THE WILSON FAMILY BAVARIAN CHRISTMAS
The Legal Diva and I arrived at Newark Liberty Airport on December 18th with about an hour to spare before boarding began for our Lufthansa flight to Munich, so we had a quick bite at Chili's. Despite Wolfgang Puck's best efforts, I have yet to find a decent meal in an American airport, and this one was no different. We were fine with that, for it would be at least twelve days before we would be confronted with the slightest possibility of a crappy meal. We were headed to Germany, after all. Can one find a bad meal in Germany? I’m sure it is possible, but we thought the odds were certainly in our favor.
The flight was marred by the inexplicable separation of seating we experienced. At every stage we requested adjoining seats, indeed at every stage we were assured that we would enjoy such seating arrangements, only to find upon arrival at our gate that our boarding passes indicated separate seats, rows apart. The lady at the desk claimed that nothing could be done. It is believed that she lied, but, alas, the Legal Diva found herself seated a few rows behind me next to a smelly old man with a head cold. He gladly passed his infirmity on to my beloved, who then gave it to me, and together we infected all who crossed our paths during the course of our travels. In fact, we were kind enough to bring said disease back home to spread around amongst our friends and associates. You are quite welcome.
On the plane I ordered the veggie meal, which sucked; the Legal Diva got the turkey which she found tolerable. I more than tolerated the free limitless supply of Warsteiner beer offered by the Lufthansa Flight Attendant. She seemed very familiar with my dumbfounded expression when she refused my ten dollar bill. Free beer? Free really good beer? It was a shame I had to decline her offer of another round; I had to get behind the wheel a few hours hence, and I'd need my wits about me I was sure.
The Franz-Josef Strauss International Airport (MUC) is a super clean, sleek, modern affair that you might expect from the Germans, and they do not disappoint. Thanks for all the English! It was the morning of the 19th, and having achieved little to no sleep on the plane, we were fairly tired.
We made our way to the Budget car rental desk, conveniently located in Terminal 1 with all the other car rental desks. After jumping through all of Budget's considerable hoops we dragged our bags to the nearby rental car parking garage only to find that the VW Golf we reserved was not going to be big enough, or so we thought. In the end it would have sufficed, but we erred on the side of caution and traded in the Golf for a VW minivan at the same price. Well, it did cost us the trip back to the Budget rental desk.
I was excited about driving in Germany, the Legal Diva was not. She had dutifully printed out Google directions beforehand; we were as prepared as we could have been. That initial drive, from the airport to downtown Munich, about forty-five minutes, was an initiation, a trial by fire if you will. Driving in Germany isn't very different than driving in the US, but it's hard to escape the feeling of not being in Kansas anymore.
In the end we made it to our hotel, Sheraton Le Meridian, without too much difficulty. After checking in and parking Veronica the VW mini-van I deposited the Legal Diva in our spacious and accommodating room; at which time she drew a bath as I went out to find toothpaste and coffee.
Walking out onto Bayerstrasse from the Sheraton Le Meridian, I made a right and continued until I found a store likely to stock toothpaste. A block and a half past Gyro and Pizza restaurants I found an Asian market - had I left New York? The Asian market had toothpaste, and Fanta; then it was across the strasse to the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station), in front of which was a wooden stall that sold beverages and snacks. A sweet Asian woman, maybe Thai, maybe Burmese (what do you call someone from Myanmar? Myanmarese?) was glad to sell me a cup of coffee with milk, milchcafe. I visited this nice lady every morning, and some afternoons, the entire time we were there, and indeed, I was the first customer to have a cup of coffee from their new, and much faster, coffee machine. I felt honored. They also sold small sandwiches, baked goods, and soft drinks, indeed they saved us mucho euro in providing us with an excellent alternative to the ridiculously expensive hotel food. Not that the Sheraton Le Meridian is any different from any other hotel of its standing. There is a long list of hotels I've stayed in but never ate at their restaurants. Hotel bar prices are much the same, but somehow I always manage to patronize them. In fact there's a long list of hotel bars I've patronized without having a room in the hotel. So there's that.
