Saturday, November 24th, 2018, 12:57 pm. I was back in Germany. I would not have noticed anything about the border between Germany and Austria. If on the federal highway had not suddenly been the sign about the permitted speeds in Germany.
There was no checkpoint, no building, no national flags, nothing. Only if you look closely, you may see a red and white barrier in the background on the photo, which will probably be closed for a check if necessary.
Nevertheless, here I stopped my car first. Not only to take a picture. But also to understand once again that I had really made it.
Well, I haven’t been home yet. Until then, there were still 630 kilometres missing.
But already as good as. Because if there was still something wrong with the Landcruiser, one phone call was enough and the automobile club would put it in front of my garage at home.
That had been my biggest concern during my whole trip. That something could be wrong with the car and that I would get stuck. Well, there had been nothing but the two inspections in Kazakhstan and Greece. I didn’t even check the oil level and tire pressure during the whole trip.
Not the oil level because the oil pressure indicator was in the green range every day. And I didn’t check the tire pressure because in most countries I would have had to find a tire dealer first. Because the filling stations only had air testing devices in Central Europe.
My route through Germany
For my trip through Germany I had planned three more stops: In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Munich and in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Because of very specific reasons.
From Garmisch I wanted to visit Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze in the Alps. It’s very close by.
And in Munich I wanted to see the 1972 Olympic site. I had never been there, despite several – mostly business – stays in Munich.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber can be reached in a day trip from Frankfurt. But I had never been there and on my last day of driving I didn’t want to drive the entire 400 kilometers from Munich to Frankfurt.
Garmisch and Zugspitze
If it was still sunny in the morning near Innsbruck, that changed increasingly towards Garmisch. There it was pouring rain. Great welcome… So in the evening I only strolled briefly through the Christmas market there. And bought a SIM card for Germany for my cell phone.
Of course I could have used the SIM card from my German mobile phone contract in Germany. But that didn’t really have a lot of mobile data volume, though. Because I simply never needed that either.
With the Zugspitzbahn to the top of the mountain
Actually, I wanted to take the new cable car up to the Zugspitze the next day. It was only opened in December 2017. And advertises with the slogan “From valley to peak – State of the art.” But there was already an accident there in September 2018. And therefore it was already shut down again when I visited…
So the next morning I took the first train on the old rack railway. Because in the hotel they said it could get full there from noon. Especially since it was a Sunday.
When you arrive at the mountain station after an hour, you can change directly to a small cable car. And in 5 minutes it drives you another 350m higher to the viewing platform at the mountain peak.
In fact, getting up early was worth it. I didn’t have to argue with many other tourists about the best places for photos up here. They didn’t come until noon, when I was already on my way back. Then it looked more like a departure gate on the viewing platform 😉
The mountain peak cross of the Zugspitze was already in the sun.
From the viewing platform you can also get somehow over there.
But that should only be done by mountaineers. So it is said on a sign there. With sneakers that won’t work.
Great view over the Alps and into the valley
Although the observation deck is quite overbuilt, you can find corners everywhere where you either have a wonderful view of the valley.
Or over the surrounding mountain peaks of the Alps.
And if you like, you can continue your trip to Austria right here.
Because the border between Germany and Austria runs across the mountain top of the Zugspitze.
And there is also a cable car on the Austrian side. By the way, it has been in operation since 1926. Four years earlier than the rack railway on the German side.
But what the stop of the Munich public transport company directly opposite on the viewing platform of the Zugspitze is supposed to do there, I did not understand.
In any case, buses and trams don’t go up here. Maybe it’s just marketing?
Back at the train station
Or take a sunbathe with a coffee in a deck chair at the mountain restaurant.
By the way, this has its own zip code: 82475 Zugspitze. Yes, everything is perfectly organized in Germany. Otherwise the postman might not find the right house up there 😅
How good that I had spent the day on the highest mountain of Germany at an altitude of almost 3,000m.
The next morning I had to do something very important. Namely, get me a green sticker for the Landcruiser from the TÜV (Technical Inspection Association, that inspect vehicles). In Germany, this sticker for the windshield is needed in most inner cities of larger towns if you want to drive there by car. And it says that the engine complies with the applicable emissions standards.
So I looked for a TÜV office right near Garmisch. Of course, the employee first asked for the vehicle registration certificate. In which the exhaust emission standard of the car is registered. But not if the vehicle is registered in Australia.
