A Travellerspoint blog

Wien


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Wow, this is the grandest city we have ever visited, the scale and number of magnificent buildings is breathtaking. We had an idea that this city would be more than a one day stroll round and thinking about which museum or royal palace or stables to visit would be a job on its own. Never mind the opera and so many performances of waltzes and ballet and Strauss.
We don't usually do the tourist bus and this time opted for the one day city transport ticket because the city is big and the Royal palaces are a long way from the centre. I think that if we return the tourist bus would be a better choice, also not going to see the UNO buildings be useful as they were just a bit boring.
On the way in by train we saw this Gaudiesque building that was shining in the morning sunlight with baubles and bangles and beads, well nearly! A lady on the train told us it is a rubbish burning power station with the exterior designed by an Austrian artist, I expect it's on the tourist bus route.
We jumped on a bus after the UNO and it went the wrong way, which we realised pretty quickly and got off and found not only a local's bar for the cheapest beer in Austria but a Wiener Schnitzel as well, two ticks in the box!
We got back on the U and took it to the palace, again a staggeringly massive edifice, not tall but spread out. Seat of the Habsburg power since the 19th century, a family ruling the Austro-Hungarian empire and too many assignation.
We had spent a long day in the city and hadn't decided on our destination for the next day, but given the proximity of Bratislava we decided on going there. We were woken not by trains at 06:30 but diggers refurbishing the station so we were off just after 8 for the 50 mile trip to Bratislava.
Where Wien is grand, Bratislava is modest with only one castle and cathedral; but we have never seen so many pavement cafés. Tourism is obviously a major earner for this Danubian city and the flat river cruise boats were lined up along the bank and cruisers were being guided around the cobbled streets.
We carried out our usual test, beer and ice cream. The Budvar game in 2 strengths, 10° & 12° which I will have to check out because I can't remember all the degrees proof. The city has an opera and philharmonic hall and I'd imagine quite good nightlife, so worth a weekend visit. We decided not to stay overnight in what was a scruffy car park near a tram bridge into the city and move into the countryside again, checking diesel prices as we went.
We passed over Austrian, Slovakian and Hungarian borders several times that day and the only one that was manned was the Austrian side of Austro-Hungarian one; soldiers, guns, trucks, it looked like a real border, until all the soldiers did stand watching everyone drive through.
We made a big round trip searching for a route passed the motorway and crossed the same railway line half a dozen times before we arrived at a quiet stellplatz for a couple of days.
Jacqui became a bird whistler trying to attract a bright yellow bird with a whilstle not unlike a wolf whistle, we also saw several swallows chasing off a kestrel by diving on it, very brave for a small bird but don't understand what they were protecting.
It was very warm here only dropping to 30 in the shade after we had washed up at 8, longest day tomorrow!

Posted by cjpolley 11:42 Archived in Austria Comments (1)

Austrian Lakes and Mountains


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We thought we deserved a holiday, we had been doing far too much travelling, 900 miles in 2 weeks. So we settled on Wolfgansee, reputedly one of the prettiest lake, mountain, village combos about. Great cycle route round 80% of the lake and refreshments stations, ice and beer, every 5k, perfect.
St Wolfgang is probably the most visited and therefore the most looked after village on this lake, a photo opportunity on every corner. We cycled most days and just joined in with the early season holidaymakers and only thought about moving on come the end of our week. The only marker we have is the Stuttgart Volksfest for Lee's stag weekend at the end of September, so we have enough time to explore as far into eastern Europe as we want to.
We'll take a few days to get to Vienna and have promised ourselves Wiener Schnitzel there, also Goulash and any other location based meal on our way through to Serbia.
Leaving Wolfgansee we felt we had enough of what becoming a busy campsite, there are lots of seasonal pitches and people must come back year after year as lots of Austrians were chatting for hours over coffee or the national drink, beer! Add these to the weekenders up till 2 in the morning and the families up at 6 in the morning with young children and we knew it was time to move on.
We drove via the local river, the Traun, which flows through a number of lakes to the great Danube. You know when you cross the largest?? river in Europe, The landscape changing from mountains and lakes to a more arable plateau with already ripened barley forming feathery waves through the fields.
We headed toward Linz on the Wiener Strasse, hoping to stop at a car park next to the Danube and cycle in but an event was being organised there so we moved on a few miles and found a sweet farm stellplatz with an honesty box for the electric hook up and a fridge full of locally produced wine and cider, money left in the fridge door! A very well kept small holding with lovely friendly owners, the cider was lovely but went down like squash! All the drinks in the fridge were crown capped so one could tell they weren't mass produced, the lack of labels was also an indication.
We sat by the Danube the next day for coffee and changed our plan to visit Wien from a campsite 12k from the city, I had found a stellplatz by a rail station and the return fare to the city was €5. So we stayed and Jacqui explored a textile warehouse next to the station, how she finds these places I don't know, then we went in a really small bar trying to have a Spanish night? I know how I find a beer after a day driving!

