Scenically this is one the most beautiful tours, I hiked so far. I had to stop pretty often to admire the monumental mountain scenery. And here comes the good thing about this hike: You don’t need to be shaped up for Iron Man to walk this tour. The ascent through the Laliederer valley is mostly smooth. There is just one relatively short steep ascent to the Falkenhütte and the descent to the Engalm is a bit steep too at times, but easily to walk.
This tour isn’t too exhausting, but you will need to be able to walk in uneven terrain and be free from giddiness. You will be rewarded with beautiful views and with a bit of luck you will encounter an ibex. And don’t forget to save some energy for the descent. It is not very steep and follows good walkable paths, but it is a rather long one.
Back in the 1980’s there was a TV-Series on German TV that emptied the streets on a regular basis. Everybody was sitting in front of its screen and waited for the latest news on family Brinkmann and the Schwarzwaldklinik (Black Forest Clinic). Apparently some viewers went so far as to believe they existed for real and went to ask Professor Brinkmann for medical help. For those of you, who haven’t seen it, this series was a mixture of „Dallas“ and „Grey’s anatomy“.
This helped push a formerly unknown little village in the Black Forest close to Freiburg onto the touristic map. Back in those days they came in hordes to see the famous sites. Nowadays the village is long back to a more quiet and less eventful time.
It was the last weekend in August and I had an invitation from one of our business partners to spend a weekend on the beautiful Tegernsee. I just love that valley, but do visit seldom, since the driving to get there can be an agony, especially on weekends. Once you leave the hihgway coming from Munich it can easily take an hour to drive the 16 miles to Rottach at the southern end of the lake. Often it is a bumper to bumper drive and very nerving. My love for this valley comes from my time at the hotel school in Tegernsee some 30 years ago. 6 months filled with lots of fun.
The Tegernsee Valley: where money meets tradition
On Saturday morning we were picked up at our offices and drove direction south. And of course we had the obligatory traffic jam. Finally we did arrive at our destination and to start with we went on top of the Wallberg with the cabins. From the top of this mountain you will have a great view not only of the valley and the surrounding mountains, but on a clear day you can even see as far as Munich.
Wallberg: the valleys landmark summit
The top station is not at the summit. To reach it, it will take you another 20 minutes by foot. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to climb it today, because lunch is waiting for us at the panoramic restaurant. On a hot summer day like today this place is very busy. The food is great and the wait staff is a bit overstrained, but still very nice. After lunch our hosts had organized a special Bavarian Olympics. Things like how long can you hold a full Stein in the air, what do typical Bavarian words translate to in proper German and so on. And in good old olympic spirit to be part of it, is the most important. This is a lot of fun.
Time is really running fast. Who would have thought 25 years ago how well situated we will be today. I ahve to admit that back then I was rather skeptical. I didn’t believe in the „blooming landscapes“ our chancellor Kohl had promised. But meanwhile I was happily disabused. One most certainly could debate now, if this has proven to be right or if the country is still divided. But I will leave this to all those people in those political talk shows.
I wanted to take this chance to tell you how I experienced that time.
On the 9th of novemer 1989 I was working as a waiter aboard a cruise ship and during that night we were sailing from Teneriffa to Gran Canary in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. On this special cruise I had guests from Berlin and they came to dinner that night being rather hysterical. When asked why they told me that the wall had come down. My first reply was: „Which wall?“ Never would I have thought that they mean the one in Berlin. After realizing that they meant exactly that wall, that divide their hometown my next thought was: “ How sad that my father didn’t live to this day.“ It was his biggest wish and then it even fell on his birthday. So far away from home I was very happy that night, but probably more because of seeing my fathers dream come true then the fact itself. In the following year up until the final reunification I was rather skeptical. Back in school we spent a couple of days in Berlin and walked around East-Berlin for a day. I felt rather intimidated which was probably more of a presumption than reality. And so I asked myself when this reunification finally came who the people in the former GDR are feeling when we come and just dump our society system over their heads and change their lives dramatically. In my opinion this process should have been handled a lot slower.
So, here we are 25 years later and I think we Germans did a pretty good job and at least for most of the people in this country it is a happy day today.
We finally had a great summer again. Well, at least here in Bavaria. And I actually picked the perfect time for my vacation at home. So I decided to make the best out of it and enjoy the somewhat cooler days (when the temperature dropped to the mid 70’s) and drive again to the mountains and go on a hike.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, bavarian small town with international flair
This time I drove to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This town is known for it’s great skiing slopes in winter, but there is a lot to do and see in summer, too. This tour begins with a disappointment. The plan was to make a quick stop in the town center and buy a Bretzel for the hike. But there was no bakery to be found. Which is very unusual for a Bavarian small town. Apparently the exclusive shops and boutiques made the rent too high for a small bakery to survive here. At least we were able to take some nice pictures.