I was only able to show him the slip of paper I had printed out from my registration in Australia. With the information that is stored there in the EDP. And apart from license plate number, chassis number, type of car and car color, there is not much in there.
I had crossed different borders 19 times with that printout so far. But would that work at a German TÜV employee too?
After the man couldn’t do anything with the paper, he asked me for the year of manufacture of the car. 2011.
And then he just said “Well, I guess it will meet probably the requirements”. And for 6 Euros (about 7.50 US dollars) I got a green sticker for the Australian license plate.
Another milestone reached. Because now I could drive around with the Landcruiser almost everywhere in Germany until the vehicle was registered.
Thanks again to the friendly TÜV employee in the deepest Bavaria!
The weather, however, was not at all friendly to me.
The closer I got to Munich, the worse it got. And unfortunately it stayed that way for the two days I was there.
To find a parking space in Munich is difficult. That’s why I lived a bit outside of Erding and did my tour with the S-Bahn (suburban rail service). First to the Olympic site. The 1972 Olympic Games took place here. And I had a very specific reason why I wanted to see this.
Because in the summer of 1972 I had to do military service. At the city of Lüneburg. To go there, I had to take a train from Hamburg to Lüneburg to the barracks on Sunday evenings.
And on that train, there were young people from many countries who went on to Munich during the Olympic weeks.
They were looking forward to have a great time there. Only I had to get off in Lüneburg and had to deal with my military superiors again on Monday morning.
That’s why I wanted to see the Olympic site now. And especially the television tower. Only, the weather wasn’t like that.
You couldn’t see anything from the viewing platform on the top.
Even the woman at the cash desk asked me if I really wanted to go up there because it wasn’t cheap. Yes, I wanted that, even if I really didn’t see anything – absolutely nothing – from up there. But I was the only visitor for that…
It wasn’t much better down there either, but I walked three hours across the area. And I imagined what it must have looked like here in the summer of 1972.
Sometimes it rained, sometimes it snowed.
And everyone tried to get back into the warm and dry as quickly as possible.
Anyway, I walked around the city for three hours and at least took a look at the Frauenkirche.
It is also located in the old town and is one of the landmarks of Munich.
It was built from brick as early as 1494.
The towers are almost 100m high and can be seen from afar. Also because no other building higher than 100m has been allowed to be built in the city center since a long time.
On the way back to the S-Bahn station I passed the Hofbräuhaus. There I had to go in and warm up.
The Hofbräuhaus has been at its current location since 1607. But the current building was not built until 1897.
The beer brewery was moved to another place. And what was left here was the beer bar with the inn.
This secures the Bavarian state considerable income. Because it first belonged to the Bavarian rulers and since 1852 to the state. Up to 35,000 visitors from all over the world come here every day. And they are willing to pay for their beer.
There is space for 1,000 people on the ground floor and 1,500 more people on the upper floor. And another 1,000 guests can be catered in other rooms.
I would have loved to see the many other beautiful places in Munich. Or the English Garden, a large park in the middle of the city.
But unfortunately the weather was just too bad for that. Well, and Germany’s secret capital is not that far from Frankfurt.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The 260 kilometers from Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber were driven quickly the next day. However, this is not much fun with the Landcruiser on a German Autobahn (highway)!
Because I drove constantly at around 80 km/h. Once to save fuel. So I needed about 11 liters per 100 kilometers. But at a speed of 100 km/h I would have needed already 13 liters. And on the other hand, because so the engine is only lightly loaded with 2,000 – 2,200 rotations per minute.
However, the trucks drove at around 85 to 89 km/h. Although they are actually only allowed to drive 80 km/h on the highway. So I was overtaken by them downhill and on a straight stretch. While on the next incline it was the other way around. That was quite annoying. So after a while I left the highway and continued on a federal road to Rothenburg.
Back to the Middle Ages
No wonder that Rothenburg is also visited by many tourist groups from China, Japan and the USA. Just like Heidelberg.
But you can avoid them. In the early morning they are not there yet and in the afternoon they have already moved on.
Google Maps sent me across town with the Landcruiser.
Even though I had a small hotel outside the city walls.
But at some point I had reached that and was able to set off on foot into the old town of Rothenburg.
