I’m slowly settling into my new home in Germany, and I already love the local town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The town was once two separate towns, Garmisch and Partenkirchen, but they were brought together by Adolf Hitler in 1935 with the anticipation of the 1936 winter Olympic games. The town is quiet, with an older demographic making the way of life perfect for an old soul like myself.
Most people that visit this area during the winter come here to ski or snowboard on the surrounding alps. I don’t do either, but will probably try skiing at least once while I am here. I used to snowboard when I was in high school, but I haven’t been in over 12 years. Fun fact: I broke my collarbone snowboarding when I was 13 and to this day during certain activities it gets sensitive.
I am living on a United States Army Base about a 25 minute walk from the center of town, and no matter where you go the surrounding mountains tower over everything. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is at the foothills of the alps, near Germanys tallest mountain Zugspitze. The views from the resort I am working and living at are enough to keep me wondering if this kind of landscape is real life.
This past weekend I ventured into town for a cup of coffee and a German treat after a rough day. I was feeling a bit homesick and needed some self medication in the form of exploration, caffeine, and sugar. Drastically changing my environment always has a bit of a shock on my system until I adjust and my mindset isn’t always in the right place, but after a good chat with my close friends (and engaging with some of the locals) I’m feeling better.
I was struggling to connect with the people I’ve met here, but I tend to get in my head too much when I’m in a new setting, automatically closing myself off because of my lack of self esteem. I throw myself into these situations because I know if I don’t continue to challenge myself I will never grow. Thankfully my roommates (I have two, and we live in a loft so I have the entire downstairs to myself) are wonderful, and my coworkers are nice too. However I’ll always be somewhat of a lone wolf, so this solo town day was needed.
It can be a bit intimidating to live in a country where you don’t speak the language, but I am making it a goal to learn a little bit each week, even if just the basics. I went into two cafe’s on my walk into town, one for coffee and one for a treat, and both of the women inside the shops began speaking German at me faster than a cheetah chasing a wildebeest. After a brief deer in headlights look, I replied with “Sprechen sie Englisch?” to which they both replied “yes.”
While I don’t plan to become fluent in German, I want to respect the local culture as much as possible even if I’m only able to say the above phrase (do you speak English) and “Ich spreche kein Deutsch” (I don’t speak German.) The above German treat was a shortbread like cookie sandwich filled with a nougat and it was divine. I’m usually an all things chocolate gal, but I took the suggestion of the employee at the cafe and was not disappointed.
I plan to explore more of the town as time goes by, it will be something easy to do after work or on a day off when I don’t want to go far. Currently there is a lot of snow here, with more coming every few days. I don’t usually enjoy snow, but I haven’t been too bothered by it yet. The temps are cold, but with my jacket and boots I’m usually ok. On the days where the temps were in the teens (Fahrenheit) I was in pain, but thankfully the forecast is mid to high 30’s for the next week.
I never thought I’d be excited for temps in the 30’s.
One of the things I love most about this small Bavarian city is the art on the buildings. On the hotel building alone there are at leave five different murals, and more along the way into town. One of my favorites is the one of a woman clearly in distress about forgetting the jam for her picnic, next to two male elk about to battle for a female elk (with one of the males bugling his little heart out), all while the jam-less woman’s husband is rock climbing instead of eating with his wife (probably because she forgot the jam.) My second favorite is the one of Dwight Schrute doing a German jig with the locals.
All that to say I’m enjoying the culture in Germany thus far, and look forward to more not only in the local town, but throughout the country as well. As for my job, I came here without knowing what I would be doing other than some kind of hotel work. I was placed in the food and beverage department and am currently working at one of two restaurants in the hotel. This restaurant is buffet style, which means no serving required and I’m 100% OK with that.
Serving in a restaurant when working in Yellowstone just about broke me.
Once I am trained in this restaurant, I will train in the cafe next door and ideally I will bounce between these two places. Serving Starbucks coffee (back to my roots) and the myriad of tasks in the restaurant. The other restaurant is an “order off the menu” style restaurant and while the money would be better, I don’t want that stress.
I’m working for the Department of Defense which makes me feel much more official than I actually am. I’m within walking distance to local German grocery stores, as well as the military base commissary and exchange for home goods and food. I am shopping mostly in the local stores because they’re cheaper, and I prefer the European food quality over the shipped in American food at the commissary. I have been eating a bit more freely than I normally do, and am trying not to obsess or stress about it.
One of these days my disordered eating brain will be a thing of the past, and I’m hoping my time here helps me conquer my mental health struggles.
For now that’s all I have. I’m hoping to visit Austria this week on my day off. The bus ride into Innsbruck is just a little over an hour, making it a perfect day trip. Ideally I would like to travel to a different country once a month while here, but we shall see what happens in time! I’m also hoping that the guy living a floor below me stops singing love songs at 2am, but I won’t get too excited about that one.
Q: Do you ski, snowboard, or partake in any other winter sports?