Originally published 31 December 2016
Savory crepes and beer for lunch!
We're in the alps...and it's cold here. We expected this...it's winter after all! But the cold weather brings some things that can only happen in the winter. It does, however, remind us of our thin southern blood.
Neither of us shakes off the cold like we used to. But it allows one of our stops today, which is a stop on the ski jumping tour here in Europe! We're talking about those guys at the Olympics that fly through the air and everyone says "that's insane!" Yeah...that kind of ski jumping.
We had showers and breakfast in our apartment then head out and wander through a church graveyard across the street from us. It is interesting to both of us to prowl around something so...human. It's kind of like going to the grocery store....we all eat. It's something we all share. Going to the cemetery is something we all share as well.
We wander among the rows, looking at the names and small items left by family members. Like much of Europe, a small plot (maybe 4x5) houses the remains of sometimes an entire family. Cremation is the norm here and sometimes the ashes of several generations are all in the same plot. The Germans are quite efficient at many things, including death.
I read a bit on this and the German funeral industry is quite well connected politically. There are laws on the books in Germany that the ashes of a person can only be handled or transferred by someone licensed by the Government. You can't just throw them in checked baggage and bring 'em with you.
In a cemetery, in the shadow of Zugspitze
In the U.S., someone can scatter someone's ashes pretty much wherever they want. Not so in Germany. If you want to scatter someone's ashes here, the law states that you mush ship their ashes to a funeral company in Germany, and they must receive them for you and then transfer them to you.
You must then pay for the privilege of scattering them in a field that they designate. This whole process requires reams of paperwork and many thousand euros. Some people do smuggle in ashes and scatter them on their own, but it is illegal. These same laws have inspired many Germans to go to countries around Germany where the practice is legal, and scatter the ashes there.
From there we head to the bus stop near our apartment where the shuttle to the ski jump is supposed to run every ten minutes. We arrive to a very big group of people standing around waiting on a shuttle bus. We wait for 10 minutes Then 20 minutes. Then 30. I told Laurie we're giving them 5 minutes and we're starting off on foot.
During World War II, it is my understanding from my studies that the Germans had been trained to hold in place and await orders when their command and control structure was compromised (leaders were killed). The Americans, when in the same situation, were trained that authority fell to the next man down the line and they were to attack. Allied units would roll right over top of a German unit awaiting direction.
We watched these people continue to wait, even though it was obvious the bus wasn't coming as promised. We decided to attack. We broke ranks and started walking. After that, 6 of the Germans started following us....although they were lucky enough to hail a cab. We lucked upon a shuttle bus in another part of town and made it to the stadium for the ski jumping. We saw a German couple at the event that was waiting on the bus. Turns out they waited another 20 minutes until it showed up.
At the Four Hills Ski Jumping tournament!
I had ordered tickets online when we were still in the states. German sports events are not like the U.S. sports events. Tickets do not cost an arm and a leg. Our tickets for two days were 26 bucks, and if buying in advance, you had to buy both days. We decided to pick one day when we got here and go on that day. We decided to go to the qualifying jumps on New Years eve instead of the actual championships on New Years day.
Our logic on this was twofold. We've seen the crowds that are here for this event, and they are not to be taken lightly. The place is covered up with people. It's difficult to get around on the promised shuttles, and the city bus runs less often than Santa Clause. The free bus pass that comes with your accommodations is pretty worthless. We've found taxis to be cheap and reliable here.
The second reason is that we wanted to go up Zugspitze one day while we were here. We decided the best day to do that would be on the day that everyone else was at the ski jumping championships. So....you know what we're up to tomorrow. Anyways...back to today.
The ski jumping, by Laurie's account, was kind of like watching golf. You got to watch them jump for a few seconds, then you wait. The most fun was experiencing the whole thing. We had crepes and beer for lunch, and I bought a souvenir hat.
I didn't know there were two American jumpers until they were announced during competition, although the souvenir wagon didn't have any American souvenirs. They had a ton of European souvenirs because very few Americans would attend. I bought a Team Germany hat, figuring (incorrectly) that since there weren't U.S. jumpers, I'd root for the home team.
We wound up hanging out with the crowd for a few hours taking the whole thing in. We watched the jumpers (they're insane), and watched fans from almost every country in Europe, and a few from Asia. When their team was jumping, each country would blow horns, yell, and wave flags. Our tickets were not the fancy tickets, they were down in the pit where all the people were.
The sun dropped below the ridgeline and it suddenly dropped 10 degrees. It was COLD. We decided to beat the crowd out and head back to town. We boarded a crowded shuttle bus back to the train station. From there we began wandering the town.
Fans come from all over Europe to support their country's jumpers
We had a beer and a sausage for a snack. We wandered a while longer and picked a place for dinner. We wound up at a restaurant in a hotel (these are usually quite good here) and had a very German meal. Laurie had goulash and dumplings and I had a beef dish with dumplings. It was very good, and we finished off with a very sinful Apple fritter desert that was to die for.
We realize it is New Years Eve, but it's in the teens here and we're too old to get frostbite. We decide to be old fuddy duddies and head back to the apartment. We have a big day planned tomorrow and will be getting up at 6:30 on New Years day. We're going to make an early evening of it.
While sitting here writing the blog, I hear a brass band. We look out our window and there is a ten or twelve piece band playing traditional songs for a family across the street. The leader then gives a speech, and best I could tell it had something to do with leaving this year and coming into another. The intent was clear, that it was to wish someone a good new year. We're staying out in a neighborhood. This is something we would not have seen if we had stayed in a hotel. It was cool.
Happy new year everyone! We're turning in early and climbing the mountain tomorrow! Goodnight!
Garmisch Slide Show Day Two
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