First through the city, across the market square to the end of town to the castle garden.
Because from there you have a great view of Rothenburg and the country around.
However, there is no longer a castle here. It was torn down several centuries ago. Probably by the Rothenburg citizens who needed stones to build their houses.
City tour with night watchman
With the night watchman.
In the Middle Ages, he had to make his rounds through the city at night, keeping watch and warning the citizens of fire, raids and other dangers.
It was pretty windy and cold, but a small group of seven people had gathered at the town hall that evening.
And this tour was really worth it!
It lasted almost two hours and led once across the city.
The young man told us a lot and amusingly about the history of Rothenburg.
If you ever spend an evening there, I can really recommend this tour.
Along and on the city wall
The next morning I walked around the old town again.
Because the city wall that surrounds it is accessible.
To a large part at least.
Again and again there are stairs leading up to the top of the wall.
The best way to explore it is on the Turmweg (Tower Trail).
The distance is four kilometers and leads you not only to the six city gates.
It also leads to many of the city’s 42 towers which have been built here.
And from there you can enjoy a wonderful view over Rothenburg.
Or you can take a detour to the city streets from the city wall every now and then.
When I packed my belongings into the Landcruiser the next morning, I found a nice surprise there.
Someone must have looked at the license plate. And then got this pretty Australian coaster and stuck it under my windshield wiper. How nice!
And I couldn’t even say thank you for it. Because there was no address or phone number on it.
Then the time came.
On Friday, November 30, 2018, the last 196 kilometers of my road trip from Australia to Germany lay ahead of me.
Unfortunately again mostly in very bad weather, gray and rainy.
I took another break for lunch near Würzburg. In the Wertheim Village Outlet Center. Not to buy anything there but just for lunch.
And actually I didn’t feel like going home.
I didn’t like the thought that it didn’t go on every day anymore. On to France, Spain and Portugal.
In Georgia, my son once calculated that the route from Vladivostok to Lagos in Portugal is the longest distance that you can drive on the road in the world.
I had now driven 25,647 kilometers. Without the ferries across the Caspian and Black Seas it was 23,980 kilometers.
Over mountains and through deserts. Along lakes and through forests. Through lonely landscapes and megacities.
In the afternoon at 3:30 p.m. I turned off the engine. Back home again after 234 days on the road. But it still took a few more weeks until I had really arrived there myself.
As promised when saying goodbye at the end of January, I visited my former colleagues shortly before Christmas.
And it was a great welcome!
Upon arrival, I was already welcomed in front of the building. With flags and a huge poster.
My favorite colleague had come up with that too.
Who had already had the idea for “Ruedi Retyres” and this blog 18 months earlier. After I turned down her idea “Rentner (pensioner) goes adventure” for my website 😅
How I would have loved to go right back to work the next day. With these great colleagues!
Back in Germany again
It is possible to drive a vehicle from Australia to Germany. With the exception of the route across the Pacific Ocean, of course. Therefore I found the saying in the hotel brochure in Garmisch-Partenkirchen quite appropriate.
It doesn’t matter whether the Austrian-Czech writer Franz Kafka said that. Or the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, as others say. Or the Spanish lyric poet Antonio Machado, as third say.
In 2019 the Landcruiser was then registered in Germany. On the basis of an individual operating permit according to §21 StVZO (a German law regarding car registration procedures). If you are interested in how that works, you can find details in a .pdf file on my info page.
And if the pandemic hadn’t made traveling impossible in 2020, I would have driven with the Landcruiser to the Expo in Dubai via Turkey and Iran last year already.
But that has now been postponed. Maybe it will take place at the end of this year. And then my travels start again.
Or through the Atacama Desert in South America. Or just to the Baltic Sea. Through Poland and the Baltic States to Kaliningrad. And on to St. Petersburg and Finland.
Or a part of the road trip from France to Mongolia that my Polish friends plan to do after the pandemic.
You see, there are still enough plans. And when these plans come true, you will find new posts here.
Until then, Cheers, Goodbye and Auf Wiedersehen
Finally my videos. First the dashcam video of Germany (4m 02s, 718 MB; Music: World Map – Jason Farnham und Motivating and Upbeat Background Music – Morning Light Music).
- Border between Austria and Germany
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber
- Going home
- Ruedi Returns
And the YouTube video from 2019 about Austria and Germany.