Germany Again :: Η Γερμανία Ξανά

Bodensee as seen from Austria. On the left is Switzerland; on the right is Germany.

Tonight is my last night abroad and I am staying back in the area of Germany I came to during my first trip to Germany in 2006 (in the same hotel even); the same place I came to when I first drove to Germany 2 years ago.

I started with a good breakfast at my hotel in Bregenz. After checking out I took the Pfänderbahn to a viewpoint above the city – 1064m in height. The views from the top allowed me to see all the way to the Swiss Alps in one direction, to Germany’s Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria in another direction, and across the city of Bregenz and the Bodensee Lake in another direction.

I also enjoyed wandering around the free-of-charge Tierpark (animal park) at the top of the mountain, home to a range of Alpine animals. The deer were too far away to see properly but I did manage to get this photo of them…

I got on the road I think at around midday and set the Sat Nav for Stuttgart. I had a good 4 hour journey ahead of me and Stuttgart was roughly half way between Bregenz and Boppard.

Arriving in Germany I was back on the Autobahn, and going fast. The Autobahn today also gave me the first big traffic jam I’ve had since the M25 3 weeks ago.

In Stuttgart I stopped off at the Fernsehturm (the TV tower), to enjoy the views across Baden-Württemberg and to enjoy a drink and a light lunch in the Panorama Café.

Stuttgart, The capital of Baden-Württemberg, is Germany’s 6th largest city
Boppard-am-Rhein, Rheinland-Pfalz

My arrival in Boppard marked the first time since Lefkada that I have seen other British cars in any great number. There was the odd British camper van in Switzerland and I got a thumbs up from a bike on GB plates who overtook me in a traffic jam on the Autobahn today.

After I had checked in to my hotel and then walked in to town enjoy my last evening meal abroad. By dinner time tomorrow, I’ll be back in the UK. In some ways I’m so close to home, yet so far away at the same time! Driving on the left will feel weird after 3 weeks.

The last couple of days haven’t been without their problems; Somewhere along the lines my passenger side wing mirror has been damaged – I don’t know by what, but I think it happened while I was parked in Italy, it is like something has hit it.

I’ve patched it back up as best I can and it seems to be holding OK but I’ll want to get that fixed sooner rather than later. I’m still not 100% happy that the alignment of the mirror is totally correct, so I’m being extra careful when changing lanes.

The other problem is I have another warning light which has been on since Athens (it did go off briefly this afternoon but then came back on). The light is telling me a bulb has gone. The only trouble is I can’t figure out which one, everything which I think should work, does.

Other than that so far so good and I’m now within a day’s driving of the UK on roads I know fairly well, now that I’m back in an area of Germany I know well. It’ll be a long day on the road tomorrow – Maybe as many as 14 hours including stops – so I will need to stop plenty of times, drink plenty of water, eat a good breakfast/lunch etc.

So given that I’ve got a long day tomorrow, I’m going to have an early night, I’ll go in to my room and stick the TV on for a bit (I can get some BBC programmes out here, albeit dubbed in to German, but that doesn’t bother me) and I did manage to get a BBC channel in English last night, which was showing W1A and Live At the Apollo – I think it is one I’ve seen before; Josh Widdecombe talking about going on holiday and being asked by friends and colleagues “can you get me…” which turns the last day of his holiday in to a day of going round looking for things, like in an episode of The Apprentice. Somehow I felt this was quite accurate!

Gute Nacht,

FH.

Today’s Mileage: 304.5
Accumulative Mileage: 3288.9

Journey Map

The Alps :: Οι Άλπεις

It was warm and Sunny when I woke up in Italy this morning. So t-shirt and shorts it would be – even if I was about to go in to the Alps.

I had 2 choices of route today. The quickest route would be on the motorway – that would mean going South to get on the motorway and turn North again once past Milano (Milan).

Alternatively I could take the scenic route – It would be a slower route, not meeting the motorway until well in to Switzerland – but it would be more fun.

Just outside Corteno Golgi, Italy – shortly before the Swiss border (view to the South).

It took slightly more than an hour to get to the Swiss border. The Italian-Swiss border was the first land-border at which I had to show my passport. A Swiss customs official checked it and asked «Sprechen Sie Deutsch?» (Do you speak German?) – I replied «Ja, Ein Bisschen» (Yes, a bit) and he proceeded to ask me where I was going, was it just me in the car, was I in Switzerland for work or holiday, etc – before sending me on my way.

I was impressed by the Swiss roads – they are good! Quite twisty and windy as you go over the Alps but in comparison to some of the Greek roads, not bad at all.

The scenery was great. On the way to Greece I’d followed the Brenner route, one of the lowest Alpine routes; Now I was getting high in to the Alps. I was following the Bernina Pass road, one of the the highest routes through the Swiss Alps – it took me to an altitude of 2328m (7638ft) above sea level.

Snow still on the ground in June!

The road is an excellent road to drive on – People were driving it in their sports cars (including a very nice looking Porsche on Russian plates), there were quite a few cyclists, and loads of Bikers – usually all stopped in groups at the view points.

I was still in my t-shirt and shorts when I stopped to take photos in the snow, and while it was definitely fresh outside I never felt cold. The car was boiling anyway (I drove with the window open most of the way), and at lower levels the temperature in the high 20s, so I wouldn’t have wanted to wear warm clothes.

