A Travellerspoint blog

DAY 123 - Monday 31st August - Triberg to Todtnau to

... Strasbourg 'Not a Gateau in Sight! (Black Forest...get it?!)'

It's an early morning rise as the church bells are a ringing only less than a few feet away and this one is different...this one decides that 6am is a good time to start chiming! With the early rise and the clear blue skies above we go for a walk in the Black Forest to get the fresh air into our lungs before the off. After breakfast our first port of call for the day is heading towards town where to park up for the waterfalls and its 4 euros to get in ... but i only have 3 euros in my pocket for emergencies...didn't think we'd have to pay for this one!

After trudging back to the van i did ponder if to bother to see the waterfalls at all but as i'm here i may as well...and you never know, it may be the best one yet. And was it? It was actually ... one of the poorest waterfalls i've come across as it was one that i could well have designed for my tiny garden at home. That's probably underserving but after the last 3 it wasn't replacing any of them as places to visit for waterfalls. Mind you we are in the forest and they aren't known for its mountains and water sources. Ellie was loving it as its the first time that she's come across the smell of a squirrel for a while, as come to think of it i've not seen many in Europe. We see one running up the tree and Ellie's senses are all up trying to track it down....it's up a tree you numpty. If you can climb trees knock yourself out chasing it! Sometimes i can feel a children's book writing itself with the Ellie adventures Home and Abroad!

The town is very cute and has more than one, well three that i could see within a few feet of each other, clock shops and not just any clocks but cuckoo ones. Now am i mistaken as i thought cuckoo clocks were more Swiss and Austrian than German but it seems i'm spotting them everywhere in Germany instead. So with 45 minutes on the parking ticket well justified, as it wasn't long to get to the top and back down again with photo opportunities on route, we went to the next destination that the guide said was worth a visit whilst we are in the Black Forest and that was Todtnau. We got there after driving through the forest, with a few ascent and descends and hair pins as we go, and it really is one for the winter this one i feel. Definitely more of a ski resort feeling to it Todtnau, well it is German's oldest skiing area, but not much to look at in the summer months so we headed off to Strasbourg.

Whilst driving my stomach for some reason wasn't feeling too great and with the heat in the car getting near to air con time (which hasn't happened in last few weeks) we come to some traffic on the motorway. Not being able to handle the slow moving traffic with my stomach we manage to pull in a few 100 yards ahead to a service area and find a space (just parking spots with picnic benches and a toilet type area) to settle myself there for half an hour to let the pain subside. Mints...i have mints i suddenly remembered! After taking a couple of the M&S strong mints in that green tub it seems to be doing the trick and we are ready for the off once more but time is getting lost. I start the van....well i try to but the gear box has packed up on me again! I try the tricks that i did before and nothing, just a click and nothing more when i turn the key.

Next off comes the gear stick covering and i get the white plastic flag to Neutral and push it...nothing. Try again and the car starts ... just! Time to input a mazda garage into TomTom to see what comes up and there seems to be one in the middle of Strasbourg which is a bonus. Therefore i can park on up and if it doesn't work then at least i'm at a garage to see them first thing in the morning as by the time i get there i think that they'll be closed, but you never know. Into Strasbourg and looking for the garage it takes me through the tiny streets of this city and just past the pedestrian only areas...are we sure there is one here? Once 'you've reached your destination' has popped up i beg to differ as there was nothing, just a building that looks like its apartments and an antiques shop. Well what do i do as i'm not sure that if i stop that the engine will come on again and i have to make sure i'm in the position where i'm not at a parking meter at least. Decision made, as the garages will be shut after 5pm anyway now we'll head to the motorhome place to park up about 5km out of town which means settling in for the night and then trying something in the morning, depending on what the van wants to do!

Car park found and we park on up but at 5.45pm i feel that waiting to see Strasbourg until tomorrow will delay the trip and getting to Berlin on time to meet the folks so i turn the engine off....to turn it back on again. Result, it starts!! Okay so i'll chance to see what this evening brings and i drive back into Strasbourg and park up. At the parking meter it free from 7pm til 9am the following day so i just have to put in an hour and think of what best to do. If the worst happens when i get back and can't start it i'll just sleep here and call breakdown recovery in the morning as where i've parked is under trees, directly to my left is the river and to my right an apartment block with street lights so i'll have no issues if i have to stay here the night.

We walk on around Strasbourg and i'm so so glad that i put this on my itinerary when i was looking a few months back of what to see in France. This popped up and originally i couldn't do it but with of changing plans, and having a bit of time to look to see whats to the West of Germany with the Black Forest and all, i could fit it in. Its right on the boarders with Germany, just a bridge between rivers separating them but its certainly French here, not a speck of Germany influence at all which at borders sometimes there is a slight mixture of the two. I do miss France, it has its charm and has its self respect in the sense that they look after their streets, building, roads etc. Take pride i'd say which can come across as arrogance but pride is more of an observation.

