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Part 1: Operation Iraqi Freedom vacation - in Europe!

Author: Ben Shakman (More Trip Reviews by Ben Shakman)
Date of Trip: March 2006

We did not do too much else based on the hour when we got back to the hotel and our general state of exhaustion. We had a simple and mediocre dinner at Edelweiss' buffet and then called it a night so that we would be well-rested for the next day's events.

March 24th (Day 7)
Finally, time to go skiing! I woke the family up early so that we could eat a hot breakfast at the buffet in Edelweiss' restaurant. Afterwards, we headed over to Hapsburg so that we could pick up our skis, boots, and poles before heading to the Zugspitze to link Charleen up with her instructor for a half-day private lesson. We arrived just as the equipment rental place (part of Edelweiss) opened and were their first customers. I learned that there was a problem with the lesson that I had reserved the day before and wound up agreeing to a full-day private lesson instead. Our instructor was named Dasha and was a native of Russia, by way of NJ. She was extremely friendly with the kids and great to learn from.

We followed her in our rental car for the short drive over to the cable car station. From there, we took a cable car up to the highest point in Germany, the Zugspitze. It was an amazing ride and the scenery was unbelievably beautiful. The only down-side: standing room only takes on a new meaning when you are toting kids and skis at the same time. Our next order of business after arriving at the peak was to take another cable car down the other side to the glacier, about 300m below. There are a few ski lifts and a bunch of wide-open runs there. We had a quick meeting and then I took the girls while Dasha and Charleen got to work on getting her on skis after a 10-year hiatius. I made a couple of runs with the kids before Lizzy started to whine about wanting to go warm up in the lodge.

Allison asked me if she could keep skiing and I told her that she could make a couple of more runs on the one lift and that she needed to come in to the restaurant and check in with me in a little while. Charleen and Dasha were practicing on the same run and I did not see any possible down-side to this since there was nowhere she could get lost -- or so I thought. In reality, she missed the restaurant and wound up inside the operator's booth at the 6-person chair lift instead. For some reason, the paging system is not connected to other runs or to the restaurant/lodge building at all. This lead to Dasha and me scouring the ski area for a couple of hours before Dasha finally located her. She was none the worse for wear and insisted on skiing more after lunch (great lunch and reasonably priced).

The end result: Allison had a great time and skied a lot; Lizzy forgot how to ski and did not make that many runs; Charleen was very tired and did not ski much; I had a great time, but did not ski as much as I would have liked. Still, we got to ski in the Alps!

We returned to the hotel and took a quick swim before heading to Gasthof Fraundorfer down on Ludwigstrasse in Partenkirchen. This is a place that we had stumbled upon 10 years ago and I was excited to take the girls there. When Charleen and I were there on our last big European Vacation we were the only Americans in the place -- not so this time around. The place was full of people who I recognized from Edelweiss and I heard virtually nothing but English being spoken in the place. Still, the atmosphere was unchanged. The food was excellent, the entertainment (Bavarian folk dancing and music) captivated the children's attention, and the service was impeccable. I would still recommend this place to anyone visiting Garmisch, but it has become something of a tourist attraction at this point.

The kids, of course, made friends with a little (4-years old, maybe) German boy named Phillipe and spent the evening dancing with him. He even joined us at our table for a little while before his parents decided that it was time to leave. As usual, we took some pictures with he and the girls and bid him adieu.
  • Part 2: The Saga Continues

  • Part 3: Poland and More

  • Part 4: The Adventure Ends

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