The date of departure had arrived and the time for collection had been announced. Shock!! The pick-up time from Cosham was 4.10am. We had all duly arrived about 4am, which was good as the coach arrived seconds after. Luckily it was not raining and not too cold. We had good seats towards the front of the coach and soon settled down for the long trip to Bavaria. The ferry we were booked on was 10.20. We arrived in good time and we were pulled in by the security guards. Beryl was looking out of the window and said it looked like my case had been taken out of the hold. Sure enough, it was! I had to get off the coach and go through the security check. There were about 10 in the party that had to do this. Nothing was found and we soon booked on to the ferry.
We had two very good drivers, Paul and Kathy. They were very chatty and had plenty of good jokes. The other passengers we mostly friendly, so hopefully we would have a good trip. The journey was long, and although I wanted to look at the scenery I found I had often fallen asleep. We had several stops to stretch our legs and we got to our over-night stop in Forbach, France just after 7pm. We just had time to put our overnight bags in our rooms and freshen up, then go down for dinner at 7.45pm. The meal was very good. You could help yourself to starters, and the choice was extensive; soups, salads, cold meats etc. The main course was chicken and chips and very tasty it was too. This was then followed with ice cream which was nicely presented.
Having slept very well in the comfortable room, we had breakfast at 7.30 Again, very good food and a wide selection, then it was back on the bus for the rest of the journey. It had started out sunny but as we travelled further east the sun got weaker and it got mistier and colder. We reached the hotel and there was snow on the ground.
We were greeted by the proprietors with a welcome drink. We were then given the keys to our rooms. Beryl and I were on the second floor and we were at the front of the building. We had a balcony, but was too cold to sit out there. The rooms were very basic but clean and cosy. We unpacked our cases and then went down for dinner. The meal was very good, well-cooked, fresh produce and more than enough of it. There were no vegetables but plenty of salad you helped yourself to.
View from our balcony when we arrived
Gateway to the city of Cesky Krumlov
The first excursion was to Cesky Krumlov. It was a lovely run into the Czech Republic. Lots of snow, frozen lakes, and beautiful scenery. We were to meet a guide, but as this was a new tour, the drivers were unsure of the area, but we met our guide easily. A very nice lady called Carolina, and she took us into the city which was almost an island as the river meandered around it. It was very old, dating from the 13th century and had a very interesting history. It became very run down after the war and in the 1970s it was rebuilt in the way it had originally been. There were lots of shops but we did not have too much time for shopping. The buildings were of far more interest to me.
Our guide to Cesky Krumlov
The river with the palace on it’s banks
On the Tuesday, we were to visit the Huskies and the igloo village, but the weather was horrendous. It was pouring with rain. We drove to Husky Hof, and we arrived a bit early. They were still bringing the Huskies out. There was no shelter only pub like umbrellas stuck in the ground. They gave us a short talk about the Huskies, but we were all very wet by then and so were the poor huskies. We had time to make a fuss of them and then had a warm soft drink, well diluted with the rain, but it was still very tasty. This had been in a pot hanging over an open fire. Being so soaked they decided it was not advisable to go to the igloo village so we went back to the hotel to change out of our wet gear and went to the glass blowing place instead.
This was fascinating. The place was called Joska. We had lunch and then a tour round the glass works. They are famous for making many trophies: skiing, golfing, car racing, to name a few. After the tour, we were given the chance to blow some glass. Great! Several of us had a go, with the help of some experts, and we were allowed to bring our items home. Another great day despite the weather.
Judy Blowing glass
On Wednesday, we went to Alderbach abbey, famous for its brewery. The monks had made their fortune in brewing ales, but they put it all back into the village and the church, which is something to behold. They also built schools and hospitals. Our guide took us into the church first. The decoration was very elaborate with painting and gold everywhere. It was freezing inside, but they could not use heating as the stucco was falling off the ceiling, and a net was strung across to stop it falling on people below. She explained that the church would be closed next year for 4 years to renovate it, so we were lucky to see it now. Then we had a tour round the monastery. Again, a very interesting building, with some wonderful painting and art work. Then it was into the Brewery. This was very modern, obviously catering for the great demand of today’s public. I must admit I was not very interested in this part. After it was through the shop and into the pub for some free tasting. I was not very adventurous and only had a soft drink, we also got to taste a bread twist for want of a better name.
The Abbots Dining room in the monastery
At 1pm we left the abbey and it was off to Passau. It started to rain again, but by the time we pulled up at the coach park it had stopped. We were due to meet our guide at the town hall, and this was some walk from the coach. The brochure had said “a guide in historic dress will show you the old district of the ‘City of the Three Rivers’.” What a lovely image we saw as we approached the town hall. I think for me this was the best tour of them all. The guides were wonderful and played the parts of the Apothecary’s wives, and lead us through the city, including people in the group to act as Bishops, Bailiffs, Baker, and the like. It made the whole tour amusing, and informative. She left us up at the top of the hill in view of the cathedral. We had time for a cuppa and then it was back to the coach.
Our guides in Passau
Golden Pulpit in Passau’s cathedral
The last day before our journey home was to go to the igloo village. This was a bit of a disappointment. It was actually a Hostel for youngsters to stay in tepee’s and tree houses and build igloos, but we were only shown the igloos that only a small child could have got in. The snow was also melting as it was so warm. We did get a drink and sat around a camp fire. Not very exciting !!!
In the afternoon, we travelled back to Joska for lunch and a chance to shop. On our way there we drove thorough the National Park where the highest point in Bavaria is. The views were stunning and we even saw some skiers. We stopped to take photos, and it was gorgeous standing in the sunshine looking at all the snow-covered mountains
The Ski Slopes
View of the highest point in Bavaria
Our tour of Bavaria was over and now it was the long journey home. It was a sad goodbye to our wonderful hosts. It was a family run hotel and they put themselves out to help you. The food had been delicious and plentiful, also very traditional. As we pulled away in the coach, they stood and waved goodbye.
The journey home was smooth and fairly uneventful. We were stopped by border guards on one occasion. The stop over at Forbach for the night was very good again and the breakfast bountiful. Our drivers keep use entertained with their jolly wit and the miles were soon eaten up. We changed coaches at Fareham onto a small feeder bus and were finally put down in Cosham about 10pm at night. Very tired, but very content with the wonderful memories of a fantastic holiday.