A festival of love and friendship

Happy Anniversary

Four years ago Pouya and I celebrated our marriage in Austria. A version of this post has been slowly descending on my draft list. Too early, too pregnant, too much with twins, too Corona. Today the time has come for me to remember these truly exceptional days with some reflections. For the fun of it, I will keep some of my original writing, it makes me smile to read about all these stressful vibes that I no longer feel.

2018: A year ago Pouya and I spent a wonderful day enjoying our engagement in New York City. Now we tied the knot with many of our friends in the Wilder Kaiser valley in Austria. Believe me, more than once in the preceding months of wedding planning I have seriously questioned my sanity. This week with our families and friends, though, has just been a blessing and a reminder that  the world is our oyster.

Our wedding was about appreciating our friends – and I would not have it any other way

While we were very excited to share our vows in front of our friends it was just as wonderful to be able to gather loved ones from so many regions in Austria. Last year we visited two friends in Toronto and they have our wedding picture hanging on the walls. Over the years only have I come to realize how rare and special the connections are that we have made and maintained over the years: To know that there are some people out there I could call in the middle of the night.

Guardians of each others’ solitude – the base of our partnership

Those who know me know that I am not good at making decisions and I tend to cling to the status quo (I will tell you soon how long it took me to finally leave my corporate job), but when it comes to Pouya all decisions were easy. In my engagement ring he had the words “forever free” engraved. Very early on it became clear that we had a similar understanding of what partnership does not mean: That one is responsible for the other’s happiness.

© Raphael Hünerfauth

During the last four years we have made it through a terrible pregnancy, learned to appreciate life with twins, and to work and live and be together 24/7 during months of Covid-Lockdowns. And I still think that Rilke summarized the duty of a married partner like no other:

“I hold this to be the highest task of a bond between two people. That each should stand guard over the solitude of the other.”

Brenner Alm in the Wilder Kaiser valley is an excellent location

Brenner Alm is located on a skiing hill with a great view of the Wilder Kaiser hills. The best thing about the Alm is the food, the wine selection as well as the couple running the restaurant, Trixie and Christian.

The hut itself is very spatious, we had enough room for our band Acoustic Avenue, for a dance floor and we were able to hold the ceremony outside. Since 2018 we have been back every year for a couple of days, for their Kaiserschmarrn mainly. Brenner Alm is worth a visit any day.

From four years hindsight I would also do a couple of things differently: worry less, spend a quarter on my dress and just soak it all up with much more consciousness.

A special second birthday in the mountains

We celebrated the girls’ second birthday weekend by hiking up to and staying at Brunnsteinhütte in the Karwendel region. I recommend this if you do not feel like cakes, presents and all the birthday preparations – but instead simply enjoying nature, family time and the simplicity of a DAV-hut.

Brunnsteinhütte – a sustainable and family-friendly destination

Where to find it?

When researching new destinations that are realistic for us with the twins (remember, we each carry one child), I stick to the great DAV guide. DAV is short for Deutscher Alpenverein, the German Alpine Club. Each year it publishes a family-friendly hut booklet.

How to book Brunnsteinhütte?

While many huts can be booked conveniently via DAV, Brunnsteinhütte still runs the old-fashioned way: Email. As soon as it become clear that the harsh lockdown rules would be lifted I emailed the hut managers family Gallenberger and reserved their family room for up to 8 people. To confirm the reservation I wire-transfered a reservation fee of 12Euros per person to their account.

The hike up – a challenging, but beautiful hike

Very conveniently, the hut offers a parking lot close to the cable car for materials (where we dropped off all the sleeping bags and sheets we had to bring due to the new Corona hygiene rules). From there the path leads constantly up. The ground changes alters nicely between stones, larger rocks and forest ground with some roots exposed. I would assume it is not too pleasant to come here after its has rained. It took us about 2hours with breaks to walk up.

On the way back we walked across the suspension bridge. Here are some impressions from the hike:

Brunnsteinhütte offers great food and embraces sustainability

The Gallenbergers have been managing the hut for more then 20years, their kids grew up here. They offer hearty, Alpine food. The portions are enough to share, or, if you just came across another mountain pass they will definitely recharge you.

The toilets are natural composting toilets, meaning there is no running water, but a really big hole. There is only cold water in the washrooms and one has to take trash home again. Can you imagine what a pleasure it was to carry a bag of about 20 poop diapers home 😉

Important Links for your reference

Infant Care for Dummies – an entertaining evening

The last diaper I changed 18 years ago. Googling things like “taking care of twins” usually lead to Mami blogs that basically tell you that your life from now on is on the constant edge to suicidal, that you will never sleep again nor get your body back and that your friends are only good friends if they bring you food…

I stopped googling. 

Instead, Pouya and I spent a “night out” at the Red Cross Hospital in Munich where a wonderful nurse with 35 years of infant care experience teaches inexperienced grown-ups how to not kill their infants. It was hilarious. Some of my leanings:

  • How to spot young parents? Just look for people with puffy eyes and vomit on their shoulders. Our cute nurse was the only one in the room heartily laughing about this joke.
  • She warned us not to come back to the hospital if we think the baby has fever and instructed everyone to better learn how to measure temperature in the behinds.
  • Obviously, it is not a good idea to hold a conversation when changing boys’ diapers. Any distraction might result in you getting peed on. She also pointed out that, albeit being very small, little boys do have the ability to pee right into your face…Did I mention we’re expecting girls?

All together an entertaining evening which I can totally recommend to anyone. In case you run out of fun stuff to do, I would suggest to sign up for a “Säuglingspflegekurs“. Not more expensive than a movie ticket, and you’ll get free massage oil ;-).

A test of enduring uncertainty: my twin pregnancy

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TTTS, IUGR and a whole lot of waiting It was after two hours of sonography that the prenatal specialist closed his eyes as if he was going through his knowledge, repeating the observations. He summarized his findings in a rather … Continue reading