At any rate, upon returning to the room and enjoying a bath of my own, we fell victim to the jet lag and took the ill-advised nap. When we woke the sun had gone down, it was early evening, and we dragged our sleepy eyed asses out into the crisp Bavarian air for a stroll.
This is my modus operandi in situations such as this; I get a map, find a spot of interest, and navigate my way there. I do this more to get a 'lay of the land' and explore my surroundings than for any other reason. The place of interest we chose was the famous Munich gastronomic institution, the Hofbrau Haus. We weren't actually going to eat or drink there that night; I simply wanted to know how to get there because I knew that we would end up there at some point in the ensuing days with the family.
As luck would have it, or fate, or the General's (my father’s) wisdom, the direct route from our hotel to the Hofbrau Haus took us through the Münchner Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) to the Marienplatz. A half mile of a pedestrian only shopping extravaganza beautifully lit with holiday cheer greeted us with the warmth of joy and wonder. Yes, Virginia, there is a Christkindlmarkt. On our way to the appointed non-destination we noted the wealth of great food via the wealth of great food smells wafting our way from the various stalls that filled the Christkindlmarkt, so on our way back we took in some gluwein (hot mulled red wine) mit schuss (with a spot of rum), some bayernwurst (to call it a mere sausage is to understate the wurst), and some heissenussen (roasted candied nuts).
Our little stroll having paid off in sumptuous delight on a magical night, as well as having served the purpose of keeping us out of bed a little longer; we felt justified in calling it a night. After all, we had a big day ahead of us come morning.
We woke up at three in the morning. It was December 20th, and we were caught in the lag. Oh well, we spent a couple of hours packing for our over-nighter in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. We maintained our room at the Sheraton Le Meridian during our side trip so we could leave the lion's share of our luggage at our home base in Munich. Thus we avoided the checking in and out and all the other hoopla and associated rigmarole, and we simply jumped into Veronica the VW minivan at six in the morning, hitting the high road to adventure.
The high road to adventure was initially marred by our inability to decipher the Google directions a mere three blocks from the hotel. A small amount of turning around and an equal share of grumbling about it and we were headed out of Munich to the A9, the Autobahn, driver's paradise. Only, on this particular day in driver's paradise there was freezing rain and a good deal of construction between Munich and Augsburg. The Legal Diva survived, the Google directions worked, and the magic of UFO and Tom Petty brought us to the walls of Rothenburg where the Legal Diva was right, I was wrong, and the Google directions were worthless.
It's hard to describe the feeling of driving your rented VW minivan through a medieval gate into a medieval town surrounded by a medieval wall full on with garrets, spires, priest holes, keeps, ramparts, and, well, all that medieval stuff, but I'll try. It was amazing.
We were welcomed at the Hotel Goldener Hirsch and provided with parking for Veronica and the coldest hotel room ever encountered. Ice cold, indeed I feared for my Fanta turning into an orange slushie. At least the temperature in the room kept us from crawling back to bed.
Basically, there's not much to do in Rothenburg on a sleepy Saturday in late December besides stroll around a magnificent display of ancient architecture, and sip warm booze laden beverages out of souvenir mugs in a magical setting. Good thing that's what we came to do, and much like the hundreds of other tourists crowding the main streets around the market square, we were happy to do it. What freezing rain?
A lunch of jagerschnitzel, spaetzle, roast pork, red cabbage, and potato (potatoe - Dan Quail was just German after all) dumplings – the best potato dumplings we encountered during our trip, and there were many potato dumplings encountered - lovingly served by Mathew, the proud owner of the gasthaus who's name has shamefully been forgotten, was excellent. The gasthaus occupied the cellar of the building that housed it, and the cistern shaped walls were decorated with seriously old murals. It was the kind of atmosphere that demands candle light. It was fantastic. The stupendous lunch, complete with stupendous beer and gluwein, coupled with a brief nap back at the icebox and we were fortified for an evening of strolling and drinking. A good thing, too, because in the matter of the latter we would be put to the test.
We walked around the town, beautifully lit in the evening, braving the weather, taking thousands of photos with a plan to, at some point, find a bar. Always a good plan. At one point during the promenade, but too early to start with the drinking in earnest, we spied the Rock Café. Not the Hard Rock Café, the just plain Rock Café. There was no doubt that the Rock Café must be the place for us. It was calling us. We heeded the call. Not overwhelming in any way, but sufficient in all ways, the Rock Café gave us beverage, and then it gave us friends.
