Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More about the Garmisch trip 

(Backdated so things stay in order!)

The second day in Garmisch we decided to drive down into Austria, quite the steep drive into Innsbruck. You could smell our brakes by the end of the descent! (Definitely not a drive I would make in the winter, especially since they sell snow chains at the border. If chains are needed I won't be driving there!)

We were headed to the Alpenzoo, which is the highest zoo in Europe. It is situated up on a peak above the city of Innsbruck, so there are really great views. Most of the animals are animals you would find in the Alps, so it was interesting too. It's not a huge zoo, but was quite nice. Just as we were finishing up it started to sprinkle, so it was good timing.

We drove back through Garmisch, and the views along the way are so beautiful. It's nice to just drive around and explore the area, because there are so many beautiful mountain views. We drove on to Oberammergau, which is just a short distance from Garmisch. With the rain coming down we decided to go to the reptile exhibit that is there. Jacob thinks this place is great, even though it is quite small. By the time we finished up there, the rain had stopped and we looked around a little. Finally went back to the hotel and had a swim in the hotel pool, plus a visit to the outdoor hot tub. Even Jacob can appreciate the hot tub with it's beautiful surroundings!

On Friday we decided that we would take a cable car up one of the mountains, and then hike back down. There was one that looked like the trail was pretty mild, and the info desk said it was about a 2 hour hike. The weather was perfect so we set out, and quickly were at the top of the Kreuzeck. The view was great, mountains everywhere and super blue skies. The trails are very well marked so we started our descent. Parts of the trail were gently sloping, others were very, very steep. It was slow going for Jacob, he made it though! It took us 3-4 hours to get down, and we were all pretty tired at the end of the hike. We made some fun discoveries on the way down though, here are a few pictures:

You can see the small black dot between the peaks, this is the cable car we took up the mountain

a little newt/salamander that we discovered underneath some old boards, he had a red belly

a cute tiny toad, one of many we would see in the grass beside the trail

the very first snake I have ever seen in Germany!

Our legs were killing us by the time we were finished, we went back to the room and relaxed, then went out for a great dinner at a steak house we discovered, called Steakhaus zur Waffenschmiede (located on Von Müller Strasse 15). It's situated in an old blacksmith building, dated from 1684. The food was great and the atmosphere was pretty neat too. Not the cheapest meal, but there aren't too many of those in Germany anyway! I had steak, Kenny had ribs and Jacob had turkey.

On Saturday we slowed down a bit and went for a boatride on the Eibsee, a lake at the foot of the Zugspitze. Again the weather was perfect so we really had a beautiful boat ride. When we were finished there we went into downtown Garmisch and enjoyed the street market, some shopping and lunch. We had chinese for lunch, it was very tasty. We went back to the hotel for a swim and then it was time for bed again.

We took our time packing up and heading out on Sunday morning, with a stop at the PX to check out the selection there. It was a really nice break for all of us, we had such a nice, relaxing time.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Garmisch details 

We had a really nice time in Garmisch, it was a relaxing getaway we all needed. We left Wednesday morning from our home and made it down there around lunch, of course eating at our favorite Italian restaurant in the world, Da Renzo. I think we ended up there three times this trip. Such quick service and tasty food, we love it. We checked into our room at the Edelweiss, it's such a convenient place to stay. The weather was good, and since we had only been seeing rain in Wolframs-Eschenbach we wanted to take advantage of the sunshine. We decided to do a small hike the hotel offers, but on our own instead of with a group. It's about 6 kilometers, and not too steep, with an easy to follow trail. The halfway point is at a hotel/cafe on the side of a small mountain, situated directly on a lake. A perfect place to enjoy a drink before continuing on our walk.

The trail then took us through some woods, and finally back down towards the hotel. Jacob found a stone that he carried the rest of the way down to our hotel, it's actually out in our garden now. He was very interested in collecting stones on our hikes, filling his pockets with them. When we were near the bottom of the trail we came across some cows wearing bells, very postcard looking. We tried to feed them some grass but since they were standing in a field of grass they weren't very interested. But we still got to listen to the cow bells!

We were tired and ready to relax, so we picked up some Subway sandwiches on the Army post and ate dinner on our balcony. We had a really nice view from our balcony, and the weather was perfect for sitting outside.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Near the end of August Wolframs-Eschenbach held it's Kirchweih fest down by the duck pond. It is an annual event, this is our 3rd time attending. It is exactly the same every year, even the people that run the rides are the same! I had plastic "tickets" left over from last year and they were using the same ones this year, so we were able to use them finally. We went down on Saturday to see the arrival and raising of the "kirchweihbaum", the traditional "tree" they put up every year. It resembles a Maypole, and it takes ages for the them to put up. Jacob and I watched for quite some time then decided to check out the rides. Finally, over an hour later as we were walking home we saw that it was finally up. Lots of beer and pretzel breaks for the guys that are raising the tree. They use wooden poles to lift it into place, moving them up little by little. Here is a picture of the tree and the poles they use to lift it...

Here is some history of why they have Kirchweih fests in Germany

Church Dedication ( Kirchweih)

When one sees the words Church Dedication, there comes to mind a solemn occasion marked with hymns and prayer, which is how it was in the third century when Kirchweih originated. As communities embraced the Christian faith, they constructed their village church, which was dedicated with a Sunday ceremony. The ceremonies always took place between the summer solstice, June 24 th, and St. Martin’s Day, November 11 th, and were then celebrated annually. By the time of Pope Gregor (599-604), the celebrations had become festivals lasting several days and involving much feasting and drinking, so much so that the pope rebuked the parishioners, but to little or no avail. The time of year lent itself to festivity; warm weather and long days produced euphoria, well illustrated by the following old German adage:

Der Juli voller Sonnenschein,
Wird jederman willkommen sein.

Lots o’ sunshine in July,
We welcome that, both you and I.

Long hot days meant hard work for the farmers and their families who had raging thirsts on return from the fields after tending their demanding crops. Kirchweih was an excuse to slake those thirsts and to let their euphoria boil over.

Today, although celebrated more in rural communities than cities, Kirchweih has become a major event on the calendar. Each town, village, or even hamlet has a date for the festival between June 24 th and November 11 th, and the dates seem to be set so that within a grouping of communities no two Kirchweih overlap, allowing townspeople to visit most festivals, if not all. Travelling entertainers, bands, food suppliers, and operators of sideshows and joyrides also move from one festival to the next.

The Kirchweih tree, a tall pine stripped of most of its branches, marks the location of a festival. The tree, cut near the root, decorated with ribbons and bearing a large gaily decorated handmade wreath near its peak, is manhandled to a prepared hole at some high point of the town. There it is to be raised with ropes and supports until it beds itself in the hole. This act is all part of the Kirchweih celebration, watched and cheered on by the villagers, and it is the scene of considerable beer drinking by the brawny young men who do the work.

(This description taken from the website of the Jasper, Indiana German Club)

Jacob had a great time, we did also. The fest ended on a Monday night with a tremendous fireworks display, we woke Jacob up to watch it. It was really long and had really nice fireworks, amazing for such a small town.

When we were emptying out Jacob's room for his new bed, I found another ticket for one of the rides at the fest. Now I just have to keep track of it until next year and we can use it again.

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