Today’s journey also included taking my car on the train between Sagliains and Klosters; Klosters is a ski resort apparently a favourite of the British Royal Family. At this point the local radio station (SRF 1) started playing music which didn’t sound too out of place in the Alps!

Taking my car on the train

Eventually, About 20 minutes from Vaduz, I reached the motorway – Vaduz, the main city in Liechtenstein had been somewhere I wanted to visit when I put this itinerary together. Vaduz doesn’t feel like a capital city; I parked at the Rheinpark football stadium – within walking distance from the centre but surrounded by farm land, with the Rhine river nearby; the Rhine forms the border between Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

5 minutes walk from the centre of Vaduz (Capital of Liechtenstein) – It doesn’t feel like a capital city at all!
Vaduz, Liechtenstein in the foreground – In the background, the Rhine forms the border with Switzerland

I had a 2 hour stop in Vaduz which gave me time to have a drink, wander around the City Centre, and up to the castle (the castle itself isn’t open to the public; it is the home of the Prince of Liechtenstein).

Leaving Vaduz, I drove back in to Switzerland to get back on the motorway and soon after crossed in to Austria – My 4th country in one day! My destination was Bregenz, the capital of the Austrian State of Vorarlberg located on the Southern shore of Bodensee (Lake Constance); I arrived not long after 7pm.

In the evening I wandered in to the centre of Bregenz where I found a Greek restaurant… Well, this is a Greek road trip after all, so why not!?!

I have felt very at home being back in the German speaking world today, able to understand the language, and in particular I enjoyed eating at the Greek restaurant where I was able to switch from one language to the other (and back again) with no difficulties at all.

I’m going to head off to bed now – Got a long drive tomorrow to Boppard, but should have time to stop off in Stuttgart along the way.

Gute Nacht,

FH.

Today’s Mileage: 187.5
Accumulative Mileage: 2984.4

Journey Map

Mountain Driving – The Alps :: Οδήγηση στα Βουνά: Οι Άλπεις

The view from my hotel room in Sterzing

I got up this morning and had breakfast with Alison and Dieter at their house in Sindelsdorf.

After breakfast we got out the road maps; the 1995 UK road atlas so I could point out to them all the points of interest – Cirencester, Fairford, and the route I take to get to London to visit the family. We also got the iPad out and looked through some photos of the extended family in New Zealand.

At about 11, my time in Sindelsdorf was over. It was only what the Germans call a ‘Blitzbesuch’ (the German way of saying ‘flying visit’ – I think it sounds bette in German than it does in English) – but I enjoyed my visit to Bavaria.

This weekend has only been by second time in Bavaria: The last time was when I did a long weekend in Munich in 2014. I keep saying I’ll go back to Munich, I liked it a lot, but I haven’t made it yet.

It was pouring with rain so no fast driving today. There wasn’t that much Autobahn left anyway – less than 20 miles, then the motorway ends at Garmisch-Partenkirchen and it was single-carriageway mountain road driving until I met the Austrian Autobahn just outside Innsbruck.

It took me about an hour and a half to get to Innsbruck, where I stopped at the Ambras Castle for a walk about the castle and gardens. View more photos.

It was lunch time to I also went in to the cafe and had bacon dumpling soup with some bread for lunch – very filling!

Crossing from Germany in to Austria, the border wasn’t noticable but it does have a very different feel compared to Germany; Perhaps its because the road signs and markings are different to the ones I’m used to in Germany!

From Innsbruck it was a short drive to the Italian border and tonight’s overnight stop of Sterzing (Vipiteno in Italian), located in the Alps in South Tyrol, one of Italy’s 2 Autonomous German speaking provinces. Geographically I’m in Italy, but culturally I’m still in Austria. The language border is further South.

The village is very popular in the Winter, when skiers come to stay. Higher up there is still snow on top of the Alps, but it was too cloudy today to see that.

My hotel for the night is the Hotel Brenner, next to a truck stop on the motoreay but also accessible from local roads. It’a short drive in to the village itself, which is where I went for my dinner.

I might be in an ‘Austrian’ part of Italy, but as far as I was concerned, Italy is Italy – so for dinner tonight I went for a pizza. I have to say the South Tyrol accent was qite noticable at first in the restaurant, but the accent was toned down a bit after I started speaking (clearly I didn’t come across as local but I must have sounded German enough for them not to switch to English).

It was still pouring with rain and while I did get a couple of photos in the village centre, I did also buy a couple of post cards showing how it should look, if the Sun were to be shining.

I drove back to the hotel and put the TV on for a bit – It was only a short drive in terms of distance today but on single carriageway mountain roads – and in the rain – quite tiring.

A fair bit of driving tomorrow to get to Venice – The Sat Nav estimates 3hrs 22min but I will probably stop on the way. Rain is forecast here again tomorrow but once I get clear of the Alps I should find the Sun comes out…That’s the theory anyway!

For those in to Dashcam videos – here’s a selection of clips showing my drive through the Alps, condensed in to 15 minutes…

Gute Nacht.

FH.

Today’s Mileage: 102.2
Accumulative Mileage: 968.6

Journey Map

Schloss Ambras :: Κάστρο Άμπρας

Passing through the Austrian Alps, I stopped at Schloss Ambras in Innsbruck.

If I stood still the wildlife came right up to me.
Login