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London and Germany for work with a week in Austria - May and June 2016 - Page 4

Day 14 - Saturday, 4 June 2016


Now I am in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, this will be the last time I spell that correctly, and I still cant pronounce it properly because the train announcer and various others I have heard say it today all say it differently.
It is two towns that were merged by Hitler to make a region big enough to host the 1936 Winter Olympics. This is actually true, look it up.
This is also true -
'The valley floor was swampy and difficult to farm. Bears, wolves and lynxes were a constant threat to livestock. The population suffered from periodic epidemics, including several serious outbreaks of bubonic plague. Adverse fortunes from disease and crop failure occasionally led to a witch hunt. Most notable of these were the trials and executions of 1589 - 1596, in which 63 people - more than 10 percent of the population at the time - were burned at the stake or garroted.'

I am here to climb the highest mountain in Germany tomorrow, possibly, weather permitting and depending on if the route to the top is actually open, opinions differ in the tourist information office.

Before leaving Munich (I will be back for another 1.5 days at the end of next week) I did a lap of the town area. It was very busy on Saturday morning setting up for the days fairs, despite the threat of rain.
Here is one last clocktower.

This is a hidden street full of currently closed cafes with a lot of flowers, for people who like flowers.

White asparagus is the thing at this time of year. I am yet to try, but would like to. My understanding is it is grown in the dark?

Also popular, many kinds of olives, but I doubt these are grown in Germany.

More likely grown in Germany are all these mushrooms. I would be afraid to eat them though. Who knows if the person selling them knows which are good and which are deadly. It does happen, Woolworths in Australia killed someone a few years ago!

Beer is delivered by horses here, it adds to its delicious smooth horsey flavour.

This large advertising sign of a half naked Italian girl was erected yesterday, so to celebrate all the Germans have dressed in their finest knickerbockers with embellishments of ribbons and bells to pay tribute.

I decided that to survive the 1.5 hour train ride I needed to build up my strength with a cinnnamon scroll covered in icing and nuts.

My train. This kind of bullet train only goes to Gardenia-Parentkinder on the weekend. It is totally pointless though as most of the way I could jog faster.
Also apart from 2 people dying of tuberculosis I had a whole carriage to myself. Glad I didnt pay extra to reserve a seat.

The inside of the train is quite luxurious, comparable to China or Taiwan, better than England and Japan, presumably because its a newer system.

I stood at the bar most of the way, observing the staff who were all gay men with funny little moustaches sharing a bag of gummy bears. There were more staff than passengers.

This is my hotel. It looks like I expected in this town where everything is a hotel. The resident population is 20,000 but generally there are more than 50,000 people staying here on weekends.

I was a bit early to check in so set off on a walk, in the rain. This is a tiny hill, it is not Zugspitze.... not by a long shot.

I believe this is the cog railway. All going well tomorrow afternoon it will be part of my journey down, although I plan to take the cable car most of the way as the cog railway stays inside the mountain!!! where there is no view just a cave. Also it takes 2 hours instead of 10 minutes.

I now realise this is the same hill as 2 pictures previously, please ignore and move on.

The main area of the two towns is like 200 Hahndorfs combined (Adelaide people will know what this is), it is also a closed off pedestrian area.

One of many town squares...thats still not the mountain.

If I cant climb tomorrow, I can play a sad round of abandoned mini golf.

German supermarkets are terrible. This is not Aldi although it looks exactly the same, this is Lidl. The other brand is Mueller, which is also like this. There is no 'nice' supermarket.

The real mountain is back there in the cloud somewhere, if I get to climb I will loop around the back which is apparently not technical in any way, just very far (22km). There are huts along the way and a few cable cars at different points, options for me if the snow is too deep.

This is my tiny room. I had luxury in Munich for a week that cost an absolute fortune due to the conference / exhibition I was attending, this room is 1/8 the price, but for me, I am just as happy, the internet is very fast, the shower works.

I also get a view, again, not THE mountain.


I did not intend to walk far this evening to preserve legs for tomorrow, that plan went out the window.
I first went to find the entrance to the gorge for tomorrows ascent, near the ski jump ramp (something I dont see every day!). This was a bit further than I realised.
Then it took me a while to find dinner, which involved a lot of potatoes (kartoffel!).
Then I wanted to find a money machine, easier said than done in a town that is CLOSED at 8pm and CLOSED all day Sunday.
Then I wanted to find a snack cause I was still hungry or just greedy, and the only option was a pub for a light pork knuckle, or the petrol station.
It is quite weird everything is shut on Saturday night except the 100 or so pubs, Mcdonalds was actually open but its the only one I have found in Germany so far without the mccafe, so I couldnt get a chai latte.
Now I must go to sleep!

