I believe it is time I gave up on my ideal of blogging the entirety of this holiday. It simply isn't going to happen. At least today I've beaten the computer into submission and actually convinced it to change the keyboard to english. Phew!
Thus, today I'm simply going to write about what we did and saw yesterday, or at least in part given that we jammed in over 270km yesterday!
9am-ish we picked up a rental car, which we were a little suprised to discover, once we got to it a block from the office, that it was still completely covered in ice which we had to scrape down before we could even consider going anywhere. At 72 euro for the day, I'd have thought Avis could have actually prepared it for us. Perhap I expect too much. Ah well, you've been warned. There is my protest, online for the world to read. :-)
From there we headed north towards Munchen and Augsburg and within about 5 minutes of driving we were greeted with the incredible, icy beautfy of snow encrusted trees, fences, houses and blanketed hillsides. It is so amazing to be confronted with something completely outside of my usual experience. So often when we travel we are seeing things that are a variation on the familiar. This however was something completely new and splendid for me. I was completely in awe of it all. Absolutely amazing. I'm not even sure that we really got photos, although expect we managed to gather our jaws up and contain amazement for long enough to get a couple of shots towards the end of the day. Truely, I felt like I had walked through the back of the wardrobe and emerged in Narnia.
20km or so along the road, we turned off to Oberammergau (sp?) where we had a bit of look around. I saw a cool carved frog prince in the middle of the street that I photographed, then a little further on we found a strange ice scupture of, hmm, what on eart was it. Half of a pipe standing on its end? Something like that! Anyway, when we returned back past the frog, I idiotically declared to Simon 'Oh! That's carved from ice too!' Duh! Silly girl! I had thought it carved from stone when I photographed it. :)
From Oberammergau we headed further up the road, turning in to the final part of the Romantic road towards Schwangau and Neuschwanstein castle. Wow! How completely surreal! You're driving along this road surrounded by the most amazing winter wonderland, gazing at the many mountains that surround you on all sides, and then all of sudden notice this vainglorious edifice on the hillside! What an incredible indulgence - never completed and lived in by Ludwig for only 170 days! Astounding! We eventually found the road up to it, but were the only car amongst hundreds of walkers and several horse and carts. I felt somehow we weren't meant to be there given the lack of other cars or even tyre tracks. However there were no signs, and when we did get to the top there were a few cars in the carpark. We marvelled at just how far people were trapsing up a hideous hill in freezing conditions to visit the castle. True to our usual form, we declined to go in (this is a habit we should perhaps consider getting over at some point, but personally I find the natural beauty of a place to be what I find the most inspiring and calming part of travel). We did however take several photos. The panaromic view over the valley from that height was quite incredible, but impossible to photograph. I've snapshotted it in my memory instead. :)
From there we crawled our way down the hill and back out the main road, past Fussen then headed for Reutte in Austria. And crossed the border. With no fanfare or acknowledgement other than the street markings changing to a slightly different format.
We tried and failed to find somewhere for lunch in Reutte then proceeded towards Innsbruck, however obviously missed the one crucial sign as we discovered ourselves heading towards somewhere entirely opposite to Innsbruck, requiring Simon to perform one of his favoured u-turns. :)
Eventually we found the correct road, and then pulled in to the grounds of the Erhard (???) castle ruins where we found a most unassuming little pub/cafe to have lunch at. As we walked in and found a table, the occupants of the only other table in use each greeted us! So nice! We had a very hearty meal!
From there we continued on towards Innsbruck but decided we would continue on the shorter route, directly back to Garmisch. At some point, we have no idea when, we crossed back into Germany. Still very odd.
The mountains were truely incredible. I took several photos of what we thought was the Zugspitze (where Simon skiied the other day) while in Austria, only to turn a few more corners and discover the Zugspitze in all it's glory, leaving me to dismiss the other mountain as 'some puny other mountain'. In such abundance are they!
I am left with the most incredible images of white, crisp, magical countryside. Never did I think I could enjoy winter so very much.