Our next stop was at the other end of the Romantic road, in the excellently named Pfaffenwinkel region. We were staying in Rottenbuch (snigger).
We arrived to find a sign at reception saying it was closed til 3, but to pitch up anywhere. We spent a good 45 mins faffing about trying to get the caravan level before Simon went down to check in. The lady came back up with him and didn’t look impressed with the pitch that we’d chosen, but thankfully didn’t make us move. The day before we left we were descended on by a large party taking every pitch in the row apart from ours, but they didnt seem fussed that we’d gatecrashed their party for a night.
The owner told Simon they were hosting the village Grillfest that night. We didn’t know what to expect, but not having to cook after the long journey sounded like a bonus. We headed down to the campsite carpark to be met with the ultimate German cliche. Bratwursts on the bbq, old men in leiderhosen drinking frothy beers, an oompah band, even a wood cutting competition! After weeks of eating at the caravan and battling bedtimes, this is just what we needed, and right on our doorstep.
Evelyn loved the band, and we loved the bbq, tucking into amazing salads and delicious bbq pork. We got chatting to some locals who were there with their friend who was a young afghan refugee. They told us that the village had taken 100 refugees, despite only having a population of 2000. While they said some locals had found it a hard adjustment, most had welcomed their new neighbours with open arms.
With our first day being a Sunday again, we headed to Oberammergau, a small local village famed for its wood carving workshops and painted buildings. Of course, everything was closed, but we enjoyed our mooch around checking out the buildings. Further on in our travels, we’ve discovered that these painted buildings are quite common, either depicting stories or biblical themes, or creating architectural features. Can’t afford a balcony or some marble columns? Don’t worry, we’ll just paint them on. Still, impressive to see.
From there we headed on to Linderhof Palace. This was a private residence of Kinh Ludwig II, the same guy who built Neuschwanstein which we’d visit later in the week. We’d read that the queues to get in Neuschwanstein were huge, and that you could only do organised tours in groups of 50. This sounded like a realllllly bad idea with a toddler, so settled on a tour of this much smaller palace instead.
And we were glad we did. Our tour was only 30 mins and a group of 20, but of course Evelyn was restless and wanted to touch everything / swing off the velvet ropes. It was great seeing the inside (think complete Liberace OTT’ness) but it also confirmed to us there was no way we were going to get to see inside Neuschwanstein.
We were also disappointed to find that, like pretty much every other tourist site in Germany, the palace was under restoration. I don’t know if 2019 has some significance for Germany tourist attraction-wise, but pretty much every single cathedral/ castle/ palace we’ve tried to visit has had major building work going on. Just as well we weren’t after that perfect Instagram shot.
We had a wander around some of the grounds, but after an epic meltdown from Evelyn we headed home. Despite bringing a fancy toddler-transporting rucksack, it appears Evelyn much prefers to be carried in the baby sling on my back, which is of course exhausting. In reality she just wants to be wherever Stan is- the minute we put him in the pushchair she no longer wants to walk, if he’s in the sling she can’t stand being in the carrier. These tiny developing personalities can be a real pain in the arse sometimes.
After the heatwave of the previous week, the hit and miss forecast in this area came as a bit of a surprise. We headed in to Fussen the next day, but it was a bit of a wash out. After hiding from the worst of the rain, we explored the castle and then took a walk out to Lechfall, a man made waterfall and hydroelectric generator. We took shelter in the canopy of an ice cream shack that hadn’t even bothered to open to eat a rather damp picnic and traipsed back in to town. We had intended to spend the afternoon exploring the local lake, but that was abandoned.
The bad weather appeared to be set in for the next day too, so we abandoned sightseeing plans and instead had a day at the campsite, saying hello to the chickens, rabbits and terrapins, splashing in puddles and playing in the playground when the clouds finally broke.
The next day promised better weather so we headed out to Neuschwanstein, the key reason for heading to this area. The inconic Ludwig II castle, it’s supposedly the inspiration for the Disney fairytale castle. We’d abandoned thoughts of trying to tour it after our experience at Linderhof, but even so, just exploring the area was an experience.
This was the first time we’d really experienced tourist crowds anywhere on our trip, the place was heaving. It was a steep walk up from the local village to the castle, but being constantly overtaken by horse drawn carriages distracted Evelyn (“horsies daddy”) enough for us to get there without event. From there it was a further slog up to Margaret’s Bridge, a bridge over a ravine above the castle that allows the iconic shot of the castle. We joined a long queue of tourists to even get on to the bridge, but we’re glad we did. From this vista, the impressiveness of the castle really was brought to life. After a quick picnic at the top of the hill, bribery was needed to get Evelyn back down. Horsies had lost their novelty, and a promise of ice cream *at the bottom* didn’t quite translate to a toddler who wanted one NOW. It was a tedious walk/ drag/ fireman’s lift back down the hill.
After ice cream appeasement, and bribery in to the rucksack, we headed up to the second castle in the village, Hohenshwangau. Painted yellow, it had an Ashton Court air about it. With it now being afternoon, we avoided meltdown territory and stuck to the outside, playing chase in the gardens and admiring the views of the villages below.
On the Thursday we headed to Innsbruck, Austria. At 1.5hrs it was a long slog, and the weather looked set to come in late in the afternoon, but we decided to risk it. The drive took us right through the Alps and was a stunning journey. It would have been more so had I not been wedged between two car seats, stroking a nose in the hope of a car nap one side, and singing Old MacDonald on repeat on the other. Still the view was nice.
Unfortunately it turned out to be a bit of a non starter of a day. We got a map and guide from the tourist centre, but the route we followed from it led us around uninspiring modern architecture (ie shopping centres) rather than the old town. With that abandoned, we ticked off a few key sights and then explored the park to allow Evelyn to let off steam.
Being overcast we decided against the cable car all the way up the local mountain and instead settled on the funicular halfway up. Except it then started to rain, so we didn’t really get to see our vista back out across Innsbruck and instead ran to the nearest restaurant to take shelter for a pretty mediocre lunch. It was still pissing down when we’d finished, so we gave up and headed home. Except we still had to get through those Alps, and the traffic tailed back. We got home damp, fraught and underwhelmed. You can’t win them all I suppose.
With moving day on Saturday, and more bad weather due, we spent Friday at the campsite packing up and chilling out. More puddle splashing, balance biking and rabbit / chicken bothering. Since we had alright WiFi, we made the most of Netflix and introduced Evelyn to Wallace and Gromit, safe to say she’s a fan.
Where we stayed:
Terrassen camping am Richterbichl