Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ettal, Germany: Monk's Beer and Cheese

This past weekend Husband and I had planned for the second time to visit Berchtesgarten. But...for the second time, we changed our plans not feeling up to the near 3 hour drive. Instead we found ourselves in the teeny tiny town of Ettal, Germany.
Nestled in the foothills of the Alps, somewhere between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Linderhof Palace, you might pass through the town of Ettal without even realizing it. There is not even a stop light! Husband and I only noticed Ettal on last trip to Linderhof Palace after seeing a tour bus pull over. (Husband and I have a thing about following tour buses unintentionally and finding cool spots.)

Curious as to why a tour bus pulled over in this bump in the road, Husband and I drove back to the Alps on Saturday to find out what it is Ettal, Germany had to offer. Which is exactly how we found Ettal Abbey, a Benedictine Monastery, founded in 1309. 
Another breathtaking baroque abbey in a serene setting, it was the perfect way to spend a quiet Saturday morning. We walked around and looked at the paintings and elaborate alters. There is something mind opening about seeing places of faith that existed long before Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Every time I am reminded that this life is much bigger than me.
We spent time sight seeing on the monastery's grounds. The Ettal monastery is still in operation to this day. Guys, I had my head down coming out of the abbey and nearly took out a monk. Only me...  Don't you just love this reflection bench? (on the right)
On the property there is a pretty big garden with greenhouses, a school, housing, and in true monastery fashion...a brewery. Ettaler Kloster-Beer is brewed right here on sight. In fact, we are pretty sure we talked to the head brew master and monk in charge. They didn't seem to think it was a big deal that Husband and I were wondering around their loading dock. Husband was in Heaven!
Right next door to the monastery, is a cheese maker and shop. What do you call making cheese anyways? This shop is called Schaukäserei Ammergauer Alpen. The cheese is sampled and sold on the top floor. Then all around the shop are glass windows looking down onto the ground level where the cheese is made. Out front you can see the milk holding tank and then of course, the milk source, the cows!
Last week when I mentioned I wanted to start a Living Internationally series, Megan asked about buying cheese. Well... Megan here is the cheese! From the dairy cows outside in the fields, to the big vat of curdling milk, to wheels of cheese stored and aged. Ammergauer Alpen also sells fresh milk, butter, and yogurt. I bought a strawberry yogurt to eat on the spot. It was the creamiest yogurt I have ever tasted. We also bought a wedge of beer cheese and herbed cheese to take home!
After a nice Bavarian lunch outside on a patio, Husband and I headed out of Ettal. We drove another 20 kilometers deeper into the foothills of the Alps until we ended up at the Weiskirche
This oval white church (hence the name!) is pretty well known among tourists. In between, Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Füssen, I'm surprised Husband and I did not visit during our first Germany visit in 2010. 
Husband and I had a fun day getting out of the "city". It was nice to see some of the Bavarian countryside and enjoy a slower life pace. Driving through the Alps never gets old. Being outside with the traditional homes, rolling hills, and mountain backdrops relaxes me and I feel "refreshed". 

Rain in the distance. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Traditional Bavarian styled home.

Does your family enjoy getting out and exploring new areas?

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  1. Cool post Maren. I've been to Ettal many times but never visited the cheese making place! So cool, it is on my list now.

    1. We finished the cheese we bought Saturday on Monday! Two wedges... I will go with you!


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