This is the olympic ski jump park. I presume it has been rebuilt since 1936 as it looks quite modern.
The top part is the jump, the bottom green part is the landing area.

Perhaps this explains the ski jump concept a little better. There is a small stadium at the bottom, which I did not photograph.

I had to go to a pub for dinner. My invisible dinner guest was as always there to keep me company.

The menu was all in German, I got beef and potatoes following some miming and broken English. I didnt expect it to be corned beef but it was quite good.
The side dish is creamed spinach. Unfortunately, I didnt get any white asparagus.

Thirsty cat was thirsty.

Tomorrow... maybe, main peak still in cloud here.

This part is actually shorter than the peaks in the previous photo.

I follow this stream about half way up the mountain, it appears to be a raging torrent here, however the gorge cave thing was open today.
I might bypass it anyway as it doesnt open to 8, I plan to be there at 6, internet says you can just go through the gate without paying, but there is an alternate route.

I then went to the other half of the divided town which was once two towns prior to merging. It is apparently the forgotten half because its part of the name comes after the hyphen.
Looks nice, but all closed.

The petrol station delivered, they were selling paper cones filled with hot candied nuts. They sit on a heated metal tray to keep them warm. They have probably been there for a few years.

Next door to my hotel lives some sheep. I threw sticks at them for a while in the fading twilight at almost 9:30pm. It sure does stay light late here.

jenny on 2016-06-04 said:
Sooo picturesque!

Mother on 2016-06-04 said:
Bit concerned about the mountain you are planning to climb. This looks like your first real mountain. Do you have the right gear for it and potential weather conditions?

Day 15 - Sunday, 5 June 2016

I made it in 9 hours

It was a long fun day.
Opinions were mixed on if climbing the highest mountain in Germany, Zugspitze (2962m), was possible so early in the season.
The people that run the train told me it was not possible, the train is an amazing thing that goes up the mountain inside it in a tunnel that spirals to the top assisted by a cog gear, in complete darkness.
The tourist information office told me it was maybe possible...
The plan then was to leave early in case I needed to come back down the same way if the path was impossible (the worst backup plan!).
The main plan was to walk all the way to the top, which I did, in time for the cable car down the other side which is a long straight drop off a 3km high cliff.
The other backup plan was there is a cable car that descends a small way down the mountain on my side from the top to a ski field, which apparently was open and almost certainly accessible.
So if I was unable to reach the very top, I should...should be able to get to the upper cable car station on my side? I am not explaining this well.

Of course, the 2 people I saw all day had not attempted this, they had walked to one of the lower camping / drinking huts, spent the night and were walking home.
I took 51 photos (actually a lot more, I culled), I will tell the story with the photos.

I got up at 5:30am. It was raining. Not a good start. None the less, I put on my backpack, grabbed my jacket, and started jogging. My plan was to get ahead of schedule as best as possible on the lower flatter parts.

I am glad I didnt cancel due to rain, as it was soon starting to clear up, as I passed fields of flowers.

I avoided the famous tourist gorge thing, which is carved into a cliff face, as it apparently doesnt open until 8am.
The internet said its possible to go past the gate without paying before then, but that sounded like a situation ending in me having to double back.
The slightly alternate path meant I had to climb a bit, and then descend again to the river, which is frustrating.

There were hundreds of these tiny black lizards.

The journey ahead looked exciting.

Cloud would come and go, but it didnt really rain much apart from the 30 minutes between my hotel and the start of the trail proper.

Eventually I rejoined the river, which appears to be blue. It looks cold.

Here is the first hut. No one there, opens at 11am for day trippers keen to make a 4.5 hour round trip for a beer in the valley.

Every now and then I would reach a plateau. Note the lack of snow here... remember that for later.

Hut number 2 has a nice outdoor area for picnics.

People sleep here before descending back down.... not me. Heres one of very few people I saw, a woman in her pyjamas on the phone.

Time for me to break out the good stuff.

Soon after hut 2 was this cool grassed plateau, the last one. It was sharply up hill from here.

First signs of ice. I was still feeling highly energetic and about 90 minutes ahead of schedule.

The view back from where I had come was impressive. That isnt a path, its streams of rocks and gravel.

Then I got to what was by far the hardest bit. A very steep section, hundreds of metres high, of whats called scree.
It took me 90 minutes to crawl to the top of this.

I had to put on my gloves and jacket, and accept that I would slide back down some of the time.
I was very glad to get to the top, at times I was questioning if this was the right way.

