Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Leaving Home, Coming Home

26 May

Lynne dropped me off at Dulles Airport with plenty of time to spare. I checked in at Lufthansa, managed to negotiate my way through security, then settled down with Three Cups of Tea and a sandwich of Virginia smoked ham I had bought at Washington’s Dupont Circle Farmers Market. Good thing I had the sandwich—which was substantial—to sustain me through the next two meals of airline food.

The plane pulled away from the gate early and we arrived in Munich on time. This was fortunate, because the flight was thoroughly uncomfortable--anyone is uncomfortable sandwiched into a space not fit for a piece of salami. The bozo in front of me reclined his seat as we flew over New York City and left it that way until we crossed the Rhein, where we began descending for the landing in Munich. I contemplated upending dinner—swill deemed edible only at 30,000 feet—but decided I couldn’t pull it off without having it look intentional. The fact that Bozo was sitting in an exit door aisle and had four feet of leg room in front of him didn’t make it any easier to refrain from subversive acts. The portly guy next to me had appropriated the entire arm rest and poked me in the ribs a few times for good measure. I dread flying and I think I bought my Garmisch apartment just to give me somewhere to hang out in Germany so I don't have to fly so often.

After I regained my freedom and straightened myself from the pretzel-shaped contortion I had been molded into on the plane, I caught the S-Bahn and then the local train to Garmisch—all on time. The green hills that begin just outside of Munich whizzed by the windows. Starnberger See, one of the huge lakes in the Alps' northern foothills, sparkled sapphires in the early morning sun. Cattle, recently released from their winter quarters in barns, munched the sweet grass and flowers in the fields. Finally, the mountains appeared in the distance, growing larger and more imposing with each mile of track that the train devoured. The miniature huts, used for dispersing hay storage in fields as a precaution against losing the entire crop to fire, dotted the pastures.

Approaching Garmisch, the tall spire of the Alte Kirche pierced the horizon. This is the town's old church, built in the 13th Century and modernized in the 15th Century. Finally, the onion-shaped towers of St. Martin's, a Rococo gem, appeared. The train pulled into the station, I wrestled my luggage off the train, down the station's steps, and headed to Ludwigstrasse. At St. Sebastian's, the chapel dedicated to the memory of soldiers killed in the World Wars, I veered to the left. Then, finally, at 9 am in the morning, 15 hours after I locked my door and left home in Washington, I was home again in Garmisch.

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