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(Recommended by Ben & Clan)

Popplerhof
Familie Peter and Hildegard Poppler
Heimen 64
87659
Heimen/Hopferau (near Füssen)
Tel - 8364/1697 ~ Fax - 8364-986962
Email -
PeterPoppler@web.de
Apartment and rooms with private bath and balcony

...This will be a short travel day (less than 100 km) so we are in no hurry and can enjoy the mountain roads and several stops via the Fernpaß, Ehrwald, and Reutte. Driving past Füssen we travel northwest through the village of Hopferau for a few kilometers to the small farming community of Heimen. We find our farm (the Popplerhof) in short order and are warmly greeted by the owners (Poppler family). We are quickly impressed by our gracious hosts and the overall atmosphere of our accommodations and location.

We are shown to a large, immaculate apartment with enough beds to sleep 4-6 adults and several children. Nice kitchen, large tiled bath with shower, TV, and a large balcony with a nice view of the mountains and if you look closely, Neuschwanstein just off to the east. If I rated our accommodations for this trip - the Popplerhof would be at the top of the list.

We spend the afternoon shopping and walking the Fußgängerzone in Füssen. Woolworth's (just down from the Tourist Info Office and the Hotel Sonne) always seems to have good bargains and this day is no exception. We leave with several bags of goodies and lots of chocolate. As we are making our way back to the parking area I spot a shop that appears to be a travel agency with several computers set up for internet use (½ hour = 3 ; 1 hour = 5 ). I send the girls window shopping, try to sift through almost 200 messages, and eventually send off an email to our Stammtisch group. The girls finally drag me away and just in time as we spot a parking meter ticket-writer a few cars away making his way in our direction. A narrow escape - as our time had just expired.

After a lazy afternoon enjoying our new apartment, we drive over to Hopfen am See and have dinner at one of the many lakeside restaurants. Our choice, the

Fischerhütte
Uferstraße 16
87629 Hopfen am See

turns out to be a good one. I enjoy a large plate of Schwäbische Maultaschen mit Röstzwiebeln an gemischtem Salat (8.50 ), Dee Dee has the large crab and shrimp salad (Salatplatte Christine - Gartenfrische Salate der Saison mit frischen Krabben und einer Riesengarnele, italienischem mariniertem Gemüse - 12.90 ), Frankfurters and Pommes for Amy (5 ). Good food - great location on the lake - outstanding view. Amy has a good time feeding bread to the small birds who are seasoned and trusting enough to sit on the railing next to our table. Perfect day in the Allgäu for our group.

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Day Ten

Today I'm up at 0500 and with the breaking dawn I am out for my morning stroll. Heimen is a very small and obviously close-knit community with a circular road and path that can be covered in about ten minutes.

Popplerhof cows ---- This little goat offered a horn to let the cow scratch an itch...

Watching the farmers herd their cows to morning pasture is one of my favorite pastimes. In this small village they have a system of moveable ropes stretched between buildings that keep the cows headed in the right direction. A strange tourist in town with a camera causes a few of them to lose their way but the farmer on his bicycle quickly reminds them where they should be going.

After another large excellent farm breakfast

we head via Füssen to some of our favorite castles. I am a longtime fan of King Ludwig II (one of my favorite characters in Bavarian history) and a visit to Germany is just not complete without a visit to at least one of his homes. Neuschwanstein (interior tours) has undergone several changes in recent years in an attempt to herd as many tourists through it's gates as humanly possible. Gone are the long lines and queues of the past - changed by the fact that you can now order your tickets well ahead of time (either over the internet or by purchasing your tickets for a specific time at the ticket office now located in the small village that sits at the foot of the castles - Hohenschwangau).

We opt not to take the interior tour this year but we arrive relatively early to avoid any crowds that might show up later. With the great weather and needing the exercise we decide to walk from the parking lot up to Neuschwanstein and then on up to the Marienbrücke for the standard photo shots of the castle from that side.

If you happen to be a mailman - this is the route to have... - - -

There always seems to be some restoration work going on each year and this time the Keep and several other areas are covered with tarps. Makes it a challenge to get a good clean picture of the castle the way you would hope it would look - uncluttered. On the way down I put the girls in a horse carriage and walk ahead taking pictures.

After a while the carriage driver tells me to hop on for a free ride. Early morning rides down the hill are fairly empty as the drivers don't wait around long at the top. The ride up the hill costs more and they know they can get a full load of passengers very quickly.

After a quick stop by the TI office in Hohenschwangau for a Zimmer Frei catalog we take the now very familiar Romantic Road north to Steingaden, east to the Eichelbacherbrücke (bypassing the Wieskirche), and south to the famous old village of Oberammergau. This village of woodcarvers and the home of the Passion Play has always been a favorite stop mainly because of the painted frescoes (Lüftl Malerei) which brighten the exteriors of most of the buildings in town. Years ago we enjoyed shopping here but now it seems the prices have outgrown our budget. It's almost as if Käthe Wohlfahrt owns every other shop in town and the woodcarvers' prices (even for the small pieces) are more than I'm comfortable paying. So we enjoy the best bargain in town (large waffle cones of Eis) and head back to the farm via an alternate route (Rosshaupten and Seeg).

Another mail route we'd love to have...

We spend some time with the Poppler family and Amy enjoys watching and playing with the house cats. The Poppler's have a teenage son and a daughter Amy's age but they are all too shy to make a connection even though the daughter's English seems very good. At one point when Frau Poppler was making a phone call to a restaurant for me and getting a wrong number the daughter (Sandra) noticed that her mother was dialing a 1 instead of the 7 which I had written on a piece of paper. To the mother my 7 looked like a 1 because of the way I wrote it (no line across the middle). The German 1 has an upsweep and looks similar to the English 7. We didn't catch it but the eleven yr. old daughter did. I'm constantly fascinated by the fact that so many European children study foreign languages early in their schooling. It's not unusual to find young pre-teens who are well versed in several languages or at least have a grasp of the basics. If you find yourself lost in the streets of a large town or check-in to a small hotel where the staff speaks no English - the odds are if you find a local youngster you have found a good translator. Many of the rural farms we have stayed at are without adults who can speak even a little English but the children are usually eager to practice their language skills. I enjoy the challenge of trying to communicate in German only but sometimes the frustration of not being understood puts me in search of the family Kinder for help.

On the way into Hopferau for dinner we pass a wedding party walking from the town church to what we assume to be a reception hall. Very entertaining group having a noisy good time harassing the bride and groom. We settle on

Gasthof Hirsch
Hauptstraße 37
87695 Hopferau

for frische Spargelcremesuppe mit Sahnehäubchen (2.60 ), a child's chicken plate for Amy (Kinderteller Chicken Crossis mit Pommes - 3.40 ), Rostbraten mit Pommes und Salat (11 ) for me, and Hirschkalbsgulash mit Champignon, Spätzle, Salat und Preiselbeer (8.70 ) for Dee Dee. She enjoys the goulasch so much I don't have the heart to tell her what she is eating (and still haven't). We have an outside table, the weather is nice, the Helles Bier is smooth - all is right with the world tonight.

Day Eleven

Saturday - standard travel day - up early - pack it up - load it up - enjoy another reichhaltiges farm breakfast. This morning Germany's world cup soccer team is playing an important matchup and the TV in the Frühstück zimmer is the center of attention. We extend our best wishes for ultimate success for the German team, pay our bill of 98 for two days, say our good-byes to the ever so nice Poppler family and leave a few Texas souvenirs.

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