A Travellerspoint blog

Bayern Park & Prague

A little rain doesn't stop Oregonians from having fun!

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Day Nine - Bayern Park
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I forgot to mention how much fun it has been to be in a country with an amazing soccer team during the World Cup. It seems like all German people are excited. After Germany beat Brazil, the horns and racket in the streets went on and on! We were in a very small town so I'm sure the celebrations were even louder and bigger in larger cities.

We were all especially excited for a fun day at a smallish German amusement park. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't great but we didn't let it stop us from having a ball. There were no lines for any rides and we could continue riding the same ride over and over again without exiting. DD#1 is fearless and would have liked to go on every ride by herself. DD#2 is more cautious but warmed up to some of the more daring rides. The wet log ride was a favorite today. The park was nearly empty and felt like a ghost town. Most of the park employees were senior citizens who seemed friendly and patient. The girls went on a little roller coaster around 15 times without getting off! Sadly, the park closed two hours early due to the cruddy weather. We couldn't understand the announcement and didn't see the written explanation at the entrance. DD#1 and I were saving the best roller coaster for last and struck out when the park closed without warning. Darn it! It was such a low-key, inexpensive (relatively) park that I wouldn't be surprised if we return someday.
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Notice how we are the ONLY ones on the ride. This was the norm for the day.
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There were very few staff members or warnings before getting on a ride. These cool frog pendulums had zero staff around. Completely self-operated!
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They even had an enormous rock climbing wall.
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A few more pictures from our fun, rainy day:
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Day 10 - Drive from Germany to Prague!

We tried to get up sort of early so we could make a couple of stops on the way to Prague. The weather was still cool and rainy. The big bummer about the rain is that luges and bobsleds are unable to run. The tracks must be dry so that the brakes can operate. Both the luge and bobsled track were closed at Bayern Park yesterday. We would encounter the same problem at Zilverberg mountain on the way to Prague today. Drat!

However, we were able to stop at an amazing glass blowing operation called Joska Glass. The forested area between Germany and the Czech Republic has been known for its glass for hundreds of years. The tradition goes back to having access to all the trees for burning hot fires required for making glass. Joska is unique because they allow kids to blow their own glass for 5 Euros - and they get to keep their creation! The girls were so proud of their beautiful creations. Now I wonder how we will get them home in one piece...
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As always, another cool German playground:
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We made our way into the Czech Republic and stopped at Karlstejn Castle. The drive was less than three hours but we were still ready to stretch our legs.
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We stopped on the outskirts of town at a grocery store. We spent less than $30 on two bags of fun grocery items! We would finally have a kitchen in our new digs. After some serious old city driving, we made it to our apartment for the next 5 nights right near the famous Charles Bridge in Mala Strana. DH was happy to have a private courtyard to park the new wheels.
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We found a neat basement restaurant with typical Czech food.
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The rain had finally stopped so we took a quick stroll and decided to climb the tower on our end of the Charles Bridge. We were the only ones up there!
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The girls couldn't resist a big smooch by all those love locks near the Charles Bridge. Cracked me up!
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Posted by familyineurope 23:07 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (1)

More Munich, BMW Welt, & Bier Welt

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Day Seven

We awoke to another big breakfast in our hotel before heading to the BMW Welt to check things out and get access to the VIP lounge. We will return to the Welt a couple more times before picking up our new car tomorrow.
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We spent a little time in Munich's city center - the Marienplatz:
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We climbed to the top of St. Peter's cathedral. Great views and a lovely church.
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DH had to stop for some wurst. No shortage of meat products in Germany.
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We used Munich's easy subways many times each day. Kind of fun!
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After exploring downtown in the heat, the kids and I gave DH a break and went for a swim at one of Munich's outdoor public pools. Prinzegentenbad was a hit! There were very few people and we made great use of the waterslide. So fun! I left the camera back at the hotel room so here is a picture of the pool that I found online:
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We skipped the biergartens tonight and opted for an easy Italian place close to the hotel.
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I ditched the family and found an awesome jazz club that was having a Monday night jam. If you're ever in Munich, check out Vogler's Jazz Club. I thought it was everything a jazz club should be. Great crowd, amazing musicians, good prices, and friendly atmosphere. I heard three different pianists. Two of them were absolute monsters on the keys. Wow! I should have played a tune but chickened out. Oh well.
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Day Eight - BMW Delivery!

