Travel 2012

In September 2012, I took myself off on holiday, driving down to Austria via France, Germany and on the way home Belgium.

I drove far to far, over 2000 miles and spent far too much money on petrol, accommodation and just general expenses. But, I had a fantastic time. Austria and southern Germany being my favourite places in Europe.



Rothenburg Gasthof

Left the classic Gasthof near Rothenburg Germany. This Gasthof had, from memory, been in the family as accommodation since around 1628. Stayed there on the way down through Germany and on the way back as it was so nice and reasonably priced.

France - Reims

Had decided to take 3 days to drive down to Austria, so first day was to get across to France and head down to Reims. Find somewhere to stay and then explore this historic old city. It has a beautiful old town centre, as do many towns in Europe. It was once the place where French Kings and Queens were crowned. Has big boulevards and a lot of striking architecture.

Boulevards in Reims Boulevards in Reims

The huge boulevards in Reims.

Hotel De Ville

Hotel De Ville I think.

Other buildings

Other buildings around the city.

Etam

Unusual Etam shop with a green front.

Old Theatre

Old derelict theatre that looked as if it was once very grand.

Cathedral

The Cathedral in Reims, very spectacular architecture. This is a Panorama picture, where I have stitched two pictures together, as it would not fit adequately in one shot.

Cathedral

Some of the repair work being done on the stone work of the Cathedral.

Gargoyles Gargoyles

Some of the gargoyles on the Cathedral, which were being used for rain water drainage.

Germany - Heidelberg

Drove on into Germany the next day and stopped for lunch and a stretch in the university town of Heidelberg. Hadn't been here for a long time, 1986. Still interesting and worth a visit.

Altstadt Altstadt

The Altstadt, in both directions. This is the main drag and well worth a wonder around.

Schloss view

Looking up to the Schloss, on the hill above Heidelberg.

Schloss view

And looking down from the Schloss. Another panoramic view stitched together from three photos.

Schloss Schloss

Views of the Schloss.

Germany - Rothenburg

From Heidelberg I moved on to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which has to be one of my favourite places in Germany. That is why I stayed here on the way down through Germany and on the way back. This is one of the best preserved Medieval towns in Germany. Been here many times and always a great place to visit and stay. On this occasion, stayed just a few Km's outside in the small hamlet of Detwang. See Gasthof above. Rothenburg is almost the start of the Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road) a route through southern Germany, from Wurzburg down to Fussen on the Austrian border. It takes in 350 Km's of picturesque medieval towns and villages and castles.

Christmas shop

The classic Germany Christmas shop, with all the old wooden toys that they still make and still seem to be popular.

Rothenburg

Some views from around the town.

Rothenburg

One of the main gates to this walled city.

Rothenburg

A view across the vineyard.

Austria - Russbach

And so on to Russbach in Austria the next morning. This tiny little hamlet in the Dashstein mountains, 40 Km's south east of Salzburg, is where I had rented a lovely chalet home for the week. Some of the photos were taken on the phone, so the quality so not good.

Russbach Russbach

This is the lovely place I rented.

Russbach Russbach

Some inside shots.

Russbach Russbach

Some views of the surrounding valley.

Russbach

One of the beautiful traditional chalet style homes. This one was just behind mine and I never did find out what the little bell tower on the roof was all about.

Austria - Salzburg

Sazburg, the birthplace of Mozart. Had some glorius weather while away, it was high 20's on this day, although I did also have a 6 and sub zero overnight and snow. Bit of a mixed bag really.

In the pictures below you will notice all the old fashioned shop signs, mainly metalwork. They don't allow modern ones in historic parts of Salzburg. Not even McDonalds! Why can't other countries do this.

Salzburg Salzburg

The main drag in Salzburg. Very busy with tourists.

Salzburg

Unusual little church, tucked away right under the rock face, which you can see right behind it.

Salzburg

The main cathedral.

Salzburg

View of the city from the Hohensalzburg castle.

Salzburg

View of the Hohensalzburg castle from the Mirabellgarten.

Germany - Berchtesgarden

Berchtesgarden, often considered the heart of Nazi Germany, mainly because of it's association with Hitler and his mountain top retreat, "The Eagles Nest". A little reading seems to imply this is incorrect. The Eagles Nest was built by the Nationalist Socialist party and given to him as a birthday present and he rarely used it. So perhaps a bit of embellished history by the victors. Anyway, a beautiful area and town and well worth a visit, as well as a visit to the nearby lake Konigssee.

Berchtesgarden

A view from the town centre, up towards the Eagles Nest.

Berchtesgarden Berchtesgarden

Some views of the town it's self, which was very picturesque.

Berchtesgarden

Another view up towards the Eagles Nest.

Berchtesgarden

A view from above the Eagles Nest looking down towards the town.

Berchtesgarden

I thought this made a great photo of an older couple just sitting on the cliff edge enjoy the spectacular view. The Konigssee is just visible in the lower left of the picture.

Some views from the Rossfeld Panoramastrasse, The highest scenic highway in Germany.

Berchtesgarden

Two days later and the Eagles Nest has a fresh coat of snow. You can see the bus park in the lower right of the picture. There is then a brass plated lift 100M inside the mountain to get up to the Eagles Nest. Takes 40 people at a time.

Berchtesgarden

Looking back towards the Dashstein mountains.

Some views from around the Konigssee.

Austria - Hallstatt and the region

Hallstatt is a beautiful village and area in the Dashstein/Salzkammergut region of Austria. The town it's self is a World Heritage Site. It is absolutely stunning, as is the whole region and looks fantastic with a coating of snow. Well worth a winter trip here.

Hallstatt Hallstatt

Some views of the town and lake.

Inside the Dashstein mountains, the Ice Cave. This was really quite specatcular, as you will see from some off the photos. Unfortunately, because of the low lighting in some of the caves, I had to take the pictures, hand held, on long exposures, so some are a little out of focus.

Ice Cave

In this picture you can estimate the size of this Ice stalagmite. It must be 20 to 30M high. At the top of the stairs, you can see a black object, it's a piano. They hold concerts in the cave because it has great acoustics. Of course the temperature is not good for the piano, so it needs regular maintenance.

These picture give a sense of the size of these caves. You can see the walkways which we have come down and in one, in the upper left corner, you can see people still coming down the walkway. Apparently we are standing on 30M of ice in this cave. We were in the caves walking around for an hours. The caves were sectioned into two. The first set were just geological caves with an ambient temperature of 8 or 10C. Then we went through a blocked off door way into the Ice Cave and the temp dropped significantly to about 2 to 4C. Apparently the ice recedes during summer and autumn. It then rebuilds in the winter and spring in particular, when melting snow leeks into the cave system.

Then onto the outside of the mountains and up to the very top, in this case the Krippenstein.

Krippenstein mountain

A view of the Dashstein glacier from the top.

Krippenstein mountain

They have built this metal structure called the Five Fingers, which protrudes out over the edge of the cliff. It's some 2000M to the valley floor. You can look straight down through the floor and in spite of my fear of heights, I did manage to go out on it.

Krippenstein mountain

Hallstatt and the lake from the Five Fingers.

Krippenstein mountain

Finally, looking up to the Five Fingers from Hallstatt.

St Wolfgang, another picturesque lake side town.

Germany - Moselle valley

On my way back through Germany I decided to stop in the Moselle valley. Not been here before, but very much like the Rhein.

Cochem Cochem

Cochem on the Moselle river.

Belgium - Leuven

Stopped in Leuven Belgium for the night to catch up with a friend living there.

Leuven Leuven

Classic Belgium town hall.