Bavarian Holiday

Jun 4th, 2006, 05:11 AM
  #1  
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Bavarian Holiday

I have received some excellent assistance through this list, but I come with another request for some of your great advice.

I am Australian, and my family and I are seeking a 'Christmas experience' this year. We are currently contacting the proprietors of apartments in the Bavarian Alps. We need to make a decision in the next couple of days, but it is so hard to make decisions based on tiny photos on webpages. Currently, we are deciding between:
* Garmisch-Partenkirchen
* Mittenwald
* Oberammergau
* Seefeld

We are looking for picturesque, village-like surroundings but as we won't have transport, it can't be too far off the beaten track. We need to be able to get there, and get around. Not too touristy, but still things to see. Snow would be excellent..but I know it is impossible to guarantee. A 'christmas atmosphere' would also be special, eg. lights in shop windows etc.

For anybody who has been in this area in December, which town would you suggest...and why?

Thank you so much in advance.
marleman is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 06:37 AM
  #2  
 
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Are you sure about not having your own transport? The best way to see this part of Germany is by car. Most of the truly quaint, charming, inexpensive and truly authentic Bavarian lodgings will be found off the beaten path. All the places you mention have a wealth of things to see and do but you'll have a devil of a time doing them if you are depending on public transport.

Using Oberammergau as an example: The town itself is very cute and full of nifty woodcarving shops, Christmas craft stores, homey restaurants and beautiful churches, but one day to see the town is more than enough. The truly interesting sites (at least in my mind) are outside of town. Ettal Abbey is just a couple miles outside of Oberammergau but King Ludwig's Linderhof is about 15 minutes away by car. The Wieskirche is also a short drive away by car. Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Mittenwald are only a little over a half hour away but getting there by bus or train would be a major pain. With a rental car you could cross over the Alps into Austria one day to see Innsbruck. Or after visiting Linderhof you might continue in your car to see the pristine Plansee and the surrounding natural beauty of the towering mountains and pine forests. Driving on you might pick up some Austrian handicrafts, booze and souvenirs in Reutte before returning to Germany via Fussen and the Royal Castles. You could seriously spend a very entertaining week with Oberammergaus as a base as long as you have wheels.

No doubt someone will tell you that you can do all these things with some sort of bus/train pass but the freedom of movement afforded by using a car will allow you to tour at your own pace and without the nagging fear in your belly that you might end up stranded somewhere.

May I also suggest that you search through this website: http://www.oberammergau.de/ot_e/index.htm? Last Christmas when I took our family group of six through Bavaria I somehow found a request for accomodations brochures somewhere on that website. I received a thick book with a ton of info and pictures for every hotel/pension/Gasthaus/Zimmer Frei/resort in the region. Many have indoor pools (essential if you have kids with you). Almost all include a hearty breakfast. For my wife's birthday our innkeeper arranged a sleigh ride from nearby Graswang to Linderhof.

By the way, I can almost guarantee snow in this part of Germany at Christmas. It snowed every single day we were there. Don't worry - the Germans are excellent at keeping their roads plowed and cindered.
Zeus is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 06:39 AM
  #3  
 
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Sorry to keep ranting Marleman - I just love this part of the world...Please also check-out http://www.bensbauernhof.com/ for the best information on reasonably-priced and authentic Bavarian accomodations. He has some great links for car rentals and other transportation sites.
Zeus is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 08:30 AM
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It is not my desire to start another peeing contest about cars versus trains, but I have to suggest an optional approach. And, to answer your main question, I would choose Garmisch as your head quarters town.

Comming from Australia, I am assuming you are flying into Munich. If that is true, then a train ride to Garmisch is a snap, and is also quite reasonable in price for a family. About 25 euros with the Bavaria pass.

From Garmisch, it is maybe 20 minutes by train to Mittenwald. Again, simple, and very cheap. Mittenwald would be a very nice day trip, or even possibly your headquarters, if you want to stay in a true village.

I classify Garmisch as a big village. All the towns you mentioned are easily navigated on foot, and have many charming little stores, and knooks and crannies that will be filled with 'Bavarian Christmas Experience' stuff.

