Merry Christmas and Happy New Years, friends! I realize that wishing you a happy holidays in the middle of January qualifies me as a late bloomer but I wish it all the same! And not to make any excuses, but I was a very busy girl for this holiday season, running around the country side of Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Munich and Innsbruck with Jesse, my new family and SURPRISE- MY SISTER!
Arin, Jesse, my family and his family were all in on the big surprise! She flew into Vienna the day before we left for Garmisch. I cried like a big baby as she walked around the corner of our neighborhood market. I actually shouted for joy, and in German surprisingly, "MEINE SCHWESTER IST HIER!" (look how great my german is coming along!).
After hugging and kissing her cold face for a solid 20 minutes, we all went and picked out our first ever Christmas tree as a married couple. It was a tiny, little chode and I love it with all my heart. And I still do because it's sitting next to me on a pedestal as I write this. I figured we would keep it up until mid March or something and really get our money's worth. Anyway, back to the holidays.
We took Arin to a couple of the Christmas markets, which are on every corner in Vienna and I can't say that I hate it. These markets are full of beautiful Christmas ornaments, little knick-knacks, hats and gloves, toys and games , candies and treats, oh and all the delicious fooooooooood, like cured meats and cheeses, giant doughy pretzels, goulasch and soups, and weiners and langos.
We had some Christmas gluhwein and punsch which is hot wine mixed with sweet berries and a simple syrup, delicious. We also ate some langos which is fried flat bread that has been SMOTHERED in garlic and butter. WHAT?? Amazing. Horrible breath afterwards but completely worth the dragon breath.
First stop: Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Germany
The very next day we headed to Garmisch, which is about a 5-hour bus trip. This is where Jesse's Oma and Opa live. We decided to go with the bus instead of renting a car or flying because number one budgets are real, number two, each ticket cost a whopping 30 euros (that's really cheap) and number three we could sleep comfortably whilst we were driven there. So we took the FlixBus from Vienna to Garmisch, a popular, reliable and cheap option for traveling between countries. Of course, we used Airbnb to rent a flat that was in walking distance to Opa and Oma's house. I wil never not use Airbnb. It's just genius.
Anyways, Garmisch- Partenkirchen is south of Munich, just passed the Austrian border and is quite possibly the cutest, little mountain resort city. There are picturereque mountain views from every point in the city, beautiful gleaming lakes and every little house is the quintesential German cottage/mountain house. It's. just. adorable.
Sadly, Europe is having a hotter than usual winter and there were no snow covered mountains. So that meant no skiing or snowboarding. Or better yet, it meant no attempting to ski or snowboard. Thanks a lot global warming, but seriously thank you cause I might not have made it out alive. But still, it was a beautiful time to be in Garmisch, we were surrounded by all of Jesse's family on Christmas, had the opportunity to commune with one another, took some nice hikes through the mountains and just enjoyed the peace and quiet that this cute little village had to offer.
Second stop: Munich, Germany
After 3 days in Garmisch, we hopped back on the FlixBus and headed for Munich, where Jesse's aunt and uncle live. For me, Munich is quite simliar to Vienna, there's beautiful architecture everywhere, rich history and culture, it's super clean and dare I say, posh?
We ventured out in the city with Jesse's friend who lives in Munich and we went for a walk along the Isar River, where everyone goes to swim and tan in the summer. But instead of tanning, we just watched as two elderly people fed pounds and pounds of bread to what seemed like 10,000 swans, geese and ducks. Honestly, it was scary and I'll never forget it.
We spent another day at Jesse's aunt and uncle's house in the country side, which is too cute for words. The house sits on acres and acres of farmland, untouched woods and creeks and streams. It's a child's dream playground, and we're all really just big kids so it's perfet for us. We went for a long walk, shot some slingshots, played in the woods, foraged for mushrooms, and then warmed up with dinner and hot tea. It's the perfect home for a city getaway.
Third stop: Innsbruck, Austria
Of the three cities, Innsbruck was my favorite. It lies in the valley of the Alps, is Jesse's hometown, and just so happens to be the most Harry Potter-like place I've ever been to, which made it all the more magical. Oddly enough, it was the city I had the least amount of pictures of, maybe because I was just so enamoured and couldn't bother to take any pictures. But besides having gorgeous views everywhere you turn, the historic part of the city is so. freaking. cute and so much fun to get lost in.
Plus you can climb the mountain and ride the Nordkette cable cars up to the tippy top of Hafelekar- 2,256 meters above sea level and have your mind blown by just how amazing and mighty and glorious God is. Standing above all the clouds and noise and mess of the world, makes you feel so content feeling so small and God being so great. It was mind blowing and left all three of us completely in awe. Of all the wonderful moments we shared, it might have been the highlight of the trip.
Looking back on our trip and thinking of the amazing memories we made, makes me feel so warm and tingly inside. I got the chance to explore this big, wide wonderful world with my amazing husband and my awesome sister and still got to "see" my family on Christmas day thanks to FaceTime. I just feel so blessed and beyond grateful for family, adventure and a God who loves us so dearly.