Category Archives: Lech

Sunday 2nd August 2020 – TONIGHT, I’M IN …

… Munich in Germany.

It’s Sunday today but even so, I set an alarm. Only for 08:00 though as I need to be up and about, breakfasted and gone by 10:00 today.

And despite the later alarm time and the fact that it’s Sunday, I still awoke bolt upright at 06:03. No chance of gtting up at that stupid time. I turned over and went back to sleep until a more reasonable and respectable time.

All of this meant that there was plenty of time for me to go off on my travels again last night and I started off at Rosemary’s. We were discussing kitchen arrangements, cooking, that kind of thing. I ended up swapping slow cookers and letting her have mine in exchange for one of hers because one was a bigger size than the other and I can’t remember now which way round was which. But it suited me to have the one she had and it suited her to have the one that I had so I proposed a swap

Later on I was with Nerina and we were on our travels. We came to a freighter that was going to take us on to somewhere but we suddenly realised that we didn’t have any insurance and there was no security patrol or anything on board this ship so I had to set off leaving Nerina with the car in this queue to run down the road and came to some kind of insurance place. I went in and it really was a dive. The people there were dirty and certainly weren’t clerical types at all but I explained what i wanted. They went away and came back with a green form. I gave them a £20 note and they gave me £12-something back and a box of chocolates. I had to run back to the car because they would be loading by this time. I’d told them in the insurance what was happening about this and what I wanted. So I ran back and came to these steps and had to run all the way up these steps, stone narrow steps and i was counting them as I went up. I got to 60 but I was still running up these steps and still going and I came round the corner and a couple of kids were playing right by the edge of this cliff drop which I thought was a bit strange. There were still more steps and I had to keep on running up here to try to get back to where Nerina was with the car, carrying the change in my hand, this green card, this box of chocolates

Finally, I was a bit loaded up last night. I had all of my holiday gear with me including the camera. I ended up with a guitar and I had a long way to walk. I was hoping that I would find somewhere where I could leave the guitar and come back for it later. My first idea was the church so I went there but it was all locked up. I was wondering what to do and someone else told me that there was another church further on downtown. I walked down there and came across some kind of building and the church was built on the back of that. I went round the back there just as the policeman was locking up the door ready to go away. I thought “forget that” and continued walking. I suddenly had this thought “what have I done wiht my camera?” I had a search among the stuff that I was carrying and in the end found that the camerz was slung around my neck but for some unknown reason it was underneath my jumper. At least I had it. I had to carry on walking towards where I was going to go and that was where this voyage broke off.

After breakfast it didn’t take too long to pack and tidy everything up, and by 10:00 I was on the road heading northwards.

The weather had started off as a gloomy morning and that didn’t help my mood. And neither did all of the grockles driving around at about 20mph admiring the scenery. They might have had nothing better to do, but I did.

There were several roadworks and diversions too. Because of the winter weather there’s only a short timescale in which to do road-mending so of course it has to be in summer.

The closer I came to Munich the greyer the weather became and by the time I came out of a tunnel on the Munich ring road I was in the middle of a torrential downpour.

One thing that I have noticed is that this Satnav is not using the same program as the previous one. Despite setting the preferences to exactly the same as the previous one, it brought me into Eching in a completely different way and I drove past Hans’s apartment building before I had realised where I was.

It’s nice to see Hans again. We had a coffee and then despite the showery weather we climbed into Hans’s jeep and headed off to the nearest metro station to catch a train into Munich.

Hans knew of a little vegan restaurant so we headed there for a drink and some banana cakeand then wandered off in search of excitement.

Wittelsbacher Brunnen Maxvorstadt, Munich, Bavaria, Germany.eric hallOur first port of call was the Wittelsbacher Brunnen, or fountains.

The Wittelsbachs were the royal family of the Kingdom of Bavaria until the political upheaval at the end of World War I. Munich was their capital and the eplendour that survived the bombing of World War II gives some kind of indication of their wealth.

The fountain was designed by Adolf von Hildebrand, a famous German designer of fountains, and sculptor Erwin Kunz and was built between 1893 and 1895.

Wittelsbacher Brunnen Maxvorstadt, Munich, Bavaria, Germany eric hallIts purpose, bizzarely enough, was to celebrate the arrival in the city of the new high-pressure water pipeline from the Mangfall, a river in Upper Bavaria that is a tributary of the river Inn.

A site was chosen at the junction of the Karlsplatz and Lenbachplatz where the old city walls had been, and it was unveiled on 12th June 1895. We are told that the design consists of all kinds of allegories connected to the power of water

The fountain suffered damage during the bombing raids but was restored by one of Hildebrand’s pupils and reopened on 3rd October 1952.

From there we pushed off down the road to continue our little exploration of the north-west corner of the inner city.

karolinenplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallOur little stoll brought us to the Karolinenplatz. This is named for Princess Caroline of Baden who married Maximilian Joseph, Duke of Palatine-Zweibrucken and became Queen Caroline II of Bavaria when her husband became King in 1806.

When Napoleon set off for his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, he took 36,000 Bavarian troops with him, but only 6,000 returned home. The column, designed by Leo von Klenze, is a monument to those 30,000 Bavarian soldiers who disappeared.

The Square was designed by Karl von Fischer (who died in 1820) who based his design upon that of the Place de l’Etoile, where the Arc de Triomphe is, in Paris.

The big building to the left of the column is the Palace of Prince George and you might have expected it to have been easy for me to tell you all about Prince George, but instead I’ll merely mention that so far I’ve been able to trace about a dozen Prince Georges so you can take your pick.

Our next stop is going to be the the Konigsplatz so we walked down the Briennerstrasse, another part of von Fisher’s great design.

On the corner of the Arcisstrasse are two very large and heavy plinths that I didn’t photograph, because there are the bases of a couple of temples erected to the memory of thse supporters of Hitler who were killed in the Munich Putsch of 1923.

konigsplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallThere was no summer festival in Munich this year because of the virus, which was a shame although it was quite understandable, but what we had instead were little festival sites scattered around the city, like the one here at the Konigsplatz.

This is another part of Karl von Fischer’s masterpiece. He had been charged with organising an orderly expansion of the city beyond the old city walls at this point.

The Propylaea Gate that we can see in this image though isn’t by him but by Leo von Klienze and dates from 1862. It was originally intended to be a commemoration of the accession of King Ludwig’s son Otto to the throne of Greece in 1832 but it took so long to build that in effect it became a monument to the overthrow of King Otto from his throne by the Greek people after 30 years of rule.

roundabout summer in the city konigsplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallThe whole area is bedecked with “Summerin the City” banners as people make the most of whatever entertainments there are in the area.

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the fun, even if there wasn’t all that much of it. It’s a far cry from the traditional Munich summer festivals but we are living right now in extraordinary times.

Having wandered around loking at the sites and being unable to go to either of the two museums here, we went off for a wander around to look for a metro station because we were going to be heading from here into the town centre. We eventually found something in the Louisenstrasse and from there we ended up in the Marienplatz.

One thing that I like about the German language is the name that is given to the local town hall and civic administration offices in the towns – the Rathaus. I can’t think of anything more appropriate.

old town hall Altes Rathaus Spielzeugmuseum marienplatz munich bavaria germany eric hall
This is the Altes Rathaus, or Old Town Hall. The building was known to be in existence in 1310 and underwent a reconstruction, the first recorded of very many, between 1392 and 1394.

The spire beside it is actually the old Talburgtor gate in the eary city walls. As you can see, the gate is quite narrow and so in the 1870s they actually tunneled through the ground floor, with a second tunnel being put through in 1935. And in 1938 in the Great Hall Josef Goebbels made the speech that launched the Kristallnacht – the destruction of Jewish property in Germany in 1938.

