Trip 39 Days 3 & 4
We picked up our rental car at the office near the train station. We asked the rental car assistant how long they would be located outside the train station. 2033! It appears the reconstruction of the train station will take a bit longer than I expected. My least favorite thing about cars at this location is the garage. The up/down ramps in this garage seem to be engineered to ensure you scrape the car on the ramp walls, they’re so narrow, as evidenced by black marks on the walls. At least I only had to go down three levels. No scraping.
Leaving Munich to get to the A8 is pretty routine, something we’ve done many times. Once on the highway , we were really surprised at the amount of inbound traffic. The outbound wasn’t too busy except occasionally we had to slow down if we got stuck behind truck traffic in the slow lane. The speed limits on the highway are about 120 km/h (72 mph). We stopped once at a rest stop we’ve used before to get a cup of coffee and enjoy the view.
The A8 is going to lead us past the Chiemsee, a large lake. One of the islands has the palace King Ludwig built. We visited the palace many years ago, taking a train from Munich to the little village of Prien, and then taking a ferry out to the island. It takes us nearly two hours to drive from Munich to Berchtesgaden, our destination for the next two days. We arrived about noon, checked into our hotel and then decided to check into a question we’d had about a better place to return the rental car than driving back to Munich.
This “investigation” entails crossing the Austrian border (temporarily) as in this area of the country, Germany and Austria are only minutes apart. There aren’t any passport controls to cross borders, but Austria has a toll tag (“Vignette”) that you have to buy if you’re going to drive on their highways. As we turned down a side road to navigate to this small city (in Germany), you cross into Austria. There are three border checkers who stop you and want to know what your destination is. I’m sure if we’d said a destination in Austria, we’d either have had to buy a vignette on the spot or get a fine (obviously profitable for Austria!). Since we had the name of a German town, they waived us through. The route we took did take us on local roads in Austria (actually into Salzburg), but we eventually found our drop off site. Considering it took us 45 minutes to get here and we’d have to take a taxi to the train station, not something we’ll do, but the drop-off charges for renting in one country and returning in another will ensure we’ll drive back to Munich.
The rest of he afternoon was spent doing some local city sightseeing. We drove down the main road alongside the river that runs through the city to a grocery store to pick up things for dinner on our hotel balcony. After returning to the hotel in the late afternoon, it started to rain a bit, but our balcony is semi protected from the rain, so we sat outside and enjoyed our little picnic. The rain subsided while we looked across at the mountains. We had a rainbow! (actually a double, but hard to see the second one). It seemed so close you’d think you could reach out to it.
Friday August 27, 2022
We had several things we had considered for today- exploring the town above us further, driving up the mountain to the Rossfeld Panoramasterasse , taking the Obersalzbergbahn cable car lift up the mountain. It was cloudy high up in the mountains, so we decided driving the Panoramasteasse wouldn’t give us the best experience for our time, so initially we walked uphill to the city center to explore a bit and have something to eat. The main part of the old town of the city of Berchtesgaden is built on the sides and top of a small mountain, so it’s not at all a flat walk up. We visited the Franziskanerkloster monastery in town (15-17th century). We enjoyed walking around the old town and stopped at a cafe.
After “lunch” we walked down to the valley below to take the Obersalzbergbahn, a small cable car that takes you up the mountain where the Kehlsteinhaus and the Obersalzburg Dokumentation Center are located (currently closed until 2023) . The barely visible (if you know where to look) are the remains of Hitler’s sumner home. We’ve stayed up on the mountain three times before and visited all of those places, so we won’t do that again today. Today we’ll just enjoy the scenery.
We bought round trip tickets to the Bergstation (berg is “mountain” in German), which is the end point. You can buy a ticket only for the Mittlestation (middle station), but you’d miss the views going the rest of the way up, however you do stop at the Mittlestation and change cars to ride the rest of the way up. The Bergstation is about 3300’ elevation. The advantage of getting a round trip ticket is you don’t have to hike back down, though some people got off at the Mittlestation to walk down to a mountain side restaurant where it appeared there was a wedding. As you ascend the mountain, the forest surrounds you on both sides with towering evergreens.
After retracing our route to come back down the mountain, it was still too early in the afternoon to call it quits for the day, so we picked our car up from the hotel and first drive out to Ramsau, a small village about 15 minutes away. The two lane road winds its way along side a river on one side, with the sheer side of the mountain on the other.
We wanted to visit Ramsau to see the scenic little village church. The road through Ramsau is, in some places, not wide enough for two vehicles. We found a place to park alongside the river and walked down to visit the church. It’s larger inside than you might have thought, though the village stretches along the river and there are farms and homes on the hillside across the river from the church. The cemetery outside, surrounded by high whitewashed walls, but higher up on the hillside overlooking the church you could see grave makers (ran out of room down below?).
From Ramsau we drive back towards Berchtesgaden, but took a detour to enjoy the scenery and different routing out to Könginsee. It’s too late in the day to visit the park (but the parking lot is nearly full), but it’s such a beautiful area.
The clouds have dropped down and it’s clearly raining higher up, but not (yet) in the valley below. Tomorrow will be an early day as we head back to Munich and my favorite garage (no, I don’t have to drive up the ramps 😀) to catch a train on our way to the next destination.