After leaving Fussen we passed by the isolated St Coloman Church on flat farmland surrounded by a few trees only. On stopping to photograph the church we discovered we could see King Ludwig's (called Mad King Ludwig) Neuschwanstein castle perched atop of a small peak about 1km away. The castle was selected by Walt Disney as the model for the Disneyland castle and in the Disney movie of Sleeping Beauty. Having visited before we decided to take a couple of photos only and keep riding.
Our first stop for the day was in Bad Tolz, a town in Bavaria on the River Isar. This is one of those places that most people have never heard of - except husband Greg who is our resident historian! Bad Tolz was the location of the SS-Junkerschule or SS Officer Candidate School during WW2. It opened in 1937 and operated until 1945. Bad Tolz was also the last town to be "passed through" by the Holocaust death march from Dachau to the Austrian border in 1945. We looked everywhere for any evidence of the SS School but all we could find was a sunny spot for morning and a pretty river.
We then set off to ride around Lake Tegernsee but a signpost to a military cemetery caught our eye. The Durnback Commonwealth Cemetery is the resting place of 2960 casulties from the Second World War. Most of those buried there were airmen shot down over the area. 281 Australians are buried here. We paid our respects and resumed our ride.
Lake Tegernsee has a shore length of about 21km so we thought it would make a picturesque ride. As Kerrie snapped photos from the back of the bike we passed resorts that we assumed would be filled with tourists in the summer. Our ride also took us through beautiful pine forests on the way to our destination in Salzburg.
Salzburg was to be our base for the next two days while we visited the historic Obersalzberg and the picturesque Hallstatt.
Being married to a history buff the next morning and in much warmer weather, we set out to visit the Obersalzberg and Hitler's Eagle's Nest not far from the small village Berchtesgaden. From 1933 to 1945 the Obersalzburg was the preserve of many top Nazis with Hitler's private residence, the Burghof being the most splendid. High above the Obersalzberg built on a narrow ridge line is located a tea house known as Hitler's Eagle's Nest commissioned by Martin Bormann for Hitler's 50th birthday. Unfortunately for us it was closed and would not open until 17th May. Never mind as we had visited in 2007 so we were not hanging around until it re-opened! After visiting the museum and wandering through the extensive bunker system built into the mountains of the Obersalzberg we got back on the bike and headed off in bright sunshine.
Our next stop was Hallstatt - we have talked of visiting here many times but never quite managed it before, so glad we got there today. This would be one of the most spectacularly located villages we have ever visited. The village hugs the edge of deep and cold looking lake which is surrounded by huge mountains right down to the edge of the water - the mountains were extra special today as they were all snow capped. As a tourist mecca, the village was teaming with tourists today. After lunch and coffee sitting by the lake it was time to ride the 70km back to Salzburg. The riding today was spectacular with sweeping curves, mountain and lake views and warm sunshine.
The next day we did our best to avoid the morning rain by settling on a late start so we decided to visit the middle of Salzburg while the rain left the area. After parking the bike amongst many push-bikes we set off walking to check out the sights. First was the Cathderal or Dom zu Salzburg, a massive structure, as are most European cathedrals. Outside the cathedral horse drawn carriages waited for the wealthy tourists to spend their hard earned euros on a short ride around the city. Above the cathedral on top of the hill (where else!) stood Fortress Hohensalzburg. Your could go up to the fortress by funicular but we decided not to. As Mozart was born in Salzburg we went to see his statue in Mozartplaz. Another interesting sculpture in Kapitelplatz was of a giant golden sphere with a man perched on top - we thought it might be James and the Giant Peach but apparently it was part of an art project from 2002.
After satisfying our tourist needs we got back on the bike and headed to Villach, only about 200km away. This town was recommended to us by our friends Craig and Margaret who had visited in 2015. We have decided to stay in Villach for two nights so that we could ride the Julian Alps in Slovinia - just about 40km away.
Villach is a pretty town on the Drau (Drava) River. We have great accommodation about 100m from the river- bike parked in secure underground garage. It was drizzling rain when we arrived in town but by the time we had unpacked the bike the rain had gone. We spent the afternoon wandering by the river, snapping a few photos, having a beer and lovely dinner - all in the sunshine! We have taken the panniers off the bike and removed as much weight as we could from the top box in readiness for our ride through the Julian Alps tomorrow. Greggy will need to be well rested as the road on the map looks quite challenging - lots of switchbacks - bring it on!
An early start today - 8am so that we can get back to town before the forecast afternoon rain. We had to cross in to Italy (near Udine) for about 15 minutes before crossing into Slovinia. The roads today were sweeping curves with switchbacks thrown in for good measure. We came across beautiful aqua coloured rivers and the most amazing lake with reflections of the pine forest and mountains - when looking at the photos it was hard to tell which was the scene and which was the reflection. Greg also got to try out his off-road riding skills as we came across a few sections of road works which were very rough. The Julian Alps have been on Greg's riding 'to do' list for a while now and today it was crossed off, although a couple of sections were still closed due to snow. He is a happy rider!