Monday, June 30, 2014


 Our whole purpose in taking a trip to Bavaria is to visit a small village named Wertach.  If you don’t remember hearing that name before, there is a good reason.  Wertach is located in the far southwestern reaches of Bavaria close to Switzerland and Lichtenstein.  As the cuckoo flies, Austria is only about 2 miles from our condo. 

The path to Wertach
This journey came to pass because of the generosity of several people; one German lady who donated a week in her family-owned apartment for a fund-raising auction in San Antonio, a travel Agency which donated airfare for two, and most importantly my sister-in-law who won the auction even though she knew she wouldn’t be able to take the trip.  Because of these, we are able to take a trip which might not have happened otherwise.

Wertach is situated in a region of Bavaria which is known as the Allgäu.  It is in the foothills of the Alps, and snow covered peaks are visible from our balcony in June.  It is in the center of a major destination for German tourists looking to escape the larger cities, although it is essentially unknown to Texans and other Americans.  In the winter skiing, snowboarding and other snow sports dominate.  In summer, mountain biking and hiking lead the list of possibilities.  There are rivers and streams in every little valley, some of which allow for white water rafting and kayaking.  Several large mountain lakes provide venues for boating and water sports, and campgrounds abound.  Hang gliding and para-sailing are popular and we’ve seen several of these daredevils on our drives.

This is what I had been able to glean from the Internet before arriving in Wertach, and my Lovely Bride and I were wondering exactly what we were going to be doing during our week.  We are getting along in years a bit, and we are not what you would call athletic.  Wimpy...maybe even fluffy, but not athletic.  Soon after arriving, I made the discovery there were about as many tractors driving the streets as cars.  This part of Germany is heavy in farming and cattle production.  No row crops to speak of, but every little meadow in the valleys and on the mountain sides is being cut, raked and baled right now.  It rains a lot here and it shows in the quality of the fodder being put up.  Sunrise comes early here and the farmers have been hauling hay as soon as the dew is off until after 8:00 in the evening.  Driving in the surrounding mountains has revealed this to be the case not just here, but in all the alpine villages.  My wife has used the phrase, “Making hay while the sun shines”  more than once as we have been driving, and not as a joke!  Tractors join right in on all the narrow mountain roads, frequently slowing everyone down to 40 kph for miles.

Hungry Fräuleins
I headed out one morning early for a walk along one of the many trails which crisscross the hills around Wertach.  After an hour or so, I started hearing a ringing noise.  I have whacked myself on the head often enough over the years that this is not an unknown issue, but I was gratified to discover it wasn’t my ears ringing, but rather the bells on a small herd of heifers I happened upon.  They acted very interested in my presence, but I said my hellos and moved on up the trail.  I hadn’t made it more than a few yards(okay…meters) when I heard a tractor pulling up.  It was their farmer bringing them a bucket of cubes for breakfast.

 The Wertach Bergkäsesennerei(Cheese Co-op) makes a variety of cheeses native to the area using locally produced milk, and sells them in the cheese shop located behind the Rathaus.  A tour and explanation of the history of Wertach cheese making stretching back to King Ludwig is presented every Wednesday afternoon.

It is hard to characterize Wertach simply.  Yes, it is a tourist destination with all that entails.  There are Gasthaus, restaurants, hotels and condos to accommodate the seasonal influx.  But there is a core group of year-round residents who vigorously work the land producing the bounty which is in turn enjoyed by all.  Quiet and peaceful, but with lots of outdoor activities to fill your time if you want.

Sunset - Our view every evening

Finally Arrived!

Our long awaited trip to Prague, Vienna and Southern Bavaria finally happened after a multitude of delays.  Most were my own fault for being a clumsy child as my Mother frequently reminds me.  She is still in hopes I will someday grow up and settle down, even though I am now well past 60, and have retired from the Army and also from a second career which followed my time with Uncle Sam.

Since returning home to the thriving metropolis of Naruna, Texas, life has seemed determined to distract me from getting serious writing of our adventures.  I am trying to stay at home for awhile and get my notes converted into at least semi-logical thoughts which I can post.  Some of the ideas I actually worked on while on our trip occurred toward the end while we were staying in the small village of Wertach with few of the big city distractions we encountered in Vienna and Prague, so if stories seem to be out of sequence, they probably are.