On Monday, the 14th of September, O.K. loaded the car with our suitcases, rucksacks and an open box containting our hiking boots, and drove us south-east towards the mountainous region of Germany that is called Allgäu. It took almost exactly 3 hours to cover the 245 km; the roads were busy, but we got through without much hindrance. It was a beautiful day - 30 Celsius in Ludwigsburg, and only a few degrees cooler at our destination.
Reception at the hotel was very friendly, and once we had put our luggage in our room, we immediately went back downstairs for coffees and cake - all part of the package. Sitting on the sunny terrace was nice, but after the long drive we wanted to stretch our legs and exlpore our surroundings, and so we set off for a first short walk around.
Views from our room: the first two from our balcony, the next two from the window facing east.
View of Balderschwang, as seen from our room:
Walking into the village:
The small church from the other side:
This stream at the bottom of the valley, the Bolgenach, shows how dry the summer has been. In spring, when the snow melts on the mountains, it makes a very different picture.
Balderschwang is a tiny village spread out across the Balderschwanger Tal (valley) in small clusters, the biggest of them being Balderschwang itself - basically consisting of the little church, two or three hotels, a shop for outdoors and skiing equipment, a fire department and tourist information/communal administration. Oh, and there are two larger buildings next to the church, containing the offices and studios of Radio Horeb, a Catholic radio station. There is also a boarding house for school classes, but it was all empty while we were there. No bakery, no butcher, no supermarket, pharmacy or drugstore; we kept wondering where people go for their daily groceries. Some of the farms have a small farm shop, selling mostly dairy products and eggs, but that's it.
Some of the other village parts consist of one single farm house, others (like where our hotel was) of several buildings. Altogether, the village has less than 400 inhabitants.The Austrian border is only a couple of km away, and in winter, Balderschwang is popular for skiing - not the posh or noisy crowd you would find in some of the well-known places, but more family-oriented.
Up until the 1960s, the village (at a height of just above 1,000 m) was by car only reachable via Austria. Then a proper road was built across the Riedbergpass (1,407 m), making it accessible directly without leaving Germany. Sometimes the pass road has to be closed in winter after heavy snow fall. In the snow-free months, it is a very popular road with motorbikers - much to the residents' dismay, but good for the beer gardens who put signs out "Bikers Welcome".
We liked what we saw and knew we had come to the right place for the peace and quiet we wanted (we knew we were not going near the busy road). After dinner, we planned our first hike for the next day, looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful area.