Beer garden @ Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen

Before I start to write about our last German supper at their beer garden, let me fill you in with the history of this hotel. I still regret about not doing any homework before visiting this amazing place which resulted in me not allocating enough time to explore the hotel and its surrounding area.

Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen was mentioned by the chronicler Franz Xaver Staiger in 1863. He recorded that the placed was called the “Gasthaus zum Schwanen” and it was built in 1665 as a monastery guesthouse of the Cistercian monastery.

Reichsprallat Anselm II Schwab, one of the abbots of the monastery Salem who was portrayed in 1749 by Gottfried Bernhard Göz in front of the Imperial Eagle…

Once upon a time, it was a monastery wine tavern and pub, and now, the place is a restaurant with a beer garden for the locals and visitors…

The beer garden was half-filled with guests who seemed to be enjoying a long summer evening with a lively conversation and glasses of beer.

Mum and I sat ourselves down at one of the tables and ordered beer…

Ahhh, how much we loved German beer! They were well chilled and rich without being too bitter. A perfect accompaniment to alfresco dining.

The menu was brought by a waitress who spoke very limited English and their menu was described in German only. Hmm, what should we do? We looked around and found two diners nearby who were eating something looked tempting. ‘Let’s try what they have!’ I pointed at their table and gestured to the waitress. She, in turn, nodded and disappeared into the kitchen.

While mum and I waited for our food, we sipped our beer and reminisced about our road trip. ‘Can you believe this beer garden is the last German beer garden of our holiday?’ We couldn’t help getting sentimental.

Then, the foods were brought to our table…

Mum had “Gebratene Schweinefilletmedaillons an Pfefferrahmsoße mit Eierspätzle und einum gemischten Salatteller” – fried pork fillet medallions with pepper cream sauce with egg tender pasta and mixed salad dish. She wanted spätzle because there would be nothing like it in Japan.
My last German supper was “Maishähnchenbrust an Rosmarinrahmsoße mit Basmatireis und einum gemischten Salatteller” – corned chicken breast with rosemary cream sauce with basmati rice and mixed salad dish. I hadn’t had rice for a long time, therefore, I enjoyed it very much.

While we were dining, we saw more than a few cyclists riding out from the gate nearby and were very intrigued by it. Maybe we should investigate what is behind the gate after dinner, we discussed as we chewed through our food…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Cake break @ Zugspitzplatt

So mum and I came down from the windswept summit of Zugspitz by hopping on the cable car again.

Say hi to the climbers!

 

We found out that a return cogwheel train back to Eibsee had just left, therefore, there was another half hour wait for the next one. ‘Shall we have some tea & cake?’ We headed to a cafeteria.

The interior of the cafe was very Tyrolean.

Mmmm, there are so many moreish looking cakes…

I must say that the cost of food and drink up the Zugspitzplatt was rather high. I can’t remember exactly how much we paid for two cakes and two mugs of coffee but it was more than a double we paid normally in Germany. However, transporting all the supplies up the mountain didn’t come cheap and which must have reflected on the prices in the cafeteria.

It was around 11 o’clock when we queued at the till behind a group of workmen with high-visibility jackets and srturdy work boots. Unlike our tray with just coffee and cake, their trays were laden with plates of pasta and meatballs, a proper construction worker’s grub.

Our morning treat after being beaten by the wind.

Can you see how huge their cake was? And they were delicious too.

We chilled out at the cafe much longer than we first intended because their (pricy) coffee was very agreeable.

Now, we must get back to the car and travel to Salem, I urged mum. The place was 194 km away from Eibsee and the journey was expected to take four hours, therefore, we couldn’t do dilly-dally too long.

Bye bye, Zugspitzplatt.

We left the cafe and headed to the cogwheel terminal…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Sticky night @ Garmisch-Partenkirchen

The distance between Linderhof Palace and our next destination, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, was roughly 50 minutes. We followed B23 up to Oberau and changed to B2 which led us all the way to the famed German ski resort.

Around 14:30, we arrived at our hotel. I parked the car by the hotel and went inside to inform them our arrival.

Sometimes, you have a humch that things are not gonna be right with this person / place. And I had this gut feeling when I saw a man behind the reception. He asked me to fill a guest registration and instructed me where to park our car. His demeanour while dealing with us somehow lacked any warmth or enthusiasm, and it worried me a little. Will the stay at this hotel be pleasant? I wondered.

Our room was on the top floor…

The room looked okay at first glance but we did notice how tired their bathroom was after a more careful inspection. Oh, I hoped we would have a trouble free stay tonight…

Another thing we noticed was a raucous rooster in the field nearby which was bossing around his several misses…

Stop being so bossy and keep your voice down!

After unpacking, we ventured out to explore a small thoroughfare in front of the hotel.

In spite of being it was Saturday afternoon, the place was very quiet…

We needed to buy a tube of toothpaste so walked into a chemist. A pharmacist behind the counter was very nice and ended up giving us a few samples of the different toothpastes for free. Danke!

