Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Monday, February 18, 2013

An American in Germany / Part # 22 / Lake Königsee-3

GAPP Exchange Journal 2012
Tour of Lake Königsee / Return Voyage

Boat Emerging from Lake Königsee
Our boat sailed back across the lake giving me a replay of all the beautiful sights I had previously encountered.  We stopped briefly at St. Bartholomä to pick up additional passengers wishing to return back to Königsee and within minutes the boat was filled to capacity.  We cast off for the final leg our our journey with less than an hour remaining before I was scheduled to be picked up by the big rock thingy... kind of near McDonald's!  After coming ashore I had a few minutes to rehydrate with an ice cold Coca-Cola Light and explore the shops along the way with exterior merchandise on display.  Many people were browsing through the traditional clothing store selling authentic women's dirndl and men's lederhosen along with hats and every accessory you would ever need.  There were several vendors selling salt lamps, a popular souvenir with a unique Berchtesgaden twist.  The lamps are carved from a large chunk of mineral rock salt taken from one of the local mines.  The center of the rock chunk is hollowed out to make room for a light bulb, which causes the salt to glow with a pinkish or bight orange hue.  I was tempted since they were reasonably priced but wasn't sure how fragile it was or if the lamp would survive the long flight home in a suitcase.  There were also traditional hand carved wooden cuckoo clocks and birdhouses, along with the standard postcards, key chains, t-shirts, and you can guess the rest.  The souvenir shops were complimented by every variety of food imaginable, which was extremely tempting but I passed them by to make sure my ride home hadn't arrived early.

Shops Along the Walkway of Königsee
Following a few brief pit stops along the walkway, I went directly to our meeting spot not wanting my hosts to have to wait for me.  However, the Mittermeier clan or their BMW wagon were nowhere to be seen.  I wanted to stay close by so I wouldn't miss them but I was also very hungry by this point.  I needed to get something to eat and fast but could I really stoop so low as to go the route of fast food?  The previously mentioned McDonald's was about fifty yards behind me on the extreme edge of the Königsee parking area and was beginning to look more alluring my the minute.  The only other quick option was to get another bratwurst from the sidewalk vender who was even further away but... been there done that twice already.  In all honesty, I was a little curious to see how well the Germans could duplicate the finest American fast food cuisine on the planet.  Before I could stop myself I was following my stomach across the parking lot toward the home of the Golden Arches and the big creepy clown himself, Ronald McDonald.  I had been eating the traditional foods for nearly two straight weeks and thought it might be nice to get a little taste of home in the form of a quintessential franchise quality burger and fries.  I walked through the door and aside from a few decorative differences, I was indeed within a little satellite embassy of the United States.  Here, I could order from the overhead menu without hesitation as Big Mac translates in any language to... Big Mac!

Ronald McDonald Bavarian Style
I ordered my usual meal by number and you can't help but appreciate the simplicity and efficiency of a fast food restaurant, which often runs as good as a high quality Swiss watch.  I encountered three noticeable differences during my Bavarian fast food experience, starting with the option of choosing between two different style fries, American or Regular.  I went with the American choice, assuming they would be the standard version but instead, was served thick cut steak fries.  Otherwise the food seemed identical to their counterparts on the other side of the Atlantic.  The other two differences dealt with the physical design of the building, most likely due to cultural differences.  The McCafe coffee house was a separate entity from the food restaurant part of McDonald's.  Although the two were joined together in the same building, they were separated by an interior wall with their own individual entrances.  So if you wanted a cup of coffee to compliment your hot apple pie to go, you had to venture next door and get in line again.  And finally, there was a large outdoor seating area resembling McDonald's attempt to incorporate the traditional local biergarten flair into the property's design.  I purchased my meal with cash since few businesses in Germany seem to accept debit or credit forms of plastic payment and took a seat outside so I could watch for my ride.  The seats were crowded with patrons from both halves of the McDonald's / McCafe franchise and seemed to be enjoying the foreign American fare, complimented by the amazing mountain views.

