A visit to Königssee is a particular highlight of any trip to this part of Germany. I travelled there in mid-January, soon after a substantial snowfall had turned the region into the setting for a winter’s fairy-tale: snow-laden trees, chalet roofs groaning under white drifts, and surrounding peaks glistening in the morning sunshine.
I’d originally planned to take to the water by boat to visit the pilgrim church of St Bartholomä, midway along the lakeshore. But, due to temperatures well into double digits below freezing, the water around the landing stage in Schönau was rock-solid, and there were no sailings planned for several days. Not to be deterred, I set off from Schönau on foot, passing various shops selling the wooden handicrafts and bird tables that seem to be so sought-after in this part of the world, then taking a short ascent through the trees.
I soon arrived at the Malerwinkel viewpoint, giving me a fabulous view down the lake. (I’d been somewhat sceptical of Königssee’s ‘fjordlike’ billing, having travelled extensively in Scandinavia, but this vista would have given the Norwegians a run for their money!)
I remember the sun glinting through the trees, which in turn framed the scene perfectly, and the sub-zero temperatures had created crystal-like droplets in the air. Capturing the scene in my mind’s eye, it was better than any two-dimensional postcard could ever be.
I continued along the path, climbing a little higher before swinging away from the lake, descending through trees to emerge at the base of the main ski pistes coming down from Jenner mountain. Fancying a little lunchtime refreshment, I thought I’d give Restaurant Jenner-kaser a try. Good move! It proved to be every bit as traditionally Bavarian inside as it had looked from the slopes: a thoroughly welcoming Hütte with wooden, chalet-style décor and an open fire blazing in the hearth. I fancied a ‘winter warmer’ so opted for Käsespätzle mit Röstzwiebeln, a local dish akin to macaroni cheese with crispy roast onions on top. It was superb, and I can vividly remember my sense of satisfaction as I washed it down with a refreshing Apfelschorle – the sparkling mineral water and apple juice mix that is so popular across German-speaking lands. I didn’t go for dessert because I knew I didn’t need to: once back at the hotel a little later on there was Kaffee und Kuchen (traditional ‘coffee and cakes’) to enjoy by the fire as the setting sun glowed orange on the surrounding peaks.