Archive for the ‘Tour: Southern Delights’ Category

800px-Isar_Wittelsbacher_BrückeThe region along the Isar and Würm rivers had been populated since late Neolithic times and the city’s importance was documented in 1158 as the official foundation date and 1175 when it was granted city status and received fortifications.

The original settlement was near a Benedictine monk settlement, which is remembered in the city’s name (Old High German ‘Munichen’ means “by the monk’s place) and the picture of a monk in the coat of arms.

Germany_München_MonksIn the Middle Ages the fighting and political dealings caused the division of the dukedom of Bavaria in 1255 and Munich became the ducal residence of Upper Bavaria. Not until 1506, and several devastating fires later which meant serious rebuilding and refortifications, was the dukedom reunited and Munich was again the capital of the whole of Bavaria.

800px-Frauenkirche_Munich_-_View_from_Peterskirche_TowerMost of the conflicts were centred around money, trade and taxes, which involved the churches as well. As the centuries and rulers came and went, they left their marks in the churches, royal and municipal buildings and representative private residences in and around the region.

Image-Schloss_Nymphenburg_Munich_CC_edit3From the 16th to the 18th century Munich attracted all kinds of artists, architects and philosophers shaping and changing its appearance and citizens. During WWII Munich was heavily damaged in 71 air raids, but a very conservative plan restored a lot of the original character buildings of the city.

Wardamage2With so many interesting places to visit this part of your Southern Delights tour will introduce you to the folks in the south of Germany and their world famous sights and specialities.


Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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KehlsteinhausThe idea for the house was conceived in 1937 and it was intended as a 50th birthday present for Hitler from the NSDAP. It was intended as a private retreat for him and to entertain visiting dignitaries.

Construction started in 1938 and took only ten months to complete, seven months before schedule! This should give you an idea how much money and man power was thrown into this project: no expenses regarding building materials and decorations were spared and the technical know-how involved was years ahead of its time. Not only did they build a representative house, but they built it on top of a mountain that is not easily accessible and endures heavy winter storms.

Sprengung 078To gain access for the builders they constructed a road by literally blasting it out of the rock. Access to the house for the occupants is through an underground tunnel, decorated in a way to prepare and overwhelm any visitors with the spectacular views from atop.

Kehlsteinhaus elevatorThe house itself was designed only for partial day time use, which makes the whole concept even more indulgent. Fortunately Hitler was not very fond of the site (the rarefied air and his fear of heights making him uncomfortable) and he only visited roughly a dozen times. Due to the lack of association, the building was not bombed or destroyed during and after the war and today visitors can again enjoy the view from the mountain top and try some Bavarian specialties in the restaurant. Only during the summer time though, when the access road is passable.

Panorama KehlsteinhausThis trip on your Southern Delights tour will give you a detailed insight into the political and representative side of life at the time.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

For an amazing collection and comparison of period and modern photos, a professional memorabilia dealer has started this site.

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The Jenner Mountain is one of the few mountains accessible by gondola and has always enjoyed huge popularity. Not only due to its ease of access, but also for the spectacular views that can be enjoyed from the top of the 1.874 metres high mountain. One gets to be eye to eye with Germany’s 3rd highest mountain, the Watzmann, and has an eagle eye’s view over the lake Königsee, 1200m below. A gondola will take you to the top, well almost the top, and from there you can explore the park. A selection of walks of varying difficulty levels will take you to huts and show more of the alpine beauties in the National Park Berchtesgaden. If you’re happy to just sit and soak in the beauty, there’s a self-serve cafe at the top with lots of outdoor seating. And this is the view you would be enjoying:


While summer is the time to go hiking here, in winter this area is extremely popular with the skiing community and offers a highly competitive skiing field. One of them, for example, is the physically very demanding ‘Grosse Reibn’, a 2- 2 1/2 day ski tour circling the Königsee.

1821_Topo_ef53c629-d407-41ad-b832-f6ab6d3d7df2_grosse_reibnTo give you an idea how extreme this one is, here is a photo gallery documenting a tour (click on ‘Bilder’ to see the gallery), in German only unfortunately, and a note from the text: certain passages were recommended not to start later than 4am, to avoid day time melting and avalanches!

This might sound too challenging for some, but rest assured that on your Southern Delights tour your guides will look after your wellbeing as well as your enjoyment!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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12-10-31-salzburg-by-RalfR-01The castle is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe and with the refurbishment in the late 19th century now one of the best preserved ones in Europe as well. To preserve this part of Salzburg’s amazing heritage it was given World Heritage status in 1996. Construction commenced in 1077 under Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein and the fortress was extended and strengthened in the 15th and 16th century to protect the interests of the archbishops of Salzburg, who were powerful political players during the Holy Roman Empire.

