Quito, Ecuador – A Walking Tour of the Historic Center

Quito is a big city. Like, far-as-the-eye-can-see big.

Now that we’ve settled into life here in Tena, we need long-term visas, which we can only apply for in Quito. Long story short, we are visa-less, but that’s still in motion, so it’s a story for another day.

We planned for a long weekend in Quito, but most of Friday was consumed with the visa application, which really only left Saturday to do a little exploring. If you’re short on time, I find the best way to do that is with a walking tour!

You see things, you learn things, you eat things (sometimes).

We arranged a walking tour through our hotel, and, honestly, it’s one of the best tours we’ve ever had. We were greeted in the morning by Marcos, our accidental private tour guide!

The classic “I’ll take a picture for you but really sneak a selfie” picture.

I say *accidental* private tour guide because the standard hotel policy is a three-person minimum. However, with covid and recovering tourism, they’ve loosened the rules. We’ve only ever had a personal tour guide once before (in Egypt), and I can’t say I hate it!

We spent about four hours with Marcos, so I’ll just cover the highlights.

Plaza Grande

Also known as The Plaza de la Independencia, this is the heart of Quito’s historic center and our starting point. The square is beautiful and lively and home to the main Catholic church in Quito, as well as the presidential palace called Palacio de Carondelet (Carondelet Palace).

Which, if I’m being honest, I was shocked at how close you could get to the presidential palace. Like, touch the wall close. Like, there were hairdressers and small shops underneath it close. And, from what we understood, the president actually lives there.

Imagine if you could just walk up to the White House these days… 🤯

La calle de las Siete Cruces

or the Street of Seven Crosses.

The seven crosses on this street are attached to seven churches. We were able to go into one of them, and it was quite impressive. We’ve added one church, La Compañía de Jesús, to our to-do list for next time. Apparently, the inside is covered in something like 53 kg (~116 lbs) of gold, according to our guide.

The street has plenty of other things to explore beyond churches. For example, we visited a hat maker. Fun fact, the classic “Panama” style hat is actually of Ecuadorian origin. The old Central Bank of Ecuador is also on this street and gave off some real Gringotts vibes. Now, it’s a museum about Ecuadorian currency, which I think might actually be interesting.

Snacks along the way.

Plaza de San Francisco

This square was beautiful, and my photos don’t do it justice. It’s home to the most expensive hotel in Quito’s historic center (I tried to convince Shane to stay there, he said no) and the legendary San Francisco church.

I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s legendary. As the story goes, a local builder/architect was asked to build the church. He said yes, but the project didn’t go as planned, and he wasn’t going to finish in time. So, he made a deal with the devil for help. The devil would finish the work, but the payment was the man’s soul.

When the church was almost complete, the man panicked, not wanting to give his soul to the devil. So, he hid the final brick, technically leaving the church unfinished and saving his soul.

Supposedly, there is one missing brick, and if someone chooses to finish the church by putting the brick in place, the devil will come back for their soul. So, uh, I guess if you find a random stone in San Francisco Plaza, it’s better to leave it alone.

Chocolate Tasting at Yumbos

Across the plaza from the church is a nondescript door with an arrow pointing to the doorbell.

Ring. The. Doorbell.


Luckily, Marcos knew what he was doing because otherwise, we would have walked right past Yumbos artisanal chocolate shop. If you’re into chocolate, they offer tastings (in English) and have bars for sale. There is also a small cafe which offers one of the best brownies I’ve ever had. Plus, the view from the tasting room isn’t too bad either…

Basílica del Voto Nacional

This was the view I didn’t know I had been waiting for.

The view from the panoramic deck.

I’m honestly a little disappointed in myself for not knowing that this was *the thing* to do in Quito’s historic center. Great views and making Shane walk stairs against his will? It’s all of my favorite things!

It’s the national basilica because it’s meant to be the meeting spot for all Ecuadorian Catholics, and the inside houses flags for each province. You can see the basilica from most points in the historic center as it is at the top of a large hill (be prepared for a walk!). The view from the (easily accessed) panoramic deck looks across the historic center to Loma El Panecillo, which may look like an angel but is actually a winged Virgin Mary. So, as our guide put it, the church and the Virgin Mary protect historic Quito in between them.

