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Yes, I continue to be very slow about posting pics from a trip that was nearly seven weeks ago now. (Earlier instalments here).

Passau and the Austrian Lake District )
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The plan for Day 3 had been to drive north-east out of Regensburg to the northern end of the Bayerscher Wald, or Bavarian Forest, the national park that runs roughly north-west to south-east along the Geman/Czech border. It has a reputation of being very pretty, and probably is on a nice day.

Unfortunately, it wasn't a nice day.

I'd planned a route into the forest along what were marked on our map as the scenic roads. However, the forest is at an elevation of several hundred metres, and that's pretty much where the cloudbase was. Add rain that varied from drizzle to bucketing down, and most of our view consisted of narrow road, trees and the odd glimpse into bits of valley that would have looked lovely if not full of cloud. Also, very out-of-season looking ski resorts. We eventually stopped for a snack at a rather traditional-looking ski lodge, where we got to try the very nice Bavarian sweet Kaiserschmarrn - basically, shredded pancake with fruit preserve. Tasty and filling, but like much Bavarian cuisine probably not good for you in excess (where 'excess' is 'more than one portion a month').

We needed somewhere to stay, and on the advice of our guidebook had picked Zwiesel. Apparently, Zwiesel is the centre of the regional glass industry and, um, they make glass there. Oh, and have they mentioned the glass shops? It also had a hotel where the interior design was so 1970s it almost hurt. We quickly escaped to look around Zwiesel, which turned out to resemble a Bavarian version of [insert dull Home Counties town of your choice here]. In the rain.

There was a glass factory, where you could wander round looking at glass products being made (interesting for about ten minutes) and then exit through, yes, a huge shop full of glassware. Outside was the Great Wineglass Pyramid of Zwiesel, of which more in a moment.

About the only thing to see in the town itself was the Waldmuseum. It's rather odd, to say the least. There was a complete C19th pharmacy on one floor, and a huge selection of saws and other tools on another. The wildlife display comprised an array of the scariest stuffed animals I've ever seen. We fled.

After another look at the guidebook we drove a few miles to Frauenau, which was smaller but prettier and had a glass museum that was actually a museum about glass rather than a glorified shop. (Website, in German.) As well as a genuinely good museum about the history of glassmaking, it also had an art gallery of glassware ranging from "I'd love that!" to "Didn't H P Lovecraft write about that sort of artist?"

By now the weather was easing up a bit so having returned to the hotel for a nap we headed out in the other direction, to the hill village of Bodenmais. Bodenmais is everything Zwiesel isn't - mainly pretty - as well as being hilly to the point it makes Guildford or Edinburgh look flat. We ended up dining in the restaurant of the Hotel Neue Post, where the food was both excellent and (44 Euros for the two of us) very good value.

On the way back to our hotel we passed through the centre of Zwiesel again and got to see the Great Wineglass Pyramid as illuminated at night.

GlassPyramid1 GlassPyramid2

Yup, 94,000 wine glasses nicely stacked up. I worked out that if a normal portion of German white wine had been poured into each that would be about sixteen and a half tons of liebfraumich, which may be a disturbing image for some.
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Our last instalment had us setting of in the Beast from Munich with the GPS programmed to take us to Regensburg. Seduced by the snazzy head-up display of route information and speedometer, we cruised up the autobahn... until [ profile] darth_hamster became a little concerned.

"Didn't that junction back there have a turn for Regensburg?"

Hmm, GPS says carry on heading north. But there's a service station coming up, so we pull off and I check the main satnav screen. Then I look at the map. Then I swear a bit. The satnav seems to think that there are two Regensburgs, with one being a tiny village somewhere up near Numerburg. I admit defeat and put in the postcode of our hotel, and we're soon off in the right direction.

As we headed away from Munich (fairly flat) the countryside got more rolling. Something we noticed was that almost every field seemed to have a small wooden watchtower in it, like a little tree-house on stilts. Fire watch? Ubiquitous bird-watchers?

Regensburg itself is amazing; one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Germany. Imagine all the oldest and most impressive bits of Oxford and Edinburgh rolled together and given a Bavarian flavour, and you have some idea of why it's such a popular attraction.

Regensburg Pics )

After a beautiful sunny afternoon and early evening exploring the old town we retired to our hotel for dinner in the beer garden. About half way though we got to test the table canopy, as the heavens opened (it worked). Hmm, Day 3 was meant to involve a scenic drive into the Bavarian Forest. I was beginning to think that fate might have been kind to us after all in swapping a sports car for a luxury APC.
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I've been gently reminded that I am very slack at posting trip photos, to the point that I've still not done much with the vast number I took on our US/Canada trip nearly a year ago. So, as a start, let's get going with the Bavaria Road Trip that [ profile] darth_hamster and I went on last month...

Our plan was to fly in to Munich, take the train into the city and stay overnight before picking up our car on Sunday morning. Saturday evening we had a very pleasant wander around the city centre, culminating in what was to be the first of several very, very filling Bavarian meals. Bavaria's cuisine is great, so long as you don't mind having half a pig on your plate every meal. The following morning, before getting the car, we had another walk, this time getting a few pictures. (Click for bigger versions)

Munich Piccies )

On next to pick up the car. Now, this was meant to be what [ profile] darth_hamster had dubbed my Mid Life Crisis Holiday, with me renting a BMW Z4. Alas, when we arrived at the rental centre they were most apologetic, as the car reserved for us had an electrical fault. No equivalent was available, so they offered us an upgrade.

To an X5.

Yes, we had BMW's spiritual successor to the Tiger II. The first problem was getting this behemoth out of the rather confined courtyard at the rental pickup and through an access lane about an inch wider than it was. Fortunately the Beast was equipped with BMW's system that stitches together the view from all-round cameras to give you a simulated overhead picture of your car, complete with colour-coded sonar-like proximity warning and computer-predicted turn circles. (Also, much to our relief, the rental staff had signed off a prominent scrape where someone else had had real problems getting out.) This first challenge dealt with, we programmed the satnav for Regensburg and set off...


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Simon Bradshaw

September 2017



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