Two things that the Bavarian Alps have a-plenty are cable cars and Rodelbahns. Cable cars are pretty self-explanatory. As I Google though I am learning that technically what we have been visiting is known as a Sommerrodelbahn (sommer = summer) and an actual Rodelbahn involves snow, but for simplicity’s sake I will refer to it as the latter. Just don’t blame me if you try to Google it and get very confused.
There are of course many ways to climb the mountains – Many enterprising folks choose to walk (often with Nordic walking sticks, which I don’t begin to understand); some even more energetic types run; and we even saw (from our comfortable perch on the cable car) one person cycle up. He was practically standing still, moving up inch by excruciating (I imagine) inch, until he got to the top, turned around, and with an expression of glee let go and sailed back down.
We, however, chose the leisurely and absolutely safe method of riding up on a single-seat open cable car with a metal “safety bar” about 1 cm in diameter. Imagine a rickety lawn chair dangling from a cable 25 feet off the ground carrying you up the side of a mountain. With the kids on our laps.
From an ultra-protective North American standpoint the blasé attitude towards carrying your 2 year-old up a cable car with no more instruction than a bored teenager barking an instruction in German that essentially amounted to “Hold her forwards!” was both terrifying and refreshing. It was all fun and games until Molly tried to slide out of my lap saying, “I want to bounce on that grass!!” (No.)
But we made it up unscathed and arrived at our reward: The Rodelbahn. Essentially, this is a metal track that snakes down the side of the mountain that you rocket down on a plastic sled holding onto a joystick that controls your speed (forwards = faster, backwards = brake). At every curve there’s a sign that says “bremsen” (brake). Yeah, right!! About halfway down there is a speedometer that displays your speed for all to see; You wouldn’t have a hope of being the winner if you were braking safely like a sucker to avoid overturning on all of the corners!! The top recorded speed for us was my sister-in-law’s 38 km/hour. Ben and Molly alternated yelling, “Whee! Super-fast!!” and looking bored all the way down.
It was a great morning out and we actually went back a second time because the
adults kids really wanted to have a rematch do it again. Unfortunately (for the kids, who were really interested) the speedometer was broken that time but I think deep down we all knew that I won.