If heights don’t bother you, then take the sketchy wooden path that looks like you shouldn’t be on it to climb the tower. I’m not scared of heights, but these stairs were steep, so I warned you! The 360-degree view is worth it, though.

Sketchy little wooden walkway. It feels like you’re not supposed to be there.
The stairs up… straight up.
Part of the view from the top!

El Mercado Central

All those hills and stairs made me hungry. Plus, Marcos said that since Quito is at a high elevation (~2350 meters/9300 feet), your metabolism speeds up, and you get hungry faster. All I heard from that was, “you should eat more.” End of story. So, we went to the Central Market for some lunch. Thanks to Marcos, we had some of the best fried fish I’ve ever had.

If you’re visiting Quito, head to the market and find Jimmy.

Shane and I split two things, the $6 plate of fish in the picture (that comes with sides) and mixed llapingacho (from another stand), which was basically potato balls with sides. ‘Twas very filling. Oh, and you can’t forget to have some juice; para mi, Naranjilla (Quito orange)!


And those are the highlights! We highly encourage walking tours in new cities, and Quito has one of the best-preserved historic centers in all of South America. So, it’s definitely worth it.

Practical Info:

Hotel: Friends Hotel & Rooftop by DOT

Walking Tour: $15 per person, booked at the hotel. Ask for Marcos!

Basílica del Voto Nacional: $3 per person

Food: Snacks were included in the tour, but lunch was not. We paid ~$12 total for lunch.


Hasta luego,

Whitney

Greetings from Tena, Ecuador!

I’ve been slacking on the blog front. We’ve been here for two weeks, and I’m not quite sure how that happened so quickly.

It feels like we’ve been going non-stop since we arrived. The trip from Germany was surprisingly uneventful. We left Munich at ~6:30 am, had a short layover in Amsterdam, then it was about 11 hours from Amsterdam to Quito. There was mild panic checking in for the flight because the check-in lady was asking everyone for their negative covid test, which we didn’t have because it’s not required to enter Ecuador. Your proof of vaccination is enough. However, to enter and stay in the Netherlands, you need a negative test. Once we explained that our final destination was Ecuador, it was OK, but it didn’t make you feel good to watch other people be denied check-in and go in search of the airport testing center.

Other than that, it was smooth sailing. All of our 12 checked bags made it (!!!!), and our pre-arranged vans were already waiting when we arrived. About 3.5 hours and I don’t know how many switchbacks (🤢) later, we arrived in Tena!

Since then, we’ve been apartment hunting (more on that later), Shane, Lucie, and José have been working to get their lab and butterfly space set up at the university, and we’ve been trying to figure out daily life here. I’m sure you can imagine, it’s quite different than Europe.

So, first impressions, you ask?

We need a Spanish class.

I mean, this may seem obvious, and we knew we would likely find fewer English speakers, especially since Tena is only ~30,000 people. However, we’ve been spoiled. In the Netherlands and in Germany, you can get by without speaking the language. Here, not so much. Luckily we’ve had an Ecuadorian (José) and a Spanish speaker (Lucie) with us to help navigate.

The plus side is that our Spanish has improved more in the first two weeks of being in Ecuador than our Dutch/German in the Netherlands or Germany in the same amount of time. Granted, our Spanish is still very basic, but we can ask for things and ask how much they cost (and understand the price). Shane even navigated a taxi driver to our apartment! I call it a win.

Speaking of shops…

There is no such thing as a “one-stop-shop.”

You have hardware stores, fabric stores, plasticware stores, metal-kitchenware stores, appliance stores… so, you can imagine the frustration of trying to find the one specific item you need. We’ve been trying to furnish and organize our new apartment, and it took essentially a day of looking to find a coffee pot.

There are two nice markets, though, and the fruit and vegetable shops are amazing.

A fruit stand at the market.
Dragonfruit for $1 each!

We have lots of food to try!

