For us, Julie Andrews’s voice rang true. The hills were alive with the sound of music on our trip to Berchtesgaden earlier this month. I only wish we had more time to capture all of the beauty of the German Alpine Mountain region. It was truly breathtaking. Our trip was far too short to do even half of the things on my list, but I left in-love with the region and so glad we had ticked the destination off of my list. You could almost hear the music pouring over the Alps and through the valleys, running with the glacial rivers, and then leaping across the grazing fields that were bursting with wild flowers. Germany is a beautiful country, but this corner of Bavaria is by far the most beautiful. The icing on the cake was the alpine chalets with masses of flowers pouring over the balconies. I am not one to take many pictures of homes, but I simply could not stop.
It was quite a relief that the beauty was all consuming. Thanks to holiday traffic, eternal autobahn construction, and out of sync bladders (at each stop it seemed either Brock or Poppy “went” but they both couldn’t seem to “go” at the same stop) our 6 hour drive ended up being 9… not just on the way down, but also on the return. I did not expect this. We survived, and thankfully I put us on route for lunch in Munich at a traditional Biergarten, Koniglichter Hirschgarten. It is the largest biergarten in the world with over 8,000 seats and dates to the late 1700’s. For our only time in Munich, I am so glad we picked such a great place to visit. Not only was the food the best we have had in Germany, but I kid you not, the beer actually tasted better! I fought the urge to take our photo with the traditionally dressed waiters, but certainly snapped pics of the weinerschnitzel, trio of duck, hocks, and pork, Brock’s giant pretzel and our delicious dessert sampling before we were on our way for the last few hours of the drive.
After that lunch, the trip was already a “win” in our books, but once we saw the mountains right across from our hotel we both released a sigh and just took a minute to appreciate where we were.
Knowing that the drive would take most of the day, I planned on just checking in and exploring a little before bed. The next day would be our only full day and we had 2 things on the agenda, plus a bounty of extras if we somehow managed to find the time. First up was a trip up to the Eagle’s Nest, Kehlsteinhaus, Hitler’s Apline chalet. After that Fil would do some fishing in what may be the clearest water I have ever seen. You will see a pic in my Flickr album of the water and I just want you to know that the water there was about 12 inches deep and crystal clear. Gorgeous. Frigidly cold, but stunning.
Kehlsteinhaus is the proper name for the chalet perched high in the Alps. Only the English call it the Eagles Nest, and frankly Germany has taken huge strides to distance itself from the location. Since the opening of the location to tourists, the restaurant at the top has been privately owned, and the entrance to the destination is free, excluding the bus fare up the mountain. It is no easy thing to get up there, but totally worth it for the views and the history.
Driving from town, you can only go partially up the mountain to the bus terminal and parking lot. After that only the busses are allowed to continue due to the dangerous access road. As it is, the part you must drive up has a 24% grade! To put that in perspective, usually around 7% you will see warning signs posted on roads with an incline. 24% was a bit scary. From the bus terminal, the remaining road climbs 2,600 ft over the course of 4 miles and takes nearly 30 minues. The bus drops you at the base of a cliff and if you look up you will see the chalet, but to get there you must walk through a 407 ft tunnel and then ride an ornamental elevator straight up another 407 ft. They packed us in the elevator like sardines. So close that Poppy, who I was holding up, rested her paws on another man just because of proximity. Don’t worry, he didn’t mind. Actually, as usual, most people thought she was so beautiful that she could basically get away with anything. Many people commented and made adoring faces towards her.
This trip through the tunnel and up the elevator would have been precisely executed when Hitler greeted guests at the home. He actually had a great fear of heights and disliked the thin mountain air so he was only at the chalet 14 times, but he loved using it to impress foreign leaders. I can see why. On a good day, you can see as far as Salzburg, about 20 miles away. Total elevation is 6,017 ft.
A small trail leads to the tip of the mountain just behind the chalet which we climbed to take in the view. And for real this time, not just in our minds, we heard music. A man was playing the accordion and made an already amazing day even more picturesque.
It is a good thing that I planned this visit so well. We were on the first bus up the mountain, and when we came back down there were hordes of visitors waiting not only to board the busses but just to buy tickets! I can easily see you spending the whole day there if you had not do it the way we did bright and early. The trek exhausted the kids and we were so glad to be done with touring for the day.
On our walks around town, I had noticed posters for a traditional music concert that night. While Fil was fishing, I bought tickets and anxiously waited for the evening to come. It seemed that music after all, really was what this trip would be about for us. What a show! I embarrassed Fil with all the pictures and videos I was taking, and probably my clapping along too. At some point in each song I leaned over and said “Grandma and Grandpa Schultz would love this, they will love the videos”. We were both incredibly impressed. Below is a clip of one of my favorite songs/dances. On Flickr you will find much more.
We went to bed that night with smiles on our faces. One full day is nowhere near enough time in Berchtesgaden, but it was a perfect day for us. I tried convincing Fil to do one more thing before we hit the road, but he was right, we had a long drive ahead of us and a nasty storm on the forecast. It was a bit of a journey home that day, but all in all it wasn’t terrible. Poppy and Brock really did great, and the frequent stops to stretch were enjoyed by all.
Now that we are back, Germany has been hit with a nasty heat wave. With air conditioning pretty much nowhere we have been getting creative with our methods to cool the house and our days are spent playing at the river in town or at the beach/lake. It is actually so hot that the autobahn is breaking apart and breweries are running out of bottles, unable to keep up with the increased demand! That’s Germany for you. XD
I am really hoping for some relief from the heat soon. A friend is visiting next week so we will have adventures with her, then it is Brock’s birthday, and soon after we fly to the states for an all to quick visit and yet another sister’s wedding! This year Brock is having a Batman party with a few friends and he is so excited. He talks about it everyday and his excitement seems to grow and grow as it gets closer.
We still do not know where we will be moving, but it looks like our move will be around Christmas time. I promise to keep you posted as soon as we know. I am getting very anxious about this one, and frankly way more stressed than I was coming here. Fingers crossed we get something high from our list.
Please enjoy more pics and videos from our musical trip to the Alps here on Flickr.