This is one university city with students everywhere and tourists groups travelling through the streets and the River. I decide to have an ice cream but there's no where to the door to tie up Ellie so a kind student offers to hold her whilst i run inside. Suddenly in the queue i thought that this may not have been the best idea as the girl is sitting on a high stool enjoying her ice cream whilst stroking Ellie who at this moment is sitting on the floor looking at her. But what if an Alsatian goes past, or something that spooks her...that girl will be flying off from that stool with ice cream in her face as she floors flat onto the pavement! Move quicker please...more decisive decisions are needed here people on what ice cream to have, a cone or not to cone!

My turn and i pay...but then i have to wait until the lady behind the counter has finished serving those in front who are choosing...chose people chose! I get to see Ellie out of the window at this point and manage to keep her engaged onto me, and not looking out to the streets as she was when i spotted her! No alsatians, not just yet at least! Finally it's my turn and i've made my decision before even walking into this place and he takes his time putting it in...why is it so relaxed around here! Ice cream got, Ellie back with me on her lead and a massive thank you to the girl looking after her, all is safe!! Now i say Alsatians as these are the dogs that Ellie will bark at as she's had an incident in the past with one...well with another here if you remember at the Waterfalls in Menmore, Italy. When she barked at one at a campsite i said to them its because theirs was an Alsatian but they corrected me to German Shepherd when i was in France. But they look the same to me and so they would to Ellie. But what I learnt from google Deacs when she was here is that Alsatians are the same as German Shepherds, we just call them Alsatians. Now the clue was in the name....that's why i see so many German Shepherds in Germany!!! And that's why i'm more conscious of them here!

We walk on round for a good few hours until its getting dark and as the sun was setting it made this city look even more beautiful. Once back at the car i turn the engine on...and we are good to go!! Hurrah!! To the motorhome parking place we went and if it doesn't start in the morning, and after a few technical wiggles of the stick from me and still not working, then we'll get breakdown to get us to a garage. First thing first, sleep. Although the van is warm inside and its still warm on the outside so its going to be a bit sticky for a while. Ellie is just sitting at me and staring which means one of two things, a) she's too warm and needs air or b) she needs the toilet. We try the toilet first but nothing and when we return to the van she very quickly lays outside. Okay, you can stay there for a bit but its near midnight! Once she seemed cool enough, and after getting the ice i could from the bottle of water i keep in the freezer but melts slowly as soon as we stop, then it was door closing time and time for bed.

Posted by emmabrown1014 11:05 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

DAY 122 - Sunday 30th August - Lindau to Insel Mainau to

... Bingen to Triberg 'Mr Benn, to the Fancy Dress Shop - Today i'm a Car Mechanic'

It's an early morning rise to do my blog as yesterday I was out for the count when we got here, well after the fireworks at least. First stop was for the toilet and I see a 50c charge is required, what is it with Germany as with each toilet I see there's a charge. I headed back to the van to get some change but as luck would have it a lady popped out and I quickly moved on through the closing door. Now the only thing that may not work are the things inside here like the flush and running water at the sink. Hmmmm please flush, but it doesn't. I move around a bit and suddenly the sensor worked, we have flush off! 50c saved...I wonder if I'll be this penny savvy when I'm back home?!

Blog done, breakfast eaten, Ellie's morning needs passed and we are off. Hmmmm, why isn't the engine coming on?!? I try again but this time in Neutral and not Park, turn the key and nothing. Try again in the Park position and zilch. It sounds like the battery has run dead but that can't be right as there's nothing on that could have made it flat. Just in case I turn off the leisure battery, take out all the appliances from the 2 cigarette lighters in the car and there is nothing left. In Park I try again and after a little wiggle it comes on. Okay so the engine, battery, or spark plug are not the issue so what is? Remember me saying how the Bongo was doing so well with not needing breakdown recovery man to pop to us...this may all change now!

Making use of the engine I run it a little while just in case it is the battery and head over to Insel (meaning Island) Lindau, at the moment I was inland of the town Lindau and drove to the car park near to where the bridge was to walk across. You can drive over but leaving that to the locals and those with permits incase i get stuck over there! Now I may not have thought this through as I entered the car park with a ticket now in hand. Should the engine not start again I'm left with the hours charging away on my ticket until breakdown recovery comes. What's worse is that it's a Sunday and so no garages will be open to fix the problem...but it he can tow me at least to motor home car park i just came from until they open tomorrow.

I park up, turn the engine off and try the ignition. Nothing. I tried Neutral and nothing. I tried a little wiggles of the stick and nothing. Maybe I'll leave it til I come back, maybe it'll work then after a little rest...that's called positive thinking. Or head in the sand syndrome! Yes I'm clutching at straws! Without trying to think what will happen to the rest of the day I enjoy the walk around this Island which is located near the meeting point of the Austrian, Swiss and German borders in the eastern part of Lake Constance. Only 3000 inhabitants here and connected by a bridge and railway with the island full of medieval and half tinkered buildings.