There is so much great and new (to me) fruit! We haven’t eaten out too much since we’ve been focused on organizing life, but we have tried a few delicious things, like smoked tilapia and bolón de verde, essentially a fried ball of green plantains with cheese or cheese and pork mixed in. Looks strange, tastes delicious.

Probably the best fish I’ve ever eaten.
A bolón de verde, served with an egg and usually a coffee.

Quick tip for paying…

Cash is king.

We were told this about Munich, but you can get by with a card. Here, not so much. Obviously, I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but if you plan on coming to Tena, come with cash, and by cash, I mean American dollars (which is what they use here).

The surroundings are gorgeous!

Tena has been labeled a “gateway to the Amazon,” so we are surrounded by mountains and volcanoes!

The Sumaco volcano.
Some of the surrounding mountains.

The city itself is what I expected, which I’m not entirely sure how to describe. There is a lovely riverwalk with a tower and a great view!

The main street through Tena.
Rio Tena with the tower.
Views from the tower.

So, so far so good with no regrets!

Are there any “first impression” questions for us? Let me know!

Hasta luego,

Whitney

America Trip Part 2: Chicago

The first and only ever time I was in Chicago was with Shane back in 2014, just before we moved to the Netherlands. We were there for our friend Brian’s 30th birthday, and the only thing I really remember is that the famous Bean was right next to our hotel. That, and we all went out for massages. It was my first one ever (at 28 years old), and while everyone else came out relaxed, I was disappointed. I remember sitting there listening to “oh! and when they did this and that!” and thinking “I got none of that!”

Needless to say, I was excited to see Chicago again. Plus, the Wolfpack (Shane, Brian, and me) hadn’t been together in roughly three years.

So, we spent our final few days in America letting Brian and Shannon tour us through some new and some of their favorite spots. I won’t lie, the itinerary was ambitious and involved pre-made Google maps. We didn’t make it all the way through, but we did our best!

first up,

The beach!

To be honest, this lasted for about 10 minutes. It was a beautiful idea, but the weather just wasn’t cooperating. However! Shane and I did put our feet into (very cold) Lake Michigan while Brian and Shannon held down the blankets… literally. It was that windy.

The river!

We walked it. We biked it. We took cute pictures.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery!

Maybe this is an unpopular opinion, but Starbucks isn’t my favorite. I would have never thought to visit the roastery. However, if you like coffee, then I would absolutely recommend a visit and a tour! I didn’t realize that Starbucks had a reserve coffee line, and I definitely didn’t realize that there were only six reserve roasteries worldwide!

If you want to just have a coffee and experience the place, then it’s free, but we did a tour of the four-story Starbucks with a coffee tasting that goes in-depth into their coffee process, from beans to brew! You won’t leave un-caffeinated.

Oh, and their espresso martini is not to be missed! Yes, this Starbucks has a bar.

It’s covid-friendly with separate straws, right?

Bikes, baby!

Chicago was a surprisingly bike-friendly city, at least the little bit of biking we did. The biggest difference was the turn signals or the lack thereof. Here, sticking an arm out when you’re turning left or right is engrained, but Shane and I seemed to be the only ones giving turn signals in the city.

We hit the Lakefront Trail towards the end of the day, which had spectacular views! It’s a walking and biking path, so I highly recommend it.

Rooftop bars!

We hit several rooftop bars in between stops for tacos and ice cream. I’m a sucker for a good view. So, my favorites were The Robey (which had the tiniest rooftop pool I’ve ever seen) in Wicker Park and The J. Parker in Lincoln Park (which had a bonus city + lake view)!

Views from The Robey.
Views from the J. Parker.

360 Chicago (the John Hancock Tower)!

If you’re looking for an incredible view, then the 360 Chicago observation deck is the place to be. If you want to enjoy that same incredible view with a semi-overpriced cocktail, then you should check out the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor. I say semi-overpriced because for the price of one admission to the observation deck you can get two fancy cocktails with a great view (although not 360 degrees). Since we went at night, we decided on the cocktail option.


Like I said before, we had an ambitious list that went partially unfulfilled. Guess that means there’s gotta be a next time!