It was badly damaged by bombing in World War II and not restored until the early 1970s. Somewhere in my ancient collection of photos I have a photo taken of it in 1988 when I was here with Nerina and when I get back to the farm, whenever that might be, I’ll dig it out.

town hall rathaus marienplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallThis building here looks absolutely magnificent so it’s very easy t lose sight of the fact that this is a much more modern “Gothic Revival” building.

In the second half of the 19th Century it became apparent that the old town hall was becoming too small for modern needs so in 1867 construction of a new building, designed by Georg Hauberrisser, began.

The Town Council offices moved here in 1874 but as the building was still too small, further enlargements took place. The building was not finally finished until 1906. It has 400 rooms and covers an area of over 9,000m²

Somewhat surprisingly, it escaped severe destruction during the bombing attacks of World War II and was very quickly, if simply, restored

musicians marienplatz munich bavaria germany eric hallOne thing that was nice to see here was a group of musiciens entertaining the crowd of people.

Although masks are not compulsory in the open air, it’s pretty much a waste of tie to just wear one over your mouth and not over your nose. And I would have loved to have seen the flautist play the flute wearing a mask. That would have been interesting.

Having finished our wandering around we ended up in the Munchener Freiheit at a little Indian café that I know, rather like the one in Montreal. A bowl of curry was delicious – it’s been a long time since I’ve had a decent one of those.

By now the heavens had really opened and we were being pasted in a torrential downpour. Walking from the metro to the car, we were drenched.

A couple of films and a good chat finished off the evening and then we all went our separate ways.

The sofa here is really comfortable so I’m settled down for the night. We’ll see what tomorrow will bring me.

Saturday 1st August 2020 – I BIT THE …

… bullet today and finally galvanised myself into action for a change.

But more of that anon.

Despite still being awake at long after 03:00, I was actually sitting on the edge of the bed ready to get up when the third alarm went off at 06:15. But nevertheless it was still a struggle to rise up from that position.

Plenty to do this morning, despite my late night. I might not have been tired enough to sleep last night but I was too tired to do any work. After breakfast (more fruit salad and delicious bread) I finally managed to finish the notes from last night.

There was something on the dictaphone too. It was all about Crewe Alexandra winning promotion. They scored a really good goal. Jordan Bowery scored it – he fought his way through the defence to kick home. The commentators were there congratulating the team. It meant that several others didn’t have the chance to play off as the team coming out straight afterwards for another game were going to be extremely disappointed by the results and so on.

To clean myself off I had a good shower, a shave and a clothes-washing session and then I hit the road.

old car aston martin dbr2 ksv 975 1971 lech austria eric hallYesterday when we’d been down in the town we’d seen a Blower Bentley parked up at the hotel.

Today there’s another old and interesting vehicle parked up in the town and in case you haven’t recognised it, it’s an Aston Martin DBR2.

Well, that’s what you might think but it actually isn’t. According to the UK’s Driver and vehicle Licensing Authority it was first registered in 1971 and a little research reveals that when this vehicle was offered for sale in 2007 by Bonham’s the Auctioneers, it was described as a “1971 Aston Martin DBR2 Recreation”.

old car aston martin dbr2 ksv 975 1971 lech austria eric hallIt wasn’t sold cheaply either by Bonham’s. Including the Buyers’ Premium, it went for almost £78,000.

That price might sound expensive for a replica but an original sold for over £9,000,000 so the price of the replica is pretty small beer. And according to the guy who built a few Aston Martin replicas, even the £78,000 represented “a considerable premium to my build prices” so we’ll all have to go along and order one.

But they aren’t really the same as the original ones unfortunately because with being built to modern standards they have modern engines and a different style of chassis that doesn’t flex as much as the older one did and so takes away much of the excitement of driving it.

der lecher taxi lech austria eric hallIt’s easy to see why this town is the favourite town of Strawberry Moose.

He’s not been here for 48 hours and he has started his own taxi company here. And as you might expect, he’s chosen a most appropriate name for his business. I’m sure that he’ll pick up plenty of work over the period that he’s going to be here.

It’s a shame that he wasn’t here for a photo opportunity but he had plenty of other things to be doing to set his business off on the right foot.

alpine horn lech austria eric hallNot only is it the height of the tourist season it’s also a Saturday and so there are crowds of people around iin the town this morning

To entertain them, there were a few alpine horn players standing on the bridge over the river and I’ve no idea why they were taking such an intense interest in me as I was taking their photograph. I wasn’t making half as much noise as they were and I wasn’t blocking the traffic either.

The lederhosen that they were wearing didn’t impress me all that much either The didn’t look particularly interesting. And they all should be wearing their little felt hats with feathers in.

But it did remind me of the time that I was chatting to Lee Jackson, bassist/vocalist of The Nice, who told me that the only cure for an Alpine Horn was an Alpine maid.

river lech austria eric hallToday, I’m going to be doing what I really wanted to do yesterday had I been on form.

What I had wanted to do was to go for a tramp in the woods, but he got away so I was going to walk up into the mountains along the side of the river to see if I could make it as far as Zug. First I needed some supplies, so I went to the supermarket that I had visited yesterday.

Now that i’d organised food for the journey, I set off up the hill

cable lift lech austria eric hallYesterday we saw at the side of my hotel the cables of a gondola lift going up into the mountains to the east side of the town.

From up here where I’m standing, we can look right across the town and see the cables climbing right up into the mountains, the cable pylons on top of the first crest and then the station at the top way over to the right on the second crest.

One of these days when I’ve saved enough money (because it isn’t cheap by any means) I’ll take the gondola right up to the top because I imagine that the views would be totally spectacular. But knowing my luck, there would be a fog, a low cloud or a heat haze.

upper vorarlberg lech austria eric hallAs you saw in one of the previous photographs, there were two ways to go.

One of the ways was by the ordinary road that climbed its way up through the mountains, or the second way, which was the footpath that wound its way along at the side of the river.

The road looked all hot and bothered and not very inspiring but the path along the river went through a load of shade from the trees that were growing along the banks. And so as far as I was concerned that was the only way to go.

river lech austria eric hallAs you can see from this photo, I wasn’t wrong about the road.

You can see it up there where all of those cars are driving. It’s right out in the open there, in the sun and not the place to be in weather like this.

The town of Zug is out of view behind the crest of the ridge that you can see over to the left of the photo. I imagine that the river will wend its way around there and the path that I’m on will follow the river round to the town.

river lech austria eric hallWhere I took the previous photo was from the bridge just there across the river.

Hidden in the trees back there is a large open-air swimming pool and leisure centre that seemed to be very popular with all kinds of people. It was pretty busy. One of the things that I noticed here was an open-air café where I could conceivably buy a coffee on the way back because I had a feeling that I would be needing it.

But not right now because I was rather hot. I sat on a convenient bench and had a drink of the water that I’d remembered to bring with me.

river lech austria eric hallThe longer that I sit around doing nothing, the longer it will take me to reach Zug so I decided to press on along the trail.

It seemed that it didn’t matter which was I was going to do. Every path or road north-westwards up the valley seemed to lead into the hot sun. There was a really big clearing here round by this cabin and if they didn’t already have enough sunshine there were signs that there was tree-cutting taking place here.

There wasn’t anyone around attending to the timber so I carried on along the path.

mountains upper vorarlberg lech austria eric hallNot too far though because something interesting along the way had caught my eye.

On top of the mountains over there are some buildings and what’s exciting is wondering about how the occupiers get up their with their supplies. But seeing as over there is really the back of Lech I imagine that the buildings are some way connected to the ski lift and gondola system so people might come up that way.

But looking at that slope over there, I imagine that the way down on skis to the main road at the foot of the slope would be quite exciting too.

waterfall river lech austria eric hallIn one of the earlier photos you might have noticed some people at the side of the river and also the start of some rapids.

