had to walk home. Fortunately, most of the way was on a green belt, and the trees sheltered me.
I don't know if the heavy metal shutters kept out the train noise, or if the S-bahn didn't run until morning, but I slept soundly, without hearing the train, until 5 AM.
Thursday, Sept. 3
Freising to MUC
When I was planning this trip, this date, 3/9, was always the last day. Now, here it is.
It's raining. Wouldn't you know it. I get up at 5 AM, start the coffee pot, and take a shower. By the time I'm out of the shower, the coffee is ready. I sit at the table and eat my last meal in Germany. In a way I'm happy to be going home, back to my real life, my family, my cats. In another way, the fantasy of the last two weeks is almost over.
I zip up my suitcase for the last time, and head out into the rain for the walk to the Freising Bus Bhf. I guess I really didn't need to be two hours early. This is a domestic flight, Munich to Düsseldorf. I really only needed to be here an hour ahead. I spend most of my time waiting for the flight. Ironically, my first trip to Europe ended with a flight from Munich (then the old airport) to Düsseldorf to Chicago. I've come full circle. Hopefully that is not an omen.
We leave Munich a half hour late. Fortunately I have over an hour for the change in Düsseldorf. It's a small airport. I walk down the corridor from my arrival gate, A72, to my depearture gate A89. On the way, I pass through Passport Control and enter the international departure area and go through Schengen passport control. Now I am officially outside of Europe.
First, I think I did pretty well on the itinerary. There was no place that I wished I had spent less time, and only one where I could have spent more time. Of all the places I saw, I kind have written off almost all them as "seen, no need to go back" Pfronten is the big exception. I really want to go back for more time. I want to go up to Walkenstein; that will take most of a day, and there are those two castle ruins I would like to see.
It was a little hectic. Four one night stands and five two night stands. However, I have the system down pretty well. Everything (almost) in my bag is in smaller bags. Packing in the morning is a breeze; just throw the smaller bags into the bigger one and go. I also have the wash'n go system down, thanks to polyester cotton blends and inflatible hangers. I could probably do it with one set of underwear and two shirt if I was really gutsy. Pants are the problem. They don't wash so easily.
This trip was much more satisfying v-v language than the last Bavarian trip. At only two places (Freilassing and Osterhofen) did my host(ess) speak appreciable English. I got several compliments on my German.
Any time you look up a connection on MVV (Munich metro), it includes little maps of the station area. These maps include bus stops at a rail station. I should have checked the location of bus stops at Grub.
|Plan of Grub Bahnhof|
from MVV website
The first morning in Germany, I was supposed to travel from Poing to Grub by SEV, then on a regular bus from Grub to Vaterstaetten. There are three bus stops in Grub, all fairly well separated. The SEV let me off in front of a Gaststaette in Grub, about 50 yds down a wooded lane from the S-Bahnhof. At first, I didn't even see the signs to the Bahnhof, but I did see signs at the bus stop for another bus, not the one to Vaterstaetten. I eventually found the S-bahn stop, but didn't notice the bus stop (the one I wanted) on the other side. Finally, I took the SEV to Feldkirchen, where I caught the S-Bahn into Ostbahnhof and, ironically, caught the same train that I would have caught in Vaterstaetten, so no loss. However, this only happened because I had arrived at the Poing Bahnhof 20 minutes early and caught an earlier SEV. Had I been on the planned SEV, I wouldn't have caught the right train to Prien. Lesson: any time you look up a connection on the MVV website, it has a link to the plan of any station where you will be making a connection. Look at it. Don't just assume that all bus stops will be together.
I spent 14 days (13 full days plus two half days - arrival and departure) in Germany and Austria. Everything included (meals, accommodations, transportation, entrances, and misc) my expenses on the ground were $1503 ($107/day). I like to express that in Euro, €1047 or €75/day, since the exchange rate can vary a lot, but my expenses, in Euro, remain somewhat constant from trip to trip.
I averaged €4/day for lunches, €7 for dinners, €7,35 for beverages (not just beer, but water and juices), and €1,15 for tips, €19,60/day for food. Overnight accommodations, with breakfasts averaged €32,82, and transportation was €15,82/day. Most fares were point to point, but I did use two Bayern-Tickets and a Werdenfels ticket, plus three MVV Tageskarten. Entrances averaged €5,22 per day and misc was €1,34 per day, mostly Internet cafes and lockers. While I was there I made 3 ATM withdrawals for a total of €1050 and was charged $1507, including exchange rates and fees, for $1.435/Euro.