We’re on the final countdown, folks! Two weeks from now, we will be on the way to Ecuador!

Until then, we’re cramming in all the Munich we can handle.

Tschüss,

Whitney

Munich Guide: New Town Hall… and We’re Moving!

Life has gone from zero to everything!

Quick recap. We moved to Munich for Shane’s position. The original plan was to be in Munich for about three months, then the lab project would take us to Tena, Ecuador, for about two years. Like most, coronavirus put us in a state of limbo, but not anymore, folks!

The lab got travel approval, and September 13th Shane, Lucie, Meatball, and I are moving to South America!

Lucie and Shane
Meatball’s getting ready to travel too.

As such, it’s time for The Shwits Make the Most of Munich: Summer 2021 Edition!

Munich is living it’s best low-infection-rate-50%-vaccinated life, and they’ve finally allowed certain tourist attractions to open again after more than a year. One of those is the tower at the top of the Neues Rathaus, or the New Town Hall.

Fun fact. The New Town Hall is actually pretty new, despite its look. It was built in 1905, but the neo-gothic architecture style was apparently very popular at the time. It’s the centerpiece of the Marienplatz, the main square, and the glockenspiel is worth a watch if you’re there at the right time.

The viewing platform is above the clock.

I’m a sucker for a good view. Shane usually approaches these adventures with a little bit of dread because I make him take the stairs, but he lucked out this time. You could only take the elevator. After all of our trips to the Marienplatz, it’s nice to finally get a view from above!


Practical Info

How to get there: Take literally any S-bahn, U-bahn, Tram towards the Marienplatz. They all go there.

Cost: €6. Tickets can be purchased online (which is required right now, as part of the COVID-19 restrictions).

Opening Times: 10:00 to 19:00 daily (until 17:00 on Sundays).

Rating: ✅ Highly Recommended!

If you’re coming to Munich, you’ll definitely go to the Marienplatz. So, go up the tower! It’s worth it.


Tshüss,

Whitney

Riederstein Hike: Tegernsee, Germany

I know, I know. You’re probably thinking “what-the-damn-hell!?” ’cause we got out of the city, baby!!

Tegernsee, Bavaria, Germany

This past Sunday was G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S and our first true summer-feeling day. When we met up with our friend, Theresa, back in March we talked about going for a hike when the weather finally turned. So, when a beautiful sunny day presented itself, we jumped at the opportunity to get to the mountains.

Do you know what’s really crazy? We haven’t been outside of Munich since September when we went hiking for our anniversary, and we haven’t been outside of Bavaria since we moved here nearly a year ago. I know a lot of people haven’t been traveling, but it still feels surreal.

Anyway, we met up with Theresa and our friend Giulia (who we also met in the Netherlands) for some *covid-protocol approved* outdoor fun!

The Tegernsee (see means lake) is one of the ~10 easily accessible Bavarian lakes about an hour south of the city. Our hike started in Tegernsee (the city) and looped towards Riederstein mountain for a spectacular view of the lake, the alps, and the towns below. Ironically, you can’t actually see Tegernsee city. This view is of the neighboring town, Rottach-Egern.

I’ve mentioned this before, but one of my favorite parts of hiking in Bavaria (and Austria) is the beer huts! There’s nothing like a mid-hike beer to power you through the rest. Outdoor dining hasn’t been open in Bavaria since November. So, naturally, we assumed that the beer hut on the route would be closed. You can imagine our excitement when we turned the corner, and it was OPEN (and serving Tegernseer bier, naturlich)! …for take-away only, but that was ok. There was a sunny field waiting for us.

The local brew with the Riederstein peak in the background.

The Riederstein hike ends at the top of this peak – do you notice the small church? That’s where you’ll find those amazing views. It’s 20 to 30 minutes of straight uphill to get to the final destination, but the views are worth it, and you can always have a refreshment when you come back down. 😜

The beer hut with Rieterstein mountain.

Practical Info

How to get there: By car or by regional train (Bayerische Regiobahn) which runs every hour.

Distance from Munich: ~1 hour by car and 1 h 15 min by train.

