A Travellerspoint blog

June 2009

Black Forest Ultra Bike Marathon

27-28 June 2009

After scuba class today another one of my crazy ideas has us driving back to the black forest for a mountain bike race. We headed back to our usual room at the Black Forest Hostel :) and then tried to find the race registration. We parked the car in the lot with all the other cars with bikes on and followed the crowd to pick up our race packet and finishers vest. Included in the registration was a spaghetti dinner.
The dinner was like a huge beer garden of bikers eating huge plates of spaghetti. Strangely enough we never seem to have trouble finding someone who speaks English but this is not the case here. We are pretty much on our own which causes trouble when we try to find the car again. This time there is no huge crowd to follow so we get horribly lost and spend atleast 30 minutes trying to find the car.
After a good rest in the hostel we get some breakfast down the street and hope we can find where we need to go to start the race. Once again we wonder around trying to find people to follow and eventually end up at the train station. Our bikes are thrown on a truck and we run to get on the train before it leaves for our start position.
At the start the bikes have been taken off the trucks and are laying everywhere. We finally find ours and take up our position last in the line to start. I’m not quite used to my bike or shoes yet so I don’t want to be crowded.
The race was about 5K of flat followed by 40 K uphill. Some parts were so steep we just got off and pushed our bikes up the hill. The views at the top of the mountains were gorgeous and the “race” was really fun. The end was also great because they had all kinds of bike gear. We had a radler and brat before heading back home. I accomplished my goal of finishing without falling over :)

Posted by ErinDriver 09:31 Comments (0)

Ice Caves in Obertraun, Austria

15 June 2009

overcast 70 °F

Before heading home we hit the ice caves a few miles from where we stayed. There was a gondola ride that took us HIGH into the mountain for views over the lake.
Another very steep 10 minute walk up to the entrance of the cave started the tour. The tour was in German and we had hand outs in english.
The caves are limestone and at one point were the hibernation homes for bears. They have been extinct for thousands of years though. After a few rooms you get to the ice sections. They are icy because the water outside seeps into the ceiling and freezes.
Its a cold but interesting 45 minute tour. Here are some pictures of the caves.....

Posted by ErinDriver 10:08 Archived in Austria Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Hallstatt and the Salzkammergut

14 June 2009

sunny 76 °F

A day doesn't start with a much better view than ours - I don't think you can even capture it in a photo. Breakfast was included in the room price and the owner gave us some bike maps to use.
Of course right from the get go we took a wrong turn but ended up by the water and more great photos.

According to our hotel owners the ride on the path around the lake was relatively flat and if we rode to the next town we could get a train ride back. There were definately some interesting things on the route....
like this woman statue,
these bee keepers,
and more views.
The town of Bad Goisern was not very happening on Sunday but we did find an outdoor place to have some lunch. The 15K ride wore us out a wasn't flat so we were very daunted by riding back. We opted for the train and this brought us back in time to find a nice grassy spot by the lake to relax.
After awhile we headed back to Hallstatt to explore the town some more.
We saw the Stephanie hauling people back and forth across the lake from the train station to the town of Hallstatt.
The protestant church has the huge spires you can see from across the lake.
However the Catholic church has something more interesting to see - a bone chapel.
This charnel house has more than 600 painted skulls.
Space in the graveyard was limited so after 12 years the bones were removed and most placed in the bone chapel. This was stopped in 1960's due to the increase in cremations.
Long bones form the bottom wall and the skulls are arranged on a shelf above them.
The skulls on the bibles are from priests.
The grave sites outside are small but the gardens are lovingly tended.
Dinner was at the same location as last night with the same menu - it was just too good.
After the ride home the total for the day was 27K on our bikes and we were ready to relax with a bottle of wine.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:06 Archived in Austria Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Salzburg to Hallstatt

13 June 2009

sunny 70 °F

June 13th was a beautiful day in Salzburg and far exceeded the last 2 years on this day. After a breakfast that finished off all the fruit Curt chopped the other night we went downtown for some shopping. We spent the better part of the day looking around salzburg and having pizza.
The drive to Hallstatt was about 1.5 hours along narrow, curvy roads. But the views were gorgeous and continued when we arrived.
We were staying at Haus Hepi, something like a bed and breakfast in Obertraun. The town was about 5K away from Hallstatt so we got on our bikes and rode the bike path in to town.
Its crazy how the houses seem to be built right in to the mountain.
Dinner was so good we went twice. The place was Restaurant Braugasthof and was in an idyllic location right on the water.
I fed the ducks while I waited for my chicken wrapped in bacon with gorgonzola sauce. We topped it off with pancakes (crepes to us) filled with ice cream. It was so delicious. Luckily we worked off some of the calories on the 5K ride home.