Restaurant Almhütte with a big parking lot for hikers
A short drive brings us to a restaurant called Almhütte. Not really easy to be found, especially since our old car doesn’t have a GPS. Finally we found it. The parking lot is one of the starting points of a popular hiking path called „Kramerplateauweg“. It is a rather even path on a plateau above the town and gives you not only great views of Garmisch, but also of Germany’s highest peak: the „Zugspitze“. You don’t need much experience to walk this path and so it can be done as an easy Sunday afternoon stroll. Close to the restaurant we come across a small pond with these beautiful water lilies.
My guide book tells me to start the ascent to the restaurant St. Martin auf dem Grasberg at the first crossing. But we didn’t want to start with lunch and decide to take the tour in the opposite direction.
A walk for everybody: The Kramerplateau
The next sight was this church that was being billed after WWII to commemorate the soldiers that have died during war. High above town with the impressive mountain scenery as a back drop.
The plateau is actually a alpine heathland with pine trees and heather. As the day moves towards noon, the temperature rises to the 80’s and we would love to walk in the shade, but this path is very sunny. It was a wise decision to opt for an easy hike on such a hot day.
The next stop on our hike was the lake „Pflegersee“. This artificial lake was originally being used as a fish pond for the aristocrats residing in the close by Werdenfels Castle. These days you find a public beach and a restaurant with a large terrace overlooking the lake on it’s shores. The restaurant looks very tempting, but we have other plans. So we keep on walking.
Our path starts to ascent towards a mountain called the grassy mountain. It still is not too steep and every once in a while we stop to enjoy the scenery.
St.Martin on the Grasberg (grassy mountain)
About an hour later we reach the cabin where we want to have lunch. A typical Bavarian house with a nice terrace and absolutely breath taking views.
Above to the left you can see the view towards Alp- and Zugspitze which you can enjoy from the terrace. Unfortunately the Zugspitze is covered with clouds today. But the view is still amazing. And since we’ve been walking for 2,5 hours it is time to enjoy lunch. I opt for a salad made of sausage and cheese. A typical Bavarian dish and it is just delicious.
Since it is still rather early I decide to climb a bit further up the mountain towards the „Königsstand“. My guide book tells me that there is a sort of a skywalk with a even more spectacular view. The path is narrow and very steep, but it leads through a shady forest.
The view becomes even more breath taking after every turn. The whole town of Garmisch-Partenkichen at your feet. I can’t find a word that describes this view.
A few steps before I reach this recess the path becomes a bit of an adventure. From the cabin where I started up to this point I had to climb another 650 feet. So I did already burn off some of those calories from my lunch.
On my way back I find some Gentian next to the path.
What a cute surprise
Behind the next turn I come across a very rare sight. A young chamois got lost and descended to an elevation where you usually wouldn’t see them. And most certainly not that close. This guy jumped on my path not even 15 feet away.
It’s hard to tell who is more curious. Luckily enough it waits long enough to be taken on photograph before fleeing out of my sight. Isn’t it nice? This is a very special moment, since they usually are seen in high elevations and in very rocky terrain.
And then one last glimpse of the town and the surrounding scenery.
Back at the cabin, I feel like having something sweet. In my guide they mention that this cabin has a specialty that is not to be missed. So I order a serving of their Blueberry Pancake. The waitress looks a bit confused, since she knows that I just had lunch about 1 hour ago. I expect to get pancakes like I know them from the states, actually more of a desert serving. Along with the pancakes I order a glass of fresh buttermilk.
When my order finally finds its way to my table I am dumbstruck. The pancake has a tremendous size and could easily feed 2. On top the glass contains 16oz of fresh buttermilk. Usually they serve half of it in one glass.
But the guys from my guide book were right. This is by far the best blueberry pancake I ever had. A thick pancake filled with tons of fresh blue- and raspberries with warm cream. I must be in heaven. I just have to enjoy every bite of it. Delicious is an understatement.
After feeding myself with such an amount of calories, I am happy that we still have an hour to walk before we get to our car to drive home. The descent is rather steep at some points and we are happy that we decided to walk it the opposite way.
So we had chosen the perfect tour for a hot summer day. And this chamois sighting and this pancake……….
What else can you ask for?
