Spring is here. It came with such force that it made all those poems that talk about spring’s innocence and its soft awakening seem like a foolish, romanticising joke. Spring had it easy this year. Barely any snow cover that those first gentle flower heads needed to break through. Throughout Febuary temperatures never really dropped into frosts bitter grip. Early Febuary the first Schneeglöckchen popped up in our front yard and a week or two later: boom – it was everywhere! Sure, out on the country side you still saw bits of snow whithering away where the sun cannot break through the shadows of the trees, the flowers aren’t quite as abundant yet, but spring has undeniably made its entrance.
Had I not been to Canada over christmas and had I there not experienced the coldest temperatures that I’ve ever felt ( = -29°C displayed on the thermometer), I would think winter itself went on hibernation this year. It poked its stifling nose into the golden November air for a week and decided that it was too warm to reign for Väterchen Frost.
Now that spring is breaking through every crack I can not think of a reason why not to start the Biergarten season early this year. And since Dub and I are still looking for a place for our wedding ceremony somewhere around my hometown Gauting, last weekend we jumped into my grandma’s VW Golf and went on a Spritztour: Leutstetten – Ilkahöhe – Schlosspark Berg. It seemed like a genious idea, and it was pretty great. However, it seemed that all of the population of greater Munich was pretty genious, too, and had the same idea (which is why we skipped Berg in the the end).
The first stop on our Spritztour was Schloßgaststätte Leutstetten, 11:30 am. Just in time for Bavarian Weißwürst (vom Wallner, allegedly the best traditional white sausages made in München) and a refreshing Weißbier. Just in time, because they’re really supposed to be eaten before noon strikes so that they cannot hear the bells (but I will talk more about that in a separate post). We were actually the first customers that snuggled up in the morning sun. Silently we munched on our sausages and Brezn while the restaurant staff hustled and bustled to prepare for the expected Ansturm of Sonntagsausflüglern, the masses of sunday tourists, that would soon descend upon the sun flooded restaurant terrace overlooking the chestnut tree covered Biergarten that itself was still in hibernation.
In the summer, the Biergarten Leutstetten would take a special place in the memories of many of my friends – if by the time they reached the beergarden they could still commit much to memory. Summer is the time for Kastenlauf (= case run). The rules are simple: find a friend, grab a case of beer and walk from Starnberg via Leutstetten to Gauting. Don’t lose any bottles, don’t share, just drink up. And because tradition demands it, stop for one additional beer in Biergarten Leutstetten. I never participated. Probably for the better.
“Give while you live, once your dead youcan’t give no more”
We kept the beer drinking to a minimum this time and instead went for a baby walk just up the hill behind the restaurant. The path winds across the hillcrest between cow meadows and it was all nice in the warming sun. And then you turn south – and there they are! Die Alpen.
They just sit there like they always have and always will (which depending on your reference time frame for “always” is true of course). Not quite as overwhemling as when strong Fön chinook winds make them seems like they want to jump in your lap, but still enough to make my heart leap. They would make for a decent ceremony backdrop, don’t you think? At this point I was already trying to figure out who owns that piece of land, whether the cows would still be grazing in early September and whether we could have all of our guest walk for 1 hour through the meandering landscape in their party dresses without having them be too tired to dance away into the night later on.
We passed through our next stop pretty quickly maybe because we took the wrong entrance. And with the previous view still in mind and what we knew we could expect we left Kustermann Park in Tutzing after just another baby walk and headed off to Ilkahöhe. And this is were we met the first part of the rest of the greater Munich area population. The parking lot was packed to the brim and we waited in line to get a satisfying Kaskuchen for at least 15 minutes.
Ilkahöhe is a beatuiful hill crest/hill side on the southern half of Starnberger See. Open fields overlook the lake, village church towers poke out from between the gently sloping hills of the Alpenvorland and if you’re just a little lucky the Ammergauer section of the Alpen frames the view like a romatic oil painting. Forsthaus Ilkahöhe is the old forest keepers residence that now houses a restaurant and a small beergarden. The terrace is beautiful and the food is good, but when you want to escape the crowds, pack a picnic and climb up the hill a little further.