Posted by ErinDriver 10:56 Archived in Austria Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Eagles Nest

12 June 2009

sunny 65 °F

Many reasons caused us to miss the take off of our tour to the Eagles Nest this afternoon. Thankfully we were only 15 minutes late so the tour company let us meet them at the bunkers.
We only missed the driving and background information portion. They guide took us directly to the bunkers which are huge. They went on for miles and weren’t even finished yet. At one point the bathrooms were decorated with tiles and paintings were on the walls.
The electricity came from huge submarine engines. This was the location of one. The etching on the wall is from when the French army got to the site. It was a fight whether the Americans or French arrived first.
A long hallway is a room that once served as a hospital. There are several spots were machine guns would have been placed.
The walls in some portions were very thick – several layers of brick and cement lined the wall with a waterproof covering.
Many of the bunkers were connected by shafts. This one even has stalactites that have been growing for 60 years. The bunkers are very cold.
The is the remnants of a safe. The hole is where allied forces tried to open it with a bazooka.
The bunker tour was followed by a bus ride to the entrance of the Eagles Nest. A long walk down the tunnel then a elevator ride finally dumps you at the house. Little did we know the house was never slept in. Hitler only came to the house he got for his 50th Birthday about 14 times. He didn’t like heights and he was claustrophobic. But many of the other officers and his girlfriend Eva Braun did use the house. It was used for conferences, coffee, dinners. The views are gorgeous and the house is way smaller than you would think.
The wood is original – a knotty pine that costs 1000 euro per square meter – the candle holders are also original.
The fireplace a beams on the ceiling are original but somewhat damaged by allied soldiers chipping some off for souveneirs.
This is the entrance to the tunnel. You can see the house at the top of the mountain.
According to the guide it would today cost 140 million dollars to build. This is second only to Neuschwanstein castle in expense.
Outside the house offers a great view over lake Konigsee and the house.
When we got to the bottom of the mountain we drove to Salzburg and had dinner at Shrimps. The asian pasta with shrimp was just as good as when mom and I were here in December. After a short walk around downtown we called it a night.
Here is a picture of our lodging - out of town a ways but very cute.

Posted by ErinDriver 00:15 Archived in Austria Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

The Master Chef

11 June 2009

rain 65 °F

This doesn't really have to do with travel but I loved the picture. We went to a friends house for dinner and Curt cut up fruit for hours to make his fruit baskets and bowls.

Posted by ErinDriver 15:20 Archived in Germany Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

Heidelberg, Germany

7 June 2009

overcast 60 °F

Steffi’s hostel was a new hostel outfitted in IKEA and so was very clean and nice. We got to sleep in then went to check out a craft market downtown. Unfortunately the craft sale was nothing spectacular. We did get to take some pictures of the castle from the bridge across the river.

This photo was the side of the Rathaus in the old town.
Curt posed with this bizarre monkey statue at one of the bridges.
The entrance to the old town.
This is a photo of the castle on the banks of the river.
Flowers growing on the riverbanks in Heidelberg.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:31 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Castle Illumination

6 June 2009

overcast 55 °F

I read in the stars and stripes that the Heidelberg castle was having an illumination of the castle and fireworks display. We grabbed a hostel room at Steffi’s hostel and headed that way after scuba class. Our arrival was just in time to grab a pizza and haul our chairs and blanket to the banks of the river. The pizza was delicious and so was the cotton candy.
The illumination and fireworks display, however, was anticlimactic. The castle was illuminated for about five minutes in which I got a picture that turned out as a red blur. The red castle was then turned off the fireworks started. Somehow the tallest man in Germany got in front of me so the pictures were limited. We were still glad we went but the fireworks were not all they were made out to be.

Posted by ErinDriver 11:28 Archived in Germany Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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