Sunday, July 16, 2006

July 16th, 2006 - Munich, Germany to Imst, Austria

In the morning I asked the woman at the hotel reception – of course, the one of the two that didn't speak English very well - where I could find a bookstore to buy a map that would show me the way to the awesome-band-name-sounding city the guy at Karl Maier had suggested I go through. Bad Tolz (I found out later it was actually pronounced "Ba - tolls" which I don’t think I would pay $29.50 to see) was just at the top of my Austria map and too far south to appear on any Munich tourist maps.

After what I thought was a gimme charade for “book” that proved to be a stumper, I looked up the word for “bookstore” on my PDA’s English-German dictionary and showed it to the woman behind the counter. She responded with a puzzled look and indicated that this was not actually a word they used. We narrowed it down to something we could both agree on for “store,” and after smiling and nodding back and forth at each other congratulating ourselves at having blasted through the language barrier, she informed me that because it was Sunday, all stores were closed. I decided to make my way out of town and hope for the best. I found the motorcycle right where I’d left it in its role as “King of the Vespas” in the small scooter-filled plaza a block from the hotel and loaded it up for my first day on the road.

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

Leaving Munich proved to be only slightly easier than entering it had been but within 20 minutes or so I came across a rental car company that kindly provided me with a road atlas and directions towards Bad Tolz. I soon found myself rolling though farmland and small country roads past lakes and rivers dotted with weekend recreants. I followed the advice of the guy at Karl Maier and just past a gasthaus parking lot crowded with motorcycles, took a one lane scenic toll road that popped me out very close to Garmisch Partenkirchen.

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From Garmisch, the little town of Ettal, known for its large domed kloister and the brandy made therein, was not far. I stopped for a lunch of two bratwust, a pretzel, and a cappuccino at a centrally located gasthaus and typed up a journal entry on my IR keyboard and Palm Lifedrive then continued on towards Lindserhof.

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

At Lindserhof, you may recall, I had been planning to see the Disney-inspiring castle perched on a hilltop. I knew exactly what to expect since the castle was featured on one of the posters stuck to the acoustic tile on the ceiling of my dentist’s office in order to keep patients calm while being poked and prodded in the chair. Nestled amongst the posters of Tahitian beaches, Alaskan Mountains, and South American waterfalls, that castle had stared back at me for what seemed like hours attempting to distract me from the grinding and drilling during the excavation for my crown.

And now, seriously considering basing all my future travel plans around visiting the locations on those posters, I followed signs up a side road and paid my money to park. I joined the tourists marching up the pathway, at each turn expecting to see a mystical white castle likely being circled by bluebirds whistling “Zipadee Do Dah.” But, the path just kept going (I hadn’t walked this far in leather pants since… a story for another time perhaps) and yet, no descriptively-named, vertically-challenged characters appeared. No talking dogs or pantless ducks were visible at all. Where was the Disney fairytale? I began to feel a twinge of self-doubt, possibly similar to what would be felt by a mouse wearing a wizard hat who had hastily conjured a janitorial supply warehouse worth of brooms to carry buckets of water only to find them multiplying out of control and the castle being flooded. Okay, maybe not like that, but I began to wonder whether skimming the part of the guide book about the castles had been such a good idea.

In fact, I came to understand that this was King Ludwig’s other castle, more like a manicured garden around a pond. There was in fact a palace building, but it was about the size of a Kentucky Fried Chicken and seemed to offer little promise of containing a narcoleptic princess or being suitable for a poster that would bringing calm to someone with a metal hook poking their mandibular nerve. Yes, the castle I was looking for was Neuschwanstein and, while in the general direction I was heading, involved an 80 kilometer or so side trip. But, I had it in my head that I needed to see the poster castle, and like its Mill Valley sister location, King Ludwig’s KFCastle had left me jonesing for something else.

I headed to the junction at the town of Reutte, raced up a section of autobahn, and joined the tour buses on the road to the castle. Of course, by the time I got up to the first view from the lower parking lot, it was close to 6 o’clock, and on top of feeling like I still had a lot of road to cover that day, a sign was posted prohibiting motorcycles up the approach road after 5:30 (presumably to keep noise down for those staying in the adjacent hotels). I opted to zoom up to the castle using my camera instead of the bike and snapped a couple high res pictures I figured I could crop tight later. The pictures turned out okay although I may have needed higher speed SD card to have captured all the cartoon bluebirds.

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

From 2006-07-13 Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a motorcycle

The rest of the ride wound through small towns and mountain roads culminating with the Hahntenn Joch, a 1,894 meter pass between the small towns of Elmen and Imst, Austria. I was exhausted as I descended past several small hotels but chose to find a “Zimmer Frei” sign in the center of town across from a large hotel. After getting checked in and parking the bike around back in a garage, I confirmed the trip odometer reading of 300 km for the day. I walked across the street to the outdoor restaurant at the larger hotel and was excited to find a free wireless connection which enabled me to receive some fun responses to my inebriated correspondence from the night before. I ordered a large glass of beer and some food. While I can’t say for sure, I feel pretty confident in my recollection that it was some kind of bratwurst.

300 km today

1 comments:

Alex said...

You know you've motorcycled on Alps roads far too many times when you see a pic on Google Images and say to yourself, "that looks like the Hahntennjoch - looking east". Sure enough, you state that above.

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