Thursday, 16 April 2009

It’s childish I know...

The thing that really got me interested in going back to Munich was watching a programme on DW-TV about the Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany.

The scenery was so spectacular, the mountains so beautiful that my mind was kind of made up to go back to Bavaria, and a few months later when easyJet was having a sale I managed to get really cheap flights.

Then I started planning what to do. I’ve already been to Munich twice so I wanted to get out of the city, certainly to visit the Zugspitze, but was that enough to fill the day.

Then I looked at the website for the Zugspitzebahn, the railway that gets you to the summit. Something struck me on the front page of their site. In the top right hand corner was a rude word. Had someone sabotaged the site, was someone having a joke, or, could there really be a place in Germany named after the English slang for an (excuse the Catholic euphemism) act of selfishness liable to damage your sight.

But no, just outside Garmisch-Partenkirchen, overlooking the town in fact is a mountain that rhymes with Bank, just pronounced with a Germanic “W”. (for the obvious reason of not wanting to get my blog blacklisted on every piece of filter software I’m not going to actually spell out the name of this perfectly innocuous mountain!)

And, because I’m the kind of person who has a collection of visits to Hell (or Hel), I couldn’t resist but divert via the mountain and the [Name of Mountain]haus at the summit – queue as many innuendoes as you like.

In truth, the mountain is more than just a curiosity to the English speakers (how many pictures of the mountain name, or the summit house must there be in the world?) The views from the summit are some of the most spectacular I have seen, with the town of Garmish-Partenkirchen at the foot of the mountain laid out on a valley floor, and a small corridor of valley tapering to a point at the foot of the mighty Zugspitze. If anything the views from here at just a little over 9,000 feet are better than those from the Zugspitze 9,700+ feet.

So, Like Hel in Poland, come for the name, stay for the stunning scenery.

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