I am in love with Germany. The people are interesting and Bavaria at least, is breathtakingly beautiful. I have come to one conclusion that the people living in Bavaria (and maybe it’s true of all Germans) are crazy tough for one reason in my mind (and there are probably more reasons, a lot of fire wood around here), the Bier trinken und Wandern. I love the hiking and beer drinking, it is an amazing concept, but one that I am struggling with, maybe I just need more practice. Who can hike miles, drink beer and hike more or even just hike back to where one started? I just want to take a nap. We hiked to the Pürschling Haus Hutte today and then beyond, but our first stop was for lunch at August-Schuster-Hütte am Pürschling. There were a lot of hikers taking a break here (two hours at least from the trail head which was a forty-five minute hike from Oberammergau) and not one empty table or one table without some form of Bier on it.
My daughter and I went inside the hut to figure out lunch and ended up ordering drinks first. The area where you ordered your drinks was entirely separate from the food ordering area and happily for me the bartender spoke about as much English as I speak German and he was friendly (friendly Germans practice German with me). I am learning that this situation (as long as it’s no more serious than ordering Bier) is the most fun for me because I get to practice my German with someone practicing their English (so far most Germans speak perfect English). So as I am asking which beer is best, another friendly German guy in line behind me says Weissbier! So, I order Weissbier. He is so friendly that after he gets his drinks he comes and sits with us and starts telling us all about German Bier. They have options here: alcohol free beer, 1% alcohol and beer mixed with lemonade or cola, and probably other refreshing creations I have yet to learn about. He told us only people who drink the beer here for years can taste the difference between the alcohol free beer and the 1% and the regular beer. I guess it’s about the taste here as much as the effect?
Lunch Break was a glorious affair, sausages and pretzels and potato salad, and then it was decided that we would hike twenty minutes farther up the trail to see if we could make it to the highest point on the trail. Well, twenty minutes turned into about three hours and two summits and a new joke that when my husband says ten minutes, it actually means one hour. As we hiked up the no longer steep gravel road, but steep mountain trail with my head pounding from the Bier, I thought about how tough these German hikers are that drink Bier and continue on up (or down) the trail.
The kids are drinking Fanta…all drinks come in Beer mugs!
About twenty real minutes up the trail we saw our first cross of the day. It was on a steep, dangerous looking, giant rock promontory, and so of course we climbed it. The first thing I noticed was a beer bottle cap at the summit and the second thing I noticed was the people who hiked up behind us plopped themselves down (after impatiently waiting for us to take pictures) at the cross and cracked open two bottles of Bier. Dang, these people are hardcore! From that dangerous precipice, my husband and daughter spotted two more crosses and my husband says, “Hey, mama, which one do you want to go see?”
Let me pause here and talk about the crosses. There have been crosses at the summits of all of our hikes so far and you may be wondering, as I was, especially after today, what is with all off of those crosses? From the first promontory we summited today, we could see two other crosses and then we could see another in the distance (“twenty minute” hike probably) from the last peak we were on. So, I did a little research and learned that they are fittingly named, summit crosses (Gipfelkreuz) and mark the top of a mountain or hill, usually above the tree line. Sometimes there will be a register (Gipfelbuch) in a weatherproof case that you can sign (I love to see where all of the signers come from). The crosses are mainly found in Catholic regions of the Alps, especially in Austria, Switzerland and Bavaria, but also in America.
Now, back to the story, folks. Mama really wants to choose neither cross and then Mama wants to hike down the mountain and sit at the Kobelsattel park and listen to the kids play at the park and maybe enjoy a Bier when she doesn’t need to hike another five miles, but that is not an option. We have already hiked miles and we had better take advantage of that distance, so I point to the cross that looks less dangerous. “Okay,” my husband says, “that one is about twenty minutes away.” Two hours later we had summited the second peak and wrote our names in the guest book (must have been a serious summit since it had a guestbook) and were headed back down the mountain. It was steep and slow going and I was tired. Oh yes, but now it’s getting close to five o’clock, the time that I think the coasters close (because I kind of checked the schedule a few days ago). We jog towards Kobelsattel and make it on the last few coasters down the mountain. Today, I am not even nervous about the coasters, just very grateful that I don’t have to hike down the last two miles of the mountain. Isn’t it funny the difference a few days and a lot of miles make? The coasters look tame compared to the rock climbing events of the past few days.
We got off of the coasters and meandered across some meadows and right up to a wonderful smelling restaurant. Pizza was written on the wall in large white lettering. Yes, we would love some pizza and it was delicious and then we walked home across meadows and through meandering cobbled streets and played cards (Ashley won) and finally fell into bed. It was a good day.
WankaIm (Delicious Pizza and other menu items as well)
Kolbengasse 11, 82487 Oberammergau