Posted by: glenswatman | July 13, 2011

20110701-10 GERMANY AUSTRIA ITALY SLOVENIA

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201107
FRIDAY 1 JULY – It’s a short but very pleasant journey to Titisee a beautiful Alpine Lake. En route we all comment on the sheer number of homes that have their roofs absolutely covered in solar panels. The specialist “stellplatz” costs €3 (£2.70) for the day and it a short walk from the main street leading to the lake. It’s considerably cooler so we dig out our warm clothes then set out to explore. The street is lined with shops selling clothing, souvenirs and food including an array of berries at great prices. We wander along the top of the lake and intend walking around until we realise it is not a flat walk and not all lakeside. Bev & Norm opt for a boat ride whilst we return and prepare the strawberries. After lunch we head onwards towards Bodensee, also known as Lake Constance. The German motorways are excellent, free and have many bridges and tunnels in this area. Our guests try but fail to comply with all the “Aus fahrt” signs! We are at the edge of the Black Forest and often run parallel with the River Danube. Eddie performs really well on the hill climbs and Steve almost has to rein him in to keep to our preferred fuel economy speed of less than 90kph. As we travel down the German side of Bodensee we stop off at Birknau to view the magnificent church heavily adorned with pictures on the wall and ceiling and lots of other ornamentation, seriously over the top. Meersburg has a good motorhome stop at €6 (£5.40) for 24-hour so we park up and make the 1km walk down to the town. It is a beautiful city on many levels leading down to the lake. Lots of majestic buildings are adorned with paintings or flowers and in the centre is a really old castle. There’s no doubt this is a tourist hot stop but luckily today it is not busy, maybe the rain is keeping people away. By the time we get back the rain has stopped and it is nice enough to sit out for happy hour.
MEERSBURG €6 (£5.40)

SATURDAY 2 JULY – The motorhome parking at Friedrichshaven is right beside a busy main road so we are glad it is only being used as a day parking. We walk back into the city along the waterfront where we see them setting up for a weekend festival. The Zeppelin is a big feature here, we think the inventor was born in this area, and you can even do a trip for a mere €200 (£180) each, pass. There’s a wonderful fountain with lots of strange brass creatures and objects blowing out water. In Lindau the motorhome parking is much more pleasant, as is the afternoon weather. We sit and eat out before setting out to explore early evening. The bus stop makes us laugh as the shelter has been painted to make it look like someone’s lounge including a carpet on the floor and the bus seat being made to look like a coffee table. Over on an island we drop lucky and catch a Red Cross weekend festival with typical Bavarian music and food. We enjoy cakes whilst sitting waterside and listening to the band. There are some superb buildings and a quirky tower that must belong to Rapunzel as we see a long plait dangling from one of the windows. A sculpture has his workshop open to the public and we admire his work including a beer gnome seated on his own barrel. The harbour on the far side is bustling with people strolling round or eating in the restaurants and within the town is an even busier “party” street with people dancing to music. As if that is not enough we get back to the van and hear a brass band nearby. At the beer garden up the street we settle in to drink and beer and listen to the music including renditions of “Hey Jude” and some Abba songs.
LINDAU €1.50 (£1.35) for every 2 hours.

SUNDAY 3 JULY – We are now travelling the Alpine Way with absolutely stunning scenery. In Fussen we stroll around then pick up maps and info at the tourist office enabling me to alter our planned route to fit in a few more attractions. Our original idea was to visit “mad king Ludwig’s” famous Neuschwanstein castle (the inspiration for the Disney castle) but it is the weekend and we are late arriving and find the first available English tour is in 5-hours time. However there’s an English tour of his other castle “Schloss Hochenschwangau” at 12.20pm, €10.50 (£9.50). It is designed in medieval style with lots of painted walls telling stories as you move from room to room. The setting is lovely as you are overlooking the lake and can also see across to Neuschwanstein. The guide tells us you visit more rooms in this castle and the visit is longer, so it seems we made the right decision. We pick up the “Romantic Route” that takes us to the UNESCO “Weiss Kirche” a most amazing beautiful Rococo church near Steingaden. The paintings and decoration inside are seriously over the top. We can’t believe our luck when we arrive in Rottenbuch and realise there is a local Bavarian festival. Thousands of people are clad in local costume and within a huge marquee take turns to get up and dance. All age groups are taking part with some really cute boys in lederhosen and girls in dirndl skirts. The men are getting stuck into the huge beer steins and it is almost like a beer festival. We’ve come to see the Augustinian monastery convent church which turns out to have a very plain exterior but an amazing interior again in rococo style. We return to the festival and try out a few of the Bavarian cakes on sale at €1.50 (£1.35) for a large slice. There is no motorhome parking in the town so we head to nearby Bad Beyersoien with a spot on the edge of the village. A brochure tells us there will be a church parade at 7pm then music at 8pm. Arriving for the parade we find ourselves at the back of a packed church with no sign of the service ending even though the icons are all loaded onto platforms for the parade. Instead we stroll around the village which has the ubiquitous Alpine houses with stunning flower displays and lots of exterior wall paintings. I return to the van and leave the others to report back that the parade was really good with people in costume and brass bands parading icons and banners throughout the town.
BAD BEYERSOIEN €9 (£8)

