Stories of this Canadian girl's adventures exploring Europe...join me!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

a king, some dwarves, and a beer or two.


As dad drove us from the Salzburg train station, back into Germany, towards his hometown of Oberau-Berchtesgaden, he pointed towards the mountain looming in front of us.  ‘That’s Unterberg’, he said, ‘King Barbarossa lives up there’.  I said, ‘Really? There is still a king here…and where exactly does he live? Is there a castle up there?’.  My dad turned to me, with a look that said, ‘Oh my’, and said, ‘No, of course not.  ‘They’ say he lives up there with a bunch of dwarves…and that he never died.’  Ahhh…dwarves.  Right.  

Well my dad got it wrong.  Legend has it, that on this mountain, Kaiser Karl, not Barbarossa, who was born in 742 and ruled Germany by encouraging the arts and education and science, now lives on Untersberg praying for peace and happiness for his folk.  There are also dwarves.  Apparently, as legends go, dwarves live on every mountain, but on Untersberg they run amok.  Lots and lots of dwarves, running about at night doing good deeds in the towns below. 

As great guy and I spent hours hiking the Almbachklam, a canyon cutting kilometers deep into Untersberg, we saw not a single dwarf or king.  We hiked for a couple of hours into the dark, narrow canyon, at times so narrow we were ducking under large overhanging slabs of rock, with raging water careening down beside us.  Incredible rock formations.  The power of water is unbelievable and so beautiful. 

We then hiked straight up the side of the canyon, taking a short cut, and popped out onto the most glorious alm wiese (mountain meadow), spectacularly green filled with tiny, yellow, meadowy flowers.  All around us were the higher mountains still firmly snow-covered.  The sun was blazing upon us, as we came upon a bergkirche (mountain church), large and serene…I thought what a trek to go to church every Sunday, even if it is incredibly beautiful up here…and then I saw the road.

At the bottom of the canyon is a marble mill, where the waterpower is captured to smooth out chunks of rock into marbles of all sizes.  Since 1683, marbles have been made here and shipped to small children around the world.  I bought a marble…great guy thought I needed some more.

In the evening, meeting up with dad, stepmum, my aunt and uncle, we relaxed in a biergarten (beer garden) under the cover of blooming cherry and linden trees.  We ate schnitzel and spätzle, knödel and schweinshaxen, and kaiserschmarn.  Yum.  And drank weizen beer and more weizen beer.  Yum yum.

Great guy is now obsessed with the ‘klam, as he now calls it, and honestly I’m a little obsessed with the dwarves.  We’ll be back in Bavaria soon, to hike, to drink a beer or two, and to do a little dwarf-hunting.
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