Friday, 2 October 2009

Austria - Ettal

I'll apologise in advance. This post is going to be vague. Very vague. My recollections of this part of the day are as misty as the mountains in which I spent it.

The day was still young when we left Neuschwannstein. Barely past lunch. And already five beers down. Things were going perfectly.

We already right up against the Austrian border. Due to obstructing mountains, those pesky things, the quickest way to Ettal (our next scheduled stop) was through Austria. Borders aren't what they once were. If they hadn't put a sign there saying "Republik Österreich", you wouldn't notice it. Especially as the houses and mountains are pretty much identical to those in Bavaria.

Rather than skirting along the side of the Alps, we were now in amongst them. A succession of jagged, angular peaks, their wooded slopes scarred by grey slashes of rubble where flash floods had struck. A beautiful but slightly scary landscape.

As we hugged a lake, still as glass, mountains jostling around its stony shore, something stirred within me. Not wonder, not awe, not sadness. I needed a wee. Those five half litres had caught up with me. "Could we stop at a pub, please? I need a waz."

Andy pulled us into a lakeside hostel and I went to do the necessary. Once the relief of relieving my bladder had kicked in, a thought popped into my head. Not a particularly original one. In fact, it's semi-permanently present in my brain. I could sneak in a quick beer. It was only polite, after all, to buy something, having used their bog.

"Ein kleines Bier, bitte." Zipfer, the sign outside said. So Zipfer Märzen, I guess. I knocked it back in two gulps. Didn't want to keep the others waiting. I'm so considerate. A bit fizzy, the beer. And bland, but with a slightly nasty edge. But, hey, it's years since I was last in Austria. No time to be too picky.

[The Eu is far from perfect. But it has provided some benefits. Lack of border controls. And a common currency (for most). Just ten years ago my Austrian beer escapade would have been far trickier. The chances of me having Schillings in my pocket to purchase a quick beer would have been pretty slim. Thank you EU for facilitating my alcoholism.]

Continuing along between the mountains, we popped back into Bavaria. That must have been my shortest ever stay in a country. At least I got a beer in.

This the bit I've already apologised for. The misty as the mountains part. Thank god for photographs, is all I can say. Without the snaps, all would be darkness.

"Dem Himmel so nah". That's Ettal's slogan. Can't really argue with that, given their location in the Alps. And the yumminess of their beer. Many sing the praises of Andechs. I prefer Ettaler. Lovely, lovely stuff. Especially their Curator Doppelbock and Kloster Dunkel.

We stopped at some pub in Ettal. Just wait while I scan the photos to see if I can find its name. Aah. It was the Ettaler Kloster Bräustüberl. So sort of their brewery tap. It's a huge place, hotel as well as pub. Quite nice, if rather posher than my taste. All pine and tablecloths. I only saw it while toilet-bound. We sat in the beer garden outside.

Unfortunately, they didn't have the Doppelbock. I probably should say fortunately, they didn't have the Doppelbock. A session Dunkles was more apt, given the amount I'd already knocked back. I'd tell you how the Dunkles tasted, except I took no notes, my memory is shot and cameras can't record flavour, worse luck. I'm sure it was nice. It always is.

This is all taking longer than anticipated. The telling of my travel tales. I'm still not at the end of day one. Almost. Just one more post. About Oberammergau. Will I continue my international pub crawl or just collapse in the gutter? Find out tomorrow.

Klosterhotel "Ludwig der Bayer"
Kaiser-Ludwig-Platz 10-12,
82488 Ettal.
Tel.: 08822 - 9150


Tandleman said...

I liked Kloster Ettal. I didn't like Oberammergau that much, though that's where we cycled from in pissing rain, to visit Ettal.

Ron Pattinson said...

Yeah, Oberammergau is a bit touristy. I'll be posting about that tomorrow.

John said...

"As we hugged a lake, still as glass, mountains jostling around its stony shore, something stirred within me. Not wonder, not awe, not sadness. I needed a wee."

Always knew you were a classy fella, Ron :)

Gary Gillman said...

Those beers look absolutely amazing, if you can taste a beer from a photo, this does it.