The elevation into the mountains is a lot steeper than you might think by looking at the photos and the water is running quite fast down the river. And with there being different strata of rocks around here and some rocks wearing quicker than other, the presence of rapids is assured

Not the kind that you can shoot in a raft unfortunately – there isn’t enough water for that at this time of the year.

rapids waterfall river lech austria eric hallNevertheless it’s still quite magnificent and powerful, and I’d love to see it in the spring when there is all of the meltwater flowing down the valley.

There has been so much water in the river at times that there have been some impressive flash floods lower down in the valley. There was a catastrophic flood in June 1910 when the flow of water reached 300 cubic metres per second. A church tower 52 metres high in Lechhausen was badly damaged and 5 million marks worth of damages was caused in Augsburg.

As a result in 1911 they started on building flood defences downriver.

rapids waterfall river lech austria eric hallThe town of Lech hasn’t been spared either. In August 2005 a considerable amount of damage was caused due to a sudden flash flood.

But returning to the river itself, its source is in the Formarinsee, a lake higher up in the mountains, and then flows a distance of about 250 kilometres, draining about 3900 square kilometres before feeding into the River Danube near Donauworth where we visited IN 2015.

It’s not a navigable river, due mainly to the shallow depth and the gravel beds. And also due to the fact that there are 33 power stations along its route.

people in water waterfall rapids river lech austria eric hallBut it’s certainly the place to be in the summer, especially on a hot, stifling day like today.

There was rather a large family group of people sitting on one of the gravel beds having a picnic and a paddle about in the water. And I must admit that I was sorely tempted to go and join them and dangle my feet in the water for 10 minutes or so.

But instead, I pushed on along the path towards Zug. At least there was some shade here amongst the trees as I scrambled up and over some of the undulations in the path

zug mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallOver there is the town of Zug, a lot farther away than it looks in this photograph, thanks to the wonders of good long-distance ZOOM LENSES. A couple of minutes further on from where I’d seen the people paddling in the pool I burst out into the sunlight and there it was through the trees.

But now it’s lunchtime and having found a handy bench in the shade, I have my book and my lunch – another half of a small melon and another can of that energy drink that had lifted my spirits yesterday, both of which I had purchased from the supermarket earlier.

And here I sat for a good half hour, in the middle of a golf course apparently judging by all of the people passing by with their golfing trolleys and so on. Not that I could see anything of it through the undergrowth and shrubbery from where I was sitting.

After having sat down and relaxed for about half an hour I pushed on towards the town.

ski lift mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hall
Yesterday I mentioned that we are in the middle of one of the most extensive skiing areas in Europe and so, as you might expect, there are gondolas, ski lifts and drags all over the place.

Here at the side of the river is the bottom station of one of the ski lifts – the Zugerbergbahn – that goes up to the top of the mountains to the north. Up there on top at an altitude of 2100 metres is the Balmalp Lech am Arlberg ski lodge. Tha represents a rise of over 600 metres from my current 1488 metres, according to my telephone.

And avid skier as I was in my younger days, I would have to say that it would have been quite exciting skiing back down from there again through all of those trees. It reminds me of Erma Brobeck who once famously said “I’ve no intention of participating in any sport that has ambulances waiting at the bottom of the hill”.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallThe next stage of my route was comparative easy because for about 5 minutes we actually had a path that was flat, level and comparatively smooth.

Over there ahead of us is presumably the car park for the chairlift and also for people going a-walking around in the vicinity too because it really is a nice area to be walking around.

In the background are some of the most splendid mountains that you have ever seen, still with a couple of vestiges of snow upon them. We actually drove past them, but on the other side on our way to Lech from Dornbirn on the Bregenzerwald Bundesstrasse Highway.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallThis is probably one of the finest glaciated valleys that I have ever seen.

You can usually tell a glaciated valley from a river valley because of its shape. A river valley is more likely to have a “V” shape whereas a glaciated valley is more likely to be a “U” shape. And this one speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

The ridge going across from left to right in the photo looks at fist glance as if it might be a moraine – a bank of gravel left behind by a glacier as it retreats. But it’s not possible to say without excavating it, and it looks a little too unnatural to me.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallFrom the bottom of the valley down by the river up to the village was a climb of about 30 metres, but it looked and felt like a darn sight more than that to me.

Halfway up the path I stopped to recapture my breath and had a look around. There’s a complex of about three or four guest houses on the edge of the village somewhere to the east and I imagine that those buildings over there must be it.

Behind them is the valley up which I walked, and the town of Lech is right down at the bottom somewhere near the left-hand edge of the photo where you can see that cleft between the mountains.

Filialkirche St. Sebastian church mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallEventually I arrived in the centre of the village, such as it is, and found myself standing in a little square outside the church.

The church is the Filialkirche St. Sebastian and it’s an impressive structure for such a small place. There’s quite a story behind it too, in that in the early 17th Century there was an outbreak of the plague here and someone made a vow in connection with the plague.

Unfortunately I’ve not discovered who it was, and what exactly was the nature of the vow, but one of the attributes of Saint Sebastian is that he’s the patron saint of protection from the plague, so I would imagine that it’s due to people praying to Saint Sebastian that if they survive this outbreak they would build a church in his honour in thanks for their safe deliverance – that kind of thing.

musicians upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallApart from the church, there’s little else here to talk about. A couple of hotels, such as this one and that’s your lot.

At least they had some entertainment for us this afternoon, and that’s always welcome. No alpine horns unfortunately, but we do have a guitar, a double bass and a kind of hurdy-gurdy. I was tempted to buy a coffee in order to stop and listen for half an hour, but then I saw the prices.

There isn’t really anything else to do around here, and I suppose that, being so isolated, they can hardly nip to the shops next door for a pint of milk if they run out.

zugertal panoramabus upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallOne thing that I was also going to add is that there isn’t really any passing trade, because this road is actually a dead end that comes to a stop in the depths of the mountains.

But just as I was about to say it, around the corner came a tourist bus full of passengers. There isn’t very much to see except the scenery. And I was reminded of Betty Marsden, the English comic actress who when asked what she thought about the Alps, replied “it was terrible. The mountains hid all of the view”.

And I was extremely interested to see that even though it’s advertising an Austrian service, the bus has German number plates.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallOne thing that did catch my eye while I was here was that track down there heading over the mountains to the south.

Had I been 20 years younger and in better health, because it’s much steeper than it looks in this photo, I’d have been tempted to have gone for a walk over there. There’s a waterfall, the Wasserfall Zug a kilometre or so up there, and then a long and difficult walk takes you to a lake, the Spuller See.

From there, you can turn right and head to the Bregenzerwald Bundesstrasse or else turn to the right and follow the valley of the Spreubach down to Dalaas in the Voralberg valley.

mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallHaving had a good look around, I retraced my steps back to the path that I climbed up to the village

So that was Zug then. I’m sure that I’d been here once with Nerina when we passed through in 1988 but I didn’t remember anything at all about it and nothing that I saw had rung a bell with me. It had that kind of effect on me.

But from here I was able to have a better look at that bank while I was up here, and that looks definitely man-made to me from here. There’s a road that runs across it so maybe that’s the reason for the bank. I imagine that it must be quite wet down there in the snow melt.

lake golf course mountains upper vorarlberg zug austria eric hallOn the way up here I missed this – I can’t have been looking down there in that direction.

This is some kind of leisure facility complete with its own lake, and it had me wondering if it might have been anything to do with the golf course across which I stumbled on the way up because despite seeing the holes, the greens and the golfers, I hadn’t seen a clubhouse.

But that’s something about which I can worry some other time. I’ve had a really good walk up here and now it’s time to go back downhill for a rest. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I’ve been going downhill for years.

On the way back I simply retraced my steps for half of the way.

At that cabin where there was all of this new timber, the lumberjacks were busy cutting down another tree so I stood and waited, filming it on my camera. But just when they reached the crucial moment when I expected the tree to come crashing down, they knocked off for a cuppa and that was that.

