Buenos Aires, by Noelia Diaco. Photo is not visible, used only for sharing on social networks.

Europe 2015: Alps

September 14, 2015
At times while planning this trip, I feared we might not make it to the Alps. After I booked a hotel room in the town of Mittenwald, I received a frantic email: "There has been a mistake! We do not have a room for you! The German government has reserved all the rooms for the German police. Please do not come!" The email was comical, but the fact was there were almost no hotel rooms available in town. Eventually I sorted it out, only to discover that German train drivers were on strike, and we had planned to reach the Alps by train. That led to a few days of frantically searching for rules on rental cars and driving in Germany. Happily the strike ended before we arrived and after a few days in Munich, we set out for Kloster Andechs and the Alps.

Getting to Mittenwald was a bit of an adventure because we didn't understand how German trains work and we boarded the wrong one (we didn't know that multiple trains line up on the same track). We had to backtrack, but eventually made it on the right train, where we dozed and enjoyed the scenery.


I had chosen the town of Mittenwald for its hiking trails, proximity to Munich, and its architectural beauty. It's a small town, famous for its violin-making, built in the classic Bavarian style, and surrounded by mountains.

Most of the restaurants in town served traditional Bavarian food, and by this point I had eaten my share of sausage. Unfortunately the only non-German restaurant served Italian food, and as we were headed to Italy in a week, it seemed silly to eat Italian food in Germany. My "salad topped with bacon" turned out to be a few pieces of lettuce drowned in sausage.

Mittenwald
The next morning, we walked through town on our way to the Karwandel cable car, which carries passengers up the Karwandel mountain range to a height of 7,362 feet. The website had boasted of "numerous hiking and climbing routes, from gentle to sporty in the largest continuous nature reserve in the eastern Alps." But we had no idea that the hiking trails would still be covered by many feet of snow (this was late May!). Still we enjoyed the view of the Isar River, the foothills of Mount Zugspitze, and the towns of Mittenwald, Kr√ľn and Wallgau.

Karwandel Mountain Station
View from the Karwandel Mountain Station

View a panorama shot from the top of the cable car.

Sometimes I wonder whether we seek out too many mountains while traveling, but the Alps were breathtaking and I'd love one day to hike from town to town in the Alps. After enjoying a beer on the patio, we descended to Mittenwald, where we ate lunch and window shopped, then decided to do some hiking before heading back to Munich.


We settled on the Leutasch Gorge, also known as the "spirit gorge." The steep-sided gorge was only opened to tourists in 2006 after the German and Austrian governments built thousands of feet of steel walkways and bridges. It's the longest accessible gorge in the Eastern Limestone Alps. At some point while hiking to the gorge, you cross the German-Austrian border. It was crazy to walk into another country like that. Honestly, I was pretty terrified walking on the metal grates looking at the river far below. We stuck around for long enough to take a few pictures then hiked back to catch our train to Munich.

Leutasch Gorge

Ben was impressed by the woodworking and architecture in Mittenwald (he's planning to write a future post on all the cool woodworking we encounter in our travels).



And I can't help but love this photo of myself. Ben is very patient to put up with all my photo-taking.
 
Next up: Berlin!

- Steph

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