Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

One of my favorite T-shirts as a little kid had a globe on the front, along with the phrase: “Army Brats Go Places!” While there are probably a few locations we’d rather the military not send us, Army life can definitely take you to some amazing spots.

Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany—an alpine resort town and a popular “R&R” destination for American soldiers and their families—is one of those places. My family was never stationed in Garmisch, but I had the opportunity to live there later on as a Department of Defense employee for one blissful year. Reading this NY Times article made me quite Garmisch-sick. So what exactly do I miss?

I miss the quaint winter scenery, hikes to castle ruins in spring, the turquoise waters of Eibsee in summer, and golden afternoon bike rides in fall. I miss cow staus and angry old men in Lederhosen, warm Apfelstrudel and beer that’s cheaper than water. I miss the simple lifestyle, the constant adventures, and a community of likeminded travelers to share it all with.

What memories or ‘misses’ do you have of Garmisch?


The Christmas season is when I miss Germany the most.  If you’ve ever strolled through a Christkindlmarkt sipping hot Gluhwein, you know Germany feels like the place where Christmas was invented and experiencing its authentic, old-world charm can put you in the Christmas spirit like no overworked mall Santa ever will.

It turns out many American Christmas traditions do have their roots in Deutschland, from the Advent wreath and Christmas tree, to nutcrackers and gingerbread houses. Even the modern concept of Santa Claus is said to be a blend of Saint Nicholas–a 4th century Greek bishop–and the god Odin of German paganism.  Like many Christmas traditions, a lot of ancient German practices were later Christianized, but retained elements of their indigenous roots.  If you want to experience a real interesting–and slightly terrifying–pre-Christian German tradition later associated with St. Nicholas, check out the mythical Krampus–essentially fury monsters wearing cow bells and carrying switches who accompany St. Nick through the streets of Alpine towns on the evening of December 6 to beat the sin out of particularly bad children…or intoxicated American tourists.

Or you could just stick to Gluhwein. 🙂 Here’s a recipe, sure to be a hit at any holiday party!

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar or honey
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 orange
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 (750 milliliter) bottle red wine (nothing too expensive)
  • Brandy to taste (optional)
1. Combine water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer.
2. Cut the orange in half, and squeeze juice into  simmering water. Push the cloves into the outside of the orange peel, and place peel in the simmering water. Continue simmering for 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy.
3. Add the wine and heat until steaming, but not simmering. Remove the  orange halves. Serve Gluhwein hot in mugs. For mit Schuss , add a shot of brandy for a little extra sweetness.

Rothenburg, Germany

Do you hate the question “where are you from?” Are your closest childhood friends spread all across the globe?Do you get the itch to move somewhere new after living in one place for approximately two or three years? Would people describe you as adventurous, independent, and resilient?

Then this blog is for YOU–military brats young and old!

My name is Ashlee Cowles and I created this website because I know there are thousands of other military brats out there who have lived the ups and downs of this exceptional and at times, overwhelmingly difficult, lifestyle.

The Brat Life has a lot of perks. After spending the first 18 years of my life  living on Army posts around the world–from Hawaiian paradise to the Bavarian Alps–I still haven’t “recovered” from an insatiable need to see the world. My closest friends are other military brats I’ve stayed in contact with over the years. When I went away to college in a state where I knew no one, the adjustment was no big deal thanks to the “skills”  I’d acquired from my unique upbringing.

Yet this transient lifestyle has its downsides too. Every brat knows the heartbreak of saying goodbye to friends after only a few years (or maybe even months!), or the disconnect of never quite feeling like you have a “home.” Even more serious are the fears and challenges that come with long deployments and parental absences.

Because the Brat Life is such a wonderful, terrifying, intense, heartbreaking adventure, about a year ago I decided to write a Young Adult novel that highlighted the experiences and emotions thousands of military brats go through each day…or can recall in vivid detail years later.

What’s the story about? Here’s a taste!


Lily Adams hates  being the new kid. Unfortunately, that status pretty much sums up her life. Only this time, Uncle Sam has gone too far. Lily has already been to five schools in six states in fifteen years, and now her dad gets stationed in Germany. This may mean no driver’s license until she’s eighteen, but moving overseas is nothing unusual for a lifelong “army brat.” What makes Lily really strange is that she’s a Traveler…as in Time Traveler.

All Lily wants to do is survive her sophomore year in a boring country of sauerkraut and leather overalls. A few friends would be nice, but when Lily meets her oddball neighbor, Nik—a half-German kid whose after-school activity happens to be traversing through history with a secret society of Time Travelers—she gets way more friendship than she bargained for. After a Halloween dare in the village cemetery ends in disaster, Lily and Nik travel back to Romania in the year 1462 to rescue their school’s biggest snob, Katelyn Abeya. This is the last person on earth Lily wants to get stuck with in the Middle Ages…except for maybe Vlad “the Impaler,” Katelyn’s stake-happy captor! Lily and Nik quickly discover that the real count Dracula is way scarier than the myth, making this one history lesson they won’t soon forget.

Okay, so Lily isn’t your average Army Brat. Not only does she live in Europe, she Time Travels in Europe. Perhaps the one thing that would make an overseas PCS even better! 🙂

Whether we’re discussing Lily’s story or your own, I hope this site connects you to other readers, writers, and explorers who know BRAT is one military acronym that will never leave them!