120607 Innsbruck to Neuschwanstein to Bayreuth

Innsbruck is at the foot of the Tyrolean Alps, so the geographical space is drop-dead gorgeous.  I wanted to take Sylvia to the Geiger outlet that is located there, but we ran into a religious holiday which closed all the shops the morning we got up.  It was a beautiful day but the city was entirely dead — which, frankly, was a relief based on our experience in Salzburg.  The holiday was “Fronleichnam” (aka Corpus Christi) which is a very Catholic observance celebrating the presence of the Spirit of Christ in the Eucharist (sacrament).  It’s not celebrated widely in the United States, but in Catholic Europe (aka Austria) it closes all the stores.

So by 10AM or so we were on the road to Neuschwanstein Castle.  The ride through the Alps was breathtaking including the view of Zugspitze (see pic)– the most important peak along that route.  There were old medieval castles and remnants along the way along with more modern 300 year old churches and buildings.

We arrived at Neuschwanstein around lunch hour and found two disappointments.  First, it was crawling with thousands of people such that it took 45 minutes to drive through a very small village (aka dorf) and Second (most important), the castle was completely covered with scaffolding and plastic sheeting — you could hardly tell what it was.  So with this dilemma, we decided to forgo the hike up the hill to the castle and avoid the thousands of visitors.  We’ll have to catch Mad Ludwig’s digs next time out.

Earlier in the day we read in the Michelin Guide that Villa Wahnfried (Wagner’s Home) in Bayreuth is closed until 2013 for restoration activities.  So that’s three for three today:  Geiger closed for holiday, Neuschwanstein closed for restoration, and Villa Wahnfriend closed for restoration.  Had we known this BEFORE this trip, I think we would have rearranged the itinerary to include Rothenburg or the Black Forest or Heidelberg.  However, the drive from Innsbruck to Bayreuth was by and large a beautiful driving experience — through the Tyrolean and Bavarian Alps with more green than I’ve seen since North Carolina.

We continue to be amazed by the huge numbers of wind turbines in Germany.  In addition to those, we’ve seen whole fields that are covered with silicon solar panels.  Germany is really doing something about renewable energy sources while Americans pay their congress to nurture gridlock and get NOTHING done.  Other countries have moved ahead of America in many ways while we continue to support a dysfunctional government.  The more I travel (on this trip) the more disgusted I get (with what’s going on back home).

We arrived in Bayreuth at our Ramada Inn (which is nothing like any Ramada in the USA) before sundown.  Parking was underground at the hotel and the hotel was easily accessed by an elevator (opposite of last night in Innsbruck).  We checked in and had a delightful dinner in their adjacent dining room — which was almost a garden restaurant with so much glass that you felt like you were in the garden surrounding the hotel.  One had no sense of being in an urban setting, at all.  When we got back to our room (like most rooms we’ve had, not air conditioned — even though this is a pretty swanky place) it rained outside.  We opened our windows to the garden and the air was fresh and cool and filled the senses.   We retired at a normal hour after a long day of driving through beautiful countryside.
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