There we were, minding our own beverages, pils for me, spiked tea for my lady, when destiny walked through the door in the form of Jamie, 20, from London. Conversation led to libation and the introduction of Jann and Marike, also 20, who were locals. Out came the Knuble (Yahtzee), followed by many more beers. Jamie even got this old Jackson to chug a pint down in one. Jackson is a long time from such activity, but he acquitted himself well. Jann then took us to another pub where his friend Wolfgang was the DJ, luring us with the promise of that good old Hard Rock. A brief stroll through the snowy night brought us through the doors of another drinking establishment. Again, shamefully the name of the pub escapes me. More beers were had while Wolfie spun classic Metal and Hard Rock - the first song I heard upon entering the place was Uriah Heep's 'Lady In Black'. I was happy there, but it was late and we were drunk. We all hugged and promised to e-mail. It's funny. I knew them all of three hours, and I'm well old enough to be their parents, but there was a bond, and I miss them.
The weather only slightly improved for the two and a half hour drive back to Munich. Thin Lizzy and The Clash were on duty, and for some reason Google found us a much easier way through Munich on the return trip.
While we were out getting our Rothenburg on, the General and Mrs., my parents, had arrived at the Sheraton Le Meridian. We made dinner plans with them, and spent the afternoon resting in our room.
We were dining at Altes Hackerhaus, picked by the General and Mrs., and located a few blocks from the Marienplatz. It was decided we'd use the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the public transport in the form of the U-Bahn (subway). There's also the S-Bahn (local light rail), streetcars, buses, and a fleet of tan Mercedes taxis to suit your needs. We fumbled our way through the fare card machines and promptly got on the wrong train, which fortunately only put us a few blocks out of our way.
Dinner was lovely. I recall more jagerschnitzle's, a pfeffersteak, and great beer, Hackerbrau. Dinner was followed by a leisurely stroll back to the hotel taking in the Marienplatz and the Christkindlmarkt. The holiday spirit was strong, everything was perfect.
Back to the hotel in time for NFL! Yep, the Sheraton Le Meridian’s in room viewing offered a sports network that was broadcasting live NFL. The first game started at seven, the third at two in the morning. I made it through the second, but couldn't make it for the Giants, who would win despite my mother's claims to the opposite, claims that would haunt my brother Rod, arriving the next morning, through his first jet lagged night of disjointed sleep in Munich.
Rod, his wife Karen, and their children, Julia (19) and Tyler (9), arrived the next morning. The General and Mrs. had taken the bus to the airport to meet and escort them to the hotel. The Legal Diva and I had our usual breakfast of sandwiches from the Hauptbahnhaof. The morning of our trip to Rothenburg we stopped at a gas station and purchased such lovely sandwiches, ham, cheese, hard boiled egg, and cucumber on fresh brotchen (rolls) and Brezenbrotchen (pretzel rolls). They are found everywhere, and I could eat them exclusively for the remainder of my life.
The new arrivals were given time to freshen up before another venture through the Christkindlmarkt to the Marienplatz for a gander at the Glockenspiel. Built in 1870 to celebrate an ancient wedding, the Glockenspiel is a magnificent three tiered clock with jousting knights, dancing peasants, and revolving royalty. We caught the noon show, and then hit the Rathskeller for lunch. Wursts, salads, and soup were served and enjoyed. Toward the end of the meal I spied Jamie from the night in Rothenburg. I hailed him over to the table and comically introduced him to the bleary and confused Wilson clan. A wonderfully weird moment.
After lunch the gang split into small groups to take in some shopping before regrouping for dinner. Rod and I hit the Kaufhof, a sort of German Macy's, and purchased some gifts for our loved ones. We then we hit an open air stall in the Christkindlmarkt for a couple of Beck's, upon whose purchase Rod was given two tokens. We thought it was some sort of happy hour deal, redeemable for another round. The next day when Rod attempted to cash in his tokens for a couple of free beers he was informed of the bottle deposit system. We knew we were paying deposits on the mugs for all of our hot beverages, but we had been just keeping the mugs for souvenirs and gifts. Eventually, the next day, I would return a mug for the deposit and was instructed in how the vendors feel about returning the deposit; they'd rather not.
