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.
They used to have one of those at Blue Mountain when I was a kid! It has now been replaced with something safer, and hence not nearly as fun…
Which is just silly…I mean really…what could possibly go wrong?
Hello, I found your blog from a Google search. My family is going to Germany in two weeks, and we are hoping to ride some Rodelbahns. I see most of them require children to be 3 years old to ride with a parent…but I have a 2 year old. Did you take your 2 year old on one? If so, may I ask what the name of the park was? Thank you!
Hey Madeline – I’m always terribly suspicious of comments that could be spam but your dresses are gorgeous so I’m taking you at face value!!! I don’t know the name of the one we went to – it was really small. Honestly though all the cable cars seem to have a very European “do it at your own risk” attitude towards children so I doubt they would even ask the age wherever you went. It was definitely different from the North American “these rules are made to protect you from any possible imagined risk or liability because we don’t trust you to make your own decisions for yourself or your children” style that we’re used to! Enjoy your trip – it’s a beautiful time of year to go!
Thank you for responding…and for the compliment on my dresses 🙂