It was the third day of our family road trip and by the time we arrived in St. Gallen in Switzerland we were ready to get out of the car and of each other’s faces. Dinner had been a disaster amidst another fight over my future, my brother’s manners, my father’s stinginess and my mother’s love affair with wine.
We had found a peculiar guesthouse in the mountains that made me feel like we were the cast of the horror version of the Sound of Music. The next day I would be driving to Innsbruck and I was adamant to go thru Lichtenstein on the way.
In the morning, I woke up to the silence of the Alps and my father knocking on the door to let us know it was time to hit the road. I started heading south through tunnels and twisting roads in the mountain. My brother was carsick as usual, my father a sleep and my mother kept her eyes on the speedometer, as Bruce Springsteen sang about his hometown and I desperately wished I were in mine.
Vaduz, the capital of Lichtenstein was basically one street with a few shops, an Internet café and a statue of a monarch. The glamour I was looking for in this tax-free haven was lost on tacky souvenir shops, as was my family. I walked around the main street for what it felt like hours looking for them, then finally gave up and decided to wait in the car. Apparently I had missed the conversation we had about going our separate way and meeting back there. I was late, they were pissed.
The car was silent on the final leg of our journey and the sound of Bruce Springsteen was now nauseating and getting on my nerves. As we approached the exit for Innsbruck conversation had finally begun to pick up and even jokes were being made.
Before I could take the exit to our final destination my mother noticed a sign for a little town in Germany called Garmisch. She recalled that the New York Times had called this mountain resort town one of the most beautiful and un-missable in Europe. In the name of spontaneity and good old family adventure she convinced us to take our chances on Garmisch.
Indeed Garbage as it later referred to, one time host of the winter Olympics, was beautiful. But somehow in the summer, the time of our travels, it looked like an abandoned ski resort with a lonely Burger King at the train station and resorts that would only open once the snowy season arrived.
As we arrived at the Best Western in Innsbruck I sensed that if we did not get out of the car immediately a riot was soon to break. My father finally emerged from the hotel lobby with good news; there was still vacancy in the hotel. One room available, that’s right, one family room, with four beds, one bathroom not much bigger than the car we had been in all day.