One of the sights that I was most excited to see while in Europe were the Alps. I love mountains + forests, + nowhere in the world does cloud-shredding mountains + dark, fairytale forests like the Alpine region shared by Germany, Italy, Austria + Switzerland.
I was stoked that Falk + Silke were equally keen to go on an Alpine camping weekend; so, after my first week in Munich, I put down the aerosol cans, + we headed off on the short drive to the Alps, only about an hour from town. I had high expectations, which the Alps lived up to, + more…
Signs that you’re in Germany: having a super East German Trabant camping near you! We heard it arriving before we saw it lurching over the hill. This super vintage DDR-era car, now a rare sight in Germany, has achieved cult-like status with many folk who lived in East Germany, + vintage-lovers everywhere. And I can see why. Quaint, austere + workmanlike, it really is a step back into the communist past. I absolutely loved it (and yes, it was towing that gorgeous vintage van in the background).
Super East German Trabant in our campground
We set off early, keen to make the most of the sparkling sunshine. After taking the cable car up to the hiking track, we headed off on a wide, paved path, gobsmacked at the already-incredible views:
In the shadow of the Zugspitze, German/Austrian Alps
I’ll never forget the surreal experience of quietly ascending the mountain in the warm gentle sun, listening to the symphony of cow-bells in the valleys below. It felt like a Sound of Music film set or a staged Milka advertisement, but for the fact that it was absolutely real:
Climbing in the Karwendel mountains, German/Austrian Alps
The path gradually became narrower, less smooth + much more steep, until we were hiking + climbing along a razor-sharp mountain ridge, with sheer drops on either side of a narrow goat-track. The views were astounding, but I began to feel that I was ill-prepared for this type of Alpine experience:
Challenging Alpine track
Our track would take us along the ridge, all the way to the next mountain peak (a section of the ridge-track is visible in the photo below), where we hoped we’d find the biergarten for a quick lunch-break, before tackling the return hike:
Exhausted (well, I was more exhausted than my Bavarian friends), we reached the biergarten + enjoyed a quick Alpine lunch looking out over othe mountains below us, before realising that we had to hurry back along the ridge super-quickly to reach the last cable-car of the day!
Alpine Biergarten, on top of the Karwendel mountains
Exhausted + aching, stumbling + at times crawling, it took all of my strength to scramble back along the ridge, up + down the mountain-peaks, to the cable-car, which we reached just in time. It was at this point that we learned that our path should be undertaken only by hikers with ‘extensive hiking + Alpine experience’, with specialist footwear + special hand-held equipment. Having completed the hike in Blundstone boots, cut-off jeans + a borrowed hat, with only a packet of Milka biscuits as a snack, I felt that my exhaustion was validated. We returned to our riverside campsite, + spent the evening out under a million Alpine stars. This day will remain in my mind as one of the most outstanding, ever.
The next morning we awoke early + headed to the Eibsee on a tip-off from Loomit, to enjoy some Alpine swimming. We arrived at the sparkling emerald lake, amazed at the panorama which unfolded around us: incredibly clear water, fringed by deep, fairytale forest, ringed entirely by looming, silent Alps including Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitze. We found a deserted ‘beach’, + jumped in. There could not be a more perfect place in the world for me to take a morning swim:
Eibsee, at the foot of the Zugspitze
After a few hours in the Eibsee’s perfect waters, we headed home, stopping at the Walkensee for another swim + paddleboat ride. It was a super way to end a brilliant Alpine adventure.
Thank you to Falk + Silke, for sharing with me a genuinely incredible part of Bavaria. I can’t wait to return here soon, to spend more time in the an Alpine summer + winter, as soon as the opportunity presents.
Part 3 of my European spraycation is coming soon…