Sooner or later the Christmas apocalypse gets us all, right? I found two remedies particularly helpful to escape the craze: being very organized and taking a break at the very peak of it all.
I had managed to stick to the first one before but this year I finally managed to grab a couple of friends and escape to the mountains for the Fourth Weekend of Advent. We were very lucky as my friend’s uncle owns the coziest little apartment in Inzell, Bavaria and that’s where we got to stay at for the weekend.
Inzell is a pretty small town with less than 5000 inhabitants so it’s perfect to get some peace and quiet not only during the festive season. It’s surrounded by mountains and forests that provide a spectacular backdrop for all kinds of outdoor adventures. It’s a great home base for skiing as well – the boys went to the ski area Steinplatte which is a half hour drive away (you’ll be crossing the Austrian border). My friend Sarah and I decided to go hiking instead as the weekend was very sunny with clear blue skies.
We hiked about 10 km from Inzell to Ruhpolding which was absolutely worth it as the landscape is downright stunning. We walked through dense forests and passed by crystal clear rivers while the mountains were always towering above. We were actually planning to hike all the way back but decided against it as it started growing dark at 3.30 in the afternoon (which shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise to us but… we refused to accept it until the very end :D).
The reason I wanted to hike to Ruhpolding is actually a very personal one. When I was little my family and I went there pretty much every year. My dad’s employer had this guesthouse in Ruhpolding that was exclusively for employees and their families. The days I spent there are some of my favorite childhood memories. However, after the tenant who ran the guesthouse died in an accident it was simply locked and never sold or re-opened. The house is now slowly falling into ruin with plants overgrowing the once beautiful backyard, the doors and windows while everything inside is still completely untouched. Peeking through the windows is like looking back into the 90s and into my own childhood. Everything is still exactly as we left it back then, every table and chair in place, the menus and salt shakers still standing there as if the guests had left five minutes ago. It brings back so many memories but it makes me incredibly sad at the same time. Standing in front of this house last weekend made me feel like childhood-me had accidentally fallen into a time machine and woken up 20 years later in some dystopian future.
I had my sentimental five minutes but after that it was fine again and I really did enjoy this trip to Ruhpolding. Back in Inzell we had dinner at the B 306 this evening. The steak house and burger restaurant does not exactly offer a wide range of vegetarian dishes but it was super delicious and I even got heaps of recommendations for vegetarian restaurants in the area from the super lovely owner.
We decided to spend the next day a little more relaxed and went to the local indoor pool / sauna / spa. At first we were a little startled at the entry fee. What we didn’t expect though was that for 24 € we pretty much had the entire spa to ourselves. A handful of people spread out throughout the entire area so that we had our very own private saunas, whirlpools and chill-out room. We spent the day reading, feeling healthy at the steam bath, sipping hot chocolate and watching the sun set behind the mountains from a bubbling hot tub. This really made me forget the whole Christmas craze entirely and I felt so much more energized and alive than I had the weeks before.
We spent the night cooking together back at the apartment and watched the spectacular videos the boys had filmed with their Go Pro while skiing. Although I hadn’t done incredibly much that day I fell asleep instantly.
Do you know this feeling of not knowing where you are and what day it is for a split second during the process of waking up? I experience this pretty much every day, even at home, and when I woke up in the morning in our cozy apartment in the mountains my first thought would always be “Thank God.”. I would curl up again and just embrace the fact I was in this peaceful cozy place while dawn was breaking over the mountains outside our windows. Small things like this make me incredibly happy and thankful.
On Sunday we decided to go to Königssee, the clearest lake in Germany which is also about a half hour drive away from Inzell. I was super excited as I hadn’t been there for about 20 years. I had very few memories of the lake but remembered it was stunningly beautiful. Also, I remember a butterfly sat down on my finger back then and I named her Natascha. I would even take her on the boat cruise. When Natascha eventually flew away I drove everyone on board insane trying to get her to sit back down on my finger. I was probably right at the borderline between adorable and annoying as a child 😀
But let’s not disgress… We took the boat to cross the 200 m deep lake to St Bartholomä which basically consists of a church and a restaurant. We decided to wander along the lakeside though and we finally found the perfect Instagram-y spots everyone’s been going on about. I always find it hard to capture the atmosphere of a situation in just photos though as there is always so much more to them. This place was downright mystical. As it was mid-afternoon dusk was slowly settling already. Although quite a few tourists had been on the boat with us they somehow spread out and suddenly we were all by ourselves. The moss-covered trees and the deep, still lake seemed to drink the sounds and created an eerily beautiful silence. Then I suddenly heard something. At first I didn’t know what it was but it turned out to be distant thunder echoing in the fog-veiled mountains. That day the lake really couldn’t have been further from a touristy place.
We then took the boat once more and returned to the pier where we had parked the car. It was almost time to go home. Once more we returned to Inzell to stop by the Treibhaus, a self-proclaimed “almost vegetarian restaurant”. It’s a very stylish, yet cozy place with wooden furniture, large windows and a fireplace. Just as we enjoyed a delicious dinner and listened to the crackling fire it started snowing outside. Yes, I’m serious. And no, it doesn’t get any better than this. By the time we left there was enough snow for a snowball fight so we began our journey home in a very good mood.
I started very calm and relaxed into the last week before Christmas and I’m already planning next year’s pre-Christmas getaway.
Hope you guys enjoyed this travel post!
Where’s your favorite place to be around Christmas season? Let me know in the comments 🙂