Once upon a time, I lived in a postcard. Visiting Garmisch

Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Germany. “Huh?” is the reaction get from most people when I talk about the cute little town at the foot of the German Alps that I called home for 13 months. It’s the reaction I got from most people when they asked where I was going for Christmas. I like that most people don’t know about Garmisch. It’s like a hidden secret. Garmisch will always have a sweet spot in my heart. This summer will mark 10 years…. 10 years… holy cow a decade, since I moved their. It’s a move that I can honestly say changed the course my life was on. I made life long friends, got to experience new countries, and ultimately decided not to live in California when I returned. (A decision that surprisingly made it so I ended up in Vietnam. But, that’s a whole different post that I’ll write someday.)  I know there were moments where I struggled living there (walking 2 miles to work at 6 am in the dark and snow), but I look back on that time in my life with so much fondness. When I visit and we drive in from Munich and finally see the mountains, it feels like coming home.

My dear friend Jason still lives in Garmisch and when I visit I stay with him. He’s like an annoy big brother who gives great bear hugs! 😉 There is a comfort that comes from being around old friends and it’s so nice.

He picked me up and we went to Tollwood. It’s a big holiday festival held in Munich. It’s fun just walking around looking at all the different venders. I only remembered to take a picture at the last-minute while we were eating.

Inisde one of the food tents

He had the first day I was there off so we hopped on the train and headed to Innsbruck, Austria to explore their Christmas markets. I feel like Innsbruck does not get the recognition it deserves for how beautiful it is. It’s gorgeous!


(Side note, Shelley, if you’re reading this…. I did not get locked in a cafe bathroom this time! ha ha!) 

A snowy morning view from Jason’s apartment. I swear there are mountains back there somewhere 😉
First view of the Zugsptize
View from the train 
And the Christmas Market begins!
Breath taking views


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Giant deep-fried swirly potato on a stick and some gluehwein
I look tiny next to Jason

And speaking of gorgeous, Garmisch isn’t too bad to look at either!  It snowed the first day I was there, rained the second, and was sunny the third and fourth.


I love this church
I’m pretty sure I drank my weight in chai teas.
Friday farmer’s market. Something I never got to go to when I lived there because of work.



On day three I decided to take the train to Munich to go to the Christmas markets. (If you haven’t guessed, I love Christmas markets!) I had this bright idea to wear my sneakers. I could give my feet a break from the snow boots and there was no snow in Munich. Seemed like a great idea! Until I stepped outside! The rain had left a nice layer of ice on all the side walks. Needles to say I walked very slowly to the trains station! (And yes, I know I should have gone back in and changed my shoes. I was being stubborn. ha ha!)

This view never gets old.


The view when you exit the S-baun station!


Stairs in one of the sub ways stations. Clever advertising Ritter Sport chocolate!

When I got back to Garmisch Jason and I went to eat in Old Partenkichen.


On my last full day I decided to just walk around Garmisch because it was so nice out. Not too cold and very sunny. I ended up walking all the way to Old Partenkichen and back  (roughly 6-7 miles round trip from Jason’s) weaving my way through cute little streets.


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The sky was so blue!
Paintings on the Chirstmas market stalls


Old Partenkirchen is so cute!



Seriously, it’s like being in a postcard!

Leaving was hard! It was not easy getting on the plane that day and it was Christmas on top of it. I made sure we had time for a pancake breakfast because that is my families Christmas tradition so at least it felt a little like Christmas It was such a nice visit! And a great way to end my time in Europe! Thanks again for having me, Jason!

(My next blog will be about my awesome layover, which helped make flying on Christmas Day a little easier).

Blogging is not something I’m necessarily good at and autocorrect and I have a love/hate relationship, so please ignore any typos, misspelled words, or all together wrong words. 😉




Day trip Malmö, Sweden

On day 3 of my time in Copenhagen I decided to take a day trip into Sweden. Why not when it’s so close! Getting from Copenhagen to Sweden is easy.  There are three cities that are easily accessible. Malmö, Lund, and Helsingborg. I picked Malmö because it was the closet and it had a castle. The train ride took about 30 minutes and unfortunately was not covered under my Copenhagen card. I found it interesting that the first train stop in Sweden had a heavy amount of security. The train stopped and customs agents walked through checking everyone’s passports. If you wanted to get off you had to go through a gated area. On the way back there was no security on the Danish side.

Again, I did no research before going to Malmö so I hopped off the train, found the nearest tourist both, grabbed a map, and started walking. Copenhagen must have more buildings blocking it from the wind because Malmö had more of an icy chill to it. The city  doesn’t have a whole lot to see and I saw everything on the tourist map in a few short hours, but man, the buildings were impressive! The city was also very quiet, which I loved! Below are pictures of Malmö.

Inside the Malmö train station
Before you walk out of the train station. Not sure what it was for.