As we walked through the entrance way to the harbour there was an orchestra playing with the cafes and full restaurants filled with families, couples and those reading the Sunday papers on their own. Tourist groups were gathered for the next price of knowledge / fact to be disposed on them and there was a sectioned off part of the lake where people were cooling off from the heat of the sun. As we headed off the island we cane across a group all holding dogs and wondered if they have their get together for the dogs to play like we do at home.

Okay, so the plan now is not to pay the ticket should I not be able to start the engine otherwise that would cause confusion, especially as I don't see help nearby to let me out should I get it started a bit later but taking longer than the ticket allows between payment and exit. Fingers are crossed and I get back into the van...what will my next few hours consist of?! It doesn't start but what I do notice is that the silver thing you press on the side to move the stick is loose, so loose that I'm not feeling any click or catch positioning in Park. It clicks into all the others but not Park. Which makes me question then, why doesn't it start in Neutral?? I'm in Neutral as I feel Park has had it and after keeping the silver thing in as I turn the key while it's sitting in Neutral it starts!!! Okay, definitely a gear stick problem, narrowing this down!

As I don't want to take the risk trying to start it again I leave it running whilst I go and pay for the ticket so at least I can get out of this car park! Ticket paid although that was a challenge in itself as when I put the ticket in half of it stays out, just enough is in the read the bar code. The cost comes up, I take the ticket out and go to put coins in. The things shuts in which for you to put the coins in, why is that?! I put the ticket in and it opens up so I take it out and manage to put one coin in before it shuts on me again. Hmmm. Ticket back in and I can see the cost left to pay has gone down as it acknowledged my last coin and I do the same, ticket out and coin in...but it closes. What am I doing wrong?!! Now I should have remembered this from a car park in Spain like this....I figured out that you have to leave the ticket for the coing bit to stay open. Simple really, so someone please lock me up a while til you think it's safe that I'm let out!

Back to the van and its still running away, the engine sounds perfect so definitely a gear box / stick problem. Next onto Insel Mainau which is on the other side of the lake, about an hour's drive to get to. Turns out an hour and a half due to the amount of traffic. This island is full of spectacular flowers in its park and gardens, luxuriant with semitropical and tropical vegetation. Access is by pedestrian bridge (like one at the last one just did) or by boat.

We come to the car park and its 6 euros for the day so I'm on no time limit to getting the car started again, that's if I can! We park up and I get my tools out as when I tried to start the engine again and again and again I was getting nothing. Yes I know nothing of engines or of cars in general but the tools are out. When I first bought the van and turned it on I drove to the nearest petrol station 2 minutes down the road as they left it under the red (!) for me. From here i turned the engine off, so far so good. Trouble now was that I couldn't get the key out!! Tried everything and nothing so I filled it up and headed on back. Your wondering where I'm going with this story? Well I showed them the problem and they drove me to a garage they always use and I saw the mechanic take off the gear coverings to show the white plastic flag looking thing on a screw fitting that sits in the stick. Then he moved something as it was the silver pushy thing that was the issue for not letting me get the key out. That's it, that was the experience I was using in order for me to fix it. That problem was the key, this time the engine not turning on but both had the problem of the silver pushy in thing on the side of the gear stick.

Main covering off. Gear box covering off. Gear stick covering off. Silver pushy thing pulled out of which is attached to a spring. Okay, now what to do?!!! First I pushed the exposed small white plastic flag on a screw fitting which is what looks to move down the options of the box when pushed to the side. So by that deduction the silver thingy pushes that to the side to move it. Okay....what next? I move it all the way down to the bottom of which when I tried to push it back up again it was stuck. Didn't want to move at all!!! Okay, so now the problem has gotten a lot worse. I'm wondering if at any point a mechanic may luckily come my way coming back to their car. So far my luck was out.

As I pushed it up again I noticed that the main box that covered it was moving around so I put that back into position and hearing all the clicks that it went back in. The stick moves once more, hurrah! Okay, so back to the original problem. This time I screw the stick down some more thinking maybe that was too loose, well worth a go. Time to put the stick covering back on but it wouldn't. Tried everything. It came off so it must go back on!! Eventually I put the plastic white stick thing to the opposite angle that I thought would work and it slipped on like a glove. Phew. Next the silver pushy thing and as I pushed that through it got stuck. No springy release on that no more, just wedged in which is the complete opposite as to what I had. I needed the middle ground!!

With now slippery fingers of the oil and grease from the mechanics of it all i try a flat screwdriver to pull it out and managed to do so by going in on the gaps on the sides. Seriously are there no mechanics in this car park?! With that back on i stick my finger in the gap where the silver thing goes whilst in Park and I can only just feel if. If I pushed it it went down to the other options where more of the plastic flag part became more exposed for better grip. Okay, so when in park it lowers and I'm not sure if it needs to be higher to get better contact with the silver pushy thing which at this moment is my finger!