We saw a chocolatier with amazing selections of chocolates and sweets displayed in their windows…

Unfortunately, the temperature was too warm for buying chocolates, therefore, we had to walk away empty-handed.

Isn’t it a time for us yet to have an early dinner and beer? Mum wanted to know as we walked past a restaurant / hotel with a brimful of guests sitting outside and enjoying their alfresco supper…

Even though it was still 5pm, we were fairly hungry as our lunch that day was a very light one. Therefore, we decided to have an early dinner and to go to bed early…

Our beer!

Mum’s favourite beer at Garmisch-Partenkirchen…

Paulaner-Brau. She ended up drinking 3 glasses of them.

Then, our dinner…

Wienerschnitzel for mum and veal for me. Mine also came with a generous portion of Spätzle. They all tasted great but the servings were far too much for us and we ended up not being able to finish them.

Halfway through the dinner, two young men on bikes arrived at the restaurant. They were clad in a traditional Bavarian costume and appeared to be in a great hurry. They rushed into the restaurant and the music started shortly afterward. The tune sounded like typical Tyrolean tunes and we could hear the sound of clapping and cheers from the inside.

Then, they came out and started to dance for us too!

 

Didn’t they do well?

I wish if the night ended as well as the dinner and the dance. However, my earlier hunch proved right and a problem developed as soon as we retired to our room. We discovered that we didn’t have any hot water! I alerted the hotel staff as soon as I was out of the shower, and they duly sent us one of their staffs to our room. He fiddled with valves on the wall for a long time, muttered something incomprehensible in German and left us without fixing the tap. I called the reception again and demanded an explanation. This time, an old woman with a very unfriendly tone answered my call and said ‘Sorry but there is nothing we can do!’ She also asked why we needed a hot shower if the outside was 30°C! How dare you! I was outraged. Why should I ask my old mum to have a cold shower?! If the woman on the other end of the line was not so unrepentant, I would have been less annoyed and more sympathetic. However, she was so unapologetic and unpleasant. Mum was also very annoyed about not being able to freshen up with a hot shower. Who wouldn’t like to take a relaxing warm shower before going to bed? She lamented. After slamming the phone down on the unpleasant old bag at the reception, I suggested to mum if she could face a cold shower. ‘No! You must be bloody joking!!’, she refused it categorically.
I am very sorry, mum. I apologise on behalf of that horrible woman. I muttered as she lay on the bed, being not in the best of her moods…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Schloss Linderhof

Schloss Linderhof in Ettal was another famous creation by Ludwig II of Bavaria. This gem was the only building which was completed while the king was still alive. As a consequence, Ludwig spent most of his later life at this palace.

We arrived at the palace’s car park just before noon.

A sign board on the wall of the public restroom in the car park, displaying the Tyrolean summits in German…

The sun was already high and its glare was beating down on the Tarmac mercilessly. It was going to be another scorching day, we groaned as we stepped out of the car.

What a pretty house! There was a house in the Tyrolean fashion standing by a path leading towards the ticketing office…

Before Ludwig transformed the place to Linderhof Palace, it used to be a hunting lodge favoured by his father, Maximilian II. The exterior of the hunting lodge was clad with timber in the tradition of Tyrolean. I wondered if the lodge looked like the house we walked past.

After buying tickets, we followed a gravelled walkway through parkland. The path was dotted trees which offered a welcome shade here and there.

There was a pond with a lone swan…

A few tourists were looking on the swan from the edge of the pond and the swan appeared to be very tame. The swan glided across the water and looked up at the spectators, expecting to be fed.

After having a short breather, we pressed on towards the palace. The place was surrounded by beautiful woods and pastures…

The place was like an Alpine paradise. Birds were chirping, the blades of pastures gently trembling in the travelling breeze and the blue sky was dotted with fluffy white clouds. I could easily imagine why Ludwig wanted to retreat into this place of tranquility away from the political intrigues of Mucich.

When we arrived at the entrance of the palace, we still had another 10 minutes to spare…

While mum rested at the bench in the shade, I walked around a landscape garden in front of the palace…

Same as Neuschwanstein Castle, the interior of the palace was accessible only by joining a guided tour and photographing it was not permitted. Our group was around twenty people and most of them were Canadians who were touring Bavaria with their Harley Davidsons!

Our tour commenced from the entrance hall with a small golden statue of Louis XIV, Ludwig’s idol. If I was to summarize my impression of the palace in one word, it would be “small”. Everything in Linderhof was exquisitely made but very small. Unlike Neuschwanstein, the place was not made to impress the king’s visitors but to allow the king to retreat into his world of fantasy.

At the bedroom, we were greeted with an enormous stately bed which was inspired by the Sun King’s at Château de Versailles. However, Ludwig never had the “getting up” ceremony, the Levee, like Louis XIV. According to our guide, Ludwig ordered his clothes to be laid out on a table next door and changed himself alone, instead of a team of courtiers helping him to dress every morning.

