The Top of Germany.
Saturday dawned sunny and bright and a perfect day to be atop Zugspitze. We excitedly prepped and not-so-excitedly breakfasted in the main dining room, though the fare was noteworthy in a manner that I prefer (fancy muesli/yogurt for the first course; cucumbers and savory alpine cheese, plus smoked fish for the second), and pointed the wagon toward the mountain. Clayton Theodore joined us on this excursion for even though he is 10, or perhaps 11 years in age he generally has the health and spirit of a puppy and loves, loves, loves, being outdoors with us. We reached the base in good order and queued for the cable lift. And that’s when I noticed that the cars are glass-panorama, offering 360° views as one climbs to the mountain top.
I just couldn’t do it.
Funiculars? Fine. Enclosed cable cars? Absolutely. An expansive view of terra firma while I dangle in the clouds? Nein. So CTF and I bailed to take the 7km hike around Eibsee at the base of Zugspitze. Though we had done this hike as a family a couple of winters previous, it was entirely different in the summer. I snapped away and basked in the warm sunshine and alpine air; Clayton Theodore splashed in the water at every opportunity; and we reconnected for lunch afterwards.
Because the weather was so gorgeous we decided to drive to Neuschwanstein after lunch, rather than saving the trip for Sunday morning. Almost halfway into the hour drive our GPS sounded the alarm, “The route is being changed due to current traffic conditions.” Never a good omen. Sure enough, thick red lines popped up on the screen, and we ground to a halt. (That there were cows with bells for me to photo was of small comfort.) An accident had occurred that had traffic in both directions stopped, and our travel time had increased two-fold. Tony reversed course, and we spent the waning hours at the pool.
Dinner in “Party”-Kirchen. Tony recalled the first summer that Jack worked in Garmisch as a BSA Counselor: they had driven out together and wound up for dinner in Partenkirchen, “on a street with beautiful painted buildings” and that there happened to be a festival of some sort going on (always a plus!) Dr. Google informed us that the street was Ludwigstraße; and guess what? “Party” -Kirchen was having the same festival! Accordion music and the aromas of street fare filled the air, and Trachten-ed people filled the street, many of them on their way to the Saturday vigil mass at the Catholic church, and we joked about whether the homily would be short and sweet in order that these parishioners get back to the party in good order. (Spoiler: the Eucharist bells did not chime until 1945.) We miraculously found a restaurant table near the center of the action and ordered dinner; my Zander was presented as a “Lady Filet,” which just sets all of us laughing. The backstory. Last summer we took a long weekend to hike about another lake in the Salzkammergut. At our beachside dinner one evening, the Zander option included the preparation of, “Lady Filet,” a whole fish that arrives at the table filleted. Tony, having grown up in the desert, asked me to order the Lady Filet (for him) so that he would not look like the fish-filleting novice that he is. It has been a running joke ever since.
My Zander was luscious, and those potatoes? Even luscious-er, because you can never have too much butter.
Moments after our dinner arrived, two marching bands proceeded towards one another from opposite ends of the street, facing off in the center square. We weren’t sure what this was all about, only that it appeared to be a friendly face-off.
Tony and I rose early on Sunday to plot the remainder of the weekend, sitting on the balcony with our coffee (the electric water kettle was “complimentary” and we had brought along our travel coffee press). Neuschwanstein seemed a “go,” but then Tony added that he wanted to “go” anywhere but home afterward. A few more minutes were spent checking weather between GAP and Vienna, and another last-minute button was pushed with fingers crossed for a Sunday overnight in the Salzkammergut, another favorite destination for us.
Our view of Schloss Neuschwanstein in 2009 from Marienbrücke.
This day’s view. Decidedly prettier. Less attractive, however, were the hoardes of pushy and impatient tourists on the bridge trying to angle for that perfect selfie.
We did not tour the interior on the revisit, because not only had we done so previously (no photos permitted), but on this occasion a good portion of the interior is under cover for preservation work, so even if we had wanted to tour we would have been disappointed.
Hohenschwangau, King Ludwig’s boyhood home on the adjacent, lower, hilltop.
The rather generically named Alpensee is nearby. Clayton Theodore made quite a splash (pun intended) with his antics in the water; several tourists laughed and took his photo.
For others, sunbathing was more the way to go.
Lunch with a view. The longest curry wurst ever; and, though the menu read Bratwurst, the sausages looked like stretched-out Nurnbergers to us.
Because I love cows.
The elegant St. Gilgen was our destination for the final overnight, one of the three towns along Wolfgangsee. Wealthy Viennese began building summer homes in the area in the late 1800s, and who could blame them? Exceptional scenery; outstanding cuisine; painted buildings–we have never visited and not had a memorable time.
The German Chancellor Helmut Kohl hailed from St. Gilgen; as did Mozart’s mother. The village is also home to the St. Gilgen International School, a highly regarding boarding and day school. Quite a challenging academic setting, no?
Our family room in one of the village’s Gasthof was everything the Sport Hotel was not. Just 20 rooms, and a proprietor who seemed genuinely interested making certain his guests enjoyed their stay. (The Heavenly Father roomed with us, as well.)
Oh, and we had a bonus kitchen that we had not expected in our suite. Unlocked, of course.
The breakfast room. Maximum quaintness.
A weekend too early for the viewing. Next time.
The holding tank at our lakeside restaurant.The population was down by more than half when we left the later in the evening.
And with good reason. Spectacularly grilled Forelle. No Lady Filet this time!
The next morning, homeward bound with a final farewell snap at Mondsee. Our very Bavarian weekend had come to a close.