Sunday, March 9, 2014

Family ski trip to Garmisch

This past week I had a break from school, so Big R took leave and we headed to the Alps for a ski adventure.  Garmisch truly is a special place, and this trip was much more of a real vacation for us. For my non-military friends, the U.S. secured prime real estate at the foot of the Alps in Garmisch at the end of World War II.  Sitting on the army post is the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort.  When you stay there, you really feel like you are in a little America.  As much as we love our European adventures, there was a small comfort in staying in a place where we were surrounded by nothing but American families on vacation.  We stayed there together once when we first moved to Germany, and Big R had been back several times for posh military conferences, but I wanted to make sure to ski Garmisch before moving back to the States.

We traded in our usual 1-star B&B experience for a huge 4-star American hotel.  Our trip came with only a handful of goals:  family ski time, massages, good German food, a little swimming, and overall chill time.  This trip wasn't about discovering a new city or exotic food, understanding foreign transit or navigating streets with names we couldn't pronounce. Instead, we needed some time together to slow down for a few days and just enjoy the family.  I'm happy to say that despite the not-so-snowy winter Germany has experienced this year, and having nothing but rainy weather the entire week, we ended up having a great time in Garmisch.

We took our time getting to Garmisch feeling no rush or pressure to arrive at any specific time.  I didn't even pack until we woke up that morning.  We made dinner reservations on our drive down at a restaurant that Big R has coined his favorite - an amazing place called Bei Marcus, where the chef prepares a different menu every night and the food is phenomenal.  Despite the romantic atmosphere, we were comforted by several other families enjoying a meal that night.

The food was delish!

Snuggles at dinner from a tired little bear

The army post has a Child Development Center (or CDC), but I made the mistake of not reserving a spot for baby c far enough in advance.  The weather was also the pits.  The Zugspitze has a glacier, so we knew the skiing would be decent enough, but the mountain was socked in with freezing blizzard conditions.  Not exactly the family ski time we were looking for.  So we spent our first day relaxing at the hotel. A little swimming, a refreshing mountain run, a traditional German meal downtown, a couple of massages, and an early night to prepare for what we hoped would be a full day of skiing the next morning.

I lucked out and secured a half day at the CDC for baby c, so we hit the slopes early.  It was a rainy mess at the base of the mountain, but the rain turned to snow at the top and the conditions were actually pretty fantastic.  We didn't put little r in lessons, and we were blown away at how well he did on his skis.  Except for a few moments of fear on a super steep slope, he conquered it all.

little r skiing with mommy

he especially loved the cat trails down the mountain

After picking up baby c, a warm German lunch downtown, and a little break in our hotel room, and we were ready to head back up the mountain.  Baby c took a nap on Big R while little r and I it the slopes.  We had a blast together.  He mastered the chair lift, and took on the intermediate trails like a pro.  My favorite part was when he wanted to go into the trick park to try some jumps.  I might dream about it, but even I'm too timid of a snowboarder to take on the trick park.  That boy is just awesome.

on the chairlift with mommy!

Hi, Daddy!

When baby c woke up, we swapped places.  I took baby c down the gondola and Big R skied with his little man.  They had so much fun that they skied all the way down the mountain.  Most of the ski resorts in the Alps use a gondola to get you to the top.  Taking the option of skiing down is a super long run that is definitely challenging.  Eh, no problem.  Big R said that little guy hardly flinched and kept up with him the entire way down.  You go, little r!  I personally got a laugh at watching everyone stare at me on my way down.  It had started snowing pretty hard, so we were all covered from head to tow in huge snow flakes, including baby c.  My board had a good 4-5 inches of powder built up, and I had baby c strapped to my chest.  I know at least a few Germans were looking at me like I was crazy because they thought I had been snowboarding with a baby in tow.  It was kind of awesome.  I just smiled at all of them.  I really wish I could have gotten that on film.

little r and daddy skiing to the bottom on slush

look at that form!
That night we had a babysitter lined up.  I know, kind of awesome, right?  So we stopped at the grocery store and ate a light dinner in the hotel room while Big R and I got ready for our fun night out.  If any of our military friends with families every stay at Edelweiss, I'm going to pass along this tip that a good friend gave me.  Take advantage of the babysitting services.  It's worth every penny.  Just go to the front desk and tell them you are looking for a sitter for a particular day or night.  They put your information on a board and any of the workers that babysit will contact you if they are available.  For $15 an hour, we had a wonderful sitter that I seriously wanted to steal and bring back with us.  She was great!

Big R found a great little wine bar in downtown Garmisch, Zirbelstube. Unfortunately, it was pouring, so a romantic walk downtown didn't really happen.  Instead we caught the bus to keep dry.  We ordered a bottle of wine, some bruschetta and finished the evening with a fantastic desert.  It was an amazing date.  We grabbed a cab back, and we were back in our hotel room by 10pm.

Our last day wasn't terribly exciting.  The weather hadn't quite cleared up enough to make visiting the Zugspitze worth the cost.  And quite frankly, the kids were toast.  We had a lazy breakfast, checked out of the hotel, and headed home.  Although there was quite a bit more we could have done on this trip, we didn't feel like we missed out on anything.  Guess we'll just have to head out there one more time before we leave Germany this summer.

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