The perfect end to the perfect trip

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May 7th 2018
Published: October 16th 2018
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You can't paint a prettier picture than thisYou can't paint a prettier picture than thisYou can't paint a prettier picture than this

Our final day finally gave us a clear view of the Watzmann mountain range.
Last day. It went too fast but we were gonna make the best of things.

We woke to the prettiest morning of the entire trip. Not a cloud in the sky and the bluest of skies greeted us down in the Frühstückzimmer. We tanked up with the usual assortment of goodies from the buffet making sure to only take as much as we could finish. Nothing for the road.

We were able to pull the car up closer to the hotel to load our bulging suitcases and bags of heretofore forgotten purchases in the backseat. No surprises with the hotel bill and our grateful appreciation to our hosts for an unforgettable stay. Add the Gashof Maria Gern to our list of fantastic accommodations in the Berchtesgaden area. We seem to stay in a new place every other visit but each new place is every bit as memorable as the places we can no longer afford.

We took the now familiar route back down off our mountain into downtown Berchtesgaden. We parked in the same place we had parked the night before. Back on Maximillianstrasse we walked down to the incredible Norbert Urlberger
Maria Gern churchMaria Gern churchMaria Gern church

This beautiful chapel was almost within touching distance o our hotel room balcony. And thankfully no one was ringing the church bells throughout the night like we've experienced elsewhere.
Spielwaren shop. This toy store is wall to wall uniquely German toys from wooden train sets, to Bavarian dolls, to German military plastic models, to Ertl diecast toys and every Playmobil playset you can imagine. We had a hard time picking just the right toys for our twin grandsons but we felt confident in our choice.

Heading back toward our car we stopped in the little souvenir/camera shop we gazed into the previous evening. The proprietor's prices were quite reasonable. We bought two wooden smokers and a nice supply of incense cones to use with them. I also purchased a little Bavarian beer drinking figurine for my man cave.

We stayed out of the haberdasher's since I have more hats than I'll ever need back at home.

We began our way back west toward Munich airport. The ride took us through more beautiful mountain scenery on the B21 highway. Eventually we came to the A8 Autobahn which we only used for a few minutes before exiting at Priem along the Chiemsee lake. My itinerary for today involved our taking a boat ride on the lake and stopping to explore the two historic islands.
Breakfast room decorBreakfast room decorBreakfast room decor

Each of the past 3 mornings at the Gasthof Und Hotel Maria Gern we enjoyed our sumptuous breakfasts in the Frühstückzimmer. Changing seats every day I was subjected to a different view each morning.

I was initially shocked when I saw that the parking lot next to the boat piers was full. When we had visited in Winters past we were able to park along the waterfront just a few feet from the tour boats. Now there was an immense parking area with over a hundred cars parked there. And we would have to pay to park this time.

Fortunately we were able to book passage on the next available boat. Instead of paying to just go to the Herreninsel which is where King Ludwig had constructed another one of his elaborate castle homes, we bought the two island pass which would also take us to the Fraueninsel.

The boat that took us out to the bigger island first was a beautiful old wooden ship that easily accommodated the 100 or so sightseers taking advantage of this picture perfect weather. The voyage took no more than twenty minutes. We let the throng of passengers scurry past us on their way to Ludwig's estate. Instead we took a detour through the souvenir shop adjoining the landing dock. There were some beautiful items for sale but we
Day Three and we finally get to park near the hotelDay Three and we finally get to park near the hotelDay Three and we finally get to park near the hotel

Despite being out in the middle of nowhere our hotel seemed to be busy every night. We had to park downhill about 50 yards away each night when we returned. We never really heard any noise from our neighbors but the breakfast room was usually close to full.
were shopped-out. We both felt that we were already in danger of excess baggage charges for the stuff we had been accumulating over the past two weeks.

Up a slight hill we spotted another historic looking building and walked over to investigate. A placard on the building indicated it had once been an Augustinian monastery. We seemed to be encountering one of these every day of the trip. There was a big open air restaurant next to it. When we spotted a table for two overlooking the lake we decided it was Beer Time again. It would be a long time until we got another chance to enjoy some good Hefeweizens so we pulled up a couple of chairs and soaked in the sun.

As usual one beer led to two. Then I decided I was hungry. Until now I hadn't had any desserts on this trip. The entrees had been more than enough for me. Sitting in the hot sun I needed to cool off. How better to bring down my core temperature than with a German banana split? It wasn't quite up to Dairy Queen or Friendly's standards (no cherries) but the
Riding down where no road should existRiding down where no road should existRiding down where no road should exist

Like a flying buttress extending from the side of a cathedral this road juts out from the side of a mountain with no visible signs of support. In the winter it must be a fantastic hill for sleigh-riding.
wafer cookie on top was a nice touch.

