Sadly, our time in Garmisch-Partenkirchen has come to an end. Though today’s post won’t cover our last day here, today will be the last day I’ll be typing here – who knows what internet will be like the rest of the trip. Most of all I think we’re sad to say goodbye to this house – with a toddler, renting a house is the way to go. I’m sure she will adapt to our upcoming hotel stay rooms, but it’s just been so great to have all this space.
The Zugspitze Alternative: Garmisch-Classic Lift
So on Tuesday the weather was supposed to finally clear up. We made plans to go to Zugspitze, aka the “Top of Germany”. When we got to the parking lot we looked up and the entire mountain was covered in fog. We spent an hour walking around nearby Lake Eibsee hoping the fog would lift, but alas it did not. So instead of going up, we bought a two peak pass that covers both Zugspitze and the nearby Garmisch-Classic lift.
If you’re into saving money but not into hiking up an entire mountain, this is the way to go. It cost 60 Euros for both lifts, Zugspitze by itself costs 51, and you can go up anytime during the whole summer. So we decided to hit up the Garmisch-Classic instead, hoping the fog wouldn’t be at the lower altitudes and saving Zugspitze for later.
The Garmisch-Classic actually gives you access to three lifts. One goes to the top, one goes almost to the top, and one connects the two (that’s a super simplified version). Jess and I took the shorter lift and made the 1.5 hour hike to the top, the so called Pleasure Adventure Trail. This was the hiking trail for kids I mentioned in my last post.
We loved the hike up to the top, it was strenuous but the trail was very well maintained (like every single trail I’ve been on here). There were also signs speaking about a mythical “Mountain Giant” that once lived there. The funny thing is, the trail is designed for kids to walk DOWN, so we were reading the story about the giant backwards.
It was funny because Jess thought the giant was a friendly giant, but in reality the giant is EVIL and hates humans. OK, maybe only I find that amusing. Alrighty then. Anyway, we were treated to some pretty dramatic views.
At the top of the mountain, there is “AlpspiX“, which is a platform extending over the edge of the top just hanging in mid-air. I won’t lie, my heart was palpitating out there – the intense fog didn’t help. I also didn’t get any good pictures because of it, unfortunately.
Disney World Special: Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles
The next day, we made our way to two of Mad King Ludwig’s famous castles – Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein. I cannot stress this enough – unless you are on an extreme budget, buy your tickets online first. It costs 3.80 Euro per person. You are given two times for your two tours, and you must arrive one hour before your first tour to pick up your tickets (or else you might forfeit it, although we were 15 minutes late and okay). Here is the line I waited in with an online reservation.
Here is one third of the line for people without reservations.
Although Neuschwanstein was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Disney World’s Cinderella Castle, I gotta say these castles are tough for toddlers. A) A ton of walking – a TON. B) They can’t touch anything. C) You can’t really let them run around because of “B”. D) TON OF WALKING.
It was a fifty minute walk from Hohenschwangau (which you visit first) to Neuschwanstein. All uphill. We’ve done a fair amount of hiking since we got to Bavaria, but I think that was the worst (due to the stroller).
Inside the castles, we put M in our Beco carrier. The insides of the castles are okay – I mostly feel like seen one castle seen them all. You have to go on a guided tour (around half an hour), so you have no real control of the pace, which is pretty important for parents with young children. I kept looking for emergency escape routes in case of meltdown but it would have been tough, I would have had to run through other tours to escape.
At Hohenschwangau, M got pretty fussy at times, luckily we brought stickers to distract her, but that only worked so long. Stickers, incidentally, that she tried to stick onto 200 year old walls…yikes. She also tried to close every single door after she saw the tour guide doing it – that tour was rough. I heard and learned absolutely nothing. She finally, finally passed out before our tour of Neuschwanstein, and she slept soundly in the Beco throughout.
So are these castles worth a visit even with a toddler? I think so. There’s a beautiful lake, Alpsee, nearby. You can take horse drawn carriages to avoid the walking (or a bus, though probably not that with a toddler because people are packed like sardines on a windy road).
And the views really speak for themselves – I can’t imagine someone used to LIVE in these places. Some rich guy for sure, but still. Amazing. Oh, and bring a picnic lunch to save a bunch of money – the grounds are a beautiful place to eat but everything is overpriced and not worth it. One exception, they have straciatella soft serve – that’s whassup.
The castle tours were probably the toughest it’s been having a toddler in Bavaria thus far. They were worth it but if you’re going with a child that age, be prepared. The views we got on those two days, first on the mountain, then at the castles, were to die for. I love Bavaria a little more and more each day. We’re on our way to Salzburg tomorrow – Sound of Music time. The hills will be ALIVE.
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