travel

Location Shoot, Bavaria (Part 3)

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A couple of hours later and I’m pulling into Klais, which is right down near the Germany/Austria border having travelled through some increasingly mountainous terrain along the way. The snow has also increased considerably too and by now it has covered everything with a generous layer of the white stuff. Amazingly, everything continues to function as it should and people drive around looking relaxed enough so it’s time to hail a taxi and head to my accommodation for the night. We went our way up the mountain road, picking pour way past oncoming vehicles and gingerly around corners that have enormous snow banks either side. About five minutes later, at the end of a private road originally built by King Ludwig II to reach his hunting lodge, the Hotel Kransbach comes into view and it’s quite something to see.

Das Kransbach is a great place to shoot cool interior shots and designer room layouts

Das Kranzbach is a great place to shoot cool interior shots and designer room layouts

There’s a whole story about how this place came to be here and it’s an interesting one. The first thing you notice is that the original old buildings could have been transported from a location in the Scottish highlands. The other thing that you don’t notice, unless you’ve seen the website beforehand, is that there is a whole other section of the hotel which lies hidden, half-buried into the hillside that slopes gently away to the right. Around this are the mountain, although you’re hard pressed to see them when I arrive due to the persistent snow coming down. Heading inside, and Das Kransbach is a real treat and the offer of a glass of sparkling wine and a seat in front of the fire proves too hard to resist.

Das Kranzbach, Bavaria

Das Kranzbach, Bavaria

Das Kranzbach makes an ideal gateway retreat for the delight that the mountains and countryside around here offer up. However, dragging yourself away from the lure of the hotel is also quite hard to do as it’s got wonderful swimming pools, wellness treatment centres plus a restaurant and breakfast space that is second to none. It’s also a great place to wander round taking photos if you’re into architecture and design, because both the building and the furniture are really striking. You can stay in the original part of the hotel, which is named after Mary Portman the English aristocrat who commissioned the building in the early 1900’s and which was built in 1915 by architect Detmar Blow. Or, alternatively, you can opt to stay in the modern wood and glass wing that has been built into the side of the hill. Either way, you’re in for a treat both in terms of relaxation and luxury as well as being on the doorstep of some truly majestic picture-taking territory, including the Zugspitze, the highest peak of the surrounding Wetterstein Mountains at 2,962-metres above sea level.

Alpenwelt Karwendel/Mittenwald

The following morning I’m met by Claudia Gans, a local guide who has lived here all her life and runs a local B&B, so we head outside and into the snow again. She’s parked in a car park that’s so deep in snow that I’m not entirely sure how she got into the space or, in fact, how she’ll navigate her way out again. However, Bavarian’s here are used to their snow and sure enough she deftly pulls the car from the drifting white stuff and we head off along the private road. Initially, we actually go further up the hill because Claudia has an additional imposing hotel to show me, the Schloss Elmau, another luxury spa and cultural hideaway in the mountains.

The Geigenbau Museum

The Geigenbau Museum

After that slight diversion, we head back down the hill via Klaus and drive to the neighbouring town of Mittenwald. This too is on the railway line that runs into Austria and you can go onwards to Innsbruck if the mood so takes you. However, for no Claudia takes me on a tour of this enchanting town, which has a worldwide reputation for its violin building. In fact, not only is there a really good museum (the Geigenbau Museum) dedicated to this and other related stringed instruments, but there is a college too, where students from all over the world study the fine craft of building violins. It’s worth spending some time in Mittenwald because, even if you don’t have the benefit of a proper guide like Claudia, each and every corner reveals a new sight to see and that’s mainly in the shape of the beautifully hand-painted buildings. The whole town is covered in these colourful paintings and all tell their own story, sometimes of the family that lives inside and in other cases, the design relates to historic events in this very old location.

Geigenbau Museum

Geigenbau Museum

The cold weather and lots of walking around the town taking photos soon works up an appetite so we head to the Alpenrose, fantastic old building that’s a traditional inn, complete with its very own chapel inside. There’s ornate painting on the outside and a wonderfully welcoming interior, plus the lure of traditional Bavarian cuisine and a very large Weissbier to get through too. After that, it’s time to head back to the station in Klais for my trip back to Munich so we trudge down the road, dodging the very enthusiastic men with their snow ploughs and jump in the car. There’s just time for a coffee (plus some delicious home-made cheesecake) at Rusticana, the guesthouse and café run by Claudia who has proved very knowledgeable. At the station, the train turns out to be 20 minutes late, which is a surprise but, then again, considering the weather at the time it’s amazing there are any trains at all.

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