After breakfast and checking out on our last morning in Nürnberg (three days before Christmas), we headed out of the old town, and back under the road to the train station to catch a train to Munich. In Munich we had a half hour stop to change onto another train which took us on to Garmisch-Parternkirchen in the mountains. As we got closer to Garmisch-Partenkirchen we began to see snow around us! I had actually considered Garmisch-Partenkirchen for Christmas, but as it’s only at 800 or 900m above sea level, decided it did not have a good enough chance of having snow for Christmas.
We changed trains again there for the final leg across the border to Seefeld, Austria. As we got closer to Seefeld the snow actually thinned out, and it was clear by the time we arrived there that it had not snowed for a few days, and warmer temperatures meant it was melting away. There was still a reasonable amount of snow in areas that didn’t get a lot of foot traffic or sunlight though, and we were excited to see that the house where we were staying was still completely surrounded by snow.
After having some lunch in the village centre (tiroler gröst’l for me, which I had last time we visited Austria, and wiener schnitzel for Andre) we did a bit of grocery shopping, bought some snow gloves for Andre and checked out the information centre and learnt that the mountain only had one ski run open due to the poor snow cover. We decided we would do a day of skiing & snowboarding the next day, then reassess afterwards depending on conditions. We went and rented our skis, snowboard, boots and helmets (most comfortable ski boots I’ve ever worn!) and were advised by the british guy running the place that a lot of people were heading south to the Stübai Glacier for the better skiing there. We hoped this meant that Rösshutte (the mountain Seefeld sits below) wouldn’t be too busy. We were staying in a self-catered apartment, so tea was frozen lasagne (no microwave in the kitchen which I thought was a bit odd, so oven-baked instead!), garlic bread and veggies.
The next day we headed out to catch the first ski bus of the morning. We had gone no more than ten metres down our street (downhill) when Andre, carrying his snowboard in one arm and my skis in the other, slipped on a patch of ice and landed flat on his back and smacked his head on the road. I may have panicked a little and raced down to check if he was ok. He was in pain, but it was his back which hurt more than his head, which he hadn’t even felt hit the road due to the fact he was already wearing his helmet. Fortunately he threw himself flat on his back so that he didn’t land on his tailbone, so ultimately he only ended up with a bruise on the back of his hip and a bruise on his arm where my skis had hit him. Thank God because that could have ended a lot more badly.
While we waited for the ski bus, we ran into a couple we knew from our tour to Gallipoli in Turkey in April! They were also Australian and living in London, but although we have never seen each other in London – indeed haven’t seen or heard from each other since Gallipoli – we bumped into each other in a little mountain village in Austria! We only got to chat for about a minute or two before our ski bus arrived, and we had to get on the bus while they carried on for their guided hike.
The bus doesn’t have to go far and takes you to the bottom station of the funicular. Because of the poor conditions they were selling the lift tickets at half price which was nice, and then it was on to the funicular to get up the mountain to where the snow was! We spent several hours doing the one run which was open, and it wasn’t too bad. It was a little icy in the morning, but we are used to that in Australian conditions.
The skies cleared pretty early on which meant we had good visibility and excellent views of the valley below. We were disappointed at the lack of open runs because they have snow-making facilities on all runs and temperatures were certainly low enough overnight for snow-making, but perhaps they thought it was a waste if it was getting too warm during the day, and indeed it got up to 9 degrees that day. We did get the impression also that they are so used to relying on the natural snow that they don’t do much snow-making unless they’re desperate!
The snow got pretty slushy by mid-afternoon which was just making it difficult and not a lot of fun, so we called it a day and headed back down the funicular. That night we went for a wander through the little marketplace in the village centre and had würst (curry for Andre and hotdog for me) from the Rotary stall for dinner.
The next morning we decided we were not really interested in doing the same run all day on mediocre snow again, so after a Christmas Eve skype chat with Andre’s family we returned our ski gear in the morning and found a laundromat to do the laundry. While that was running we explored the village a bit and bought some souvenirs, and Andre was very pleased to find some new sunglasses after having lost his in Scotland. In the meantime he has been wearing some ill-fitting ones he bought in Turkey out of sheer necessity and it has been impossible to find polarised sunglasses in London for less than £100 (because Londoners generally wear sunglasses for fashion more than practicality, they are all expensive brand name types!). We did a bit more grocery shopping in preparation for Christmas day and had dinner at a lovely partially subterranean restaurant which squeezed us in at a table right by a window into the kitchen, which meant we could watch the cooking going on! We both had burgers and although they were very good (Andre’s steak and mine a patty), I am not sure they quite rank up with Berlin’s Burgermeister. While it wasn’t exactly expensive it wasn’t cheap either, but the food and service were both excellent. The staff were very friendly and at one point someone, who I got the impression was a shift manager or similar, asked us if we were ‘enjoying the show’ (watching the chefs in the kitchen) and said that if we got bored to let him know and he’d ‘change the channel’! We went to bed with fingers crossed as the weather reports all predicted snow for Christmas evening!