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(Click any photo for a larger, clearer image)

Hi everyone, we’re back.  I may as well ‘fess up right away that our brief toot in Bavaria was primarily a golf/beer vacation.  We had two days of driving, one up, one back; and three days of golf for the Captain (one for me; I decided walking with a camera was more fun).

It came about this way:  last year we were in the same general area and stopped in a town called Wasserburg where we enjoyed Maxlrainer Beer for the first time.  In fact we enjoyed it so much that the Captain did a lot of research on it when we got home and discovered – oh joy! – that there is a golf course right next to the brewery.  That pretty much solved the question of how to spend this year’s vacation.  Wasserburg, by the way, is gorgeous in its own right, and has one of the most imposing bridge entries we’ve ever seen to a town.

The Captain followed up his research with some emails and further searches on places to stay.  Thus armed we set off, opting to take the long route through Switzerland.  It added an hour or two to the drive but added unbelievably gorgeous scenery, as well as giving us the opportunity to boast about having been in five countries on the one day drive (Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein (!), Austria, Germany).  Try doing that from the U.S.A.

Switzerland is beautiful and ridiculously expensive.  They can’t help it; it’s their franc.  If only they’d joined the European Union they too could be enjoying the financial crisis.  But no, they decided to keep their own strong currency, and boy, does the Euro or American traveler feel it.  A very simple lunch set us back over E 30, and we had to pay E1 to pee.  It’s also mandatory to buy a road sticker for the car (E 40).  It’s good for a year, which is fine if you live near Switzerland or go there frequently, but not of great use to us.  On the other hand, it seems a very reasonable fee when compared to what the Italian Autostrada charges each time we set tires on their macadam.  The Swiss sticker is worth every penny; there are simply not words enough to describe the grandeur, the beauty and the sheer visual pleasure of the Alps.

Liechtenstein is an interesting country.  Double landlocked (a landlocked country completely surrounded by other landlocked countries) it has an area of just over 160 square kilometers, a population of 35,000, and over 73,000 holding companies.  Tax haven, anyone?  Unsurprisingly it has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

Busy city scene in Schaan, Liechtenstein

Austria also requires a road sticker in lieu of tolls.  It cost E 7.90 for a 10-day pass.  And Austria, too, has beautiful alpine scenery.   In fact, the whole drive there and back was pretty spectacular.

Sunset in Pettnau, Austria

The highlights of our three days in the region were 1: Playing golf on gorgeous farm country courses (Schloss Maxlrain, Schloss Elkofen and Gut Thailing).  They all seem to be pretty new and all are beautifully maintained.

Typical view from a golf course fairway

It wasn't THAT hard!

2.  Meeting Herr Braeger, former brewmeister and now CEO of Maxlrainer Beer, who gave us over a half hour of his time and many glasses to take home.  He gave us some history of the area and the brewery as well (brewery, golf course, castle, town – it’s all owned by a Prince and Princess!  Really!!)

Herr Braeger and the Captain

Silly sign at Maxlrainer BrewPub points the way to the loo: "If you must, here you can."

3.  Staying one night at the Pension Egglhof, one of the most understatedly elegant places we’ve ever stayed. It was built five years ago as part of a larger farm operation.  If a nail was used in construction, we couldn’t see it. It gave every appearance of having been built in the old-fashioned way to resemble an old-fashioned structure.  But it had every modern convenience, including a fantastic glass sink and Wi-Fi.

Door to room at Pension Egglhof; note fresco of angel on wall

Behind the Pension...

4.  Eating and drinking traditional Bavarian fare.

Schweinshaxe! Out of focus due to excitement.

Fish and... not chips. Brown meat in brown sauce (ox, actually)

5. Asking for directions to a well-hidden gas station and having a map drawn for us on a piece of pine board.

I ended up taking a lot of pictures of the animals and flowers we encountered on the various golf courses.  If you’d like to see some of them, as well as some more shots of the lovely scenery, click here  (click on ‘slide show’ for best viewing).

Much of Bavaria is rural, with hills, farms, lakes and mountain and offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation.  If that’s what you like to do, I can guarantee that you, too, can have an excellent vacation in Bavaria.