Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Romantic Day 4 - a

Our last day in Germany and we had an ambitious plan. Travel back to Frankfurt via the Romantic Road and enjoy Germany's most popular tourist route. Over 350 kms of culture, heritage, varied landscape... The distance to be covered and the places to be visited made our day quite long. But we were determined to do it.

Germany tourism provides daily regular coach service along the Romantic Road and the buses are very comfortable and stop along many small towns. They also have a recorded audio/video about the prominent places to visit in each small town. Ideally the best way to do the romantic road is take 3-4 days, take the bus, hop off at few prominent places and hop in the bus the next day. But as I had previously said the tight time line in our trip made it impossible and we did the romantic road in one day.

The bus leaves Fussen at around 10.00am and reaches Frankfurt around 8pm. Bags and camera in tow we headed to the Fussen bus stop and after a few minutes of panic about missing the bus we hopped on to the bus and were off. The bus is relatively empty throughout and clean and neat. Remember to pick up some food/water for the road. There will be times when you miss those. Our bus driver, was a jolly old fellow who spoke English well.

The first stop along the road was at Hohenschwangau - the access point for the Neuschwanstein Schloss. The bus actually stops here for just 15 mts. Obviously not enough time to see the castle but we did click some pictures from the bus stop and moved on. Moving on from these touristy places, you can admire the lovely landscape - green rolling hills, the majestic Alps, the towering firs and the farmhouses teeming with flowers. It is a sight I'll never get tired of.

Crossing the small towns of Halblech and Steingaden we were greeted with sights of cows grazing and onion-domed churches doting the skyline and competing with the Alps. A big advantage of these tour coaches were that they had huge windows and we could click pictures easily.

A little off-beat stop is Wieskriche (Wies Church). A 1700's rococo style church - it is a treasure found in the rarest places. Amist the fields and small farming community I did not expect to see so much beauty. Even the outside of the church betrays what has in store inside. In fact we thought the outside looked like a barn house ;) History has it that, tears were seen from the dilapidated wooden figure of the Scourged Saviour in the 1730's and since then the church has gained prominence. A little rain, a beautiful church, amazing Bavarian dessert - curd dumplings in peach sauce (kind of like our rasmalais), 20 minutes....

Again we pass through tons of small towns (Wildsteig, Rottenbuch, Peiting, Schongau, Hohenfurch) where the bus will stop only if previously requested by calling a toll-free number. All these small towns looked beautiful from the bus, with pretty churches and small town flavor seeping!

Our next major stop was Landsberg. Located on Lech river, this town was best known for concentration camps during the World War II. The bus stops at the town square a quaint place flooded with flowers and big historic buildings. We spent around 10 minutes in the town, we would have loved to spend more time exploring that place.

Out of Landsberg we headed for Augsburg. The city founded in 15BC (it is that old!) and was another concentration camp area under the Nazi rule. The city is a cool mix between modern architecture and traditional stone buildings. The bus stopped in front of the old Renaissance style town hall. Augsburg welcomed us with rains and hunger. So we dashed into a neighborhood Chinese fast-food place (yes they have those every where!). Piping hot jasmine tea, white rice and soy-based veggies later we were good to go. We picked up some more snacks for the road at a supermarket there and moved on. The city has a electric tram service that is kind of strange... crisscrossing electric lines hide the beauty of the century old buildings. So we thought!

The rains did play spoil-sport in Augsburg but we had more small town Germany waiting for us. Will continue in the next post!

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