Sasieology

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Posts Tagged ‘germany’

Vegan in Berlin

Posted by Sas on November 29, 2016

I don’t want to write a huge post about vegan travel and my recent trip to Berlin, but I did want to share a couple of photos with you. The people I met up with in Berlin are all omnivore, so we ate in a variety of restaurants. Finding vegan and gluten-free food in Berlin was not difficult, though, and the city is very vegan friendly. I did get a chance to walk out to Schivelbeiner Strasse, which has an entire vegan block. Not only did I eat an amazing lunch at the Goodies café there, I also stocked up on some groceries from Veganz supermarket and spotted some cool street art.

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Berlin

Posted by Sas on November 22, 2016

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The first time I visited Berlin was 1992. It was my first ever trip abroad, and my parents had taken me on a coach trip. The Berlin Wall had not long come down. In fact, from what I can remember, there were large parts of it still up. Residents had simply bulldozed through the bits where they needed access. I don’t remember a huge amount else about Berlin. There are certain places that I can recall, almost like snapshots in my mind. I remember the Brandenburg Gate, but that image could have stuck in my brain more because of the jigsaw puzzle of it that my parents bought for me. I also remember that, along the avenue stretching out from the Brandenburg Gate, there were lots of people selling souvenirs from stalls. I think all of them gave you the opportunity to buy a ‘piece of the actual wall’. Even in my young mind back then, I realised that if you pieced all those little bits of cement back together, you could probably rebuild the Berlin Wall ten times over. I imagine there were a few building sites doing a roaring trade in construction trash.

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When I told friends that I would be returning to Berlin after so long, they all commented on how different it would seem to me. I was expecting the city to have changed a lot in all that time, and to have built up a lot more, but I wasn’t prepared for just how big a change it would be.

I was meeting two friends who had flown in from Switzerland, and when one of them suggested we meet at the Starbucks next to the Brandenburg gate, I should have had a suspicion I was in for a shock. Back in 1992, I don’t know if there was anywhere in the area you could buy any coffee, let alone a Starbucks. My memory of the Brandenburg Gate was that it was by far the biggest thing in the area, and stood out from the other few buildings around it. I was more than a little confused, therefore, when it took me so long to find the damn thing. I knew from my map that I couldn’t be far away, but I couldn’t see any landmarks that I remembered from my earlier visit. It was only when I eventually saw the Gate that I realised why. Not only has the city built up around the Gate, and I was soon to discover other landmarks in Berlin, they have literally built huge embassies up to within inches of it. The Gate is now dwarfed by the massive structures around it. And the long, empty avenue containing just souvenir stalls that I remember has been replaced with trees, parks and a wide, busy road. As I sat sipping on my soya milk latte, waiting for my friends, I wondered at how amazing it is that a city and community can change so dramatically in such a relatively short space of time.

I wish I could have had longer in Berlin, but unfortunately I was only there for less than 48 hours. To make the most of our time, and to see as much of the city as possible, my friends and I decided to go on a walking tour with Original Europe Tours. Free walking tours have become a bit of an obsession of mine this year, I’m now looking out for them every time I travel. Berlin has different walking tours that you can choose from. We opted for a traditional tour that takes you around the landmarks that tell the history of the city. Most of that story of course revolves around how Germany was once a divided country, and the reasons for building the wall and then destroying it again. I wish I could say that in Europe we have learnt from that experience, but unfortunately as I type this our government here in the UK are busy building a wall between England and France. As if that isn’t a crazy enough concept in 2016, it’s a border that we’ve already dug a huge tunnel under ourselves!

Although very little of the Wall remains in today’s Berlin, and what does is presented as pieces of art, there are reminders of it everywhere. Germany has done an outstanding job of embracing their history, both positive and negative. Where the Wall has completely been demolished, a simple line of bricks in the ground mark it’s location. This line once separated two very different communities. The poorer, decaying buildings of the east side of the city that I remember from my first visited can still be spotted here and there, but generally both sides of the divide have rebuilt and developed beyond what anyone could have dreamed in the 1980s.