Hike Direction: Starting at the Tegernsee Prinzenweg im Alpbachtal parking lot, follow the signs for Riederstein or Galaun (the beer hut). On the way back, be sure to head to the correct Tegernsee (there are multiple options!) – look for the Prinzenweg route.

Difficulty: Medium. There were some steep parts, particularly at the end, but the paths are easy to navigate.

Time: ~4 hours, not including time to relax.

Tip: Per usual, bring cash! For more details, check out this link (in German).

Rating: 🧡If there’s time

If you’re looking for a nice day trip from Munich with an easily accessible hike, this is for you. The town is also very typically Bavarian and very charming, with lots of options for food and other lake activities (in normal times).


The coronavirus numbers are slowly dropping here in Munich, and the beer gardens (and all outdoor dining) can open starting today! Maybe this won’t be a terrible summer after all…

Tshüss,

Whitney

Munich’s Hirschgarten: A ‘How-To’

Shane says that if I were to have a superpower, it would be the power of awkwardness.

I have the uncanny ability to make any seemingly normal situation perfectly awkward. How? I’m not entirely sure, but I can generally feel it coming on, and the more I try to make the situation less awkward, well, naturally the more awkward it gets. Why do I mention this? Because my superpower was in full force a few weeks ago when we tried the Hirschgarten.

Turns out, there’s a particular *fLoW* of events, and, as a Hirschgarten newbie, I managed to navigate them all incorrectly.

So, please accept my gift – a ‘how-to-avoid-feeling-like-an-idiot-and-successfully-get-a-beer’ guide to the Hirschgarten.

Technically, the Königlicher Hirschgarten (aka Royal Deer Garden) is a large park west of Munich city center, but it’s renowned for its beer garden that holds up to 8000 people (in non-coronavirus times). This makes the Hirschgarten the largest beer garden in Bavaria, and it’s speculated that it may be the largest in the world.

So, about that beer…

Register your contact details.

Typical coronavirus procedure these days. You can register on paper, but they also encourage you to register online and scan the QR codes around the garden to keep better track of who was actually where. It’s a big place, ya know!

Self-service or table-service?

We opted for self-service, but table service is also an option. Just look for the tables with yellow napkins.

What type of beer?

Augustiner, Franziskaner, or Hofbrau?

Helles, dunkle, or weissbier?

You’ll need to decide before you commit to a line. The primary beer of choice is the Augustiner helles, which flows like water from the most prominent beer stand (Schränke 1). If you’d prefer Hofbrau, then you’ll have to opt for table service, and dunkles, weissbier, and non-alcoholic drinks are served from a separate stand.

Stand 2 with less popular drink options.

Grab a glass…

If you’ve opted for the helles, then grab a glass! Half and maß (1 liter, ‘mahss’) glasses are available in cabinets adjacent to the beer line. For dunkels, weissbier, and non-alcoholic drinks, the glass is provided when you order.

Give it to the beer man and keep on moving!

Approach the counter, hand over your mug, and the lovely beer man will serve you up! The Augustiner beer is served out of traditional wooden kegs, which I thought was super cool, but don’t linger too long! The beer man will scold you for holding up the line. Also, if you want a radler (part juice, part beer) then serve the juice yourself from the tap as you first approach the counter, then pass along your glass.

Oh, and its cash only!

Claim a spot!

Success! You’ve managed to get your beer! Now, just claim a spot under the chestnut trees and enjoy. Be sure to take a loop around, though. There is a souvenir stand, a space for live music, and (of course) a deer garden!

Deer in the Royal Deer Garden.
A live band in the time of corona!

Tip: Be careful how you hold your maß!

Good: by the handle.

Bad: with your hand through the handle.

Those bad boys are heavy, and I ended up with bruises between my thumb and pointer finger!

Foooooood.

It wouldn’t be a true beer garden experience without food. Traditionally, you’re allowed to bring outside food but not outside drinks. You’ll see this a lot, where groups bring elaborate picnics (table cloth and flowers included!), so feel free to pack a snack. Otherwise, check out the self-service food stands with ribs, currywurst, frits, pretzels, obatzer kase (highly recommended), and other various salads. For dessert? There’s ice cream and an entire sweets stand. You’re bound to find something.

