After arriving in Salzburg the previous evening (another city that's a mess for cars, with one ways everywhere, and even pilons that come out of the ground and close roads unless you have a special code to enter), we got up the next morning and went to visit the old town. We started with Helbrunn Palace, a bit outside the city. It has an impressive garden with displays and trick fountains designed to get guests wet:
every seat got wet, except the archbishop :)
nice antlers that got everyone wet
levitating a cone with a jet of water, not bad
getting out without getting wet was hard
because you had jets directed at you
After the tour of the fountain gardens, we went to see the rest of the garden and palace:
little round hut from the sound of music
Next we drove back to our parking lot 10mn from the hotel and walked to Mozart's residence:
From there, we crossed the bridge to old town, and apparently filling bridges with locks has also become "a thing", there:
We then ended up in the Salzburger Dom, adjacent to the beautiful Salzburg Cathedral, and the museum has an interesting part where it goes inside the cathedral on a catwalk and lets you view the cathedral from inside and from the top:
Next, we moved to the Salzburg Museum Neue Residenz which had various displays about the city, and other collections:
By then, it was already 16:45-ish, so we were starting to run against the clock. We went to Mozart's birthplace house (closing at 17:30), which had a small museum:
From there, we went to he Salzburg Cathedral, which was cathedral was both massive and beautiful, I'll start with some pictures from the Dom earlier, and then pictures from the floor:
Done with the cathedral, we headed towards Petersfriedhof complex before it closed at 18:00:
And we still had to hurry up to Fortress Hohensalzburg where we arrived just by 18:00 to have just 1H to tour it before it closed at 19:00. We had just enough time to take a few pictures, and join the guided tour A, and barely make it to the self guided tour B by 18:30. Pfew, that was close :) Good view from the city up there of course:
old city walls
This day also happened to be the anniversary of someone who helped develop the salt industry that made Salzburg rich, so they had a big party in the old town with costumes, music, dancing, and octoberfest like beer gardens:
After the Castle visit, we went back down to partake into the festivities a bit, and try to find something that would pass as dinner without us having to waste 90mn or so in a slow restaurant, so that we could get back to our room a bit earlier, but as luck would have it, as we got home, they started fireworks, so we went back out just a bit to see them :)
While this day wasn't as crazy, it was still a bit long, mostly due to the 3H drive to Salzburg at the end. We started by trying to go to a scenic flight from Hofen airport, but turns out the runway was being paved and there were no planes at all when we came. So, we scratched that plan and went directly to our next destination, Ehrenberg Castle Ensemble.
101*|we had to buy a vignette to be able to drive in Austria
104*|and saw gliders at the airport, and no planes, so moving on...
Ehrenberg Castle Ensemble is really a bunch of Castle ruins, but still worth seeing for historical value and views and the super long suspension bridge they have:
really super long...
crossing the bridge takes you to fort claudia, or what's left of it
Back across, and wer'e at Burgruine Ehrenberg, and from there, a streinous 15mn hike up gets you to Festung Schlosskopf, which doesn't look like much either, but at least from there there is a great view:
a crane to put big rocks in place
view didn't suck
After 2.5H there (counting all the hiking necessary), we went to Biberwier Lermoos for its famed luge course. Again, it was fun and challenging-ish, but really you can only go faster until you go so fast that you fall off the course and get seriously injured. I'm just not convinced... I got my times from 2:26 to 2:12 and then 2:02 on my last try. I'm sure I could have done sub 2:00 with one more time down, but again I can only see how this would have ended badly eventually :)
Jennifer just arrived
I didn't have my GoPro saldy, and filming this with one hand didn't seem safe, but he's a video from someone else. I was 6 seconds faster and got good air on the jump where they didn't :)
From there, we drove to nearby Tiroler Zugspitze to get a gondola to the top for great views:
damn, no new snow :)
how did that car get there?
Lots of people up there:
you can cross from Austria
to Germany while being at the top
This was the real top, but required climbing with carabiners to be safe, which we didn't have. Going there was not the best idea ever, but by going slowly, and hanging on for dear life in case our feet slid, we made it ok:
took a while to get down too
I celebrated :)
From there, we then had a longish drive to Salzburg and get some sleep.
