Apart from passing through, I have hardly ever been to Germany and Bavaria looks like a really interesting place to start. Turns out that a lot of the things outsiders think are the essence of Germany are in fact Bavarian. This includes some iconic business brands (BMW, Audi and Siemens); classic pastoral countryside, cows with bells and villages with dome churches, traditional dress and lederhosen and, of course, the huge litre glasses of high quality "Bavarian" beer. Even the famous white sausage - the Weisswurst is a Bavarian rather than German invention.
However while we see Bavaria as quintessentially German, they, and apparently the rest of Germany see them as different. This must be partly to do with its distinct history - Bavaria had its own kingdom until 1918 and partly to do with a different religious tradition. This part of Germany shares a Catholic tradition with German speakers in Austria and Switzerland and "Gross Gott!" is the greeting you get when out walking.
Bavaria's rich history is reflected in the architecture of the towns. Highlights include Fussen, with its amazing Gothic Castle and the Lindehof Palace.
More infamous is the Kehlsteinhaus, commissioned by Martin Borman for Hitler's 50th birthday which is located in the Berchtesgaden.
The Kehlsteinhaus features in last episode of Band of Brothers, the story of Easy Company's fight across Europe in the second world war. Also featured is the amazing Bavarian countryside and in particular the wonderful mix of lakes and mountains. I'm sure I have got it wrong but I think there are seven significant lakes (or See) along the Maximilianweg all with opportunities for swimming.
The Maximilianweg runs along the same route as the Nord Alpine Weg 04 and forms the first part of the E4 sub-alpine variant. It's an important long distance walk in its own right and originates from a 5 week trip the Bavarian King Maximilian II took from Lindau (near Bregenz) to the Berchtesgaden in the summer of 1858. The Berchtesgaden is just south of Salzburg and presents a really stunning end to the walk.
I have developed my itinerary from the Oesterriechischer Alpenverein Guide "Osterreichischer Weitwanderweg 04" by Fritz and Erika Kafer. It's in German, which I don't speak, but does have all the maps and charts you need to put an itinerary together. They recommend 18 days for Salzburg to Bregenz (everyone goes east to west accept me!) but I'm proposing to do it in 16 days. Accommodation is plentiful both in mountain huttes and towns - this is a very active recreational area - and it will be easy to vary the schedule if necessary.
Apart from a couple of long days it's a similar grade to the Jura Crestway in Switzerland. It is middle difficult in the Austrian Grading system with difficult and very difficult above it and easy below it. Very difficult corresponds to scary in my grading structure. Overall the walk is 407 kms long with a climb of about 17,000 metres. Just over two weeks and then a day off in Salzburg - good plan.
Things to look forward to.
|View from Alatsee on Day 4|