Sunday 15th May 2011
We left Salzburg this morning for Fussen in pouring rain. There was a marathon being run in town and a lot of the streets were blocked too, so thank goodness for GPS…
We were heading for the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau which are just out of a town called Fussen, which is in the Bavarian region of Germany. It rained most of the way but luckily, stopped just in time for us to ‘do’ our first castle – Hohenschwangau.
Driving to Fussen
After our tour of Hohenschwangau, we walked out of it into rain, so decided to take a horse and cart to Neuschwanstein which was about 15 minutes walk up the road. We had two horsepower on tap, and it was a slow and steady journey up the fairly steep incline.
Neuschwanstein is the castle that Disney modelled their fairytale castle on and it is quite spectacular. We had a good look through both castles but unfortunately were not allowed to take photos inside them due to copyright…
Neuschwanstein - The ‘Disney’ Castle
Today’s temperature peaked at around midday at 8 degrees and late in the afternoon it got quite chilly. There was quite a bit of snow on the mountains nearby and we expect there will be a lot more tomorrow morning.
We really enjoyed our day looking through the castles and tomorrow we are heading for Winterbach to see more family…
Monday 16th May, 2011
Family in Winterbach
We left the land of the castles and drove to Stuttgart to visit the Mercedes Museum. Alas, upon arriving, we found it closed. We latter learnt that all museums are closed in Germany on a Monday.
On the way to Stuttgart I decided to put the Panda through it’s paces on the autobahn. Flat to the boards, and with a 3-4 km run up, I managed to squeeze 160km/h out of the poor car.
At one stage I saw flashing lights over one kilometre away in the rear vision mirror. They were bearing down on us at a great rate of knots so I gave up on trying to pass the car I was next to and moved out of the fast lane. A black BMW flew past, doing about 250km/h, and disappeared like we were standing still.
We were still doing 160 km/h!!
We then drove to Winterbach to meet long lost family from my Father’s, Mother’s side of the family ‘Novakovic’. We were welcomed like we had known each other for ever. It’s interesting how fate brings people together. Over the years my father lost contact with his 1st cousin and it’s a long story which I won’t go into, but after 50 odd years, they regained contact and circumstances brought us here and we got to meet most of our extended family from my Grandma’s side.
We had the pleasure of visitors in Australia in April this year, Linda (together with her friends, Miriam and Lisa). Linda is the grand daughter of the lady we are staying with, who is my dad’s 1st cousin.
Most of this family lives in close proximity and most of them came to meet us. I can’t describe the feeling, we felt so welcome and at home. We had many pictures and stories to exchange and a lot to catch up on. I have compiled a small family tree with as much information as I could get. It has been a little overwhelming to meet so many more family members, to add to our already huge family, but I’m loving it and my brain just could not switch off trying to process all of the information I have gleaned.
I can’t wait to share all I’ve learned with my family back home. I’ve had an awesome day! Tomorrow morning, our ‘new’ rellies are taking us to the Porsche museum instead of the Mercedes one that we missed today.
Tuesday 17th May, 2011
Heading for Weisloch
We said farewell to Oma Maria in Winterbach and had arranged to go to the Porsche Museum with Linda (our house guest back home in April) and her family.
We headed off to the Porsche Museum via Luka’s (Linda’s Dad) business called ‘Concept S’. He showed us around his showroom and gave us a brief tour through the premises. Concept S designs and manufactures VERY classy optical shop fittings such as display stands and cases.
They even have distributors in Australia. (http://www.concept-s-design.com/home)
We then headed to automotive heaven and had a good look through the Porsche Museum. There was a full history of Porsche cars on show from the early beginnings to present day. Some really awesome machinery and quite a few of the racing Porsches including some of the Le Mans sports cars. LOVED IT!!
We said our goodbyes to Linda’s family and drove to Pforzheim to have lunch with Tatjana’s parents.
Tatjana is one of Angela’s friends who she’s known from Europe since 1995. We had another beautiful lunch and chatted for a while before heading to Karlsruhe for a walk around the palace gardens with Tatjana.
Karlsruhe Palace gardens
After our walk we headed for Weisloch via the Autobahn and before leaving Tatjana informed me that she would drive slowly for me at 130km.
She drives a very cool Audi A3 cabriolet (convertible) and the poor Panda was struggling to keep as it was put through its paces at close to 160km. I was loving it but really wished I was in my car which would have coped a whole lot better with the speed.
I am constantly amazed how fast people drive here on the Autobahn but how safely they do it – the road etiquette here is awesome… In Australia, some of our roads are good enough for that kind of speed but I’m not sure Australian drivers would cope, due to their lack of etiquette and training… A real shame…
We finished the day with a quiet wine and a few plates of tapas… A nice finish to the day!
Wednesday 18th May, 2011
In and around Wiesloch
We had breakfast with Tatjana and then headed for Heidelberg which is a very picturesque University city with a huge castle on the hill overlooking it.
We explored the castle and saw the biggest wine barrel we have ever seen in our life. It holds 228,000 litres and is a sight to behold – you could swim in it if you wanted. The castle also had and apothecary museum which housed quite a collection of medicines et al.
228,000 litre Wine Barrel
We had a great lunch and a nice afternoon wandering around. Wade even squeezed in a haircut. The weather was once again perfect and we got to drive with the roof down in the Audi. That was pretty cool too.
Later in the afternoon we went to visit Speyer, which is one of the most historic cities in Germany. The gates of the city were built in the 11th century. The city is beautiful and had some great squares to admire the view of the gates and we had dinner there around 9.30pm…with the days being so long (twilight till after 10pm) you just tend to have somewhat of a time shift with meals too…
Tatjana then took us for a driving tour around another castle and then back to Heidelberg to see the castle with the night lights. The cities are so pretty at night too. We then went for a drive of our life…down the autobahn to get back home. We got to around 200km/h legally… and it was quite a buzz.
We had another good nights sleep and tomorrow morning we will have to sadly say goodbye to Tatjana as we head to Paris. Thank you for a great couple of days Tatjana, we have enjoyed your company and had a great time. You’ve been an awesome tour guide and we look forward to you visiting us in Australia some time soon hopefully…