While we had to start early that day, we at least got to enjoy a good breakfast at 07:00 sharp when it opened:
This day was pretty full due to how hard it is to get to Hohenschwangau & Neuschwanstein and how regulated it is. We had to get up around 06:30, be in the car by 07:40 and go pick up our reserved ticket by 08:00 when they opened, for our 09:15 tour (yes, they want you to be there an hour early, a huge waste of time). After the first castle, we had to again wait 45 for our next reserved tour at 11:15 because they refused to give us an earlier reservation if we did both castles back to back (in hindsight we should have made 2 reservations, one with each of our 2 names).
Then, to add to the annoyance, they disallowed pictures in both castles, and the 2nd one I really wasn't able to take pictures, despite looking at ways to do so, so I added a few stock photos I found on the internet. Now, both castles were very nice, especially Neuschwanstein. They were owned by the same family and Neuschwanstein was built to replace the old castle. Now, to be fair both castles were very impressive, and that's likely why they are so popular, but it took a lot of planning and dealing with BS to be able to see them. Jennifer really did a lot of work to line them up, and we had to hurry up and wait multiple times to deal with them.
After the first castle, we went to see the 2nd. That was a line for a bus for a ride up to a hike (45mn or so)
we first went to the bridge for a great view
Neuschwanstein does indeed look good
stock pictures from the internet
Once we were finally down with both castles, which again were very nice, but burned a lot of time, we went to TegelbergBahn, a small ski resort, to try luge for our first time. So luge is fun, but you only control your speed, no steering and no passing. Compared to luge in New Zealand where you're on a track and you can steer and pass around people (a lot more fun). So,if you haven't done the NZ luge, the German one is fun. If you have done the NZ one, the German/Austrian one is sub par :)
this one had a track that pulled you up
and then down
From there, we drove to Wieskirche Church, in the middle of nowehter, but because it has a weeping statue of Jesus in the past, and many pilgrims that went there, they built a super nice church to host the statue, and I do mean super nice:
doesn't look like much from the outside
but damn is it nice inside
There was a nice bridge on the way after that, where we stopped briefly for pictures, as well as a small store just on the other side:
And our next destination was Oberammergau, a small town known for the multitude of mural paintings on people's houses:
small church there too, also beautiful
Next on the route was Linderhof Castle, the castle where the kind who built Neuschwanstein, lived while Neuschwanstein was being built, and as a single person castle, it's not bad at all :)
After the supposed no pictures guided castle tour, we went to see the rest of the castle grounds, which weren't crappy either:
the guy built his own grotto with water, boat, and mural...
he also built a turkish like building and room
And no, the day was not over yet, we still had time for Ettal Monastery, which thankfully closed later, and at the risk of repeating myself, was also super nice:
And then it was finally time to drive back, a 1H drive we did through the Austrian side for mountain and lake views:
Damn, this was a long day, but we sure saw a lot :)
After another hearty German breakfast, we headed out for Staufen, a nice little town sadly 1h out of the way south, but worth the visit nonetheless:
I kept looking for ratatas in the rathaus we saw in multiple towns, but often didn't find any :105)
we hit our first tasting room, Jennifer sure made good use of it and bought 6 bottles :)
After that, we had a long (4H) drive to Füssen in Bavaria, and we did out best to arrive by 15:00, so we had some time to visit the local museum (Museum der Stadt Füssen) and castle (Hohes Schloss Füssen) before they closed at 17:00. The only hitch was that the town was closed to car traffic during the day, and we were unable to access our hotel the way we arrived. I ended up wasting 20 precious minutes trying and failing to get to our destination and eventually driving around town in bad traffic to re-enter it from another direction.
At the museum, the castle, and the church we saw subsequently, we found out that Bavaria has incredible art on its walls, mostly in some of its churches. The best I've seen anywhere:
They had multiple musical instruments:
Bavaria is known for lions:
Next, we went to Hohes Schloss Füssen:
Good view from the castle:
We then went to see the not that special from the outside, church (Benediktinerkloster St. Mang), and it was beautiful inside. Turns out that was going to be a pattern for every nice church we got to see in Bavaria:
After the Church, we did the city walk before going for dinner:
oh yeah, we hit another 'minor' church on the way, again beautiful
We left Baden Baden just after breakfast and went for to Vogtsbauernhof Black Forest Open Air Museum. It's a bit like the Folk Villages we've seen in Asia, although the houses were very different of course:
wooden key, nice...