Need to get this silver thing back on and with 5 minutes of pushing it it gets stuck each time and so I turn it the other way as inside the stick i felt that it had tracks for them to slide into each other. Okay, everything back in place, key in....no engine. Tried Neutral after that. Nothing. Not being defeated I took it all off again and this time with the white plastic screw thing exposed I pushed this to one side in Neutral and tried the key. It started!!!!! Tried the same in Park....it started!!!! Okay, so now I know more grip is needed meaning the white plastic flag thing needs to be screwed less for it to be higher to reach the silver pushy in thing better. You all getting this so far, especially with my technical references for the non petrol heads out there?!

Everything is put back but not without incident as the gear stick covering wouldn't go back on. It took a while to see that the cable dangling to the side of it was squashed in it so no more room for the white plastic screw thing. Right, everything is back on....the silver pushy thing falls nicely between the gears and the major difference this time is that in Park it was springy, not massivaly like the others (but not sure if it's meant to be), but springy all the same. Unlike before when it had no spring at all. Key in....and it starts!!!! Tried Park and Natural a few times and it starts!!!! Check out me the mechanic! Thought I'd better stop trying as I'd flood the engine now knowing my luck at this rate!

Right Ellie, who's looking bored right now, time to see this Island. 5 minutes later we are back in the van to head off...yes 5 minutes later!! When I read up the description about this place it said you needed to walk over a pedestrian bridge to get to, it said nothing about payment! Thought it was the same as the other Island i just walked over the bridge for today, apparently not! Not bothered about the Chelsea flower show near to my own doorstep at home so this means I'm not bothered about this island flower show!

But two bonuses, first speaking to the ticket office man that I didn't realise I needed to pay he gave me the gold token for free in order to leave the car park which was 6 euros. Then after having this token now in hand we went for a little walk on the side of the lake where Ellie had a swim and I got a picture of the island from afar. Can't see flowers, just trees, but got a picture of something at least!

Next stop was Bingen an hour's drive north which is on the river Rhine, Europe's most important waterway, and its most beautiful. It stretches from Switzerland through to Germany and all the way to the Netherlands. The middle boats of most scenic with 65km of some 60 picturesque medieval towns and 40 castles. Bingen they say is a good place to start. So the van starts which is a joy to behold and then I realised that with all this fiddling about that I may have gotten the engine to start but have I meddled in the gears themselves?! We get out of the car park but its all low gears. We come to the traffic lights and stop. As the lights turn green I turn right and head up a small hill in which I'm only hearing gears one and two again...come on three, four and five! The revs are at their highest, is it going to change to three, it should do....and it does!! Gears are fine, phew!

On route and I pull into a petrol station...is this wise?!? I'm going to stop at a pump and if I can't start the car I'll be in the middle of the station stuck and making one pump unavailable! One thing I do know is by taking the thing apart I can get it started by manually pushing the white plastic flag looking thing but that'll take time to do. I get petrol, pay and sit on the seat with keys posed to turn. I gently push the silver thing whilst already in Park and it feels good, there's a slight spring. Key turns....it starts, whoop whoop!!

So we got to Bingen and not an awful lot to see, it's not the place I'd mention about in a travel guide of a website. The River was more of a brook or a stream and I wouldn't call it being part of an important waterway as a dingy couldn't get down here with all the rocky stones showing, never mind a ship transporting goods!! Am I sure it's the right one, spelling is correct to that of TomTom and the guide map and could the sign of a walkway pointing to Rhin the same as the River Rhine. Actually is it by the Rhine and what's in a dropped 'e' from the sign, does it mean something else?! Well any way I took the River, although still not sure to be calling it a River, as long as I could and I saw a castle on route in a better village I'd say. We're off tonight to stay far West to the Black Forest, where maybe with the night being clearer we can see the stars once more. Also on route maybe we'll see more of the River coming back in again at some point. We did though stop to have tea by the River before the hour and 20 min drive to the Black Forest.

Darkness was just falling as we got into the Black Forest and the free parking spot was found, well it wasn't hard as I was the only motorhome here! Just before turning in I spotted a sign saying waterfall in 3km so I make a note to see that tomorrow before the off. Sure it would have been safe where i parked but I moved back up the village to where i saw cars parked by the church, houses, and street lights. Now time to settle and see the forest in the morning.

Wasn't until now I realised I could have done something today to have had the original problem in not being able to get the key out when fiddling with the gears?!....Oh well, seems fine at the moment. At least I can guide a breakdown recovery man to the problem if my tools and lack of knowledge / luck and skills ain't up to it!

Posted by emmabrown1014 10:41 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

DAY 121 - Saturday 29th August - Munich to Fussen to Lindau

'It All Started From A Jigsaw Puzzle'

Not sure if parking so close to the toilets was the best position ever, really should have moved once other spaces opened up during the night as there were so many people stopping here for a toilet break. Where had they all come from to stop at a parking area off the motorway with just the toilet facilities to use and nothing else here. To be fair i'm not sure if moving the car would have made any difference with the number of HGV lorries coming and going of which one of them made me feel like I was in the middle of Close Encounters of the Third Kind as his big massive lights shined all the way through my van as he parked facing my side to take up 10 spaces so he could get some shut eye.

