Oh how we miss the cool mountain air in the evenings. With the balcony door and windows open, and thick snuggly duvets, we both slept very well once the crickets quietened down. We breakfasted on yoghurt, pear and frankfurters (!) whilst sitting on the rear verandah, and sheltering from the morning sun. All we could hear were the church bells in the distance. Oberammergau really is a wonderfully sleepy little place.
To start off our trip we’d decided to take the cable car up to the top of the local mountain – Laber, and walk down via Soilasee, a lake which often completely dries up during the Summer. We’d chosen the apartment partly because it’s sited on the outskirts of the town, but also because it’s right next to a footpath to the Laberberg, and the outdoor swimming pool complex.
In true German style, 3 minutes after paying for our tickets we were stood in the cable car. It swings around a little, and so is not for those afraid of heights, or with vertigo, but it felt far less scary than other cable cars we’ve been on, and unlike in Slovakia many moons ago, didn’t involve having to pay the ticket inspector a bribe in order to get back down again.
The cable car stops half way up the mountain and there’s a big sign stating “This is a planned stop!”, presumably because they’ve had freaked out passengers using the emergency phone in the past. There’s a restaurant on the top, but we wanted just to see the viewpoints before joining track 1. It’s an understandably popular route, much like the Tarn Hows of the Ammergauer Alps, but no hardship to stand aside and let faster groups go by. Part way down we met a very friendly man from Stuttgart who explained that there are two types of German – those who like outdoor sports, and those who like eating chocolate! He kept asking his wife when they’d get to the coffee and cake part, as apparently that’s how she bribes him to get outside. Like lots of Germans (and Europeans in general), they come to the mountains at weekends, and have holiday homes here.
We stopped for lunch next to the Grobe-Laine river where extensive engineering works are underway to stop flash floods and landslides, before making our way back to the cable car station and down the footpath to the Wellenberg – a magnificent swimming pool complex. We’d already started feeling the effects of the heat as the thermometer hit 27 degrees C again today, and we both have medical quirks that mean that our bodies don’t regulate core body temperature very well, but we knew that the complex had unheated pools in which to cool down. I found the 23 degrees C pool too warm so left Rich to float around and headed for the natural swimming pool and its gloriously cold waters. I wondered why there was only one other person using it – it seems that water at 13 degrees C is too cold for most. Maybe I’ve missed my calling – cold open water swimming. Once suitably cool we headed back to the shade of the apartment.