TEGERNSEE, BAVARIA, GERMANY — Two weeks in the Bavarian capital down. Even though Munich feels like a small town, compared to a major world-class metropolis, we still felt the need to stretch our legs and explore Bavaria’s natural charms. So, with eyelids half closed, we quietly took off on a cool summer morning with Johannes, Jakob and Janosch in tow and headed for the hills… literally.
Tegernsee is a picturesque Bavarian town built between the side of a timbered mountain and the edge of a crystal Alpine lake, located about an hour south of Munich proper and five minutes from the Austrian border.
It looks so much like the idyllic, Disneyland view of the traditional Bavarian life that Molly thought it was fake — as if something out of a picture book or amusement park.
But Tegernsee is quite real. A bit of a tourist trap, yes, but quite a snapshot of the traditional Bavarian way of life. Hannes told us how when the train was first built out here in the 1800s, it was first the English and French visitors that came knocking. Now it is Americans and Canadians and Dutch… and nature seekers like ourselves.
After about of an hour of winding through open pastures, we can into town, rolled past the See (literally ‘sea,’ in German, but what they call an inland lake) and began winding up the serpentine roads towards the timber-spotted mountainside. Finding a good spot to park, we hopped out, packed up and made our way up towards Neuwirth, a little outpost on the edge of the mountain peak.
The hiking was beautiful, if a bit rugged at a near 20 degree grade. At nine in the morning, the sun seemed to just barely sift through the tall pine trees t0 feed the lichen and moss below. After days of rain, the forest was cool and damp and green — the perfect temperature for a semi-strenuous 1 1/2 hour hike up the mountain.
At the top at Neuwirth, the view was spectacular. Again, a postcard-worthy sight that you had to reach out to try to grab to make sure it wasn’t a photograph or oil painting. After a light snack and a breather, we took off along the ridge line for another Alm — little mountain cafes that were traditionally the summer homes of shepherds and farmers.
The road got decidedly more wet from here on out — the mountain soil worked as a sponge — holding an unbelievable amount of water in its heights, even as gravity and the farmlands below tried to steal it away. Good for the mountain, bad for hiking. We sloshed over the peak and down into another valley — a good 2 hours of hiking that in drier conditions should have taken half an hour.
But again, the view and the capital rewards at the Alm were worth it. Sore, muddy and out of breath, we sat down to biers and Brotzeit — Bavarian antipasto-style cheeses and meats — literally under the canopy of the heavens. The sun shining and pillow-like clouds rolling by at near-eye level, the experience was almost too much to believe and well worth a wet and strenuous hike.
The way down was of course easier and we wound our way another three miles or so along the descending ridge line.
Back at the car, we drove down into town to reward ourselves with gelato and a few moments next to the Tegernsee proper.
The photos speak for themselves, yet again, but it was truly and amazing way to get to know the real Bavaria a bit better — not to mention work off some of those calories from bier and pretzels from the last couple weeks.