Once I crested the ridge, I knew it was the right way, here is hut number 3. I was very glad to see it.

They were very surprised when I told them I had climbed up from the bottom, most catch the cable car to the top, the cable car back down my side, then walk down to avoid the scree field and to shave off 6 hours of climbing.
I was still well ahead of schedule according to the sign outside, so I enjoyed a cake and coffee. Amazingly only $9 Australian.

Snow dog was old and tired. The staff looked like escaped criminals. All their supplies come down the mountain via cable car.

I had to wear funky slippers.

Immediately above hut 3, the snow started.

I had footsteps to follow of someone who had come down.

Thought I had better do the selfie thing, as the weather appeared to be following me up the mountain.

Epic scenery not conveyed in the photo, those rocks are hundreds of metres high.

Happy someone else made footsteps. There was a metal pole sticking up every now and then, but it was a case of make your own trail.
The snow actually made it easier to walk on than the rocks / big gravel. Just every now and then your foot would sink in further than expected.

More snow.

And more snow. Remember it is summer here!

I was getting closer to that rock face after a couple of hours, but still couldnt see the top of the mountain due to cloud.

It got really foggy for a while, but then I spotted the lower cable car station....I would at least achieve my backup plan.

I walked around to see if I could keep going from here, all signs point to yes!

Still at least an hour ahead of schedule, I decided to check out the buildings. How do they build them up here? Helicopter the stuff in?

Someones built a church even.

BMW did definitely helicopter the car in. I saw a documentary about how they did it on the train once I was down.
Kind of a pointless advertisement, if it drove up, that would be an achievement, but you might as well drop a 2 tonne piece of concrete up here.

This place had a huge snack bar, and very few customers.

So I had some more cake.

Its also the spot where the cog train pops out of the mountain having spiraled its way up inside the mountain in a man made tunnel.

100% natural, apparently.

It wasnt far to the summit now, about an hour, but it was very foggy. My camera extended the lense at one point and then turned off! So I was a bit concerned.
It wasnt at all cold, not even 0 degrees, so I dont know why this happened.
Towards the very top, there was a small section of wire to hang onto so you didnt fall off a ridge.

And then I climbed up some metal steps to the huge tourist centre on the summit. I technically crossed the border to Austria.

There are even big cranes on the summit building more stuff. The weather was getting worse, but there was basically no wind all day.

No view to speak of, but selfie I did.

Then I walked around and saw the real summit. It appeared to be closed. I asked someone and they said closed because idiot tourists try and go up there drunk in flip flops and t-shirts.
I explained I had walked from the bottom the long way, he said 'today? all the way? from the town?'. When I told him I had, he let me go to the summit!
Apparently I was the only person to climb UP this week, and the route from the lower cable car hut to the summit was officially closed today.....I must not have seen that sign. There was NOTHING to see when I was on the summit, just whiteness. My camera was struggling to focus too.

Inside has bars, restaurants, and tourists from everywhere. I was full of cake by now.

There is a really high end restaurant somewhere, this isnt it, its only open for dinner and they bring you up as a group in the cable car.

Now time to descend, and seriously it was like coming down in a plane. So fast, so steep.

It is not possible to climb up this way.

Nearer the bottom is a famous lake people like to walk around, I forget its name though, and cant be bothered looking it up.

Back at the bottom, the summit was still in cloud.

Time to transfer to the cog train for the rest of the ride into town. The part inside the mountain takes over an hour, the cable car takes 10 minutes to go up 2300 vertical metres.

One last mountain photo! Dont expect many photos tonight.


I warned this would be a small update.
All I wanted to do was find dinner, but this is rural Germany, church bells are ringing and almost everything is shut.
Presumably the few places that are open are Heathens who might get burnt at the stake as a witch.
Anyway, the Chinese buffet was open, that might have been a better choice, it was full of brightly colored food in huge tubs, and the place was full of the tour group I saw on top of the mountain earlier.
There were a couple of shops selling ice cream made with alcohol, that might have been a better choice.
Mcdonalds was open - that would have actually been a good choice!
Finally I found an Italian place that was open to serve meals (a few pubs WERE open, but no food on offer).
I wanted a risotto, sorry no rice. Then I tried pasta, sorry no pasta left...So I asked what do you have? Schnitzel, Pork knuckle. Bugger. Schnitzel please.

I then returned home to my small hotel, the front door was locked, I tried it twice to make sure.
An old man comes storming over and opens it, 'DIDNT THE GIRL TELL YOU TO USE YOUR KEY?' To which I responded probably, but I must have forgotten, sorry.
He then literally told me, do not forget again! And stormed off.

