on July 2, 2007
Austria has a small, well miniscule part, of the Bodensee but as we always enjoy a sojourn into this lovely Alpine republic, we visited it three times during our week at the Bodensee. The first visit was purely for filling up on gas – tax differences mean that fuel is up to 20% cheaper here than in Germany. (The differences on the Czech and Polish borders are even bigger leading to Tanktourismus, literally filling-up tourism.) The difference on diesel is much smaller and after seeing the long queues at the gas station, we simply drove the three miles back to Lindau and take our pick from eight unoccupied pumps.The second visit was by boat to Bregenz, a town famous for its opera house and open-air stage on the lake. We headed up the 1064-m high Pfänder, the highest peak at the Bodensee. It is an easy cable car ride to the top for fantastic views. The self-service restaurant there served excellent food, which somewhat made up for my general loathing of these kind of establishments.The third trip was by car and we almost did not make it. Because of some local protests, a small section of highway has not been completed leading to huge traffic jams in the narrow streets of Bregenz. A ten-kilometer drive took well over an hour – we've done faster in Tokyo’s rush hour – but once out of that mess, we could enjoy the Austrian countryside. Our destination was the Rolls Royce Museum, the largest of its kind in the world, in the small town Dornbirn. The last part of the drive is through a lovely valley making the journey on its own worth the trip.Austrian parking regulations are not easily interpreted so we opted to park in front of the Krippenmuseum, the world’s largest collection of nativity scenes. With the owner / manager watching us from the door, we felt obliged to at least glance into his establishment seeing that the admission was included in the Bodensee Pass. The collection turned out more impressive and more interesting than we anticipated and we spent sufficient time in the museum to be able to ask without blushing if we could leave the car in his parking lot while going across the street.The Rolls-Royce Museum (www.rolls-royce-museum.at) was magic. The collection is spread over three floors and range from small Rolls-Royce memorabilia to of course the cars themselves. The restoration workshop can only be visited on a group guided tour but all can enjoy the other displays, a pricey looking bar and souvenir shop, as well as a play area with toys that were presumably popular in England when Messrs Rolls and Royce were still alive. I particularly enjoyed the vintage cars on the second floor – more than 20 cars that belonged to unknowns as well as the famous such as Queen Elizabeth and King George. Despite the lack of antibiotics, the 1920s an 1930s certainly was a grand epoch for the rich.
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