Monday, November 24, 2008

Snow Day in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Munich was graced with its first snowfall on Friday. Despite reports of 12+ inches we only got an inch or two. Some southern areas were hit harder so on Sunday morning we set out in search of snow and landed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. G-P was the sight of the 1936 Winter Olympic games and true to its heritage it did not disappoint the snow hungry. In the winter it is a haven for skiers while in the summer the hikers swarm in. Somewhat of a destination resort, the cobblestone streets are lined with chalet hotels, upscale shops, cafes and restaurants.

On the way home from G-P we stopped at the Benedictine Ettal Abbey. Founded in 1330, the working Monastery still houses about 50 monks who maintain a brewery, hotel, cheese making enterprise and small publishing business. There is also a private high school on the premises. You can learn more about the Abbey here. The compound, set against a backdrop of snow covered alps, was breathtaking. The stillness of fresh snow and our solo presence enhanced the spiritual mood all the more.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Neuschwanstein Day Hike

On Sunday Thomas and I decided to head south and do a strenuous hike whose reward was amazing views of Neuschwanstein. Most Americans will recognize the castle as the inspiration behind the Disney castles.

View of Neuschwanstein (wikipedia) Disney castle (wikipedia)

Before you get too excited, this is as close as we got... A view from the road as we drove to the hike entry point.

Somehow, we made an error trailblazing and never did get to the side of the alp with amazing views. Typical for us. We have a compass, we have a portable gps, we have the ubercool gps watch/heart moniter thingy. Where were they? Ummm, yeah at home. With the sunblock. And the extra layer of clothing for the freezing temperatures we encountered at the top.

We hiked up - straight up - 2,000m. It was the most challenging hike I've done in years. Stairs were not my friend for the next two days. And what was our reward for reaching the top?? Even better than an amazing view of Neuschwanstein - we saw this!!!!!!

And this...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Electra Visits the Viktualienmarkt

Viktualienmarkt Stand

Thomas and I have gotten into the habit or taking our bikes into town on Saturday morning for a Milch Kaffee and a fresh pastry or pretzel. Usually we just go into the thriving metropolis of BFMF and combine our caffeine kick with a few other errands - post office, bank, green grocer.

Last Saturday we decided to take our bikes into Munich proper for our weekend ritual. We wanted to see how long it would take to bike into the city center and we needed to pick up a few things in some of the shops. Forty-five minutes later we were locking up our bikes and assessing our cafe options.

I've been into the city center about twice a week since I've been here. It's a short 15 minute ride on the S-bahn so it's easy to meet friends or just go in to pick up some hard to find grocery items. Thomas, because he clings to the questionable belief that at least one of us should be working (thank god), has been exactly twice. So it was nice to be there together for once and have the chance to stroll around before the crowds descended.

One of my favorite "must sees" in Munich is the Viktualienmarkt. This open air market has been around for over 200 years offering fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, oils, soaps, specialty foods and of course sausage and cheese. It's not unusual to see someone enjoying a weisswurst and beer at 9:30 in the morning. Not a taste I've acquired yet. I'll save that food adventure for when my father visits. Which brings me to...

The Tale of the Rollmop
Most girls try to win their father's affection with fairly standard fare - good grades, sweet Polly Purebread impersonations, chastity belts. I try to win my father's affection with food. And yes, I realize this should probably be discussed in therapy but that costs money and blogging is free. When I was young it was liver and onions. "Good iron," my father said. "Good God NO!" my stomach said. But I ate it because nobody else in the family would and I thought all that iron would surely morph into a halo around my head. Come to find out years later that the butter and bacon it was drenched in were more likely to clog my arteries. But I ate it. And I seem to recall actually almost sorta kinda liking it. Today the mere thought of eating liver makes me want to subsist on carrots for the rest of my days. I mean really this is an animal's LIVER! Livers are things which you donate. You don't eat them.

But no foul food experience (and there is a horse meat stew incident in the archives) compared to the rollmop incident. One day, while my brother and I were visiting my parents, my father pulled from the refrigerator something we just "had to try." He'd stopped at a small German deli for some sandwich fixings and made the happy chance epicurean discovery of rollmops.
From Wikipedia: A rollmop is a pickled herring fillet rolled (hence the name) into a cylindrical shape around a piece of pickled gherkin. Rollmops grew popular throughout Germany during the early 19th century. The fish was pickled to preserve it and transported in wooden barrels. In pubs in Old Berlin, it was common to have high-rising glass display cases (Hungerturm, meaning "hunger tower") on the bar to present ready-to-eat dishes like lard bread, salt eggs, meatballs, mettwurst (bacon sausage) and of course rollmops. At the present time, rollmops are commonly served as part of the German Katerfrühstück (hangover breakfast) which is believed to restore some electrolytes and makes breasts larger.
Anybody hungry?
My brother said no dice right away. I hedged - my internal dialogue probably being something along the lines of, "If I eat this Dad will love me more than he loves Neal. I'll never be able to usurp "the baby" from Mom's pedestal but I still have a shot at Dad." Dare I mention I was in my mid-thirties at the time? Right, going to arrange appointment with therapist...

It's quite possible that my father taunted me. "Come on, don't be such a wuss. Try it." So I did. How shall I describe? Vile? Vicious? No, the clear winner was Vomitous. No sooner than it was down it came back up to reintroduce itself in all its smelly, slimy disgustingness. And it continued to make guest appearances for the next two days. When I hear the word "rollmop" now my stomach immediately clenches and I start to gag. Pavlov in one easy step.

I'm not sure how a posting about the Viktualienmarkt ended up being a soul-baring Electra complex expose... oh, right that was it... They sell rollmops at the Viktualienmarkt. I for one will not be eating them even if they give me Pamela Anderson (a vegan by the way who does not eat LIVER) breasts. The weisswurst I'll consider if Daddy dares me.