Refill? Then wash & repeat!

I won’t lie. The first maß goes down too quickly. Need a refill? Rinse your glass out at one of the many wash stations and head back to the counter!

Practical Info:

How to get there: From Munich Hbf, grab an S-bahn (1 – 4, 6, or 8) to the Hirschgarten stop. From there, it’s ~10 – 15 min walking.

Cost: Entrance to the Hirschgarten (park and beer garden) is free. 1L beer is €7.40, and food prices vary, but aren’t unreasonable. For example, we paid €5.50 for a large pretzel and obatzer dip. The self-service food and drinks are cash only, but an ATM is available within the garden.

Opening Times: The beer garden is open from 11:00 – 24:00.

Rating: ✅ (Highly Recommended!)

The Hirschgarten has been our favorite beer garden so far. The atmosphere is relaxed and cheery, it’s in a beautiful park, there are tons of options for food and drinks. If you’re looking for a true Munich experience, this is worth the effort!

If you don’t want to go to the beer garden, the park itself is also very nice. Lots of playgrounds, BBQ areas, and open spaces to relax on a warm & sunny day.

Now that the weather has cooled off, I guess we will have to wait until next spring to go back. Until then…

Tschüss,

Whitney

Mittenwald, Germany & the Leutasch Gorge

There was a time, shortly after we moved to Munich, where I genuinely (and naively) thought that we jussst might get to take a weekend trip for our anniversary. But, ya know, life happens. Instead of a weekend trip, we hopped a train south, to Mittenwald, Germany, for a hike I’d been eyeballing – the Leutaschklamm!

Mittenwald itself is a terribly cute town nestled in the Karwendel mountain range, just 20 minutes by train past Garmisch-Partenkirchen – home to Germany’s tallest peak. Mittenwald is famous for violin making, frescoes, and hiking and is the headwater of the Isar River (that runs through Munich).

Mittenwald Bahnhof (main train station).
Mittenwald center.
A nod to it’s violin heritage.
Mittenwald, Germany

The outdoor possibilities from Mittenwald are extensive, but we came for one thing – the Leutaschklamm (Leutasch Gorge)!

There are 3 routes through the gorge – the Red, Blue, and Green. The Red Route (the Koboldpfad, or Leprechaun Path) takes you to your first photo spot – the Panoramic Bridge, which straddles the gorge below. It’s obviously a very Instagrammable spot, as evidenced by the line of guys waiting to take pictures of their significant others on the bridge… including Shane. Hey, it was our anniversary – he indulged me!

The Blue Route (the Klammgeistweg) takes you deeper into the gorge. Afraid of heights? Perhaps this isn’t for you. A majority of the path is this see-through metal grate walkway above the gorge! Slightly unnerving at first, but really cool once you get used to it. You’ll also get to hop across the German / Austrian border along the way.

It’s all fun and games until you see a dent in the walkway…
See Shane in the distance?
Germany to the left, Austria to the right!

The final route is the Green Route (the Wasserfallsteig), which takes you into the gorge. The pathway ends at a 23 m (75 ft) waterfall that was loud, but hard to see. Regardless, the walkway to the waterfall was worth it!

The entrance to the waterfall. It’s a one way, narrow path so, right now, masks are required.

And, a day in the German / Austrian mountains wouldn’t be complete without a beer hut. Mittenwald has it’s own brewery – notice the mountain on the beer bottle is the same as the mountain in the background!


Practical Info:

How to get there (Mittenwald): Easy – by train! There is a regional DB train from Munich to Mittenwald. Bonus: this route qualifies for the Bayern Ticket, so it only cost us €32 euros round trip for 2 people. You can travel with up to 5 people on one ticket, which drops the price to only €10.60 per person for a day of unlimited travel in Bavaria.

Distance from Munich: ~1 h 45 min by train and ~1.5 h by car.

Hike Direction: From the train station, follow the brown signs for the Leutaschklaam. You can’t miss it!

