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Karen Mickleson | all galleries >> Galleries >> Joy In Beauty Travelogue: One Response to a Terminal Cancer Diagnosis > Garmisch-Partenkirchen
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22 March 2000, Wednesday
Posthotel Partenkirchen - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

Iím sitting outside on the corner balcony of my hotel in Garmish-Partenkirchen (say that five times fast!) with cheese and crackers and drink, having come back late to watch the sun go down on the Bavarian Alps. Itís crisp cold and getting darker. The remainder of the sunset looms over there in dark oranges framing sharp peaks whose snow looks blue. Meanwhile, looking for the classical music station amongst the paltry choices, what should I come upon but an American talk show with, guess who, Dr. Laura of all things. No classical music but Dr. Laura. Oy.

Spent the morning in continued efforts to try this or that option within the hotel for connecting to the net to get and send email, all for naught.

Then, I wandered around town down to the Partenkirchen part, which started out in A.D. 15 as the Roman town of Partanum on the trade route from Venice to Augsburg. Its main street, Ludwigsstrasse, follows the original Roman road. Garmisch is appears about 800 years later as Germaneskau aka: "German District". Today they have proud separate identities and take umbrage at being viewed interchangeably.

Along the way to the ďotherĒ side, I tried several times unsuccessfully to use my ATM card to no avail. Apparently, Wells Fargo is persona non grata here. This may prove to be a problem, but Iíll figure out something.

While eating lunch, a sweet German woman asked to join me on my outside table in the blazing spring sun, reflecting the snow of the surrounding snowy mountains into a brightness which hurt my eyes. She was waiting for her husband who was in a business meeting theyíd driven 4 hours from their vacation site so he could attend, only to turn around and drive 4 hours back. She and I took up a bit together, and shopped the pedestrian street. I let her use my cell phone, and they brought me back to my hotel as I was too pooped to walk back. Then came the GOOD news: I got connected at an internet cafe & was able to send off my travelogue.

I think tomorrow I will venture over to Fussen to see the big castles whose names I canít now recall. For now, itís off to a ďfabulousĒ Bavarian restaurant.

23 March 2000, Thursday
Posthotel Partenkirchen - Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

WOW!!. The traditional Bavarian restaurant I found last night, where I expected to get just another plate of delicious overly rich food, turned into the total Bavarian get-down-and-be-loud-experience, including an accordion player about sixty who drinks endless quart beers from a humungous glass--which the waitress provides with great flourish--while hammering out ďRoll Out the Barrel...Ē There are busty crusty waitresses in dirndls whose boobies jiggled when they leaned over to take your order, long tablesfull of people (usually, I imagine, a mix of locals and tourists, but this night I sat at the end of a long table of tourists, most from the US). Periodically, two young pubescent boys come out to the middle of everything to do a slap-your-butt-and-foot dance which, as everyone gets drunker, makes people hoot and holler more and more.

A raucous group of squeaky clean, pink-cheeked young twenty-something German kids on holiday were leading the place in swinging & swaying, with people hooking arms and getting progressively more silly than they would ordinarily be. I could kill myself for not having brought my camcorder to this place. The human mix and music and all would have been the best of all my video so far, which, Iím noticing, is mostly buildings and very little in the way of people. I think Iím getting baroqued out.

The trip to Fussen to see Mad King Ludwig IIís Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee castles was a bit trying. I keep getting past a turnoff and then realizing I probably should have gone the other way, which amounts to not being able to find the darn things in the first place. Then when I did, the only access up to the castle was a steep walk I didnít want to make, and the horse carriages had a 2 block line of Japanese tourists whose bus route up to their parking lot was snowed in. So, my visit to this bit of baroquery will have to wait another time.


24 March 2000, Friday
Hotel Alstadt Radisson SAS - Salzburg, Austria

Headed over to Salzburg by way of yet another impossibly quaint Bavarian village and shopping mecca, Mittenwald, on the German/Austian border--a particularly cute one where I got a parking ticket and bought my first item: a butter yellow windbreaker jacket with oodles of bells & whistles like special waterproof microfiber fabric, a zip-out thinsulsation lining, sleeves which zip off to provide a vest, and a hidable hood...Only problem is that its color is so beautiful I stick out like a sore thumb wearing it amidst everyone else's black, black and black on black. I left the parking ticket and drove out of town doing nothing about it because I couldn't read it, and besides, catch me if you can.

The hotel here in Salzburg is a bit fancier than Iíd expected. My fourth floor corner room looks out over the river, its bridges looking at night for all their worth like those of the River Seine. Took a walk around the village, and WHEW--lots of tourists and elegant shops for them to dispose of disposable money in. But the city itself is a real jewel with much beauty per square inch Iíll explore tomorrow.

25 March 2000
Hotel Alstadt Radisson SAS - Salzburg, Austria

Full day. Took the fununcular up to the Hohensalzburg Fortress, which began being built in 1077 under an archbishop named Gebhard during some investiture conflict over whether German Emporor Heinrich IV or Pope Gregor would be the new monarch, in case you were wondering. Very interesting example of early property protection by cannonballs. Waited for teen tourists to move from this or that spot to take a picture and eventually walked down to beautiful St. Peterís Cemetery and church, saw the Cathedral.

I got back to Salzburg in time to do the four hour Lakes and Mountains Tour--and Iím glad I did as the Sound of Music tour goes in a huge bus, whereas ours was in a more intimate minivan. Tom, our guide, was a friendly German bloke who loved Mozart and was pleased with the mix of customers on our run. He said itís not so fun when you get a bunch of deadpan, silent types who never react or ask questions. The lakes and villages we saw were lovely, but again, more of the same cute Bavarian style. Went to the church where the wedding in Sound of Music was filmed. You know, I hate to admit it, but I never saw The Sound of Music.

Then the creme de la creme: I went to a Mozart & Hayden chamber music concert in Mirabellís Marble and Gold room, another tastefully gilded room.

A lovely female trio played pieces for piano, violin and viola by Mozart and Hayden. They were in mid to late 20s, maybe older, and my hotel man had got me a front row center seat 2 feet from them with perfect view of how their faces sang to the music with subtle smiles, aching grimaces, furrowed brows. Their beauty was remarkable, both musically and physically.

26 March 2000
Hotel Gastof Zauner -- Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt is a storybook village of cobblestone and ivy and geraniums nestled into a craggy, forested mountain, hugging the shore of Lake Halstattersee. Sadly, after the long drive, it rains both days I'm here, making my explorations of tiny lanes and colorful houses soggy, cold and dreary. I vow to return one day.

Note circa 2006: I've learned that Rick Steves has discovered Hallstatt, and take some pride in having been there before his discovery of it. I wonder what's happened to its sleepiness since his kiss upon it.

28 March 2000
Pension Suzanne -- Vienna, Austria

Here I visit the daughter and family of a friend of mine for four nights. I'm too busy with being company to write. I do have a lovely visit to the Freud museum, tipping my respect to this icon of the unconscious. Despite his imperfect personality, he bequeathed a departure point for meaningful psychotherapy.

1 April 2000
Schlossberg Hotel -- Schlossberg, Austria

This is a one night stopover en route from Vienna to Venice.

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