MONDAY 4 JULY – After 6 days on the strong antibiotics I need to find another dentist but the one that Tomtom takes us to in the village is dead! Schloss Linderhof is another of King Ludwigs castles in fact the only one he finished and lived in for any length of time. A combined ticket for the gardens, house and grotto is €8.50 (£17) and as we are early in the morning we get on the first English tour. The gardens were based on Versailles Palace and immediately impress us but it the inside of the mansion that blows us away. Other than the floor every surface of every room is covered in a combination of mirrors, tapestry, wall painting or gilded ornamentation. The rococo style is almost overwhelming and the best we have seen so far. In the gardens the man made grotto, built in the 1800’s is years ahead of its time with different coloured electric lighting, heating to create an air temperature of 20C and water at 34C and other features Disney would be proud of. Tomtom lets us down again in Oberau but in Garmish Partenkirchen we opt for just parking near the Tourist Office and ask them where the dentists are. Most cannot see me for a few days but I drop lucky in not only finding one who will see me in 90 minutes time but he speaks English and his practice will accept my European Health card. This means I just pay €10 (£9) as Germans do, the rest goes through on their version of National Insurance. He cleans the cavity and declares that I still have infection, maybe going down into the bone and so he puts medicine directly into the cavity and covers it in a kind of putty. All of this procedure must be repeated in 2 weeks time. The town itself is beautiful with many typical painted Alpine houses nestled beneath a valley junction of 3 mountain chains including the majestic Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. This is the area I came to as a child with Mum, Dad and Netty so a real trip down memory lane. The motorhome parking is in the car park of one of the chair lifts so we have excellent views.
GARMISH PARTENKIRCHEN ALPENPARK €10 (£9) + €2 (£1.80) per person

TUESDAY 5 JULY – Our first port of call is the Ford dealers to check that the handbrake warning light is not a problem, the man confirms the brake is sufficiently off not to be a problem but the vehicle would need to be up on a ramp for an adjustment to be made and we are too heavy for theirs. Head off and by 9.30am cross into AUSTRIA opting not to buy the 10-day motorway pass for €7.90 (£7.20). We are heading for the Brenner Pass but must first cross the valley through Innsbruck. Tomtom makes this much easier than last time when we drove the same street 3 times. Climbing up from Innsbruck the driving gets harder with hills and hair pins but the scenery also improves. Having views of the motorway bridges is quite amazing. It only takes about ½ hour of climbing before we are up on a plateau and following a lovely milky blue glacial river. At Brenner we cross into ITALY around 11am. Again we stick on the free road for the short distance until we turn to head east. Our lunch stop is overlooking a beautiful blue lake, unfortunately with no access. Mid afternoon we are beneath the jagged Dolomites in the twin towns of Dobbiaco and Toblach. Bev & Norm secure a nice room with evening meal and breakfast and motorhome parking for us. With free wi-fi I can make good use of the time. We go up to Bev & Norm’s room for an evening shower and from their balcony see a house ablaze in the distance. Although there are lots of blue lights surrounding it they can’t seem to get it under control and it is quite a spectacle.
DOBBIACO / TOBLACH

WEDNESDAY 6 JULY – We soon pass back in AUSTRIA and inadvertently take a twisted winding mountain road (111); beautiful views but not for the driver. Through the villages we barely squeeze between the buildings and are happy to see buses using the route confirming we can get through. We rejoin the main highway along a stretch marked as scenic and it is not a patch on what we have just done. Travelling along the high sides of the valley we were able to see the farmers out turning the hay to dry and the farms each with lots of store sheds and a chapel. Back in ITALY we easily navigate Tarvisio then head into Lake Fusine, visited previously in 1998. Nowadays it is a little more touristic with toilets, a small shop and a spring water supply but still really beautiful. The water is too cold for a swim but there’s a lovely walk all around the lake giving you fine views off all the peaks that surround it. In spite of the “no camping” signs we are amongst about half a dozen motorhome who decide to stay the night.
FUSINE LAKE

THURSDAY 7 JULY – This is too nice to leave and with the water supply we can catch up with our laundry and dry it quickly in the hot sun. As we are in Italy it seems appropriate to enjoy a lunch of pasta corbonara followed by ice cream covered in hot nectarines in peach sauce. Life doesn’t get much better than this. Late afternoon I join Bev & Norm for a walk down to the lower lake but just as we are walking around a storm develops, I opt to leg it back whilst Bev & Norm walk round to the café to see it through. I get back just before the rain gets heavy and Bev & Norm return and hour or so later. It turns into a lovely evening and we sit out quite late but during the night the storm returns with lightning and thunder bouncing around the mountains.
FUSINE LAKE 2

