At some point during your time on MSG, you’ll likely have an opportunity to visit Garmisch, a small ski resort town in southern Germany.
MSG is divided into nine regions, each with its own regional command located somewhere in the vicinity. Most regions in the eastern hemisphere choose to hold their annual conference (known as the RTE, in case you want more acronyms in your life) in Edelweiss, a military resort nestled beneath the highest peaks in the German Alps.
The RTE is a week long gathering of the region’s Det Commanders, but families are invited if they can pay their own way. If you can afford it, take advantage of this opportunity to get away from post, see a beautiful new place, and reconnect with friends from your schoolhouse days. There’s also a commissary to raid and it’s a good opportunity to take care of less glamorous things like medical or dental appointments.
Some regions plan events and meet-ups for family members, but for the most part you’re on your own to explore and enjoy during the day.
So what’s good to do in Garmisch?
Situated about 3 miles away from Edelweiss is this stunning lake at the foot of the Zugspitze. There’s a path around the entire perimeter, about 3 miles in total. It’s more of a stroll than a hike, so this could easily be done with children.
Not up for taking the bus out to Eisbee? Within walking distance of Edelweiss is the smaller but also lovely Reissersee. There’s a well-maintained path through the woods that leads up to the little lake, which is replete with fish, frogs, and ducks waiting to be fed. There’s also a small restaurant at the edge of the lake that provides great mountain views for diners.
At the base of Lake Eisbee is the cable car to the top of the Zugspitze, the highest peak in Germany. We didn’t make it up there this time around, but I’ve heard the views can’t be beat. You can find more tourism info here.
While not as high as Zugspitze, and with less impressive views, the cable car leading to the top of the Alpspitze is an easy 10-15 minute walk from Edelweiss, so it’s an easier option. It costs somewhere in the range of 20-25 euros for the 10ish minute ride to the top, where you’ll find a cafe, a small ski slope, and of course the famous crisscrossing viewing platform. Don’t look down, just enjoy the view.
Sadly the gorge was closed during our RTE (why they pick March, I’m not sure), but if you’re there from April/May through October, definitely head this way. You can head their on your own, or Edelweiss even runs tours to the gorge if you’re looking for convenience.
Take the Number 1 or 2 bus from the back gate of Edelweiss down to the Marienplatz stop and you’re in the heart of it! After a few weeks in Ljubljana, a sleepy city in its own right, Garmisch felt dead. I imagine during peak ski season or peak hiking season it’s bustling, but in March the streets were almost empty and almost everything was closed by 8pm except restaurants. But it’s worth an hour or two of strolling, or a few hours of shopping if you’re coming from a post without much in the way of retail. You’ll also find your choice of restaurants: traditional German, pizzerias, Greek food, Chinese food, an Irish pub, and beyond.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the resort itself. It doesn’t have that resort feel, but supposedly they have a great pool (currently under construction for a few more months) and there’s a delicious buffet upstairs and a convenient restaurant downstairs if you’ve got too many kiddos to make multiple trips downtown. They also host organized tours to a number of sites in the region, ranging from the famed Neuschwanstein Castle to Dachau Concentration Camp. I didn’t take advantage of any of those, but I’ve heard good things despite the price tag.
Better than the scenery, at least for me, was seeing friends from our schoolhouse class and meeting other families from our new region. After so much time in the Embassy bubble, hanging out with a group of Marine families feels like going home for a while. The fact that it’s in the heart of Europe this time (and not southern Florida in the dead of summer…) makes it that much sweeter.