Oberammergau is a simple 30 minute bus ride from the train station in Garmisch. Very clean, efficient service. No delays etc. Very reliable. Another charming little town. The Abbey at Etal? Yup, its on the way to Oberammergau. Jump off, get back on the next bus when you are ready.

If you want to go to see Linderhof, or Wieskirche, same thing. Easy bus trips. I am talking clean, modern buses. Even the bus drivers are friendly from my experiences.

Or, if you would rather go on a true tour of those places, there are bus tour companies located right in the center of Garmisch. Step out of your Garmisch hotel, within 5 minutes walk you are at the tour company. Last time I was there I went all the way to the castles in Fussen, and back, for 36 euros. No hassles, comfortable, relaxed.

I think it is important for tourists to Bavaria to know that it is very possible to see the beautiful country side without having to rent a car. Going from village to village is very simple. They have been doing this stuff there for a long time. Public transportation is a way of life, not some less than favorable mode of transit.

The insinuation that it is so complicated, and unreliable to use public transportation is simply not true. If you are a person that prefers to drive, great. Cars do provide certain advantages. But, so do trains, and the public trans network. It is definitely possible to have a great trip to Bavaria using the later as well. Good luck.
born2wonder is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 08:42 AM
  #5  
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I would recommend staying in Mittenwald over Garmisch P if you are looking for a charming christmas village. Garmisch & Partenkirchen are two sprawling towns connected together but lacking a bit in charm. It's a large base town for going to the Zugspitz with hardware shops, chinese restaurants, and souvenir shops etc, none of them are as quaint as Mittenwald village stores in terms of setting/lay out and atmosphere.
DAX is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 09:04 AM
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Mittenwald is indeed a charming village. But don't discount Garmisch-Partenkirchen. There is an attractive pedestrian zone with shops and restaurants, all of which will be decorated for Christmas. And the setting of the town is stunning---surrounded by high peaks. Garmisch offers horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice skating, and other winter activities, as well as the possibility of a train ride up the Zugspitze, fun even for non-skiers.

I would suggest you choose between these two, for access to the train, for the reasons explained by born2wonder.
enzian is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 03:20 PM
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Mittenwald is very small. Lovely setting no doubt. Neat place to walk around on a day trip. But, would you stay there as your headquarters on a trip to Bavaria? I wouldn't.

Garmisch provides all the quaint most people need visiting for the first thru 3d times. And, so much easier to get other places. Garmisch is the Bavarian Alps best local in my humble opinion.
born2wonder is offline  
Jun 4th, 2006, 03:24 PM
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Oh sorry. I meant to say, of the places that marleman was considering.

I would have a hard time choosing between Garmisch, and Berchtesgaden. I think if I could only go there one more time, I would pick Berchtesgaden. But, with a family, and for quick access to lots of stuff, Garmisch.
born2wonder is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 01:24 AM
  #9  
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Thanks so much to everyone who has replied to my request for advice...especially born2wonder and zeus for your detailed responses. Your answers are making our final decisions much easier.
And thanks so much for the suggestions as to what we might do in the area. We will definitely be printing this out and using it to plan our more detailed itinerary!

Just thought I would point out that the family we are travelling with, are actually grown-up kids...not littlies. So we aren't looking for anything to entertain small children.

It seems that we were definitely on the right track with looking at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen/Mittenwald area....and it seems our only major decision now is whether to hire a car, or use local public transport. It certainly sounds like a lovely area to visit though!
marleman is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 03:01 AM
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There have been a few threads on this subject lately...we too are debating whether to head to Germany for Christmas and are considering the Oberstdorf (in the Allgau). Do a search here on Oberstdorf, particularly the Oberstdorf v. Seefeld thread. Seefeld gets slightly mixed reviews--we decided against it because, as one poster noted, it's full of big hotels and doesn't have a true village type atmosphere, and in our case, the hotel we had in mind was just too "bling bling" for the kind of holiday we want.

