May 9, 2011

Garmisch, Again and the Blessed Comfort of Family in a Far Away Place

This blog can’t keep up with real life! I am not giving it any justice. I have so many things I want to write about and then I find that I have all the time in the world to write it down but I just… don’t. I get distracted. I get going on StumbleUpon. I start  chatting on FB. I pick up my book. I clean my bathroom. Seriously. I scrub the toilet instead. It’s pathetic. Anyway, I’m going to start with my recent trip down to Garmisch-Partenkirchen where I visited my Quasi-Mom, Christina, and my German Oma, Kathe for the weekend.

In case you missed the memo the first few times that I talked about it  – everyone in Christina’s family is pretty much mine, too. Neither one of us would have ever guessed that back in the fall of 2007, when she hired me to work at her candle store, that 3 1/2 years later, I would be hanging out with every member of her family in their motherland. I worked for Christina as both a candle store employee and as the babysitter for her adorable grand-daughter, Andrea, up until the summer of last year and became extremely close to her in the process. Christina and her husband, Barrie, have been like surrogate parents to me while I was living away from home and going to school and they have gone out of their way most of the time to take care of me. (Thank you for all of the tire changes, broken car door repairs, and home-cooked meals!) They’re wonderful! Christina’s older sister, Susie, I met through the family (she visited me in Munich during Oktoberfest!) as well and their mother, Kathe, who I met whenever she was staying in California and then, formally, after I’d found out that I would be going to Germany. More recently, I’ve become friends with Christina’s son, Dustin, as well, because he visited Munich back in February. I feel like he’s my big brother now, I love it! And, of course, there’s Drea in there, too. I’m her “Hairy” and I find myself missing her, too! Needless to say, I have been incredibly blessed with the comforts and consolation of family while I’ve been here in Europe and I couldn’t imagine how my experience here would have been different had that touch of familiarity been absent.

With that being said, Kathe lives here in Bavaria, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, so I have been visiting her a lot since I’ve arrived here in Germany. I now have pictures of Garmisch through the seasons. It’s been really cool, this little town is so beautiful and it has so much stuff to do and look at. This time around, however, I went there to see Christina who I hadn’t seen since I’d left California last June. Kathe and Christina picked me up at my house, met my host-mom and the girls, and then we drove from Munich to G-Pa, which was about an hour’s drive. It was nice to catch up with her gossip a little bit, which we’re soooo good at. When we got to Garmisch, we stopped first at the commissary, since Kathe works for the Army. I stocked up on American goodies – macaroni and cheese, blueberry bagels, Ranch dressing, French’s mustard, an industrial size bottle of Treseme conditioner, Ruffles Sour Cream and Onion potato chips. Oh man, I love cheating on German culture sometimes! After our shopping excursion, Christina and I went into the heart of the city and had a delicious Bavarian dinner – schnitzel for everyone (I ate mine and half of hers! D’oh!) – and we had beers and walked home. It was a beautiful twilight!

DSC09792Garmisch-Partenkirchen after dark

Back at Kathe’s house we had a Skype video call with Barrie, Dustin, and Andrea and we all got an earful from that little chatterbox. She is getting so big and is talking so much since the last time that I saw her and I couldn’t stop laughing at the cute things that just came out of her mouth. It’ll be nice to play with her again – I hope she’s missing me! It was nice to see Barrie and Dustin, too, of course. We all went to bed after that and woke up slowly in the morning. After breakfast Christina and I decided to go to Ludwig’s Schloss Linderhof. I’ve been to nearly all of King Ludwig’s castles now! I feel accomplished. Linderhof was beautiful – and it’s the only castle that he ever fully completed (and it’s one of the smallest!). He didn’t even finish the Disney castle. Linderhof comes with Ludwig’s grotto and so that was really interesting to see. It’s the largest man-made cave in Europe, by the way. It was raining and it was a bit cold but I enjoyed the scenery and the castle itself and Christina and I had fun just hanging out, the two of us.

DSC09804Mountain scenery from the path to Linderhof
I absolutely love this country! How can I ever leave?!

DSC09806Schloss Linderhof

DSC09813The view from the front side of Linderhof

DSC09810Me with Neptune’s fountain

DSC09831Painting in the grotto where Ludwig present Wagner’s opera

DSC09835The castle, down below

We finished touring Linderhof and were back in G-Pa by 3 o’clock so we decided to walk into the city and check out the street market that was going on. The walk to the city is picturesque and there is a little field with about six sheep in it and they wear cow bells on their necks so you always know if they’re coming. We would stop and talk to them, pet them, and feed them dandelions. They were adorable! The market itself was so cute – very small town German and just adorable. And so many good aromas coming from all that delicious food. Christina and I ended up eating the 1/2 meter bratwursts and taste testing all kinds of yummy foods. It was a good way to pass through the afternoon and once we return home – we made a plan to send me back to Munich and Christina took me to the train station. We said our good-byes and then I settled in for the 90 minute train ride back into the city. I read my book the entire time (I’m in love with Lisa Gardner’s thrillers!) and snacked on all of my guilty pleasure American food the whole time!

Ultimately, it was a great weekend in Garmisch and I had so much fun with Christina – I really had missed her a lot and I can’t wait to spend more time with her once I’m back in California NEXT MONTH. Geez. It’s gone by so fast. Holy cow.

Next up on my blog-frenzy-agenda…

  • The joys of spring and all that it brings – beer festivals, warm weather, sunburns, hay fever, bugs, an over abundance of work, and all kinds of other stuff.
  • My job hunt back in California and how awesome I am as the future Mary Poppins.
  • Books, books, books… and my literary goal!
  • Resuming my “52 Things in Munich” bucket list – I’m so behind!
  • My thoughts and reflections on the last six weeks of the best year of my life. Can I even put it into words?!

DSC00122This (not so) new German girl is finding out that
home really is where the heart is.


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