Coming to Germany, we thought we ought to contact some friends of ours to see if we’d get the chance to meet up before our weekend in Mittenwald.
Stefan and Meike and their son Beno were new friends. We’d done a bit of our journey in Morocco with them (see our blog: Our First Few Steps Into Africa; Chefchaouen, Morocco and Volubilis, Meknes And The Atlas Mountains). They’d told us a lot about their home, their town, Tübingen. A vibrant and picturesque student town. They’d told us to come and visit them some time if we were anywhere near.
We didn’t have much time between now and meeting our friends in Mittenwald, but we could not not contact them. To, at least, give them the chance to say “yes” or “no”. If we’d come so close to it without stopping by, I knew I wouldn’t be able to tell them that we’d been so close without calling them.
Luckily, they were not only able to meet up with us, but opened their apartment to us. We stayed overnight and even had our own bed! They made us feel very welcome. They made us feel at home. It was so nice to see them in their environment; the place they know, where they feel comfortable and relaxed. Even though, we visited during the week, they were able to make time for us and be our very own private city-tour guides. We had time to look around before heading on to Mittenwald. It was Tübingen-in-a-nutshell. We loved it. It had a very nice relaxed vibe. Amazing architecture. Many pedestrians and cycle-friendly lanes and streets.
We must have walked a long way together from their flats to the University area, then into the centre for the best falafel in the Whole of Europe (Die Kichererbse)! Having been to Turkey and other places, we can now say Stefan that it still is the best falafels we’ve had! We walked up to the castle and back down. We stopped for a break to the best coffees in town at Il Dolce before walking back through the park. Thank you Stefan and Meike for such a great time!
|Meike, Jamie and Stefan on our very own private tour of Tübingen.|
|One of the university buildings, part of the zoology department hence the graffiti.|
|One of the old Tübingen University buildings.|
|The boys in front of some of the many Tudor-style apartments in the city. Not sure if Jamie's really listening to Stefan...|
|The lovely colourful fruits & vegetables market.|
|The old centre with its cobbled streets, narrow lanes and squares's very easy to navigate.|
|Construction work and repairs were being done on the main square.|
|Me (Sylvie) and Stefan.|
|Hohentübingen Castle gate formerly built in 1050 for the Counts of Palatine of Tübingen, now used by the University.|
|The view from the top.|
|Time for "photo ops'". You only need a fortress for men to become boys again...|
|Is it Christopher Columbus and Thomas Cook?|
|Cute Beno, a little bit overwhelmed by his new visitors stood next to an example of "Yarn Bombing", the knitting graffiti art.|
|Meike and Beno.|
|Walking back towards Meike and Stefan's apartment through the park.|
|A car & truck-free tunnel and safe haven for cyclists and pedestrians.|
|Back to the apartment.|
Time for a long weekend with some of our best friends! Lara and Daz had kindly booked the campsite for us all. Camping Walchensee was beautifully located by lake Walchensee, hence its name and down by the mountain of Heimgarten. The campsite was only a few minutes walk away from the small town of Walchensee lined with a couple of restaurants/bars.
Being a holiday weekend, the campsite was very busy when we arrived late morning to set camp. Fortunately, we managed to park Izzy, the motorhome next to the tent area at the entrance of the campsite – Lara, Daz, Steve, Lisa and Wayne were all driving from Munich with tents, food and drinks! Our first night was spent sampling some of the beers, Lara and Daz had packed and the ones from Seestüberl on Seestrasse 62. We all gathered back and took shelter in the motorhome.
|Our spot (site number two) at the entrance of Camping Walchensee, by the tents area.|
|With our friends! From left to right: Lara, Daz, Steve, Jamie and Wayne.|
|And the drinking starts! Oh dear... Do I sound like an alcoholic?!|
|Lake Walchensee in the rain and mist.|
|Umbrellas and raincoats are on!|
|A nice example of some of the Tyrol-style chalets in the village and the region.|
|Beer-o'clock at Seestüberl, one of the few restaurants in the village of Walchensee.|
|Lara and Wayne.|
|Some of us need a little bit more layers on and hot beverages...|
|Blurry action in Izzy, the motorhome, where everybody's taken refuge. The van's never been so full!|
|Is it sleeping time soon?|
Lara, being from Munich, had spent a lot of weekends in Mittenwald. She’d prepared a few things for us to do together depending on the weather. Our first activities were a nice walk around the lake followed by a visit to the E-On hydroelectric plant museum. The plant serves electricity to the whole region since 1940. It is quite a feat of engineering and interesting to see.
