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We both burst into giggles, bringing a broad grin to the face of our lovely waiter, Rakhim from far-flung Samarkand. The 2,963m Zugspitze (Zug means ghost) straddles Austria and Germany; it once had a border patrol at the top, and skiers had to produce their passports to access certain pistes.The first cable car on the Austrian side opened in 1926, and there's now a veritable village at the summit, including a museum, a beer hall, and a restaurant.At the summit, we popped into Gipfelhaus Grubigstein for an Almdudler, the second most popular soft drink in Austria, which tastes a bit like herbal tea. At the mountain's peak, as at all of Austria's summits, is a cross, and a box containing a book in which you can write your name and the date of your ascent.We'd cheated, so we didn't, and set off on shank's mare down the winding alpine track to lovely Lermoos, passing, on our way, a house belonging to one of the Swarovski family; Swarovski Crystal World is in nearby Innsbruck.It was dotted with braziers burning aromatic beechwood, and the gaily dressed Bounties were belting out Walking On Sunshine as we arrived.There were food and drink stalls galore, and we indulged in veggie noodles (for me) and ribs (for Phoebe) washed down with gorgeous gruner veltliner (for both of us).
Next morning, we shook off the cobwebs with a trip up the nearby Grubigstein.A return trip up the Zugspitze costs €43.50 (or €41.50 with the local guest card) so even if you just use it for that and a couple of other things, you're quids in.Our 15-minute cable car journey up the mountain skirted over rock pines, and larch trees on the turn to golden.The weather had turned wet, but Lermoos is not short on things to do, rain or shine.On Erika's advice, we toddled down the road to the four-star family-run centuries-old Hotel Post, where we were greeted by owner Angelika Dengg, who furnished us with towelling robes and slippers, and pointed us spa-ward.
Phoebe now lives abroad; we had chosen Austria as a convenient rendezvous spot for a few days together.