Thank goodness we waited until today for the Zugspitze. We woke to beautiful crystal clear skies, and amazing views from our hotel balcony.
But first it was time to discover what Hotel Edelweiss offers for breakfast! Their comfortable alpine decorated breakfast room was a delightful setting for eggs cooked to order, a variety of hot and cold meats, cheeses, cereals, yogurts and more. I would class it as a high end European breakfast and quite delicious.
We loaded up our car, checked out and walked down to the Zugspitze train station (about 15 minutes away). The Zugspitze round trip experience involves various combinations of train and tram to reach the summit. We started with the cog train from Garmisch all the way up to the glacier at over 8000 feet. The trip took a little over an hour.
The views were incredible and it appeared that lots of locals took advantage of the beautiful sunny day to ski.
Yes, that is a BMW X1 sitting there! They are a sponsor of the Zugspitz and I really wish we had this car in the states.
After enjoying lunch, we advanced by tram to the oxygen deprived summit, Germany’s highest peak at over 9700 feet. With Germany on one side and Austria on the other we can now claim to have visited yet another country on this trip. I’ll let the photos speak for how incredible the views were.
We made one big mistake by not purchasing our souvenirs at the glacier level. There was a particularly neat Zugspitze mug I had my eye on. Instead we waited for the peak so we’d not have to carry more around.
What a mistake! Just as we found the souvenir shop she closed for her break and we didn’t have enough time to head back to the glacier then return to the summit for the tram return. Lesson learned – see it, buy it! And even worse . . .the shops at the top are the only place to purchase Zugspitze items.
The descent down via tram took a mere 10 minutes. Thank goodness it was short as we were crushed in like sardines. One particular German couple (toting skies and gear) simply shoved us nearly off our feet so have few photos of the descent, but a nice view from the bottom of the tram.
After this incredible experience it was time to head over toward the Neuschwanstein castle area where we booked a room in the small village right at the base of the castles and only about an hour away from Garmisch.
Along the way we made a brief stop at Wieskirche, another beautifully elaborate rococo style church, and a UNESCO heritage site.
I’ll post more interior photos later, but the exterior was grand. Especially notable as it simply rose out of farmland and rolling hills in what looked like the middle of nowhere!
After wandering the church we continued on to our base for the night, the Hotel Garni Schlossblick (Garni refers to the hotel being a bed & breakfast without a regular restaurant for lunch or dinner).
We easily found the small Hohenschwangau Village but somehow I had the wrong address for the hotel so we drove back and forth on the tiny main drag searching for our address. After a few passes we took a random side road and there it was! My Tom Tom GPS hadn’t failed us yet and apparently this time was human error.
Our hotel was a small old building with great views of Neuschwanstein. Unfortunately the side of the castle that faces the village is covered in scaffolding as the castle undergoes restoration throughout 2012.
Wherever you are in the village the castles loom from above reminding you you’re in the heart of the Bavarian royal playground. For now it’s time for a great nights sleep dreaming of our upcoming journey into the fantasy castle land of Mad King Ludwig.