Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Here Comes The Sonnen


I don't think I'm ever going to eat again.

Greetings today from Berchtesgaden, the gateway to Germany's coolest national park. While today started out cool & rainy, by the time we sat down for dinner tonight (more on that in a second) the sun had come out and all seemed right with the world. And lest you think I've been complaining too much about six straight days of wet & cold weather, I'm not alone. When we checked into the hotel today the lady who owns the place was taking about how hot & humid it was all summer, and them BAM. Six straight days of rain & cold. No one around here knows how to handle such an abrupt change.

So you see? I'm not the only one. And with a forecast of mostly sunny skies and highs near 80 tomorrow, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everyone will be happy.

Even the lady who owns our hotel.

This is the fifth time we've been to Berchtesgaden, and unlike the previous times we had one goal and one goal only—to eat dinner at a certain restaurant. But it's not any old restaurant. Nope. Aside from amazing foods, this certain restaurant has something very few others can offer. This certain restaurant has a view--

That's what you see when you eat at the Hochlenzer, a restaurant that sits almost 4,000 feet up in the Alps. Part of the adventure is just trying to get there; you have to drive up a winding road with a 24% gradient. And for those of you in Marquette, here's a comparison. Fifth Street, perhaps the steepest hill in the city, has a gradient of just over 10%. So double that, add another five degrees for good measure, throw in some curves and some motor homes barreling towards you, and you'll understand why the drive is quite the adventure.

However, it is worth it, even aside from the view. Here's the Hochlenzer Schnitzel that I get every time we go there--

And the Schweinebraten Loraine always enjoys--

And so you know, each of those plates is 14 inches wide. So you get a LOT of food. But because we're gluttons for punishment, we also ordered dessert. But not any dessert. Nope...we had to go for the Kaiserschmarnn.

Kaiserschmarnn is a German delicacy. Basically, it's two pounds or so of fried pancakes covered with powdered sugar and some kind of fruit. In our case, it was applesauce. Normal people might order this dish as their main course, but because we're not normal we ordered it for dessert AFTER eating the schnitzel and the Schweinebraten.

And that's why I'm never eating again.

We left our overnight home in Bad Reichenhall this morning, a mere 24 kilometers from Berchtesgaden, in a driving rain. Because of that we fell back on the two things that have never failed us—chocolate and cows. Remember yesterday when I said our first stop today would be at a chocolate factory outlet store?

Well, I wasn't kidding.

We picked up perhaps a little too much chocolate for an amazingly low price at the Reber Factory Outlet Store. But here's the weird part. We got to the store about 15 minutes before it opened. Because it's in the middle of nowhere, we just decided to sit in the car and wait. Before you knew it, the parking lot filled up, and people were getting out of their cars to stand in line, waiting for the store to open so they could buy their chocolate. There was even some guy on a motorcycle with Austrian plates. As soon as the doors opened the people piled in, and scooped up whatever they could find.

Apparently this happens every day. Apparently people like the Reber chocolate so much that they're willing to stand in line in the rain just to get a good deal on it. It was quite the interesting sight. Who knew going to a chocolate store could be a spectator sport?

Speaking of Austria, we did something I'm guessing not many people do when they're here. We parked the car, walked across the street, and walked into Austria--

Then we turned around and walked back across the street and back into Germany--

10 or so steps, two countries. Not bad for one morning, is it? But you can do that here. Since the advent of the E.U., borders between the countries have fallen, and walking between Germany and Austria is like walking between Michigan and Wisconsin. Actually, it's easier than walking between Michigan and Wisconsin because there's not a river separating Germany and Austria. There's, like, a bus stop--

And that's it. The modern world is a wonderful place.

When we finally arrived in Berchtesgaden it was still rainy so we drove around for a bit, stopping to “ooh” and “aah” at what scenery we could see through the fog, and also stopping because, well, I'm a dork. Say “hello” to my newest friend--

And my other newest friend--

When we got back in town and strolled through the pedestrian area we stopped in a toy store, where Loraine spotted a stuffed cow that looked almost exactly like my first new friend, pictured above. So guess what I'm taking home with me?

Hey, don't judge. At least it's just a stuffed cow and not a real one!

Cows weren't the only animals we had fun with. There's a path in Berchtesgaden called the “Sonnen Panorama” (The Sun Walk”), and while the sun was just starting to come out while we were on it we came across a family of goats. Being stupid humans, we started making noises like a goat, hoping they would answer back. And they did. Loraine, in particular, had quite the conversation, at least until the mother goat got bored with the stupid humans and started giving us the evil eye--

Like I had mentioned before, Berchtesgaden is the gateway to the Berchtesgaden National Park, which is the premiere hiking park in all of Germany. And since Germans love to hike, the place is usually packed. But if you get off the beaten path, you can still see many pretty colors...

Some amazing views--

King Ludwig on the side of an ice cream freezer in a grocery store--

And a place where you can do some pretty interesting things to your vegetables for the day--

I don't even think I want to know.

That's it from Berchtesgaden. Because it's supposed to be nice out tomorrow, we're going to do what all sane people do, and head to the lake.

So until then...

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