As we sat watching the boats out on the lake and the horse drawn carriages that hauled the lazier tourists the full kilometer (.7 miles) to the palace, we observed that the crowds just kept coming. I found this very strange for a Monday in early May. It wasn't a holiday or vacation season. It made no sense that this site was so crowded. Since we had taken the tour of the royal castle years before we briefly thought about going through again but then remembered how disappointing the experience had been. While the exterior of the palace and the gardens had been impressive the tour of the interior had only lasted about twenty minutes. Mad King Ludwig never completed decorating the rooms of this castle or Neuschwanstein. Too many projects going on at the same time put a severe drain on his and Bavaria's finances. Hence his apparent regicide death.

We decided to at least take a look at the palace grounds so we took the long walk in that direction. The path led us along a gravel road between carefully planted towering trees. It
I remember this noisy churchI remember this noisy churchI remember this noisy church

Years ago when we stayed in the center of Berchtesgaden our hotel was just across the street from this church. The bells seemed to ring all through the night.
was cool and shady as we hiked to the opposite side of the island. Along the way we saw numerous signs in German announcing the fact that this was a nature preserve. There was no wildlife to observe but plenty of trees and marshland.

When we reached the lush lavish gardens of Herrenchiemsee we were not disappointed. Not quite Versailles but impressive nonetheless. Although it was only the third week of Spring the flowers were all in bloom and the grass was emerald green. Unlike our Winter visit the water fountains were unboxed and operating. The water looked kind of green with algae but by mid-season I bet the thorough German grounds crew will have that all remedied.

We took a lap around the estate snapping photos of everything imaginable. When we were finished I suggested we take the carriage ride back to the boat landing. Not because I was being romantic but because my feet were getting extremely sore after two weeks of unaccustomed walking and driving.

When we reached the dock we had almost an half hour until the next boat game. We sat in the shade and fed
Bidding Auf Wiedersehen to BerchtesgadenBidding Auf Wiedersehen to BerchtesgadenBidding Auf Wiedersehen to Berchtesgaden

.After doing some last minute shopping in the downtown area we headed North from Berchtesgaden toward Munich airport. Maybe we should've done our Eagle's Nest visit on this cloudless morning.
the noisy ducks. I was able to lure them rather closely with pretzel bits I had with me. One drake even accepted food from the palm of my hand.

When the boat pulled in we hopped aboard and took seats in the open area. It was a very short trip to the Fraueninsel which we had never visited before. Here there was yet another religious retreat for us to observe. This turned out to be a convent yet we saw no nuns. We walked around the beautiful tree shrouded island for about an hour. I was surprised to see a couple of restaurants and guest houses here. Kind of an expensive boat ride to just go eat dinner. The monastic church was beautiful like all the others we had seen on this trip. In a country where so few people still attend church it's incredible to see how well-maintained these old buildings are.

After a walk through the church graveyard the path led us to the religious bookstore which carried quite a few rather elegant and exclusive items. The Kloster Liquor looked tempting as well as the gilded religious icons but we stuck to
They killed itThey killed itThey killed it

Last year on a student tour we were headed from Munich to Salzburg for the day. Traffic was incredibly slow. The usual hour and a half drive had taken almost 4 hours because of a Stau. The people on the bus desperately needed a break but the line for the single bathroom at this gas station was endless. Most of those on our bus instead used the cornfield which was just to the left of that blue awning. Today as we drove past the cornstalks were all gone and the field was nothing but dirt.
our own strict vows of not buying any more souvenirs. The store was doing a great business without our Euros.

Again we had to wait a few minutes for a boat back. The ride was superb. Once again we sat out in the open air under the bright sun. On the cold lake a mild breeze kept us comfortable as we silently watched the other tourists interacting on the trip back to shore. One might have thought they were Americans with their banter and joviality. I had a hard time trying to figure out which wife went with which guy. They seemed to know each other rather well. They were ver familiar with each other. Not the stereotypical aloof Germans. They got even rowdier as they downed more beer.

Back in Prien we had a bit of a problem figuring out how to pay for our parking but after watching others using the automated system we got it right. Normally the route from here to our last night's hotel, Gasthof Neuwirt, would utilize the A8 Autobahn. Remembering a couple of times being stuck in long traffic jams on that same road I decided to
Map of our lake cruiseMap of our lake cruiseMap of our lake cruise

I had hoped we could take the boat from Prien/Stock not only to the two islands but to the opposite shore of the Chiemsee. This early in the season we could only book passage on the islands round trip. It worked out well.
get to our destination using the back roads. After programming that route into the BMW's navigation system I was surprised to see that this would only cost us about 15 minutes even if the Autobahn were clear.