With this i'm not too sure how much sleep was made but with all the commotion now going on outside this morning its time for the up and as I stepped on out it was like being at a car park convention as this place was packed, surrounded by families and dogs all here for a quick break...at 7.30am. Have people been driving since 5am for this warranted scheduled stop?! They must have only just started but why the stop already, and one family had a stove out from the boot of their car to make some tea!!

Into the toilets I ventured and it made me wonder why this place was a popular a stop as it isn't for the toilets that's for sure! This place reeked and I soon moved on back out to get toilet roll, one bonus of living in a van to have these amenities at hand as there isn't any. Deep breath and back in feeling like I should actually be wearing a radioactive suit and wellies as the place would have been off the richter scale for bacteria, and probably bacteria species to be found that's never ever before been known to man. This with a wet pool of a floor which may have only been the cleaning done this morning...with a hosepipe to wash it all on through!

Once in I hear a women head into the cubicle next door and as she sat / squatted (who knows as I wasn't there to see her techniques here) I heard her gag and then wretch, then dry heaved! She was definitely in a sitting type position from those noises so she was dry heaving the wrong way and was only doing so because of the smell. I could hear the pain in her voice as she mumbled in a foreign language, knowing she wanted her life to be some place better and not from a scene from Trainspotting! Of which they used chocolate for the poo for Ewan had to swim in, this though is the real deal!

Ordeal over and Ellie gets to do her's alfresco style with the clean fresh air. Well as fresh as the over flowed bins would allow. Time to move on quickly and just 30 minutes down the road is Munich to see, but then 5 minutes down and I'm coming off the motorway. I'm diverting from TomTom as I saw a sign that may mean toll road 1km ahead and I'm sure there wasn't an option to take off from TomTom when normally instructed if there was. I pull over to McDonalds and I look to the guide which has some facts about each of the countries and turns out Germany is toll free....hurrah!! Also looking at this section it states that you can sleep on the Public Highway in Germany, so means i can pretty much park and sleep anywhere. Although i do need to google Public Highway as in my head right this minute all i can think of is Dick Turpin and therefore i can't think what exactly a public highway is!! Looking at Austria at the same time it said i could stop off at Public Highways too so those sneaky ones i thought i was doing turns out was okay.

Oh well, all i know is that i'm back safely onto the motorway and on route to Munich once more. According to TomTom we're 700m from where the centre of town is and I find a spot to park up on the road. Well that was easy enough or maybe early on a Saturday people not early rises here! We head out to explore Munich, the capital of Bavaria, and is home to centuries-old buildings and numerous museums. The city is known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and cavernous beer halls, including the famed HofbrÀuhaus, founded in 1589. In the walkable Old Town, Marienplatz is a central square containing landmarks such as Gothic Neues Rathaus (town hall), with a popular glockenspiel show...i'll come back to this show later!

This place is getting busier and maybe more so than usual as their seem to be a lot of Bayern Munich football shirts around so I'm guessing they are playing at home today. Which reminds me so are Spurs against Everton at 6.30pm my time and if I find an Irish bar they just may be showing it. Will figure that one out later. Munich would have been ever busier if i had arrived at the end of September for the Oktoberfest, yes i said September! It's called Oktoberfest but the festival actually starts in the last week of September strangely enough, and ends until the first weekend in October. This festival gets over 6 million visitors annually and here in Munich its the largest Volksfest in the world. Its an important part of the Bavarian culture, the festival has been held since 1810.

Whilst roaming around the commercial part of the city I soon hear a woman shouting at the top of her voice. At first I can't see her, just hear her and I think she's having some argument with someone. I come to a road to cross and there's that voice again shouting but I see no one until suddenly I see she's right in front of me on the other side and crossing over to my way...and starts yelling again as we're stood on red. Felt sorry for those on her side as i realise she's not yelling to someone but to everyone all around and asking why are we out and about, why are we here and that she knows who's fault it is, it's Pete's!!! Well if it's Pete's fault it must be as he's a guy i reckon! Then I suddenly realised I understood every word she spoke as she spoke in English, we have an angry shouty English woman looking homeless staying here. Better weather than London I suppose!

Next we head back on through the main square and this place was packed with tourists and their tour groups. As we're trying to pass there was only one way traffic that could fit in-between these standing crowds, just standing still for some reason. As I let the flow come past me it's my turn to go and get through the gap but Ellie was suddenly howling and I could see that one of the tourists had stood on her tail. I went down to check that she was okay but I saw that the guy still had his foot on it ... can you not see what you're doing?!!! He looked down but did nothing but he soon moved as Ellie jumped up and down barking and barking and barking!! Turns out they were there for this glockenspiel show but we didn't have time to admire the show as i'm now dealing with Ellie.

