Berchtesgaden...so much more than the guidebooks let on
Berchtesgaden Travel Blog› entry 1 of 8 › view all entries
September 29-30, 2009
I was coming to Berchtesgaden because my father put it in my head a year before that I should check it out. We are both World War II history buffs and on the European front, Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) falls under a must-see. In all the guide books that I read before leaving, the only information given is that it’s the home to the Kehlsteinhaus and that Lake Königssee is just up the road. What it fails to tell you, are the amazing hikes to take, the National Park Museum, the quaint charm the local part of the town has and how there is an amazing view around every corner.
I took the train into Berchtesgaden from Salzburg. It was a short ride, but scenic nonetheless. I dropped my bag off in a locker at the station and crossed the street to the tourist office. I needed to find a place to stay and information on the Kehlsteinhaus. I walked in wearing a Leinenkugel’s Beer shirt and was looking at brochures waiting for the girls at the desk to be free. A guy comes up to me and asks if I’m from Wisconsin, like him. I let him know that I was and ask where he’s from.
“Oh, I’m from a small called Shawano, you?”
“I’m from an even smaller town called Wabeno.”
We both got a laugh out of it, as we’re from towns not that far away from each other. He and his wife were on their 4th or 5th trip to Berchtesgaden so he went right into telling me everything that I would “like.” I let him know that I was looking for a place to stay and hoping the tourist office would be able to help me find a place. He recommended the Hotel Demming, their favorite place to grab a bite to eat in town. They were staying in the Hotel Bavaria down the road, mainly because it offered rooms with hot tubs, which is what they needed after the miles upon miles of hiking they were doing each day.
So the Hotel Demming has to be one of the quaintest, coziest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. It’s a total Ma and Pa stand—the owner was running the front desk, the daughter was the waitress in the restaurant and they personally cooked the continental breakfast in the morning. When I came in the owner gestured if I was the one they called about. I let her know that I was and she handed me a key to the room and pointed me in the right direction. No paying in advance, no holding a credit card (turns out they didn’t accept cards), etc. All the reservation info was to be filled out in the room. I got up to my room, unloaded my stuff and headed out to see what Berchtesgaden had to offer.
I started out by walking around the main business district, which overlooks the rest of the city. I did everything from explore an old cemetery to shop for traditional German wear. I learned that most of the town businesses don’t accept credit cards, so I found the bank with the ATM and withdrew my money then so I wouldn’t run into any trouble. I decided to head to Lake Königssee just before dusk to check it out. It’s a quick boat ride up from the town, but I learned pretty fast that it’s better to get their before 6 pm, as all of the businesses around the Lake shut down then. I walked around for a bit and then headed to the only place open—McDonald’s, to grab a bite to wait for my bus. When I got in there, I realized this would be my first meal in Germany and no way was it going to come from a McDonald’s. I opted for some ice cream instead.
I headed back into town to grab a beer before retiring for the night. I was excited to check out the Kehlsteinhaus the next day.