One of my all-time favorite Christmas holidays - we spent a week in the Bavarian Alps in Germany, and did a 4km long toboggan run...awesome!
On a Personal Note
Tis the season where I'm starting to feel whimsical. I love the holiday season. When we lived in England for 4 years, one of the things I became aware of was the distinct differences in seasons that we'd had in Canada. I admit, that I really, really missed having a white Christmas.
I'm so glad that my inlaws are coming to spend 3 weeks with us in December (they arrive tomorrow), fully immersed in a cold and snowy Canadian winter. They are so young at heart, and willing to try almost anything. Believe me, we have a full itinerary of winter and festive activities lined up for them - because we want to be good hosts of course. But we're also hoping to share some of the magic of the season with them. And living so far from our families, it will be nice to simply talk in the same time zone :)
One of our most memorable Christmases was the first one I spent in the UK. I got to experience the holiday joy through my nieces Megan & Bethany (then 5 and 8). We were surrounded by Paul's family, immersed in the warmth of enjoying each other's company. On Boxing day, we flew to the picturesque city of Hildesheim to spend time with my Grandmother. It was wonderful to visit her, as it was one of the last years before she fully succumbed to dementia and no longer recognized us. On a brighter note, it was lovely to see the beautiful historic city that I'd visited so many times in the summer, completely transformed during the holiday season.
Paul and I made a decision that every time we visited my Oma in Germany, we would also make an effort to see somewhere new. We took the train from Northern Germany down to Munich, where we ventured further into the Bavarian Alps to spend a week over New Year's Eve in the city of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Unlike purpose-built ski villages like Big White and Mont Tremblent, which are charming in their own way, there is nothing that compares to the old world charm of an alpine city that thrives even in the depths of winter. It amazed us that locals waited for buses in their ski boots, en route to ski hills and glaciers that were accessible by local transit and then a gondola ride, not by driving for an hour in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. There is a certain "realness" about what could easily have been a charming tourist ski resort town, that not only had gift shops, spas and b&bs, but churches, schools, libraries and hockey rinks. In fact, we went to a hockey game of SC Reisesee vs Fussen - the rowdy German fans were known to throw their beer steins onto the ice during play - crazy!
New Year's Eve was spent bundled up outdoors as we joined the locals to drink gluhwein and eat pretzels at make-shift street stalls, where a marching band um-pa-pahed it's way through the narrow cobblestone lanes, and kids set off fireworks in the streets.
On January 1st, while so many folks were nursing hang-overs and breaking their New Year's resolutions, we spent the day outdoors, at the World Cup Ski Jumping a 15-minute walk from our Gasthaus.
But that wasn't the highlight of our trip to Bavaria. Nor was the skiing. Not even the hearty, wholesome food that Germans serve up with the beer at beautiful slopeside chalets. (Did I mention that we sat in the sunshine and ate outdoors when it was -10*C???) It was the hours we spent laughing hysterically like kids as we rocketted down the 7km long "toboggan run", winding through the forests on snow covered hiking trails, dodging trees, brave winter hikers, and slaloming around other dislodged sledders.
IT WAS A BLAST! So good that we thought we'd share it with you. (Yes, Paul was crazy enough to sled down the "rodelbahn" run single-handedly driving his old-fashioned wooden sled while filming the run with our poor battered old compact digital camera.)
In fact, it was one of my top 5 all-time favorite activities. (I'm hoping that my husband's bucket-list wish of doing a bobsled run in Calgary on Dec 31st this year will live up to the benchmark we've set.)
With loads of holiday love,
Paul & Angelique
P.S. What YOUR favorite holiday memory?