After four nights in the big city of Munich, Michael and I have re-packed our bags and are ready to head into the German countryside.  The plan for the day is to hop in the car and drive to Garmisch, which is about an hour and a half away.  Once there, we’ll check out the town and relax our way into the next phase of the trip.

We grab a cab to Enterprise to pick up our mid-sized automatic for the next eleven days.  Our Enterprise agent is super nice and very, very hot!  Sorry Michael, but he was.  Anyways, he must have caught me staring into his perfectly green eyes because Enterprise Fabio gave us the hook up!  Fabio gave us free entry into Austria and France should we want to travel to either (a $5/day savings per country) and gave us an upgrade to a C-Class Mercedes Sedan that is the most high tech car I have ever seen.  It literally has a gadget or a button for everything – including a round knob that is touch sensitive and is used to navigate through the GPS system.  After we do all the Enterprise paperwork, we bid adieu to Enterprise Fabio and are handed off to some other guy (we will call him Garage Gunter as he was not very hot and does, therefore, not deserve a hot name) who takes us to the garage for our “car orientation.”

Garage Gunther guides us downstairs to the underground garage and brings the car around – parking it in the middle of the garage.  It is a beautiful car and we get excited about our upgrade as Gunther starts showing us the bells and whistles.  Just as we get to the driver side of the car, our pleasant orientation is interrupted by a German Speed Racer who zooms up behind us in the garage.  Since Gunther parked the car in the middle of the road, the car needs to be moved.  I had just been handed the keys, so everyone looks at me to hop in and move the car over a tad…..simple enough, right?   Wrong!  I hop in the car and everything – the display, the middle console, the clock…..everything is in German.  I can’t reach the pedals and cannot find the lever that will move the seat.  Garage Gunther opens the door and moves my seat up (with me in it).  I crank the car and cannot find the gear to put it in drive.  Garage Gunther opens the door, shows me the buttons and levers that change gears, and closes the door as I put the car into drive.  I hit the gas and nothing happens….the car just makes a “zoom” sound, but no movement.  Gunther looks at me as the guy behind me honks and curses at me in German.  I hit the gas again. No movement.  Gunther opens the door and tries to find the parking break.  After a minute or so of looking and saying, “this car is not like most German cars – more advanced than is standard,” Gunther finally finds a random button which releases the brake.  I zoom over to the side and the car behind me pushes past, no doubt cursing the idiot with the nice car.  Gunther hops in the passenger seat, changes the car settings to English so that everything becomes more clear, and says “anyway, that is how the car works” in his think accent.  I guess it is up to me to figure this thing out – thanks for that orientation Garage Gunther!

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A couple of attempts and a few curse words later, Michael and I are out on the open road, heading to Garmisch.  Since the cars drive on the right side of the road, I am at ease in no time – unlike driving in the UK, which takes a couple of days to get used to.  About an hour later, we are driving through our new hometown for the next couple of days – Garmisch.  It is the cutest little ski town and there are tons of shops and bakeries scattered around.  The weather is dreary, so the Alps are hidden behind think clouds, but that doesn’t muffle the awe and excitement of this place.  The buildings are covered in paintings and signs and we feel as though we have hopped into the pages of a Disney fairytale.  We make a left and are instantly driving on a cobblestone road that is so cute, it makes us both giddy.  We pull up to the hotel – The Atlas Grand – and find out that it dates back to 1542 and once hosted King Ludwig II, whose castle, the Neuschwanstein, we will visit tomorrow.

We check into our hotel for the next two nights – The Atlas Grand Hotel, and instantly get the hook up again.  We are greeted with a hot, lemon scented cloth and a complimentary glass of wine and are given free passes to all local buses and museums.  Our room is decorated with timbers and we are told that the sauna facilities are a must and have a panoramic view of the Alps (once it stops raining, of course).

Michael and I deposit our stuff into our room and hit to road (on foot) to explore the town.  Our first stop is the bakery across the street where we enjoy a cappuccino and some pastries – yum! We walk and talk our way through the picturesque town and, since it is only in the high 30’s, Michael buys me a nice, thicker jacket for our journey.  We walk and walk and walk, thoroughly enjoying the sights and smells of this small town.

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We eventually end up back at the hotel and decide to take a peek at the spa area to see if we want to partake in any of the complimentary offerings.  We walk up to the second floor and see a woman standing in front of the door to the spa, smoking a cigarette and looking at the mountains in the distance.  Michael blushes as she is standing there in nothing more than a towel (please note picture below).  We walk past her and open the door to take a look at the hot tub, sauna, and relaxation area.  We poke our heads in and….OMG….naked German….OMG….things flapping in front of me!  I squeal and close the door – Michael looks at me like I am nuts as I inform him that the rumors are, apparently, true – etiquette for spas in German are a clothing free zone.  The only way we will get to relax in there is if we are nekkid! I look at Michael, he looks at me, and we decide to pass on the idea of making new friends in the spa – we aren’t quite ready to audition for Naked and Afraid.

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A little while later, we head to the most popular Bavarian restaurant in town, the Werdenfelser Hof.  The staff are all clad in traditional Bavarian garb and we instantly enjoy the live entertainment which includes yodeling, accordion folk music, and traditional Bavarian dancers.  For a starter, I have a traditional soup that has a bacon ball in it.  You heard me right – I had a big dumpling made of bread, onion, and bacon submerged in my soup and it was delicious.  Our waitress encouraged me to get the pork knuckle which was about the size of my head!  As you can see, after about an hour of eating, I made only a very small dent in the knuckle o’ pork, but while I tried, I was definitely in pig heaven.  Our meal ended with complimentary shots of Bavarian schnapps which was fruity and without the normal sting that a normal shot gives you.

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We returned to the hotel (literally across the street) and spent some time in the sitting area on the ground floor which looked like a library you would find in a palace.  It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  We enjoyed a nice cappuccino while I wrote up some memories and Michael read his book.  It may not be the naked spa, but this is my kind of relaxation.

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