Bavarian Bier and Beauty
We traipsed the German and Austrian Alps and toasted “prost!” to an unforgettable Oktoberfest celebration.
After ascending the steep streets of Berchtesgaden, Germany, we arrived at Hotel Kempinski, nestled in the Bavarian Alps. It felt as if we were climbing into the sky as the roads narrowed and we beheld the impressive landscape—lush greenery, rolling foothills and soaring mountain caps. When you arrive: step out of your car, thank your driver and take a breath of that clean air. It’s invigorating.
The Hotel Kempinski Berchtesgaden is a blend of alpine and modern—well designed but at ease with its pastoral surroundings. The property’s lawn is left wild and free. A flood of natural light and the comforting scent of a wood-burning fireplace welcomed us in the lobby. We felt cozy and delighted by the accommodating staff, which was dressed in traditional Oktoberfest attire, dirndls for the women and lederhosen for the men.
We found no shortage of outdoor activities there. We biked, hiked and relaxed at the hotel’s spa, renowned for its natural elements, such as pure mountain water and local herbs, salts and minerals. We had a lovely, quick lunch before taking a short trip to Berchtesgaden Village, where we shopped and relished in the quaintness. The village is like something out of a storybook, with locals sitting at outdoor cafes, leisurely sipping coffees against the backdrop of the looming Alps.
We later had a private dinner in the hotel’s wine cellar. The menu featured dishes from different Kempinski properties, so we could sample a variety of flavors and cuisines. We were blown away by all of the meals we enjoyed in Germany, but particularly the morning spreads, a smorgasbord of breakfast foods, juices and coffees.
The next day, we took a bus farther up the Alps to Kehlsteinhaus, known as the Eagle’s Nest. The scenery becomes increasingly magnificent the higher you go, and we were elated when our bus pulled over so we could snap photos and walk through a stone tunnel that led to the brass elevator we rode even higher up the mountain. If you’re the adventurous type, you can climb the rocky terrain, where you’ll be treated to even more views and photo ops.
From the Eagle’s Nest, we traveled to Salzburg, Austria, one of Europe’s most popular destinations and known to many as the setting for The Sound of Music. It’s a beautiful city with bustling streets, unique shops and outstanding outdoor markets. Here, many of us found our costumes for Oktoberfest. We loved browsing the hand-stitched, elaborate garments and discussing them with local merchants.
We departed early the next morning for Munich, via another scenic drive through the Alps past picturesque churches and chalets. We made ourselves at home at Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich, a standout property harmonizing savvy elegance and old world charm. We were especially taken by its lobby, which was traditional yet swanky, the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail with an elegant crowd.
We ventured to the Costume and Riflemen’s Parade, held the first Sunday of Oktoberfest. We looked spectacular in our Bavarian garb and fit right in with the locals as we giddily joined the VIP section, located on the main strip of the procession. VIP guests were treated to seemingly endless amounts of scrumptious food and cold beer as they watched the parade proceed through the city. The event was first held in 1835 and today features nearly 8,000 participants from different regions of Germany and Europe. While Oktoberfest is sixteen days of merrymaking, it’s also a melting pot of cultures and countries. Kegs from the Munich breweries, varied as the costumes, dances and traditions found there, passed us on extravagantly decorated carts.
In early evening, we made our way to Armbrustschützenzelt, a lively Oktoberfest tent. We loved the music, energy, succulent half chickens, warm pretzels and, of course, the beer. We were impressed by the seasoned beer maidens, some of whom could carry fifteen liters at once. They looked proud and determined as they navigated the crowds, steins stacked high. The entire event exuded an aura of pride and contentment.
Onto the city of Vienna, Austria, an architect’s dream. Its buildings are elegant and striking, its layout friendly and easy to navigate. Vienna’s as stylish as it is homey and inviting. We stayed at the Hotel Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna, located on the renowned Ring Boulevard. Like its city surroundings, the five-star hotel radiates classic beauty, complemented by modern luxury as warm and hospitable as the staff, which greeted us with glasses of champagne.
Touring the city with a knowledgeable and insightful guide is essential. We saw the first district’s highlights, including the Vienna State Opera House, Parliament, Imperial Palace and City Hall. We also visited up-and-coming areas, such as the seventh district. The neighborhood, also known as the Neubau, feels like New York’s West Village, with smaller cobblestone streets, intimate cafes and ample outdoor seating. We visited an open-air market that is a popular shopping destination for locals with its abundant displays of fresh produce, breads, meats and cheeses.
That evening, we had a special dinner prepared in a joint venture by two-Michelin-star chef Hendrik Otto and the hotel’s executive chef, Anton Pozeg. They worked together in an open kitchen, so we could marvel at their artistry and meticulousness. Each course was expertly paired with a Spanish wine, and a DJ set the tone for this über chic evening. It was the perfect way to end our splendid sojourn in a contemporary city pulsing with history.
Looking to plan an unforgettable travel experience? Contact The Accomplished Traveler today at 212.586.2020.
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