Bonjour, Garmisch-Partenkirchen

In the middle of July, my French friends Claire and Estelle came to visit Rosebud and me. They are both Mathematics teachers, and visited me in Indianapolis in 2006. We could never have predicted that Claire and Estelle would be visiting us in Bavaria in 2009! Claire and Estelle were camping near our house here in Bavaria, and then during the day we took several outings together. Our first trip was to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and then on to Walchensee/Kochel.

Since my camera was kaputt by this stage, Claire offered to send me a CD of photos from the trip. I found a letter from Claire in my mailbox today, and she included the picture CD. I selected some of the photographs from Garmisch-Partenkirchen to share. It’s truly a picturesque little town. I think that when we think of Bavaria, the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen epitomizes the style and look of those charming Bavarian homes with their murals painted on the walls.


I especially love this house.
It has many typical Bavarian features, such as the cross-timbered beams, the overhanging roof, the geranium flower boxes and the shutters on the windows. The sign says that it’s the “country home Kuchler” (Landhaus Kuchler) and that you can rent it for your vacation (Ferienwohnung). The shape of this house, however, is unique for a Bavarian home. Most of the homes in our area tend to be quite large and rectangular, as they’re intended for several families to live in. The house in this picture is much smaller and the layout looks different from the typical Bavarian country house. I don’t know about you, but I think it is a very cute home and would be wonderful to rent for a summer or winter vacation in Garmisch.

Here’s one of the tributaries flowing through Garmisch. I never cease to be amazed by the startling clarity and blueness of the water here.


This home, actually a building used for a business, shows the artistry that is evident in the murals.

Here’s another image showing an aspect of a mural:
The woman, dressed in the traditional Tracht – Dirndl costume, is saying (I believe):
“Was thuast di’ so braucha
und hupfst uma dum?
I’ wirkl di’ dengerscht,
um Kagerl rum.”

I honestly can’t say what that means, for it is in the Baierisch dialect, and probably a local one at that. The lettering is based on the old Fraktur style. The first two lines probably ask something like “What do you need that you’re hopping around?” I think the third line has to do with being hungry, and the last one? I have no idea. And my guesses here could be completely wrong! I am getting better at figuring out Baierisch, but it vastly differs from standard German. One of my neighbors, an older woman who loves talking with Rosebud, uses a lot of Baierisch when she talks with me. I’m gradually figuring out some of the expressions but mostly have to fill in the blanks from contextual clues.

Rosebud going for a stroll in Garmisch!

Garmisch-Partenkirchen is at the foot of the Alps, as you can see in this image.
Possibly, Austria is visible in this picture! One reason tourists go to Garmisch is to visit the Zugspitze, which is the tallest peak in Germany. I haven’t yet gone to the top of the Zugspitze, but I hope to do so by next summer. As you can imagine, Garmisch is filled with tourists all year long, because you can ski during the winter months and hike the rest of the year.

While with my friends Claire and Estelle, I spoke French the entire time. I think that Rosebud was curious that suddenly her mama was saying something completely different, that was neither English or German.

Mama and Rosebud in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Mama and Rosebud in Garmisch-Partenkirchen

My friend Mia suggested I speak to Rosebud in French for a few hours each day, and I might just do that so she is exposed to all three languages. Anyway, I really enjoyed speaking French. At first, I felt a bit rusty and had difficulty finding the right words. But after a few hours, I was speaking as fluently in French as ever. When we went to this restaurant (in the picture), I had troubles switching back to German and even spoke a little French with the server without realizing I was doing so. It’s a pretty normal thing to happen when you speak several languages, but I am always amused by this phenomenon. In a strange way, it gives you an insight as to how the brain – or my brain, anyway – processes language and turns on a “switch” somehow to access either French, English or German, depending on what situation I am in.


7 responses to “Bonjour, Garmisch-Partenkirchen

  1. Y codeswitches with me on a fairly regular basis. Most of the time she sticks to English, but I get a fair amount of questions asked of me in Spanish, especially when we’ve been sitting together quietly or doing something more individually-oriented without language spinning around in the air. Obviously at those times she’d been thinking in Spanish and asked me a question that followed her train of thought! 🙂

    • bowmansinbavaria

      That’s fascinating, and completely understandable that Y does that. I wonder if something similar like that will happen with Rosebud (depending on how long we stay here)?

  2. I visited Garmisch on a frosty day in late winter many years ago — my first international skiing! Although I recall the beautiful buildings more clearly than the skiing, to be honest.

    • bowmansinbavaria

      I can understand why you’d remember the buildings more than the skiing, as Garmisch is such a quintessential Bavarian-looking town.

      When I was growing up in upstate NY, I took alpine skiing lessons. I was never very good at it, and frankly, I’m kind of chicken. But I have been thinking in the back of my mind that maybe it’s time to get over that fear and try it again, as there are so many great alpine skiing locations basically in my back yard. 🙂

  3. Julia Keller-Welter

    We are playing Debussy and we needed you the other night!! I said that I would ask about the French…SERREZ, CEDEZ,CHEVALET, ASSEZ….we at last figured it out with an Iphone search!

    • bowmansinbavaria

      I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss the CSO.

      Did you still need some help understanding the French terms Debussy used? I’m glad to help if you need me!

  4. Pingback: Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein! « Bowmansinbavaria’s Blog

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