For a while, I waited around but they didn’t come back so I wrote it off as a bad job and carried on towards home.

When I reached the bridge that we saw in an earlier photo there was another path going straight on down the southern side of the river and as there were a few people following that path, I followed them to see where I would end up.

river lech austria eric hallOver there is the River Lech down in the bottom of the valley.

After scrambling over a couple of stiles and squeezing my way through a couple of narrow gates, i have now found myself back in civilisation, as you can see. The road along which I walked out of Lech earlier today is just the other side of the river where that car is driving

On the left-hand edge of the photo is the little path down which I walked to reach the river so that I could follow the river up into the hills. There’s a little path down there by the waterside that is out of sight.

river lech austria eric hallHere’s a view looking further down into the town. Over there is the river with the waterfront houses and the road behind up which I walked on my way out

The path down which I had walked, called apparently, the Lechuferweg, has transformed itself into a very chic residential street called the Omesberg at the southern end of the town. This would seem to be the place to be around here, where you would live if you were ever to win the lottery.

But I wasn’t going to hang around and enjoy the view or lap up the atmosphere. I was ready for a good, hot mug of coffee and a little relax back at my digs after walking all of this way.

storm mountains upper vorarlberg lech zug austria eric hallAnd have you noticed how the sky has dramatically changed colour over the last few photos?

All the way down the path I was hotly pursued by a low cloud and thunderstorm. Not only the sky but the weather had changed while I was out, and changed quite quickly too. That was another reason to be back in my room as quickly as possible because that lot looks quite nasty..

I just about made it back to the hotel before the heavens opened and drenched the town in a storm of epic proportions. You can understand how come they have these severe flash floods around here with weather like this.

Back here, looking at the storm, I actually crashed out for a while, which was no surprise given the bad night that I had had and the fact that I’d walked almost 10kms today into the mountains and back in the lovely, fresh alpine air.

Tea was a tin of potatoes, a tin of mixed veg and a tin of lentils with some mustard sauce, and it was delicious.

An early night tonight because it’s my last night here. I’m pushing on tomorrow as I still have plenty of places to go and plenty of people to see. Unfortunately June is not available. Her husband is not too well and she’s afraid that any non-urgent meeting might expose him to risk – something that I quite understand.

But still, I’ll be sorry to leave. Lech is one of my most favourite places in Europe and I struck gold with this hotel – I really did. We’ll have tu see what the next 10 days or so will bring.

Friday 31st July 2020 – I’M NOT SURE …

… what happened yesterday. It was rather strange.

Having crashed out really early and woken up to find the radio still playing, I settled back down to sleep and missed all 3 alarms.

snow in alps lech austria eric hall07:30 when I awoke and I couldn’t hang about long as breakfast had already started, so I dashed downstairs.

Downstairs, I couldn’t let pass the opportunity to stick my head out of the door to see if there was any snow around. And I wasn’t to be disappointed because up on the top of the mountains, sure enough, there were some traces of the stuff.

Not enough and not low enough down the mountain to be interesting, unfortunately, but snow nevertheless.

lech austria eric hallWhile you admire a few more photos of the view from the front door of the hotel, I was sitting down having my breakfast.

And a good breakfast it was too. I had fruit salad and bread – nice German bread – with jam, but I could have had almost anything. And the coffee was really good too.

After breakfast, I went back upstairs. There was plenty of work to do but not as much as I was hoping as there isn’t enough processing power in this laptop to convert my dashcam files to * mp4. That will have to wait a while until I’m home, I reckon.

houses on hillside lech austria eric hallBut with all of the sleep that I had, it’s hardly a surprise that I went off for quite a wander during the night.

We were at a ferry port last night and I was working for a coach company. We were putting passengers on board this ferry and waiting for the next one to come so that we could unload them again. The trips out were really busy and there was a lot of work to be done which meant running around here and there. Coming back, there was hardly anything on the ships coming back. The ships going out were proper cross-channel ferries and the ones coming back were more like lighters with half a dozen cars and a pile of machinery on there. I’d been working for this company for a few years and wasn’t particularly successful – I hadn’t had too many promotions so i was still doing some of the labouring, donkey work about getting these things loaded up while others were doing the more glamorous stuff. When this next ship came in it had about half a dozen cars on it and some heavy machinery. They made a few remarks about the machinery and told me to go down to get it off. I walked down and ended up being stuck in this queue with these people who were climbing off it. To climb off it you had to go down and then up and then there was a gangplank that walked all the way down again. These girls were talking to me about the voyage and asked if I’d sailed on it which of course I hadn’t done but I had to go and supervise the unloading of the machinery

church lech austria eric hallLater on I was with a friend of mine and we were discussing schooldays. I asked him about his A levels and he said that he was expelled from school so he never did them. I asked about where did he do them. Did he go to Dane Bank or somewhere like that. He said no, he just didn’t do them. I thought “how did he get into University?” but he didn’t say too much about that. We were cooking something and it was turning into a bit of a mess. The scene drifted on here and I was with a family, a large family of youngish people really I suppose or at least very active people. We’d been wandering around London or at least what I took to be London south of the city and we ended up in a pub. We were chatting away there about all kinds of different things and the scene suddenly changed to the Shropshire moors round by Prees Heath aerodrome was. We were having to clamber our way through this series of walks and wondering how they were getting the cars onto these car parks because it seemed to be like all rows of steps and you had to drive down these rows of steps that didn’t seem right to me. In the air at one point were some helicopters and some balloons. I mentioned the word “balloonatics”. We were talking about breaking wind. I said that if anyone cornered the market my brother would have done that a long time ago because of the amount he produces. Someone else said “oh yes I can get a big cardboard box and can fill it quite easily”

cable car lift alps lech austria eric hallLater on in the morning after I’d finished my work I went for a nice long walk.

The street where the hotel is situated is a dead end – I’ve driven down it a few times looking for hotels. That’s not my hotel but another one. What’s interesting me is the cable car wires in the background.

The valley here is quite steep at the sides and to walk up to the top is something not for the average hiker. And of course, we have all of the winter sports. This area is not one of the more famous ski areas but it is nevertheless very well-regarded and counts the Dutch Royal Family among its more famous visitors.

covered bridge river lech austria eric hallDown into town I walked, to see what has been going on here.

There are plenty of artefacts to remind us of the area’s glorious past, such as this one here. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that we’ve been to see a great number of covered bridges in the past, mainly in Eastern North America, but very occasionally in Europe too.

Lech has its own covered bridge just here. There’s the new modern bridge beside it but the covered bridge is still in fairly good condition and we can walk through it. According to the plaque, if I’ve read it correctly, it was built in 1665 and taken out of use in 1976

post coach lech austria eric hallHere’s another artefact, one that I don’t remember seeing before.

Just like every other country in Europe there was a thriving postal network in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the 19th Century and of course the nature of the terrain rendered railway traffic rather difficult, if not impossible, in many places.

Until the arrival of the internal combustion engine in sufficient numbers, the postal horse-carriage was really the only way for people and mail to move around

This one has the dates 1900-1925 written on it, suggesting that it was one of the final ones to be issued before the motor vehicle took over.

the fastest lorry in the world blower bentley 4.5 litre eric hallWhile I was out on my travels, I came across this impressive machine.

This is not unfortunately one of the fastest lorries in the world as described, with some derision, by no less a person than Ettore Bugatti. This is something much more exciting than that.

Bentley’s “fastest lorry in the world”, the Bentley 3-litre, was replaced by a 4.5 litre version in 1927. Walter Bentley was a great believer in increasing engine capacity to increase power.

His opinion wasn’t shared by everyone. Certain people such as Tim Birkin believed that a lighter vehicle fitted with a supercharger would be much more successful. There had been experiments with a supercharged 3 litre engine but Birkin carried out developments with fitting a Roots Supercharger to the 4.5 litre engine.

