Monday, December 24, 2012

A Little Bit Of America in the Heart of Bavaria

View from our hotel
As we did last year we escaped from Albania over Christmas week.  Since Glenn has really been wishing for a white Christmas, we headed to Germany; Garmisch to be exact, with the plan of celebrating a cold and snowy Christmas in the heart of Bavaria.  We had tried to do this last year but although I thought I was planning early in August, I soon realized that late summer was too late to begin planning for a Christmas holiday in a country where winter is the busiest time of year for travel.  This year I got ahead of the game and in June we found out that we were the lucky winners of the room lottery for
Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Historic Garmisch
One of several U.S. military operated Moral, Welfare, and Recreation resorts around the world, this resort operated by the Army (we had previously stayed in the Navy's resort in Kauai, Hawaii and loved it),  Edelweiss provides us with the best of both worlds-- the Americana we have been missing, the structure of military culture, and easy access to the best of Bavaria.  You don't realize how much you miss American food until you don't have access to it.  After a late check in we dined on real American cheeseburgers.  Who would have thought that a simple piece of chopped meat, when cooked and prepared properly, could make us so happy.  And any meal that is eaten in a truly smoke free environment, not one where no smoking placards are used as ash trays, is guaranteed to be good.  As much as I love being away from the day to day grind of a military community, there are aspects of it that I really do miss.  The law and order, precision in which duties are carried out (with no exceptions), and polite manners are aspects of everyday military life that I truly miss.  Being a resort exclusively for military members and their families,  children and adults of all ages are schooled in "please" and "thank you", everyone holds the elevator doors if they see you coming, and they wait patiently in line until it is their turn.  This is such a stark contrast to what we have been experiencing since our arrival in Albania. And of course we must not forget that at the end of the day we are in Germany.  This means we are easily able to get out and experience the best of Bavarian food, drink, music, and of course the Christmas markets.

Just one of the many mural covered buildings in Garmisch

On the train between Garmisch and Innsbruck

The only thing really missing is the snow.  Yes there is snow on the ground --although due to the 40-50  degree temperatures, it is rapidly melting.  Much to our surprise, the temperatures have been colder in Tirana than here in Germany.  (And people question the validity of global warming).  We do have breathtaking views of the snow covered Alps and Sidney (and Glenn) have been able to stomp around in the small amount of snow that remains on the ground here in Garmisch.  And of course I've been unexpectedly hit with a snowball or two with both of my boys denying that they are the culprits.

We've been loving our lazy vacation here.  Sleeping in, aimless exploring, and afternoon naps for the entire family have become the norm.  We have been enjoying both the American amenities--ample hot water, a safe play area for children, a clean swimming pool, and food from "home" as well as everything Garmisch and the surrounding area has to offer. We've explored the Christmas market, consumed copious amounts of bratwurst, German beer, and gluhwein, and taken in the holiday lights and Bavarian architecture.  A train ride to nearby Innsbruck, Austria provided us with both snow filled mountain vistas and an expansive Christmas market that further filled us with holiday spirit.

Despite the lack of winter weather, this vacation is everything that a Christmas get away should be: festivities, relaxation, and lots of family time.  I'm loving every minute of it.  Merry Christmas!

The mountains looming over Innsbruck, Austria

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