I just love the summer heat and this summer was really great so far here in Munich. So I decided to spend my 3 weeks off here in Munich and it’s beautiful surroundings. There is quite a lot to explore here and I am asking myself, why I did neglect all this until know. I mean, there are people traveling around the globe to come here and visit Bavaria. So why should I always go away for vacation?
After climbing the Hochgern, I wanted to go on another tour while off work. But then the mercury rose to the 80’sand 90’s and it was just too hot to climb another mountain. Finally there came a day with only mid 70’s, so I got up early and drove into the mountains. On a week day this goes rather fast.
As a starting point I chose Spitzingsee this time.This is a small lake at approx. 3500 feet. I was joined by a dear friend whose condition isn’t exactly like mine. So we chose a tour that is not that hard to do.
Our goal was to reach the Rotwandhaus which sits at approx. 5800 feet.
There are 2 options on how to get there. We decided to take the one that is longer, but brings you through beautiful scenery. On this track you have a short piece where you will have to climb a steep path at the end.
Easy warm up in the valley of the Valepp
To start we descended into the Valley of the Valepp. The good thing about this is that you can warm up a bit, but on the other we thought, that we actually want to walk up the mountain and therefore this means with every foot we descend we will have another foot added to the ascent. Full of energy we follow the creek called Rote Valepp through its green valley.
This is still a regular street and we could have taken a bus to bring us to the point from where we wanted to ascent. But this something everybody can do, and we not everybody 😉
At the beginning the valley broadens and we get the first glimpses of the surrounding mountains. Soon we reach the Blecksteinhaus, restaurant in the middle of nowhere, and here we leave the paved road and continue on a gravel road. ly due to the cloudy weather and since it was a week day we were the only ones and heard nothing but the singing birds. I have a guide that describes the best tracks in the Alps and it did say that this one can be crowdy at times. For us this was just perfect.
Easter holiday was coming up and friends of ours announced their visit with their 7 year old daughter. So the question came up what we could do that means fun for the adults as well as the child. The weather forecast said it would be snowing, so there went the egg hunt in the park. After some serious thinking we came up with the idea to go to the puppetry. Their playhouse is rather small, but very nicely decorated. it somehow felt like going back in time. Hello nostalgia! They have a small snack shop on premises and accept only cash. Is there another way to pay?
The play on display was called the “Rusty Knight and the magic fairy”, a Musical. The story goes like this: While cleaning the attic the knight frees a fairy that has accidentally locked herself up in one of the boxes. Since she is grateful she grants him the compulsory 3 wishes. Well this knight thinks he is Mr. Smart and his last wish is that from now on all his wishes should become true. The poor fairy exhausts herself by fulfilling even the dumbest ones and soon wishes for herself to be locked up again. Eventually even the knight comes to the conclusion that it is not always funny when all your wishes are fulfilled. And what do we learn from that play? Think well before you wish something.
I really can recommend this playhouse. They even do have special events for adults. For example they played the Magic flute with their string puppets. Nice to see that there still is a form of entertainment that doesn’t need all that technical stuff and is actually hand made.
The Romantic Road
After having talked about Würzburg, I would like to introduce you to one Germany’s most liked scenic routes, the “Romantische Straße” along which you will see old medieval towns and villages paired with quaint scenery. First stop is Tauberbischofsheim, known for its fencers. And the town where I went to school. A short side trip through the valley of the Tauber will bring you to Bronnbach a former monastery dating back to 12th century. It has a very romantic setting and today it is a place known for its cultural program with concerts. And it is a great place for a hike in lush forest.
A tip for wine lovers
Coming back to the” Romantic Road” (English translation for Romantische Straße) you will continue in a southern direction. On this side of the scenic route the most interesting sites are more scarce then towards its end in southern Bavaria and so you will have to take some turns and side steps. If you are interested in wine you probably want to leave the road in Königshofen and take the short drive to Beckstein. In this village you will find a cooperative wine-growers association that was voted Germany’s best in 2014. I highly recommend a wine tasting there. More to follow under the culinary section.
Bad Mergentheim, a small town with lots of history
Coming back to the main road you will soon arrive in a small town called Bad Mergentheim. It used to be one of the centers of an association called the “Teutonic Knights” which was founded around 1190 during the crusades in the holy land. You can explore their castle and learn a lot about medieval times in Europe. As the prefix Bad suggests this is a town with hot springs. The water counts amongst the best healing waters in Germany. And of course such a town has a thermal aquapark. As a kid I loved our visits to the Solymar. They used to have a tidal pool with huge waves and this was the closest I could get to an ocean. They don’t have that tidal pool anymore, but two waterslides, a newly renovated outdoor pool filled with water from the hot springs and a huge wellness and spa area.