Following our excellent guide Ben around the city, what fascinated me most is the individual stories. I can’t imagine the desperation that drove so many people to risk their lives by crossing to the west. One of the displays, of which there are many dotted around the city, shows an endless loop of film footage of an eastern soldier running over the border and jumping on a passing tram whilst he was carrying out maintenance. He literally just dropped the tool he was using and took his chance. Other people are known to have chopped the roof of their cars so they would fit under barriers. A lot of the stories are incredibly sad. One young man suffered a horrible, slow death caught on the barbed wire between the two zones because neither the east nor west soldiers could decided who should go in to help him. The last person to have been killed trying to cross the border was a man who was shot swimming across the narrow river, a popular choice of escape. He was killed only 10 days before the wall came down. It’s unbelievably sat to think that, if he had only decided to delay his attempt by another couple of weeks, he would have been reunited with the friends and family that he was so desperately trying to reach on the other side.

I was surprised that the original Checkpoint Charlie has all but been destroyed, to be replaced by a tacky, tourist-attracting version that looks like something out of a weird Disneyland ride. Checkpoint Charlie was one of the main crossing points on the border, and the most famous. Knocking it down completely is to me like knocking down the Brandenburg Gate, but obviously Germany has decided they would rather let two actors dress as soldiers and charge tourists to have their photo taken with them.

Making the decisions on what to keep, what to memorialise and what to get rid off must have been a tough task for Berlin and it’s inhabitants. I’m pretty sure that, if this was the history of the UK we were talking about, we’d still be at the stage of making ‘ideas committees’. They’ve done a really good job, though. Berlin today is as exciting for me as it was for that little 12 year old who had never travelled abroad before. It is a genuine city that never sleeps, there is something there for everyone 24 hours a day. And I feel honoured to have experienced the city at two very different  points in its life.

 

 

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Cologne: Beyond the Cathedral

Posted by Sas on June 7, 2016

DSC_0769Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city, and therefore bigger than Frankfurt. The layout of the city somehow makes it feel smaller. One thing there is a lot more of in Cologne is tourists, and the main reason for that is the cathedral. The gigantic structure towers over the city. It took 600 years to build, although admittedly for 300 of those years almost no building work was carried out. I didn’t go inside the cathedral, but I was impressed by the detail and skill demonstrated on the outside of the building.

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A great way to see the city is with the Can You Handle It? free walking tour, which meets outside McDonalds in Rudolf Platz every day at 12noon and 4pm. Be aware that it is a long walking tour, and we were with our guide Helgi for more than 3 hours.

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Since it was bombed during World War II, there isn’t much of the old town left. Most of Cologne was destroyed within just 90 minutes of one bombing raid. It is believed that Cologne wasn’t actually the Allied’s target that night, but bad weather forced them to change their plans. It’s bizarre to think that, if the weather had been clearer, the architecture of Cologne would now look totally different.

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Helgi told us about how Cologne was quickly rebuilt after the war, plainer and simpler buildings being more efficient than recreating their elaborate predecessors. I still think there is beauty in these purpose-built structures though, especially when I compare them to the pre-fab buildings that made up part of my middle school in England.

Frankfurt and Cologne have a lot in common. There is a bridge with love locks here too, although the sheer number of padlocks in Cologne compared to Frankfurt suggests that Cologne city council are not so concerned about the potential dangers. In fact, Helgi told us that the locks are more likely to be removed by people scavenging the metal to sell.

Gunter Demnig’s stumbling blocks are also dotted all over Cologne, and their locations give an indication of how the layout of the city has changed.

The basement of the NS Dokumentationszentrum houses an insight into Cologne’s third reich history. It was used as the local gestapo prison where people were interrogated, tortured and killed, executions often occurring in the courtyard. Inscriptions written by prisoners can still be seen on the basement walls, the last one reading ‘I think I can see an American soldier’.

One curious aspect of Cologne that I had to ask Helgi about is the green man signs for crossing the roads. In every other European city I have visited there is one green man and one red man instructing you when it is safe to cross the road. In Cologne, however, there are two red men and one green man. Helgi told me that he had heard various reasons as to why this is, but the most probable is that it saves money. Traffic lights usually come in sets of three, so rather then spend money requesting sets of two lights for the pedestrian crossings the city of Cologne thought they’d save a few euros by bulk ordering.

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Like all good holiday destinations, Cologne has it’s own local tipple. Kölsch is a light and hoppy beer served in 0.2l measures. In a lot of bars in Cologne, you will automatically be served Kölsch upon arrival. When your glass is empty, the server will replace it with a fresh one. When you are finished drinking, you indicate this by placing your beer mat on top of your glass. It seems a bit unhygienic to me, but I guess it avoids having to queue at the bar or attract the server’s attention.

All I need is for the breweries of Cologne to develop a gluten-free version of Kölsch, and it would be a strong contender for my favourite city in Europe.

