Monday, 24 September 2018

Travel | 24 hours in the Bavarian alps

The end of August might traditionally see holiday makers jetting off to a Mediterranean beach, but we swapped blue skies and cocktails for blue skies and pretzels, on a whistle stop trip to the Bavarian alps.

The flight from Bristol to Munich with BMI was fast and fuss-free. The plane was small – rows of two seats one side, one the other – but the journey was smooth and comfortable, with leather seats and plenty of complimentary drinks and snacks on offer. There was no fuss about checking in bags or hidden costs for hold luggage, and staff were incredibly helpful and friendly.

Arriving into Munich International Airport, we made our way to the nearby train station and bought our tickets. The train took us into Munich and back out the other side, through fields and forests, past craggy peaks and still lakes – landscapes that looked like something from a Milka chocolate bar wrapper. After travelling for just over an hour, we arrived at our destination.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a picturesque town sitting at the foothills of Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze, and the neighbouring Alpspitze. The scenery is breathtaking. The town itself is an unspoilt gem full of Bavarian charm, the stuff of storybooks. We felt incredibly safe, confident of our way around and intrigued by the quaint architecture and traditional food and drink on offer.

We stayed in the friendly Reinhof hotel (lovely place, terrible website!), a family hotel with a focus on wellness. Our rustic room was spectacular – huge, with a generous seating area, floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony that ran the length of the room. The comfortable beds were cosied up with warm blankets and the headboard was a carved wooden duplicate of the mountain’s silhouette. We checked by looking out of those vast windows, as the peaks were our view.

Downstairs, there’s an outdoor pool, seven different types of sauna (we tried out four) in the spa area and a large restaurant. Décor is suitable alpine apres-ski chic, with sheepskins, and the trademark pale pine reappearing throughout. Andreas, the hotel manager and owner, was even wearing lederhosen for goodness sake!

And it was he who gave us all the insider info on how to get up that mountain we’d been ogling. After sleeping deeply in that cosy bed, we headed out into the fresh air and sunshine to get the cable car up the side of the tree-covered peak. The journey was short but breathtaking, and we emerged wobbly-legged at the top. We tossed a coin as to whether we sat with a beer and pretzel outside the café first or took our chances on the viewing platform. The pint won out, and we relaxed in the sun, hoping the cold beer would take the edge off our (my) fear of heights. When it was time to attempt the mesh grill pathways out over the abyss, I gingerly shuffled out to the very edge without looking down. The view was spectacular.

Andreas had advised us to take the old path down the mountain, as it was stepped and more atmospheric. The one hour ramble down was easy – we managed it in trainers and without any kind of equipment other than sunglasses! To our delight, there was a pub around three quarters of the way down, with a row of sun loungers outside just waiting for us. It’d be rude not to, so another beer was enjoyed along with some rays.

Then we took the final path to where a second cable car was waiting to take us back down to the ground. The entire walk took no longer than a couple of hours and every step we took was blue skies and incredible views while the clean, mountain air filled our lungs.

Once back down at basecamp(!) we took the bus through the town and out the other side, where we found the Olympic ski stadium. Again, a breathtaking sight. The stadium was built for the 1936 Winter Olympics, but used frequently since then, including for the Eddie the Eagle film of 2016.

Beyond the stadium lies the incredible Partnach gorge, a national monument of waterfalls ravines and rapids. The views in summer are beautiful – think stunning greens and blues, chocolate box wooden cottages and cooling rivulets – but imagine what it must look like in winter? Torchlit hikes take you through the frozen gorge, flames lighting up the glowing ice. Magical.

I’d love to return here again, perhaps in winter, to experience more of this lovely place. But first, 24 hours in Munich! Part two of our German adventure is coming soon…

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Disclosure: We were invited to experience this adventure by BMI airlines, who paid for our flight and accommodation plus some expenses. 
They did not pay me to write this review so you can be sure that my views are 100% accurate. 
Thank you for supporting the posts that make this blog possible. 

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