Only 55 were built because, while they were fast, they weren’t reliable enough to finish races such as the Le Mans 24-hour race, in which the normally-aspirated engines were more successful. Nevertheless they are of tremendous interest and value and Birkin’s car was sold at auction in June 2012 for over £5,000,000.

Finding a Blower Bentley here in Austria is quite astonishing.

Church of St Nikolaus river lech austria eric hallThe church is the Church of St Nikolaus and dates from round about the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th Century – a date of about 1380 has been mentioned.

It’s quite a beautiful building that I have admired on many occasions, but each time that I’ve been here in the past, THE CHURCH WAS SWATHED IN SCAFFOLDING – even when Nerina and I came here in 1988.

Today though, I was in luck. All of the scaffolding has gone. But unfortunately, I’m still not able to go for a look around inside. However I was told that the interior dates from the 1790s but if I were to look carefully, I’d find some frescoes even older than that.

building site lech austria eric hallDespite being a rather touristy old-world town, it’s the kind of place where there is always redevelopment taking place.

When I WAS HERE LAST, IN 2018 I have a vague recollection of some building work going on in the town centre but I didn’t pay too much attention to it at the time. This time though, I went to make further enquiries and there was a handy chink on the fencing for me to post the lens of my camera.

We have a nice big hole in the ground that looks as if it might become a subterranean car park and also a cement silo at the side. It’ll be interesting to come past here next time and see what’s grown up on the spot.

river lech austria eric hallSeeing as it was almost lunchtime I went to the local supermarket and picked up slice of melon and went for a walk at the side of the river

The effect of the altitude and the effects of the heat were telling on me, that’s for sure, because I was struggling for breath. I couldn’t get far out of the town along the river before I had to sit down for a rest. This seemed like a pretty good place to have my lunch.

It was a good job that I’d bought a can of energy drink too while I was in the shop because that went down a treat too. I needed that right now.

alps river lech austria eric hallThe river that runs through the town is called, unsuprisingly, the River Lech.

And it’s quite true to say that the town is named after the river because in the historical past it was known as Tannberg. Its name evolved into Tannberg am Lech, then into Lech and today the town is officially known as Lech am Arlberg.

There’s no record of any habitation here prior to the 14th Century although, on looking around, I could easily imagine that Transhumance practices would have taken place here.

alps river lech austria eric hallTranshumance is the name of a farming activity that was, and still is in certain circumstances and locations, practised in these areas.

In the winter, all of the animals would be taken down to the lowest valleys and in the worst weather, housed indoors. As the Spring advanced and the snows melted higher up the mountains the animals would be taken up to the fresh grass and would basically follow the snow line. A herdsman would live with the animals in the mountains, bringing them back down as the weather closed in later in the year.

A similiar practice is undertaken in fishing communities like Coastal Labrador where families would follow the spawning salmon to the sea and then stay on the coast for the season to harvest the cod.

river lech ski drag austria eric hallBut returning to Lech, its modern importance is due to the Winter Sports activities that take place here. Several World Cup skiing events have taken place here.

Combined with the neighbouring villages of Zurs, St Christoph; St Anton and several others, it has one of the largest interconnected ski areas in Europe, all accessible by ski lift and ski drag, one of which we can see in the background.

In the summer, it’s host to the hordes of tourists, Yours Truly included, who come here to take the mountain air and to relax. I first came here in 1988 with Nerina and I’ve been back ON SEVERAL SUBSEQUENT OCCASIONS.

In the end, the fatigue got the better of me and I came back to the hotel and sat in the sun with the rest of my melon and a good book to enjoy the atmosphere. However it wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed with sleep so I went to my room to sit down for a while.

Next thing that I knew, it was 17:00 and the afternoon had gone just like that. I did some more work, seeing as it was rather too mate to go for a walk in the hills as I had intended.

For tea it was another session with the slow cooker. Pasta, veg and chick peas, followed by soya dessert.

But having crashed out so decisively earlier, now I can’t sleep again. It’s going to be another long night for me.

Thursday 30th July 2020 – STRAWBERRY MOOSE …

strawberry moose lech austria eric hall… and I have arrived at his favourite holiday resort. And we had to stop so that Strawberry Moosecould have his usual photo opportunity

We’re staying for a couple of days while we get our respective heads together, and we need to do that too because of the dreadful night that I had last night. Never mind what time I went to bed – I was still wide-awake as late as 03:05 with no sign of ever going off to sleep.

But I must have done at some point because not only did the alarm awaken me at 06:00 (and I even beat the third alarm to my feet) there was something recorded on the dictaphone too.

A girl whom I know from Crewe put in a visit last night. She was going off home and I’d lent Caliburn to her to tow a caravan. I walked back through Shavington to Vine Tree Avenue where Caliburn was parked. We could see my brother and father in the distance – my father was getting ready to come home from work – it was 06:00 and he was getting in his vehicle. As we went past, down the street was a policeman who was interrogating a couple over a book which was something like a book by Kerouac or something. He saw the two of us and made some kind of remark to which I made some kind of remark back and mentioned the book that I was reading. He clouted me with a book so I clouted him back with a book. By this time I noticed that this girl was actually holding my hand as we were walking down the street. One thing that was going through my mind was that the tax on Caliburn had run out and I had vehicles without tax parked all over the place. I was wondering if ever it came to the push that they might be towed away where was I going to put them. I got to wondering what my father would have to say about me lending someone a vehicle that didn’t have any road tax. And more to the point what would a person say, where would she be parking it or leaving it and the closer I got to home the more I was thinking about this.

swiss postal bike motel poularde romont switzerland eric hallThere was plenty of other stuff to do this morning and then I went to breakfast.

My room is over there in the annex so I had to cross the garden to reach the main part of the hotel. On the way over I passed the postman delivering the mail. What cought my eye was not the postman or the post that he was delivering but the machine on which he was delivering it.

50 or so years ago everyone laughed at the Ariel 3, and yet here we are today, which just goes to show what proper publicity and marketing could have done for the British motorcycle industry had they put their minds to it. But being stuck in a timewarp of the early 1950s, british industry totally failed to move with the times.

I had to decline the cheese and the ham but the rest of the breakfast (included in the price) was very acceptable and despite the cost of the night’s accommodation, it was all pretty good value for Switzerland.

Collecting all of my stuff together I headed off – as far as the local Co-op. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that there had been an issue at the Hotel last night in that the Swiss plugs are different from the rest of Europe. The hotel had lent me an adapter but I had to hand that back this morning.

It’s not the first time that i’ve been caught out by the lack of a Swiss adapter so I reckoned that I may as well buy my own while I was here.

While I was here, I bought a baguette. In France it had cost me €0:45 but here in Switzerland where there is no Common Agricultural Policy it cost me €1:90. The silly Brits are going to be in for quite a surprise once the Transition Period is over.

Most of the day was spent driving all the way through Switzerland in the sweltering heat. Slightly north of east towards the Austrian border at Dornbirn.

Stuck behind slow-moving grockles for most of the day, and roadworks after roadworks after roadworks, it took ages to cross the country. It really got on my wick.

lake lucerne viewpoint Luzernerstrasse 6403 Küssnacht Switzerland eric hallWith the temperature at 35°C and feeling like every degree of double that, I was driving along the side of Lake Lucerne from Luzern north-east when I came upon a scenic viewpoint at the side of the road.

The views from here were tremendous. For example, down at the end of the lake I could see the town of Kussnacht where I turn off eastwards and head eventually for the Austrian frontier.

There wasn’t any shade at all here unfortunately, not even in the lee of Caliburn, but having been stuck behind all kinds of traffic in the streets of Luzern and Merlischachen, I was running much later than I wanted to and I had been ready for lunch for ages.

lake lucerne viewpoint Luzernerstrasse 6403 Küssnacht Switzerland eric hallChewing on my sandwich I had a good look around at my surroundings.

