12 June, 2007

Days 18-25: Bavaria & my village.

50 miles, 410 miles total.

"Germany has really opened my eyes to how pleasant life can be...It's gonna be hard to go back..."

Das Autobahn, zoom zoom! We got a rental Mercedes and we decided to make the long drive down to Neuschwanstein and the Alps. The drive was the length of our bike tour in an afternoon. The autobahn is the ultimate driving experience. It really makes driving in America seem sad and scary. Most heavy freight is on train or barge, freeing the lanes for slow cars on the right, people going 100mph in the center, and "Get out of the way!" in the left lane. Seriously, get out of their way.

The car of choice for the left lane was Audi wagons, and when they passed we only had a few seconds to see them come and go. My rental came with a sticker warning the tires were only made to drive up to 175km/hr so my speed was around 110mph for a number of hours.

The autobahn felt safe and people drove with the common sense and respect that makes a system like this work. Many Germans can not afford the luxury of frequent autobahn trips, and perhaps this helps to create a high-end automobile experience.

The scenery changed quickly when we arrived in Fussen. Camping was over $20/night since this is a top tourist destination. In the picture above from our campsite you can see a castle, and to the left, up on the mountain, a giant pole that supported a gondola for our hiking trip into Austria.

Schloss Neuschwanstein is a crazy place. Although it is a newer castle (late 19th century), this "over-the-top" fantasy land is only outdone by the real life story of it's creator Ludwig II.

The bike paths around Fussen are sweet, and some of the alps are open to mtn. biking. I don't know if you could ride into Fussen from other regions on paths, but once you're here getting around is easy by bike.

So our backup camera battery is dead, and I have no new pictures.
After a few days down south we drove up to my old house near Ramstein AFB. The lonely abandoned train tracks that we once walked have since been converted into a bicycle highway and that makes me very happy.

We found camping by the lake and rode the paths pictured below. I saw my old house and walked through the fields I played in as a boy. Little had changed and those beautiful fields between villages remained untouched.

Returning to Koln it seemed impossible for such an experience to ever end. We both missed bike touring already. Even though our summer still had much excitement in store, we knew this vacation was special.

Upon our return we would get some rest in Virginia before hiking Yosemite, biking Downieville, and riding in the Tour de Fat- San Francisco.

Best summer ever.

I hope this has been a good read, and I encourage you view the world from the seat of a bicycle.