Next, we drove to Furtwangen's German Clock Museum, which was absolutely awesome. It showed a history of clock and watches, and the history of Coo Coo clocks that were made in the region (some entirely out of wood, including wooden gears):
wooden clocks with wooden gears
if you have a hard time waking up in the morning ;)
the unavoidable progression to quartz clocks
oh my, europe timezones used to be a mess...
They even had automats and music playing devices that they demoed for us:
After this great museum, we drove to St Peter and went to visit the beautiful Benedictine Abbey there:
It was a short visit though, as we had to hurry to get to Freiburg to visit the cathedral and museum before they both closed at 17:00, and it was still a bit of a drive, which got compounded by the big mess that parking there was. Eventually we found a public parking lot, ditched the car there, and we started with Freiburger Munster Cathedral, which included a back section for 2 euros and for 2 extra euros, we could climb to the top tower:
long staircase to the top
great view from the top
Next, we went to Augustiner Museum, which housed a lot of pieces from Freiburger Munster Cathedral that were being damaged by weather:
who knew that it was Jesus who invented 'air quotes'?
awesome stairs in the sister museum
After everything closed at 17:00, we went for a city walk:
lovely statue mooning people underneath :)
And that was that for Freiburg, nice little mostly pedestrian and bike town.
Before leaving Trier, we hit Bishop's Museum (Museum am Dom), a small museum with Church and Roman relics that was closed the previous day. They also had a section on Nero, the Roman emperor full of vices:
Next, we did a longish drive to Baden-Baden, and because it's not a very car friendly city (virtually no parking), we had to park at the casino when we arrived. We arrived there too late to visit the Casino in the morning, and did not feel like dealing with their
BS (clothing guidelines, renting a jacket, etc...) to go back later, even if it's supposed to be nice inside. The TI next door was quite nice though, old Roman decors. Of course, I should probably mention now that Baden Baden was an old Roman town too, and it was known for its Roman baths, which have been kept up to date and are still running today (we went that evening after dinner):
Next, we went to a Russian Orthodox Church, which wasn't big, or as nice as the one we had the chance to visit in Nice, France, but still worth a quick visit, especially for all the stuff written in Russian inside :)
what language is this? Arturo?
Since we hadn't parked the car in a final location yet, we used the opportunity to drive to the Funikular that takes you to the summit of Merkur hill. The top had a decent view on the valley and Baden-Baden:
We then drove to the Lichtenthal Abei, but with its limited sporadic opening hours, we got to see nothing, that was a waste:
So we went to our B&B in Baden-Baden to drop off our car in their private garage, and walked around town towards the Lichtentaler alley:
although I had to stop at this bakery on the way :)
sadly that church had just closed by the time we arrived there
Lichtentaler alley is more historical than a must do IMO, but eh, we did a good part of it
the floral garden at the end of our walk, was nice though
We then walked back to town center, had a simple dinner in a cafe:
And then we walked to the Roman baths (Friedrichsbad), and did the full 2H+ 14 course roman bath experience, including a German guy who scrubs you hard with a brush and soap. For some reason, he spent much longer scrubbing naked Jennifer than naked me, I'm not sure why :)
You use the baths naked from start to end, and they are segregated, except for the last 2 big pools, 3 days a week, and mixed the rest of the week. We ended up going on a mixed day, which was fine with us:
After our first night in Trier, we went to see what we didn't have the time to see the previous day, but being sunday, most museums were closed (hence our rush to see them the previous day), and we were done by 15:00 or so. This gave us (well, really me) the opportunity to go to nearby Nurburgring and drive 6 laps there on the famed killer circuit :)
Sadly, due to other time commitment, I had had 0 time to practise the track on a computer beforehand, so I just showed up with 0 idea of how the turns were going to go, blind crests, or anything, but to save myself, I booked a private coach who rode with me during those sessions. I got lucky to be assigned to Winnie and he was absolutely awesome, he gave me the instructions I needed during each lap so that I would not drive off the track, and at the same time allowed me to drive as fast as I thought was safe (and I'll freely admit that I drove to the edge of my comfort level for a track I don't know at all). I was really impressed that he didn't keep telling me to slow down or asked me to work my way up slowly, which wasn't going to be possible with just 4 laps or so (in the end we were quick enough that even with a refueling stop, and him driving one lap to show me, I got 6 laps and he got one).