FRIDAY 8 JULY – We are only a few kilometres from SLOVENIA where we arrive to see motorhomes free camped on the edge of Kranjska Gora. We check with the tourist office and if there is no campsite in town then free camping is allowed. Groceries seem a little cheaper here especially fruit and veg. Heading to Bovec we had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for as the map shows a mountain pass with 7 hair pin bends. This turns into over 50 bends to get us up and over the 1611m Vrsic mountain pass. During the First World War Russian prisoners and Austrian guards were killed by an avalanche during the building of the road. There is now a wooden chapel to the Russians part way up. The driving is challenging as are the gradients but Eddie pulls us through whilst Steve does a great job with the driving. We emerge into the Soca valley and begin to follow the milky blue river. There is a shallow gorge which is then overshadowed by “big Soca Gorge which is much deeper. We look down from the top and see how the river has carved its way through the rocks. A short detour takes us to Kluze Fortress, although not huge it is in an amazing location at the head of a gorge and in the sheer rock face opposite we see lots of iron rungs that people would have climbed up. From the road bridge we get a wonderful view of Boka Waterfall, the biggest and most imposing in Slovenia. Parking and signs are often lacking so we end up missing the next couple of points of interest and mid afternoon find ourselves in the small village of Idrsko. Campsites are all around €10 (£9) pp and the ones we have seen are not that great so Bev & Norm suggest the hotel option. Up a side road is the pretty guest house “Pri Jazbecu” with perfect motorhome parking.
IDRSKO

SATURDAY 9 JULY – We’ve only gone a short way down the road when we arrive in the medieval village of Kanal. It is set on two sides of the river with an old stone bridge straddling the gorge. After walking around and making use of the supermarket we check out the town campsite. There is just one couple camping in a tent, it is basic but in a grassy shaded area directly above the river. We settle in and after doing laundry head down to the river. The locals are all out making use of the stretch near the bridge. There is something for everyone, a deep natural pool on one side created by a rock wall then the other side of the “weir” is shallow and has some sandy beaches. The glacial water is chilly but in the heat of the day most welcome. There’s a “natural fridge” at the campsite where the glacial Soca River waters flow through the edge of a tunnel keeping it cool enough to store beer etc. Our problem comes at night with the nearby church clock striking every quarter of an hour.
KANAL CAMPSITE €5.20 (£4.50) pp + €4.20 (£3.75) motorhome

SUNDAY 10 JULY – The brochure shows 3 tourist sites around Gorica but the first is the world longest stone bridge that can only be seen from the road, the second is within a church where they are holding a service behind closed doors and the 3rd we cannot find. Half of the city is in ITALY and I am glad it is Sunday and we have Tomtom back in action (didn’t work in Slovenia) to get us through the maze of streets. Out on the main road we head for Grado but at one stage the exit we want is closed due to road works and we are forced onto the toll motorway. By the time we get to the first exit we are northwest of Grado so opt to continue to Lignano. This is the first time we have been in Italy during the school holidays and it comes as a bit of a shock. Lignano is over loaded with people and Bev & Norm are utterly amazed by the beach area with umbrellas and chairs so close it is hard to know who is sitting with whom. It is not to our taste at all so we head to Bibione which looks smaller. It is the same story there with car parks and streets bustling with people. The campsite has space but at over €70 (£63) to be squashed with noisy Italians we are not interested. Caorle is chaos with over 50 motorhomes parked at the side of a street backed by a fun fair that is open until 11pm. Luckily we travelled this coast years ago and enjoyed the smaller resort of Eraclea Mare. Today it has been developed a lot but at least they now have a motorhome parking site for 40 vans and it is half empty. It is a short walk to the beach, first passing a small peaceful lagoon then via the marina to the beach proper. There is a huge screen been set up for some event tonight and people are already staking out positions around the perimeter to avoid the admission fees. It is around 6pm but the beach is heaving with people as is the warm sea. This is how I remember Italy as a child but then I thought it was fun. After eating at the van Steve & I leave first for a walk down the main street. It runs for about 2km is full of restaurants, bars, ice cream parlours, pizzerias and shops selling beach things. At the far end we find the spot we previously parked for free which is now 80c (72p) hour between 8am and 9pm. By the time we get back to Pioppo car park things are looking a little different. Cars are piling in between the motorhomes and people are massing their way down to the beach. We can already hear the music and wonder what it will be like later. A few other motorhomes begin to pack up and leave and when the 2 families next to us begin to do the same we figure it is a good idea to get out whilst we can. Unfortunately Bev & Norm are not back so I begin to send a text message just at the moment they arrive back from a late visit to the beach. We are all packed up a ready to go so hustle them into the van and luckily reach the gate just at the point where a man has come out to unlock the chain enabling us to leave. Fortunately we know we can park at the eastern end of town. It is a very hot night initially so we have our bedroom windows and all the roof vents open but during the early hours a wind gets up, cools things down and rattles the vents enough to make me get up and lower them. What an eventful day.
ERACLEA MARE

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