Monday, August 8, 2022

Germany's Most Romantic Lake


Hello T gang - today I am going to take you to a very special place in Bavaria which IMHO is the most romantic lake in Germany: the Königssee (which translates to King Lake but has nothing to do with kings). It is surrounded by steep and high mountains - these are the Bavarian Alps - and most of the lake is part of the Nationalpark Berchtesgarden. It is a natural lake that was formed by glaciers during the last ice age. It stretches for almost 5 miles (7.2 km) between the steep mountain walls and measures just short of 1 mile (1.2 km) across its widest part. It is similar to a fjord.

The best place to access the lake is from Schönau, and the only way to explore the lake is by electric powered passenger boats. You can see one of the boats in the middle of the picture below. The buildings in the background are the "garages" for the boats.

Of course we took the boat - it's the only way to get on the lake and see all the beauty and natural drama it has to offer. Each boat has a tour guide. We were very lucky that we had a wonderful guy with a refeshing sense of humor, colored by his soft Bavarian dialect that makes everything a little bit more special. The Bavarian dialect is often said to be "hefty" (mostly by people who don't like it), but I would characterize it as "hearty". Like with almost every language, it can be lovely and soft, or rough and hard. This guy definitely belonged to the first category - he was charming.

He told us about the lake and everything you need to know about it. It has a maximum depth of 620 ft. (190 m) and thus is Germany's deepest lake. It is supposed to be one of the cleanest if not the cleanest lake in Germany. The surrounding steep mountains rise to a height of 8,900 ft. (2700 m) and that includes the famous Watzmann massif, the third-highest mountain in Germany. Only the electric powered boats as well as rowing and pedal boats are allowed on the water. You can swim in the lake, if you like - but be forwarned, the lake is extremely cold.

In the middle of the lake, the boat stopped and our guide gave us a sample of the incredible echo at this spot. He took up his trumpet and played short melodies that sure enough were then repeated by the echo. It was simply amazing. I made a minute-long video of it; you have to turn up the sound to be able to hear the echo (the baby will get quieter).

After about 30-40 minutes we reached the first stop which for many people is the final destination on this tour. This is probably the most photographed view of Königssee - St. Batholomä with Watzmann massif behind it.

St. Batholomä is a pilgrimage church that was re-built at the end of the 17th century on the foundation of the original 12th century church. At the beginning of the 18th century it was remodeled to its current baroque appearance. It is very picturesque how it snuggles in its surrounding magnificent landscape.

Königssee is famous for its fish and our guide had already told us on the boat to try the smoked char which we of course did as well as a smoked fish spread. Both were avilable in a little shed for just a couple of euros. It was so delicious I would have happily eaten a second helping.

After this tasty refreshment we took a little hike along the shore of the lake and into the woods. Just look at the color of the lake - this is its actual color. Isn't it amazing?

The mountains were equally amazing and wonderful. It helped that we had a picture-book day.

Eventually we embarked on one of the boats again and went further south toward the end of the lake. There were noticeably less people taking this direction.

The terminal station is Salet where there are two Almen (Alm is a mountain pasture in the Alps, but simple inns with a very limited offer in food are called Alm as well and one of the best things you will encounter during a long hike when you're hungry and thirsty), Saletalm and Mooskaser Saletalm. In the picture below you can see Mooskaser Saletalm in the typical Upper-Bavarian architecture style.

As tempting as it was, we decided to skip the Alm and hike over to Obersee (Upper Lake) instead. I think we made a very good decision. The view was just breathtaking.

At the far end you see Röthbachfall, the highest waterfall in Germany with a vertical drop of 1,540 ft. (470 m). The mountains here belong to the Steinernes Meer ("Rocky Sea"). This is right on the border to Austria.

It was finally time to turn around and take the boat back to Schönau, passing boat stations and crosses of pilgrimage that you can find all over Bavaria.

Back in Schönau it was time for dinner. We were hungry - that smoked char was many hours ago! We wanted to go to Echostüberl which was still a bit to walk. We had to cross this beautiful covered bridge which is actually a weir to get to the other side where the restauant was located.

