Aloft mid Europe

Trip Start Mar 29, 2006
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Trip End Feb 28, 2007


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Monday, September 25, 2006

MONDAY, 25th September
 
After a very nice breakfast in which I had, for the first time, sugar coated shredded wheat, [Breakfast cereals in Europe are aimed at the kids. They are saturated in sugar and the packets are designed to appeal to children. It was very hard to find a simple corn flake or rice bubble on the supermarket shelves.] muesli, lots of fruit and fruit juice. The bread was rubbish as usual...lumps of aerated rock or slices of cardboard. I missed out on the boiled eggs. They were covered with a cloth, damn it.
 
I went for a quick stroll around the town while the girls do what they do after breakfast. I really wanted to get a closer look at all those dolls. They fascinated me. Probably because I had never seen so many in one place. Puppets and figurines carved out of wood or stone in addition to the aforementioned. I really liked that town of Oberammergau. I'm not sure I would have liked to be around during the Passion Play festival.
 
Checked out and drove the short distance to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. L is the only person in the world who can remember and pronounce that name properly. The world being within our Peugot. It must be a female thing to remember long town names. We went through a 2.8 km tunnel. I mean, that is, like, straight through a mountain. Cool. [Forgive the vernacular. I am a teenager inside an old fart's body.] You just do not want to think about the weight of the 2000 metres of the Hoher Frichen above. However, there is no way in the world the tunnel would collapse bar a major earthquake and I have it on good authority that this is not an earthquake region...I hope.
 
Incidentally, we had not intended to stay overnight in Oberammergau. These twin towns that I cannot pronounce were to have been our stopover but as it turned out we did not even stop there. We saw the signs for the Zugspitze Bahnhof...the rail station...and followed them around the town until we found the terminus for the 'cog wheel' train that took paying passengers to the top of the Zugspitze, the tallest peak in Germany at 3000 metres. It was on our list to see but we had not planned to be this close or even up it. We could see the peak in the distance and we had a choice. Enjoy the view from here, go up to the top by cable car or go up by train and come down by cable. We chose the latter. Or at least L and I did. Anne chose to return by train. It cost us 45 Euros each for the round trip...about $70, but well worth it.
 
At first it was a regular train which wound its way along the foothills to Eibsee station where we changed onto the 'cog wheel' track. All up it took about an hour and a quarter and the last 20 minutes were through a tunnel that took us straight up through the heart of the Zugspitze mountain. It was a weird experience especially as we then emerged onto a plateau on top of the world, as it were, a couple of hundred metres from the actual peak. There was no snow only the remains of some ice in the distance, The ground was covered with crushed powdery rock and not attractive at all. It looked like a construction site and essentially it was. There was some earth moving equipment up on a ridge and a recently constructed hotel on the side of a cliff opposite. It was all quite bizarre. Like a moonscape from a sci-fi movie. Around us were the chalky white peaks. It may have looked chalky and of a sandstone nature but when I picked up a chunk of that rock it was very heavy and very hard. The ground upon which the rail station and the buildings above sat was cracked with fissures and crevices as if those very foundations would disintegrate at any moment.
 
The three of us had a cup of coffee in the mountain restaurant before L and I took the small cable car to the peak above us. Anne stayed behind to catch the next train back. While L and I were waiting we watched as some intrepid climbers took the hard way up to the top. They must have climbed all the way from ground zero. I figure that might be worth accomplishing contrary to my earlier remarks. They would have had a sense of achievement. Just don't tell them there is a train!
 
It was only a five minute trip and we were up on top of Germany. In the distance was Austria and over there was Switzerland and if you really stretched your neck and your imagination you could see Italy. It was not cold which surprised us. The frontier actually ran through the base here and we walked through a sort of air lock to look down upon the town of Ehrwald in Austria.  The journey back looked a bit hairy as we looked down at the cable car on the German side slowly riding up the mountain dangling from a piece of string...as it looked from that distance. It was an impressive route...almost vertical. I tried not to think about it. Once on it, of course, you are not aware of the fact that you are out in space hanging from a cable. It must have taken about 20 minutes to descend from the rocky crags to the forests to the grasslands to the Eibsee. There we rejoined the train and Anne. That morning really was tops. I do not regret spending the money for an experience like that. Everest next!! Oh, yes. We've done that...sort of!
 
It was a long drive back home. We took a circuitous route south which was beautiful at first but the mist came down and enveloped us in its clutches and then the rains came and so when we reached Bregenz we were soaked. At one stage we were on top of the most wonderful pass but never saw a bloody thing except the mist and the rain in front of us. We did stop at Steeg for a cuppa...to rest the driver mostly. You could see (earlier that is) that it was a very popular skiing area but it was off season and all they attracted were those crazy hikers and Australian tourists. We had a lovely Greek meal in the Poseidon Restaurant in Bregenz. I must try souvlaki again. Saw very little of that town other than rain lashed streets on the way in and out.
 
All the way home now it pissed down. It was just a question of pointing the car in the right direction and putting the foot down. [ I do miss 'cat's eyes'. It must be a very British and Australian thing. In Europe they do not have those reflective glass eyes to guide the motorist along the lanes on the main roads and to indicate the position of  junctions and turn offs, etc. etc. So when it is dark and/or raining it is very difficult to keep in lane especially when the white lines are also well worn as in Austria. We do take our wonderful lane marking for granted in Australia.] We got lost around Meersburg again! Never have a problem driving south. It was only when I try to return the same way I came do I get lost !!! We, well I, sailed past the turnoff for Stochach and Radolfzell and ended up in Singen. I think I went to sleep briefly. Well I had had a long day hadn't I!! In actual fact it was probably quicker in the end because we stayed on the Autostrade till L nudged me awake and did not have to navigate our way around the small villages. It was after 11pm by the time we got back. I went straight to bed. Gee my legs were hurting. It was as if I had walked 10 km not driven 250 km. Bloody manual cars! 
 
 
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