Plans for a big family meal were initially ditched for lack of interest and hunger, so the Legal Diva and I decided we'd hit the Hofbrau Haus. Predictably, the entire troupe ended up joining us after all, and after a stressful tour back through the throngs of last minute Christkindlmarkt patrons I managed to deliver the clan to the Hofbrau Haus. Initial reactions were mixed, but once we settled in, got our lips around some gigantic mugs of Hofbrau, and our tongues tasted the delectable delights of German gastronomic fame - wursts, loins, soups, goulashes, well, the bickering stopped dead and laughter filled it's place, welcomed signs of good cheer. This was the Wilson Family Christmas after all, and once we loosen up a bit, we actually enjoy each other. That big ass beer sure helped.
We consulted our maps, the Wilson men: the General, Rod, as well as myself, and we decided on a course back to the hotel that would bypass the mass of Bavarian humanity packing the Christkindlmarkt. It was a lovely stroll through a less crowded platz with less crowded stalls offering more opportunity to part with our euros.
The next day, December 23rd, brought us the rest of the family. My other brother Fred, his wife Joanne, and their children, Jessica (17), Emily (16), and Josh (13) joined the fun in Munich for a one day only family frolic Bavarian style.
Of course Fred and family had to check out the Christkindlmarkt.
Of course. There was no avoiding it, as we well knew. The Christkindlmarkt is Destiny. It wasn't so bad the fourth time. The crowds were thinner, but alas, after a short time, the Legal Diva and I split off. We had important stuff to do. We had vinyl to shop for. The Legal Diva had done her homework well, and she did some on-line digging for vinyl in Munich. One lead we had was located near the Hofbrau Haus. Our lead turned out cold, but fortunately a kindly shop clerk directed us to Optimal, a vinyl shop located a fifteen minute walk into hitherto unexplored regions of Munich. This meant I got to wander unfamiliar territory, and at the end there would be vinyl! Oh happy day!
We did find Optimal, and we did buy vinyl, a lot of vinyl. It was heaven. We had to stop ourselves. In any country in the world, at least in any city that has such a place, the Legal Diva and I can spend countless hours flipping through the bins. God bless the bins!
Munich was lovely in its late afternoon glow as we wandered back to the hotel, and there was certainly much wishful conversation about living in such a wonderful city. Maybe someday.
A lavish multi-course meal at Alpenraum was our evening's main event. It was a splendid meal featuring fabulous wine (Jackson stuck with pilsner - can't go wrong in Germany ordering pils), and wonderful food. I had never tried aspic, much less veal aspic, but I liked it. Jessica nailed the blood orange and clove sherbet, and Josh looked cool as hell nursing his glass of Riesling with determination and laudable self control. I had a great time, still laughing about Julia and her 'smell of lettuce' comment from earlier in the day.
Julia, Rod, Karen, The Legal Diva and I followed dinner with drinks at a sports bar around the corner from our hotel. After seeing all the sights, taking in natural beauty and historical significance, it's these moments, casual conversant moments that I'll look back on most frequently. Good times, good times. We had such a good time; we repeated the process most of our remaining evenings together in Bavaria.
It seemed impossible not to have a good time, but we knew the truth of it; there are always moments when one keeps close quarters with family. Such moments came, inevitably, but as they come, so do they pass. Again, the big ass beer helps.
Christmas Eve dawned. Fred and family were off to Berlin, the rest of us to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, to the Alps. The glorious Alps, each peak a god, each crag proof of divinity. Motoring down the Autobahn into the Alps on a clear day, such as we had, causes emotions that one finds hard to articulate. The Alps defy the vocabulary. 'Magical' was used a lot, as was 'magnificent', but they don't quite do the job. Tyler was strapped in asleep in Veronica’s backseat; the Marillion having put him out way back on the outskirts of Munich, but he woke for the big show. I’m glad he did. That moment of cloud busting grandeur is one of my most vivid memories of my time there in 1980, and as strong as that image was in my mind’s eye, it was due a refresh, a very welcomed refresh.