She somehow managed to become Houdini as she came out of her harness and looked so confused, frightened and now suddenly naked! She walked off a little to find the guy to bark at him some more. Think he got the message Ellie but if he hung around long enough I would have had words with him too as no apology came from him! As Ellie is barking down Munich, and no treats i'm holding is enticing her back to her harness (only few feet from me as I'm at her level), I'm glad though that those around us could hear some of the Americans talking who'd witnessed this by saying a man was on her tail so they don't think I've just let off a demon dog from her harness to a 1000+ people in this square! After a moment I get Ellie back and I have to go through the crowd another way as even though the man was long gone she was still barking at the spot where the incident happened. One bonus though as suddenly we had the parting the waves to get through the crowd with this little one still trying her best to bark down Munich!

So safely into another part of town where it's less busy and when I was leaving the square it was only then that I realised why it was so packed as it was the clock on the church doing something on the hour. Thought to myself that i'd have to read up about what it does later instead me thinks, won't hang around for the next encore! Munich done and back to the car of which this city is okay but not much to see although I think it was a shortened tour with getting Ellie back to safeness! Mind you when seeing what the tour buses had to show they didn't seem to have much either to showcase, they had the English gardens I didn't see and the Olympics area. What they did have was more day trips on offer to get you out of Munich that I've not seen at a tourist bus stop before!

On route to Fussen, to where the Neuschwanstein Castle is (also known as the Holby Jigsaw puzzle), I saw a police car had pulled over a car and I'm not surprised as I'd question a Harley Davidson beared guy why he's driving around in not only a pink but a sparkly pink 4x4 BMW!! Just 10km from Fussen and I spot a lake just a km to my left and then a parking spot just to my right, perfect!

Over to the lake and we come straight to the perfect spot for Ellie to jump into the water and being a hot day she does so with pleasure. Stick throwing commences and a girl helps us out too as I'm feeling sorry for the dog that's been tied up barking and whimpering as his owner has headed in for a swim. Playtime done and we walk back to the car and over the fields in which a tractor is cutting the grass so we continue stick throwing on land with the mountains surrounding us. What could be more perfect? The fields here are all like putting greens, so immaculately kept and so green with that refreshing smell.

Fussen is found and then we follow the signs to the Castles as turns out there is more than one here. Heading to the closest car park available it bought out my knowing of my angles and van size skills as the tour buses took pretty much the whole road! Squeezing our way past we find our spot and soon come to a lake for Ellie to jump in but with a difference...the stick I found sank! Didn't look like one which would sink and as Ellie was in the middle trying to search for it I throw in another...that sank too!! Is it the stick or the water, couldn't figure it out as a man holding his dog was laughing too. I manage to trick Ellie with a stone splash near me to come back over to the shore otherwise she'd be forever out there looking for it, swim time done! Well it was until few feet up there was a tiny cove for her to jump from and the really light stick I pulled from a bush next to us floated. With it being small and light this though took a while for Ellie to find but she got there in the end!

Next we're heading up the 10-15 minute steep climb to the Castle of which there were horses and carts venturing up for tourist. What made me laugh was that the price of getting up to the Castle on this climb was double of that coming down it! What are they trying to say about the human race and hills...lazy is what i say?! We take the walking route and Ellie is being quite good next to the horses coming up and down, think the trauma of Munich and the swims have taken the energy out of her!

So we make it to the top and its not quite the Castle I remember from the jigsaw that we did at Holby, I don't remember the red brick front part of it. Have I come to the right German Castle?!!? I take photos anyway of what I could before the 'dogs aren't allowed' signs and then I notice a sign that states the bridge to take better angled photos is out of use. Looking at that picture example of which you can take it does look more like the jigsaw puzzle and seeing 5 jigsaw puzzles in the shops on my way back down the hill and into the town below it could well be that Castle. Need to check with Ali before moving too far away from south of Germany as I know it was here somewhere when we looked it up Holby! This was a 4000 piece jigsaw puzzle that apparently one of our characters could do in a matter of hours...took us days as an office to help out the art department as it had to be about completed for the scene!!

Looking again at the sign saying that the bridge was out of action my favourite bit in the wording was 'indefinitely', meaning who knows when it'll be back open which makes me think how unsafe was it before and it was at a height?! Oh what i haven't mentioned yet is thatthis Castle is one of the most famous Royal Castles in Europe and built was from 1869-1886 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It has many towered and battlement covered fantasy fortress - the inspiration for Walt Disney's Cinderella and Theme Park Castles. He was though the King declared insane when the castle was almost complete in 1886 and found dead a few days later.

Castles done and into Fussen which is a really cute town to visit and one I'm glad I didn't just drive through for the castles. This was where I was going to stay for the night but after finding two bars with Sky signs outside meaning they were sports bars, turns out they weren't showing the Spurs game (German game instead, how rude!) so I headed to the next biggest town for the hope of an Irish bar at least as they may be showing it. Yes a big ask (!) and at that next town nothing, no Irish bar at all so I went to the McDonald's I saw on the way in. So now I got to spend the 2nd half listening to the game on the radio using their free WiFi! 0-0, why did I bother!