Lara had planned for us to visit the Franz Marc museum next, but a few of us were feeling quite under the weather after our drinking session! Even though I enjoy art museums I knew I couldn’t do it. I was tired and probably needed some food. We split up then, Daz and Lara continued on to the museum and the rest of us got a bus back to the small town. We ended up eating out at the bar/restaurant Seestüberl where we drank the previous night.
As we went out early, I baked my own late birthday cake, a Victoria sponge! It was quite amazing how a cake can be finished so quickly when there’s seven of us rather than the usual two! We had a great laugh and chats again in the van.
|Formerly a movie set, this Viking-style village by lake Walchensee is now a free open-air museum.|
|Horses on the side of the road to the E-On Museum.|
|Quite an impressive display civil engineering.|
|From left to right: Steve, Lara, Lisa, me (Sylvie), Daz and Wayne.|
|Today too, it still rains a little and fog comes along.|
|Time for some food at Seestüberl. (Me and Jamie).|
|Lisa and Steve.|
|The birthday cake! Victoria sponge with cream cheese filling and fresh strawberries.|
I must have misheard what our “hike” was going to be and/or how challenging it was going to be. Lara had advised us all to bring different gears such hiking boots before we were all going to meet up. With the alcohol we’d been drinking over the weekend, I hadn’t given the hike much thought. We started around 11am, a little bit later than what Lara had anticipated... After a few hundred meters up, I thought this was going to be hard and strenuous. The summit of Heimgarten was at 1790m. About a thousand meters higher up than we were.
Straight away, our group was broken up in pairs. Jamie and I were at the front with Lara and Daz. I walked for a while on my own whilst Jamie went on with Steve. Later on, I spent time with Lisa at the back. Sweaty and puffing, it was a hard, but nice way to talk and make each other laugh to motivate ourselves. More than half way up after three hours walking, we knew we wouldn’t be able to walk across the top of the range and back down to the valley. The trail was too long. We had to catch the cable car down. But the question was, would we be able to catch the last one down?
As we arrived at the top (1790m) and sat down outside the Heimgarten bar, we knew we didn’t have much time, but we still had a long enough break to take a few pictures and enjoy the dramatic landscape. The most hardcore between us all ordered beers by the way instead of hot drinks! Well earned fuel to keep us going before we’d all crumble and fall asleep. The next stretch felt easy and on-top-of-the-world as we crossed the range to the cable car, five to ten minutes before it was due to go down! The queue was long – we certainly weren’t the only one and the last to arrive.
The bus pass we’d bought the previous day gave us a discount for the cable car. Again, I must have not really listened to this useful point. I and Jamie had completely forgotten about it all. Sorry Lara! She kindly explained to the driver that some of us had forgotten their bus pass and managed to get us a discount (12.40Euros for two persons).
|10.32am, ready to tackle Heimgarten!|
|A much nicer day today (31 May 2014).|
|11.15am, already dropped the extra layers.|
|A little higher up, nice views of Lake Walchensee.|
|11.21am, water stop!|
|An example of the huge pine trees surrounding us.|
|12.13pm, time for some snacks/lunch!|
|13.27pm, water stop and break.|
|Might a storm be coming towards us?!|
|13.58pm, coming up to the top!|
|14.27pm. Well deserved coffees and beers at the Heimgarten-summit bar!|
|14.47pm. Time for the last stretch to the cable car. Jamie's on top of the world!|
|What a view!|
|15.31pm. Cool Lisa!|
|15.55pm. Steve and Lisa.|
|16.26pm. At the cable car! We've made it!|
|16.37pm. Going down!|
|A long way down!|
|18.15pm. Back to the campsite, time for a quick, very fresh swim!|
|Just a little bit wet!|
It was hard to say goodbye to each other. We had met in December 2013 for a weekend in Bruges (see our blog post: www.whyarentyouturningleft.co.uk/2014/01/InBruges) so it hadn’t felt long to see them again in 2014. Now, we knew this wouldn’t happen again for a while. Likely to be more than a year, when we drive back to France and the UK for our MOT in the Summer 2015.
Thank you Steve, Lisa, Wayne, Daz and Lara for a great weekend. See you next year!