I think I’m going to start every new year by traveling somewhere. Ordinarily the beginning of the new year is a downer- the holidays are done, you have these new rules you’re trying to live by, the weather is no longer picturesque…it’s just blah.
But traveling right around the new year? It really helps to distract from all of the above. It’s already January 10th, and I just realized last night that we’re now in 2012!
Brisket’s family came to visit this past week, his brother Stag and his wife Heidi*. Neither had been to Germany before, so Brisket and I set out to show them the glory of a Germany winter…it basically involves either rain or snow and a couple of castles thrown in for good measure.
We took off a couple of days and drove to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (from here on out GaPa) and then Munich**. GaPa is home to Germany’s tallest mountain- the Zugspitze.
GaPa is on the border of Germany and Austria and nestled between multiple mountain ranges (not just the Zugspitze) and the route we drove wound us up and down mountain passes and through great little Alpine villages.
GaPa is a pretty city- and pretty easy to explore, and a lot of options for things to do…if you don’t mind going out in the ever-present snow. And it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. It was also kind of foggy, so it was hard to actually SEE the mountains once we got there…
The first night we got some German food, and then took a nice (wet) stroll through the pedestrian area. In many of the stores we saw the traditional clothes for sale- and I felt myself humming the songs of The Sound of Music. I also now have an irrational urge to buy a dirndl for myself, and claim it’s my Halloween costume for the next 15 years.
There were also the standard cuckoo clocks and chocolate shops…along with one or two other oddities.
Your guess is as good as mine…
The next day we headed out in more snow to Neuschwanstein- otherwise known around the world as the “Cinderella” castle.
It, again, was a wet, snowy walk- though this time it was all uphill. Brisket was a trooper though- and carried Li on his shoulders the entire way.
Once at the top, it was beautiful. No pictures inside were allowed- but we had plenty of time for outside pictures.
Brisket and Li- awestruck by the beauty of the castle…and the tastiness of the bratwurst in Li’s hand.
As far as castles go, it’s perfectly preserved and almost everything you see is original to the castle. I thought it was also kind of sad- the castle was only used a couple of hundred nights before King Ludwig was declared insane, and drowned mysteriously in Munich.
The next day dawned clear enough to finally see the mountains…and we decided to take advantage of it.
Unfortunately, the weather on the Zugspitze was not cooperating with us- so we headed to another mountain, the Alpspitze.
On the ground waiting for the gondola? Cloudy…Calm.
At the top of the mountain? Snow and high winds. If hell turns out to be cold, it’ll look a lot like the top of the Alpspitze that day.
Li and I braving the winds…
Stag fighting the urge to run inside…
The cafe we took refuge in from the wind and snow…the little figure in the middle of the picture is Stag…
It was so windy that they closed down the mountain, while we were up there. Yes- CLOSED IT DOWN.
We did not have any ski equipment, causing me to have a mild panic attack as visions of the movie ALIVE flashed through my head. Instead of cannibalism though, we were able to sit in a warm cafe and wait it out.
Some of us consoled themselves with adult beverages…
When the wind refused to let up though, the ski officials called it, and we were told that there was one final gondola going back down the mountain in an hour…and if we were smart, and did not want to sleep up there, we better be on it.
Everyone packed into the gondola- even the cafe workers- and we headed slowly back down, swaying to the wind.
Li was completely oblivious of our impending doom. The adults, though, took a minor inventory of the supplies everyone was carrying, in case we got stuck half-way down.
We did make down safely- though I might stick to climbing mountains in better (sunnier) weather.
“Mama is a wuss.”
*Their self-chosen names for my blog- Brisket’s brother mentioned something about being “White Stallion” but was drowned out by my laughing.
**Munich will be another post due to the craziness that was Garmisch-Partenkirchen