Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

When I lived in DC, I met a very nice British couple and when I invited them to a party at our house (a St Patrick’s Day party no less), the husband said “I’ll be in Blighty”.  At the time, I had no idea what Blighty meant and so I googled it.  Turns out it’s the name for Britain which was originally used by British Soldiers stationed in India who were trying to say bilāyatī (meaning Britain).

We’re back in Blighty after our wonderful week in Germany. Germany is so beautiful and what’s not to love: beer, no speed limit on the autobahn, lots of green open spaces, castles, snowy alps, beautiful cities and everything is very clean.  Although my German language skills are lacking, I did remember the most important phrase “Weißwein ~ trocken, bitte”

Having lived in Germany for many years, there are several cultural behaviors I’ve observed that still make me chuckle.  Just as I know people chuckle (or worse) when I commit typical American actions. Germans, for the most part, don’t have a lot of concern for personal space and I have a need for more personal space than most people.  It took me awhile to get use to that aspect of living in Germany.  The other is standing in line ~ not something most Germans do willingly.  I learned early on to guard my spot in line ~ no daylight allowed between me and the person in front of me.  Once I had an older woman in the Aldi store bump me with her grocery cart from behind.  I think she was hoping I’d step out of line so she could jump ahead, but after the third bump, without looking back, I put my foot on the front bottom part of her cart and pushed as hard as I could.  Finally, she stopped bumping me with that blasted cart.

The other day, when we got to the Easy Jet check-in counter at the Munich airport, the desk wasn’t open yet but a line was already forming.  Logan and I left John with the luggage (3 bags) and we went to get juice.  We were gone about 5 minutes and came back to see the desk was open but John was further back in the line than when we left him.  When I asked John what happened, he laughed and said he was too slow moving the bags forward so people just moved in front of him rather than wait until he moved the bags.  Never would that happen in the UK where queueing is an art form and rigidly adhered to ~ if someone dares to jump the line, they’ll no doubt be chastised.

I make these observations, not as a critique of the Germans, but because the customary actions made us feel even more comfortable being back there.  Just as we feel comfortable being back in Blighty where we know what’s the expected behavior.  Or as the saying goes “When in Rome…”

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When we lived in Germany and were flying out of München airport on an early flight, we would opt to stay at the Kempinski Hotel the night before rather than drive the 2 hours prior to a flight.  The hotel still offers their “Park/Sleep/Fly” package starting at €169 for one night, early morning breakfast, parking for 8 days and use of the 24 hour gym/spa/swimming pool. The lobby is very modern as is the rest of the hotel:

Kempinski Munich Hotel

The location of the hotel can’t be beat as it’s between terminals 1 and 2 with the car rental return conveniently located opposite the hotel entrance. Nothing quite like walking out of the hotel lobby to the airline check-in counter in about 5 minutes. We checked in thinking we would have a quiet night in our room but once we found out there was a “Winter Market” going on at the airport, complete with an ice skating rink, Bavarian curling lane, over 50 food/gift market stalls, a live band and glühwein, we headed out to enjoy. Logan and I ate the savory crepes and roasted chestnuts while John searched for the best Bratwurst. The Winter Market was a nice surprise to end our vacation in Germany.

Winter Market

Skating and curling rinks at the Winter Market Munich Airport

At the Winter Market Munchen Airport

It was a wonderful visit to Bavaria and before we knew it, we were packed up and on our way back to London. At the end of a trip, I wish I could snap my fingers and be home. I can’t complain though, our Easy Jet flight was smooth and on-time with the trains between Gatwick and St. Pancras running frequently so we only had a short wait for our train home.

Bye to Germany

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Grafenwöhr was our stomping grounds from 2001 to 2005 and it was so nice to be back in the area.  It’s a beautiful location and it’s grown quite a bit since we left but it still has several historic buildings:

Water Tower, Grafenwoehr

Water Tower, Grafenwöhr

Forsthaus circa 1909

Forsthaus circa 1909

We lived about 30 minutes from Graf in the sleepy town of Neunkirchen bei Weiden. It has two churches, the kindergarten my daughter attended, lots of walking/biking paths and much more. We met many wonderful friends when we lived there and still keep in contact with them.  A flood of memories came rushing back as we drove into town:

sign for Neunkirchen

We saw a rainbow as we drove toward Neunkirchen ~ made me feel welcomed:


When we lived in Neunkirchen, we had two large dogs who loved running free in the forest surrounding the town.  We went back to see if there were any changes and we’re happy to report everything appears exactly the same.

Logan in the forest

Logan in the forest

It’s important to keep a lookout for interesting things when driving in Germany, you never know what you might see along the road. Here’s a tiny chapel:

Little chapel near Kaltenbrunn

or a cross along the road:

Bench and cross near kaltenbrunn

We went to our favorite restaurant, Pegasus not once but twice. We were considered stammtisch (a regular) when we lived in Neunkirchen.  We would walk in and they wouldn’t even ask our order ~ they would just bring our drinks and food to the table.  Unless mussels were in season, then John would change his order.  If you’re in the area and get a chance to go to Pegasus, I highly recommend the Scampi Diavolo.

On Friday, we went to lunch at Pegasus with our German neighbor, Norbert and his son.  Then today, as we headed out of town and at the last minute, we decided to swing by and eat there one more time since we have no idea when our next trip to Germany will be.  Surprisingly,as we drove into the parking lot, we saw Norbert walking toward the entrance!!  Must be fate ~ we couldn’t have planned it any better.

