We always took David’s picture over the years beside the nutcracker at the entrance to Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas store whenever we visited Garmisch, and this year in the cold David was growing tired of our tradition.
David was only knee high to the nutcracker on his first visit to Garmisch, and through the years the nutcracker’s been a yardstick of sorts; here’s one of Kathe Wohlfahrt’s window displays as well as a link to her web site: http://www.wohlfahrt.com/ index.php
While my wife loved to look through the shops in Garmisch, we all loved the ambiance of the Alpine region, with its fresh mountain air, beautiful scenery and “picture postcard” vistas.
We had visited Garmisch-Partenkirchen on many occasions through the years, and each time we normally had a tentative agenda of doing something that was new and different for us, but this year we mostly just hung out and relaxed.
We’ve always enjoyed the fresh mountain air and beautiful fall colors, as well as visiting antique shops and cafes; but this year we also decided to take in an Armed Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) bus tour to Munich as well.
David was a trooper and enjoyed our annual pilgrimages to Bavaria, however, he really liked our visit to Disneyland Paris the year before and was always looking for a little bit more excitement while on vacation – in this photo I quickly sneak in a pair of rabbit ears behind David’s head.
David was almost 11 years old at this point and his parents were getting perhaps just a little too mellow for his tastes, which was the clearest sign of all that he was quickly growing up.
Our lives had been incredibly hectic and intense through my years of deployments, flying jets and international moves, and my wife and I really just needed to take the time to decompress and chill out in a beautiful setting.
While watching the cows returning to their barns from their summer pastures, we may well have pondered the eight homes, five international moves, the Persian Gulf War, numerous deployments and the stress of flying jets that were the milestones of our nearly 12 years of marriage so far.
Take a look at the church on the hill to the left of this statue, with the mountain visible behind it in the distance; the Bavarian landscape is a tapestry of beautiful views everywhere you look.
My wife and I have always enjoyed seeing the onion-domed bell towers of Bavarian churches, familiar and distinct architectural features common to most churches in the Alpine region.
While Bavarian churches are usually unadorned on the outside, inside they are a marvel of Baroque or Rococo artistry and decor, creating a complete transformation from outside to inside.
According to Wikipedia, Rococo is, “also referred to as ‘Late Baroque’…an 18th-century artistic movement and style” – and their website uses a photo of a Bavarian church as an example of the style: http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Rococo
Bavarian churches follow the traditional European pattern of having a cemetery located beside it, and I always took the opportunity to photograph examples of the artistry involved in remembering loved ones there.
This memorial with a statue of the Virgin Mary and its companion cherubs caught my eye, and is an example of the beautiful artistry that is found in many public places throughout Bavaria.
David stands beside a Bavarian Crucifix, hand carved in the Alpine woodcarving tradition, and perhaps donated to the church as a memorial to a beloved family member.
Woodcarving has long been an Alpine tradition and treasured craft in Bavaria, the Black Forest and other regions: http://www.koenigsschloesser .de/ot_e/artsarchitecture/ woodcarving.htm
Beautiful examples of religious art, carvings and architecture are visual manifestations of the faith of the artists that created them, as well as physical illustrations and reminders of Gospel passages, teachings and truths.
This is the Olympic Ice Sports Center in downtown Garmisch, originally built for the 1936 Winter Olympics; and as David had never been ice skating before, we decided to have some fun on the ice.
It had been years, if not decades, since I had skated; so David and I were both a bit shaky and wobbly at first as we ventured onto the ice.
It took David a few spins around the ice to begin to feel comfortable on skates, and my primary job was to keep us both from falling on our rears!
Eventually we didn’t worry so much about falling, and progressed in our measured confidence on the ice – and began to enjoy our trips around the rink.
Moments like these take us out of our familiar roles and routines, and allow us to explore new adventures and horizons where everything is a fresh and unique challenge for us.
While we weren’t ready for the next Winter Olympic Games, we were at least able to stay on our skates and make our way around the ice rink, for a few laps of fun, exercise and enjoyment.
The Hotel Alpina was centrally located in downtown Garmisch, so we enjoyed late afternoon strolls through the city and a little shopping – here the sun begins to set behind the mountains.
One of our favorite afternoon activities was to have traditional coffee & cake in a cafe around 4 pm, and the selection of cakes, pastries and cookies in Garmisch was always enticing.
Vacations are always an opportunity to take your mind off the routine of life, and allow yourself to relax and refresh for a few days and explore new horizons.
This is the, “Pilgrimage Church of Wies” – not far from Garmisch-Partenkirchen and on the World Heritage List of famous sites: http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Wies_Church