Thursday, September 7, 2017 Radfeld/Rattenberg to Hall in Tirol
We spent a few minutes riding around Rattenberg and admiring the old buildings. This village, on nobody’s agenda, is loaded with very pretty buildings dating back to the 16th century with the Inn River running along one side and a steep mountain on the other. After about 25km down the river we came to Wattens, which has the distinction of being the home of Swardovski Crystal. We had our lunch sitting on a bench in the middle of town before heading to our next old village. By this time the sun was out and strong like it is in the mountains of Colorado in September. We continued to ride along the Inn River to the ancient village of Hall in Tirol, just 3 kms from our hotel. We visited the T.I., but soon decided to just walk around the lovely cobbled streets and admire the buildings. The church (in the center of town of course) looked beautiful from the outside, but was under repair and we weren’t allowed in. After an hour or so we sat outside at a bakery for our coffee before doing some shopping at the market and finding home for the night. It had been a beautiful day with wonderful views of the mountains lining both sides of the river valley. Every village has a castle ruin high above it. There were lots of things to look at as we rode along happy to be on a flat route for the first time in a week and a half.
Friday Sept. 8, 2017 Hall in Tirol to Innsbruck
We woke up early to a beautiful sunny day with clouds floating at the top of the peaks. The day continued to clear and warm up as we rode the 10km into Innsbruck, the home of the 1964 and 1976 winter olympics. We headed straight to our hotel in the center of town to drop our bikes and start the day as tourists. To our surprise, our “deluxe” room on the 12th floor of the Hilton with terrific mountain views, was ready and available so we checked in, changed clothes, and walked to the Imperial Palace for a tour. There was an audio guide in English which explained the period furnishings and family history very well. The Palace which was built starting in 1500 by Emperor Maxamillion and was updated in the 1700’s by Empress Maria Teresa. It has been beautifully cleaned and restored. They’ve painfully restored many large paintings and carpets and uncovered a lot of intricate ceiling and wall paintings. Unfortunately almost none of the original furnishings have survived the effort in the 18th and then the 19th centuries to “modernize.” By the time we finished touring the palace, it was quite warm. We repaired to the plaza and enjoyed our lunch while sitting on a bench and people watching. Although we’d visited the bell foundry and museum in 2002, it was so interesting that we decided to go there again. It was about a 1 ½ km walk to just outside the old city walls. Our self guided tour with placards in English was interesting and informative. This place and the family who owns and operates it has been making bells for churches, towns, etc. since 1599. There were 10 or so large bells in various stages of the process in the workshop. After all that education, it was time for coffee and a walk around the old town. The 360 degree view of the mountains is stunning. The old and colorful buildings are also a part of the magic of Innsbruck. Our day would not have been complete without visiting one church about which we know very little except that it was completely destroyed during the WW II. Our hopes for a colorful sunset were for naught as clouds closed in about 7 p.m., but we still had the view from our hotel room of some of the mountains that surround Innsbruck.
Saturday, September 9, 2017 Innsbruck
We woke up to the forecast of rain (100%) for late this afternoon. The clouds over the peaks to the north were ominous and dark all day, but it did not rain until evening. We took advantage of the calm before the storm by riding our bikes rather than walking to one of the touted flea markets in and around Innsbruck. Although tempted, we did not get anything.
One of the places we passed was the central train station which we’ll go to tomorrow to catch the train to Seefeld which is at the top of the pass on the way to Garmisch. We have opted to take the train from Innsbruck to Seefeld, about 25 km in order to avoid a horrendous climb. We plan to ride the rest of the 60 km or so into Garmisch. After disembarking the trolley, we biked to the center of town, ate lunch then rode to the Imperial Gardens, a neat park, which is adjacent to the Hof Innsbruck (Imperial Palace) which we toured yesterday.
When we returned to the hotel we Skyped with Ari and our grandchildren, Sam who just began 4th grade, and Max who is now a first grader.
Innsbruck is a small city and today is Saturday so there is very little vehicle traffic. Riding our bikes was much faster than walking and a pleasant way to see the city.
Sunday, September 10, 2019 Innsbruck to Garmisch, Germany
It started raining last night before we went to bed and was raining when we got up. The ride to the train station was only a couple of blocks from our hotel so didn’t get wet before our train to Seefeld. It was an uneventful train journey accompanied by rain. It was difficult to enjoy the scenery through the train windows stippled with rain. Unbeknownst to us, the train we were on only stops on demand at the station we were ticketed to and the conductor did not say (or said in German, we do not know which) anything to us. Fortunately a fellow passenger who spoke only German realized where we wanted to get off and pushed the proper button on the door before our stop.
The station was primitive in that the platforms were dirt and the train car floor was level with the platforms of the new train stations but about 15 inches off the ground at this primitive station which made for an awkward exit for us. It was cold (in the 40’s) and raining at the top of the pass which continued until our first coffee break. The road between where we got off the train and Garmisch was very busy and had no shoulder. We were fortunate to find a woman walking just beyond the station who told us that there was a bike path in good condition all the way to Garmisch The path was gravel alternating with pavement but well packed down. It was a luxury to have no traffic of any kind. The rain stopped just after our elongated coffee break and didn’t start again, however, it was quite cold and difficult to keep our hands warm. We had long fingered gloves, caps, and neck gators on. We had a few very brief intervals of sunshine. We were descending so it got a little warmer (less cold would be more accurate) the closer we got to Garmisch. We pulled in a little after 4, checked in to our hotel which is in a building that has parts that were built in 1512. Ed cleaned the bikes with warm water and a rag provided by the kitchen before we walked around the pedestrian area. It being Sunday and after 5, almost none of the stores were open, but the church was.
