The German Alpenstrasse (alpine road) is one of the oldest touring roads in Germany.
It was first mentioned in 1858 in the travel log for the Bavarian King Maximillian II. His journey along the road would have been much the same as it is today; small old villages, over 25 castles and of course the looming Bavarian Alps.
Between 1932-1960 appropriate infrastructure was built and these are the roads we travel on today.
The road is 280 miles (450 km) and if driven straight through takes about 5-6 hours. It took us two full days due to me constantly begging Matt to pull over and stop for a quick picture.
We started off in Lindau right near Lake Constance and followed winding roads through our first alpine meadow and bavarian forest.
Our first stop on the road was Breitachklamm. A huge beautiful gorge set not to far off the road. It was hard to capture in pictures just how amazing this place truly was. The gorge is deep and narrow and the more water that runs through it the more fascinating it appears.
After spending a couple of hours walking through the gorge and the neighboring trails we headed to Fussen for the night. We found a true bavarian bar that was full of life even though the streets of Fussen were completely empty.
In the morning, despite the beers, we woke up early for a sunrise hike through the forests around the famous Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles.
Although we were traveling during shoulder season which made crowds almost nonexistent in most towns, these two castles are world famous making them constantly crowded no matter the season. Although they are beautiful in their own right, Walt Disney used Neuschwanstein Castle as inspiration for Cinderella's castle, making it a must see for every tourist. This is my second time visiting the castles and sacrificing sleep for views of the castle completely to myself was 100% worth it. Truly magical for a castle lover like me.
From the castles we spent the remainder of the second day slowly driving the winding roads and admiring the small villages and lakes. I could easily have taken a couple more days to see everything. Like a true Floridian the changing leaves and constant cow pastures on the side of the road only made the drive even more magical.
Near mid day we reached the end of the road in a town called Berchtesgaden. From here it was a short uphill drive to Obersalzburg to board a bus to take us to the Eagles Nest.
The bus (16€ roundtrip, running from early May to late October) to the top was an attraction for thrill seekers in itself. The road is only 13 ft wide and hugs the mountain side with some spectacular views into the valley. You can also hike to the very top, an 4 hour hike round trip.
The Eagles Nest (known to Germans as the Kehlsteinhaus) was built in 1937 and was intended to be a 50th birthday present to Hitler, a sort of tea house retreat for him to entertain friends and visiting dignitaries. In 1937 a road was constructed in only 66 days and rises 2,600 feet in only 4 miles. A feat of construction even by todays standards. Making the nest even more secluded was the fact that the road did not even lead to the actual house, but to a tunnel that leads you 400 feet into the mountain.
The (creepy) tunnel takes you to a golden elevator built into the center of the mountain. The elevator then takes you up another 400 feet in just 40 seconds and you finally arrive into the house itself. The entire time you feel as if you are in an elaborate movie set until you realize this is real and it was built for one of the most evil men to ever live.
Obersalzburg was bombed in 1944 with the Kehlsteinhaus being the main target. The house was largely missed making it one of the most preserved edifices from world war 2. Now it is used as a tourist and historical destination with the house it self mainly used as a restaurant (open from early May to late October) that serves delicious food at fair prices.
Inside the house, one of the rooms still holds the original red marble fireplace that was a gift from Mussolini. You can still see places were Allied soldiers chipped off the marble to take home as souvenirs.
Outside the house there are various hiking trails leading you to incredible views.
We ended our drive through the Alpenstrasse eating a crepe and watching some ducks on the Königssee (see is german for lake).
It is the cleanest lake in Germany and hasn't allowed anything other than electric-powered boats, and pedal boats in it since 1909.
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