THE HILLS ARE ALIVE

BAVAR­IAN VA­CA­TION

BC Business Magazine - - Front Page - by Nathan Cad­dell

It’s one of those mo­ments that screams, “How did I get here?” The meth­ods of trans­porta­tion are easy to ex­plain: a 10-hour flight from Van­cou­ver in one of Lufthansa’s finest air­craft (see side­bar), fol­lowed by a two-hour bus ride into the moun­tains on a road that feels a bit like if the Sea-to-sky and the High­way to Hell had a baby. But the view of South­east Ger­many on a clear May af­ter­noon is an­other mat­ter.

Be­low me are rolling hills as far as the eye can see; The Sound of Mu­sic was filmed a half-hour drive from here. About a kilo­me­tre above stands a small house at the apex of the moun­tain range. Called Kehlstein­haus, it’s known in English as the Ea­gle’s Nest and was a well­known gath­er­ing place for the Nazi Party.

This is the scene at Kempin­ski Ho­tel Ber­cht­es­gaden, up the road from Mu­nich, Ger­many’s third-big­gest city. The com­par­isons be­tween Ber­cht­es­gaden, with its pop­u­la­tion of some 7,600, and Whistler are ob­vi­ous: it’s a top ski desti­na­tion sur­rounded by pris­tine bodies of wa­ter, and tourism is the lifeblood of the econ­omy.

But B.C.’S favourite win­ter won­der­land lacks the old-timey charm of Ber­cht­es­gaden. And while some as­pects of the Bavar­ian re­treat’s his­tory are un­doubt­edly re­gret­table (thanks to his­tor­i­cal mu­seum Doku­men­ta­tion Ober­salzberg and its 170,000 visi­tors in 2017, the vil­lage doesn’t shy away from its past), oth­ers have aged well.

A trip across a lake named Königssee, for ex­am­ple, yields the Church of St. Bartholomä, built in the 12th cen­tury, plus a fam­ily-run food stand spe­cial­iz­ing in smoked trout on a bun. ( Just don’t ask for Wifi.) The right to fish in the lake is passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, with only one per­son hold­ing the right to catch at any given time. Not a bad busi­ness model.

Speak­ing of which, two other no­table com­mer­cial en­deav­ours in the re­gion that have stood the test of time are leder­ho­sen cloth­ier En­gel­bert Aigner and the Grassl dis­tillery, which spe­cial­izes in schnapps.

The for­mer is an­other fam­ily busi­ness, though in­stead

(be­low)

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