The Allgäu stands for lush green pastures, gently undulating hills and winding country lanes in front of the grandiose silhouette of the Alps. We cruised in a 1963 Fintail through the idyll between Eglofs, Oberjoch and Balderschwang. Text and photos by Frank Heuer
Allgäu curves in a vintage Mercedes-Benz
And here we are, in the middle of the Allgäu no man's land. A narrow strip of asphalt between Eglofs and Unterreute leads past meadows and rustic, wood-paneled farms behind the splendor of geraniums. Cattle graze in the cultural landscape, which decelerates in its own way. The Allgäu owes the rolling hills, which are garnished by lakes and streams, to the glaciers of the Ice Age and their terminal moraines.
Our Fintail gurgles reassuringly in the lower speed range, completely unimpressed by the alpine panorama that we soak up in the cockpit.
Eglofs: Small, but delightful
Those who love solitude are in good hands in the Allgäu. “Better to be withdrawn then to be in the spotlight”, is the motto of hotelier, Josef Ellgass, with whom we stay. “When people are bustling in the cities, here in Eglofs, it stays largely calm and relaxed – even in midsummer.”
The architecturally beautiful and interesting hotel has already made the leap into traditional modernism. After exploring the lively old town of Wangen with its facades, towers and fountains, we feel beamed up in Eglofs by two meta-levels.
Maintaining a distance is quite simple. Together we enjoy the last rays of sunshine on the quiet village square with a handful of hikers while enjoying Allgäu beer. Then we answer the call of the associated farm, where we are spoiled with tender roast beef from GM-free beef and crispy salads from the rural neighborhood.
Analogue and unplugged across the country
In July, many Swiss claim the Allgäu for themselves. For them, it is a nearby and affordable summer retreat. It feels more relaxed in golden September, when the number of guests drops and there is still enough sun in the clear blue sky.
Early in the morning we roll on in good spirits towards the southeast, without a destination, without time. The windows of the 1960s limousine are wide open so that the wind, flavored by mown meadows and ethereal softwood, can blow into the interior of the cultivated Mercedes-Benz.
Once a popular status symbol of the entrepreneurial class, the car still proves to be a pleasant travel companion today, not least thanks to the four-speed steering wheel gearshift. Although the first gear grinds its teeth at times, the second shifts like butter and the third turns out to be the perfect all-rounder for the Allgäu mountain ranges.
Cool beer and a bathing lake
The ST 2006 takes us to the charming, sleepy village of Missen-Wilhams, where the small Schäffler brewery attracts our attention. Max Kuhn organizes a tour through the mysterious world of copper fermentation tanks and ice-cold storage cellars.
“We dispose of incorrectly filled bottles in-house at the end of the day”, grins Max mischievously. The export radius of the popular brew does not extend beyond the Allgäu. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to maintain the quality”, explains Kuhn.
What a panoramic view!
The Bergstätter Strasse winds its way up and opens into what is probably one of the most beautiful high-panorama roads in the Alp’s foothills. Lonely hamlets flit in front of our windshield made of fine wood. Börlas, Diepolz, Stoffels, Niedersonthofen. Sleepy villages that hardly anyone knows except the locals. Interrupted by lonely homesteads, all of which are united by the outrageously beautiful view of the mountains.
Feelings of happiness set in at Petersthal, where the Rottachsee awaits between green, forested hills and mountain silhouettes. A dip in the cool water and makes the afternoon heat bearable again. Air conditioning was not yet an issue in 1963 for the typical clients of the “Fin”, manufacturers and company bosses.
Jochpass: Germany's curve star
We follow the star on the chrome-plated radiator grille and turn onto the country road in the direction of Oy. From there, the B 310 is always uphill to Germany’s highest mountain village at an altitude of 1,136 metres. Oberjoch is a collection of hotels, sports shops and ski lifts. Leisure hikers return from day trips in the late afternoon, populating the café patios.
We quickly sink back into the deep, blue leather seats of our “Daimler”. The next stage? It leads through a maze of stout fir, spruce and sycamore trees. The Jochpass has 106 curves over six kilometres and is considered to be Germany’s most winding road.
We glide smoothly down the daring hill climb to Bad Hindelang. Not without secretly thanking the Mercedes engineers for the solid braking power of the fintail.
This way to Hindelang
Hindelang's historic town centre is tightly nested around its church tower. Prince Regent Luitpold, who was a hunter in Hindelang from the middle of the 19th century, built a splendid Art Nouveau palace on a hill in 1863, the historic walls of which are now a hotel boasting a magnificent view of the valley.
The subtly shiny chrome fintail fits perfectly with the ambience of the royal residence. In 1900, Luitpold, the successor to King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who drowned in Lake Starnberg, named Hindelang a spa and health resort offering a healthy climate.
You can enjoy a nice Kneipp treatment in the “Prinze-Gumpe” natural pool. Fresh mountain spring water gushes into a mountain pool built by the local residents. There is also a water treading facility and an arm basin for Kneipp fans.
The Allgäu tinkerers ensured that the water in the pond is self-cleaning. In addition, water flows from the mountain stream, which is heated by the sun through the stone slabs.
Up to the Riedberg Pass
At the organic cheese dairy Obere Mühle in Bad Hindelang, you can watch master cheesemaker Arturo Chiriboga make cheese in the morning. In the kettle, the thickened milk is being broken with the harp to make the so-called “cheese curd”. We think the three-milk cheese made from milk from sheep, goat and cow is particularly tasty.
Well equipped with cheese for the picnic later, we first drive via Sonthofen on the Höhenweg to Ofterschwang and Bolsterlang. Pure driving pleasure. Accompanied by the sonorous purring of the six-cylinder, we conquer the Riedberg Pass.
Germany's highest pass road meanders in wide loops to alpine 1,407 metres and the further passage through the Balderschwanger high valley becomes the highlight of the day.
Through the Balderschwanger high valley
A short detour through Austria and we reach Lindenberg. The Bavarian city with the most hours of sunshine impresses with its location! Located on a high plateau and crowned by beautiful distant views and a graceful forest lake, the town unites all of the Allgäu's advantages.
Nowhere else is the perceived density of organic dairies greater than in the neighbouring village of Scheidegg. “The basic supply is guaranteed in any case”, says Angelika Herrmann, saleswoman at the village dairy in Böserscheidegg.
Juicy meadow herbs and spicy hay determine the cheese flavours. It’s good that there is still space for a cooler bag of cheese goodness in the generously sized trunk!