 

Useful Info

We travelled from Frankfurt to Cologne with blablacar. It was a very last minute decision, and a totally new experience for me. For only ∈9 per person we got an efficient transfer in a nice car with a friendly local, and we also got to know our other travelling companion in the car.

Train one-way Cologne to Frankfurt approx. ∈49.

Can You Handle It? walking tour is free, but tipping is strongly recommended.

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The Many Sides to Frankfurt

Posted by Sas on May 17, 2016

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As much as I love ticking famous landmarks and tourist attractions off my bucket list when I visit new places, I also like to see and experience their other sides. Having grown up in a tourist town myself, I am very aware that what most tourists see is only a small part of a town or city. For the people who live there, life is far from a vacation.

During my time in Frankfurt, I signed up for the Frankfurt Free Alternative Walking Tour. Organised and guided by a group of students, the free walking tour aims to give visitors an insight into the different neighbourhoods of Frankfurt and what it’s like to live there. Well known sights such as the old town, the Iron Bridge and the river Main are included. However, the guides also show you areas of the city that might not be an obvious choice for some.

Like most cities, Frankfurt has its fair share of problems. Unlike most cities, Frankfurt takes a very positive approach to tackling these issues. When drug use became more and more common in the city, moving around from area to area as each neighbourhood was gentrified and addicts were moved on to somewhere else, the city council designated an area where taking drugs is not illegal. Covering about 4 blocks, it is still against the law to sell and possess drugs, but drug users can feel safer in the knowledge they will not be arrested for a being a victim to their addiction. This approach to the problem puts the responsibility on to the drug dealers, not the users, who are after all the people that the police really want to target. There are ‘shooting galleries’ where drug users can obtain clean needles and use a clean, private space in which to inject. These centres also make it easier for people to receive medical attention should anything go wrong, and deaths from overdoses have greatly reduced since Frankfurt initiated  the policy. The acceptance of  drug use in Frankfurt has also led to another loophole in the law. Urinating in the street is illegal in Germany. Just like drug taking, though, the city council and police still know it’s going to happen. Rather than trying to stop people from doing it, they have instead constructed urinals in the streets. The small structures have been tastefully designed, and if you didn’t know what they are you could be forgiven for thinking they are works of modern art. Whilst I was on the walking tour I witnessed one young man crossing the road to use one of the urinals. Having witnessed many men in Cardiff, where I live, peeing wherever they stood, I can’t help but think this tactic would work in other cities too.

Our next stop on the tour was the red light district. Prostitution is something that is legal in Germany, so seeing brothels in the city is not so much of a surprise. Our guide showed us the outside of one of the biggest brothels in Europe. Unfortunately, I was unable to take any photos as the brothel is rumoured to be owned by the Hell’s Angels and they have previously requested that people don’t photograph the building. It reminded me of something you would see on Route 66, with mannequins  in outrageous costumes displayed on the balconies alongside the residents’ drying laundry. The building is huge, and as a legal business they must pay taxes. Apparently, the German government earns millions of euros per year just from this one brothel. Although there are usually no female visitors allowed, Frankfurt has an annual evening where brothels are encouraged to open their doors to everyone. This means you can speak to the women who work there directly and ask any questions you may have about their life and occupation. Just like the city’s approach to drug use, I wonder if this more open approach to the oldest job in the world might work elsewhere.

Usually when walking through cities you are encouraged to look up and observe the buildings and features that you might otherwise miss. In Germany, one artist encourages you to look down. Berlin-born Gunter Demnig is the man behind the idea to place small brass stolpersteine (‘stumbling blocks’) outside where people killed by the Nazis once lived. Once you’ve had one of the blocks pointed out, you realise they are everywhere. And not just in Frankfurt, many cities in Germany and other European countries have joined in with the project. The plaques give the name of the individual, date of birth, date of death and how they died, if that information is available. As you would expect, many of the plaques are in memory of Jews killed in concentration camps. The first group of people to be murdered by the Nazis was actually the gypsy community, and they were soon followed by homosexuals and anyone with physical disabilities or mental health problems. Basically, anyone who did not fit the ideal of the regime was a target. Some people think it disrespectful to remember the victims with these plaques, and don’t believe we should walk over them. The artist’s intention, though, was that we should walk over them. They are made from brass so that, as more and more pedestrians brush over the plaques, the more they shine. The stumbling blocks are a reminder that, as we go about our lives, we should never forget the victims of past mistakes. Modern Germany has accepted its past and the errors made by some of its country men and women. Hopefully, with the help of thinkers and artists such as Gunter Demnig, we will learn not to repeat the same mistakes.

