This morning when we walked to the train station in Freiburg it was raining.
To get to Colmar which is only about 35 miles directly west of Freiburg we had to take the train south to Basel in Switzerland and then go back north to Colmar.
In Colmar we are staying at a wonderful B & B near the train station, Villa Élyane. It is in a lovely old house and we have a big bright room.
Colmar is in the Alsace region of France. This afternoon we explored. Our host gave us a tourist map and we followed the tourist trail around the old town. Each of forty stopping points on the trail had an informational sign in multiple languages including English. The trail itself was marked with gold triangles set in sidewalk.
Auguste Bartholdi the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty is from Colmar. We saw a statue of him.
Duke and I each recently read a book about Bartholdi called Liberty’s Torch so it was interesting to see some of his sculptures.
Colmar is full of interesting old streets and houses.
The Colmar Spring Fair is going on right now so we saw pens of animals and lots of stalls selling everything from food to Easter decorations.
For dinner we ate at Le Fer Rouge.
We followed the Rick Steve’s walking tour of Freiburg this morning. At one point we were standing looking at a statue of a gargoyle with a goiter hanging from her neck that decorated a building on a narrow side street. Nearby there was another couple also looking up and quietly reading the same description from the Rick Steves guide book. This isn’t the first time something like that has happened. It’s a real demonstration of the reach of the Rick Steves influence. If I stood there all day I wonder how many people would come by and do what we did!
The gargoyle has a goiter because iodine deficiency was so common here during the Middle Ages that goiters were also very common.
Freiburg is a university town and has some other university towns as sister cities. They have mosaic coats of arms representing these towns in front of the new town hall on Rathausplatz. Madison, Wisconsin is one of the sister cities.
Freiburg is apparently known for its Bächle. They are little streams of water channeled through all the streets in town. They are fun to sail boats in,
or just jump over.
Originally they were for fire control. The city has people whose job it is to clean the Bächles The water looks sparkling and almost good enough to drink. The Bächles are fed by the canal that runs through the town.
Everything in the city center except for the cathedral was pretty much destroyed in one World War II bombing raid November 27 1944.
The cathedral’s latticework steeple may have contributed to it not being destroyed.
The stained glass in the cathedral is from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and was stored away for safe keeping during World War II. Each window has a symbol representing the group that donated it. This one was given by the boot makers.
We ended our walk with sausage sandwiches from the market in the square.
We ate dinner at our hotel. It was all delicious. Although we are in a wine region we had to have beer with our dinner since this is our last night in Germany.
We took five trains today! Füssen to Kaufbeuren, Kaufbeuren to Lindau, Lindau to Friedrichshafen, Friedrichshafen to Basel, and Basel to Freiburg. The distance to drive would have been 170 miles but it was much more enjoyable to see the countryside from the trains.
We followed the Rhine for a good part of the way.
In Freiburg we are staying at Hotel Oberkirch in a room overlooking the cathedral. Duke took this picture from the window of our room.
Tonight we had a hard time finding a restaurant that was open and still had a table available. After being turned away a few times we lucked out and ate at Zum Rauhen Mann. It was wonderful. I had a steak and Duke had sauerbraten. For desert we had apple fritters.
We have been very lucky with the weather on this trip. Yesterday when we arrived in Füssen it was cold and overcast. We couldn’t even see the mountains. Today we woke up to blue skies and a pleasant temperature. It was perfect weather to go into the mountains to see the King’s Castles.
We took a short bus ride from Füssen to the ticket office where we bought our timed entry tickets to the two castles. We did a lot of hiking and climbing to get to the Castles. First we climbed up to Neuschwanstein Castle. King Ludwig built the castle between 1869 to 1886. The tour took us through several lavishly decorated rooms. No pictures were allowed inside the castle.
After the tour we hiked up to Mary’s bridge where there is supposed to be an amazing view of the castle. We almost reached the bridge but didn’t get to go out on the bridge because of the long line and the fact that we had to be at Hohenschwangau Castle for our 11:55 tour. We had to hurry down the hill and up the other side of the valley to get to Hohenschwangau.
Hohenschwangau Castle was rebuilt by Ludwig’s father, King Maximilian II in 1830. Hohenschwangau Castle was a vacation home for the family, but still quite elaborate and beautiful.
Tonight for dinner we had soup with a liver dumpling and then sausage and potatoes.
Füssen, our base to visit rhe King’s Castles tomorrow is a small Bavarian town near the Austrian border south of Munich. We took a local train from Munich to Füssen today. We are staying at a lovely recently renovated old hotel, the Hotel Hirsch.
After checking in we went out and explored the town and walked down the river to see the gorge and falls. Füssen has been a stopping point on the trade route from Italy north since Roman Times.
We had a lovely dinner at our hotel.
There is so much to see and do in Munich that I am glad we spent two days here. It was difficult to choose where to visit today but we finally decided on The Residenz. It is the palace of Bavarian royal family. As you can see in the pictures the opulence is astounding. Besides the opulence the two things that made big impressions on me were the size of the palace (it goes on and on and on) and the fact that most of what we saw was rebuilt after being bombed to rubble during World War Two. Here are just a few of the things we saw.
The state apartments
A room with pieces all carved out of rock crystal.
And the Cuvilliés Theater. Everything that looks like drapes or curtains is actually carved wood.
After spending several hours at The Residenz we enjoyed beer and pretzels at the Viktualienmarkt beer garden.
For dinner we went back to Café am Beethovenatz where we ate last night. All of the vegetable stands we have seen in Munich have been selling white asparagus. Tonight I had some with Wiener schnitzel and Duke had steak.
We ended a wonderful meal with our first apple strudel of the trip.
Rick Steve’s Audio Europe has audio walking tours of several European cities. Today we did the Munich walking tour. It was great!
We started in the main square Marienplatz where we watched the 11 am glockenspiel, a clockwork party and joust near the top of the tower. One of the interesting parts of the tour was the history provided and learning about which parts of the town were destroyed in the war and rebuilt.
We wandered through the Viktualienmarkt and saw the blue and white striped maypole.
We saw the Jewish synagogue.
It was particularly fun to stop and have a beer and pretzel at the Hofbraähaus.
We walked over seven miles today and my feet hurt. But it was a really interesting and fun day. For dinner we ate at a nearby neighborhood restaurant, Mariandl Cafe am Bethovenplatz. I had fish and Duke had pork roast and dumpling. Both were excellent. There was a very talented pianist providing background music.