Lost in Germany

Unlike the previous day, the morning of our departure started with a downpour. Well, that explains why last night was very so sticky! We agreed as we packed our luggage.

Oh, poor you!

Below our window, there were a group of weekend cyclists who were pondering what to do with the pouring rain.

We checked out shortly before 9 o’clock and steered our car towards Strasbourg.

My Google Maps estimated the distance from Salem to Strasbourg as 188km and the journey would take a little more than two and half hours.

However, the actual journey turned out to be not so straight forward…

During our road trip, we always admired German style of doing things, like their automatically rotating toilet seats at their motorway services, efficient and cheap public transports, etc. However, we were not at all impressed with the way they managed their roadworks.

In Britain, any roadworks or events would be signed well in advance, and any associated traffic diversions would be clearly signposted too so drivers wouldn’t get confused or go astray.

I can’t remember exactly where, because I was in a state of panic, but somewhere between Hornberg and Gengenbach, there was a long tunnel going through underneath the mountainous region. Up until that point, we were making a good progress thanks to Google Maps, and feeling pretty optimistic. Then, we arrived at a traffic crossing and beyond it, we could see the opening of a tunnel. Once the light changed to green, the satnav directed me to cross over and head for the tunnel.

‘OMG, what’s going on here?!’ I saw a road block which was barring the entry and a red lamp was shining at the top of the entrance. Do you mean the tunnel is closed?! And where is an alternative route?! It was a dead end and I could do nothing other than a three-point turn.

For a while, we drove around like a headless chicken. The satnav didn’t understand why I was not following the navigation and kept on insisting on me to turn around and go back to the tunnel. ‘Oh, shut up!’ I cursed and scanned my horizon for any road sign indicating the alternative directions.

Then, we ended up on the street which seemed to be leading to a town, and the street was very crowded. It appeared that those behind the wheels were also in the same boat, lost and confused by the closure of the tunnel.

We sat behind the queue for a while, feeling let down by the nonchalant attitude of the German highway agency. Why didn’t they put up road signs? Not all the drivers were local and most of us rely on satnav nowadays. I never experienced anything like this in the UK or France. Aren’t you a bit careless, you German traffic control? We weren’t very pleased.

The town we drove through at snail pace was busy with the Saturday shopper’s. Some stretches of the street were cobbled instead of tarmacked, and rows of colourful bunting were stretched across the street lamps. We would have enjoyed the scenery and even been tempted to make a detour to have a coffee break if we weren’t so horribly lost.

After the town, we (and our fellow drivers) found ourselves near a large business park. What do we do next? Up until that point, I was still listening to Google Maps and following its navigation. ‘Mum, I have to ditch the satnav for now.’ I turned my iPhone off because I had a sinking feeling that it was directing us towards the useless tunnel again. As I made a U-turn, we saw a coach which was a few cars ahead of us making a U-turn in the forecourt of the petrol station. Oh god, no one knows where we are heading…

We decided to follow the traffic ahead of us, hoping if they were locals and knew the alternative route. But no, a bunch of us ended up at the mouth of another blocked up tunnel shortly afterward. And again, there was no road sign. We all scrambling to make a U-turn in haste, and the scene resembled the one from the cartoon, Wacky Races!

Those cars, which were thrown into disarray with us, were all German. What do they feel about being aboandoned like this? Where is the German efficiency?!

Again, I realised how lucky I was to have mum sitting next to me. She had been driving for a long time, and she knew how to get out of the sticky situations like this. ‘Look, that coach! You remember it was making a U-turn at the petrol station?’ She pointed at a blue coach which was about 80m ahead of us. Oh yeah, it was the same coach! She suggested that we should follow it because the coach driver may have known the area well and been travelling on the alternative route already. If the coach was a holiday charter kind, it may be heading towards Strasbourg as well! So we started to follow it. The tall body of the coach was easy to keep an eye on, and mum spread our reserve paper map on her lap and trailed our progress with her index finger. I felt very reassured.

Mum’s hunch was spot on! The coach did lead us to Strasbourg. And to our delight, we saw a “GB” badge plate which was displayed on the rear of the coach when we got closer to it as the traffic slowed down after crossing the French Border. At the exit toward Strasbourg city centre, the coach in shining armour did not come off E52 like we did, and it carried on towards Reims instead.

Thank you very much for helping us even though you had no idea that we were using you as a guiding beacon! We waved at the coach as it disappeared rapidly out of our sights.