Trailing Rod in their mammoth rented Mercedes nine-seater was no problem, and soon we were unloading our bags at the Atlas Post Hotel, our home for the next four days, our home for Christmas.
Amongst our troupe there was a fair amount of grumbling about the Atlas Post Hotel. The restaurant was cold, the rooms lacked good lighting, we were on the third (fourth in US terms) floor and the elevator stopped at the second (third), blah blah blah. The Legal Diva and I were quite happy with our accommodations, and so happy to be there that we would have happily withstood even less accommodating accommodations.
After settling into our rooms and parking the Wilson Family Auto Fleet a few blocks away in a public parking lot, we sat down to a wonderful lunch at gasthaus Zur Schranne, located down the back alley from the Atlas Post Hotel. I had weiss wursts in a light broth with fresh pretzels, the General and Mrs. found some frankenwein, and the Legal Diva medicated her head cold with noodle soup.
We walked off our lunches with a stroll around the immediate vicinity, taking in the truly darling village, ending up at the Garmisch Marienplatz (lots of Marienplatzes in Germany) with a round of beverages at a wonderful gasthaus, the Morenplatz Wirtshaus, which had outside seating.
Outside seating in Bavaria, in December, in the Alps! Yep. The Bavarians love the outdoors, and they spend much of their free time in the fresh Bavarian air. Most cafes and gasthauses offer some sort of outside seating, often with blankets, sometimes with propane heaters, and sometimes with wood burning fireplaces.
Alas, it was cold, and we are not Bavarians, despite my own wishful thinking, so we packed the afternoon away and returned to the hotel to freshen up for Christmas Dinner.
The General had made arrangements for our party of eight to dine on a multi-course pre-arranged menu Christmas dinner at the Atlas Post Hotel. Somehow they weren’t expecting us, but they quickly set up our table as we watched the German version of America’s Funniest Home Videos, or as Julia and Tyler dubbed it, ‘Germany’s Most Disturbing Home Injuries'.
For the second night in a row I patiently waited between tiny teasing ‘starters’ to actually be fed something substantial. Okay, now I appreciate the attention to detail, the planning, the preparation, the presentation of such fine dining experiences, but for me, well, Jackson’s a ‘you can bring it all at the same time’ type guy. I will say that the shrimp and scallops with pasta dish was great, but the stuffed goose was an inedible dark dense disc more suitable for hockey than my stomach. Hey, they tried, and that’s all that counts, it was, after all, Christmas Eve.
Christmas morning we met for breakfast in the chilly hotel restaurant before gathering in the Wilson/Wilder suite for the gift exchange. I dug the complimentary hotel breakfast; it was right up my alley: fresh rolls, ham, smoked ham (along the Serano/Prosciutto line), eggs (fried, scrambled, hard boiled), local cheese, cereal, yoghurt, juices, coffee, teas. The Hotel Goldener Hirsch in Rothenburg had a similar affair, complimentary as well. I think all hotels should fall in line.
The legal Diva and I were chosen to host the gift exchange because it was decided that we had the largest room. We had pre-arranged spending limits that some of us disregarded. Some of us can’t help ourselves, and considering we don’t have children of our own, well, we sometimes get lost in the gifting. I slapped Steely Dan in the portable disc machine, and we had Christmas in a hotel room in Germany.
The disc player and little portable speakers are a must for travel. I know most of you look back on the Discman from your iPod viewpoint with a certain amount of wonder, and certainly I could have saved some valuable luggage space by not bringing CDs, and well, you’re right.
The Legal Diva and I spent the afternoon strolling around town, making it as far as the Bahnhof (train station) in Partenkirchen. We spotted a Mexican restaurant, ‘Sausalito’s’, which, sadly, we never made it back to. Mostly we just walked and took in the local sereneness. In Alpine Bavaria it is customary to paint murals, giant frescoes, on the outside walls of houses. These murals depict all kinds of local rural activity as well as religious content. Lot’s of lederhosen and lot’s of Jesus, but never Jesus in lederhosen.
