Königsee is the kind of lake that conjures up Germanic legends and graceful swans. It will have you humming Wagnerian operas even if you don’t know any. It feels like a place where you cross over into a place of timeless mystery, but you have absolutely no idea why. Maybe it is the turquoise water, the steep cliffs, the presence of the provocative St. Bartholomá near the far end of the lake, or the fact that the lake is situated in a small pocket of some of the highest mountains in Germany and almost surrounded by Austria on three sides.

Enjoy whatever contemplative peaceful aura you can squeeze out of the Königsee atmosphere because you will absolutely be sharing head space with a load of other tourists. Tourists flock to the northern edge of the Königsee just for the privilege to line up at the ticket booth and purchase their boat ride tickets. Do get their early.

Königsee

But on this day I wasn’t there to buy a boat ticket. This ain’t no Beer & Boat. A dotted line on my trail map indicated that there was a path following the eastern (and less steep) shoreline all the way to the end of the lake. So I was acting all smug and anti-tourist, strutting around like John Travolta to Wagner’s Lohengrin Prelude Act II. But I did have a moment of clarity that perhaps I should confirm my map, so I sidled up to the ticket booth and turned on the charm.

Me: “I want to hike…” {interrupted}

Booth Lady: “Twelve Hours!”

Me: “What?”

Booth Lady: “Twelve Hours! It will take you twelve hours. You gotta go over the mountain. It is not possible to hike along the lake!”

It seems if you want to get on the good side of the Königsee Booth Lady, ask about hiking the lake.

I was in no mood to argue with her that the dotted line on my map proved otherwise. So I did what any man would do in my position. I turned the pride up to 11 and set off in the direction of the path.

I’ll show her.

My original plan

The hike started off promising. Some great views showing why this is considered to be the most beautiful lake in Germany.

Königsee
Königsee

Right after the above photo was taken, I suddenly came face-to-face with a sign. It might as well have been a vision of the Booth Lady scolding me.

Dammit…

The path forward was forbidden to allow the nature in the area to recover from all the frat parties. At a risk of 25,000 euros, I could forge ahead or turn back. I cursed under my breath. She said it wasn’t “possible“. She should have said “allowed” and my law-abiding citizen persona would have overruled my pride. I wanted to head back and explain the nuance of the word she chose, but I kept my mouth shut. So in the span of less than an hour, I stood at the booth for the second time.

One roundtrip boat ticket to Salet, please.

St. Bartholomá and the Watzmann mountain

Salet is the boat stop which is on the southernmost point of the lake. It is a great stop to either head up into the mountains or take a relaxing hike to the Obersee, an offshoot of the Königsee. I wasn’t prepared for a long hike into the mountains, so a relaxing hike it was.

The hike to the Obersee (6.82km)

In this short hike are three places to enjoy a cold beverage and meal. Two at the base of the Königsee and one at the opposite end of the Obersee. Take your pick. In between those three places are gobs of even more tourists clogging up the footpath, posing for their Instagram, and making me regret I didn’t head up into the mountains. But, oh was it ever beautiful!

Obersee
Obersee
Obersee
Obersee
Königsee

On the way back, I stopped at St. Bartholomá, a pilgrimage church built in 1697. But this was a pilgrimage of another sort.

Beer & Boat

Final Words

As I sipped that delicious brew, my eyes scanned the iconic church, the faces of all the nameless people enjoying a release from the troubles of the past year. I looked up at the mountains already calculating my return to hike them, and I realized that I was having a reunion with my own past. November 2014. My first trip to the Königsee.

November 2014

Only seven years have passed and there is so much I wish I could tell that guy. I look at the reflection of myself in the window of that boat and I know exactly what I was feeling that day. So much of my life, my emotions are intertwined with my travels that blue lines on maps become trails of laughter and tears. Of reflection and humility. I cannot separate my travels from my soul. Each trip is a piece of myself, a memento, a mirror, not just a holiday. Lohengrin told those he was saving to never ask him his name or where he comes from. Do you ever look at old photos of yourself and feel tempted to ask the same thing?

M.G.G.P.

9 thoughts on “A Brewtiful Day at the Königsee

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