Snowed Under

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
1
38
187
Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Sunday, March 31, 2013

Howdy folks,

It started out to be a cool trip through the Alps and ended up being too cold! Sadly our weeklong adventure which was to continue to Wednesday ended today when we drove home, but not without good reason!

Yesterday morning we woke up and looked out of our hotel window in Schwangau and couldn't see a thing! It turns out that the clouds had rolled over during the night and covered the town with a thick fog and snow. We wondered what to do because we had been set to check out Schloss Neuschwanstein and the Zugspitze, so we checked the webcam to see how things were over in Garmisch-Partinkirchen. On the Zugspitze it looked like that there was only low cloud covering the town, but the peak was clear so we decided to take our chances and drive over.

As we drove the 60kms around the Gerstenfilz Nature Reserve the road was really foggy although at some points the clouds disappeared and we had some sunshine come through. As we drove into the town it seemed to be clear around the foot of the mountains, so we had hope that we could get lucky. We parked the car and walked through the town to the Bahnhof where the Zugspitze railway departed. Unfortunately we just missed the train by 10 minutes so we walked through the town centre for 45 minutes while we waited. The buildings were nicely decorated with various landscape scenes and traditional ways of living.

At 11:15am, we boarded the train which took us along the base of the mountains to the Grainau Bahnhof where we switched trains to the cogdriven train that was to take us up the mountain. We continued to two more points before the train went into a tunnel and a safety video started telling us about 'the most exciting part of our journey.' It really wasn't and finally at 12:30pm we popped out at the Zugspitzplatz Bahnhof some 360m short of the peak where there was a series of ski lifts.

To our dismay looking up at the peak revealed that it was clouded over. We had missed our view by an hour. The most impressive thing about the Zugspitze compared to the Canadian Rockies is that it rises almost straight up 2.2kms in elevation from the town below and that the view extends into several countries, well that is what is promoted! We decided to have lunch before heading up in a gondola to the summit where our worst fears were confirmed. We had just paid €40 each to see what the inside of a cloud looks like!

In the vain attempt to give us some hope, we spent the next two hours at the highest point in Germany at 2962m looking at all of the displays, walking over to the Austrian side of the peak and taking a look at the museum. Even after a hot chocolate, the view was still obscured so we reluctantly took the Eibsee Gondola back down again. As we were squished into the gondola like sardines we didn't see a single thing on the way down. The clouds were that thick...

The train ride back into town revealed a light rain shower and low cloud cover completely shattering our moods. Not wanting to hang around we drove miserably back into Schwangau to our hotel. Even going out for dinner at a local restaurant didn't cheer us up that much, the damage was done.

We went to bed early and set our clocks forward an hour for daylight savings when we awoke. The first thing I saw looking out the window was nothing. The clouds were even thicker and even more snow had fallen overnight! Checking the weather forecasts didn't reveal any better news and we were faced with a stark reality. We wouldn't be seeing the Schloss Neuschwanstein, we wouldn't see anything driving through the Alps and the weather wasn't going to get much better.

In the end not wanting to waste any more money, we brushed a good 4 inches of snow of the car and started driving back to Heidelberg. The roads were terrible, slick with ice and snow and Steffie did a good job getting us home in one piece. We had to stop for fuel on the way and it cost us €1.71 - a new high! That is $2.11 Australian!

We arrived back to a partially cloudy Heidelberg with no snow in sight just before 2pm. It felt like we had been a world away, but in reality it was just a 4 hour drive. The parents were definitely surprised to see us back so soon as they were in the middle of replacing our upstairs toilet! It is a pity that we didn't continue the trip, but I think sometimes you have to know when to call it quits: no point wasting money and having a bad time.

To have such low temperatures and so much snow over the Easter weekend is pretty rare here in Germany, this time in Heidelberg last year they had 20 degrees Celsius!
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