Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Van Trapp Family Adventure

The Alps. Those beautiful snow-topped jagged peaks made famous by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music are virtually at our doorstep. Once upon a time we lived three hours from the Great Barrier Reef, and seldom visited it. And now we're three hours from one of the most scenic mountain ranges on the planet, and we get there on an average of once per year. I'm determined to change that.

Some dear friends of ours head down to the Alps on a monthly basis, and I admittedly envy them. They hike the Alps, ski the Alps, sled the Alps... heck, they live and breathe the Alps. So naturally, when they invited us to join them for a sledding adventure in the area that they know best, we jumped at the opportunity. 

Though we didn't put our heads together and sing melodically about "snowflakes on noses and whiskers on kittens", we did take a cable car up to the top of the Wallberg, have a delicious lunch, and enjoy one incredible panorama. Our kids were on Cloud 9, literally, thanks to the cable car ride and the excitement of sledding down a mountain, not to mention warming up with steamy hot chocolates and the opportunity to eat a plate full of french fries for lunch.

Wallberg's "Rodelbahn", or sledding slope, is the longest natural slope of its kind in Germany, at 6.5 km. It takes about 30 minutes to reach the bottom by sled, and sleds - known here in Bavaria as "Rodel" - can be rented at the base of the mountain for the €5 per day (plus a deposit).

Important notes for sledding novices (like me):
  • Kids should wear helmets if at all possible (ours were probably the only children without them)
  • Ski goggles are important, as the sleds have a tendency to throw snow into the faces of sledders
  • There's no such thing as dressing your kids too warm. Think big scarfs, warm hats, gloves, and those little covers that go on top of ski pants / snow boots.

Not interested in sledding? The Wallberg cable car operates year-round and the scenic view offered at the restaurant is second to none. At 1620 meters above sea level, Wallberg lies at the edge of the Tegernsee, a beautiful lake at the heart of the Bavarian Alps. I, for one, fully intend on going back for a visit in the summer -- with the whole family. It's part of that promise I made to spend more time in the Alps. No sense in living in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet if we choose to take it for granted and neglect to explore it! So if you're in the area, head out to the Alps. You won't be disappointed!

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