When we arrived at the Partenkirchen – Hof, a 5* classic Bavarian-style hotel, we were greeted by an American ex-pat who told us the history.
Evidently the town was taken over by Americans during WWII and used as a ski resort for the military members who were working abroad. Even though the town was reinstated to the Germans, a small base remains at the Edelweiss, a local hotel that offers discounted rates to active military members. The ski town was also home of the winter Olympics but this was not why it stood out to me. The real reason was that it looked like the Brothers Grimm had created and preserved this fairy-tale home in a time-bubble. The buildings are classic Bavaria – large dark wooden beamed structures with creamy undertones and painted pictures of Biblical scenes identifying the house’s history and that of the family inside. The town is overlooked by towering Alpine mountains and has access to the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany.
The fairy-tale did not wear off for the entire 3 days we stayed here and it rained pretty much throughout. We strolled the streets in rain jackets, stopping at beer gardens to be served by women in drindls and men in lederhosen. We ate delicious German chocolate, tomato soup and Bavarian Monastery cheese – some of the best thus far including what I had eaten in both France and Italy. The beer came out ice cold, and I discovered that beer can also taste fresh. It’s very easy to find fresh beer and even easier to drink when the price is typically less than bottled water. On that note, those who are not fans of sparkling water should be warned that even ‘still’ water is typically just mineral water; complete with bubbles!
The Garmisch side housed many stores, especially sportswear stores, and seemed to be much more commercial than its Partenkirchen brother who seemed much more quaint and quiet. Both sides, divided by a river, boast spectacular views of snow-peaks lined with green fir trees that catch wispy white clouds in their grasp. Most fairy tales come from the side of Bavaria near the base of the Black Forest. But the entire region has a magical air and the dense forest brings about images of monsters and the towering castles of Mad Ludwig bring about Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. It’s a magic that you won’t find anywhere else – not in other mountain ranges, not by the sea or the countryside, it’s an air that really seems to only exist in the magical land of Bavaria.