Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Little Taste of...America?

After several glorious days in Bamberg, we were headed to the Cinque Terre in Italy (see subsequent post). However, rather than go straight there, we decided to take advantage of our travel schedule to hit a few more hot spots. In order to leave the country, we had to go through Munich, so we left a little earlier than we needed to and spent some time in the English Garden.

The two previous times I have been to Munich were in the winter and early spring, so I was never able to experience the park. It's a great public space and people were out in droves to enjoy the warm summertime weather. If we had known, we would have brought bathing suits to float down the canal, although even if we had been so prepared, we still would have been content to merely watch the surfers.

Who would have thought we'd see surfing in Germany?
We finally dragged ourselves away from the park and headed south toward the Alps. Since we were in the area, we booked a night at the Edelweiss American resort in Garmisch. Honestly, it felt a little like cheating to be surrounded by English-speaking Americans, but we quickly got over it and embraced all the benefits they had to offer, such as group outings to breweries and massages in the spa.

While traveling, it's important for us to have as authentic an experience as possible (which is sometimes tough when we don't speak the language and visit primarily tourist locations). In particular, we really try to eat local food. Being in an American resort presented an interesting challenge. But, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, so we didn't feel too bad about eating hamburgers in the resort bar and grill to the "ear-pleasing" sounds of karaoke (a girl was actually singing "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music when we walked in).

Despite being very close to Germany's highest point the Zugspitze, the cloudy weather dictated that we visit the Partnach Gorge the following day instead. It was extremely beautiful, and I'm glad I had my rain jacket with me from the spray from the rushing water.

We had a schedule to keep and weren't able to enjoy nature's bounty all day, though, and prepared to head back to the resort. However, as we walked to the bus stop, a sign stopped us in our tracks.

Anyone who has ever lived or traveled near mountains in Europe is probably familiar with rodelbahn. Basically, it's a summer luge with go-karts that travel on a metal track and is pretty much the coolest thing ever. We made time for a quick trip down the hill, which was just as awesome as I remember rodelbahn to be. Serendipity.

After our turn down the hill, we caught a slightly later bus back to the resort and arrived in plenty of time for our couples' massage (happy birthday to me!) and for the group outing to a local brewery where we were treated to a tour from the braumeister himself.

Now, we've toured many a brewery, albeit never one in Germany. It was interesting to compare, and we discovered that it really wasn't that different from most American craft breweries after all. Wolfgang, the braumeister, shared lots of information about his brewing process and beer-making in general (we had to take a quiz at the end), which he interspersed with several tastings.

"Beer shots" at Braueri Griesbrau
We enjoyed a traditional German meal and took notes for the brewery we are going to open someday when we retire. Jon even got to talk shop with Wolfgang, who was impressed with Jon's beer knowledge and experience. It was a perfect way to end our time in Germany. Next stop: Italy.

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