Once again, Google Map was turned on, and we headed towards an underground car park in La place Gutenberg…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen @ Salem

When we arrived at Salem, the time was already 4 o’clock. ‘So we made it here in 3 hours then.’ Mum and I chatted as we unloaded bags from the car by the entrance of Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen, our one-night abode. Hmm, where should I park my car? I scratched my head as the car park was already full and found no staff at the reception…

An wrought iron signpost of the hotel…

Mum posing at the front door…

Is anyone here?

I parked the car temporarily by the entrance, asked mum to stay with the car and went inside to look for a help. After sticking my head in almost every doorway on the ground floor, I managed to find a staff who processed our check-in. He also told me where to park my car and give me a sheet of paper with Wi-Fi password.

Our room was on the second floor and we climbed up their well polished staircase…

Before it was converted to a hotel, this building used to be a part of a local monastery. The history was reflected on their pared-down decor.

The place was very quiet…

Our room…

The furnishing was simple but it was well-tended and clean. As I opened the east-facing windows, slightly humid air rushed into the room.

‘Shall we go down, mum?’

We headed to an adjacent beer garden for a well-earned cold beer and grub…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

From Eibsee to Salem

My apology for not updating my blog regularly. It has been a bit too hectic recently and I didn’t have much time for myself. As soon as the things are settled, I shall resume the blog properly again. Thank you very much for your understanding.

Now, let’s start today’s entry!

The recent weather reminds me that we are a knee deep into the proper autumn. Gradually, I have started to notice that hue of everything around me is less vibrant from the summer’s, like we are draped in a thin layer of sheer fabric in pale dove grey. So, the summer is truly over, huh?

What a fun time I shared with my mum during last June! I couldn’t help having a deep sigh as I went through the images of our road trip on my iPhone, preparing the next blog entry. It was hard to believe that the holiday was only less than three months ago. I really must press on to finish the chronicle because my memory of the trip is fading fast, I thought with a tinge of panic.

Our next destination from Eibsee was a place called Salem. I didn’t know much about the place but I chose there as our one-night abode because it was the easiest location to find an accommodation within our budget.

*As I mentioned before, all of the photos from the car was taken by mum.

We came across a procession of priests and alter boys somewhere along our journey from Eibsee to Salem…

Unfortunately, mum failed to take the photo of the domed roofed church which we drove past. The roof was painted in gold and it resembled the Wieskirche.

Oh, we shall miss the mountains of Bavarian Alps, mum and I nodded in agreement…

It feels like it happened a light year ago. Things are more fun and exciting then…*sob*

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Going back to Eibsee

After a cake & coffee break, we headed to a cogwheel train terminal. ​

 

We queued well ahead of the time so we could grab the best seat of the train – the left side front seat of the first carriage. The reason for this was because it would guarantee an unobstructed view over Lake Eibsee.​

 

​At crossing loop 4, our train stopped to wait for oncoming uphill train.

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Once the trains passed each other, our downhill journey resumed.

Then, the trees thinned out and we were treated with a grand view of Lake Eibsee. The emerald green of the lake was breathtakingly beautiful!

Our train arriving at Eibsee…

 

​Are you ok, mum? She looked a little tired…

Thank you, you hardworking cogwheel train…

Without you carrying us up, we could never see the real alps with our naked eyes!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Lake Plansee

After paying homage to the Wieskirche, we left Steingaden and headed for Linderhof, another palace created by Ludwig II. We were directed to take A17 and then 179 once we crossed the border between Germany and Austria.

We could have gone an alternative route which would have taken us westward via A23 to the palace.

The journey would be shorter and faster through the Bavarian mountains and we would stay within Germany.

I can’t remember why we decided to take the longer eastward route but the decision we never regretted about taking it because of this…

Lake Plansee!

It was so beautiful and I simply had to pull over and park the car as soon as I found a suitable lay-by.

Lake Plansee was located in the district of Reutte, Austria. It comprises an area of 280 hectares and is the largest lake in Tyrol.

The water quality was outstanding. It was clear and the colour was amazing.

Emerald green water of Lake Plansee…

It was a breathtaking sight.

We saw a man on the boat in the distance. He appeared to be reading a book…

How I envied that man on a boat! Floating on this heavenly beautiful water and chilling out. I would love to do a long “doing nothing” holiday by Lake Plansee too, I sighed. May be I should suggest it to Hubbie.

Let’s top up a tan on my legs…

Unfortunately, we must press on, mum. I shepherded her back to the car. We must to get to Linderhof before the place get as crowded as Neuschwanstein.

Even though the visit was fleeting, we were very glad that we found the lake. We would have missed this amazing place completely if we took another route. It was a pure luck that we saw this spellbinding sight.

Everyone, don’t forget to visit Lake Plansee if you are travelling in Tirol!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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