Nothing happening in town. The few people out are all doing what I am doing, wondering why everything is shut.

Church bells were echoing across the city from every direction.

Religious motifs are also all over the place, due to the previous witch crisis.

My dinner from the Italian restaurant. I am certain that is a pre packaged schnitzel from Aldi and that the potatoes were deep fried.

Nice photo of river running through town with mountain backdrop.

My hotel features angry old Germans and strangely, a segway to take you into town.
Tomorrow I go to Innsbruck, in Austria. Maybe I will go by segway?

Mother on 2016-06-06 said:
I stand corrected.

David on 2016-06-06 said:
I left out no such thing.
The title says it took 9 hours, probably 2 of those were jogging.

It is a long way around to the top through the valley, the total course according to my watch was 24km and 42,000 steps, but I think it under recorded steps in the snow and the scramble on hands and knees up the scree for an hour.

The first sentence says its 2962 metres high.

The vertical ascent from the start point is just over 2200 metres as the town is at 700 metres.
And yes it is well above the tree line, there was over a metre of snow at the summit, in summer.

As a comparison, Fuji is 1471 metres up from the 5th station where the bus parks, and generally takes no more than 6 hours walking.

Mother on 2016-06-05 said:
Well sounds like the climb was a big adventure. You left out all the important info such as how long it took and how high it was. Looks like it was above the tree line which would be higher than you have been before.

Day 16 - Monday, 6 June 2016

Now in Austria

Not a creative title, but apt. Home of red bull, they even sell it at Mcdonalds as a slushy thing.
Innsbruck is the actual city I am in, which is part of Tirol or Tyrol, the part of Austria between the alps of Bavaria (where I was) and Italy which is just to the south.
The whole city is surrounded by big mountains, but its flat enough in the city to have an international airport, I watched planes take off as my train descended down into the city.
Tyrol was part of France following the war until 1955, but they have often been their own country of sorts, ruled by guys in fancy clown shoes calling themselves Counts.

Getting here took 90 minutes on a very slow modern train with huge windows. It was full of tall blonde haired blue eyed teenage girls who would no doubt make Hitler proud, off on some sort of a school trip I think. No boys of course, they have to work.
On all my travels, this is a common theme, you are 11.3x more likely as a young female to travel and enjoy life rather than have to work. This extends to every part of the world I have been to. So quit complaining about wage inequality, its your own fault.

Before leaving Garnish-Pieceofgherkin I had a long walk around the city before my train at noon. The big mountains were unobscured. The mountain I climbed yesterday is obscured by the jutting up twin rocks in the foreground. The one on the left is the second highest mountain in Germany I think.
I talk about mountains a lot, there will be more such talk.

I stopped for coffee, and got a soup bowl of it.
I asked for skim milk please, not a problem in Munich generally, but here the answer was 'Milk comes from a cow, its up to the cow if its skim or not'.
As a result of a soup bowl of full cream milk, I felt as though I weighed 3.429 tonnes as I walked around.

This is a slightly smaller mountain range that towers over Mittenwald. I was going to go here before I found out the place I went to had a higher mountain, and cheaper accommodation.
On that note, this morning I looked at house prices in a real estate office. Now these are two level detached houses with nice gardens, but a 3 bedroom will set you back a cool million euro! This isnt near a big city either, I doubt you would be commuting to Munich, just using it on weekends and holidays.

Just prior to descending into Innsbruck I realised we were actually quite high up. Hence the reason the train went so slowly. Along the train line there was a mountain bike track being used by lots of people taking it seriously, it seemed to go for 20 miles or more.
There was no fence between the bike track and the train track and at times it was just a metre away.

Arriving in Innsbruck to a small but nice and modern station, with some decent shops below.

Including a very flash high end supermarket. I like supermarkets.

I liked the supermarket so much I bought lunch from there, for 2 euros ($3). I was excited to get some kind of vegetable other than potato.
Dont worry though, they also offered schnitzel and potato baugette.

Then theres the small matter of the mountains towering over the city in every direction.

Finally, this is my hotel room. Its small but fine by me. The bed is actually quite large, the internet works, the bathroom is modern, theres a single English tv channel (CNN instead of BBC this time) and its about $80 Australian a night.
I dont really understand how its so cheap, its literally on the corner of the start of the main pedestrian shopping street running through the city centre.