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If you are interested in art, there are lots of examples around Frankfurt. My personal favourite is the spidermen. A group of art students placed 8 models of the superhero around the city. Good luck spotting all 8 of them, though. Our guide told us that, even though they walk around the city every day with visitors, they have only been able to spot 3 of the spidermen.

Drug addicts, brothels and maybe even spidermen might not be on your wishlist when you visit Frankfurt, but I would definitely recommend the Frankfurt Free Alternative Walking Tour. The guides have nothing but respect for all the inhabitants of Frankfurt, and simply want to show a balanced representation of the city. Spending an afternoon with them has encouraged me to seek out other alternative walking tours when on my travels.

 

Useful Info:

The Frankfurt Free Alternative Walking Tour is, of course, free but tipping is strongly recommended. The walk lasts 2-2.5 hours.

 

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The Highlights of Frankfurt

Posted by Sas on May 10, 2016

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As a lot of keen travellers will know, there are some trips that you plan for years. You dream about where you’re going, wondering who you’ll meet and what experiences you’ll have. You save every spare penny, living off instant noodles if it means you’re one step closer to getting that ticket. Then, there are some trips that simply fall into your lap like a gift from the god of adventurers. I’ve just come back from a great city break in Germany that definitely falls into the latter category. A friend of mine is working in Frankfurt-am-Main for 3 months, and invited me to fly out to visit her. Naturally, I said yes immediately

As a local student said to me whilst I was there, Frankfurt isn’t a place people visit unless they have a specific reason to. And that’s true. It’s not a big tourist destination, and there are no attractions that are targeted with luring the visitors in. What Frankfurt is is a busy, business-orientated, working city. If you want to know what it’s really like to live in a European city in the modern world, this is the place to come. I’ll be talking more about the different sides to Frankfurt in a later post, but for now I wanted to concentrate on the highlights of Frankfurt that should be on everyone’s bucket list when planning a trip there.

The fifth biggest city in Germany, Frankfurt is a capital of finance and business. It is home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges as well as the European Central Bank. Of the 5 million inhabitants, over half are immigrants. Once a Roman garrison town, about 80% of the medieval city centre was destroyed and 1000 people were killed by Allied bombs in 1944.

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It’s really easy to get around Frankfurt. I walked to most places, but the S bahn and U bahn are both fairly easy to navigate. Or you can hire a bike. There are bike lanes all over the city, which actually join up to each other (believe me, anyone else who lives in Cardiff will understand my amazement at this). Be careful if you are on foot, though, as the bike lanes often look like part of the pavement.

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Although the city walls are long gone, Frankfurt does still have an old town. Where the walls once stood is now a strip of parkland, which adds a nice touch of green to the city. Although the old town looks authentically quaint and historical, most of it was rebuilt after Frankfurt was bombed during the war. The one mainly original building is the Alte Nikolaikirche. You’d like to think that the bombers left the church alone as a sign of respect, but alas the truth is that they simply used the church spire as a navigation point and destroying it would have caused them an inconvenience.

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Aside from the old town, in my opinion the other scenic area of Frankfurt is the River Main. Tree-lined park areas line the river on both sides, and are set below street level so you really feel like you’re getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are a few points at which you can cross the river, but by far the most interesting is the Iron Bridge. Following a trend that seems popular in a lot of European cities, couples engrave their names onto padlocks then lock them onto the bridge. They throw the key into the river, supposedly sealing their love for eternity. As has  happened in other cities, the custom has become so popular that the number of padlocks poses a risk to the structure of the bridge. Since an incident in Paris where part of a bridge fell into the water under the weight of all the relationships, Frankfurt council have taken the decision to remove old locks after a period of time. I don’t know what this means for the future of those couples whose locks have been sawn off, but I did spot a few padlocks that had combinations instead of keys so I’m not sure all the couples had so much faith in their relationship in the first place!

