The Bavarian Alps

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Where I stayed
Hostel 2962

Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Thursday, September 16, 2010

On our way to Garmisch, we stopped in Oberammergau. Our previous rail journeys have seemed to pass through continuous towns, or maybe occasionally past a small field. Here, the train stations are tiny bare platforms in fields, one house visible in the distance.
Oberammergau is known for its 10 yearly performance of the 'passion play' - actors must all be locals for the 6 hour amateur rendition of Christs suffering. The tradition was started in 1634 after plague deaths miraculously stopped after a promise to perform the passion every 10 years. Just so happens that it is on, not only this year, but the very day we were there (sold out, a little to my relief). The town is also famous for the scenes painted on the houses. Some are religious scenes, or farming life, but many are nursery rhymes - we found little red riding hood and Hansel & Gretel.

Garmisch Partenkirchen's claim to fame is as host of the 1936 winter Olympics. These days it is an upmarket ski resort in winter, hiking resort for the rest of the year. Our first day we set off to climb Mount Wank (you can tell the English speakers by the giggles), known for its fabulous views over the alps. We slogged up to the 1780m summit for fabulous views of the inside of clouds. It was eerily quiet at the top, the only other people we saw on the way were speed hikers with walking poles, overtaking us on steep uphill slopes, poles clicking madly on the rocks. The other company was a herd of steers halfway up, snorting curiously, their bells clanking with every movement. When we tried to take photos, they inevitable got curious and came to see what was happening.

Some scenery that we did manage to see, unobscured by cloud, was the Partnachklamm gorge (below cloud level. Ha! foiled you this time clouds). The gorge has a narrow trail running along a ledge and through windowed tunnels with the Partnach river rushing by below. We hiked along one of the many trails at the other end, a loop back through the forest that spat us out at the Olympic stadium complete with brand new and frighteningly high ski jump ramps.

With an afternoon spare, we picked out a nearby lake on the map (Reissersee) and set off. It was disappointingly reminiscent of a duckpond in colour and scum, not quite the alpine lake we had been envisaging. Next to it are the remnants of the Olympic bobsled track - now just some raised earth and a few metal bars.

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