Garmisch, the Gem of Bavaria

Garmisch, the Gem of Bavaria

Photos courtesy of Markt Garmisch-Partenkirchen

It’s true, Germany’s Bavaria is the land of lederhosen, Oktoberfest, oompah-pah bands, BMWs, and bratwurst. It’s also known for its cowbells, chocolate-coloured farmhouses, and umpteen whimsical Bavarian castles built by the eccentric King Ludwig II. Those castlefilled Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang scenes alone are reason to visit this snow-capped region of Southern Germany. But it’s Bavaria’s enthusiasm for sport that’s most compelling.

Skiing is the mainstay of the Brothers Grimm-inspired Bavarian ski town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It’s a pretty “double” village (Garmisch meets Partenkirchen) dominated by a high-steepled church and cobbled square at one end, and the massive Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak, at the other. The historic 3.3-kilometre Kandahar track hosted the world’s best ski racers in 2011 for the World Championships.

 

Garmisch is the gateway to three ski mountains: Hausberg, Kreuzeck and Alpspitze, all joined into one Garmisch-Classic ski resort. There are more than 70 kilometres of piste in all, much of it ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers. Garmisch is not as well-known, nor as popular among skiers as its Austrian cousins – Kitzbuhel, St. Anton, etc. But it is characterized by high-alpine, oft-dramatic skiing that, while not difficult, is especially scenic.

Bavaria is also known for its broader commitment to winter sport. Each season the region stages up to 12 World Cup events in sports that typically dominate a Winter Olympic roster, including alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh and speed skating.

You’d be hard-pressed to find another region in the world so fired up about these white-knuckle sports. Sleepy Hansel & Gretel mountain villages with cobbled streets and steepled churches have swollen to 130,000-plus when a bobsleigh World Cup or an Alpine World Championship has come to town. In Germany, fans flock to speed skating and nordic skiing’s biathlon stands like Canadians jam into hockey arenas. Every Bavarian ski trip ought to include a visit to one of these venues to witness the spectacle.

Where to stay: Garmisch-Partenkirchen is not known for its slopeside accommodation. Skiers are more likely to put themselves up in the middle of town at the region’s only five-star accommodation: Reindl’s Partenkirchner Hof (http://www.reindls.de/en/home/). Located at the foot of the train station, the Zugspitzbahn and the ski bus stop, Reindl’s is a quick connection to the ski action. Yet this family-owned inn is a quiet refuge, with a huge selection of Rieslings waiting in the wine cellar, a lively alpenlounge, and… best of all… a sampling of local Bavarian cakes served with your cocktails between 3-5 p.m. each evening.

Where to eat: Bavaria is especially yummy, with hearty fare on its menus: weisswurst (white sausage), pretzels, knödel and sweet dampfnudeln. Top spots in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to sample the best of Bavaria include The Alpenhof, Posthotel, and Reindl’s Partenkirchner Hof… or simply wander up the street to purchase a bratwurst from an outdoor stand, even in winter.

Hoist a beer.. guaranteed the oompah-pah will follow.

For more information on winter vacations in Bavaria: http://www.bavaria.us/bavaria-germany-winter-vacatins-areas



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