Garmisch and Partenkirchen are two small towns in the German alps which were forcibly joined before they joint hosted the 1936 winter Olympics. The town name is often shortened to Garmisch, which we're doing here because it's, well, shorter. At least one Partenkirchen resident mentioned that this is a source of annoyance to Partenkirchen residents so we'll state upfront that we mean no offense to Partenkirchen. Plus, to be honest, we can't really tell which parts of the town are Garmisch and which are Partenkirchen. We're pretty sure this is the center of Garmisch. Either way, it's representative of both.
This is the stadium where the 1936 Olympics were opened and closed. By far, the most striking thing about the stadium is how small it is compared to modern Olympic stadia.
If you turn ninety degrees to the right from the previous picture, you get this view. The downhill skiing course (the first one ever included in a winter games) also comes into the stadium just at the bottom right of the big ski jump there. Everytime we see ski jumps, we're forced to wonder how anyone gets started in this sport. Apparently the extremely basic introduction is going on over there on the small jump where people were hiking up to the snow line with sleds.
The Partnachklamm is without a doubt the highlight of the Garmisch region for us. It's probably a nice cool hike in the summer months, but in the winter with a coating of ice on everything, water dripping down the walls, and the occassional crashing of huge icicles into the river it is amazing.
There's a small fee to enter the gorge which begins a short hike up into the Alps from the Olympic stadium. The trail is mostly pressed along or under the overhanging rock. Originally, this narrow gorge was used to float logs down into town from the high alpine meadows where they were harvested. The river is relatively high in this picture due to snow melt and the gorge was so loud from the rushing water that it was hard to have a conversation.
Since it was unseasonably warm for January, some of the huge icicles from the top of the gorge would occassionally break off and bounce down the cliff walls, showering ice bits everywhere, and ultimately splashing into the river. These occurrences were even louder (alarmingly loud) and alas, we failed to capture any on film. Despite the ice melting above, it was very cold down in the gorge which never receives direct sunlight. The ice-covered trail, and dark, low tunnels with icicles hanging from the ceiling make for a challenging hike.
If you pass all the way through the gorge you emerge into some fairly open meadows (that's the partnach river on the right just about to enter the gorge). Other hiking trails run along the rim of the gorge and ascend to hiking huts high above in the summer months. There is also a cable car which leaves from the base of the Partnachklamm.
Our hotel was on the Reissersee which is a small lake just above the town of Garmisch. The mountains at the far end are the Alpspitz and the Zugspitze (which gets its own page).
This lake is where the ice skating and hockey events were held during the 1936 games. The bobseld track wound down the hill on the left and traces of it are still visible along trails through the woods.
Since we came to Garmisch for winter sports, we spent most of our days off skiing somewhere nearby and most of our evenings in Garmisch. As ski-towns go, it is rather spread out and diffuse. There are clumps of restaurants in the center of Garmisch, Partenkirchen, and near the train station in between. Most services are scattered around the town though. There are buses but they seem intended to get people to the train up to the ski areas more than anything else. Unless you're staying right in the center of town, it's probably best to have a car. In our case, the car was really necessary as we had to go hunting for snow. This picture was taken in mid January and in most years the mountains would be covered in snow. Those fields down below are the cross-country skiing trails for Garmisch.
We had excellent food in Garmisch, including Turkish, Italian and Indian cuisine. Since it's a German town though, we'll highlight a Bavarian specialty - namely the dampfknudel. This is the sort of thing you can only justify eating if you've been skiing all day and have only had a salad for dinner. It's basically a lightly fried 'dumpling' swimming in a bowl of vanilla custard. The Bavarian definition of dumpling is a doughy mass about the size of your head. We had our dampfknudel at the Glashaus Bistro in Garmisch. We really should've taken a picture of it but just imagine a loaf of bread in a cauldron of custard and that should be close enough.