Pegasus at the flugplatz ~ our favorite restaurant

Pegasus at the flugplatz ~ our favorite restaurant


Neunkirchen is very close to Weiden which is a very pretty German town with a lovely pedestrian zone (Fußgängerzone).  It looks even prettier with Christmas decorations.  We met with our friends, Nadja, German and their two adorable daughters for dinner in Weiden:

With Nadja and fam in Weiden

More of beautiful Weiden at night:

Arch to Weiden

Archway to Weiden


This was less of a sightseeing trip and more of a chance to reconnect with old friends.  From the looks of our photos, we ate our way through Germany!  Good food, Great friends!

Lunch with Youngs, Gilbertsons


Eating our way through Germany

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We landed in Munich, after a little over an hour flight from Gatwick Airport (London).  Once we got on the Autobahn, the Audis (and one Aston Martin) were flying by, making our car shake as though we were standing still. No doubt they were trying to break the sound barrier.

We traveled extensively during our 5 years living in Germany and several of those trips were spent in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  As always, it was great to see the mountains as we drove into Garmisch:

Garmisch Mountains

All the sights, sounds, and smells brought back a flood of wonderful memories.  My heart was a little heavy as I remembered our last visit to Garmisch which was New Year’s Eve 2005.  My mom spent the week with us at the Edelweiss Lodge and it was a magical time.  There was lots of snow, fireworks, trips to Neuschwanstein Castle and other local historic sites. For years afterwards, my mom would frequently tell me how much she enjoyed that particular vacation. Made me miss her more than usual.

Sadly, as we drove into town, we could tell there wasn’t a lot of snow.  Our main purpose for returning to Garmisch was to ski so we needed to chase the snow.  We found it in Ehrwald, on the Austrian side of the Zugspitz, which is the tallest mountain in Germany at 2962 meters.  It’s only a 30 minute drive from Garmisch,  20 minutes if you can drive like a German.

Admittedly, I’m a snow snob.  If it’s icy or slushy, I’d rather not go through the expense or pain (those boots are torture to me).  John learned to ski in Ohio so his idea of a good snow day is any snow at all. John and Logan hit the slopes with a smile on their faces:

John and Logan at base of the mountain


On our way out of town, we stopped at the Olympic Ski Stadium where the 1936 Winter Olympics were held. The stadium has hosted a variety of ski competitions and also has a ski jump school.  The ski jumps make my stomach queasy just looking at them:

Three Ski Jumps in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Reading the signs in German are always fun ~ trying to decipher the words that have been cobbled together.  I actually figured this one out:

Ski School Sign

Logan sat in the old seating:

Olympic Stadium seats from 1936

Garmisch is a beautiful Bavarian town with lots to do whatever the season.  We’ve been to Garmisch over half a dozen times, at different times of the year, and it’s always been a fun time.   We’re heading north today ~ back to the Oberpfalz (Bavaria) where we lived for four of our five years in Germany.

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We started going on Volksmarches soon after arriving in Germany. Every Thursday, the Stars and Stripes lists upcoming Volksmarches in the travel section. Since Logan was only three when we started, we would partake in the 5k walks and the dogs came with us. As years passed, FG could handle the 10k but the dogs were getting too old for such a long walk.

If you are living in Germany, I highly recommend participating in a Volksmarch whenever you can. I have to admit, I was a fair-weathered walker but I went as often as I could. The walks are very well organized. The start/finish area always has good food & beer awaiting you.

From the first walk with our good friends the Drakes in 2001, with the Lows in 2003 to the last one with the Sharp family in 2005, I have very fond memories of walking through the towns and wooded areas of Germany. It was always a good time!

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Favorite photo of Sport ~ enjoying a run during our Volksmarch.

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Auf Wiedersehen to Germany

On 19 May, with a heavy heart, I said “Goodbye” to Germany. After living there for 5 years, I knew I would miss the following the most:

* Good friends ~ both German and American.

* The close bonds of the Army family.

* Everyone being OK with having a beer at 9am after a 10k wandertag.

* The autobahn.

* The pristine environment .

* Traveling through Europe without jet-lag.

* Efficient and economical mass transit.

Of course, there is so much more I will miss.

Logan and I flew from Frankfurt to Chicago where we met up with my John. Then it was onto Guam, via a 5-night stay in Honolulu. Since Hawaii is the closest Army post to Guam, John in-processed while we were there. Yeah, I know ~ tough assignment. I was hoping Hawaii would give us a chance to ease into island life but the weather was actually cool and we were so jet-lagged we didn’t know if we were coming or going. We did have a gorgeous room at the Outrigger Reef on Waikiki for three nights and then at the Hale Koa AFRC the last two nights. I highly recommend both when you are in Waikiki.

While in Honolulu, I got the chance to have dinner with one of my favorite couples of all time. They were neighbors of my family when we lived in Puerto Rico many, many years ago. My Dad and Perry were very good friends and my sister and I would babysit for their son, Eric. Ironically, Eric was in town visiting with his wife and HIS son. OK, it did make me feel a little old seeing the “baby” I used to sit for with a son of his own, but hey, I was a young(!) babysitter at the time. Anyway, I can’t say enough about Eric’s parents ~ they are so nice and so interesting to be around. I’ve truly been blessed in all my travels to have met the most wonderful people. The trick is to staying in touch with all of them ~ thankful for all the social media outlets which make it easier and easier.

After departing Honolulu for the 7.5 hour flight, we ended up in Guam still jet-lagged, sleep deprived, and HOT. Getting off the plane in Guam felt like opening an oven at 450 degrees. I have to say the only other time I felt that same sensation was getting off the plane in Memphis, TN ~ in August ~ after traveling in from Jackson, WY.

We were greeted at the airport by John’s entire team from the University of Guam which was so nice of them since it was a Friday night. They made us feel so welcome. Let the new island adventures begin!

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