Tomorrow may include some serious window shopping. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a charming ski town with many old, well preserved and decorated buildings and amazing mountain views at every turn even when covered with fog. The winter Olympics were held here in 1936 and the ski jump dominates the skyline to the east as you enter town.
Monday, September 11, 2017 Garmisch
We arose to bright sunshine and beat a path to the cog railway station to catch the 9:15 train to the top of Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. This,despite the prediction that the top might be covered in clouds and fog by the time we got up there. The train, cog railway, then tram took about 1hr and 15 min. to the top. We had sun on some of the mountains on the way up and got some good pictures. Unfortunately, the prediction with regard to the summit was correct, but we did get some good views of some of the peaks above the first layer of clouds. They disappeared shortly after we arrived. The dense fog did not abate during the hour or so that we were at the top and was kind of eerie. The trip down gave us some pretty views as well. We arrived back in Garmisch around 1 pm, had lunch then went to the Visitor’s Center. We got a bike map of the region and a list of places in Murnau that might have vacancies for the next 2 days. We went back to the room, called and got a reservation at one of the places on the list that the tourist lady had printed for us. Quite a relief since we had spent more than 2 hours last night trying to find a place. Then we returned to the TI and picked up a walking map of historic buildings and proceeded to look for them and read the placards on each. We were amazed at the detail of ownership and transfer of ownership going back to the 14 and 15 hundreds. These must have come from written records generated by the prince-bishops who owned and controlled the land in this area. The church was very powerful in those days and kept very detailed records. We also did some window shopping before returning to the room shortly before it started raining and worked on our itinerary for the next week.
When we made our flight reservations the dates were arbitrarily selected. Little did we know or consider that we would be in Germany during OctoberFest. Unfortunately for us, as a result of this conflict, rooms are hard to come by and prices are jacked up sky high, not just in Munich but in our experience in all of southern Germany. We have had little choice but accept this assault on our wallets. On the brighter side, we’re saving a small fortune on sunscreen.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 Garmisch to Murnau
Once again we awoke to rain which continued into the afternoon. Cool air is upon us again with the temperature not reaching 50 today. Our hands were cold until poop bags came to the rescue. We always thought the picture and instructions on the bags were to let you know how to put your hand in the bag and pick up the dog poop, but noooo…..they actually are telling you how to put them on your hands on a cold and rainy day to keep your hands from freezing!
The mountains, infested with new snow, clouds and fog most of the day were really beautiful. They were, complimented by the volunteer crocus like flowers that had bloomed through a newly cut hayfield.
We would have liked to see some blue sky for contrast, but it was not to be. We arrived in Murnau before 2 pm and had our lunch on the walking street once the rain stopped. Murnau is the area’s market town and sits just north of Garmisch in the area known as the “Blue Land”. Blue Land is about a 60 X 75 km area of Bavaria filled with lakes, parks, and recreational areas. We scouted out the town after a trip to the Visitor’s Center then window shopped in all the sports clothing stores but found nothing that could fit in our panniers. Maggie says she has an overpowering urge to by a winter coat.
We visited St. Nicholas church which is 300 years old this year. As with many other churches in Germany and Austria, the style is Baroque and is crammed with statues and symbols and gold leaf. Plain it is not.
We tried to find a seamstress to mend the Velcro strap at the ankle of Ed’s rain pants which came off this morning. No luck.
Ed rode to our pension about 1 km (actually in the village of Weindorf) from the walking street and checked in while Maggie continued to window shop. Our hostess said that she would sew the Velcro strap back onto Ed’s rain pants which immediately endeared her to us. We rode back to town after 6 and had a wonderful Indian meal. Back to the pension after dinner with little light to spare. It’s getting dark well before 8 pm now and even earlier with the thick cloud layer. Time to make sure our bike lights are with us when we set out for dinner each evening.
Wednesday Sept. 13, 2017 A day in and around Murnau
As predicted, the day started out cold yet sunny then soon reached a very comfortable temp for riding with only light jackets on. The clouds and rain held off till late afternoon. We had gotten the suggestion from the TI for a ride around Staffelsee ( a lake) with a rest stop at Alpenglick, a biergarten at the top of the lake. It was a beautiful ride of about 27 km through farm country, meadows, and the lake shore.
As recommended, we stopped at Alpenglick for our morning coffee which we drank while sitting at the edge of the lake. Alpenglick means Mountain View in German and they were spot on in naming it. Really stunning views of the high peaks across the lake from our vantage point at the shoreline. We also stopped at a campground restaurant further along for our lunch. It was mid afternoon by the time we returned to town so we went to the Schloss Museum which had a temporary exhibit of Gabriele Munter’s paintings. At the entrance we met a couple looking for the same place and struck up a conversation. We agreed to meet for coffee on the walking street when we’d finished the exhibit.
Ivy is from Strasbourg, France, and her friend Peter is from Bonn, Germany. They are friends. Both are widowed. They have rented a place for a week near Herrsching where we plan to be on Sunday. We had a very enjoyable break together, and they suggested they come to where we booked a room in Herrsching along the Ammersee next Monday to spend more time together. We hope that will come to pass. As yet, (6:30 p.m.) no rain today.We are keeping our fingers crossed as we leave for dinner.