Climb Every Mountain

Trip Start Jul 06, 2009
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Trip End Jul 27, 2009


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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 9, 2009

Climb Every Mountain

Today started off with another breakfast of champions. From there it was a visit to the Euraide station to get our Eurail passes validated.  The gentleman from yesterday was nowhere to be found, but neither was the personality of the young woman who helped us.  Without cracking a smile, she validated our passes and we were off to the Gleis for a train bound to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the village at the foot of the Alps that would serve as our launching point for Zugspitze.  Along the route, we took in a number of rural Bavarian villages.  The architectural style of the houses was relatively consistent and reminded us of Swiss chalets.  Lots of stucco (often adorned with painted artwork), wood, tile roofs, and balconies with hanging flowers.  What we were left wondering about were the many small "barns" or “sheds” that seemed to dot the countryside and were all relatively close to one another.  We couldn't understand why a few larger barns couldn’t have served a similar purpose…  but, we weren’t really sure what the purpose was.  It was also pretty clear that wood was an important fuel source in the winter months as there were stockpiles of firewood at virtually every turn.

After a bit of wandering around looking for tourist information we could have found 500 yards away, we made our way back to the Zugspitzebahn rail terminal.  There, we boarded a cog rail line originally built in 1928-1929.  [Note: This is where the Olympics were held in 1936.]  After a few scenic stops, the train entered a tunnel and after a bit we walked out onto a glacier, threw some snowballs, took some great pictures, and climbed up to the highest church in Germany that had been blessed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict).  Rich and Jake bought some coins of his back in Italy in 2005.  They are still probably not worth much than when we bought them, but Popes come and go.

Our next step was to ride a cable car up to the summit (approximately 10,000 feet above sea level).  Part of the observation deck was enveloped with clouds, particularly the Austrian side.  The German side, at that time, was relatively clear, sunny, and “warm.”  After venturing across the border and back, we visited Germany’s highest biergarten.  Jeannette and Barb enjoyed goulash soup, Rich tried some white sausages that were “really something,” and Jake ordered “sausages salad” which was really the biggest pile of bologna he’s ever eaten.  Literally.

A different, and much longer cable car ride took us down to Eibsee, where we rejoined the cog rail line.  Then it was back to Garmisch for a first class return to Munich Haupbanhof.  Throughout the day, we were amazed at how precise and orderly the connections from train to train were organized.  The entire European rail network is something we could learn a lot from at home.

Back in Munich, we took a different route back to Marienplatz, which led us to Augustiner.  The recipe for Augustiner beer dated to 1374, though the restaurant has only been around since 1829.  Darn new construction.  A good meal was enjoyed by all.  Barb and Jake learned that Chanterelles were mushrooms (similar to the Campbell’s soup variety), and Jeannette taught the waiter that the vegetable he called “small green things” were peas.  Rich learned that perch had to be caught before being served.

We walked along a bit and came across Frauenkirschen, the symbol of Munich.  This was where Cardinal Ratzinger served as archbishop from 1977-1982, until he went to the Vatican.  We learned that the kirschen was severely destroyed during WWII as well as that it was originally built in the 1400s through funding by the sale of indulgences.  Martin Luther would not be happy about that.

Before returning to the hotel, we stumbled across some kind of street protest about Iran, but the handouts and speeches were in German.  Moving on, there was a four piece ensemble in the middle of the street.  One woman was playing a grand piano.  Yes, in the middle of the street.  The piano, flute, cello, and bass rendered a beautiful performance of Ave Maria that we stopped and enjoyed.

Now, we are gathered in our hotel garden, sadly wishing it included typical German garden beverages, but alas, it is time to retire.  Up early tomorrow for a trip out to Castle Neuchwanstein that, if weather permits, may include a nice hike and/or bicycle ride.

Auf Wiedersehen!
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