17-Apr-2006 -- About 5 kilometres from 48N 13E, close to the German-Austrian border, is the small village of Arnsdorf. This is the place where the Christmas carol Silent Night was composed in 1818. Each year in December, many people come to hear and sing this hymn in the church. After a stop to look at the church and the ornate Baroque interior we continued along the main road. We did not have any maps of Austria but there are many small roads criss-crossing the area so as we got closer to the CP, we just used the GPS to decide when to turn right.
We then passed through Riedlkam and about 800 m from the confluence point, the small farming settlement of Reicherfing. We drove to the end of a small sealed road, parked the car and walked about 300 m to the C.P. which is situated in the middle of an undulating green field most likely used for grazing animals in the summer. As it is still too early for the cows to be let out of the barns, the only sign of animal life was a number of frisky rabbits hopping about in the Spring sunshine and many birds twittering in the nearby pine forest. There were a couple of “Jaeger Stands” (huntsman viewing platforms) facing in the direction of the forest so it would be safe to say there were also deer living there as well.
After admiring the distant Alps (of Sound of Music fame) to the south-east, taking the photos and providing a spot of entertainment for the local farmer, we drove 20 km towards a crossing point back to Germany. The river Salzach forms the border in this area, so one must find a bridge to cross. As the pretty town of Burghausen boasts a medieval castle extending 1043 m along a narrow ridge above the river, we headed off in that direction.
We also needed to get petrol. Even though this area is a little “off the beaten track”, as we got closer to the border, the petrol stations were more and more crowded with lines of German number-plated vehicles – taking advantage of the cheaper Austrian petrol prices – “Benzin-Tourismus” (petrol tourism) as it is called here.
As we were driving home along smooth bitumen roads, I was struck by the extreme contrast between finding a confluence point in this part of the world compared to the Democratic Republic of Congo when we attempted to reach two last year. The potholes were the size of craters and when we drove into one in the teeming rain, it was so deep that water was washing over the bonnet of the Landcruiser.