Incidently, the way to Nurburgring was when I got to drive on an Autobahn, and barely managed to get our Renault Mégane to reach 200kph (that had to be downhill). The 1.5l diesel engine couldn't go past 190kph-ish when level. Obviously I've driven much faster in the past in better cars, but that was the fastest I've driven legally on a public road :)
I only got 200kph for 2-3 seconds and wasn't fast enough to get a clear picture
Needless to say that generally driving in Germany has been a pleasure, people have lane discipline, roads are good, and even when there are speed limits on freeways, many drivers don't seem to be overly worried by them :)
Eventually we made it to Nurburgring, I checked in at Hotel Parc Fermé to sign my live away and allow a 7000 euro desposit from being taken from my credit card in case I didn't bring the car back in one piece :) Given that I was driving with Willie, I wasn't overly worried that would be a problem :)
the renault RS cars were well built with a half cage and paddle shift (although on top of a slushbox it seems)
nice stitching for a race car :)
public driving was only open for 2h15, the plan was that I'd get at least 4 laps and each lap would cost 60 euros extra (ride ticket plus wear and tear on the car)
I got to see a bunch of other cars that had just come off a track day:
and then came time for our turn
Jennifer was a trooper and got a few pictures of me when I got in and out
As expected, the track was a handful, but a lot of fun. Random impressions:
anyone can go, with just about any car. That alone is scary
no helmets. My instructor even said they prefer no helmets because otherwise it's harder to talk (at least the Renault car had a full roll cage)
More blind turns and crests than I can remember about everywhere, one crest I had to brake before and after the jump so as not to plow off the road in the next turn
however the part that scared me the most was passing people who were too busy driving to give me a "you can pass" turn signal, and not knowing if they were total tourists that never saw me and were about to close the gab or run into my passenger door (you can only pass on the left at the ring)
Yet, with the awesome help of the coach I had rented for the 2H (for a not cheap 300 euros), it was an awesome experience. I'm impressed how he let me go that fast without fearing for his life and shouting at me to slow down, especially since there were clearly turns that I wasn't doing quite right and never really had time to improve much in just 6 laps. Given that, this was the best 300 euros I ever spent for 2H of someone's time :)
I was kind of happy when I barely managed to get 200kph out of our crappy renault mégane 1.5l diesel (!) on the autobahn, that took a good downhill, but that was nothing compared to going pass 200kph on the Nurburgring for a few short seconds :)
Sadly I was not able to properly record my last and fastest lap (09:22), but here is my previous lap (09:28). Considering my first lap was a 10:13, I was definitely getting faster with each lap, but 6 laps weren't enough of course:
For comparison, my instructor did a nice clean lap (except for the yellow flag we got at the end):
We left not too late, and drove towards Burg Eltz, a very nice Castle from a rich family that was able to stay friends with everyone around and keep their castle :) The tour in English was quite good, but started at 10:00 instead of 09:30 like Jennifer thought, so we went to the treasury first. Also, it's actually a 15-20mn walk from the parking lot, in the middle of nowhere, adn the shuttle only started running at 10:00, but luckily we found the shuttle going to work, and the guy nicely picked us up.
Next, we drove to Cochem, which we didn't really have time to visit, but stopping at the bridge to take pictures was good enough:
From there, we drove to Beilstein, where we stopped for a bit over an hour to visit castle ruins, a viewpoint, and walk through the small downtown:
stairs to the top of the tower
The views were great:
Next we went to see the church and downtown:
We then had to leave by 13:30 for a longish drive to Trier where we had to hit some museums that would be closed the next day (Monday). Trier used to be a major Roman town, so there are several roman relics left (although Arles and Nimes have more left, even if they were more minor in the Roman empire):
Jennifer got to practise on the autobahn:
170kph, not too bad for a beginner :)
LandesMuseum had most of the Roman finds
that poor wild big found herself a companion of size :)
the city in Roman times looked very nice
They had a nice amphitheatre and a horse/chariot race track
We then had just enough time to drop the car by the hotel and go see the city museum before it closed (also closed the next day). We then walked to the downtown plaza for dinner, before some well earned rest:
We started with a very hearty German breakfast at our B&B:
nice view from our room
We then went for a morning walk around Bacharach:
found this baby mouse on the path, I could have picked it up :)
Next, we drove to Burg Rheinfels, old castle ruins interesting to visit still:
bring your flashlight for the inside tunnels
france owned that region for a while under napoléon
Nice views from the castle of course:
Next, we drove to Koblenz to see the German Corner (merging of two rivers):
From there, we crossed the Rhine and drove to Marksburg to go visit a very nice medieval castle:
while due to timing we only caught a tour in German, the tour guide was great nonetheless
damn, I'm hungry just tpying this now :)
the armours could weigh up to 50kg
good views, again
We then made the fateful mistake of driving back down to Loreley, just across from St Goar, and instead of taking the car ferry right away, we drove up to a viewing point at Loreley:
hello Jeju Island, South Korea :)
This however cost us a lot, we were unable to drive back down to Loreley (cops blocked us as they had locked down the city due to fireworks), so we couldn't take the ferry across, and I had to drive a very round about way to Filsen nigher north. Filsen is not far, but the police forced us to go the long away around lots of mountain twisty roads. Good thing that I drive those things for breakfast, but even so, we had wasted over an entire hour going around to Filsen, getting the car ferry there, and driving back down to St Goar through the 61 highway because I wsa worried they'd close the river access road to St Goar too.
