Unlike in previous years, we had given no consideration to an end-of-school-year holiday this time around because we and our passports are a little travel weary at the moment. But then Anna Grace asked if we could take the end-of-school long weekend to enjoy Zugspitze and to see Schloss Neuschwanstein again. The former has long been on her personal to-do list after Jack posted a snap from atop the peak during his Boy Scout Camp Counselor summers in Garmisch; and weather prevented her from an Instagram atop Germany’s highest peak on a previous visit. As for a Neuschwanstein return visit, well, aren’t most teenage girls princesses at heart?
We loaded the Thule and the wagon (along with CTF) and hit the Autobahn last Friday, early morning in what once was shoulder season but has since become shoulder-to-shoulder season on the motorways, having secured a last minute reservation for two nights in the “Standard Apartment” of a “Sport Hotel” in GAP just minutes before pulling away from the house. (I am a glass half-empty kind of gal when it comes to last-minute reservations in popular destinations: if the room is still available, do I really want to reserve it?)
The transit through Austria was fine except for the 30 minutes lost to analyzing, diagnosing, and eventually remedying the “squeee” sound coming from the roof carrier at speeds above 100kph (‘twas a not-completely-secured somethingorother). We creeped long for 30 minutes nearing the German-Austrian border for the new norm of profiling; and sighed and groused through another 40 minute traffic slowdown in some provincial German city in the midst of replacing their traffic lights. The traffic was moving so slowly that I had time to hop out of the car to snap a photo of a Käseautomat; purchase a package of cheese to nosh from said machine, and hop back into the wagon. Cheese on demand, how awesome is that? All told, the GPS-predicted 5 hour drive to Oberammergau took 6 hours, 40 minutes, not including our lunch pause.
“My people are the best. They take me everywhere.”
With check-in not until 1630 I had added Oberammergau and Ettal Abbey to our route. We had taken a weeklong family trip to Bavaria in 2009 and have visited the region on numerous occasions since living in Europe, but the town and the abbey somehow never made it onto our radar. Alas, Ettal Abbey was relegated to a future visit again because we arrived too late for an English-language tour and none of us wanted to think in German by this time in the day, so it was in Oberammergau we parked and wandered about in search of the Luftlmalerei buildings, those with the façade painting.
We competed with pushy bus hoardes for snaps and were treated suspiciously at the two(!) Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shops (nothing personal, just a general disdain-for-tourists kind of feeling); but otherwise enjoyed stretching our legs. Most thankfully the short drive to Garmisch-Partenkirchen afterward was light on traffic and heavy on scenery.
Check-in at the hotel was fairly unwelcoming: two room keys were thrust at us, along with a handful of paper maps outlining non-FIFA 2018 activities in the area. More piles of the same papers appeared in our apartment, too. So much waste.
The apartment. Our reservation was for a “Standard Apartment” with a kitchen, but we discovered the kitchen cabinets were locked—we had no access to a cooktop or dinnerware, and so forth. The long story short is that the hotel refused to honor the reservation, arguing that we had not reserved the kitchen (even after I showed them the reservation confirmation in my email), but cheerily offered to charge an additional €20 per day to unlock the kitchen, if we wished. We did not wish. As if to add insult to injury, we returned to the hotel after dinner on Friday to find a plastic bag with a dish towel and dish washing cloth hanging from the room door knob; and on Saturday late afternoon three GAP cards, some sort of tourism discount card were stuffed in the door as a “gift.” Of course, we were departing the following morning, so the cards were as useless as the paper they were printed on was wasteful. Definitely a glass-half-empty experience.
But where was I? Ah, yes. Dinnertime in Garmisch. Hofbräustüberl looked inviting and so we walked in, and honestly felt like we had stepped into America. Though the décor was Bavarian, nearly every table was filled with Americans, perhaps from the nearby facilities or the Edelweiss Lodge. We joked later about how not only was Wiener Schnitzel listed as an “International Dish” on the menu; but also that our waitstaff seemed relieved that we spoke German, even if it was Hochdeutsch. My entrée of Rostbraten with Horseradish Cream Sauce was quite to my liking, with Anna and Tony pronouncing their respective meat and potatoes dishes equally so.
We capped our evening with a glass of wine on the apartment balcony (the refrigerator in our apartment was not under lock and key, so we were able to chill a New Zealand white that we had brought with), feeling like we were on the inside of a painting.