After another wonderful hotel breakfast, we headed back to the BMW Welt to collect our new car!
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We thoroughly enjoyed the free goodies in the BMW lounge. The kids liked playing in the play area.
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After delivery, we drove a victory lap inside the welt before valet parking the car for a while. DH went on a factory tour while the rest of us checked out the BMW museum and the Junior Campus.
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After we all had our separate BMW excursions, we set off for the Bier Welt in Abensburg - about an hour from Munich. It was raining and we encountered lots of construction but still a nice drive in our new car.

The tour at the Kuchlbauer Brewery was in German and was LONG. The kids were very patient - we all were! I was most interested in the unique tower and didn't care much for the schtick with beer dwarves. Oh well. I'm still glad we checked it out.
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Beer - it's what the doctor ordered:
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The art work was really interesting and colorful.
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We drove another hour or so to the little town of Reisbach, our home for two nights. Another nice inn with a restaurant. I was a little excited to find Tabasco sauce to spice up the German food. It's delicious but needs a little heat! Tomorrow's big plan is to check out Bayern Amusement Park. I just hope it stops raining! Prost from Germany.
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Posted by familyineurope 14:50 Comments (1)

Sunshine in Munich

Zoo, biergartens, playgrounds, and sun!

Day 5

We had a relaxing last morning in Dornheim packing and saying goodbyes before heading to Munich. We were excited to take the ICE to Munich! We arrived at the Frankfurt airport early to enjoy the 1st class lounge. I purchased our train tickets far in advance when 1st class was nearly the same cost as 2nd class. Why not?

The Frankfurt DB lounge offered great views of the train station as well as free drinks and snacks. We had our own compartment on the train. At one point, we hit around 300 kilometers per hour. Smokin' fast!
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We arrived in Munich and got a little confused with the subway system. After a few extra stops, we found our hotel for the next three nights: Hotel Brack. Our room had plenty of space at the top floor. The kids enjoyed the tiny elevator and getting little packs of Haribo gummy bears every time they walked past the front desk.
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The hotel concierge suggested a great beer garden only 10 minutes away. We had to walk across Bavaria Park where the huge Oktoberfest is held to get there. We enjoyed a massive German meal! Delicious and located right by a great playground. It's so wonderful that nearly all biergardens have playgrounds for kids.
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DH headed out to the BMW Welt for some Saturday night pictures while I attempted to get the kids to bed. Despite great effort, they are getting to bed late every night. Oh well, eventually everyone got rest.
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Day 6

I got up first and went for a nice run along the Isar River and through the Marienplatz. I always enjoy seeing a city as it wakes up. On Sundays, many businesses stay closed all day. We were all ready to go around 9am. We had a fabulous breakfast at our hotel. DD#2 said, "this is more like a feast!" Kids had hot chocolate among many other delicious bread, meats, cheeses, fruits, yogurts, etc... Definitely enough to sustain us for hours!
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We took the U Bahn just a few stops to the Hellabrunn Zoo. Animals were easy to spot and it was relaxing to wander around. DH and I joked at the lack of zoo personnel especially in the children's petting area. Not a worker to be seen. It was kind of a free-for-all with all those goats! Unlike the US, there were were no hand sanitizing stations around. Funny little differences. I suppose one of the big ones was all of the dogs at the zoo. That's right - people can bring their dogs to the zoo!
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After several hours at the zoo, we took a bus just a few stops to a beer garden, Hinterbruhl. It was located right along the river with another entertaining playground. We had a snack and watched the many party rafts travel down the river with live music and lots of whooping it up! Looked like a ton of fun!
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We were hot and sweaty and decided to take a break back at the hotel to recharge. After an hour or so, we took the U Bahn to Englischer Park to the Seehaus Biergarten. We grabbed a couple doner sandwiches along the way and had a nice casual dinner right along a lake in the park. We walked around the park a bit more, grabbed some ice cream for the kids, and called it a day. It was hot in Munich and we are definitely missing AC in our hotel room. Last time we were here, it rained much of the time so I am not complaining. I'm looking forward to another lovely day in Munich tomorrow.
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Posted by familyineurope 14:08 Comments (1)

Dornheim, Mainz, and Oppenheim

Running, biking, ferries, trains, oh my!