That evening we had another dinner reservation, this time in Partenkirchen. We piled into a taxi which dropped us of in front of Gasthof Frauendorfer, a true Bavarian gasthaus. The staff are all decked out in their local garb, there’s an accordion player pumping out all your favorite 'oohm-pah' numbers, and a local folk dancing display. Unfortunately I wasn’t very hungry, and I made the mistake of ordering two extremely rich dishes: wild game soup, and ochenschwantzen (oxtails). The food was excellent, and I did my best, but in the end I had to rely on the Legal Diva to clean up behind me on the oxtails. Jackson recommends the Gasthof Frauendorfer very highly, as far as the Alpine Bavarian atmosphere and fare goes, you can’t beat it.
Upon returning from dinner, a nail biter of a taxi ride at high speeds in the snow, we deposited Tyler with the General and Mrs., and Team Nightlife (Rod, Karen, Julia, the Legal Diva and yours truly) headed across the strasse to Peaches, a nightclub featuring ‘exotische drinks’ and eighties music. By this time Rod had discovered hell, or lager, while I was still on the pils. Dirty martinis being thin on the ground so far for the Legal Diva, our American speaking waitress was able to understand ‘olive juice’, and the long dry martini drought was broken, however briefly. We laughed, joked, spun yarns, and proudly watched Julia drain a gigantic Long Island Iced Tea.
The Big Day Out. The following day, the 26th, had been set aside for a side trip to Neuschwanstein, one of four fabulous castles built by ‘Mad’ Ludwig II, King of Bavaria in the mid to late nineteenth century. More on him later.
We all piled into the Mercedes nine-seater, with Rod at the wheel, and wove our way through the Alps, taking in a bit of the Austrian Tirol on our winding way to Fussen, and the castles. It was another glorious day, and simply driving around the Alps would have been a sufficiently wonderful way to spend the day, but Ludwig was calling us.
We arrived at Neuschwanstein to find that the entire population of Bavaria had made similar plans. It turns out that on the 26th of December Neuschwanstein is the only tourist attraction open for business. It was cold, very cold, as we waited on line, first for Castle Tour tickets, then, for a seemingly endless amount of time, for the horse drawn carts that take the masses up the winding mountain path that leads to Neuschwanstein. In warmer weather I’m sure the carriage ride would be endearing, but at that point it was just cold.
Neuschwanstein was well worth the effort. Walt Disney nicked the essence of it for his Magic Kingdom, and the producers of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang saw fit to use it as a location for their movie. It simply staggers one. I suppose the Taj Mahal compares, but not much else.
Never completed, Neuschwanstein was Ludwig’s last project, and he died, mysteriously no less, before he could finish his magnum opus. Dedicated to Richard Wagner, NeuSchwanstein brought together Ludwig’s two main passions: building castles, and opera. Most of the completed rooms in the castle are designed around one Wagnerian opera or another. Murals depict classic opera scenes, ornate wood carvings amaze the eye, and the view of the surrounding countryside is commanding to say the least.
The drive back to Garmisch was no less magical for its repeat performance. Arriving just after a glorious Alpine sunset, it was time for dinner. The family was gathering across the strasse for dinner, and though the Legal Diva and I joined them for a quick drink, we opted for a dinner on our own. We needed some time unto ourselves, and we needed a burger. We had a craving for an American meal, specifically not the McDonald's across the strasse.
We had seen signs around town, green signs with a kangaroo on them, and the previous day we located the source, the Australian Lounge. No, not American, but close enough. Inside we found burgers, wings, and other deep fried finger foods as you might find in any American bar that serves food. We scored. I ordered a Foster’s as the Legal Diva quipped, "Australian for beer", and our Australian server dude didn’t get the reference. Upon revelation in relation to Foster’s American advertising campaign he told us that nobody in Australia actually drinks Foster’s, “It’s the crap that we export”, he said. When he brought me the beer, I asked him what Australian beer he would have, and he said, “VB”.
“Well bring us a couple of those then”.
He was spot on. VB kicks Foster’s ass.
The burger fix having been achieved, we met Team Nightlife for another go-round at Peaches. This time our server did not have much of a command of American, or English for that matter. No dirty martini, again. We made do. Karen ordered wings – it’s the little things, really.