From the restaurant we had a lovely view over the lake and saw the last passenger boats coming in (it's a good idea not to miss the last boat) and then finally going into their garage.

The food in the restaurant was delicious - of course I had fish. Any guesses what we had to drink?

Thank you, Elizabeth, for hosting T Tuesday again. I'm so happy to join.


Friday, August 5, 2022


Today I don't have a new face for Nicole's Friday Face Off, so I'm returning to a painting from 2013. This was my first try painting on a wood panel and also the first time that I worked with tissue paper. I liked the effect it had when it crinkled up after I had glued it down. It gave a lot of texture.

Now, the portrait is nothing to write home about. I see all the flaws in it - and still, this is one of my favorite paintings in all its imperfection. The inspiration came from the "Botswana" catalog of the Swedish company I wrote about in my last post.

I called this painting "Confidence" because this is what this woman represents for me. It also stands for growing more confident in myself as an artist.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Swedish Design


For decades - starting in the 1990s - I have been buying my clothes from the Swedish company Gudrun Sjõdén. Their clothes are all made of natural fibers, often sustainably sourced, many of them in floral patterns and beautiful colors - and they are of very good quality. The designs are created by the woman who gave the company its name, and they are not following any fashion trends. The clothes are bold and need a certain confidence to be worn. Many of them I have had for years.

Most of their stores are actually NOT in Sweden, but in Germany - 11 of them. Compare that to 3 in Sweden, and 1 in Oslo, Helsinki, Copenhagen, London and New York each. During my last trip to Germany, I was very lucky to be in two cities with Gudrun stores - Munich and Freiburg.

Their stores are pure eye candy - it's almost like art. Beside clothes they also sell beautiful homeware like tablecloths and mugs.

Fortunately for me they do most of their business online. Receiving their catalogs is always a bit of a feast because these catalogs are extremely well done. No glossy paper, but beautiful photography.

I regularly use the catalogs for collage papers and inspiration.

I want to paint these beautiful ladies -

Aren't these Scandinavian houses and doors pretty? And what about those notebooks that adorn a corner of a page in the catalog?

There is so much inspiration that I think this deserves a linkup to Rain's Thursday Art and Dinner Date. It's worthwhile to check out all the other posts.

A couple weeks ago my neighbor brought me some plums from her garden. I considered what to do with them and went on a search for a good recipe for a pie. I found this recipe for a plum clafoutis, tried it - and we liked it very much!

Saturday, July 30, 2022

What's Wrong with that Beer?


I know I know, you have been waiting for this, haven't you? You were starting to ask, when is she finally taking us to the beer garden? She has been writing about München since the beginning of June, but what about the beer??? And what was wrong with that picture in last Tuesday's T post?

Alright then, let's go to the beer garden.

In München you can pretty much go to a different beer garden every day if you want to. There are the big ones by the breweries like Paulaner, but there are also many smaller ones, some really just a bigger garden by the side of the road. 

Beer gardens have long simple tables and benches. Sometimes, when the place is very crowded, you share the table with strangers - a great way to meet and get to know other people. The majority of German beer gardens are in Bavaria, and other than beer gardens in the rest of Germany, you can bring your own food and eat it there as long as you buy your drink(s). We've seen many people who do this - they buy their beer (or whatever they want to drink) and at the table they put out their tupperware and spread their food. It's a great way to spend the evening outside in company without breaking the bank.

Our first evening in Munich, finally spending time with Kaefer again

Of course you can also order food in a beer garden. The food is typical Bavarian dishes and is served cafeteria style.

Kaiserschmarrn, Schnitzel, Weißbier and dunkles Weißbier

Breze, Obatzda (Bavarian soft cheese dish), Radi (radish), Kartoffelsalat (potato salad)

Pretzels are always on offer and they can be very big.

She can be such a goofball!

Weißbier, especially the dark one, is my favorite. It is also often called Hefeweizen and is more popular in the South and Southwest than in the rest of Germany.

Weißbier is served in a special glass that is only used for Weißbier / Hefeweizen. 