This itinerary took us through some very interesting Bavarian scenery along a two lane road. Stop lights and farm equipment slowed us at times but it remained a pleasurable experience. It was interesting to see how many different vegetables were being grown in the fields we passed. We reached the town of Halbergmoos just before dinner.

We absolutely love staying at this little inn just a few miles from Munich airport. This would be our third last night stay at Gasthof Neuwirt. Not only are the rooms quiet, comfortable and reasonably priced, but the restaurant serves fantastic dinners and an immense breakfast buffet. There's plenty of parking and right across the street is an automatic car wash.

After checking in and unloading some of our junk from the car, we drove across the street to the car wash. I had to walk inside the next-door gas station to purchase a ticket for the wash
Aboard the Love BoatAboard the Love BoatAboard the Love Boat

All the outside seating was taken but inside the boat there was plenty of room.
which was a little weird because my German is so limited. I must've done OK because the code on the receipt worked in opening up the car wash doors. The resulting cleaning process was one of the most thorough I had ever seen. Back home these automated washes spend maybe 3 minutes on your car whereas this German version sprayed, soaped, sprayed and dried our car for close to ten minutes. At least we learned our brand new vehicle didn't leak as we sat inside during that mini-hurricane of a wash.

We drove back over to the hotel where the huge parking lot was now almost completely full of cars. We dragged in the last of our luggage knowing that we had a big packing chore ahead of us after dinner.

When we went downstairs for dinner we were initially told we would have to wait for a table. The place was full. After I told them we were hotel guests they magically found us an outdoor table at their outdoor tables. Of course we started off with our preferred libation in a German Biergarten.

Once again we enjoyed delicious meals
Gail being pensiveGail being pensiveGail being pensive

Like me, my wife was not happy about this being our last day on vacation. Hopefully she is thinking about doing this again in a few years.
and soaked in the atmosphere. It seemed there was some sort of nerd convention going on which explained the lack of parking. A big table of more than a dozen techies sat at the table to my left while a big family celebrated their little daughter's birthday on my right. Once again I eschewed a dessert for another half liter of beer.

Somehow we were able to jam all those purchases into our suitcases along with almost all of our dirty clothes. I ended-up tossing my beat-up old sneakers and a pair of jeans that I bought at Costco for $12.00.

Breakfast the next morning was the best of the trip even though we were a bit hurried needing to get to the airport for our morning flight. The car drop-off at Loginout was simple and it was only a few steps from there to the ticket counter. Fearing our bags might be a tad over the limit I was careful to put them on the end of the scale while Gail distracted the ticket agent. We made it back home safely and without incident.

The best vacation ever.

Additional photos below
Photos: 60, Displayed: 30


Arrival at HerrenchiemseeArrival at Herrenchiemsee
Arrival at Herrenchiemsee

As far as I'm concerned two other people makes things too crowded. With the big group coming off our boat and all headed toward Ludwig's chateau Gail and decided to hang back for now.
Still more al fresco diningStill more al fresco dining
Still more al fresco dining

Even though we've visited Greece, Spain and Italy and other warm weather countries numerous ties, never have we had as many outdoor meals as we've had on this early May trip to Germany. My kind of weather - no temperature. Not hot, not cold.
Watching the FraueninselWatching the Fraueninsel
Watching the Fraueninsel

From our patio table we had a lovely view of the smaller of the two Chiemsee islands. Just to the right is the third island which is not on the boat's itinerary. It is named the Krautinsel because it was once used to grow cabbage for the other island's religious orders.
Oh to be rich and to be GermanOh to be rich and to be German
Oh to be rich and to be German

In my next life I want to be the owner of Siemens or BMW and own a sailboat on the Chiemsee. But if this guy's so rich why isn't he at work today?
German GatoradeGerman Gatorade
German Gatorade

There can be no better thirst quencher when the temperature climbs than a frosty cold Stein of Hofbrauhaus Bier. I never seem to feel the alcoholic effects of beer when we drink in Germany. I think I get a natural buzz just being there.
Sundae in BavariaSundae in Bavaria
Sundae in Bavaria

My one and only dessert on this trip. It tasted even better than it looks despite the lack of a cherry on top.
Tempting but not our thingTempting but not our thing
Tempting but not our thing

The Germans make some very pretty baked items but we find the main courses so delicious and filling that we never even think about ordering any sweets. For us the beer is our dessert
Like a scene from "The Wizard of Oz"Like a scene from "The Wizard of Oz"
Like a scene from "The Wizard of Oz"

These trees on the walkway toward Herrenchiemsee palace were cut in a very unusual way. They looked fake. Imagine walking out here alone in the dark under those monstrosities.
This Hill is Alive with the Sound of MagnusThis Hill is Alive with the Sound of Magnus
This Hill is Alive with the Sound of Magnus

This is pretty much what I expect Heaven to look like.

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