It's getting dark so I decide to drive the hour to where I was heading next and as I did the biggest, brightest, yellow moon was staring right in front of me, at my height as it was just raising. An amazing view to see!! Then as I turned to head in its opposite direction the sun was setting, what another beautiful sight. The only disadvantage was that I couldn't see the scenery I was passing with the light failing but I knew of a place I could stop on over so best to head there instead.

Now this proves how often I don't drive in the dark as there I was on automatic pilot to put my beam on and off when traffic was coming my way to see better...that was until one incident. For some reason I see a car coming round the hill and instead of taking the beam off I turn my lights off...fully off!!! Took a few moments to register exactly what I did to quickly then put them back on again! My madness I believe came as I thought I was coming out of a tunnel to the daylight ahead; ie the car lights i could see (!) as I'm forever in the day going through loads of tunnels and therefore switching them on and off!

Busy long day so as soon as we parked up the blinds were down,the screens were up, bed was down and off to sleep. Well that was until 2 minutes later Ellie's barking at the fireworks going off over the lake. Manage to calm her down quickly and after 10 minutes the fireworks are done...and good night!

Wish List - take my very own photo of the Holby Jigsaw Castle: near tick once confirmation it was that Castle!

Posted by emmabrown1014 10:04 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 120 - Friday 28th August - Krimml to Munich

'Natural Water Ride'

Today we had a lie in, not felt like we've had one for a while so I took that advantage as we've only got the waterfalls to see today, Munich i've decided we can see tomorrow. With looking out to the view of the waterfall whilst sat in my van i start making that list of mine by googling what's to see in Germany and making sure i fit it all in before i get to see the parents in Berlin on the 4th September. So excited!!!!! Not only do i get to see them but also stay in an apartment with a bed and shower!! God knows what i'm going to be like when i get to live in a house for real! It's a busy old list to fit it in but with a lot of it being small towns and villages it shouldn't be too bad. What i don't know is how long it will take to get to each of the places but TomTom will figure that out for me later when i see on the day how to work the timings.

That list took a while to figure out and then a while to see where i'm going to settle my head this evening. With the electrics here and the free Krimml internet i use it to it fullest so i can update my blogs and photos before we see the waterfalls up close. I'm determined that on some point of this trip i'll only be a day behind, and that's the day in which i'm in!! We'll see, we'll see if i'm still uploading when i return home on the 2nd October! Well not quite the 2nd October because as soon as myself and Mel hit the English shores we are off to Tring to celebrate someones 50th...not sure she wants the world to know but it's the fabulous (and doesn't look a day over 30) and beautiful Sue Grainger!!! Cannot wait!!!

So finally after a few short walks with Ellie during the morning we head out to the waterfalls in the afternoon and i'm glad that i took some money with me for emergencies (coins mainly for those toilet stops if i have to pay for) as it cost 3 euros to in and therefore close enough to take a good photo! Didn't' quite fancy the 20 minute walk back to the van again to get it as i was travelling light, i try to take as little as possible sometimes which catches me out from time to time. Krimml waterfalls, with a total height of 380 metres, are the highest waterfall in Austria and we entered the National Park of Hohe Tauern again, this time not for the mountain roads but for the waterfall and what a sight to see. How amazing to see these waterfalls flow and crash down to the streams below. Another great photo of Ellie was taken which is a bonus and the look on peoples faces as i do!! She's so well behaved and sitting until i'm done, unlike some children i see on this trip asking Dad to hurry it up!! I seem to remember being one of those children, especially being even louder to hurry up it up after all of us shouting to him that he still had the lens cap on and you could see his head wonder why what he could view was black only!! One thing we did get, is that both of us got drenched as being so close to the waterfall at the bottom and with the speed that it was coming on down then we got hit. Bit like the natural version of a rapids it seemed!

Waterfalls are done and we are back in the car to make our way towards Munich but this isn't without incident as normal! I input Munich so that part is okay but what i find is that as we are steeply going up the mountain get over the top of it this was the problem. It was a good 10km climb which took nearly 20 minutes to get up the winding road, with a few stops to take pictures from up above of the mountains and the waterfall, and then that's where the problem was...we did all that to reach a toll bridge that we are always trying to avoid! Failure! After all the climbing, and the Bongo thinking that the climbs are nearly over, we head on back down the mountain to head on the normal roads. All i can say is the pictures that we got from the climb up was worth it; silver lining and all!

As we then drove down in the valley for 20km we take a left, and then what i find is that taking this left we are then steadily going up the mountain back the way in which we came, only this time on a mountain and not the valley! As i've said before, you normally have to go around mountains but i could see the road below all the way back to where we parked pretty much in Krimml! Well this is it, this is the end of Austria, a country in Europe that i've been to that is number two on my list to visit again. Italy is obviously the 1st for me. It's also the end of the Mozartkugeln so the only thing left to enjoy is the Belgium chocolate; but what i do need to grab before i go over the border is petrol as i know that Austria is cheaper than Germany.

