Monday, May 27, 2013

Where is Berchtesgaden?

"Where is Berchtesgaden?"

So if you're a baby like me, you may have heard of the German cities like Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich. Maybe you've even heard of Hamburg, Nuremberg and Stuttgard. But you've probably never ever heard of Berchtesgaden.

Berchtesgaden is a small Bavarian mountain village in the far southeastern corner of Germany, a 2 hour drive from Munich just by the border of Austria. In fact, it's only about a 30 minute drive to Salzburg, birthplace of the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Unfortunately, despite Mozart's growing up closeby, the more infamous Berchtesgaden association is that it was the summer vacation spot of some notable Nazis, including Mr. A Hitler. But we didn't let that detract from our visit to this beautiful German countryside village.

OK, so now that you know where Berchtesgaden is on a map, the next question is...

"Why did you decide to go there?"

Well, here's a photo why.

As you can see, the town is embedded within the German Alps and it makes for quite a stunning backdrop. In the past few months, my parents and I have been fortunate to see a lot of beautiful mountain ranges:
  • Thai Limestone Cliffs
  • Chilean Andes
  • Canadian Rockies
  • Idaho Rockies
And now we've added a European flavor to the list.

"How did you even hear about Berchtesgaden?"

My father is an avid reader of several other Travel & Points/Miles blogs out there (but LapChild Diaries is his all time favorite, of course). One of them (One Mile At A Time) absolutely raved about this place and how it was his "favorite place on earth." With an outrageous statement like that, we had to see for ourselves. And we weren't disappointed.

"What did you do there?"

On Saturday (our first day in Germany), we actually just walked around Munich and had lunch there before driving 2 hours to Berchtesgaden to our hotel. Once we checked in, we just stayed in our rooms resting up and trying to adjust to the time difference (+6 hours from NYC and +9 hours from Vancouver).

We were super tired, mostly because I didn't really let my parents sleep on the overnight outbound flight (since it was a 5:40PM departure and I was still on Vancouver time, so it wasn't even close to my usual 11PM bedtime). But even without me fussing around on the flight, my father was too busy watching his in-flight movies (Gangster Squad and Parental Guidance) and didn't sleep the entire 8.5 hour flight over. In fact, he was so tired that first day that he pulled the car over at a highway rest stop to take an hour nap at 2:30PM. Better safe than sorry, especially when you're carrying precious cargo!

So on Sunday morning, I woke my parents up at 4:30AM local time, and we all decided to just get up and get ready for the day. Our plan was to have breakfast in Berchtesgaden village at the base of the mountain and then head over to Königssee, the nearby village where you could hop on a boat ride across Lake Königssee.

The boats are operated by the Bavarian lake boat company, Bayerische Seenschifffahrt GmbH. You had the choice to take the 35 minute ride to St. Bartholomä or the full 55 minute ride to Salet. The round trip prices were as follows:
  • Königssee to St. Bartholomä - €13.30/adult round trip
  • Königssee to Salet - €16.30/adult round trip
  • Kids between 6-17 were €6.70 and €8.20, respectively
  • Kids under 5 years old were free
To be completely honest, neither St. Bartholomä or Salet had much to offer that was worth spending more than 10 minutes at (maybe 3-4 buildings at each stop), but they made for great places to get off the boat and take some amazing photos.

Königssee & the Boat Ride Over

St. Bartholomä Church & Salet

Then after we made it back to Königssee, we had lunch at the nearby lakeside Bavarian restaurant called Echostuberl that we found on My mother had some schweinswurstel (bavarian sausages and sauerkraut, €8.90), while my father ordered a holzhacker (pork steak topped with bacon and fried onions, €11.90). We could have sat outside, but it was a bit chilly here (like 40 degrees) and I told my parents I wanted to eat indoors, hence the bad lighting for the food photos.

And finally, we stopped our way back at the Berchtesgaden village at the base of the mountain. It's truly a place lost in time, with its cobblestone streets, traditional architecture and classic fountains and side streets. Unfortunately, we visited on a Sunday so most of the shops were closed, though a few streetside cafes and markets were open.

"Where did you stay in Berchtesgaden?"

That, my dear readers, is for tomorrow's edition of LCD.

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