The Schelenburg castle was first mentioned in 1160, and while parts of the ‘burg’ have burned and been rebuilt (in 1490), the main Gothic living quarters remain intact today. The castle is located in north-western Germany (here), a good walk from my grandmother’s house.Germany in fall is beautiful – the trees are tinged with golden yellow, the air becomes crisp, and if the weather is clear, late autumn sun warms your back. So long summer, time to put on your boots and walk among the leaves. The Schelenburg used to house a restaurant which has unfortunately closed, otherwise it would be the perfect pit stop on a long walk or bike-ride, where you can enjoy ‘kaffeetrinken.’ Translating as coffee drinking, this German event takes place at about 3 pm, and is a time to eat cake (which is almost always good, anywhere in the country), drink a strong cup, and chat with friends and family.I took this walk with my mother a few weeks ago. It was a beautiful, still-warm day, and we thought of my grandmother, who passed away on September 15, and who will always be in my heart.
In my previous post I mentioned hiking in Berchtesgaden National Park, in the German Alps. You may have asked, where did it all begin? It all started at the Koenigssee, Germany’s third deepest, ridiculously clear lake, and gateway to some seriously gorgeous hiking in Bavaria.The Koenigssee is about a two hour drive from Munich, and it’s located in the last little tip of Germany, right at the Austrian border – and close to Salzburg. To reach some of the hiking trails, you step into an electric powered wooden boat. It’s more of an experience rather than a real mode of transportation: you’ll be “treated” to a bugler demonstrating the lake echo, and hear stories and facts of the lake (in German only ;-)). Almost no boats are allowed on the lake in this protected national park, and as you push off from shore the crowds fall behind and stillness surrounds you.Once arriving in St. Bartholoma, you realize that before you can embark on any hike, you need refreshment. Real refreshment. In the form of a roast with potatoes and spiced red cabbage salad. Or maybe a fresh fish from the lake with lemon and thyme. Potentially you may have a half liter of good, crisp Bavarian beer to strengthen your bones for the long hike up the hill.
If you’re looking for a hike in the Alps, do this: the Rinnkendl-Steig hiking trail in Germany’s Berchtesgaden National Park. Yes, there are great Alps in Austria and France and Switzerland and Italy, and there are also great Alps in southern Germany. Why is this trail great?
Starting point is a boat ride across a clear, deep green lake called the Koenigssee, which magically ferries you behind an unassuming mountain into a land of Sound-of-Music goodness. Which it literally is, because parts of the movie were filmed here (also here). *Side note to all non-Americans who have never heard of The Sound of Music (stop gasping, Americans! It’s possible!) – it’s a Broadway musical and subsequent Julie Andrews film which basically molded the stereotypical “Alps” landscape into all of our brains.* This hike offers spectacular views of the lake, mixes open cliffs with forests, and offers thick carpets of wildflowers. It also gets steep and at times you’ll have to hang onto steel cables and really pay attention to your steps. If you truly hate heights, avoid it, but if you are generally ok, be careful and try it. While the hike takes several hours, it doesn’t take all day. At the top you’ll be rewarded with fresh cake, beer, bratwurst, and salad at the Kuehroint hut, where you can also spend the night if you want to continue your hiking fun up the Watzmann mountain the next day (and yes, you’ll want to do that).