Across the lake from me is actually a “seaside” resort, the Strandbad Seeburg. That would have been a great place to go for lunch had I had the time. A nice relax on a sandy beach would have done me the world of good and I might even have gone for a paddle.

There are also bound to be several good hotels over there too, because the town is the birthplace of César Ritz, the founder of the “Ritz” hotel chains. He died there in the town in October 1918.

lake lucerne viewpoint Luzernerstrasse 6403 Küssnacht Switzerland eric hallIt’s a shame that we aren’t going that way.

That’s the spine of the Alps down there, on the border between Switzerland and Italy and it would seem to be the place to be right now because it wil be much cooler up there at those kinds of altitiudes. Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that WE’VE BEEN IN THE SNOW UP THERE WTH CALIBURN in July.

If there hadn’t been as much haze around today, we might have been able to see snow. But as we’ll be pushing on into the Tyrol we might be lucky in finding some snow ourselves – or at least some cooler weather.

With that in mind, we pushed on into the town and then headed east.

view from steinerbergstrasse between steinerberg and steinen switzerland eric hallIn between Lake Lucerne and Lake Zurich we pass over a high range of mountains heading north-east, climbing out of one valley into another.

As we climbed up the pass, there was quite a distinctive mountain away to our right in the east that seemed to dog my viewpoint. I’ve no idea what mountain it might be but it piqued my interest. Eventually I cane to a place somewhere in between Steinerberg and Sattel where I could pull off the road and take a photograph it.

And it wasn’t just the mountain there either. There’s a modern concrete viaduct of either a road or a railway over there too, and there is some type of large bird, maybe an eagle, flying around over there too. And I didn’t notice that until I returned home.

view from steinerbergstrasse between steinerberg and steinen switzerland eric hallThe views were just as interesting to the south as well.

That’s the town of Steinen down there, I reckon, with Seewen in the distance, all of them in the valley of the Lauerzersee. We can see the spine of the Alps in the distance and just imagine how spectacular this view would be in cold weather when there would be no heat haze. But then again we wouldn’t have been able to climb up here in Caliburn as easily as this in the middle of winter.

Having taken our couple of photos, we headed off north-eastwards in the direction of St Gallen and the Austrian border.

multiple unit level crossing schwyzerstrasse between Rothenthurm and Biberbrugg Switzerland eric hallA little further on we pick up the railway that has been following us through the mountains much more precariously that we have been travelling on the road.

As we drive through the Sattel Pass through Rothenthurm and out of the other side on the way to Biberbrugg the railway line makes another one of its regular level crossings across our path and I’m in luck at this one because as I approach it, the barriers come down and a couple of minutes later a train rattles past.

This is one of the 11 Sudostbahn, the South Eastern Railway FLIRT RABe526 trains made by Stadler, a model of train that works on the railway networks of many countries all over Europe and North Africa and even in North America, the city of Ottawa having purchased 7 for the upgrade of its “Trillium” Line and its new link to Ottawa Airport.

Eventually I reached the border and crossed into Austria.

Just outside Dornbirn I fuelled up with diesel. €1:06 a litre which is a relief after the prices that I saw in Switzerland and I subsequently saw it even cheaper too.

From Dornbirn there are two ways on into the interior of Austria. The first, and most common way, is along the main road, past Bludenz and either through the Arlberg Tunnel if you have plenty of cash or over the Arlberg Pass.

But there is another way – the Bregenzerwald Bundesstrasse Highway, the modern-day L 200, over the mountains. Despite it only being 63 kms long from Dornbirn to Warth, It took an unbelievable 75 years to build, construction having been started in 1879.

The final section, from Schrocken to Warth, despite being only about 10kms, took 25 years to build and was not finally completed until 1954.

It’s quite narrow, especially at the older Dornbirn end and not possible to take a coach over it which is why I’ve never been that way before. But Caliburn, Strawberry Moose and I managed it quite comfortably.

It’s a spectacular road and one of this days I’ll post the dashcam footage. You’ll find out why a 53-foot touring coach wouldn’t ever come this way

At Warth we turned off towards the Fern Pass and after a good hour in the mountains from Dornbirn, we ended up in Lech. As regular readers of this rubbish will recall, WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE and on several occasions too, including once with Nerina. It’s a place that Strawberry Moose, Caliburn and I really like.

au hubertus lech austria  eric hallOnce we’d taken our photograph, we had to hunt down my hotel.

And it took some finding too. House numbers in Austria don’t follow any logical sequence and someone once told me that they are numbered in the order in whcih they are built.

Considering that it was one of the cheapest hotels in Lech, this is one of the best places where I have ever stayed and I’ll let you know tomorrow about the breakfast. If it’s anything like the rest of the hotel, it’ll be tremendous.

sunset over the mountains lech austria eric hallHaving smuggled my slow cooker into the hotel I was able to make some tea.

While it’s cooking, I can tell you about my room It’s quite small but very comfortable and a nice view looking north-west. With it being the height of summer it’s staying light pretty late and we have a beautiful red sky at night- a sure sign that Zug is on fire, I reckon.

And having had my tea now, I’m going to bed. After that dreadful night and the fact that I haven’t crashed out at all today, I’m ready for it.

A few days here to recover my strength and then I’ll see where we go from there.

Thursday 28th June 2018 – HAVING BOMBED …

lech austria june juin 2018… on Tuesday night with my choice of sleeping accommodation, I can say without any fear of contradiction that I more than made up for it last night.

The issue of the plug for the slow cooker not working is a minor inconvenience really. The rest of it scored a good 11 out of 10 and I’ll be back here again.

I’m not sure who or what awoke me at 04:30 but it was nothing to do with the hotel.

At one moment or another I’d been off on my travels. With a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) where I was invited to a meal given by a friend of hers. Not long after I’d ordered my meal, the person whose party it was started passing round some literature and seeking orders. It turned out that they were all “Biffers” and this was all about freeing their friends who had been imprisoned. Of course, I had no wish to associate myself with them, so I was all for walking out. But as I’d ordered my meal already, I was wondering if I should go and sit on a separate table. But I didn’t want to embarrass my friend.

lech austria june juin 2018After a shower I did some work on the laptop until breakfast time when I went downstairs to try out the delicious bread.

My landlady’s story was quite interesting. She’d come from Australian a back-packing holiday, run out of money and so had found a job as a chambermaid in Lech. Here, she had met a local boy and the rest is history.

She’d never seen snow before she came here, and neither had her family when they arrived for the wedding. And so, in June, they had a snowstorm on her wedding day.

“A real white wedding”, I told her.

lech austria june juin 2018After I’d finished my work, I went for a walk around the town to see what was going on.

I didn’t manage to make it out there last night and I was keen to take a few photographs to show you what you are missing.

It really is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and I’d be happy to come to live here permanently.

old car lech austria june juin 2018And not for nothing am I here in Lech this morning. Today is the start of a vintage vehicle rally here in Lech and there are all types of old cars on parade in the town.

Ordinarily, every one of the 50 or so that I saw would have made it onto this page but I really was spoilt for choice. But you’ll have to make do with seeing a select few until I have more time to sit down and expand my notes.

After all, it’s not very easy doing this kind of thing when you are limited to irregular hotel internet connections and timed-out motorway service providers.

strawberry moose lech austria june juin 2018One thing that we do have to do is to give Strawberry Moose a suitable photo opportunity.

It’s not every day that he visits his favourite town in Europe and so it deserves to be recorded for posterity.

No camping allowed here in Lech, but that’s not a problem for him, although it might explain why Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick never visited the area.

strawberry moose der lecher lech austria june juin 2018His Nibs has only been here for 12 hours or so, but he’s already opened his own taxi business as you can see. It didn’t take him long to get his feet firmly planted under the table here.

Set up for life with a vehicle like this.