Day 3
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We awoke to sunny skies around 5am. Gotta love jet lag. Luckily, the girls were quite the opposite. They slept for nearly 13 hours! We finally woke them up around 10am. It was relaxing hanging out around the home for a few hours before beginning our day. We enjoyed their fancy Saeco coffee machine and some yogurt and muesli.

The house in Dornheim:
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The kids are especially drawn to the friendly fish:
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After the kids awoke happy and ready to go, we headed to the nearby Dornheim bakery for delicious pastries. My almond/marzipan creation was still warm so delectable! Four fancy pastries cost around $5. After grabbing a few German snacks and beverages from the nearby store, we took the train to the town of Mainz.
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Mainz was bigger than I expected with a lovely old cathedral and lots of shopping. DD#2 was most impressed with her special blue slushee drink that turned her tongue blue. It was a hot day! We enjoyed stopping for bratwurst and beers while we wandered the town. Mainz is situated along the Rhine River.
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My step-sister (I'll call her C) picked us up at a nearby train station and took us back to Dornheim so I could get ready for a a 5K run in Groß-Gerau beginning at 7pm. It was nearly 90 degrees and running after my beer/brat lunch seemed a bit crazy. After seeing nearly 1,200 eager Germans ready to run, I became pretty excited! I ended up placing first in the 40+ women division and averaged 7:22 per mile. That is not my normal pace! I was pretty surprised. There were no kilometer markings along the way so I really didn’t know how much further I had to run. I ran on a team representing C's boyfriend’s (I’ll call him R) work team.
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The kids had fun playing at a playground during the race.
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After the run, I had a bunch of water and refreshing free beer. First time I’ve seen a bunch of runners drinking beer right after a race! We then ordered döner kebab from a nearby place. It was our first time enjoying this huge massive speciality that is found all over Germany. So messy but delicious!

Day 4 - 4th of July!

We all slept in until nearly 9am. We all needed it! We couldn’t help but return to the bakery for breakfast. Yummy! We were eager to bike to the nearby village of Oppenheim. C & R had arranged to borrow kid bikes from the neighbor. After making some adjustments on the kid bikes, we headed off. The kid bikes were bigger than our daughters were accustomed and they had hand brakes (they are used to coaster brakes). After the first few kilometers, we found our groove and headed through the wheat fields to Oppenheim.
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We had to take a ferry across the Rhine to get to the town. Kind of fun! On our ride back, a newly married couple was aboard. Everyone honked and the ferry spun a circle right in the middle of the river in honor of the couple. Neat!

Oppenheim was nearly 10 miles away by bike. We were tired and had to get ice cream and beer on the main square. A nice chance to catch our breath and take in the city.
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We walked to the large church that dominated the town. The stained glass was beautiful! We were most intrigued by the bone chapel behind the church. Around 20,000 bodies are stacked meticulously on display. Creepy but fascinating.
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Lastly, we climbed around 170 steps to the top of the church tower. We were the only ones up there! Fantastic views of Oppenheim and a ruined castle.
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On the ride back, we spotted deer, neat black and white birds, and bunnies. We stopped at a swimming lake for a quick dip. We were so fortunate to have R guiding us today. He took the day off to show us around. He is a volunteer lifeguard at the lake and helped us navigate on some narrow trails to access the lake.

We biked about 20 miles today. Wow! We were very impressed with the girls. They needed a few water stops but they were troopers and seemed to have a great time.
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We arrived back at Dornheim in time for a special 4th of July BBQ and World Cup soccer viewing. The streets of Germany were quiet as everyone was inside watching the big game against France. Germany won 1-0.

C & R had four friends join us for dinner. We had delicious salads and meats (and beer) for dinner. My step-brother gave me a great bier stein to take home. I enjoyed drinking from it on the 4th of July. We stayed up visiting until after midnight. The kids loved doing gymnastics in the yard and DD#1 managed herself very well after being stung by a bee. We look forward to visiting Dornheim again!
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Posted by familyineurope 13:24 Comments (2)

Reykjavik, Iceland Stopover

Sideways rain, wind, and a little chill didn't stop us!