Hohensbg_schedel_01Even though throughout the long history of Hohensalzburg, the castle was never conquered and remains one of the few castles with this status in Austria, it was surrendered to the French troops during the Napoleonic War of The Second Coalition in 1800. After that it was used only as barracks, storage depot and dungeon and fell into disrepair after being abandoned by the military in 1861.

I375px-Festung_Hohesalzburg_with_Reiszugn the 19th century a thorough restoration and the installation of the Festungsbahn turned the castle into an accessible tourist attraction. The Festungsbahn is the public access one, but there also exists a private one, a funicular railway, the Reisszug, which is estimated to be from 1495 or 1504!

Your guided walk to this marvel of medieval technology on your Southern Delights tour will reveal many more fascinating details about this grand city.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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681px-Salzburg_Kollegienkirche_main_vaultSituated by the banks of the river Salzach (salt river) the area has been populated since the 5th century BC. It was named Juvavum and awarded the status of municipium in 45 AD.  Both the modern names of the town and river highlight the importance of salt, its mining and transportation in the region throughout its history. If you look around, you will find lots of smaller rivers, brooks and towns that have some reference to salt in their names. Ober- and Untersulzbach are obvious examples, but any other name containing salz-, sulz- or -soden as well. Salt created the wealth in and around Salzburg which can be seen best in its Baroque and Rococo architecture, as for example the inside of the Kollegien- or Universitätskirche and the Leopoldskron Castle.

Kapuzinerberg_PanoramaSalzburg is not only the home of world famous musicians, Mozart and Haydn, but also another UNESCO World Heritage site you’ll get to see on our tours: the Old City, with the Hohensalzburg fortress at its heart. During your guided tour you may recognize one or the other sight from the movie “The Sound Of Music’ with Julie Andrews, as well as from a more recent movie ‘Knight and Day’. Another heritage site to enjoy will be the Mirabell Palace, with its geometrically arranged gardens and mythology-themed statues. After having discovered Salzburg from ground level on your guided walk on your Southern Delights tour, you should walk up the Kapuzinerberg and enjoy the spectacular views over the city.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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320px-Bad_Reichenhall_Alte_SalineBad Reichenhall is an interesting example of a town adapting to economic changes to survive. Since the earliest Bronce Age settlements, salt and all other involved production and manufacturing processes have determined the look and feel of the city. As salt was a precious commodity then, salt mine owners and processors were rich and influential people. For a very long time the local salt mine owners in Hall maintained a monopoly position in the European salt market. The economic rise continued until the end of the 12th century, when in 1197 the city was almost eradicated by order of the bishop of Salzburg. As the name indicates, Salz = salt, Salzburg was a rival in this profitable business. With the virtual destruction of Hall, the salt mines in Berchtesgaden and Hallein (little Hall) gained more importance in the market.  In order to distance themselves from Hallein, the city changed its name to Reichenhall (rich Hall) in the 13th century. The conflict over the salt market took on war like features which, together with bad market management and strategies, caused a decline of the industry. By the end of the 15th century the Bavarian duke bought all mines and production places, modernized them and created a state-owned monopoly for salt production.

320px-Kurhaus_Foyer_0192The industrial character of the city continued to dominate the landscape and the city had to be rebuilt several times, due to fires caused by production processes getting out of control. This didn’t change until 1834, when nearly ¾ of the city were burned down and rebuilding began under different architectural aspects. The Industrial Revolution of the time, the cause of different kind of hardships for people, created a wish for more harmonious, romantic environments.

The new buildings articulated this, as well as indicating the city’s move away from industrial hot spot to physical and mental care giving: in the 1840’s a private initiative started the Curhaus Achselmannstein, which soon turned the city into a gentrified meeting place for the continental high society. The private houses, bath houses and pavilions of the time are testament to the emerging arts-and-craft movement. In 1890 it was given the title of ‘Bad’ by royal decree and has maintained it ever since.

Alpensole Springbrunnen Koenigliches_Kurhaus_Abend Thumsee20

If you should run into a spot of bad weather during this part of your Southern Delights tour, these little gems will be just the ticket to make you forget about it!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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320px-2009-09-22_Wimbachklamm_01Klamm is the German word for a very narrow ravine which is made by stream cutting erosion.

This particular ravine was formed by the wild stream Wimbach (-bach being another word for stream) cutting through a variety of limestone types ( red limestone, fibrous calcite, radiolarian rock). Your walk will take you through the gorge, along the river and up to the Wimbachgries hut, surrounded by the Watzmann, Grossem Hundstod and the Hochkalter mountains. On your walk you will pass sediments that had been laid down up to 50 million years ago and you might even find fossils relating to the time when the sea covered this whole area.

If the weather co-operates you will get to enjoy these spectacular sights on your Southern Delights tour and partake in a traditional mountain lunch or afternoon tea at the hut.