Eventually we made it in St Goar, parked a bit far away, walked back in beginning rain and only managed to score chinese food in a covered spot, waiting for the fireworks to start at 21:00. When they did, they were quite nice, despite the rain. They get started from a barge in the middle of the river, and then from the to pof 2 castles on each side (although those are a bit less impressive) with a big finale launched from the river again. It's hard to get a viewing spot where you can see all 3 locations, but 2 out of 3 was easy. However, it was very hard to get good fireworks pictures when it's raining on your camera though, so these are the next best few:
We then walked back to our car, and back to bed for some much needed sleep, jetlag and all...
It was nice to be back at Droid and Friends again. It had been a while since I had ran the full 5 mile track (as opposed to 4.3 miles with bypass) and I had forgotten how tough it is on the car and tires if you are truly pushing to be fast.
my brand new pads have been working, but still get too hot and turn white
The good news is that I had fresh tires and that my brakes did not misbehave for a change. My only issue were my tires that were eventually overheating, and my catalytic converters that were doing the same. I was however soon able to match my previous best time of 3:33 before my tires got greasy. By the afternoon, the track got more greasy and I started getting slower, as usual.
And like I've done at some other days before, for reasons I can't explain, on my last session out, I just got my best time of the day. Somehow on my 2nd lap I shaved a full 3 seconds off my best morning time, both because I was driving better and deeper in some corners than I was in the morning, and because probably the track got just a bit cooler and my tires were still cool for the 2nd lap (my subsequent laps were 3:31).
This was an awesome way to end the day, 3:30 for a (admittedly fast) street car on (admittedly good) street tires is not bad for me. I'm sure with a better line still, there are still a couple of seconds I left on the table, but I was happy enough with this for that day :)
Thanks to DJ Blurr, I found out about this evening at Ruby Skye that I was totally not aware of. It was great to have 3 different DJs at the decks, and have Adina sing live with Markus at the decks.
Markus did keep playing past 02:00 all the way to 04:00 although by the time I left (03:00-ish) he had switched to harder stuff that was pretty far from Trance, so being tired anyway, I bailed a bit early. Still, it was a great night though.
My friend Arnaud got himself a sweet F458 race car, and because he was driving it just a few times a year (just like I would), he offered me a half share in the car, which I happily bought from him. This coming day with 3 Stooges was a perfect day to try the car.
Being a race car with 5 point seat belt, I had to get a hans like device for my neck and attach points to my helmet, and learn the functions of the car. After that, I went out for some laps and it didn't take long for me to beat my best ever time from my McLaren (I went down to at least 1:57 without even trying too hard).
you jack it up by throwing compressed air in the back
After that, being a race car, it started throwing some codes, so I had to get in to get it inspected and get the codes cleared, and when I went back out after lunch, sadly I probably was a bit tired and in food comatose, as well as not used to how wide this car actually is, and I dropped a wheel in turn 8. The car instantly hooked and went out, ruining the tires and putting combustible grass all over, including around the engine and exhaust. There was no real damage to the car, but having to clean all that up took a while and then Kevin found that one body bracket (a small cheap piece) had to be replaced, and then that a tire was ruined and had to be changed. By then, it was late enough that the day was going to be over anyway, so I headed home.
Given that, it could have been better, but it was a nice introduction to the car.