Julie Andrews and that ‘Mad’ King
Germany and Austria are two countries that conjure up images of cobble-stone streets, fairytale villages and mountainous scenery. There is so much to do and to explore, and if you are travelling from the other side of the globe you want to make sure you do it right. Well, you are in luck! Albatross Tours have a 15 day tour exploring three regions which are quintessential of Germany and Austria – the Black Forest, Bavaria and the Tyrol.
Every tour needs a balance…
Set alongside the River Rhine, the land of tales and wood cutters folklore is where we start this tour, in the Black Forest. Our home for four nights is the capital of the Black Forest, Triberg. From here we make daily excursions up and down the Rhine, and in and out of the mountains. We spend a while in Strasbourg, Colmar and the French Alsace Wine Road.
On our way into Bavaria we even stop at one of Europe’s classic palatial gardens that cover the entire island – Mainau on Lake Constance. Depending on the season, different flower gardens and displays bloom, as they have done for hundreds of years. This is European grand garden design at its finest, and it is a wonderful heritage experience.
Bavaria and that Iconic Castle
There’s a little lay-by on a small country road in the heartland of delightful Bavaria. It’s in the middle of nowhere, with green fields either side, and in the distance are the turrets of a hilltop castle. There is little traffic here yet there is a purpose lay-by built for touring coaches to pull over and stop. Why? Because that castle is in fact the hugely iconic Neuschwanstein Castle, built by ‘mad’ King Ludwig.
So iconic is this castle, you will find photos of it presented at every chance, on any touring itinerary coming even within sight of it. Sadly, so many people book these programmes because of those very images and the ambiguous text saying “see romantic Neuschwanstein Castle.” Yet, on the day, they briefly stop (often in a coach queue) so far away and just get a photo.
On our tour not only will you arrive in style via a horse and buggy and have an included tour of this decadent palace but you will also have the opportunity to explore the area around the castle. The nearby town of Fussen is where we stay three whole nights and is actually the confluence of two Roman Roads. You can stand at the junction in town knowing that traders have walked over this spot for over 2,000 years. The town is littered with medieval half-timbered houses, a castle, a hilltop church and even a gorgeously painted, ancient apothecary.
Also nearby is a pretty lakeside resort lined with restaurants and panoramic terraces with views across the Bavarian Alps. Further east are cable car rides, more of Ludwig’s castles and an incredible baroque church in the meadows, Weiskirche! Many people come through his area and leave with just a few snap shots of a distant castle, and mistakenly think they have visited Bavaria’s heartland. But on the bright side, that leaves so much space and tranquillity for us. We can absolutely attest our clients get the genuine Bavarian experience!
And then there is the land of the ‘Sound of Music’
Who doesn’t identify Austria’s undulating hills, deep blue lakes and gorgeous church steeples with the first scene of the ‘The Sound of Music’? Julie Andrews, arms outstretched singing ‘The hills are alive’? I do! These regions are riddled with palaces, baroque churches, mountains and medieval towns.
When designing our tours I remember that people travel to Austria because of those posters, the tales of Mozart and the Von Trapps, and so I make sure we always have time to relax by ‘those’ lakes or ride high up on ‘those’ magical Austrian hills.
In addition to the three nights staying in an alpine style hotel in the mountainous Tyrol, we also add three more nights in the very heart of beautiful, baroque Salzburg. To really complete our stay in the Tyrol we enjoy a steam train ride up the delightful Ziller Valley and from Salzburg we visit mountainous Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
With three and four night stops throughout this tour, we make sure you experience the best attractions, sights and experiences these evocative regions have to offer. That is the Albatross difference.