(9/15/04) This was another long travel day. We headed west from Prague on D-5, with a stop in Plzen (Pilsen) to see the home of the famous Czech Pilsner brewery. However, we got quite lost in the town and used a lot of precious time before finally locating the huge complex – so we just saw the Visitor Center and the gift shop, had a coffee (Stan and Dad sampled the beer – just “OK”), then we continued on our journey to Bavaria. We stopped in Regensburg for a quick lunch (at McDonalds!), where the boy behind the counter was VERY excited to be serving Americans! We then headed to Munich where we again got lost and had to backtrack to find the ring road to connect us to A-8 south – but eventually found our way, and exit 98 took us easily to our destination – Schliersee. What a wonderful spot! This is a small town on its namesake lake, surrounded by the Bavarian Alps – a popular resort for Germans and known for hiking, nearby skiing and water sports. “Landhaus Hohenwaldek” will be our home for the next three nights – a delightful Guesthouse run by the Poeplau family, who have lived here for 10 years. Ralf, the son (who also gives massages in their “fitness center”) greeted us warmly and provided restaurant recommendations. We tried the first – “Gasthof Terofal” – within easy walking distance. We enjoyed a nice atmosphere, a delightful waiter, and good local food, including “pancake soup”, “liver dumpling soup”, and more assorted meats with dumplings and delicious red cabbage kraut. (Dad had the “pig’s knuckle” that looked like the entire lower leg – a huge portion!). They had only 2 menus in English, which we shared – a sign that we were really in a German town! Sleep came easily after the long trip – with the help of cool mountain air.
9/16/04) As it turned out, Dad did NOT sleep well…. He got very sick ~ 12:30 AM and lost his dinner (thinks it was the liver dumpling soup)… so he opted to spend the day resting and reading. Candy, Stan, Paul and I decided to continue our plan to take a day trip to Salzburg after the breakfast buffet (cereal, fruit, yogurt, bread/rolls, jam, soft boiled eggs, etc.). The weather was cloudy, with occasional rain showers, but the drive to Salzburg was fairly easy (less than 2 hours). We attempted to park at the free “Park and Ride” (a la Rick Steves), but it was full, so we headed into town and parked at the Marionplatz garage. We enjoyed wandering through the Thursday market in the lot next door – a huge display of flowers and food with a busy crowd of local shoppers.
Then we crossed the bridge to the old town and toured the Cathedral (“Dom”), built in just 14 years (1614-1628) – one of the first Baroque buildings north of the Alps. The bombs of WWII destroyed the dome, and reconstruction was completed in 1959. It’s a beautiful church, with many lovely frescoes and organs. Next we took the funicular to the Hohensalzburg Fortress above the old town – a “must-see” in our opinion. The tour was interesting, and the views of Salzburg and the surrounding countryside spectacular. We wandered through St. Peter’s cemetery, had a pleasant late lunch (goulash and wursts) in Resch & Lieblich Bierhaus along the cliff side, then continued through Universitatsplaz and the open air market before returning to our car. We saw Mozart’s home, etc. from the car, but had no time for the Mozart or Sound of Music tours…
The trip back on A-1/A-8 was easy and beautiful, with the Austrian Alps as a backdrop. We met up with Dad and again walked toward town for another recommended dinner spot – “Zum Hofhaus am See” – where noone spoke English and there were no English menus – part of the adventure! My limited German helped with the conversation and we were able to translate a few of the dishes, but Bavarian German (as well as the German spoken in Austria) is both spelled and pronounced differently. The food was delicious – better than the night before – with heartier soups, wonderful salads, and light, tender potato dumplings accompanying tender meats, fish and schnitzel. The staff and locals were friendly, but we were obviously a rare curiosity in this town. For us, it was a treat to be away from American tourists and to experience a typical resort in beautiful Bavaria. This night we slept like babies….
9/17/04) After breakfast we decided to wander the town while Dad relaxed. We needed to change some money since so many places do not take credit cards and only one bank in town could change American dollars!. The shops were small and friendly, but we found most of the souvenirs to be rather expensive. The tourist information office had only one person that spoke English, but she kindly downloaded some English information on Schliersee from the computers, since all of the brochures were in German. She also walked Candy to the nearby train station to show her how to operate the ticket machine, since she and Stan planned to go to Munich for the afternoon and evening. (One hour by train with trains leaving and returning every hour cost only 17.50 Euros for up to 5 people round trip!) We then drove half way up the mountain for a beautiful view of the village and lake before returning to the guesthouse to drop of Candy & Stan and pick up Dad.
Next the three of us headed to nearby Miesbach to meet Alfred Ambs (one of the Luftwaffe pilots) and his wife Hilde, who invited us for a visit. We left early so we could drive through the town and get oriented – then met Alfred at his office (at 81, he still works as an architect every day!). We followed him to his home on the south side of town and had a delightful visit – in German and English – with the airmen sharing flying stories from their training and the war. Alfred had scrapbooks and flying logs that were fascinating, as he was one of the first to fly the 262 fighter jet, which now is in the new Smithsonian exhibit near Dulles airport. We’re excited and eager to see it sometime soon! Hilde made two wonderful cakes (a fruit kuchen and a Bavarian roll) which we enjoyed with coffee and huge mounds of fresh whipped cream. After hugs, pictures, and promises to write, we said goodbye. It was quite a special afternoon with two former enemies able to share a part of their lives and talk of their experiences (funny, scary and sad) as American and Nazi airmen, love of home and family, and hatred of war…
We then headed back through Schliersee and continued on to the mountain lake area of Splizingsee at 3500 foot elevation. Wee took the cable car to the top peak overlooking the very challenging ski slopes – now busy with impressive hikers. The view of the Bavarian Alps from that vantage point was gorgeous! After a snack in the sunshine, we returned to the lake level and drove back to town. It was wonderful to have a chance to relax away from the big city crowds in little Schliersee, with only 7000 inhabitants, and we were pleased to have come to visit when it wasn’t packed with crowds for summer fests or skiing. The weather has been mostly sunny, with some cool air and fog in the mornings and evenings, and warm each afternoon.
We walked to dinner early in the evening – another pleasant spot nearby ZweibelnStube with a happy crowd and a simple German menu. The bill for 3 of us (including 2 beers each for Dad & Paul and 2 glasses of wine for me, plus 3 soups and 3 entrees – the usual Bavarian fare – but tasty!) was less than 50 Euros. Quite a bargain!
On our walk back we were joined by Candy and Stan, who had just gotten off the train from Munich. They had enjoyed exploring the city, visiting a beer hall, eating wursts and pretzels, etc. So – a wonderful day was had by all! Tomorrow we have a long drive to Rothenburg as our trip draws to a close….