Realising that the Wankbahn was going to be very busy with bank holiday makers (on German Unity Day) we decided instead to use our ‘gaste karte’ and travel for free on the snow express train to Austria, still bathing in the warmth of an Indian summer.
On the early train we enjoyed views back across the valley we had hiked through the day before and up to the Alspitze and Zugspitze mountains. It was a blue sky morning and the peaks were stark against the clear skies.
Back at ground level the green grass was verdant and the leaves of the deciduous trees were turning to ambers, golds and deep reds.
All went well until the conductor told us that our free pass for the train was not valid, as there was no snow.
Admittedly we had wondered about this, so bought a ticket to the first Austrian station of Ehrwald, where a few days previously we had thought to stay overnight.
Getting closer to Austria it felt even brighter and warmer. At Ehrwald we decided it was pointless to retrace Bertha’s pass up the mountain to the cable car as neither of us wanted to spend the expense of seeing ‘Zugspitze, the top of Germany’ from either the Tyrol cable car or the Bayern one.
Instead we meandered into the village and were instantly rewarded with the sight of a farmers’ market set up on a central field. It wasn’t even 11am and trestle tables were full of feasting families and groups of drinking friends. We joined them by sharing the earliest beer of the trip and sat in the sun watching the comings and goings.
It was a good natured and simple affair and seemed to be mainly about eating. An accordion player struck up and as more locals arrived more benches were put out by a serious-looking young man with a dark beard and braces (we named him ‘Mumford’).
Striking off across the ‘moosweg’ to the next village of Lemoos, we crossed yet another valley floor. ‘Moos’ means marsh and the area was so named by Romans who tirelessly built a straight road through the Tyrol, navigating natural obstacles such as rivers and the odd mountain!
The passing trains blew their horns at the entrance to the valley and the sound ricocheted between the mountains. It was hot and the waters of the babbling streams were clear and cool. Swans glided on the waters and crickets sawed away in the marshier places.
In Lemoos we found a café and Simon finally got to try some apple strudel. It was sticky and sweet and rolled in a soft pastry. It came with a hot custardy vanilla sauce. He was delighted!
The conductor welcomed us back onto the return train and ignored that we had got on a station earlier than our return ticket strictly allowed. Garmisch railway station was busy with groups of men and women dressed in Tyrolean costumes of lederhosen and bodices who were heading to or from the last day of Oktoberfest in Munich.
The sunshine brought a party atmosphere so later that evening we joined other campers at the annual Wank ‘Erbstfest’ to celebrate autumn.
The farmer was busy on the barbecue and his family were serving drinks and waiting on trestle tables packed with motorhomers. A father and daughter music act sang English pop songs in the corner. We knew the words but no one else seemed to.
It was a smoky, cheerful and enjoyable way to end our stay on the mountain!