Posted by cjpolley 02:25 Archived in Austria Comments (1)

Salzburg and Berchtesgaden


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Jacqui had found us a popular stellplatz between both places we wanted to visit and luckily the rain stopped for a morning when we caught the train into Salzburg, the lady in the TI said it was a beautiful city. Well we obviously didn't listen to all that she said because we got off at the wrong station and had to walk back to the old town and cross the river, which has some good bridges.
The altstadt has interesting narrow streets with connecting tunnels now turned into arcades with stylish shops; the whole old town sits below the imposing castle. There are squares that show off the cathedrals and churches, joined by strong arches made of local rough stone, the power is obvious here.
The city is very popular with tours from the good old US and Asia, shopping is high on the list of activities. Loads of history in this area must get missed by the milling crowds.
The rain and chilly wind didn't hold off for the afternoon so Jacqui had an idea of going shopping to Ikea,which happened to be on the train route back ,well of course we needed a new washing up brush and a step so she could see into the cupboards. I thought Ikea lunch was a better idea, especially as they now make their own beer, so curry and beer at lunchtime!
Step and brush bought we boarded the train to return to the van in the rain and hope for better weather in the morning to go up a mountain.
The next morning was bright blue, cloudless skies and we changed our plan and drove to Berchtesgaden and parked away from the car park areas of the lower Hintereck as they hadn't made much provision for the more roomy motorhome.
It quite hard to describe the area as it has been returned to a similar state as before it was taken over for the Reich's purposes. Even the Eagles Nest is a poor translation.
We visited the Dokumentation Obersalzberg (DO) before ascending to the Eagles Nest. The purpose of this display is to educate and inform the visitor of the rise of Hitler as leader of the National Workers Socialist Party, NSDAP. It dealt with who influenced him and how the party propaganda machine made him worshipped in Germany.
It also detailed the lengths the legally elected govern of a sovereign nation went to cleansing their nation, not only of undesirable ethnic minorities but of mixed race children and people effected by genetically inherited diseases; Jacqui remarked that she would have been one of those 'cleansed'
The exhibits included pictures and personal histories of the worst of Hitler's henchmen and other, lesser offenders could also be viewed on a database, a sort of national hall of shame. It is one of the most sombre places we have been to, the 9/11 memorial had amazing acts of bravery to lift the mood but not here.
The visitors were mostly German and Austrian, I suppose coming to ask why. The whole exhibition was so well put together by the Institute of Contemporary Studies in Germany, it pulls no punches and just keeps to the horrific facts.
There was a whole section on the resistance to the Reich within Germany and I don't suppose some of those people lasted very long, but how brave is that.
I am finding it hard writing this but it's about what we are experiencing and I haven't been to an extermination camp yet; concentration camp is the wrong term for what happened at these places.
The area where the DO was built occupies what was the lower complex that Hitler built on this mountain around Kehlstein and the exhibition was built over the bunker designed as an air raid shelter and second seat of government.
We rode the bus up to the Eagles Nest, considering the great DO exhibit was €2.50 each and the bus ride €16, we were disappointed that we were met with a Hofbrau bar & restaurant after getting out of the brass elevator that was used to take official parties into Hitler's private meeting areas. We expected more representation of the victims of this evil regime.
We did sit and have a beer on the rocky steps and ponder and may be taking all the focus away from the previous use is a good idea, lots of visitors were enjoying lunch there after all. We walked back down the 124 vertical metres that the elevator had taken us up a direct enjoyed the views, the scenery is properly breathtaking.
Considering the day we were pleased we found a stellplatz not too far away, had a cuppa, then a gin and contemplated the day watching the sun go down over a wonderful mountain backdrop.

Posted by cjpolley 02:09 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

The Rain in Germany


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Falls mainly on us.
Last year we experienced floods on the Rhein and Moselle and only spent 3 weeks there; this year it rained as soon as we crossed the border, stopped when we saw the Rhein Falls which are in Switzerland and started again as soon as we got back into Germany.
We stayed in a boring car park before heading east to stay between Berchtesgaden and Salzburg to visit both places and had to get off the motorway there was so much rain, even the lorries slowed down!
So hoping for a bit of sun tomorrow because one nuisance is we are stuck in doors and can't ride our bikes in this land of the cycle path or walk and not get soaked.
We hear it's also chilly in the UK.

Posted by cjpolley 10:29 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Year II Stats


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So this year Jacqui and I have travelled 9711 miles, 1000 less than the first year. We used 1633 litres of diesel @ 27 mpg, a little less than the first year.
For once UK fuel was not the most expensive, Italy had that humour @ €1.37 pl and Spain had the cheapest @ €1.02 pl, with the average cost @ €1.15 pl.
Friday sailed through the MOT and the tyres have now done 20 000 miles and the tyre guy said they were only half way down to the wear markers. So Continental Vanco tyres gets our vote.
We travelled through 14 countries if we include nipping into and out of Switzerland.

Unplanned third year now encounter to eastern Europe, watch this space, blog, whatever! 😉

Posted by cjpolley 03:19 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

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