Chiemsee | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 06.11.2001
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For some, it's all about a vision-thing, for others, it is a trip into the past. Whatever your flavour may be, at Chiemsee, life's plain sailing.


Chiemsee is a first class sailing resort in the South of Germany. Its frequently changing winds make it one of the country’s most interesting inland waters. Because of its size, the locals have dubbed it the "Bavarian Sea". The lake covers 85 000 square square kilometers.

Most of the sailing action is located on the Fraueninsel (Women's Island), which is also home to a colony of artists, keen on getting back to nature. They were the first to rig sails to the traditional flat fishing boats typical of the region.

These unusual little boats are renowned for their simplicity. They are not particularly fast, but they still have plenty of appeal for ambitious sailors.

Taking on the Big Boys

This year, the Chiemgauers, as the locals are known, took their boats to the north coast, where the world's biggest sailing event, the Kieler Woche takes place. Initially no-one took the Bavarians seriously, but when they saw them in action, they were highly impressed.

"The boat is more or less made of a sail, a hull, two ropes, a mast and a sheet", says Georg Klampfleuthner, a Chiemsee Sailor, " so a lot of people look at it and laugh and assume it will sink".

Ulli Fink, a German sailing expert, described it as a boat from the Stone Age and others who've sailed around the world have also laughed at it. "But they've come to realise that it takes skill and sensitivity to handle the boat. You don't necessarily need state-of-the art technology, sometimes simple instruments work just as well."

There's no shortage of luxury boats here either. The spa resort Seebruck is situated on the north east bank of the lake. With 500 moorings, the port is one of the largest in Bavaria.

Archaeologist's Paradise

But you can also delve into the past in Seebruck. The holiday resort was once a Roman outpost between Salzburg and Augsburg. Seebruck boasts some of the most impressive Roman relics in Bavaria.

"Holidaymakers, who visit us here, are more interested in our cultural heritage than the people who live here", according to Carl Ostermayer, an archaeologist. "I appreciate that visitors who come here want to find out more about the place than the lake, the mountains and all that".

From the past to the present, Chiemsee attracts a mixed bag of tourists from all over the world. For some, its a vision thing, for others a rare chance to see a world from the past. Whatever, when in Bavaria, do as the Bavarians do when they are at the Chiemsee. Relax.

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