A "regular" beer - called "Helles" (light - as in light color) or "Dunkles" (dark) - comes in glasses like this or smaller ones:

But what is "regular" beer anyway? There are so many different kinds of beer in Germany, some are more popular in the areas where thy come from. "Kölsch", a very light, top-fermented brew comes from Köln (Cologne); "Alt" (old) is a top-fermented, dark bitter brew from Düsseldorf; Pilsner or Pils is popular all over Germany, it is bitterer than most beers and must be carefully drawn - usually seven minutes (if you order a Pils and you get it after three minutes, it is not carefully drawn); "Rauchbier" (smoked beer) that is brewed in Bamberg. These are just a few kinds of beers of the rich selection in Germany. And each has its own glass.

Glasses for Weißbier, Kölsch and "Willibecher", a more universal glass 

Glasses for Pils, Alt and the famous Bierseidel which comes in 1 or 1/2 liter

You might have heard about the German Reinheitsgebot (purity law), enacted in 1516 in Bavaria's Ingolstadt. It says that "from henceforth, in our towns, our markets, and in the country, nothing should be used in the making of beer except barley, hops, and water alone." Yeast as an ingredient was added later. In 1987 this ruling was reversed when German brewers lost their case that brewers from countries outside Germany should not be allowed to import any beer if it wasn't brewed according to the Reinheitsgebot. However, brewing beer by only using barley, hops, water and yeast enjoys very high popularity in Germany and brewers proudly announce that their beer is "pure". Weißbier is brewed with a large proportion of wheat relative to the amount of malted barley.

German beer "science" doesn't end here. Remember the picture I showed last Tuesday, mentioning that something is wrong here?

When you go out with friends or a group, before you take your first sip of beer you clink glasses. While you clink glasses, you don't look at your glass, but you look into the eyes of the person you clink glasses with. It is very rude not to do that. So far so good. Looking at the picture above, you would think that this looks alright - we're clinking glasses, Kaefer is looking at me... but no. We're not drinking any old kind of beer, we're drinking Weißbier. And with Weißbier, you clink with the BOTTOM of the glasses, not the top as in the picture. This is ONLY for Weißbier, not for any other drink. Why? By clinking the glasses at the bottom, the yeast that has settled at the bottom after pouring is being "shaken up" and distributes throughout the drink. If you happen to pour Weißbier from a bottle, you have to do it very slowly with the glass held almost horizontally, otherwise you get too much foam at the top. Before the bottle is completely empty, you "shake" it in a circular movement so that you get all the yeast at the bottom. I told you it's science! I once even did a Weißbier pouring session at my home with my German class - it was very popular. The fun of teaching adult students!

By the way, we did clink our glasses at the bottom after taking this picture!

Elizabeth, thank you for the opportunity to share this with the T Tuesday gang. Everybody knows now what to do if they find themselves in Germany with some Weißbier (or in a German restaurant outside of Germany).

This has become quite long... so let's lean back and have a beer. Prost!

Friday, July 29, 2022

Tree Face

For Nicole's Friday Face Off I don't have a painted or drawn face today. Instead I want to share an experiment that I did a while ago. For this, I used an old photo of my then 10-year old daughter.

I also used a photo of a tree that I took on the Schwäbische Alb in Germany sometime in the 90s.

For my experiment I had to crop the photo of my daughter and I also cropped and edited the tree in Lightroom.

Then I opened Photoshop and layered both photos on top of each other, edited again and got this. I used the same technique as I did when I was layering photos with textures. The tree photo served as the "texture".

I didn't stop here. Once I start to edit and play around with several techniques I usually try more than just one way. In Lightroom I used a preset to achieve a much darker mood of the tree.

Don't you think the tree looks very different? I opened it in Photoshop (there is a lot of to and fro between Lightroom and Photoshop) and brought the photo of my daughter in which served as the "texture" now. I made it much smaller in the merging process so that she is peeking from behind the tree - sort of.

I liked it so much that I imported it on my cell phone as my background screen.

I did a lot more editing with the tree that resulted in different moods, not all of them good. But this is a "face" post, so I stop here and wish you a lovely weekend.