 My View While Eating a Big Mac
One downside to my dining experience outdoors was most people sitting around me were smoking cigarettes to compliment their meal.  During my experience in Germany, I noticed cigarette smoking seemed to be a much more common practice than in the United States.  I guesstimate more than half of the people I met were at least casual smokers compared with approximately 5% of the people I know, work, and associate with back home.  The steak cut fries were ok but I missed the shoestring style that is the standard healthy vegetable side-dish served with a number one from the extra value menu.  I ate my fast food fast, as I suddenly had the uncomfortable feeling I was doing something wrong, maybe even illegal!  The clock was approaching 4:00 and I hoped Klaus and company would show up on time since a storm had been gathering and was looking more ominous by the minute.  Large dark grey storm clouds began spilling over the top ridge of the Alps and concealed the familiar sharp outline of the mountain peaks.  I left McDonald's and moved over to a bench that had become available up against the large rock formation at the edge of the parking lot  and hoped the rain would hold off a little longer.  I was soon joined by a family of four who spoke fluent English with a unique accent.  We exchanged pleasantries and they turned out to be from Minnesota, visiting relatives in Bavaria.  My second interaction with full blooded Americans encountered during my travels in Germany.  As if on cue, as the clock struck 4:00, the familiar Mittermeier family car came into view.  I was greeted with large smiles from my hosts who all seemed relived their package was still in one piece.  Against all odds, I had not gotten lost, fallen into the lake and drown, and had made it back to the rendezvous point on time.  We sped off toward home, managing to outrun the storm, leaving several impressive flashes of lightning in our wake.