July 1 - Reykjavik in 24 hours

After two lovely nights in Seattle visiting family, we began our 5 1/2 week journey to Europe! This time, we chose Icelandair mainly because of cheaper rates. The airline offers free stopovers in Iceland so we decided to stay one night and give it a try,
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The seven hour flight from Seattle was easy. Kids were happy with their individual screens and free kid meals. The adults managed with snacks. Icelandair is cheap because it's no frills. No one slept on the flight (Well, DH always manages a nap. Lucky guy.) so I knew jet lag would be interesting.
The look of jet lag:
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Upon landing, I was first struck by the smell of sulfer in the air. Iceland is known for its geothermal power beneath the surface. We took the flybus into Reykjavik - about 45 minutes. We were dropped off at our small guesthouse - Summerday. The room was not supposed to be ready until 2pm and we were there around 9am with very tired kids. The guesthouse earned HUGE points when they checked us in upon arrival. We all promptly crashed and napped just a bit.
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DD#1 and I wandered to a nearby store to find breakfast. Prices are steep in Iceland but much better at a grocery store. We found pastries and the famous skyr yogurty specialty that comes in liquid and more spoonable forms. Pretty good.
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The guesthouse earned even more points when they offered to drive us to a local thermal pool - Laugardalslaug. This was the best way to beat jet lag. The pool was fantastic! There were 3 different waterslides, several hot-pots ranging in temperature. One was empty because it was so hot. DH managed in that one for a bit. The kids particularly loved the ropes course over the water. Entrance to the pool was reasonable - I think around $13 for the family. We opted for this experience over the expensive Blue Lagoon. The kids loved it and I know that will be their fond memory of Iceland. They did not allow pictures in the pool so I'm including one I found online.

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We ate Icelandic hot dogs for an after pool snack just outside the pool. Word is that they eat a lot of hot dogs around here! We hopped on a city bus back to the guesthouse to change. Did I mention how terrible the weather was the entire time? It rained, and rained, and rained some more. We were very cold in the brisk wind despite wearing rain coats and a few layers underneath.
Some random sights around the city:
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Neat sink had high speed hand dryers attached:
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We quickly regrouped after swimming and took a bus to the downtown area. We were lucky to catch a great organist practicing in the famous Hallgrimskirkja church. The kids were quite content watching him play for a while. We took the elevator to the viewing platform at the top of the church tower. Very windy up there! We wandered around some of the more touristy parts of Reykjavik. After popping in a few shops, we ate dinner at Icelandic Fish & Chips. Not a cheap meal but tasty and filling. We enjoyed hearing Icelandic being spoken. The language both sounds and looks very Scandinavian. The signs made me think of IKEA.
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We did not try the krap:
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We made it back for beverages at our hotel. I thought I had purchased two beers but one of them was a nasty non-alcoholic malt drink. Must be an acquired taste. It was easy to crash for the night to prepare for our 4am flybus pick up time.

July 2 - Flight to Frankfurt

Flybus back to the airport was easy. The flight to Frankfurt was no problem - just three hours. We took the train from busy Frankfurt to Dornheim to stay with family. We were all tired again but revived to see familiar faces who made us feel at home. The kids played with the fish, settled in to their own room, and we finally unpacked a bit for the first time. Showers never felt so good!

We went out for a special Greek dinner right along the Rhine River. A lovely location to watch the boats and view the vineyards across the river. The weather was perfect and quite the welcome change from Iceland! The kids were managing themselves really well at this point. I was shocked that they hadn't napped and were staying happy. Maybe the stopover in Iceland had helped with jet lag. It's only day three so one can hope!
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After dinner, we walked down to the banks of the Rhine where the kids spent around 30 minutes finding special rocks and climbing around. They could have stayed for much longer but we knew they needed sleep!
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Dinner was delicious and we really enjoyed catching up with family. We stayed up a bit getting advice for the rest of our stay in the Frankfurt area.

Posted by familyineurope 23:29 Archived in Iceland Comments (2)

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