Our week at the lake of Garda has come to an end and it is time to return to Berlin. Soon after leaving the region, we re-enter German speaking territory in South-Tirol, the Northern region of Italy which used to be part of Austria until the end of World War One, and which has kept German as primary language next to Italian for a century now.
Just after Bolzano (or Bozen in German), we leave the impressive Brenner highway, which cuts through the Italian and Austrian Alps until Innsbruck, and climb up steep and windy mountain roads through the local vineyards until we reach the beautiful little family run mountain inn called “Patscheider Hof” on Mount Renon (or Ritten in German) which is really worth a detour. We have been here several times before and enjoy a marvelous lunch with the famous dumplings of the region made out of cheese, spinach and mushroom, sprinkled with olive oil and grated Parmesan, best accompanied by a glass of cooled Vernatsch or Lagrein from the family’s vineyard that surrounds us with a spectacular view into the mountains and the magnificent rock formation called “Rosengarten” (rose garden in English).
After this recreational moment, we return on the Brenner highway in the early afternoon. Our next destination is Gauting, a town southwest of Munich, where my parents live and where we stay for two nights to share some moments with the extends family before returning to Berlin. Shortly before getting there, we have to pick up something in a small Bavarian village near Sauerlach south of Munich. The family that owns the place in the Périgord, where we stayed earlier during our trip and who we met on our last night there, lives here. They have been so kind to take back with them from France two antique prints of Henry IV and his children as well as of the children of Louis XVI which I bought for my parents when we were in the region. Our hosts welcome us warmly under a colorful Bavarian pre-alpine evening sky with a Bavarian Brotzeit and a pint of cold Bavarian beer in their garden and we are just overwhelmed.
Our stay in Gauting is a wonderful family reunion with my parents and my sister Annette and her family who come over for a big family barbecue dinner under the Bavarian starlit sky with long conversations about the many experiences we have made throughout our journey. It will take some time to digest all these images and I plan to share some of my reflections on this blog over the next few weeks.
Back to Berlin
It’s a sunny Saturday morning when we pack up our things for one last time to take the journey back home to Berlin.
We do one last lunch stopover in the charming Altmühltal in the north of Bavaria in a hidden country inn called “Landgasthof Wagner” (no family connection, unfortunately…) and enjoy a hearty but refined Bavarian lunch before driving straight through to Berlin, leaving the rolling hills of the South behind us and re-entering the vast and wide lands of Brandenburg with its extended pine tree woods and large horizons.
We arrive in Berlin late in the evening. It is warm and we breathe in the smell of the pine trees that surround our neighborhood. We are home again. My sister Stephanie, who has garded our house during our absence, has prepared a little welcome home surprise for us on the dining table.
We unpack our Volvo completely for the first time since we left Berlin. There it sits. Quiet and peaceful. I tap on the hood and thank our old friend for having carried us so reliably all those 7.000 kilometers along our itinerary through valleys and mountains, along rivers and seacoasts, and through the heat of the Western European summer. Our European Union Tour West has come to an end and it is now time to air out our hiking boots and to let things fall into place. Like the pumpkin that has grown in a tree in our garden while we were gone. Just like that.