Storm Clouds Spill Over the Alps
We gave each other the play by play of our adventures and all the amazing things we witnessed along the way.  I didn't tell them I ate at McDonalds, which I doubt the Mittermeiers frequented very often, in fact, most likely never!  I was glad that I stayed at sea level today since I heard the hike was somewhat challenging for a few rookies who went along and only made the midway point of the climb.  I would have most likely joined them!  Lake Königsee was one of the most amazing places I have ever visited and was probably the main highlight of my entire trip.  It seemed almost every other day, my host Andy was asking me to determine what place I liked best so far, wanting me to compare and contrast each adventure and pick an overall favorite.  I never gave him a straight answer because to be perfectly honest, I really wasn't sure.  However, after returning home and having some time to let in all sink in, Königsee was special, magnificent in every way.  I also think I enjoyed going out solo, exploring, and discovering on my own in a foreign land.  We still had a long ride home and even though I didn't go hiking high up in the Alps, I had been walking all around the lake for at least five hours and I was starting to feel worn out.  Sitting down in the comfortable leather seats of the BMW, with the hum of the engine, and the rolling motion of the road, I suddenly hit the wall!  Within ten minutes Rosi, Linda and her son in the back seat were fading fast but Klaus was still somewhat charged and alert, as only he could be.  It was a good thing since he had to stay focused on the twisting mountain roads for the next hour and a half.  I fought sleep to keep Klaus company and we talked most of the way home as he entertained me with adventurous stories of the beautiful mountains he loves so much. 
Twisting Roads of Southeast Bavaria
The weekend was now over and what an amazing two days of exploration and discovery it had been, traveling to the city of Passau on Saturday followed by Lake Königsee on Sunday.  The next morning it was back to school, followed by a walk downtown with Andy and Wendy to visit Altötting and have some lunch.  We stopped by a little cafe where we had been before, located right on the far edge of the Church Plaza.  What to order... Once again I was looking for something different.  On the other hand, yesterday I evaluated how Germany did McDonald's... so I was suddenly wondering how they did pizza.  The cafe had multiple selections of personal sized small pizzas and with the help of my dual translation team, I ordered a Bavarian / Italian style pizza.  My hometown seems to have an abundance of banks and pizza joints and both businesses seem to offer very similar items across the board within their individual domains.  As far as pizza goes, taste and preference matters a lot less than how far you feel like driving or if you have a coupon that hasn't expired yet.  The personal sized mini pizza was delivered to the table and had a unique foreign appearance, unfamiliar throughout my extensive past pizza consumption.  The crust was flat and appeared to be covered with a variety of delicatessen meats and cheeses native to Europe. The large slices of pepperoni, salami, and ham were complimented by mushrooms, onions, and some type of long slender banana peppers.  It tasted amazing, hands down the best pizza I have ever eaten in my life and after returning home, I began a unsuccessful quest beyond the borders of my hometown of Lititz, PA to find something comparable.
Altötting Does Pizza Awesome!
After having the afternoon off to rest, relax, and recharge in my attic flat at the Galneder Family home back in Tüßling, I was told we were all invited over to the home of Angela's parents for a special supper.  I had heard about the legendary culinary skills of Angela's father Erwin Schadhauser more than once and was looking forward to the chance to experience his cuisine in person.  The Schadhauser family lived a short distance away from the Galneder home within Tüßling on the other side of the main road that cut through town.  Andy and Angela have a great situation with two sets of retired parents who are more than willing to provide child care to free mom and dad up for a night off.  Tonight Leo and Amelie had gone downstairs to Andy's parents and I later learned that poor little Leo wasn't feeling too well.  The Schadhauser residence was the traditional Bavarian white stucco structure accented with richly stained natural woods.  As I may have mentioned before, homes in Bavaria are expensive to build but are rock solid and constructed with the highest quality materials.  The terracotta roof tiles last a lifetime but are heavy and need a solid foundation underneath to support their weight.  The oversize decorative front door was solid wood and about four inches thick and must have weighed several hundred pounds.  Nothing is made of plastic, particle board, or drywall.  We walked straight through the beautiful house to the enclosed back porch and into the backyard.  Mr. Schadhauser was sporting a black apron embroidered with letters that spelled out Grillmeister or Grill Master.  He had a tripod set up supporting a cast iron pot simmering over an open wood fire.  Village famous chef, Erwin Schadhauser of Tüßling East, was cooking up a batch of his famous old world goulash.
Backyard Chef Erwin Schadhauser
(Image Credit / Wendy Andrews)
Klaus had driven Wendy over to join the party and Angela's two brothers and some friends also were in attendance.  The bulk of the Schadhauser backyard and accompanying flower gardens were actually off to the side of the house because a few feet off the back deck was a small canal-like stream.  The other side of the canal was cloaked with green foliage but a small bridge spanned the water.  It was a very peaceful scene, further expressed when a family of ducks swam by on their merry way against the slow current.  I asked if they ever worried about flooding but the stream was actually some sort of canal where water could be diverted around town during major rain events.  Erwin said rumor has it the canal only truly floods once every century.  Chef Erwin went to his task putting the finishing touches on his stew that looked and smelled delicious.  Within minutes we were brought inside by Angela's mother Marie to the enclosed porch, which had large glass windows from floor to ceiling on all sides, giving the feeling we were still outside.  The sun room had a large simple heavy wooden table set with dishes and we all took our seats as Erwin began to serve his goulash and loaves of crusty bread made their way around the table.  Marie pushed open several of the large window walls, which rolled on tracks to open the space to let the cool evening breeze inside.  The sun room converted into a open porch in seconds!  Erwin proudly dished out his goulash giving me the first plate as the guest of honor and I was happy to announce to the group how delicious it tasted.  Food, drink, and conversation flowed freely around the table but I noticed Angela and Andy had suddenly disappeared.  Apparently, Angela had suddenly felt ill and Andy had taken her home.  Since she was expecting, I assumed it was related to her pregnancy.  However, little Leo had brought home a bug from kindergarten that would slowly conquer the entire extended family!  
Peaceful Tüßling Canal
Please stayed tuned for the next installment of our adventure!


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