Lech, by the way, is twinned with the town of Beaver Creek in the USA, and you can make of that what you like.

Despite having come here on a few previous occasions, I’d never been right through and out of the other side of the town.

And with the urging of the Lady Who Lives In The SatNav, I set off northwards.

hochtannberg pass tyrol austria june juin 2018A little diversion was called for though.

There’s a back road that goes out to Bregenz (and had I known how this story was to unfold I’d have gone out that way) where there’s a mountain pass, the Hochtannberg Pass at 1675 metres, that I hadn’t climbed before.

There are dozens of photos going back to the 70s of all kinds of various vehicles photographed on the top of various mountain passes, and we are putting together a little collection of Caliburn there too.

But there wasn’t any parking here to make a really good photograph of Caliburn. A quick flash at the side of the road in between the traffic had to suffice.

hochtannberg pass tyrol austria june juin 2018But the view westwards was quite impressive too. And you can see what a magnificent area this is and why I was so happy to come here, even though the clouds were closing in rapidly.

It was round about here that I started to have the feeling that it wasn’t going to be my day.

And as I retraced my steps in the general direction of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Oberammergau, a few drops of rain started to fall on the windscreen.

By the time I reached the German border the torrential rain was lashing down on everything in sight.

Considering the tropical weather that we had been having up to that point on this journey, this was quite a surprise. It put paid to any plans that I had to go sightseeing.

kloster ettal abbey germany june juin 2018There was however a small town along the route that was crammed full of tourists and it was here that I stopped to pick up some bread.

But do you know – I forgot to make a note of where I was so I can’t tell you anything about it.

I shall have to do some more research in due course when I update this page.

For lunch, I pulled over onto a layby at the side of the road. And here, shame as it is to say it, I fell asleep for a while. I’m not doing too well am I, these days?

This made me run quite late and what with all of the roadworks on the A95 (I decided to fahr’n fahr’n fahr’n down the autobahn after all in an attempt to make up the time) I hit Munich just in time for the start of the rush hour.

And having come from the south, I ended up straight in the city centre too. It was this point that I’d wished that I had come in from Bregenz on the south-west and hit the ring road instead.

As a result, the last 19kms of my journey took me 90 minutes and had I not performed a marvellous “taxi-driver’s creep” on a bright red Audi estate, much to my pleasure and his chagrin (he had a beautiful set of motor horns), I would probably be still stuck in Munich right now.

But it seems that The lady Who Lives In The Satnav doesn’t understand grade-separated junctions. A couple of times now she’s wanted me to turn right onto a road that’s 300 feet below the viaduct over which I’m driving. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

With me being so late, I’d missed the vegan shop around the corner from Hans so tea ended up being chips and salad from the beer garden next door.

Later that evening, Hans (who runs a whisky importing business) was having a tasting evening with 10 invited guests.

Everyone seemed to be having a really good time which was just as well. For me, I don’t drink alcohol and even when I did I couldn’t abide the smell, never mind the taste, of the stuff.

But good luck to those who do.

And so with the place smelling like a Babylonian boozer’s bedroom, I settled down for the night on one of the most comfortable sofas in the world.

And here I intend to sleep right through until I awaken.

Wednesday 27th June 2018 – WHAT A DREADFUL …

… night that was!

It was stifling hot in that bedroom so I had opened all of the windows. And not long after going to be I was joined by a moth and a mosquito. That put paid to any hope that I might have had about a decent night’s sleep.

No breakfast at the hotel either, so I had another shower and then my laptop decided to crash. It was clearly not going to be my day.

Having sorted myself out I took my stuff downstairs and handed in the key, to find the proprietor and her friend tucking into a hearty meal. “Kein frühstuck” indeed.

All in all, what with one thing and another, I wasn’t very impressed. But you can’t win a coconut every time and I’ve had some pretty good deals in the past.

police in streets koppigen switzerland june juin 2018Outside, all of the streets were full of policemen. I’m not sure why, unless they had heard that I was in the vicinity.

Apparently it is something to do with the roadworks and they are directing the traffic.

But all of Switzerland’s roads seem to be undergoing repair right now. It’s like one huge building site and there’s no end to it.

The road to Zurich was fairly rapid for a change and it didn’t take long for me to arrive there. But driving around it took me much longer than it might have done. It’s changed considerably over the last 30 years and the last time that I was here it was dark.

Another thing that they have a habit of doing is putting the main destinations on the “motorway” road signs and only the small villages on the ordinary road signs. And when you only have a small-scale atlas, it doesn’t help.

No point in asking The Lady Who Lives In The Satnav. She doesn’t recognise Swiss Motorways as being toll roads and doesn’t understand the concept of “avoid all motorways”.

Winterthur was easy to negotiate, although people there don’t understand the idea of roundabouts, and I had not one, not two but three close encounters at various times.

At St Gallen, I gave up. No idea of the village on the Swiss side of the border and “Bregenz” was only advertised by the motorway, so I bit the bullet and went that way.

I dodged off at the exit before the border, and luckily there were no police patrols checking for motorway toll stickers, and crossed into Austria at Lustenau.

Diesel was only €1:21 at Lustenau so I fuelled up Caliburn. I also fuelled up myself – Austrian bread is nothing like as good as German bread but a couple of bread rolls with my salad and that was me organised.

Through Feldkirch and onto the S16 eastwards, and I took a little diversion.

The Arlberg Pass has always been my preferred destination over the Alps but there’s another pass over the mountains between Partenen and Tschafein that I had never taken. So boldly going where the hand of man had never set foot, Caliburn and I set off.

silbertal austria june juin 2018But somewhere stuck up a blind allet is the little village of Silbertal.

Somewhere else that I had never visited before today, and it’s one of those villages that in a country that had 99 out of the 100 prettiest villages in the world, Silbertal is well in the Top 10.

Unfortunately parking was an issue here, as was time, so I didn’t have the opportunity for a good look around.

schruns tyrol austria june juin 2018At Schruns, where I was trying to find a place to stop to take a couple of photographs, I nearly squidged a pedestrian who couldn’t make up her mind whether to cross the street or not.

Having both dillied and dallied, we decided to advance at exactly the same moment.

But eventually I found a parking space and could whip out the Nikon and show you some of the beautiful South Tyrolean scenery.

fc schruns austria football june juin 2018I’d parked up on the car park of the local football club, FC Schruns, and seeing as the ground was open, I went for a wander inside to see what was happening.

Certainly an improvement on many French football grounds that I had visited, although when I saw the prices for a season ticket for the forthcoming season’s matches, I’m surprised that they weren’t playing at Wembley Stadium.

“Somewhat elevated” would have been an understatement.

tschagguns austria june juin 2018Over there, that’s not Schruns but those houses on the side of the hill are in the town of Tschagguns.

I’m not sure how the name of the town should be pronounced, and so I’ll leave you to pronounce that as you see fit.

All I can say is the name sounds very appropriate if you have to carry your heavy shopping up there. You can rule me out of that, no matter how idyllic the view might be.

ski jumping tschagguns austria june juin 2018Tschagguns has a very good claim to fame in the realm of Winter Sports, in that it’s a ski-jumping centre.

Not that you would, of course, expect me to be up there. For me, I’m all in favour of terra firma when it comes to skiing. The more firma, the less terra.

And even so, they can’t be much good up there because even Eddie the Eagle once beat an Austrian ski-jumper.

silvretta pass toll Mautstelle Partenen austria june juin 2018And now I realise why I’ve never come this way before.

Just up there shortly before the head of the Pass is a toll booth. And they expect me to pay €21:50 to pass the next 40 kilometres to Landeck.

Even having negotiated the price down to €15:00 that was still €15:00 more than I was ever intending to pay, so I turned round and retraced my steps.

Maybe it might cost me more in fuel, but it’s the principle of the thing.

arlberg pass st anton austria june juin 2018Now, this is much more like it. I’ve made my way all the way round and this is St Anton at the foot of the Arlberg Pass.

