This is Europe trip number 35.
We had a suboptimal routing to start our journey, flying to Baton Rouge (!) and then to Charlotte, NC before finally starting the transatlantic leg of our trip, with the first stop being Berchtesgaden. Normally, to get to Munich, we’d fly to Philadelphia, or direct to London (with a long layover), but the flight to Philly was already full. American flies regional jets to Baton Rouge and from Baton Rouge to Charlotte. These planes have very little overhead bin space and despite the fact we were planning to roll our suitcases on, they had to be gate checked. We made all our connections despite very little time between flights.
The flight from Charlotte was full and except for an infant further back in the cabin who cried most of the way over, was a fairly normal flight, arriving in Munich at 6am. Except for our flight, no one else was going thru German immigration so there was not much delay. We headed down to buy train tickets into town, about a 30 minute ride, on the 6:44 am train. NB. the ticket machines require a debit card or a chip+PIN card (which Americans don’t usually have).
Last year when we were in Munich we saw the exhibit in the train station about the massive rebuild they’re planning, along with new underground tracks to accommodate the huge increase in traffic over the years , so we expected to see a lot of progress on the above ground portion, but there was little new to see. They had closed off one side of the building housing retail last year, but there’s been no apparent demolition of that section. We saw the last rebuild of the station many years ago and the model of the new station looks very nice. We didn’t see a timeline for completion though.
Rental car offices are upstairs in the station, so we headed up there to complete the paperwork, though pickup is several blocks away in a parking garage. I really, really don’t like this garage. You have to drive down six winding floors of a very narrow and not very wide driveway to exit the garage. Though there is a train station in Berchtesgaden, you really need a car to get around the area. It’s about a 2 hour drive from Munich to Berchtesgaden and once outside the city and on the Autobahn A8, the countryside is, at first, gently rolling and heavily wooded. As you drive further towards the German/Austrian border, mountains appear in the distance. In late May, there’s still snow on the peaks. Not far from our exit point, there is a huge lake, the Chiemsee, on the left. There is an island in this lake where King Ludwig built one of his many fantasy castles, Herrenchiemsee. We visited the castle many years ago taking a ferry across the lake from the small village of Prien.
We exited the Autobahn early in order to avoid having to buy an Austrian toll tag for their section of the Autobahn. While it took a good bit longer to get to Berchtesgaden on the local roads, it provided us with a route and scenery we’d not taken before. I think next time we need to buy the toll tag.
The Autobahn is legendary to Americans as having no speed limit. Except for small sections, less than a quarter of the total federal highway system is open to unlimited speed, much of the Autobahn does in fact have speed limits. Outside the city, the speed limit seems to be either 100 kmh (about 60 mph) or 120 kmh (about 72 mph). Just like in the US, this doesn’t mean everyone drives the speed limit, so when I was driving 140 kmh (~85 mph) I got passed by cars clearly going well over 100 mph and these weren’t super cars. But like any highway, traffic and some work zones slowed traffic to a standstill at times. Having said this, on those sections with no speed limit, using highly tuned vehicles, the top recorded speed has been 268.8 mph.
We stopped at a roadside rest stop with a nice view; these mountains aren’t but about 4-5,000′, while the mountains viewed from our hotel room are about 8,500′. Our room has a small balcony overlooking the river across the street with a view to the mountains.
The river across the street seems higher than average, fueled by runoff from snow melt.
Late afternoon, it started to drizzle. Looks like it’s going to do so throughout our entire visit, but we came umbrella equipped. We walked about 0.4 mile down the road to a grocery store for a few things and along side the river. On the way back, we stopped for some photos. There is a flood gate (below) that diverts part of the river underneath the road to a side channel and further down, a covered bridge.
Our hotel is almost directly across the street.