The topography in the Bavarian Forest can be challenging not just for wheelchair users. Fortunately, the most beautiful excursion destinations can also be easily experienced with a handicap. Travelling to high peaks, through gardens of glass, deep down into the world of moles
Boundless Freedom on Großer Arber Mountain
Freedom is just a few metres away. The panorama that unfolds at the mountain station of the Arber cable car is spectacular as it is. However, on the glass viewing platform, which seems like it stretches straight up into the sky in front of us, it feels like you’re about to take off.
Located just a few metres below the 1,456-metre-high peak of the Großer Arber, it offers an unparalleled view of the mountains and forests. And it’s literally limitless: “You can see as far as Šumava National Park in the Czech Bohemian Forest,” raves Walter Kilger.
Since ending his career as a competitive wheelchair table tennis player, he fortunately has more time to enjoy his home. And the highest mountain in the Bavarian Forest is one of his favourite places.
“When the weather is nice, with a correspondingly good view and a good lunch near the Gipfelkreuz, I feel a boundless sense of freedom!” Also, the legendary Bärwurz (a type of schnapps), which is traditionally popular not only in its high-proof form, grows here, says Kilger. “It used to be used as a medicine to treat gout, bladder problems, and digestive problems.”
Holiday vibes for everyone
"In the Arberland, 86 highlights are certified according to Travel for All"
High peaks that are pretty much touching the clouds, deep valleys through which lynx and wolves roam, and great herbs: the Bavarian Forest is wonderfully wild – and boasts a topography that is challenging even for those on their feet.
The entire region of the Bavarian Forest has set itself the goal of making holidays possible for everyone. 86 excursion destinations, restaurants and accommodation in the Arberland are already “Reisen für Alle”-certified (Travel for Everyone) for a carefree experience, and the number is rising.
Circular trail around the Arbersee lake
Another highlight is just a few bends in the road away from the Arber: the Großer Arbersee lake with its dark water, on which water lilies surf in the mountain wind, and with gnarled spruce trees clinging to the shore, is also an experience for wheelchair users.
“Even the circular trail around the Großer Arbersee lake is possible for wheelchair users with an electric drive or physically fit wheelchair users,” says Walter Kilger, who, as the representative for disabled people in his community of Gotteszell, is always on a mission to provide accessibility on his day trips.
He likes to meet up with friends at the pretty “Arberseehaus” restaurant and enjoy the view over the lake from the terrace. “And the toilet is excellent for wheelchair users!” emphasises Kilger. This is a topic that people on foot rarely think about, but one that is particularly essential for wheelchair users when planning an excursion.
Good accessibility, even for leisure activities
Kilger recognises that accessibility has long since ceased to be a concern that only affects a small fringe group. Almost ten per cent of all people in Germany are severely disabled – with a degree of disability of at least 50. “For people over the age of 64, the percentage is almost a quarter.”
Severe disability is defined as a degree of disability of at least 50. This involves a valid disabled person’s pass. Good accessibility is essential, even for leisure activities!
Our excursion with Walter Kilger continues on easily, taking us from the high mountains to the ground below: The walk-through tunnel, which brings the forest’s root kingdom to life through multimedia, is just one of the attractions in the “Haus zur Wildnis,” which we visit next.
The visitor centre of Bavarian Forest National Park is accessible, as are the outdoor areas where lynx, aurochs, and wild horses roam.
“I think it’s a wonderful place to experience the fauna and flora of the Bavarian Forest up close,” says Kilger. “And even as a local, every time I am able to admire the Bavarian Forest, which is informatively and vividly depicted on a large display, with all its villages and mountains, along with their respective elevations. I also really like how you can enjoy a beautiful day here even in bad weather.”
Time travel to glass
The Glass Gardens at the Glass Museum in Frauenau have an almost fairytale-like effect. Thick glass horsetails grow here on the banks of the Flanitz stream, with the sun sparkling a thousand times in the glass art. The world's first glass sculpture park with 31 installations by regional and international artists was established on the grounds of the Poschinger and Eisch glassworks in the Bachaue river meadow. Thanks to its centuries-old glassmaking tradition, Frauenau is known as the “Glass Heart of the Bavarian Forest.”
The exhibition inside the museum extends far beyond this; it takes you on a journey through time to glass and promises a genuine intoxication of shapes and colours. And this even goes for seemingly mundane things such as mouth-blown snuff bottles, of which the museum houses a huge collection. Walter Kilger doesn’t get sniffy when he sees them, but he is a little envious, because as a local patriot he once collected the little works of art himself!
Of course, Kilger has more tips for excursions, for which there is unfortunately no time today. One example is the adventure avenue at the border train station in Bayerisch Eisenstein with its several museums, exhibitions, and an art gallery.
“The bat centre alone is a highlight, and there is a great interactive exhibition about the Großer Arber.” He also raves about the Kurpark in Bischofsmais: “It’s very beautiful, with its narrow asphalt road. It’s all very idyllically nestled in the community of Bischofsmais. It's also easy to navigate with a rollator and wheelchair!”
For those who can’t get enough of the glassy, glittering world and have developed a taste for it in Frauenau, Walter Kilger recommends the Joska Glass Paradise in Bodenmais. There, not only can you look over the shoulders of glassblowers, glass cutters, glass painters and engravers, you can also try it out for yourself.
“It’s great to live where others go on holiday!” says Walter Kilger happily. And he is working to make his home a little more accessible every day.