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Running along both sides of the river is the museum embankment, where most  of Frankfurt’s museums have been handily condensed into one easy-to-navigate strip. There are lots of museums here, covering history, modern art, Jewish life, film and architecture. Unfortunately, some of the museums were closed when I was there and I didn’t have as much time as I’d have liked to explore the ones that were open. I did manage to get to the German Film Museum, which houses an impressive permanent collection telling the story of every aspect and department that must come together to make a movie. The also had a temporary collection, ‘Zusammen sammeln’, which gave a fascinating insight into our personal relationships with film. The museum asked film fans to lend them their souvenirs of movies, and the range and number of responses they got is incredible. From scrap books filled with ticket stubs to a replica Darth Vader mask used in rehearsals on the Star Wars set, anyone who has ever seen a film will find something in the exhibition that will bring back nostalgia and emotion.

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For a city that’s ‘not really for tourists’, there sure is a lot to see and do in Frankfurt. I could have happily spent another couple of days exploring the city and visiting museums.

 

Useful info:

Return flight Bristol to Frankfurt with Lufthansa: £250 -£300

S bahn Frankfurt airport to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (city centre): 4.65 euros one-way

2 nights in a 12 bed dormitory at United Hostel Frankfurt: 34 euros

Joint entrance to permanent and temporary exhibitions, German Film Museum: 10 euros

 

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I still dream of snow

Posted by Sas on January 2, 2013

This is the time of year that I miss working seasons the most. The rest of the year, I’m glad that I no longer have to work eighty hour weeks and deal with grumpy tourists and their comedic mishaps. At Christmas and New Year, however, I really would rather be working abroad. If I could just go back there for two weeks of the year, I would. Spending Christmas in ski resorts always seemed so much more genuine than my experience of the holidays here in the UK. For a start, everyone in resort has to carry on working over Christmas, and it’s the busiest time of the ski season, so you don’t have time to plan much. Friends, colleagues and sometimes complete strangers come together to make the most of the spare time you do have. You share the chores and cobble together a Christmas dinner with what you can find in the local shops. You might even have a Secret Santa to make sure that everyone has a present to open. And then there’s the snow. Not the mushy, grey stuff that we sometimes get here in the UK, but proper snow. Snow that you can ski on, which is a great way to de-stress when you do manage to get some time off. Skiing was one of the hardest parts of my old life that I had to leave behind. Every year, at the start of the ski season, I ask myself if I made the right decision. Then I remember those tourists and airport runs at four in the morning after two hours sleep and decide that yes, coming back to the UK definitely was the right choice. Although I don’t get to ski anywhere near as much as I used to anymore, or as much as I’d like, I do make the effort to get back on my skis whenever I can.

I first visited Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, about 5 years ago. At the time I was working as a travel rep in Seefeld, just over the border in Austria. The company I was working for had reluctantly sent me to Seefeld for the final six weeks of the ski season to cover someone who had resigned. Their reluctance was no reflection on my ability to do my job, they were just adamant that an alpine skier like myself would not enjoy working in Seefeld. The resort is sold as being a ‘winter wonderland’ destination, which in travel company talk means that there’s not much skiing to be had. I seemed the only person to not be concerned. I figured that if I couldn’t alpine ski, I’d just learn to do whatever it is that is popular in Seefeld. That turned out to be cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing.

When I arrived in Seefeld, it soon became apparent that I was indeed the first serious alpine skier to be sent there. I loved it, though. Although the alpine ski area isn’t that big, it’s good fun, and I was determined to get the most out of it. So one of my first errands was to claim my free (well, technically – we had to work our arses off in return for all the ‘free’ stuff we got) area lift pass. What did surprise me was that I was the first rep to actually ask for a full area pass. The mountain owner looked genuinely shocked when I asked to see him, but his shock soon turned to excitement when he realised he was in the presence of a rep who could promote his mountain, and he eagerly told me about all the benefits of his lift pass. One of which was that it covered ski areas other than Seefeld, including Garmisch-Partenkirchen. I didn’t have to be told twice. I begged a day off from my manager, and jumped on a train over the border.
That first day’s experience of Garmisch-Partenkirchen would have been perfect, had I been able to see anything. Unfortunately, it was a complete white-out. I still managed to get some skiing in, but I decided to call it a day when, whilst skiing on the glacier, I stopped for a breather and looked down to see that my skis were dangling precariously over the edge of something.
I promised myself that one day I would return to Garmish-Partenkirchen and see what the place actually looked like. Hence the reason I returned this March for four days skiing.

So imagine my dismay when I arrived into the town to find it grey, drizzly and the mountains invisible behind a cloak of cloud. I was starting to wonder if Garmisch-Partenkirchen always looked like this. Maybe even the locals had never seen the mountains.

I tentatively opened the curtains the next morning to check the weather. I could not contain my excitement when I saw bright sunshine and clear skies, and I raced down to breakfast to fuel up before heading out skiing.