Time for shorts

Before I forget, I have a tidbit to share from this morning I forgot until now.
When checking out from my little hotel in the last town with the hyphenated name, I noticed on the counter a colorful brochure advertising their spa and sauna in the basement.
I didnt know before now it had this feature.
Anyway, in European style, the brochure featured a buxom topless blonde woman proudly displaying her assets, nothing too unusual about that, I have seen boobs before.
The I looked at the woman who was busy hand writing me the bill so I could check out and go to my train, and realised she was of course the very same topless woman.
'You want to try the sauna?' - unfortunately I had to go get my train.

Back to Innsbruck now, I feel it is a city that would be hard to beat for natural beauty assuming you like mountains as much as I do.
The population is only 120k or so, but theres multiple universities and colleges, and the place is bursting at the seams with tourists, largely from Germany and Italy.
The mountains surrounding the place are so good they have actually held the winter olympics twice.

Now I have to work out what I am doing tomorrow. One thing I will definitely do is collect 1 and 2 euro coins so I can do my washing the next day before I depart for Salzburg, I found a high quality laundromat between my hotel and the station.
I dont think I will do a repeat mountain climb, the ones here are not as high and the path is not the same epic journey. Also its hot, 25 degrees, I had to wear shorts. Fortuitous as I have run out of clean pants. Hence the laundry speech above.

Excellent view.

Instead of looking at the views, I headed into the mall. This is the biggest mall in town. It had free toilets! A first in this part of the world.

For a reason I dont care to look up, this is famous. Famous enough to be featured on the wikipedia page about the entire region of Tyrol.

The 'old' part of town is also nice to look at.

And has its fair share of ridiculously painted buildings.

The size of the buildings seem to be much grander than a place with this population would need.

There is also a large botanic garden in the centre of town. It was full of young people in what I at first thought was their underwear.
Some sort of prank maybe? Then I realised, the garden is their beach. There is no beach for millions of miles in any direction, only mountains. So you go sun yourself in the garden.

I crossed a river and enjoyed some more view.

Then appreciated this gay mountain for a while.

Being so close to Italy (50 miles) I thought I might have some pasta. I chose the healthiest item on their menu, it was ok, nothing speacial, I was glad they provided cheese and tabasco sauce so I could add flavour.

Now for my brave drink choice of the day. Its sugar free but other than that I have no idea.
The bottle features a topless couple wearing ribbons to cover their genetalia with matching cowboy hats. With a label like that how can it possibly be bad?

David on 2016-06-07 said:
There are mountains on 3 out of 4 sides, the main range closest to the city goes for a very long way.
The valley the city sits in was the mid point of the ancient trading route, there is a Roman road somewhere apparently

Brian on 2016-06-06 said:
Great photos David

adriana on 2016-06-06 said:
Such pointy sharp mountains. Is Innsbruch completely surrounded, or like Adelaide with hills just on one side?

I am sure there will be more view on the next page.


Latest Update

Day 1 - Sunday, 22 May 2016
  First of many meals
  Internet in the sky
Day 2 - Monday, 23 May 2016
  Dubai airport is quite large
  Manchester airport is quite old
Day 3 - Tuesday, 24 May 2016
  The cold light of day and night
Day 4 - Wednesday, 25 May 2016
  Cold and damp
Day 5 - Thursday, 26 May 2016
  A real city
Day 6 - Friday, 27 May 2016
  Trafficus horribilus
  London is quite familiar
Day 7 - Saturday, 28 May 2016
  Washing and walking
  Olympic food court
Day 8 - Sunday, 29 May 2016
  Victory lap
  British queues of madness
  Now in Germany
Day 9 - Monday, 30 May 2016
  Raining and busy
Day 10 - Tuesday, 31 May 2016
  I finally got to see where I am
Day 11 - Wednesday, 1 June 2016
Day 12 - Thursday, 2 June 2016
  Clocks and accordians
Day 13 - Friday, 3 June 2016
  Scene comparison
  Strawberry salad
Day 14 - Saturday, 4 June 2016
Day 15 - Sunday, 5 June 2016
  I made it in 9 hours
Day 16 - Monday, 6 June 2016
  Now in Austria
  Time for shorts
Day 17 - Tuesday, 7 June 2016
  Thousands of flying creatures
  I promise no mountain photos
Day 18 - Wednesday, 8 June 2016
  Smallest hotel room ever
Day 19 - Thursday, 9 June 2016
  Record saturation
  Supermarket is the only healthy option
Day 20 - Friday, 10 June 2016
  Dog piss department store
  Please buy us beer
Day 21 - Saturday, 11 June 2016
  The museum is overrrated
  Dinner time
Day 22 - Sunday, 12 June 2016
  The short flight