Spitzingsee – Tegernsee – Schliersee open-air museum – Bayrischzell/Wendelstein – Samerberg – Aschau
What a sight! From my balcony room in the Arabella Alpenhotel at Spitzingsee, I look out over the lake, the hotel’s namesake. Wafts of mist are still drifting over the surface of the water, while the mountain peaks above are already bathed in the light of the rising sun.
Breakfast will have to wait a bit, because nature is calling and pushing me outside. I get my second e-motorised companion, a Metz e-scooter, out of the boot of the Audi and ride along the lakeside promenade. It’s a delight to explore the lakeshore this way. Soon the hotel buildings are behind me and I glide silently along in untouched nature directly on the lakeshore. The three-kilometre path around the lake, idyllically situated at 1,084 metres above sea level, is closed to cars and offers a perfectly solitary and natural experience this morning. Of course, I also walked a few metres.
Even though I didn’t burn many calories on my scooter, the impressive tour still made me hungry. The gourmet breakfast buffet at the Arabella Alpen Hotel Spitzingsee is well prepared to satisfy this hunger. And so I enjoy one or two delicacies with a big appetite, also to fortify myself for another sunny autumn day. From Spitzingsee back along the steep spur road, recuperating of course, i.e. recovering the braking energy as energy for the battery, causing less brake wear and less particulate emissions, I am already back on the German Alpine Road with a few more electrons in the battery. I now follow it in the direction of Schliersee, because my next appointment on the Wendelstein is not planned until the afternoon.
The two parade lakes of Upper Bavaria were simply missed out yesterday. I should also definitely make a detour to Markus Wasmeier’s open-air museum at Schliersee on the recommendation of yesterday evening’s round table.
But first, leaving Schliersee on the left, we went to Rottach-Egern. Noble boutiques are lined up there, traditional costumes in all forms from traditional to garish, souvenirs, home accessories. Tegernsee is known to attract the rich and beautiful in particular. Visible in the many boutiques and shops in the upper price segment. Many “Zuagroaste” (“Zugereiste”) have their second homes in the best locations around the lake. Not always to the delight of the locals, as I heard. I took a few more snapshots at the lake, of course with a view of the Malerwinkel, and then headed back towards Schliersee.
Right at the southern end of Schliersee, I stop at the car park of the open-air museum. With this old Bavarian village, Markus Wasmeier has realised his vision of recreating the living traditions of the region in an impressive and lively way. Four old farms and a handful of other rural buildings – some of them over 300 years old – have been lovingly brought together and rebuilt by the ski legend. Brewing beer, baking bread, blacksmithing, woodturning and edelweiss carving are just a few of the activities you can take part in and be transported back to the old days. Here you can feel and taste the Bavarian homeland, says Markus Wasmeier when he talks about his life’s work. The museum village is not just a showpiece, it is alive, be it through active craftsmen, as a place for festivals and events and of course also with a glass of home-brewed museum beer or the enjoyment of home-made specialities.
The fact that modern times and sustainability are also an issue in the museum is explained to me by Markus, one of Markus Wasmeier’s three sons, who, like all family members, contributes to the success of the museum village in addition to their own projects. Sustainability already began with the construction of the old courtyards, where stones were used in rows instead of concrete foundations. His father was also an early user of the “electric bike”, i.e. a pedelec rider, and he, the son, had already written a technical paper on the subject of e-bikes at business school.
I am amazed. In general, the whole family is very open to the topic of renewable energy and e-mobility. Above all, it makes a lot of sense in an urban environment. As a pioneer, they have had mixed experiences with two charging points for e-cars, especially because of their costs. Directly at the museum entrance there are charging points with safes for the charging cables for charging e-bikes. The basic load for the area could be covered by the photovoltaic system, the heat supply by means of a heat pump. However, since they are in their original state, there is no electricity in the farmhouses, except in the inn “Zum Wofen”. And on my next visit, I would definitely have to take a longer look at the current exhibition “Electricity through the ages” in the Lukashof (one of the four large main buildings in the museum village).
With the support of the regional energy service provider Bayernwerk, a journey through the history of electricity has been visualised in this old farmhouse. Original kitchens from 1900 to the 1970s illustrate the technical progress in the household.
We talk about the pros and cons of training as an industrial designer, about Elon Musk’s Star Link project, and that heat pump technology could be used very well in the mountains to generate heat. When we touch on the topic of climate change and his personal experience with the changing snowfall cycles, Markus says that in this context it might be interesting to visit his paternal grandmother, who has kept a weather diary since 1975, of course with Bavarian phrases such as “sauwarm” instead of “sehr heiß”. Again, enough material for a “special”. I say goodbye, because the next destination, the Wendelstein, is waiting.
Ten kilometres east of Schliersee, the German Alpine Road passes the Wendelstein, a 1,838-metre-high, striking mountain knob that is one of the best-known lookout mountains in the Bavarian Alps. At 60 metres high, the red-and-white transmission mast of the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation puts a modern-day crown on the “Stoa”. Since 1954, Germany’s highest-altitude base network transmitter has guaranteed television and radio coverage in southern Bavaria.
