Friday, February 3, 2017

Grüß dich! Why You Need to Visit Bavaria

View from the Zugspietz

I can honestly say that the amazing little spot of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Gasthof Fraundorfer in the south of Germany was a huge highlight of my entire trip to central Europe and possibly anywhere! If you ever get the chance to visit this part of the world I can guarantee that you won't be disappointed with this wonderful, authentic Bavarian Guesthouse. The Guesthouse is a family run
Gasthof Fraundorfer
establishment owned by Maria, the matriarch, and her daughter, Barbara, and is a popular spot amongst both locals and tourists. I spent two nights here while I explored the amazing surrounding countryside and hiking around the local mountains. 

After traipsing around several countries and cities for many days I decided I needed a little down time away from the crowds of the cities of this part of Europe so instead of stopping in Munich I transferred trains, after travelling from Salzburg, and headed to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (I still can't actually pronounce this). I met a woman and her son who had lived on an American military base in the area for the past five years or so and were getting ready to return to the states. Shockingly they knew very little about the area and admitted that they spent most of their time stationed here on the base and socializing with other military families!

Since this is a rather small town/city I was forced to take a taxi to the Guesthouse and once again felt the sting of this rather unscrupulous method of transport.
My angst was quickly dispelled though when I arrived at the Guesthouse and took in the amazing surroundings. Everywhere I walked I saw wonderful buildings like those you only imagine in stories such as Hansel and Gretel with a backdrop of the most stunning snowcapped peaks. After depositing my bags in my room (which reminded me of high end cottages up in ski country) I headed out to the patio to partake in that great Bavarian (and Canadian) beverage, a beer!


Bavaria is a German state in the south of Germany rich in culture and history. Bavarians pride themselves on their traditions which shows in their unique dialogue, food, and clothing. The town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a mecca for avid hikers and ski aficionados as it is surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the Alps offering some of the most amazing panoramic views I've ever witnessed. 


After finishing my beer I couldn't wait to traipse through the town and was thrilled when a few turns took me to the start of some mountain trails. I spent a couple of hours hiking upwards and admiring the amazing scenery before wandering through the town again. I seriously felt like I was in the middle of a movie set as I walked past houses decorated with bright colours and adorned with window boxes full of flowers. 

I headed back to my Guesthouse and settled down on the outdoor patio for a delicious dinner of schnitzel and a beer (when in Rome)!
I struck up a conversation with a woman from Finland who had lost her mother a few months previously. She told me that she and her mother had been travelling around Europe visiting castles as this was a particular passion. This was her first trip on her own and she had driven all the way to Bavaria as the area offers some extraordinary castle experiences. I'm not a huge castle fan but I love hearing about the passions that motivate other travellers. As we were talking, a band of Bavarian musicians and three boys, all dressed in traditional clothing, came out and entertained us with some music and dance. 

Best View I've Ever Seen

The next morning I was determined
to find my way to the Zugspietz.  At nearly 3000 metres above sea level, the Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany and boasts three glaciers. At the top the visitor is treated to extensive views of over 400 mountain peaks in four countries. Even after extensive research I was still a bit uncertain about how to reach my destination so I was very happy to meet up with my dinner companion of the night before at breakfast who then offered to drive my to Eibsee at the base of the mountain. Upon my arrival I joined a very small queue and opted to purchase the Garmisch-Classic ticket which was a bit pricey but would mean I could take an aerial cable car to the summit, a rack and pinion railway down and then travel on a cogwheel train to the base of the Alpspitze where I could take another cable car to the top. Luckily, it was a beautiful day and I was absolutely stunned by
the views from both peaks. While taking a ridiculous number of pictures at the Zugspietz I noticed a couple trying to take a selfie with the amazing backdrop and asked if they would like me to take their picture. Later, I again met up with the same couple as we shared a car for the forty minute ride down. This newlywed couple were from the middle east and were celebrating the completion of the wife's nursing program. Dressed in a niqab she seemed a bit reluctant to speak to me at first but eventually became more relaxed and I had a wonderful conversation about his work as an engineer and her work as a nurse. Once again, on this trip, I felt like the best way to become less afraid of our fellow occupants on this great planet is to just get out there and meet people!

I really thought my day couldn't get any better but when I reached the top of the Alpspitze I realized it could! I stopped for a little lunch at the restaurant and then noticed a couple of fellows getting ready to wind surf off the mountain so I sat down with a group of visitors to watch them take off. I then decided to start hiking down the mountain instead of using the cable car. I figured since this was going to be downhill it would be a lot
Best Strudel ever!
easier then the Inca Trail and I was right. The scenery was stunning and I was very excited when, after a couple of hours, I came to a wonderful chalet restaurant (Adolf Zoeppritz Haus)
 and decided to indulge a little in an authentic piece of Streusel (I figured I deserved this after all the hiking I had done that day). This piece of food heaven is probably the best thing I have ever eaten, and as I write this I am salivating!

Ein Prosit!

I did eventually make it back to my Guesthouse by taking a handy bus that showed up right at the base. I showed the driver my map and pointed where I needed to go and when he nodded, I figured all was good. I headed up to my room for a well deserved rest.

When I headed back down to the restaurant I was surprised to see it jammed - apparently this is a hotspot for the day tourist bus trips from Munich! Maria sat me down at a table with a group of older local gentlemen, all dressed in Bavarian traditional clothing, who were friends of her late husbands and continued to meet weekly.
The next five hours or so were a blur of Bavarian music, beer, and numerous shots of god knows what as my dinner companions decided they were going to show the Canadian visitor that Bavarians are the most hospitable people around! I do know that no one would let me buy a drink and the fact that none of these fellows could speak English (and I can't speak Bavarian) the conversation never lagged! After the crowds had dispersed, and the doors were locked, the hostesses of the guesthouse both joined us for a few more bevvies.

At some point, after complaining that my sinuses seemed to be quite stuffy after my ascent to the clouds earlier in the day, one of the old fellows surreptitiously took a little tin can from his pocket and carefully poured a line of brown looking powder along the back of my hand and indicated that I should breathe it into my nostrils. I was assured by my hostesses that the substance was not some nefarious contraband but was indeed snuff (finally ground tobacco)...I'm not sure how this was meant to alleviate my sinuses....

Obviously, I was not feeling particularly spritely the next morning and was relieved that one of the group from the previous evening, an American ex-patriot, ex-military fellow met me at breakfast and offered a ride to the train station...I was more than happy to accept!

Fun Fact: Garmisch-Partenkirchen was the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics infamously known as the Nazi Olympics.

Fun Fact: The Zugspietz peak is a boarder between Germany and Austria and at one time you had to show your passport to wander around the summit.

Just a few of the great people who I met!

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