There had been talk of another field trip for the next day, our last day in Garmisch, but we shit-canned that idea in favor of a leisurely day of strolling and shopping. We took Tyler to a great toy store. He nearly exploded. German toy stores are far superior to their American counterparts.
Rod, Karen, the Legal Diva and I lunched at Glashaus, a slightly more modern affair, but not lacking in the old style comfort food. Three of us had schnitzel, the best schnitzel ever. Okay, so it was pork and not veal, so not technically a weinerschnitzel, but that pig kicked major ass. I tried to order the Legal Diva some onion soup, but I actually ordered her potato soup, which was excellent. I think my German is better than it is.
We met up with the entire troupe for dinner at the same gasthaus that we had our little outside seating beverage affair on our first day In Garmisch, the Morenplatz Wirtshaus. I know this sounds like all we did was eat, and so what? It’s only mostly true, and even if it was entirely the fact, shit, man, this is Germany, Bavaria! Eating is the first order of business here, and the last.
I like the Morenplatz Wirtshaus. It’s a beautiful natural wood affair, well lit, but not too bright, with a charming and professional staff. The menu had all the standards, and while Rod dug into his ham hock, I settled for a wurst salad. Again, I wasn’t very hungry. I loved the salad.
Morning dawned and I woke early. We were leaving that day, and I wanted a last minute with Garmisch to myself. Leaving the Legal Diva to sleep a little longer, I took the camera and went for a stroll, taking some last minute snapshots, and saying goodbye…….for now. I also picked up some sandwiches for the ride, I’m no fool.
So, once again, one last time, the Wilson Family Auto Fleet took to the road, a convoy of two. The Mrs. thought a brief side trip to nearby Oberammergau was in order, and so we climbed the twisting mountain road, Rod leading the way, the Legal Diva holding on for dear life, and yours truly loving every minute of it.
Oberammergau was sleepy and mostly closed on that Sunday morning, so we didn’t dally and settled for a brief drive-through, only getting slightly lost. The Mrs. was right about one thing, Oberammergau is beautiful.
The side trip complete, it was on to the Autobahn, back to Munich, to the Sheraton Airport Hotel. This last jaunt was the only leg of our travels that we had not Googled beforehand. Julia had been given the task of jotting down the Google Directions by hand because she was the only one with a laptop, and she came through admirably. The only problem is that Julia, as smart as she is, is no match for the curve balls Google Directions often toss you, and just as we got within a kilometer or so of our destination the directions broke down, and we got lost. The General, our appointed spokesman due to the fact that he actually does speak German, asked for directions, and moments later we were checking in at the Sheraton Airport Hotel.
Leaving the ladies and Tyler to settle in, the men folk returned the rental cars, and then we all settled in lobby style with beverages and enjoyed our last evening together. We dined at the hotel restaurant, another lovely meal with more than one burger in attendance.
In the morning we met for breakfast, another stellar complimentary breakfast buffet with all the now standard breakfast options. I just love the way the Germans do breakfast, and I worship German bread.
We said goodbye to everyone, the Legal Diva and I having opted for an extra day, as they gathered to take the shuttle to the airport. We got on the shuttle ourselves a half hour later, but not to make a flight. We needed to buy another suitcase for all the crap we bought, and the airport had the closest shops.
The suitcase secured, and some additional shopping done, we went back to bed, watched German TV (The Cosby Show in German was a highlight), and nursed our head colds.
That night one last schnitzel was had at the hotel restaurant; had to do it.
In the morning we shuttled once again to Franz-Josef Strauss International Airport. There was an issue with the self-check-in machine, and we were whisked to the front of the line where a truly fantastic Lufthansa agent fixed our issue, sat us together, and, get this, in the first row of coach with the extra leg room! I love that woman.
Some technical issues delayed our take-off, but I was not worried. These are Germans after all. Besides, Lufthansa provides excellent viewing entertainment. I ended up watching ‘Mama Mia’. It was okay, but Meryl did blow me away with ‘The Winner Takes It All’. We took off about an hour late, but arrived at JFK on schedule, just in time to be abused by the US Customs Asswipes.
They jacked my meat.