Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Berchestgaden, Then & Now

Around twelve years ago....I made my first trip to Berchestgaden. The US military complex hotel was still there....the streets were poorly organized and the town was a tourist magnet. This week....I came back. Its not quiet the same.


The US military R&R hotel is completely gone. The town has redone the entire roadway through the middle of town....so you can't get lost. But its still a tourist magnet.

I stayed this week at the Koenigsee.....where the locals have locked off the huge parking lot to the lake and you have to pay around $5 to park (per day). I started laughing when I added up this cost, and the $5 per day for the tourist fee that the hotel charges (being next to the lake). The entire town and every tourist spot now charges for parking or they have strict rules about where to park. They tow cars like mad....to make up various fees. One would be slightly better off just riding the bus from one spot to another and never bringing your car into the damn town.

There are only four things you come to Berchestgaden to see. The Eagles Nest is number one on the list....and is still a top draw. The Jenner.....which has the ski lift and takes you to the top where you can sip beer and admire the valley below. Then you have the salt-mine tour.....which is pretty much a joke....but you have to take it. And then you have the Konenigsee. This is the mytical lake where people come to park their car.....pay $18 to travel on some boat out to some island in the lake, where a mytical church sits.....and then sip a beer quietly with 2,000 other folks who have paid for the same experience.

I sat there yesterday....at the mytical island....sipping my beer....and wondering what the heck I'm paying for. It is green and a wonderful scene. But to pay almost $5 for a beer?

The food is strictly chicky-micky and not worth bragging about. I had some deer stew yesterday....which was decent but nothing compared to food I had in the mid-90s here. I even started adding up what I paid for a hotel in those days.....$70 a night.....and then looked at my cost today....almost $140 a night. Something here just isn't right.

The thing about Berchestgaden....is that there is no autobahn leading into the town. Its way out of your way, and you can't just accidentally arrive here. Its probably the largest town on the face of the earth....with easily 50,000 tourist coming in on a Saturday.....with no four-lane roads leading to the town. Almost every local is working in some capacity in the tourist trade. The whole place thrives off the tourists in some fashion.

So it goes for this magnificent vacation so far.....nothing to brag about....nothing to write home about.....and barely anything to blog about.