Christmas in Germany Part 1: Zugspitze & sledging
My family and I had decided to spend Christmas 2015 in Germany. My brother had spent some time on a family road trip there during the summer and had fallen in love with it. On their previous visit they had taken their car on the overnight ferry from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, then driven down, covering a total of 1500 miles, which, with a car loaded with camping gear and two very young children, was quite the expedition!
I met my brother, his wife Sarah, my nephew Jonah, my niece Mabel and my mum at Munich airport where we hired a car to drive to Oberammergau. We’d rented a holiday home (highly recommended) in this pretty town just 75 kilometres from Munich. We were absolutely blown away as we arrived, the owners had gone to town with the Christmas decorations and the children (and us) thought we’d landed in Lapland.
The days in the lead up to Christmas were simply magical. We spent a day acclimatizing and checking out the town, then decided to visit Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany. From the town of Garmisch Partenkirchen, we caught a train to Grainau then a cable car took us steeply up to the summit at 2962 metres above sea level.
In true alpine-style, the summit was equipped with a delightful restaurant with what must be one of the best restaurant views in the world.
After an interesting meal overlooking the glacier below us (we were still getting used to Bavarian cuisine), we took another cable car down to the snow and hired some sledges for Mabel and Jonah (and us).
This was truly a winter wonderland, with countless ski runs and snow as far as the eye could see. Although we’d had to ascend from the valley floor, seeing the pure joy and excitement that finding some snow and whizzing down it brought to my nephew and niece was quite simply priceless. I could remember countless white Christmas’s spend seeking out the steepest slopes in my village to fly down on sledges (and rubble sacks with one end filled with snow – was that only us that did this?), I guess we took it for granted that snow was just a part of Christmas. For Mabel and Jonah however, this wasn’t the case and this was the first time either of them had done anything like it. And what a place to do it!
After many runs, near-lethal collisions and many laughs, decided on getting the train back down off the mountain. Unfortunately some rather rude skiers thought it acceptable to push in as we queued (it would be amiss of me not to make a comment about beach towels here), but nevertheless, the train journey through the mountain and out the other side was thrilling and we were soon back in Garmishch Partenkirchen, eating chestnuts and caramelized nuts in the Winter Market.
As far as Christmas days go, it really doesn’t get any more festive. As far as Christmas destinations go, Bavaria doesn’t get much better.