I’m in the south of Germany,
in the foothills of the Allgäu Alps. And this is Kempten, the biggest city in the Allgäu
region. But around here “big” is relative – it’s only home to about 70,000 people
despite the fact that it was first settled over two centuries ago.
I thought I’d take a guided tour to find out more about it. We’re not only checking out
Kempten. I want to try biathalon – a combination of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting and learn how to prepare a classic, regional dish. Hello, are you my guide? Lovely weather we are having. Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you to our wintry tour of Kempten. Bettina Löffeler kicks off our tour in front of the town hall. It’s a landmark of Kempten and dates from the 14th century. But Kempten is a lot older than that. 2,000 years ago the city was called ‘Cambodunum’. Try to imagine Cambodunum just over there. The Roman outpost was situated on the other side of the Iller river and 33 meters above it. In 15 B.C., the Romans arrived at the river.
History informs us that they found a Celtic settlement with the same name here.
This is why Kempten claims to be Germany’s oldest city. But there’s no
definitive evidence for that. Centuries later, during the Reformation,
Kempten was a divided city. There was a Catholic and a Protestant part.
The church of St. Mang was once the protestant heart of Kempten and is the oldest place of worship in town. Services were directed toward the middle of the church.
Until around ten years ago the pulpit, baptismal font and the altar were in the center of the church.
Then it was all moved to the east side. Imagine having to turn your head like this for a half an hour to hear the minister. It was unbearable. That’s why these adjustable benches were built.
Just flip the backrest and viola! You have a perfect view of the pulpit.
Pretty practical, don’t you think? We continue on to the former Catholic part of town with the Basilica of St. Laurence and representative residence of the Duke-Abbots.
Abbott’s and it’s also where our tour of And it’s also where our tour of Kempten ends. If you have plans to to visit the Allgäu, it’s best to fly to Munich and rent a car. Not only will you be able to get from one
one place to the next, you will be treated to spectacular nature at every turn. I’ve arrived at my next stop: Nesselwang. Here, I am going to rent the equipment I need for my next endeavour: an introduction to the biathlon. My instructor for the day is Walter Fricke. Ok, let’s go! You’re probably a bit faster than me. You ski the traditional way and I’ll ‘skate’. So I guess I’ll see you in half an hour? Sounds good! So right, left. The Biathlon is extremely popular in Germany.
Or at least lots of people like to watch the competitions on TV. How did the biathlon originate? Who came up with the idea of putting cross-country skiing and rifle shooting together? Cross-country skiing has always been popular in Scandinavia, even for hunting with a weapon. That’s how the idea was born. In Germany, most biathletes are in the military.
That means they train under professional conditions. The Biathlon isn’t really a recreational recreational sport.
But here in Nesselwang, those who are curious can give it a try. a try good here’s what you do can you Good, here’s what you do. Kneel down, lay your poles to the side and as you can see, there’s already have a bit of snow on our weapon. The skiing really gets your heart pumping. That makes it difficult to hold the rifle steady and hit the targets 50 metres away. Pull back. Push in. How long does it take pros to do this? Clack, clack, it goes really quick. Ok. Practice makes perfect. Hey… nope, again. No, no no! Look through here! There? Uh. I’ve been using the wrong one! No! Here! Through this little hole. Look! Now you’ve got it. Much better! Hit it! Now I’m ready for a little friendly competition! Ready, set, go! I’m gonna pass you! Ok, the final spurt … and we made it. Congratulations. That made me hungry, so I’m really looking forward to
my next stop: the Allgäu Cheese-making School in Lindenberg.
Here you can learn how to make Kässpatzen. The recipe’s quite simple. You take two eggs per portion, around 150 grams of flour, and 100 milliliters of water. Let’s get cracking! It’s a kind of poor man’s meal. In the past people simply took leftover cheese, grated it and added it to pancakes, another simple dish. Flour-based dishes used to be staples, and they just mixed something with it. The noodle dough’s finished. It’s time to put it in hot, salty water. Not as salty as the Mediterranean,
but in that general direction. Here we have our spaetzle grater, but you can also use a spaetzle press. You put it on here,
fill it with dough and start grating. No sooner said than done. It’s not so hard.
And the noodles look just like they should! Cook them for a minute or two, remove from the water,
and then add add the cheese. The mixture should be tossed, rather than stirred until the
cheese is evenly distributed. Then, top the noodles with fried onions and some
mountain herbs. And we’ve got ourselves some delicious Bavarian soulfood! Now for something completely different. I am going
to check out the carriage museum in Bad Hindelang. It’s a labor of love for a passionate local collector,
but at times you get the sense you are in a chamber of horrors.
The museum exhibits a large variety of sleighs and carriages, fitted out with all sorts of paraphernalia. One of the museum’s most valuable pieces is this
Bohemian funeral carriage. The man behind the museum is Martin Weber.
He’s a local contractor who’s travelled throughout Europe in search of
items for his collection. The carriage museum might not be everyone’s cup of tea…but there is no denying that a lot of dedication and imagination has gone into
putting it together. What better way to end my visit to the Allgäu region than with a walk through the incredibly enchanting mountain landscape. This is where it ends, my little tour of the Allgäu.
No matter if you’re into winter sports or nature, whether you’re a fan of
time-honoured traditions or quirky curiosities, between Kempten and Bad Hindelang you’ll find it all.
Extremely worth a visit. See you next time,
somewhere in Germany