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Town Hall is located in the Great Square. There is a very interesting water fountain out front. It looked like a boy holding a monkey on his shoulder and a rattle in his hand. It marks the spot of an old water reservoir.
Statue of King Karl X Gustav
Stortoget “The Great Square” 
More of The Great Square
I loved the lights!
Musician statues in the pedestrian area
This was a pop-up cafe
Tree decorations
Yes, people were kayaking in the freezing weather.
Point of View sculpture. One of the first things I saw from the tourist map (I saw everything in the above pictures as I was trying to find a tourist booth). My reaction was “ummmmm,” (head tilt).
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Malmö opera house
St. John’s church
St. Peter’s secondary school
Sons of the Work statue
A cute little farmers market
I’m not sure what this was but it was in what looked to be an amusement park for kids. Everything was shut down because it was winter
Street art
I got a little lost walking through a park trying to find the castle. In my defence, the park was huge!
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I got a little lost walking through a park trying to find the castle. In my defence, the park was huge!
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I got a little lost walking through a park trying to find the castle. In my defence, the park was huge!
Remember I said I went to Malmö because of a castle…. This is it; Malmöhus Slott. After Denmark’s castles I expected more. Ha ha
Malmöhus Slott
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I stumbled upon the cutest fish market


HSB Turning Torso. I bit of an eye sore compared to all the old buildings.
Øresund Bridge – The bridge that connects Denmark to Sweden. I had to walk so far to get this picture.
You can barely see it, but in the distance is Denmark. You can’t tell but the wind was icy and my hands about froze off when I was trying to take this picture! Ha ha!


Malmö Christmas markets
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I love Christmas markets!
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Lamp Statue # 1
Lamp Statue # 2. They were nowhere near each other
Little square



Old water fountain in the little square



Malmö central train station

Although Malmö didn’t have very much to see, it gets a gold star for cuteness!

Blogging is not something I’m necessarily good at and autocorrect and I have a love/hate relationship, so please ignore any typos, misspelled words, or all together wrong words. 😉

Copenhagen, Denmark

I loved Copenhagen. Loved, loved, loved it! It was so cute and had an amazing Christmas feel to it! I loved being cold and cozy in my gazillion layers. I know this is weird for my but it was so refreshing after HCMC 90-100 degree days. I want to go back in the spring or summer because I have a feeling it’s even more beautiful. I didn’t do a whole lot of research before I went because the end of the school term had me burnt out. I read few blogs and looked up a few tours but that was about it.

Day 1- 12.5 miles walked

I arrived in Copenhagen around 9:30 am after spending a night in Paris.

Flying over Europe
I loved this!


First thing I did was buy a Copenhagen card. I read about this card and everyone raved about. It gets you into all the major tourist attractions and on the trains/busses. It’s worth every penny! If for nothing else it just made life easier. I didn’t have to worry about buying train tickets and sometimes I didn’t even have to wait in line. The man at the ticket counter explained to me how and where to use it and it was during this time I realized I could use it to go see Hamlet’s Castle (the castle was the setting in Hamlet). I wasn’t planning on seeing any of the castles outside of the city because I didn’t want to spend money to do a tour. Turns out they are very easy to get to via the train system. So I went to my hotel, dropped my luggage in their luggage storage room and off I went. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the town of Elsinore where Kronborg castle (which is a UNESCO site) is located. I got off the train and realized I didn’t actually know how to get to the castle from the train station and I had no internet. Opps! Luckily for me, when you walk out of the train station you can see the castle!


You can’t tell by any of my pictures but there was a huge moat around the castle.



This was set up in the court yard

Here are some photos from inside the castle


Hamlet being preformed at the castle


Kings bed room



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View from the top of the castle

Elsinore is also home to the Little Mermaid’s brother statue and some interesting street art.



After walking around Elsinore a bit I decided to take another 30 minute train ride to Frederiksborg Castle which is also known as the Museum as National History. This one I couldn’t see from the trains station so I ended up walking around a bit. The main road from the train station basically goes in a circle around town and either way takes you to the castle. This castle didn’t look like much from the outside but the moment you walk through the gate it takes your breath away!  It is stunning. Sadly I arrived about 15 minutes from closing so I didn’t get to see much of the inside. The outside made up for it though!

This is what it looks like from outside the gate
And when you walk through the gate


This beautiful chapel is inside of the castle.
A choir singing Christmas music


View from the back
This is what fairy tales are made of!

I ended by first day with a walk through Tivoli park. It was a winter wonderland!



Day 2: Seeing the sites -14.5 miles walked

I had meant to take a free walking tour but when I realized how close everything was together I decided to head out early instead of waiting around for the tour to begin. I left my hotel around 8:30 am to head toward the Little Mermaid statue (about a 45 minute walk) and it was still pretty dark out.

City Hall
I loved how festive Copenhagen was


The famous Nyhavn canal


Amalienborg is the home of the Danish royal family and I had it all to myself!
I waited around until someone walked through so I could get a picture with me in it.  I was surprised at how close you can get to the buildings. Flags up = Queen is home
He agreed to a picture as long as I kept my distance
The famous Little Mermaid Statue


Went passed Amalienborg again on my way back.


