Ascending Alspitze mountain

Whilst many of our fellow German campervanners were showering off the smokey aromas from the previous night’s barbecue, we were out on the first bus and into a misty Garmisch to search out coffee and a hot breakfast. It was strangely quiet in the centre and our chosen café mysteriously closed.

We found a welcome coffee from the one business open and wondered if we had confused the days, it was Friday surely? A long wait at the bus stop allowed us to work out that it was German Unity Day, and therefore a bank holiday.

We changed plans and found a local train service in the direction of Alpspitze, and its cable car.

The Zugspitzbahn train

It was a longer walk than anticipated from Unter Granau village across the valley but we spotted cows and barns and waved to the many daytrippers on the blue and white cogwheel train of the Zugspitzbahn whistling its way through the fields and up to the mountain tunnel.

Walking across the valley

Brunch on a bench

We tucked gratefully into our picnic lunch for a late breakfast on a bench at 11am. Cheerful groups of well-dressed locals walking dogs greeted us commenting on the early hour of our meal. Later we would realise they would be eating their lunches up above the clouds.

Finally at the cable car station we joined a large crowd waiting for the next flight. The bank holiday sunshine had brought people from across the whole area, locals as well as international tourists to the mountain playgrounds.

Jammed into the car we had stomach-churning views as we sailed and swung our way up the steep side of the Alspitze.

Valley view from the cable car

I didn’t enjoy it at all; the car lurched over sudden peaks and seemed to hang precariously at times right up against the rock face.

It was standing room-only and uncomfortable against beery and bad breaths and jabbing Nordic pole-ends.

Eagle’s view of the Zugspitze

It seemed to take an age to reach the Osterfelderkopf which was teeming with people of all ages, and several ridiculously small dogs. Simon ventured out onto the viewing platforms which jut out over a 1,000 metre vertical drop. You have to admire the architecture of the steel framed platforms that end in glass walls over thin air.

I was surprised by the number of very small children, toddlers some of them, being allowed to run up and down the platform by parents, presumably local and therefore fearless about the heights!

On the grassy slopes para-gliders laid out their silks and then ran and hurled themselves, whooping, into the warm currents of mountain air. Sun worshippers were set up for the day on loungers, many with rugs and towels, small picnic tables of food and drink and a few in swim wear. A bizarre sight!

A view of Garmisch from Osterfelderkopf at 1369m

It was a short ride down on the Hochalmbahn over mountain moorland and hiking trails to a gentle amble around the summit on an easy walking path busy with families and friends enjoying the sun. Every seat at every mountain restaurant was taken and vast quantities of beer and wursts were being tucked into.

The gentle Kreuzeckbahn gondola

We carried on walking to the cable car station at Kreuzeckbahn and took a gondola for two back down the mountainside. Much more enjoyable than the ride up, the ten minute descent swept us over forests and high pastures, and we spotted colourful hikers inching their way down along goat trails.

German Roulette on an alpine night

Treating ourselves to a bus all the way back to camp we got a second wind and headed back into Garmisch for an early evening spin at the local casino. We both won and then lost at roulette before walking back the couple of miles or so to the Wank and climbing up the moonlit walking path to the campsite.

All was quiet at the camp despite more than 100 vans now being parked up.

A quiet night on Camp Wank