A complete change of scene this week as I’m in the final stages of planning our next big trip to the UK and Germany at the end of March – it will come around quickly!
For the first part we’ll be visiting family (including our younger daughter, Mlle Chic Fille) and friends in the UK followed by a 9 day trip to Munich. As well as exploring Munich, we plan to use the city as a base to do some day trips into other parts of Bavaria. Monsieur Le Chic once spent a couple of hours as a backpacker in Munich rail station many years ago, whilst I have never been to the city before. We did make a brief day trip into southern Bavaria when we were staying in Innsbruck a couple of years ago and that certainly gave us the desire to explore the region further.
It was a dull and overcast day in Innsbruck so we decided that it might be a good opportunity to hop on a train and over the border into Germany.
Unfortunately the weather was somewhat inclement to say the least and the dreary Innsbruck skies gave way to torrential rain and sleet with occasional snow showers (not the pretty snow, rather the wet and slushy stuff). We were glad of the warmth and comfort of the train as we chugged up the Tyrolean Alpine passes via the ski resort of Seefeld before crossing the border into southern Germany and Bavaria. We were using Eurail Passes, which we had validated for both Germany and Austria (and also Italy since we also did a day trip to Bolzano and the Sud Tyrol from Innsbruck covered here). It was a quick and easy journey and we arrived at the pretty little Bavarian town of Mittenwald just under an hour later. The town centre is only a few minutes or so from the train station and I was keen to explore it having seen Mittenwald featured on a TV travel programme a few years back. Despite being late April it was bitterly cold – in fact the temperature barely hovered above zero degrees all day, which felt very cold to a couple of expat Aussies just coming off a long hot summer! The pretty little streets were charming though and many of the buildings had ornately decorated facades featuring painted frescoes or “Lueftmalereien” in German. Goethe referred to these artistic illustrations as “lively picture books”. They primarily date back to the 18th century and often retell stories from the Bible or depict dramatic events, such as fires and floods.
The Parish Church of St Peter and Paul has a magnificent Baroque steeple!
With the onset of more rain and sleet, our thoughts turned to warming refreshments so we headed into the nearest cafe we could find, which happened to be Zur Kaffeemuehle on the corner of Matthias-Klotz Strasse. The Matthias in question was a member of the Klotz family of violin-makers, who helped to make Mittenwald a notable centre for this craft. Matthias lived a long and productive life from 1653 to 1743. He was baptised on 11 June 1653 in the church of St Peter and Paul and was buried in the Church of St Nikolaus just over 90 years later! Next time I’d like to visit the Geigenbaumuseum (Violin-Making Museum), which is situated down a narrow little street near St Peter and Paul’s church. A statue of Matthias stands in front of the church, as the town’s tribute to this master craftsman. Monsieur Le Chic and I were much too cold to contemplate wandering around any shops selling beautiful violins (of which there are plenty) or any of the pretty little craft shops either. Instead we warmed up inside Kaffeemuehle with 2 steaming bowls of hearty minestrone soup, a creamy hot chocolate and for Monsieur a large mug of gluhwein. I sipped a little to taste and it nearly knocked my head off, but it didn’t have the same effect on Monsieur for some reason!
Mittenwald and the neighbouring resorts provide many opportunities for skiing and the nearby Karwendelalp Cable Car will take you up into the higher mountains. In December the main town square lights up with the Advent Christmas Market, whilst in summer it is a popular destination for hikers. There is another special summer tradition for Mittenwald, but it is only held every 5 years. This tradition is the Bozener Market (named after Bolzano in the Sud Tyrol, now part of Italy). The River Isar (which flows through Munich) has its source just south of Mittenwald in the Alps and this officially marks the boundary of the Tyrol. Benefiting from its strategic situation, Mittenwald flourished as a trade centre from the Middle Ages onwards. Traditionally a huge trade fair was held each year in Bolzano, where the Venetians would showcase their wares to the rest of Europe, but, owing to political tensions, the market was moved to Mittenwald in 1487 and continued to be held there for the next 200 years. Nowadays the Bozener Market gives the Mittenwald locals a chance to celebrate their connection with the Sud Tyrol region. The next Bozener Market festivities are due to be held in August 2017! Apart from the Church of St Peter and Paul, the parish churches of Kruen and Wallgau, both situated on the Isar River, are also highly recommended for their beautiful frescoes.
We decided not to linger any longer in Mittenwald as we were keen to have a quick look at Garmisch Partenkirchen, which was 25 minutes away by train.
We walked out of the station at Garmisch Partenkirchen to find ourselves in a rather nondescript part of town. The station is situated between the 2 towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen, which were originally separate towns until Hitler decided to have them combined for the 1936 Winter Olympics. A brisk 15 minutes walk down the hill, took us to the town centre. To be quite honest I’m not sure which part of town we were in (Garmisch or Partenkirchen) but it was a very pretty place with the (by now familiar) painted frescoes adorning the houses. Germany’s highest peak the Zugspitze (2964 metres) towers nearby – another place on my wishlist for a future visit! However on this occasion we had just enough time for a quick wander round and a cup of tea before heading back to the station as we were keen to get back to Innsbruck before nightfall.
Back in Innsbruck we found it had brightened up sufficiently for a pleasant evening stroll down by the River Inn.
For those of you who have been to Munich and Bavaria before, what would your main recommendations be? I’m trying to get my head around fitting in everything we’d like to do in only 9 days – we do want to go with the flow and relax and soak in the experience too! Tschuess till next time!
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