Rambler's Return Visit to Germany 2005
By Mary Kyne
The Ramblers had such a fantastic time in Germany in 2003 that we returned again this year with a completely different itinerary. Our mode of transport was the same, a mini bus driven by Roland and a car driven by Peter Mc Aleer.
Our first port of call was to Roland’s Wirsching, our leader’s home town, Heidelberg. We attended mass on arrival in Roland’s parish church in Dossenheim that was celebrated by the local bishop. We were impressed with the participation of the congregation in the singing of the mass. Church choirs are professionally trained and conducted in this area so the church music was of the highest standard.
The town of Ladenburg
In the afternoon we strolled through Ladenburg, a Roman walled town with many of its foundations still intact. The people were celebrating a Flower Festival so the streets were lined with hundreds of pots of magnificent yellow sunflowers in all their majestic splendour.
Boxes of ripening wheat, trailing geraniums of every hue and colour filled numerous boxes and baskets along the streets. It was a delight to walk in the glorious sunshine through the narrow cobbled streets with numerous fountains, pieces of sculpture and Tudor homes, all tastefully restored. This beautiful town is situated on the Neckar river which flows through Heidelberg.
Later in the evening as the sun was setting we visited the famous HeidelbergCastle made famous in the film, “The Student Prince”. We ate ice creams, sipped cappuccinos in the square of the ancient city before finally visiting Zum Sepp’l where you drink beer from a huge glass boot- the local custom of banging the table and passing the “Boot” from one person to the other must be adhered to. We were not found wanting.
Return visit to Munich
We travelled on the Autobahn to Munich, capital of Bavaria. This city of 80,000 students attracts 70 million visitors a year. We could do with the overflow in Ireland! Property is expensive here, petrol was €1.24 a litre, food and clothes are much the same price as in Ireland. The shoppers in the group informed me that quality footwear was cheap. We took a guided bus tour of the city. Many of its old buildings were carefully restored after the destruction of the last World War. Public parks, gardens, monuments, fountains, cobbled streets, street theatre, buskers, several side shows by different artists and open air cafes are a major attraction of the city. The old city centre with its astronomical clock attracts crowds on the hour to watch the changing of the figurines and soldiers in their coats of armour on horseback. There is a carnival atmosphere about this city- a place worth visiting.
Passau on the Danube
Our journey took us from Stranberg, outside Munich to Passau on the Danube. The journey to Passau took us through rolling hills with expansive areas of cultivation of maize, oats, barley, wheatgrass and fodder pea bushes. The contrasting colours of yellow corn, green grass intermixed with fields of gladioli, sunflowers as far as the eye could see gave a very tranquil atmosphere to the entire journey. We weaved our way across the river Ilz, a tributary of the Danube. We climbed up into the pine forests that looked down on the river bordered by a splendid array of pink, bright yellow and purple wild flowers. The scenery up in the hills was spectacular and here amongst the trees, in an idyllic wooden house restaurant, overlooking the river, was our home for two glorious nights. There are several wonderful woodland walks from this area- it is truly a walker’s paradise.
We spent one day in the old city of Salzburg that is dominated by a huge white castle perched on the mountain. Its attraction is a mixture of Old town and New town. The many magnificent churches and the old burghers residence with their splendid facades, a gentle in tuned mixture of culture, architecture, music, theatre is what makes Salzburg so attractive. The foothills of the eastern Alps make a resplendent backdrop to the city. Here we visited the birth place of Mozart, Salzburg’s favourite son. The highlight of our visit was a two day cruise on the famous blue Danube.
Cruise on the Danube
We just sailed along at a leisurely pace through incredible scenery- towering deciduous forests, ski villages with their dominate baroque church towers a prominent feature of the skyline, wooden houses all differently constructed with their colourful window boxes, loughs, bridges and castles perched precariously on cliff tops blended into this spectacular scenery.
All along the Danube there are cycle lanes, former tow- paths that were used by horses to pull the barges up and down the Danube. Now whole families take cycling holidays along the river. Roller-bladeing is also a common pastime on the cycle lanes too. One can cycle the whole length of the Danube. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a family could cycle from Galway to Clifden! If we want to attract tourists our planners will have to be imaginative when widening our roads in the future.
The City of Linz
On our way we stopped off at the city of Linz, the industrial city of Austria. It is a very lively city with many baroque style churches, open air cafes, shops, and markets. The central square with its imposing fountain, surrounded by hundreds of flowers is a tourist’s delight. The cobbled streets are spotlessly clean and every corner you turn reveals amazing buildings and churches. We wined and dined here and strolled around the city absorbing the ambience of the place. As this is an industrial city, dominated by the steel industry there are unsightly hills of ash along the banks of the Danube just outside the city.
The cruise was a welcome relief after a hectic schedule.
Entertainment on board was excellent and the Oughterard group were the liveliest bunch on board. We did our best to promote Oughterard!! This was truly a very enjoyable trip, thanks to the superb organisation of Roland. He had tremendous patience with us all. We are very grateful to him for broadening our minds and stimulating us to explore further fields.
Míle buíochas Roland.