Difficulty: Easy. It’s really more of a walk than a hike, and very family friendly with interactive information signs along the way.

Time: All routes, ~2 – 2.5 hours.

Tip: The waterfall path costs €3 per person. Bring cash.

Rating: ✅ Highly Recommended*!

*unless you’re looking for a challenge.

Based on the easy access & cool views, I definitely recommend this trip – especially if you’re looking for an easy day outside of Munich. And, since the walk doesn’t take up you’re entire day, you have the added bonus of exploring Mittenwald. If you’re looking for a more challenging adventure, perhaps the Leutaschklaam isn’t for you, but Mittenwald is the starting point for a number of other hikes, including a via ferrata.


All in all, I’d say it was a successful 4-year anniversary!

Tscüss,

Whitney

Kranzhorn Mountain Hike, Germany (& Austria!)

We may not get to *actually* travel much this year, but I can at least say I’ve been to Austria twice! ANNDDD technically I’ve walked across the border, so if that’s not an adventure then I don’t know what is.

View over the Kranzhorn Alm. Not quite the summit.

We’re pretty lucky to have two friends from Groningen also living in the Munich area, so when Theresa invited us for a weekend hike, we obviously said yes. This week’s trip was unique because the mountain straddles the border of Germany and Austria. At the summit, if you look to the left, you’ll see Schieben, Austria. If you look right, you’ll see Windshausen, Germany.

The summit (1366 m), looking left over Austria.
The summit, looking right over Germany.

Technically speaking, this was an easier hike than our Ehrwald adventure. Wide, clearly marked paths, no bolted metal cables required. It lulls you into a sense of hiking security… but be prepared for a sore butt the next day. The first ~1.5 hours are nothing but up!

The mountain can be approached from either side, but we started our adventure in Nussdorf (aka ‘nut village’), Germany. This (less traveled) route starts directly from the small (free) parking lot towards the Kranzhorn Alm. The more popular route begins on the Austrian side, in Erleberg (with paid parking). The path is mostly through the woods, and although you’re constantly going up, it’s never too steep. We were even passed by several mountain bikers and power-hikers.

The two best parts?

You walk between Germany and Austria!

As I said before – walking across country borders makes me feel cool. The borders are marked by these painted rocks, so keep an eye out!

Blue and white for Bavaria, red for Tirol.
The beer hut, Kranzhorn Alm, has a petting zoo with the fluffiest chickens I’ve ever seen.
Black and white fluffy chickens!

One thing you can’t miss – the summit crosses.

You’ll find a cross on almost every summit peak in Bavaria (and Tirol), which are predominately Catholic states. The summit crosses started in the 1400s but picked up steam in the 19th century when mountaineering became more popular. The cross was obviously a religious symbol (as the mountain peak is closer to Heaven), but also a sign that the mountain itself had been summited. For some, a picture next to the cross is proof you made it all the way up.

We may not be religious, but I certainly think they make for lovely photos.

A third cross, on the Austrian side, for a smaller peak.

Since the Kranzhorn straddles the border, the summit actually has two crosses – one for Germany (the wooden one) and one for Austria (the metal one). Unfortunately, a picture of both at the same time was practically impossible, given the small summit area.

The Austrian summit cross.

And don’t worry. If all that hiking makes you hungry, the Kranzhorn Alm has got ya covered.


Practical Info

How to get there: Check out here (for Windshausen) and here (for Erlerberg) parking / starting info. Windshausen was only ~ 1 hour drive from Munich.

Distance from Munich: By car, ~1 hour. ~2 hours with public transportation (train + bus) .

Hike Direction: Head for Kranzhorn Alm (follow the fork/food symbol!)

Difficulty: Easy. Suitable for beginners or families – nothing special required!

Time: 3 – 4 hours, depending on your speed and how long you linger at the top.

Rating: 🧡 (if there’s time)

Not ‘highly recommended’ simply because there’s no convenient public transportation option. If you have a car and are looking for an easy day trip to the mountains, then definitely check it out!


Wednesday is our 4 year anniversary (!) and the mountains are calling us! So, until then…

Tshüss,

Whitney