After the suspended ride to the top station, I am amazed at the distant view, which reaches as far as the Zugspitze on one side and the Wilder Kaiser on the other. Behind them, no less than 200 Alpine peaks line up. Which is why the Wendelstein viewing platform was quite rightly named “Gacher Blick” (“gach” in Bavarian means something like “fierce” or “wild”). But the Wendelstein is also home to Germany’s highest church, a cave, a small Wendelsteinbahn museum and an observatory. And of course the Wendelsteinhaus, opened in 1883, Bavaria’s first high-mountain accommodation with overnight stays.
Here, as agreed, I meet Claudia Steimle from Wendelsteinbahn GmbH.
We take advantage of the glorious sunny day and sit down for the conversation on one of the many free beer benches, where otherwise hundreds of mountain-hungry visitors have a snack. Corona sends its regards here, too. We have plenty of space and plenty of sun. It really does seem to be an “electric day” and so I learn from Claudia Steinle that in addition to the electric pioneer Oskar von Miller, the creator of the Walchensee power station, whom I already know, a certain Otto von Steinbeiss also realised his vision of electric applications in 1912, including the electrically powered rack railway up the Wendelstein. Since that time, the rack railway has been taking tourists uphill and downhill from Brannenburg. Since that time, recuperation has also worked its “wonders” on the descent. The braking energy is fed back into the grid and 75 % of the energy needed for the ascent is recovered. The more tourists take advantage of the culinary offerings in the restaurants at the top of the mountain, the heavier the masses to be braked would become and the more recuperated energy would flow back into the grid, my interlocutor says with a mischievous laugh.
The energy for operating the railway comes from three hydroelectric power plants, fed from the mountain streams in the surrounding area. You can still book the Wendelsteinbahn’s electricity today. As an energy supplier, the Wendelsteinbahn GmbH also operates the e-charging stations at the valley station and in the community. I also learn that the demand for wall boxes for electric cars is increasing, especially in the new residential areas.
The gondola is waiting and once again, richly gifted by wonderful panoramic views and an informative conversation in bright sunshine, I say goodbye and take the gondola down into the valley.
The gondolas of the WendelsteGelandet! I get back on the ground and get into the car. It takes me to Bayrischzell, just around the corner, so to speak. The small town with its needle-pointed church tower nestles in the flat valley floor, with the mighty Wendelstein towering over it. And I happily enjoy the Sudelfeld mountain range, which my e-tron is now allowed to heat up for once, so that the electrons just whiz. This veritable mountain route catapults me up to 1,124 metres in no time at all, and the German Alpine Road even impresses here with a 17 percent gradient. The Sudelfeld already offered a ski area when the German Alpine Road was founded in the 1930s, and it was later perfectly developed. If you look closely at the retaining walls and bridges, you can see that this was one of the early construction sections of the holiday road, as natural stone was used here instead of concrete.inbahn are powered by green electricity from three hydroelectric power plants.
With the white limestone ridge of the Kaisergebirge as a target marker, I continue eastwards and reach the Tatzelwurm. The name of this snake-like mythical creature was very aptly chosen for the following stretch of road, as it now winds steeply down into the Inn Valley. Although the German Alpine Road was planned from the beginning as a holiday road and was therefore routed with sufficient width, I actually come to narrower places here. Attention to the road is required in this segment of the German Alpine Road. I reach Samerberg via Brannenburg and further on via Nußdorf. I choose the direct route over the Samerberg and am rewarded with jagged views of the Kaiser Mountains. After Frasdorf, Aschau im Chiemgau comes my way, where I will spend the night today at the Heinz Winkler Residence. Heinz Winkler is Germany’s most awarded top chef, who has also made a name for himself internationally. After leading the Munich restaurant Tantris to three Michelin stars, the star chef bought a medieval house in the heart of Aschau in 1991 and turned it into a luxurious residence and gourmet temple. Here, too, Winkler received the coveted three Michelin stars among many other awards.
I immediately move into my garden suite in the Residenz and first sink into the deck chair on the terrace, the Kampenwand in front of me, paragliders hovering in the bright blue sky above me, launched from the great rock face where they could go up directly from Aschau by cable car.
I would love to meet my host Heinz Winkler today, who, like the 200-million-year-old Kampenwand, 1,669 metres high, is also an integral part of Aschau. To my great surprise, the master even lets me look into his realm. Quiet commands from the chef de cuisine, barely audible answers from his kitchen brigade, an atmosphere of utmost concentration in this workshop of “haute cuisine”. Immediately perceptible: this is where excellent craftsmanship and creativity meet in perfection. Almost imperceptibly, but nevertheless decisively, the chef beckons me to him and explains to me the “French cut” on the cross-roasted duck that has just been handed to him, the cutting technique that makes the fine difference and ensures that the meat of the roasted bird remains juicy.
Heinz Winkler has promised me another talk tomorrow, which will also be about sustainability. And for today there is an invitation to his gourmet restaurant, which of course I can’t resist.
You can also live like God in France on the German Alpine Road.
Text and pictures: Elmar Thomassek