I sometimes feel silly visiting the same place twice. I remind myself that there are a million places I still haven’t been (What about Italy? Ireland? Romania?) and that going the same place over and over again is just so mundane. Except that it is not. I’m not just some hermit that never tries new things. In the past year, I’ve seen all kinds of new things—from tulips in the Netherlands to the White Cliffs of Dover. And I try to remind myself that I shouldn’t overthink or justify why I like what I like.
This is mostly how the Deetzies ended up in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the second time in 2017, but my love for Garmisch actually goes back much further than that. Way back in 2009, I invited myself on my parents’ European vacation (their words—not mine). This included a short stay in, you guessed it: lovely Garmisch Partenkirchen. Months ago, when my parents tossed around the idea of a November-December visit, I knew it would be a great opportunity to allow them to rediscover what I believe to be the most beautiful part of Germany.
Of course, no child, big or small, does something nice for their parents without some sort of ulterior motive. On our last visit to Garmisch, Zach and I were still fresh from the disappointment of the Great Colorado Disaster Vacation of 2016. Despite all of our best efforts, we still had yet to ski on an actual mountain, but finally, on the Zugspitze, the stars aligned for us. With Grandma to babysit, there was nothing to hold us back.
I mean, maybe my general inability to ski held me back a little, but Zach was golden.
After spending half of Monday in Munich and the rest of the day getting settled into our rooms at the Edelweiss Resort and Lodge, Zach, my dad, Emma and I awoke bright and early on Tuesday to ascend to the top of Germany’s highest mountain, Zugspitze. This was our Plan B, as we had anticipated the much smaller Hausberg Mountain to have open slopes. It did not, which also meant Emma and I were unable to book a ski lesson with the resort as we had planned. Fortunately, we were lucky to snag a last-minute lesson with a private instructor from Ski Schule Zugspitze-Grainau, and in hindsight, I would not have wanted it another way. Our instructor, Matthias spoke great English and very patiently worked with Emma for two hours while also giving me pointers. I found the price comparable to what we would have paid had we gone through our hotel for a private lesson. Next time we’re skiing Zugspitze, I’ll return to Ski Schule Zugspitze-Grainau for our gear. From purchasing goggles for Zach to ensuring we had the proper gear for the mountain, they had us covered!
Getting to the top of Zugspitze was an experience in itself. From the German side of the mountain (the mountain sits right atop the Austria/Germany boarder), there are two routes to the top. The Zugspitzebahn is a train that ascends to the Gipfel Summit. It’s a 45 minute trip from the bottom to the top of the mountain (and vice-versa I suppose), and about half of that trip is spent in a dark tunnel. If I recall correctly, the Eibsee cable car only takes around half of that time. This is how my dad and I experienced Zugspitze in August of 2009, and the height was terrifying. The cable car is currently being updated; it’s reopening next month. My nerves appreciated the closure.
We were lucky to have clear skies during our first day on the mountain. Grandpa picked the right day to tag along as Zach and I went to the mountain again Thursday during heavy snow and very cloudy skies. Zugspitze boasts views all the way to Italy on a clear day, though it just looked like a cluster of mountains to me. The lodge has a nice selection of food, plenty of seating, and is enjoyable even for those who aren’t skiing. When we returned on Thursday, I became well-acquainted with it as the sledding trails I had planned to try out were closed due to the conditions (even though the website said they were open…hmph.)
On Wednesday, we set out for another Christmas market. Innsbruck, Austria is only an hour’s drive from Garmisch and the journey is half the fun as the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Zach and I were pretty tired of Christmas Market food by this point, so we did the touristy thing and ate at the Hard Rock Café. Innsbruck actually has several Christmas Markets spread throughout the city, and it’s safe to say that we didn’t hit all of them. Man, though. Of all the markets I’ve been to, it probably had the cutest things. I thought I bought a lot, but when I came home I realized I actually forgot to buy the thing I wanted the most—the cutest little Christmas lanterns. (Get back in the car, Zach, because I have regrets.)
Garmisch-Partenkirchen had a smaller market as well, but there was nothing in particular that made it stand out above the rest. After a full day of snowfall on Wednesday, Hausberg Mountain had accumulated enough snow at the base for Zach and I to take the kids sledding on Thursday afternoon. This was something we did back in January as well, and of course it is always a hit with the kids. They would have been content to continue sledding despite their cold, red faces, but Zach and I got pretty tired of hauling the sleds back up the hill after a while so we pulled the plug on their fun.
Friday morning meant the end of our time in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but it was hardly the end of the fun as our route home took us through Rothenburg ob der Tauber. We stopped for very tasty lunch before spending a little time at one more Christmas Market. It had only opened for the first time this year that day, so once again our timing was perfect. Rothenburg is neat because (among other things) it is also home to the world famous Kathy Wolfahrt Christmas Store. This thing was huge and has just about every type of indoor Christmas décor that you could imagine. Unfortunately for Zach, the Santa steins were a bit out of his price range. Rothenberg is another place that I’ve been before and definitely a place I’d like to visit again. The city’s medieval walls still stand!
After hitting some traffic in Frankfurt, we arrived home refreshed, having had a great time while away. I’ve already floated around the idea of trying another ski area next year, perhaps in Switzerland, but something tells me that I won’t be able to stay away from my favorite spot in Germany for long.
Thanks for reading!