More than just about any trip we’ve done – or any “segment” of travel when we were nomads – this trip through Bavaria is going to be a bunch of two night stays. Basically our sense was that while we wanted to see Bavaria, there wasn’t going to be a lot to see in each of these towns. Two nights will likely be enough.
So after two nights in Salzburg we crossed the border into Germany to Freilassing, a little town that is basically a exuburb of Salzburg. It’s near where our friend Sven grew up and it’s the location of a great little historic inn run by Tony, an old friend of his, and Tony’s wife Beate. So we made the quick drive there to meet up with Mary Beth & Sven.Well, not exactly quick drive. Since we had the time we figured we would make a modest detour to see the Eagle’s Nest, a retreat built by the Nazis for their elite members including, of course, Hitler. We drove up and up and up, finally got to the parking lot, only to discover as we drove around that it was full. Then we saw a couple other lots, drove through them, and discovered they, too were full. It was all both chaotic and frustrating, with a bunch of drivers inching around, hoping to get lucky when somebody was going to leave.
So we left. I’m too old to waste my time like that.
Freilassing, though, was a total delight. We got there relatively early and headed out for a beautiful walk on really small country roads. Once Mary Beth and Sven showed up we headed maybe 20 or 30 minutes away to have dinner with Sven’s mother, who still lives in the house he grew up in. And not just Sven: apparently they can document that the property has been in their family for nearly 700 years. Seriously.
The property includes a restaurant that Sven’s family used to run, and it’s where Sven first learned to cook. From there he went off to cooking school, eventually becoming a hotel manager and now one of the world’s top authorities and practitioners in hospital hospitality. And no, that’s not an oxymoron; when he started at his current hospital chain he hired a Michelin-starred chef to create meals and menus for patients. I keep praying to get sick enough to go to his hospital!
There were two highlights in Freilassing. First up was family-and-friend time, dinner with his mother – who is quite the celebrity at the restaurant on her property – and the next night dinner with a bunch of other friends of Sven’s at the inn where we stayed. Great food, great company. Mark and I both felt genuinely honored to spend time with his friends and mother.
The other highlight was an 18-mile bike ride we did out around the town. It was a perfect day – temperature in the high-50s or low-60s, nary a cloud to be seen – and Sven’s friend Tony gave us a tour of the back roads that was just stunning. I honestly thought it might be the best short-ish bike ride I’ve ever done.
And here’s what’s really amazing: there were so many Germans out biking on this random Friday in a pretty remote place. I can’t imagine there is any rural place in America where you would find tiny paved roads like this being so well-used by bikers of all ages. As we left Freilassing headed up to Munich, it seemed like every country road had a biking/walking/running lane along side. I asked Sven about it and he just said, yeah, Bavarians are seriously active people. I can confirm that.
Next stop, Munich. Oktoberfest. Yikes!