320px-Grosser_Hundstod_south  320px-Wimbachgrieshütte  320px-Hochkalter_mit_Blaueis_von_Norden

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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800px-070107-Konigssee-mirrorEven though the name implies Royalty having had an interested in this lake, it is more likely to have originated from the first name of local nobles: Kuno. There have been no Bavarian kings until the 19th century and the lake had already been known since the 12th century as Kunigsee. But the implication adds to its romantic charm and certainly underlines the majestic beauty this particular lake has.

800px-Koenigssee_Schoenau-AnlegepierAs the lake is only accessible from one point, travelling on it and exploring it has always been by boat.

It is known for its pristine clear waters and to preserve this only electric powered boats have been allowed since 1906. These boats service the various small settlements and will take you the full length of the lake to the famous pilgrimage church of St. Bartholomew.

582px-Bartholomae-2005The Church, in the shape of the Berchtesgaden Provostry, has played an important role in the region’s economic and political dealings since the 12th century, when the wealth of the salt deposits was exploited and its location gave it unique protection from invaders. This ended in 1802/3, when the Provostry and its territories were secularised and eventually became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1810. At St. Bartholomews you can cross the Salet moraine to view another smaller lake, Obersee, with the highest waterfall in Germany, the Röthbach waterfall.

800px-Koenigssee_Obersee1A moderate walk will take you into the majestic mountains on your Southern Delights tour and showcase the pristine nature surrounding you.


Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens



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800px-The_Watzman_8-15-2010Looking at the picturesque city and stunning landscape surrounding Berchtesgaden one wouldn’t think that its initial success was based on mining salt deposits in the region.

As early as 1102 AD the city is mentioned and proper mining operations started in 1517. By the time it came under Bavarian rule in 1810, it had changed hands frequently. After that the royal family took an instant liking to it and established a royal hunting residence in the city itself, which in turn attracted other tourists and artists. Nearby Königssee (‘royal lake’) with the sheer cliffs of the mountains reaching down to its shores and making it only accessible by boat, provided the dramatic backdrop to music, art and literature of the time.

773px-Watzmann by Caspar_David_Friedrich_012Berchtesgaden is the perfect destination for any kind of mountain based activity: skiing, hiking and climbing being the first that come to mind. Two notable mountains dominate the landscape: the Watzmann and the Kehlstein with the infamous Kehlsteinhaus, ‘Eagle’s Nest’.

In the 21st century the region attained notoriety for the fact that the Nazis had bought a lot of properties to create recreational homes for the senior leaders of the party. Several of these buildings were built to not only accommodate the leaders on their holidays and 185-8513_IMGentertain guests, but also be serviceable in war and other extreme situations. Thus you will find lots of bunkers, lifts and other ruins in the region. After the war some of these were buildings were requisitioned by the US Army, such as the Hotel Platterhof, which was renamed General Walker Hotel and maintained until 1995. Others were destroyed. Today only a handful remain, used as restaurants or documentation centres, like the former guest house Hoher Goell for example.

obersalzberg_aussen_7Nowadays Berchtesgaden manages its natural beauty through the establishment of the Berchtesgaden National Park and attracts tourists with its huge range of activities available in the region. Some of these you will be enjoying on your day trips during your Southern Delights tour.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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450px-Regensburg-porta-praetoria_2Regensburg has been a settled area since the Stone Age and Radasbona is the Celtic name given to the oldest settlement here. It is situated at the confluence of the rivers Donau (Danube) and Regen, which gives it its name. During Marcus Aurelius’ reign his legion Legio III Italica was stationed there and built the fort ‘Castra Regina’ in 171 AD.

Up until the 16th century it was a Roman Catholic city, when it adopted the Protestant Reformation. This created an interesting situation: Roman Catholic citizens were being denied their civil rights, while the town itself remained the seat of a Roman Catholic bishop and several independent abbeys and monasteries. Add to that a moderately large Jewish community and you have a very vibrant, multi-faceted society that shaped the look and feel of the city and region.

800px-Regensburg_08_2006_2The large medieval city centre has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2006 due to its unique and important part in the history of the region and the Holy Roman Empire. Part of its relevance was due to the construction of the Stone Bridge across the Danube, which opened up trading between the north of Germany and southern Europe. For several centuries it was the only bridge crossing the Danube and served as a model for other bridges, like London Bridge across the Thames and the Pont d’Avignon across the Rhone.

Walking through the city you’d be hard pressed to say which one of the buildings or monuments is most astounding, but the Regensburg Dom (cathedral) would have to be one of them, as a superb example of pure German Gothic architecture. Your guided walk on your Southern Delights tour will show you the fine examples of stone masonry used throughout the city.


Photos Regensburg panorama and the Dom: Regensburg UNESCO + 305px-RegensburgDom-p01

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

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