Zugspitze Glacier

There are two ski areas accessible from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Garmisch-Classic area and the Zugspitze glacier. Click here to see the piste map of the area. The Zahnradbahn connects the areas via one of the coolest train journeys I’ve ever been on. From the main station in the town centre, the train makes it’s way along the valley floor, stopping at Hausberg and Kreuzeck/Alpspitze, from where you can access the Garmisch-Classic area. If you’re too impatient to wait for the train, there is also a local ski bus that will take you to these access points. After travelling down the valley to Eibsee, the train then continues it’s journey to the glacier via a tunnel through the mountain. There’s also the option to travel over the mountain, by the Eibsee gondola and then the Gletscherbahn cable car. This will take you via the top of the Zugspitze, the highest point in Germany. On the return journey, a lot of people choose to get off the train at Riffelriss and race it down red 30 to the Eibsee stop. If you are planning to take the train to the top of the glacier, be aware that the journey time from the main train station is 1hr 15mins.

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The highest house in Germany!

If you’re an adrenaline-seeking, off-piste nutcase on snow, then you’ll probably get bored very quickly in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The only black runs are a few home runs. If you’re looking for somewhere to have a few, fun days skiing, I would highly recommend it. Although a small area compared to some of it’s neighbouring resorts in Austria, most of the runs are graded as red and there is lots of different terrain to explore. It’s spread out, too, so you don’t just feel like you’re skiing up and down the same bit of snow. The glacier is also home to one of the best terrain parks I’ve ever seen.

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Garmisch and Partenkirchen were separate towns for centuries. In 1935, their respective mayors were forced by Adolf Hitler to combine the two towns in preparation for the 1936 Winter Olympic Games, the first to feature alpine skiing incidentally. The united town is quite often just referred to as Garmisch, an offence to the people of Partenkirchen. I must admit that, until my visit this year, I was also guilty of this.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen itself is definitely more of a working, living town than a ski resort. The shops all close at five, and I was amazed to discover that nowhere sold ski wax. There are plenty of restaurants to visit in the evenings, and if you’re thirsty after a hard days skiing, the Irish bar is definitely worth a visit. Your guest card also allows you one free entry to the local swimming baths, a great way to relax after a day on the slopes. Their hot pool is as good as any ski massage. All in all, I’m glad I gave Garmisch-Partenkirchen another chance.

Easyjet fly from London Gatwick to Munich and Innsbruck, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is about halfway between the two.

From Munich airport, take the Lufthansa bus (German bus stops are marked by a green H in a yellow circle) to the main train station (€10.50). There’s a bus every 20 minutes, and it’s a 45 minute journey to the station. There’s a direct train from Munich to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and it costs €19 single fare.

Similarly, from Innsbruck airport catch the local bus to the main train station. The train from Innsbruck to Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also direct, and costs €15.10 single fare.

I stayed in a private en-suite room at Hostel 2962, a two minute walk from the train station. I booked the room through booking.com, and it was a bargain at €235 for 5 nights bed and breakfast. The hostel was excellent, and booking.com has lots of other cheap accommodation options to choose from.

At the moment, I have no plans to go skiing this season, but I am determined to get my skis back on my feet before the end of the winter. Even if it means me flying over to Innsbruck, visiting my family there and heading out to one of the local slopes, I will get there. Besides, my brother sent me some videos of my four-year-old nephew skiing at the weekend, and I think I need to practice before he gets better than me! I still dream of (skiable) snow on an almost daily basis during the winter, but when it starts to get me down I remind myself of the reasons I moved back to the UK and everything I’ve achieved since I did. Who knows, maybe one day I will make it back there for a whole season?

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Travel Theme: White

Posted by Sas on September 21, 2012

This week’s travel theme from Ailsa is White.

My favourite white thing in the whole wide world is snow. I don’t mean the slushy, grey stuff that brings the UK to a screeching halt most winters. I mean high mountain, virgin, clean, pure white snow that I can ski on.

When I stand at the top of the piste, I know how privileged I am to be allowed to travel down one of Mother Nature’s beautiful creations, the mountain, on two planks of wood and fibreglass. As much as it’s my playground, I also have ultimate respect for the mountain and planet Earth. To me, there is no more peaceful and honest moment. Before I commit to my descent, I say a prayer to Mother Nature. For she is the one who will protect me, as long as I respect her whilst I am laid bare on her mountain.

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