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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Europe, Part 6 · Berchtesgaden

On our drive through Bavaria after touring Neuschwanstein Castle, we stopped by a few small churches in the Berchtesgaden area (in Germany, near the south-western border with Austria)- the heart of the Bavarian Alps!

While planning the trip, I frequently relied on Pinterest for itinerary ideas.  So shockingly 21st century for me! ;-)  In my searches of the area, several amazingly picturesque churches kept popping up, so I figured we'd stop by and see if they lived up to the hype.

Well, as you can see from this post, even my terribly feeble attempts at photography show that they are quite stunning in their natural state. :-)

(Previous trip posts here if you've missed them: parts 1, 2, 3, 45)

Our first stop was the Parish Church of St. Sebastian in Ramsau.  Visiting these places in person is always so fun, because the real experience is almost always more impressive than the photographs, and less impressive, simultaneously- however that's possible! ;-)

The "more impressive" part of this one is that it really, truly does look exactly as impossibly quaint in real life!  I do wonder if the folks responsible were fully cognizant of the perfect location, ideal architecture, etc when they were planning it... because it also has the attraction of being perfectly natural and unaffected.

The "less impressive" part is that there is a bit of optical illusion going on- at least as regards the immediate surroundings.  Ramsau is a fairly popular place, so there was a lot of foot and motor traffic.  There are lots of buildings all along the road, and quite honestly, I still don't know how they don't show up in the photos....  The delightful thing is that there's a perfectly situated, easily accessible location for taking the "iconic shot".  After our experience with castles, it's nice to not need a helicopter to get a great shot. ;-)

Ramsau.  We arrived in the afternoon, and after our drive, a little refreshment sounded like just the thing. ;-)  We had several options to choose from, but settled on a place that had a lovely-sounding Raspberry Cream Cake (or Himbeer Sahnetorte as the case might be.  Our German is still horrible, but we got very good at deducing berry names, cream, cake, cheese, chocolate, etc... ;-))

Oh. My.  I didn't get photos when it arrived, because it looked way to good to wait.  And once I got started, it was way too good to stop. ;-)

Our last stop of the evening was the Maria Gern Church in Berchtesgaden.  This one was SO HARD to find.  Our GPS was less than helpful, and the minimal signs we came across were confusing.  After quite a bit of mix-up, we eventually found it!  I still can't believe it- especially since it was miles away from where our GPS led us.

But yet again- stunning location!!!

Fun details in the stucco-work!

Our destination for the next day was the peaceful Konigssee.  It is an alpine lake surrounded by mountains so steep that not even a walking path borders the edge!  It's a popular tourist destination (especially on gorgeous weekend days like we experienced!) and a boat company offers rides halfway or all the way across the length of the sea.

Wonderful Bavarian architecture in the tourism area- way too amazing not to include in the post! :-)

Halfway down the length of the sea is a small church that's quite iconic and charming as well!

(Have you noticed the trend for onion domes here in Bavaria? :-))

We took our time and relaxed this day, so there was no getting up early to ensure that we arrived on the peninsula before the rush.  Like I mentioned before, it was a stunning day AND a weekend, so as you can imagine- everyone was out in full force. ;-)

The amazing thing was- the entire day still felt peaceful and secluded!  So relaxing and enjoyable- it certainly wasn't diminished at all by the other tourists. :-)

On the peninsula, a smokehouse prepares fresh fish, and boy did it smell heavenly!  We indulged in some smoked fish on baguettes and they lived up to the smell!

At the end of the Konigssee, there is a small isthmus of land separating Konigssee from Obersee, and it is an easy walk over.  The water was perfectly still and clear and the views were amazing!  Oh, and can you imagine living in that house on the other side of Obersee?  Talk about remote! ;-)

On our ride out, we had a very entertaining and energetic tour guide!  The entire boat was in stitches and he was hilarious!  Or at least, we assume he was hilarious.  The entire tour was in German, so all we could catch on to was the fact that everyone thought he was a riot. ;-)  Made me really wish I knew the language, because it seemed like it was very informative as well as being amusing! :-)

I think that was the one time on the trip where we really felt like foreigners.  The locals were always very helpful and friendly wherever we went, and frequently the language barrier wasn't an issue at all. (SO thankful that English has become such a universal language! We are totally spoiled...)

On our ride out, we sat in the only empty seats left on the boat, and they ended up being on the wrong side to take photos of the church.  I was a bit disappointed, but I figured it would be an easy matter to take photos on the way back.  Not so much.  By the time we were ready to head back to town, there was already such a line that we waited 50 minutes for a boat back!

In all that time, I had plenty of opportunity to think about the horrors of not getting a photograph. :-P  We had noticed several slight variations of boat styles, and since I had so much time to think about it, I formed my "ideal plan" and prayed that I would have a good attitude no matter what ended up happening. ;-)

My ideal situation was a boat with no windows in the back (so I didn't have to worry about opening them or getting any glare) and seats that faced front/back.  Another crucial aspect of the idea was that we would be first on the boat, so we could snag the right seats.  Or at least, very close to being first.  I clued in the whole family about the plan so my chances of getting a good seat were greater.

The boats actually seat quite a few people, so it can be very hard to tell which boat you'll make it on while you're waiting in line.  As we followed the line ahead of us, everyone was being herded into sardine-like spaces on the boat.  Oh no.  This is not good.  The entire time we got closer and closer to the boat, I kept getting more and more resigned to my lot.  It's OK.  It's just one church.

One amazing church.  On an alpine lake.  In Germany.  Yeah, maybe it's not that OK.... ;-)

As we neared the gate it looked like we'd be squeezed into the last remaining seats, but lo and behold- would you believe it- we were instead the very first people on the new boat!  I couldn't believe it.  And not only that- it was exactly the kind of boat I was hoping against hope for!  Speechless.  Such a gift!!  I think I enjoyed it even more for the anticipation and doubt that came before. :-)  At this point, all I had to worry about was getting blurry photos because I was so shocked I got exactly what I was hoping for!

One last fun fact about Konigssee- when we were watching "The Sound of Music" after returning home, we discovered that Konigssee makes an appearance!  In the opening landscape shots, there is an aerial view of it- you can tell by the shape and by the fact that you can even see a couple of these tour boats on it!  Another movie location to add to our list! ;-)


  1. Great pictures - thank you for sharing. We have never been to this particular area but it looks so beautiful.


  2. Those mountains are amazing! I like it when mountains are, well impressive, and the Alps certainly look like they live up to their reputation for being magnificent. The lake is so neat butting directly up against mountain cliffs. (Cue squealing)

    That was quite a gift God gave you with the boat ride. It can be those little mercies that are the most amazing to us.

    1. Yes, I love having little "lilies of the field/sparrow" moments like that- they really give you perspective! If He is listening and caring in trivial moments like this, how much more in the "important" issues of life??! :-)

  3. Such fun looking buildings and such gorgeous locations!

  4. Such sweepingly gorgeous landscapes and examples of old school (and old world!) architecture. Your travel posts are a feast for the eyes and fuel for one's daydreams. Thank you so much for each and every gorgeous one of them.

    Many hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

  5. Another excellent post.We went to the last church a couple of years ago with my cousins when we were staying in Salzburg.Happy travels.

    Heidi in L.A.

  6. Once again Lily, you are making me wish to travel to Europe! Your story about getting the "perfect" shot of the Church is hilarious. :D


    the Middle Sister and Singer

  7. Thank you all for your comments!! :-)



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