All together now. “Jawohl, Jawohl! Wir trinken Alkohol. Wir haben keine Wasser, wir trinken Alkohol!” It means, “Hooray, hooray, We drink alcohol! We have no water! We drink alcohol”. God bless the Germans!
The only thing I love more than travelling and scootering is beer! The amber nectar from the gods! And Germany is the Mecca for us beer connoisseurs! My friend Richard told me about this brew call Franziskaner Weiss Beer. A brewery that’s been around since 1397 has gotta be good. And luck would have it they have a beer garden at the highest point in Germany. At 2950m above sea level this is the closest I will ever get to heaven!!!
So with Winter drawing nearer, my wife and I went in search of this mythical brew. Destination? The town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, which also happens to be at the foothills of the highest point in Germany – The Zugspitze.
The Z in german is pronounced with a hard T sound: Zugspitze = Tsoog-spitser
Garmisch is a quick 1-hour train ride south from München. It is the premier ski resort town in Germany, and the fact that it’s also close to the Zugspitze makes it a tourist hotspot.
Back to beer! I wanted beer.
Step one is to figure out how to get up this part of the Alps. The are 2 ways to reach the top of the Zugspitze. Either from the German side using the Zugspitze Bahn, or from the Austrian side using the cable car at Ehrwald.
We took the train from Garmisch. A dedicated platform next to the main train station has been built. The journey takes around an hour, but you get to go inside the middle of the Mountain. Yes, the Germans have blasted a tunnel through the middle of the Alps and installed a cogged-train system (fernicular) to mechanically haul the train up 1800 vertical meters!
For 53 Euro I wanted bang for buck. At Eibsee the train ascends into a dark, sub-Alpean tunnel. Amazing engineering! Click here for more pricing info
The final stop for the train is at Zugspitzplatt at the Gletcher Bahnhoff. Built close to the top at an altitude of the 2588m, this is were the snow ski enthusiasts will find paradise. If like me you want beer and a great view, you’ll need to take one final cable-car ride to the ‘proper’ top of the Zugspitze.
The views from the Zugspitze speak for themselves. The air is crisp and clear, just like the famous Weiss beer I was in search of.
The Zugspitze is the highest point of Germany. But the Austrians on the southern side also want to be part of the action. Naturlich! They have built a cable car on their side that can be accessed from the town of Obermoos near Erhwald.
The beer gods must have been on my side because the weather was perfect. Not a breath of wind, blue skies and above freezing temperatures. Being the off season I had the place to myself. Apart from a few high-flying crows, yes the feathered variety, scavenging for scraps, the beer garden was empty. I am not a fan of crowds so I was in my element.
Weiss beer, which means “white-beer” is an acquired taste. I have acquired the taste after many years of hard experimentation! It’s a floral flavoured beer, which makes for smooth drinking. I am not going to bore you with tasting notes other than to say I highly recommend high altitude drinking to cure all of life’s stresses and worries!
Beer craving satisfied, the Zugspitze Gletcher is a party second to none! This ski-area is built on a Glacier which makes it snow-sure for most of the year. Apres-ski parties were in full swing, and I don’t know if I was drunk but I am sure I spotted a BMW. At 2950m I was clearly suffering from altitude sickness!!!
The Germans do many things well. Public transport, beer, skiing, cable-cars, views! Did I mention beer? Franziskaner Weiss is the best of the best.
For 53 Euros, I felt I got my monies worth. By South African standards it is an expensive day out, but it’s one of those things you just have to do at least once. Who can say they’ve drunk beer at 2950m outside of an airplane?
Parting thought. You can also take your dog with you for 4 Euros!!!
From the Zugspitze website: Gerne können Sie Ihren Hund mit auf die Zugspitze nehmen. Der Unkostenbeitrag für Berg- und Talfahrt beträgt einmalig € 4,00.