Garmisch-Partenkirchen & Füssen, Germany
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a ski resort with a ridiculously long name, is situated in the beautiful Bavarian Alps. The town was tiny but postcard-perfect, surrounded by mountains dusted with snow. It had been many months since we had seen snow, and we were a little excited to be near it again. Our first act was to make the long walk to the Information Centre, arriving just as it was closing. We had one minute to blindly grab a handful of brochures before the doors were locked for the night. It was only after we left that we discovered that all the brochures were in German and completely useless to us.
Like most cities in Germany, G-P was full of cafes - for such a small town, the number seemed a little excessive. I wondered how they all stayed in business. Other than the cafes it was pretty quiet on the streets, with no awe-inspiring tourist attractions to sustain our attention. We walked back to the car, where Danny cooked a great Thai curry soup and we enjoyed the peacefulness of the area. It was a stark contrast to Oktoberfest and festival-like caravan park we had experienced the last couple of nights.
The following morning we slept in a little, making up for the lack of sleep in Munich. We returned to the Information Centre to pick up brochures in English and ask about activities in the area. With our itinerary sorted we drove out to the Olympic Ski Stadium, easily identifiable with its massive ski jump on the side of a hill (I can't believe they go down those giant ramps). From there it was a 20 minute walk to the start of the Partnach Gorge. A stunning half hour hike led us through a narrow crevice, the vertical rock walls towering above us and a fast-flowing river gushing below. A slender path had been blasted out of the rock on one side, about two metres above the water level, that guided us deep into the Gorge. At times the rocky ceiling was so low we had to stoop. The place was overrun with tourists, reducing our walk to a shuffle, but the scenery was so incredible that I didn't care. Several waterfalls came crashing down from the top of the mountain, about 80 metres above us, and often we felt water droplets falling on our heads. Apparently in winter the entire Gorge is frozen, with icicles hanging off the rocks. That would definitely be a sight worth seeing.
From the Gorge we drove to the Eibsee Cable Car to travel up the tallest mountain in Germany, the Zugspitze. The ticket price was on the steep side and Danny couldn't justify forking out that much money, so he stayed in the car while I made the journey alone. At the base it was a sunny day, with only a few clouds at the top, and a sign stated that visibility was currently 100 km. I think they lied. The cable car ride was fantastic and probably offered better photo opportunities than the summit. When I emerged at the peak, three sides were covered with clouds and I couldn't see a thing. It was 6ºC (which in my book is as cold as hell) and the surface was covered with snow, making walking a bit of a challenge. The only side I could see out from was the one I just rode up on the cable car. The view was good, but not great. The wait for the cable car going down was an hour long, which was incredibly boring as we had to wait inside where there was zero view of the surrounding scenery.
From G-P it was on to Füssen, oddly driving through Austria to reach the town. On the outskirts of Füssen are not one, but two striking castles, both built for the same man. Why have one castle when you can have two? The primary castle, situated halfway up a hill, was straight from a fairy tale. It was about a half hour climb to reach the entrance, but the views were better from further away. We arrived too late to have a look inside, which was disappointing. The second castle near the base of the hill was nowhere near as majestic, and it was also closed. After taking the obligatory photos we left to settle down for the night.
We found a car park in the main town with a dozen other campervans. A quick wander around town was uninspiring, as nothing seemed to be lit up or open, so we left further sightseeing until tomorrow.
In daylight we discovered that the small town was quite pretty, with a huge church complex overlooking an aqua-coloured river. A handful of tourist shops and cafes were dotted around, but there wasn't much else to see. Once we had completed the short stroll we returned to the car, ready to say goodbye to Germany (again) and to greet our next country, Italy.