Another well-known anecdote regarding the reclusive Bavarian king was his peculiar dining habit. His dining room at Linderhof was not stately in scale but regally opulent. It was decorated in the late Rococo style and a priceless Meissen porcelain vase with hand painted porcelain flowers graced as a centrepiece. However, what made this room famous was not the decor but a dining table which the king used to eat his meal. “Tischlein deck dich”, a disappearing dining table was installed for the solitary king, therefore, his servamts wouldn’t have to bother him. It may sound like Ludwig was painfully alone yet he did have dining companions. Well, at least in his imagination. He invited fantasy guests who he considered to have equal clout to him, such as Louis XV, Mme de Pompadour or Marie Antoinette, and asked his cooks to prepare extra feast for them. The kitchen below the dining room would duly laid out the foods, sometimes including Ludwig’s favourite roasted peacock, and hoisted the table up for him and his guests.

Another impression I had about the palace was that it was like the inside of a kaleidoscope. The epitome of it was Ludwig’s favourite room, Hall of Mirrors. It was said that the king loved to spend the nights in this room, reading books and gazing unlimited reflections in the mirrors. No one would ever know what he saw beyond his own faces and the gold gildings shimmering under the candle lights other than imagining his pessimism about his dimishing status and yearning towards the past.

The tour lasted about 30 minutes and we walked out of the palace and into the sunshine and the garden…

What shall we have for lunch? There was a restaurant near the car park and we sat at one of their tables on the terrace and studied menu…

We didn’t fancy what they offered and decided to buy some sandwiches and drinks at a gift shop next to the ticketing office…

Mum had the one with mozzarella and tomato with basil, and I had the one with chicken Schnitzel. They were pretty moreish.

I also bought these adoringly kitsch postcards…

Hubbie, who was a through and through modernist, sniggered when I showed them to him. Oh well, I think they are really retro and cute and I am gonna keep them for myself…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

A night in Schwangau

Only €6 for parking?! I was mightily impressed as I stood in front of a ticketing machine at a public car park of Hohenschwangau. My car was in there for nearly half-day! What a bargain. If this was in London, any local council would charge extortionate rates because the area was a tourist hotspot. The area I live charges £5.00 (€5.50) per hour for street parking. Do you see what I mean?

Mum heading for our car…

Her knees weren’t too badly affected by the strain of walking up & down the hills and negotiating the stairs and steps. Thank god.

After exiting the car park, we headed towards Schwangau which was a stone’s throw from Hohenschwangau, about five minutes by car.

The route was through open pastures and the area was very quiet and peaceful…

Our one night abode, Landgasthof Zur Post…

It was almost six o’clock and the hotel staffs seemed to be very occupied with their restaurant. One of the waitresses noticed us standing at a reception and reassured us that someone would be with us as soon as they were available. Then, another ten minutes of us hanging around, a bespectacled man appeared finally (finally!) from behind the door as she promised, and processed our check-in.

Our room on the second floor…

A view from our window…

We decided to have dinner at our hotel’s dining room. ‘Hallo!’ A large waitress in a traditional Bavarian dress ushered us to one of the tables along the wall and handed us the menu in English.

Beer! We missed you…

Mum really loved German beer. There was a problem though. Because there were many German beer brands listed in the menu, we didn’t know which one to choose!

‘Why not try our local beer in a small glass and see if you like it?’ The waitress suggested. Then, the beer turned out to be a delectable kind which made mum very very happy.

For dinner, we ordered roast pork with dumpling…

And salad nicoise…

Most of the diners seemed to be holiday makers. However, a group of men, sitting on the opposite side of the room, appeared to be local and were playing card while nursing glasses of beer. All of them looked like in their late sixties or early seventies and wore traditional Bavarian short trousers and embroidered braces. So those costumes were not just for Oktoberfest!

After dinner, we went for a little walk. The air was still and smelt of green pastures.

Mum with a Bavarian totem pole…

We crossed the road and sat on a bench in front of a tourist information office…

We admired a well-tended flower bed in front of the office. Mum used to plant the same flowers in large flower pots in front of my late dad’s atelier, I remembered.

A gentle evening breeze felt wonderful on our flushed cheeks. We exchanged a greeting with passers-by who were enjoying an evening saunter, ‘Abend!’

Schwangau was winding down…

Let’s get back and have some rest because tomorrow will be another action-packed day, mum. We stood up and returned to our room.

Around 11 o’clock that night, we looked up to the night sky from our balcony. The sky was filled with twinkling stars whose brilliance were unspoiled by light pollution. ‘Aren’t they gorgeous!’ We exclaimed in a hushed tone so we wouldn’t disturb our neighbours. There used to be the same night sky in our home town a long time ago. A canopy of the truly dark night sky and the glittering stars which inspired awe and wonder in me as a child. And the sensation of excitement still lived on in my heart.

‘We should check out the sky again in Garmisch-Partenkirchen!’ Oh, I can hardly wait to tell you what actually happened there. *sigh*…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

 

 

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