I go past one and know i can get it cheaper, then i go past another that i really should have headed on into as it was quite cheap and had a Spar store attached so i could get some bread for tea. There was one more left showing up on TomTom....one that i was either going to curse should it not be as cheap as the one i really should have gone into or jump for joy. Its a game which keeps me entertained! Whoop and whoop came to my cheer as just before we crossed the border it was the cheapest that i've ever found in Austria, and not only that but there was a Lidl across the road. Again the simple things in life make me do a whoop whoop these days!

I'm still trying to figure out at this point where to stay and then i remember that on the service areas of the motorways that people stop and sleep there with the HGV lorries. May do that myself and they also have a toilet too for those morning needs especially. As the night was settling in we come to the last service area TomTom states before arriving to Munich so we pull into there. With having my bread and cheese, reading of a few chapters of me book, and a little walk for Ellie to end the night, its then time for sleep. Not sure how much sleep but we'll see in the morning as a) we are by a motorway b) we are by a motorway (!) c) we are near to the toilets d) not too sure how much moving about these HDV lorries do of an evening and throughout the night.

Posted by emmabrown1014 09:08 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

DAY 119 - Thursday 27th August - Salzburg to Krimml

'Sound of Music - Tour Extended'

So check out is at 11am which is actually a good thing as at least that gets me up, showered and back in the van to see the rest of the Sound of Music that i haven't been able to see as yet. Before we are checking out i take Ellie outside in the early morning to see if she needs to do any of her business and then i can relax into the shower and take my time. Using the last of the free internet, well included in the room, and we all set and ready. First of all i get the bags over to the van and as we have this space for 24 hours it means we still have another near on 2 hours left on the ticket to use as there are some things in Salzburg itself that needs to be visited.

Maps saved onto the phone and a description from the website for the names of the places in why i've saved them is done so too! Nothing like saving a place on the phone and then not remember what it is that i'm meant to be seeing there and looking out for! First to the square just outside the hotel and this is where some of the sequences to 'Confidence in Me' were shot in which you see a whole array of Salzburg as the song plays through the song. At this square is the fountain is which she splashes on through called the Residenz fountain and also the Domplatz arches in which she comes through to get to the fountain. Here is where the real Maria appears, behind the arches as she walks on through them.

Next up to the panoramic view of the city at the Humboldt Terrance in which she sits down with the kids singing 'Do Re Mi' in which the whole city can be seen. Then off to the Felsenreitschule (Rock Riding School) which is the 1400 seat theatre but you can't get in there unless you have a ticket it seems to see a show or concert. Its where they filmed the Edelweiss song at the festival near to the end of the movie with the whole family singing to the Nazi's...this did happen in real life too, but not the getting away part by the end of it and over the mountains! Then to the Mozart bridge which they sing 'My Favourite Things' as they ride on through with their bikes. Nonnberg Abbey in the end i don't see as i couldn't quite figure out where to find it but i couldn't see much when i got to the gates anyway apparently.

Back into the van and we head on to see the front of the Van Trapp house, of which we could only see from the bus yesterday as we couldn't stop there. Here is also the tree shaded lane where Maria alights from the bus and heads through the gates to pull the door bell 'Confidence in Me', although not by the end of that song! Looking at the map the next stop is the mountain, atop which Maria makes her first twirling appearance which is in a village called Mehlweg, which is actually in Germany but overlooks the Alps here and into Austria. I headed on up and it was a tiny village with a road that went to no-where so i was unsure as to the exact spot in which she did this. Also they cheated with the tress and brook in the film which makes it a bit harder to spot but what you can see are the mountains in which she twirled. Also to have a look at where she stood the grass verges here were going onto peoples properties so thought that was a bit out of order!

So the final stop was the mountain range in which they crossed at the end of the film but that was a nightmare to find also as there isn't a sign saying, this is the stone steps they crossed! Anyway i got the gist of the mountain range around them also but the trip getting from Mehlweg to here was one in which i'll remember with the small dusky forest lanes and the mountains that surrounded you. You can quite clearly see why they decided to film here all of the exteriors and not find a replacement in the States for cheapness. Couldn't digitise all of this in!

On the route i didn't go past the Mozartkugeln factory which was a blessing in disguise as i would have spent a fortune!! Instead we went to our next destination of Krimml which was a waterfall here in Austria that was a must to see. By the time we headed on over there it was too late to visit the waterfalls but there was somewhere to park for the night just a km away from the entrance. Somewhere i thought was under 10 euros to stay according to the guide was actually 18 euros of which they could have pushed me over with a feather as i got nothing for that other than a space and a cheeky toilet in the hotel / restaurant here i could use. Oh and electricity. So with settling in, i found that i could use the internet for free which was a Krimml town thing and not the hotel / restaurant one. So not quite so bad...but still 18 euros was way too much! Time for a rest now after all that touring around for the extended Sound Of Music locations!

Posted by emmabrown1014 08:46 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

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