When you see the road up there, that’s been improved considerably since the late 1970s when we used to struggle up there with 47 passengers in lightweight Ford R1114 coaches in the good old days of Salopia.

Caliburn leaps up there of course, as you might expect and one of these days I’ll post a video of the climb.

lech austria june juin 2018Only one town in the whole wide world where Strawberry Moose and I would be right at home, and that’s the town of Lech.

The name is quite appropriate.

Nerina and I first came here on our honeymoon in 1988 in a beat-up old, rusting Ford Cortina estate OCC 883S (which, by the way, was younger than Caliburn is now, although you wouldn’t ever think so).

snow alps lech austria june juin 2018And we so liked the place that we vowed that one day we would come back.This is the second time that I’ve been here since then.

Regular readers of this rubbish will recall that I came here in June 2014 in the snow, although this year, the snow is way up the mountain.

I do wonder sometimes if Nerina ever made it back. Knowing how things pan out, I’ll probably bump into her walking through the streets here tomorrow morning.

lech austria june juin 2018And in case you are thinking that I’m joking, it did once happen in Brussels like that in 1991. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

I went to the little guest house where I stayed before but that was closed up and deserted.

Several other places were fully booked but one hotel, although totally deserted like the Marie Celeste, had left its doors open and the internet switched on.

pension kilian lech austria june juin 2018Consequently an on-line booking agency quickly found me a room that was well within my price range only 390 metres from where I was standing, and the Lady WHo Lives In The Satnav did the rest.

So here I am. A nice comfy single room run by an Australian landlady (yes, Australian, not Austrian) but the plugs won’t fit my slow cooker so it’s a scratch tea tonight.

Apart from that, no complaints whatsoever and I’m going to be very comfy here.

I hope.

Monday 30th June 2014 – THIS IS THE VIEW …

view from window hotel post trafoi alto adige southern tyrol stelvio pass italy … from my bedroom window.

Not my bedroom window from last night, but my bedroom window from this evening. For I am in another hotel. This is actually in Trafoi which is a tiny village in the Alto Adige, the Southern Tyrol, in Italy. It’s halfway up the Stelvio Pass on the way to St Moritz and Switzerland. This was a Shearings destination from the 1980s and didn’t last long, not the least of the reasons being that to road up here from the Reschen Pass is pretty dreadful.

Anyway, it was another item on my list of places to visit – and here I am.

Even more surprisingly, this is actually the first hotel in which I have ever stayed in Italy. All my previous visits have been either with friends, with Nerina’s family or in a nunnery, and I bet you think that I am joking too. "You’re forgetting your skiing trip with Anna in 1996 " – ed.

The Alto Adige is a weird place to be. It was formerly part of the Austrian Empire until 1919 when it passed to Italy in the peace treaty between the two countries after World War I.

german flag flying alto adige southern tyrol stelvio pass italyAfter World War II it remained with Italy, presumably due to the fact that Italy had ended the war on the winning side, but you would have a hard job convincing the inhabitants. Here’s a German flag flying outside the house of one of the inhabitants.

Not only that, most of the signs here are in German even though we are in Italy, and the official roadsigns show the town names in both German (which is displayed first) and Italian.

I’ve also seen grafitti to suggest that at least some of the people here are interested in independance.

festung nauders reschen pass austriaThe border between Austria and the former Italian city-states has always been fluid. This is Festung Nauders, the Nauders fortress dating from the end of the 1830s and there’s another building of a completely different style just across the road and dating from 1840.

It’s not too difficult to imagine that the reason for these two buildings being here in the Reschen Pass is that this was at one time a border crossing following one of the frontier adjustments.

festung nauders fortress military museum reschen pass austriaToday the building is a military museum and outside is a display of tanks. The Reschen Pass was heavily fortified and many of the German defences still remain today despite the best attempts of everyone to blow them up and remove them.

The Pass was to be defended every inch during the last few weeks of April 1945 as it is the soft underbelly of the German Reich on a direct route to Munich. However, events at Berlin forestalled everything.

lech flexen pass vorarlberg tyrol austriaThis morning in a torrential downpour I went for a walk around Lech to see what was what. As I said yesterday, I was here in 1988 but I didn’t recognise the place. It’s changed out of all recognition since those days.

I didn’t stay long either because the weather really was quite dreadful too and it was no fun walking around in all of this.

hotel gasthof kreuz pfunds tyrol austriaNext stop was Pfunds and this was another place that Nerina and I had visited – and on more than one occasion too. We spent a night here on our honeymoon while we were on our way to Italy and if she were to pass by this place today she wouldn’t recognise it, apart from the name painted on the wall.

Still, 25 years is a long time in tourism and time won’t stand still for anyone.

samnaun duty free area switzerlandNot too far away is a little enclave of Switzerland called Samnaun. It was formerly isolated from the main part of Switzerland and so was a duty-free haven. However there is now a road from Switzerland that connects with the area but the duty-free status remains.

Not that is does any good because the place is full of Porsches and the like buying up the perfumes – the entire place smells like a tart’s boudoir – and there is nothing of anything at all that might be of interest to me.

samnaun duty free area switzerlandI come here for the views, which are certainly spectacular as you can see for yourself. There isn’t much like anywhere in the Alps quite like this.

Another thing that brings me here is the diesel. 114 cents per litre in Euros (it’s Swiss currency here of course) and that’s the second-cheapest that I have found so far in Europe after Andorra in March.

From here I headed back down to the Reschen Pass and you know the story from here on in.

Sunday 29th June 2014 – YOU CAN’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES, CAN YOU?

lech flexen pass vorarlberg tyrol austriaI thought you wouldn’t. But that is indeed snow up there in the background. Here on the 29th June, the temperature has dropped to 3.3°C and there is snow in the rain here but up in the mountain pass that I’ve just driven through, it really is snowing.

So where am I then? I’m actually in a village called Lech which is high in the Austrian Tyrol way above the Arlberg Pass between Innsbuck and Bregenz on the Swiss border. Nerina and I visited here on our honeymoon in October 1988 and made a vow that one day we would come and stay here. Of course things have moved on a great deal since those days, but here I am all the same. At least I have made it here.

haus brunele lech flexen pass vorarlberg tyrol austriaAnd here is a guest-house that charges just €25 for bed and breakfast and while it isn’t 5-star luxury, I’ve never had value for money quite like this. I also found a decent Italian restaurant here that cooked me a special meal. I spent the evening there talking Italian to the staff there and it’s amazing how much came back.

This has made me make a decision that for all of the languages that I can speak in a marginal kind of way, I’m going to spend some time in each country at least once per year. I’m not sure how this will work for my Russian, but we’ll see.

sankt christoph am arlberg arlberg pass tyrol austriaThis photo is interesting too. This is Sankt Christophe, the highest point in the Arlberg Pass. I have a photo that I took here when Nerina and I passed by. It featured the old Cortina estate that we had – OCC 883S and a hanging cloud that had chased us all the way up the pass billowing over the crest. This photo features Caliburn of course, and it would have featured Strawberry Moose too except that it was absolutely p155ing down and snowing, and His Nibs didn’t fancy getting wet.

heavy rain hanging cloud motorway innsbruck bregenz tyrol austriaAnd I can’t say I blame him either. This is what it looked like on the Motorway between Innsbruck and Bregenz. Totally dreadful as you can see and I was driving with the rear foglights on. It was the only way to be seen through the spray coming off the road. The hanging clouds wedged up against the mountains look impressive too.

And doesn’t Strawberry Moose take an excellent photograph? He should be proud of his skills.

This is the weather that we have been having all day. It was raining when I left bei Hanzi this morning and gradually degenerated as I drove down the B11 towards the Austrian frontier. Once in the Alps we got the lot and that was that.

So I’m going to have an early night and hope for better things tomorrow.