June 1999 Trip to Germany
- Bill and Suzie Hickox -
Part 1 - Bavaria & Tirol
We landed in München on Friday May 28th grabbed our VW Golf from Eurocar, and headed for our favorite area southwest of München to find a zimmer for the night. As always, no reservations…just wing it. We drove the back roads to our number one zimmer choice and parked along the road in front. Just then, down the street came a farmer herding his cows to another pasture.
It was official…we were in Bavaria! Well, even though it wasn't a major holiday, it was a beautiful weekend and the city dwellers had emptied into the countryside for fun and frolic! Our favorite zimmer was booked, and we asked them to call around to find a vacancy for us (see my earlier post on the Germany Board describing this conversation method). Happy to do so, it took them a number of calls to locate one place, "for Friday night only" they warned us. Tired from the plane trip, we happily drove to the zimmer, checked in and barely stayed awake until about 7 PM.
Saturday, my birthday, we drove to visit Linderhof
and Oberammergau. Rains and flooding had closed roads to Lermoos, Ruette, and Fussen. Tourist information offices also told of closed roads and problems trying to get through Austria and into Switzerland. So much for even the slightest of advanced planning! We decided to do our trip "backwards" and head out for Berchtesgaden and the Zell Valley of Austria. We drove to Hall in Tirol (just east of Innsbruck) where we finally found a single nite lodging in a 3 star hotel. We were lucky to get their last room, as a tour bus (with a group from Pennsylvania) had just booked all the other rooms. That evening was filled with visiting and comparing travel notes. Suzie and I found it interesting that the group travel discussions were focused on all the items they had purchased at each stop rather than the sights seen, locals met, etc. (At 15% commission, their travel guide LOVED this group!) When the group learned Suzie and I were independent travelers, they were truly envious and excited to learn how we traveled, "weren't we afraid?" and all the other usual questions. Were they excited to learn how easy and truly fun independent travel really is! Many vowed they world return as independent travelers the next time.
Sunday morning we thought a day trip to Bolzano, Italy to see the Dolomites was what we needed. So we left Innsbruck headed south across the Brenner Pass and into Italy. Along the way we saw castles
and beautiful countryside filled with small towns. We even stopped, climbed up a tall hill to visit a castle, finding it closed. So Suzie stood in the entryway under the steel gate for a picture.
Finally arriving in Bolzano, we visited the old town area . No lira? Just plug in our ATM card…right? No ATM machine we found would accept either of our two ATM cards. All was closed so there was no place to cash a travelers check. It was getting late, we were hungry, and the Italian language is not my long suite, so we decided to drive the hour or so trip back to Hall.
Sunday nite we stayed in our area favorite, the Gasthof Badl in Hall (Familie Steiner, A-6000 Hall in Tirol, Innsbruck 4 - Tel 05223/56784 - FAX 567843)
and we learned the real extent of our travel problems. Not only had city weekenders flooded Bavaria and Tirol – the flooded roads closing of the Fussen area also closed the two favorite castle sites (Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau) from the hoards of tour busses. According to tour bus guides I visited with, all these bus loads of tourists were now in the tour company "back-up" areas of Berchtesgaden and the Zell Valley which we had also chosen as our back-up areas.
The next morning, in true independent traveler style, and in her best persuasive Mississippi accent, Suzie looked at me and said, "Where was that area you've talked about seeing for the past two years?" "Trier, the Mosel River Valley, and the Rhine," I answered.
We did a hard 180 degree turn, and we were headed for Rothenburg on our way to Trier.
Bavaria and Tirol was suffering through a serious heat spell, and the A/C in the car felt good as we drove. We did stop to enjoy the beautiful altstadt in Regensburg on the way north.
[A travel note here: In years past, signs directing travelers to the AltStadt (old town) were prevelent. This year we noticed new signs saying ZENTRUM (center of town)] Arriving in Rothenburg, we stopped at the zimmer of Herr and Frau Moser, #12 Spittlegasse (Yes, the couple Rick Steves also mentions). The little yellow zimmer is only about 18 feet wide.
Herr und Frau Moser remembered us from last year and happily gave us our favorite upstairs back room with a view of the wall…
and the wonderful cool breeze flowing in from the woods beyond. Once again, our independent travel was falling into place beautifully. It was now the 4th day of our short 11 day trip. Our 5th trip to Rothenburg was celebrated that evening by taking the Night Watchman's Tour of the walled city, a tour everyone should take to really better understand the town and its history.
The next day was shopping…and shopping…and, well, somebody's got to buy that stuff! One little venture outside the Rothenburg walls was to the Mayor's house in the valley.
In the picture, you see four crests above the entryway. In centuries past, each crest was that of a visiting dignitary who stayed at this home. These crests were a source of great pride to the home owners (similar to our "George Washington Slept Here" boasts) Also, the two slits above and on either side of the doorway were for the chains that raised or lowered the draw bridge across the moat to the entry. It's a long walk from Rothenburg walls to this little Mayors House...(Rick Steves doesn't tell you how far you have to walk) more fun to drive.
Part 2 - The Mosel River
Part 3 - The Rhine River