Let’s Go to Germany! (Part 2: Alles ist Gemütlich!)

“Tried Peggy Sue, tried Betty Lou, tried Mary Lou, but I knew she wouldn’t do…” —The Beach Boys, “Barbara Ann”

Teresa and JeanIt’s a long way from Heidelberg to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Or so the diary reports on Saturday, March 11, 1978.

We left that morning in the rain, riding south to Bavaria, only stopping briefly for lunch in Augsburg. I sat near the back of the bus with new friend Wayne. Behind us were two cute girls, Teresa, a brunette, and Jean, blonde (pictured at left, from later in the trip). While Teresa and I chatted, I noticed that Jean “held too much interest [in] a dumb jock guy who sat with his friend a ways up from us.” That “dumb jock guy’s” name was Blake, and I’d be seeing a lot of him with his exchange family once we arrived in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

As the sun dipped below the mountains, we pulled into Garmisch and headed directly to the Rathaus where “the Mayor spoke, [German] families stared at us, and a little Bavarian band played.” There I finally met my exchange family, Frau and Herr Hutt and their two sons Stephan and Christof (at right, Stephan leaning against his mother).My beautiful picture

We emerged from the Rathaus onto dark streets, unable to see the mountains, only to spy twinkling lights on distant peaks. Dropping my bags off that the Hutt home, Stephan and I took off with two friends and their sister to play pinball (“flipper” as they called it) at The Sporting Club, and later returned home to dinner and TV. I was shown my room and sacked out almost immediately.


There have been few sights in my life where I can honestly say I was rendered breathless.

Garmisch March 12, 1978Sunday morning, March 12, 1978, I lay shivering under the eiderdown, finally peering out to see sunlight glaring through the open window and, in the distance, mist drifting down from the mountaintops. Frau Hutt had entered my bedroom to open the windows, then departed.

I got up and went to the window and snapped these pictures. It was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen. The air was wet-cold, piney and fresh; I filled my lungs with that rich mountain air, dressed and went downstairs for breakfast.


Her name was Barbara Conarabi.

Barbara—all of 15, maybe, with lovely dark hair and eyes. Her brothers, like the Hutts, were also named Stephan and Christof and lived in Garmisch. I was unsure of the spelling of their last name, so I entered it in the March 13 diary with a question mark. While the boys went to the Gymnasium for school that Monday, Frau and Herr Hutt transported me and Blake to Bavarian churches and the Linderhof Palace in their car. Afterward we had lunch at the Hutts, Blake joining us, and conducted what I could only describe as “a brain-boiling conversation in Deutsch and English.”Garmisch March 12, 1978

When Stephan Hutt returned from school, his father drove Blake home and dropped Stephan and me off at the Conarabi house. There I played piano for them, including Barbara. Later we walked to The Sporting Club (aka the “Disco”), where we “had a few beers, listened to ‘Girls’ School’ by Wings and ‘Barbara Ann’ by the Beach Boys” on the jukebox. Barbara “had a Coke while us guys drank Bier.” Stephan and I hurried home by 7 p.m. for Abendessen.

Tuesday I attended the Gymnasium with Stephan. Upon entering the typing class, I sat down and immediately started typing. The teacher shot bolt upright and called me to the front. Stephan hastily introduced me to the class as “the American exchange student.” Neck, saved.

While in town we took in a hockey game at the Eisstadion—Garmisch beating Köln 8 to 6. Many of my high school classmates were also there, bunched up against beery Germans rooting for the home team. One glassy-eyed guy laughed and turned to us, bellowing, “Alles ist gemütlich!” We nodded enthusiastically.

By midweek I wrote in the diary about having “a lot of strange dreams…about school, back home, friends, Kim.” Wednesday after 10:30 a.m. the skies cleared enough for all the exchange students to gather for a joint excursion to the top of the Wank, where we could view Alpspitze and Zugspitze in the distance. “You could just,” I wrote, “…reach out and touch them and hang on to the sight of them forever.” As we came down the mountain, I chatted with Teresa and Jean again. We then all met up for beers at The Sporting Club.

Later, I confessed to the diary: “I want to see Barbara Conarabi again before I leave.”

~ by completelyinthedark on January 11, 2013.

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