My phone died so I ended up in this cute little cafe forced to drink hot chocolate while I waited for my phone to charge.

The next series of pictures are from Freetown Christiania. It’s a self-governed town inside of Copenhagen of about 100 hippie squatters. They moved in 1971 and haven’t left. From what I read there has been a lot of controversy over the area. The whole place made me a bit uneasy. It didn’t have the cheerful feel the rest of Copenhagen had and I felt like I was invading a private area. It wasn’t clean and things were pretty run down. There were signs up around town asking you not to take pictures of the market area because they were selling marijuana. Seemed to me that was the only reason people visited Christiania. The street art was pretty amazing.



The towns flag painted on a door. Three dots for the three “i” in Christiania
This looked to be a give/take area
Trying to get a sneaky photo of the market area


Church of our Saviour which is down the block from Freetown Christiania

After visiting Freetown Christiania I went on a canal boat tour. Just one more thing I was able to do with my Copenhagen card!


Nyhavn from the water
The opera house
The round tower
View from the top of the tower. It was incredibly windy!
View from the top of the tower
View from the top of the tower

Back to Tivoli I went for some daytime winter wonderland!DD014B6B-F0A9-4FE4-B6CD-95BB12C4AC8C93DEAC4D-FF4C-4682-BAC7-514BAADCE4BC3737862E-353D-43C5-A4ED-D3CE5AC6E49D5537FA2D-AAB8-4E3F-B448-1A96C5A13E2E

All the snow was fake



After Tivoli I went back to my hotel to give my feet a rest before heading out to the Christmas markets.

This hotel was neat. It had giant tv screens mounted to the building counting down the days until Christmas. It was also playing Christmas music.
I love Christmas Markets!
Goulash and glogg = perfect way to stay warm. Glogg has raisins and almond flakes at the bottom so when you’re down drinking there is a treat at the end.

Day 3: Sweden and more sightseeing -14.5 miles walked again!

I will be writing about my day trip to Sweden in my next blog post because I don’t want this blog to get to long. (Update: Click here to read about my day trip to Malmö, Sweden)

After I arrived back from Sweden I had some day light left so I went to the Christiansborg Palace, which is currently under construction. Half of it used by the Royal family and the other half is parliament. I had walked past it the day before but because of the construction didn’t realize what it was.

It’s hard to tell from this picture but the whole front of the palace was torn up


When walking in the palace one must wear booties.


The royal library


Royal thrones
The embroidered tapestries were really neat

I then walked to a pop up food market. This was a bit of a walk and on the other side of the river, but it was really neat. It was an old warhorse on the pier that had food stalls in it. From the count down clock inside I’m guessing it was only around for a short period of time. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much for me to eat but that atmosphere was amazing.

Street food market
Countdown clock to when it closes.
My pictures of the inside didn’t turn out very well
View from above
See through bathrooms


I did find something I could eat!

I ended the day with a walk through the Hans Christian Anderson museum. Honestly, only go here if you have the Copenhagen card. It was weird.


H. C. Anderson
The Little Mermaid



One of his original stories.
The hotel gave free glogg and apple strutdel (which I couldn’t eat) to all the guest. Best way to warm up after a cold day!

Day 4: Last Day – 10 miles walked

I had two things left I wanted to see before my flight to Germany.

Hans Christian Andersen’s grave

This statue of Hans Christian Andersen was by City Hall, not by his grave.
How nice of them to have things so clearly marked


Rosenborg Castle

It houses the royal collection of artifacts, the Crown Jewels, and the Danish Crown Regalia.  The other castles/palaces I visited had a lack of visible security. This castle had secret service looking people walking around all over it.

This is the back side of the castle. Don’t try to walk in the back side.  It’s a military area. Opps! Thankfully, the guards was very kind about the whole thing.
The garden


The changing of the guards involved a lot of music.


Royal toilet. Weirdly enough there was a ladder in it.


Throne room
There was so much ivory!


This crown was massive!
Danish Crown Regalia
Royal crowns

Copenhagen has a huge bicycle scene. It was a little crazy but very cool that even though it was freezing people were still riding their bikes!

They have lanes and lights just for the bikes


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Typical scene on most streets in Copenhagen. I noticed most of the bikes just had locks around the back tire but weren’t actually locked to anything.

My hotel was pretty amazing. It had a gluten-free breakfast and a bathtub! And you better believe I used that tub every night!


Cow outside my hotel
My room
The bath tub was a major selling point for this hotel
Gluten free BREAD!!!

Copenhagen is now one of my favorite cities and I hope to go back again! I was a great start to my winter break.

Blogging is not something I’m necessarily good at and autocorrect and I have a love/hate relationship, so please ignore any typos, misspelled words, or all together wrong words. 😉