I worked my way ever so slowly down to Freilassing and then we drove a few minutes to Saaldorf where I stayed for the weekend. Here is where that is... Oh, and we is my friend from high school, Tanja Feldbacher. She stayed with the DeHarts when I was a junior and I met up with her in 2009 in Vienna, and now again in her home town. The mountains were everywhere and it was perfect. We had a quick little dinner and then went out to stroll around Laufen which is where she went to high school (German: Gymnasium) and we crossed a bridge and we were in Austria! We walked all around the town including the chapel where Silent Night was written!
From there we kept walking and saw the house that Tanja someday wants to live in. It was SO CUTE with a fruit garden and a little path and it was all wooden and cute. We kept walking and crossed paths with Bavarians and Austrians alike. This is when I received my first lesson in Bayrisch (German with a Bavarian dialect) and it was not the easiest. I had to learn greetings like "Servus" and "Graiß eich" that I had never heard of before, and of course the traditional "Grüß Gott". It was fun, though. We came to the most serene and beautiful place I have ever been in my life. It smelled like farm and mountain air at the same time, it felt clean and a little misty. You could see the stars through the outlines of the twin steeples. It was silent except for the crickets and occasional sounding birds. The shadows of mountains rising from the dark could be seen in the distance. I close my eyes now and am transported to this place of utter peace. It was really the most calm I have ever felt in my life.
Tanja and I had great conversation and continued walking back into Germany and crossed the border on a bridge:
I'm in Austria and Tanja is in Germany
We walked up to her old school after getting some ice cream and the doors were open....yeah. It was a little sketch, but so awesome. We walked around and she showed me her hallways and her teachers pictures on the bulletin board and stuff. It was a really great night and we went to bed so we could hike the next day.
Here is the view from the room I stayed in:
We woke up and had a traditional German breakfast, complete with my first ever soft-boiled egg and the most amazing fresh Austrian apple juice I have ever consumed. Her parents are ridiculously nice. I loved them so much. We got all of our stuff together and went to the mountains. It was about a 1/2 hour drive and we almost took a wrong turn, but we sorted it out and got to a sign that said "Totemann" the mountain we were planning on climbing. (Totemann means dead man in German). We parked the car and the sign said it was a 2.5 hour hike from there, but Tanja's dad said it was going to be shorter, so we thought maybe we were in the wrong place, so we asked an elderly couple if they knew...they came from Hanover and did not. So, Tanja ran over to a woman that was passing us and asked her. She and the woman came back to the car and told me that she (the woman, Susi) had just seen a real dead man on the "Totemann" trail, face down in the creek! EEK!!! She used our phone and called the rangers and got that all sorted out and we moved on down the road to find the right way up the mountain.
And find it we did, in maybe the most beautiful place I've ever been. We climbed the mountain and had a fabulous time. I will now pause for a series of pictures. I use breathtaking a lot, but this....since I was climbing a mountain...was really the most breathtaking thing I've seen in Europe.
We had this view and saw a bench and decided to sit and rest for a while. A few people walked by and there was this one older woman who passed and started to talk to us. She was talking only to Tanja (as I'm still nervous about my German) and she asked Tanja if "her boyfriend was deaf and dumb" and I laughed and said no, no, I'm American. She then said, "American, then I have a gift for you". I was like, oh no, what is this going to be. She opened her backpack and pulled out two little packages that had hand-knitted little camera cases filled with candy and a little note. She told us that she was really sick and in the hospital and was praying to God to just let her go out of the hospital one more time and then the woman next to her died and she resolved that if she was ever let out of the hospital she would pass along her good news to the world. She made 120 of these things and filled them all with candy and passed them out to travelers she met on her journeys. We met her on top of a mountain. The woman is an inspiration.
After our meeting with her, we made it to the top and we had a treat. I ate Apple Strudel on top of a Bavarian Alp...one of THE most German things I think anyone can do. Here is another series of views from the top.
It was pretty much amazing. I also took a video :)
We walked down to the bottom and it was very perilous. It was gravel and I slipped once and almost died, but it's not a big deal. We finally got to the place we started and I needed to take just one more picture and do another quick video.
It was already a perfect day and we had been having so much fun, so we decided that since we had time, we should also go to the Königsee and walk around there for an hour. It was SUPER beautiful. It was really hot and the water was REALLY cold. We took some more beautiful pictures and I bought some souvenirs and we had a great time.
Coldest picture ever. I was standing in the water and it was so cold it hurt.
We left the Königsee and went back to Tanja's but before we could get there, we were stopped by the Firemen to let a parade pass us.
Perfect day. We went back to a barbecue and had traditional German salads and stuff on the grill. I met one of Tanja's friends, Lisa, and we just had such a great time. Then we went out to Tanja's friends and I met who she went to high school with. It was just such a great day, and to top it all off, I found Tanja's old GameBoy Color!!