We awake, wander down to our assigned table and chow on some most excellent breakfast. We have been annoying the snot out of AJ for the past six months, telling him that one of the things we miss the most about Germany/Austria is the breakfast. Fresh bread, sliced meat and cheese, granola/cereal and yogurt, fresh fruit. Plus coffee, though they use really small cups which really defeats the purpose of getting large amounts of caffeine into our bodies as fast as possible. Though it is a hardship, we manage to press through.
Today we head up to the Zugszpitze. It is the highest mountain in Germany at 9,718 feet above sea level (which sounds way higher than 2,962m). The border between Austria and Germany crosses at the western peak and there are two cable cars (and one train of a sort) that go to the top, one on each country’s side. Jan and I have gone up the German side in our LBAJ (life before AJ) and it was a top 10 scary ride. We decided that we were going to to the top again, but this time we would go from the Austrian side, which I hope is less scary and I KNOW is less expensive!
It is only a 15 minute drive from our hotel so no hurry getting out, but we are still at the lift by 1000 and it isn’t crowded. The weather forecast is sketchy for heading to the top of the summit. No bad weather, just a chance of clouds and rain in the day which would make a peak overlooking Germany/Austria not as attractive. But it is gorgeous out when we get to the lift, and we are heading to the top. As I stand at the ticket window paying 125 Euros for the ride up and back, plus a gondola car ride to the glacier, I wonder if the juice is worth the squeeze. Is this really worth the money going to the top of a mountain?
Hell yeah it was.
The cars run to the top of the mountain every 15 minutes and we hop aboard the car which is almost empty–only about 10 of us going up on this particular trip. We take of smoothly and oo and aah at the trees and the mountains as we lift towards the top. One of us (Jan) was looking at all the people and not paying attention to what was happening outside.
I’m going to use some technical terms here, bear with me.
The gondola or cable car is on a ‘cable’ from the bottom to the top of the mountain. The cable goes over big poles that stick out of the ground (called ‘big poles’) and on the big poles are round things called ‘wheels.’ The effect of the poles/wheels is that the car is redirected in a more (or less) steep angle. If you have ridden a char lift you know that when you go over the wheels on the poles it sometimes causes the chair to bounce. Same thing happens on a cable car, just really high above the ground. This is a long digression, and I apologize, but it has to do with why Jan crapped her drawers on the way up to the top. The cable car was coming to the first pole and most of us on the trip saw it coming. Jan did not. There were a series of near-simultaneous events. First the driver slowed the ascent just a bit and Jan rose up out of her seat to move to the back of the car to get a photograph of the valley. Then the car passed over the wheels attached to the poles and the car DROPPED (only a couple of feet) just as Jan was in mid-step. In her mind (as we were told later), she though that we were falling from the sky to crash onto the earth. And she reacted accordingly by screaming. Very loudly. To the amusement of absolutely everyone on the car.
Joke on Jan complete, we finish our ride to the top and it is brisk 10/50 degrees at the top. We emerge at 10,000 feet and it is gorgeous. Big clouds, lots of blue. We explore the deck at the top of the mountain when AJ points to the peak summit and asks if we can go to the top of that. The summit is just outside of the buildings that are at the top of the mountain. You can head out a door, through a gate, step down onto a narrow ledge, climb up a ladder, across another ledge and then get to the official summit of the mountain. Can we do it? Sure. Do I want to do it? Nope.
But since he asked, and since it seems foolish but not the most dangerous thing we have ever done, we are doing it. Obviously we both made it. Looking down a cliff at a fall far enough to kill both of us wasn’t exactly ‘fun’ but what the hell.
Next was the gondola down to the glacier where we got to both toboggan and have a snow ball fight in July. Back to the top of the mountain to grab some really expensive schnitzels then I’ve had enough. Life at 10,000 feet is making me dizzy and we are heading back down for the afternoon.
Next up on the list of things to do was head back down into the valley to on of the random ski lifts that had a summer luge track. You get on a plastic car that takes you down a long track with a ton of turns and you control the speed by pushing forward on a stick (faster) or pulling back (slower). There is no safety briefing or other controls to prevent you from doing something stupid–you are on your own. When we got to the top the dude at the chairlift pointed to the start and told us we had to get it done before the rain started. Normally this would have been the time to get onto to cars and rip down the track, but in Munich we ran into a woman who appeared to be wearing ground hamburger on her arm. Upon closer inspection, it was found to be her arm, and she told us she had been on a track like this, gone fast, and scraped her arm on the side of the track. Her arm looked both icky and painful and none of us wanted that so we had more of a sedate run. Maybe tomorrow.
Back to the hotel and AJ and I head up into the mountains behind out hotel for him to do some running and me to do some walking, heading up into the pastures that over look our town. Back down for shower, dinner and eventually to bed.