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Bavarian Summer: Sightseeing in and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Monastery at Ettal
Monastery at Ettal

I think we’ve gotten into our vacation groove at this point. We’ve hit up a bunch of smaller sights in the past two days (aka barely mentioned in Rick Steve’s), dodging um…dodgy weather, as we wait for the good weather later this week to hit some of the biggies. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

We ate this pork knuckle at some point. Salty.
We ate this pork knuckle at some point. Salty.

To start, a little health update. M is pretty much fully recovered from her variety of maladies and I think she’s all adjusted jetlag wise. Her current schedule is sleep from 10-8ish, nap once in the morning and then again in the afternoon. She’s done that three days running – I’ll take it. I don’t think we’re gonna shift her up closer to her “regular” bedtime (8 PM) because if she sticks to 10 PM life might be a little easier with jetlag on the return. Anyway I think we’ve gotten off pretty easy on this front. Jess has been one day behind illness wise so I think she’s about done with it too.

Olympic Stadium ski jump
Olympic Stadium ski jump

I’ve come to the conclusion that Bavaria is a great place to bring kids of all ages. It’s mostly hiking and beautiful scenery – everything is framed by the stunning mountain ranges. The crazy weather actually has made things look more dramatic so it hasn’t been all bad. I think I’ve thought this before about towns in the mountains – the weather forecast is NEVER right. They  said it was supposed to rain every day we have been here and they have been right – except it predicts rain every single hour as opposed to the actual two hours of the day it rains. It makes it really difficult to plan.

Partnach Gorge entrance
The entrance to Partnach Gorge

To get around this, we’ve been planning shorter excursions which of course gel well with a toddler’s schedule. Yesterday we drove down to the Olympic Stadium to take a short twenty minute walk to the Partnach Gorge. Having spent a lot of time in Ithaca, we figured the gorge would be like Watkins Glen, a place we love. It was Watkins Glen and then some.

Inside Partnach Gorge
Inside Partnach Gorge

The walk up to the gorge consisted of some pretty scenery that I will never get sick of but am already sick of writing about. The gorge itself, which cost 3 Euros to enter, was kind of spectacular. It was like walking into the middle of a sharp canyon in a mountain, watching a river rush through it while runoff from various parts of the mountain just kind of cascade down into the river and onto you.

Partnach Gorge
It can get pretty dark in spots – no strollers inside either

It was kind of jarring because walking up to the entrance it’s very quiet and serene. You then walk through this cavelike entrance and then all of a sudden all you hear is roaring water all around you for the next twenty minutes as you work your way through the gorge. It was quite a force of nature.

It's like the water only carved up this 800m section
It’s like the water only carved up this 800m section of the mountain

Towards the end of the gorge my parents turned back while Jess, M, and I trudged on. Oh, M absolutely loved the gorge by the way. She was squealing in delight the entire time – she LOVES running water. It’s kind of weird. She kept asking for a hat when the water dripped on her and we kept having to stop so she could just stare at the river. She’s weird in a super cute way. Or maybe all kids like watching water roar? I dunno, I only have the one.

Partnach Gorge
Big, big fan of running water

After we got through the gorge, we made one of those not so brilliant decisions parents tend to make. By we I mean mostly me. There was a way to “walk around” the gorge to get back to where our car was. Long story short, that way involved a 45 minute hike including a steep ascent and descent. Pretty simple stuff, except for the fact that I had M strapped to my chest and Jess was lugging the stroller. Geniuses.

"I hate you and your stupid ideas."
“I hate you and your stupid ideas.”
"Wheeeee more selfies!"
“Wheeeee more selfies!”

Eventually we made it to the top where there were a few houses, restaurants, and cows. We were rewarded with (more) beautiful views and a sense of accomplishment, but also a sense of our own stupidity. Live and learn. After running around at the top for a bit, our daughter passed out (after I switched her onto my back) and we descended to finally meet up with my parents.

Pretty nice view at the top
Pretty nice view at the top

Near the Olympic Stadium there is this cool thing where you can ride a luge down (for only 2.50 Euro!), but I decided with the number of young children riding I was too embarrassed to partake. Regrets…

Yogurt for breakfast at the cheese shop in Ettal
Yogurt for breakfast at the cheese shop in Ettal

Today was our most ambitious day, we were out from 10-430 and hit three sights. We first stopped by Ettal, a monastery famous for brewing beer. It was cool I guess but I haven’t tried the beer yet so the jury’s out. Next we hit up Linderhof Castle, one of “Mad King Ludwig’s” castles (two more are on our itinerary later in the week). Ludwig was a weird guy – he was like, obsessed with the French and Versailles.

Linderhof Castle Gardens
Family portrait in front of the fountain at Linderhof Castle

Linderhof is kind of like a German version of Versailles with some weird things like portraits of Louis XV. Um…was he really good at basketball or something? Kinda odd. The castle grounds were beautiful – especially the gardens and fountains. Well maintained (like Versailles) but with a more dramatic backdrop. Pretty cool. Oh, and I ate like my 12th pretzel of the trip.

Ritter Sport
59 cents for each Ritter. WAH!

We ended with a stop in the town of Oberammergau, notable for the passion play they put on once a decade and their wood carving skills. But I was just there for the gelato.

This gelato from an Italian cafe was preeeeetty darn good
This gelato from an Italian cafe was preeeeetty darn good

Oh right, Germany won the World Cup last night! Except…I couldn’t even tell. Seriously – didn’t hear any noise, people didn’t seem any happier (or less happy) today than before, nothing. It’s probably because we live on the very edge of town, but since I was greeted with this in Brazil any time they scored, I expected more. Still, I’m happy for Germany – would have been a shame for that team to end its run for the past eight years without a trophy.

View from St. Anton's church
View from our after dinner walk tonight

Final Thoughts

A few reflections on our trip thus far. Starting in a small town with a house has been great – in fact I’m a little concerned what will happen once we move M to the city. We have our own space, can set our own schedule, and aren’t worried about bumping into people in the street all the time. I highly recommend Garmisch-Partenkirchen for kids of all ages – especially if you want to force your kids to hike and enjoy nature. You will experience nature and YOU WILL LIKE IT!

See, she likes it!

Other Posts in this Series


Final Preparations for the Little One

Lufthansa First Class with a Toddler

Slow Days with a Sick Toddler

Sightseeing in and around Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Observations After a Week in Germany

Climbing to AlpspiX and Neuschwanstein Castle

Zugspitze and Mittenwald

Sound of Music Bike Tour in Salzburg

Lazy Sunday in Salzburg – not

Rainy Days in Berchtesgaden

Visiting Museums and Biking in Vienna

Food in Germany and Austria

Rating the Toddler Friendliness of Our Hotels

Lufthansa First Class Terminal – Good for Toddlers?


Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

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