Since you've got Seefeld on your list, I'm assuming that you are willing to venture slightly beyond Bavaria. You might also want to consider somewhere in the Salzburg region. Will be beautiful at Christmas, public transportation is quite good for the region, and snow is a good possibility. There are many apartment possibilities in the villages/towns in the area (we just looked at a couple of appealing possiblities in Zell am See). In another thread, Fodorite Tries2PakLite, suggested the Hotel Friesacher in a particularly attractive, village-y area outside Salzburg (but still on the city's bus route).

Another Bavarian town we visited last week that we really liked was Bad Reichenhall. Very pretty on its own merits and with good bus service to Salzburg and the region. Also has a train station. If you were based there, you wouldn't need a car to go sightseeing. Bad Reichenhall seemed more cozy and less tourist-oriented than some of the other places we've been to in that region.

Happy hunting!
BTilke is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 03:03 AM
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Oops, forgot to add the hotel link.
www.hotelfriesacher.com
BTilke is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 05:44 AM
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Hello fellow Aussies. We also decided to go for a white christmas this year. After some excellent advice from this forum our itinerary is as follows:
-fly into Munich. Couple of days to get over jetlag
-train to Fuessen. Two days there incorporating Neuschwanstein etc castles.
-bus to Oberammergau for a couple of days
-train to Seefeld for the main part of our holiday. We finally decided on Seefeld because of its high altitude. Given that we have had a couple of recent northern winter holidays in the Alps with very patchy snow reliabity (and even some rain...yech!), and given December is very early in the snow season, we figured the higher the better. As we are travelling with an 8 year old, we wanted a centre that would have plenty to do should the snow fail. Seefeld has an indoor ice rink, indoor pools and is quite close to Innsbrook. There is also quite a bit of snow making, so at least we can perfect our snowboarding on the nursery slopes.

Regarding the train/drive debate, I posted a question about driving conditions on icy mountain roads, and received so much scary advice that we decided to relax, enjoy the view, and take the train.

You will want to be quick to book accomodation in the Alps for Christmas. We booked in February, and already then many places were booked out for the Christmas season. Also most places had a minimum stay of one week over the holidays.
Nicol is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 06:54 AM
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lydialikestotravel is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 08:34 AM
  #14  
 
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We are "car people" so we will always suggest the positive side of car travel. Just to get an idea of what it would cost to rent a car in Munich for your travels contact Bob Bestor at Gemutlichkeit Travel Gemut.com to get a quote.
We spent a delightful Christmas a couple of years ago in Salzburg and we would do that again in a minute.
If I was to choose the areas you mentioned I think I would choose Oberammergau. Mittenwald would be a close second although it is not as centrally located as O'gau.
AisleSeat is offline  
Jun 6th, 2006, 01:28 AM
  #15  
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Nicol is right, as the difficulty in booking accommodation this late in the year is one of the major influences on our final choice. We have sent out about 50 or more emails, and have only gotten back a very few positive replies. The outcome of this is that we are making a final decision tomorrow between the only 2 which are ultimately suitable...one in Mittenwald, and the other in Grainau, which is apparently only a very short distance from Garmisch, but close to the forest. The proprietor of the one in Grainau emailed to say that the bus runs every couple of hours, but we may still consider renting a car...thanks AisleSeat for the great link!
marleman is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 04:40 AM
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We've booked an apartment! We finally decided on the one in Grainau...here is the link: http://www.vacationvillas.net/holidayrental/30160.cfm

When we return, I will post a comment here to report on both the local area, as well as the accommodation. Thanks again everyone.
marleman is offline  
Jun 9th, 2006, 05:06 AM
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Hi marleman,

Just a note to say that I, too, have booked an apartment in Bavaria for Christmas. I won't have a car (evil things, lol!!), so found a lovely apartment right off the pedestrian zone in Mittenwald. I'll actually be there for a month and plan to use the train to have a look around other villages as well as to do some hiking and skiing.

If you want to have a tiny gtg, let me know. I also plan to contact Bavaria Ben to see if I can hook up with others over the month --

Have fun!

s
swandav2000 is offline  

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