A Travellerspoint blog

Berchtesgaden & Konigsee Lake in the SUN!

We started our day looking at this:
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The weather was awesome! We all had a great night's sleep so we were eager to get out and soak up the sun. We had our huge breakfast, as usual, and drove to Kognisee Lake. We boarded an electric boat for a 40 minute ride to St. Bartholoma Church. The church is known for its scenic location and distinct red domes.

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One of the neatest things on the boat was when the guide stopped to play a tune on his horn. The sound bounced off the cliffs and you could hear the echo very clearly. The kids thought there was another trumpet player somewhere copying!

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We decided to hike to the Eiskapelle (ice cave). The hike was strenuous and the girls had their ups and downs. DD#2 had one good fall and scraped her knee. We saw ice but I'm still unsure about where the cave was supposed to be. It was still a gorgeous walk. We were next to the 2nd largest mountain in Germany - Waltzmann.

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After the hike (2 1/2 hours), we were hungry and thirsty. Naturally there was a nice beer garden/restaurant near the church and boat landing. The specialty was smoked trout. Mmmmmmm!
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The kids lucked out with another scenic playground.

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The ride back was just as peaceful. We were pretty exhausted by the sun and exercise.
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We made a pit-stop at the store for picnic supplies, more milk, and much-deserved ice cream. We were ready to head back to the pension. We promised DD#1 that she could swim in the pension's pool when the temperature hit 70. This afternoon was her big chance. The pool was a "natural" pool without chemicals. It was very deep, rocky, slippery, and FREEZING cold. It wasn't quite the experience we were after but we made the best of it.
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It was already 6pm by that point so we decided to head back into town. Berchtesgaden is a 5 minute STEEP drive down a very narrow road. I think DH is starting to like the curvy narrow road. There are mirrors posted at the turns to spot oncoming traffic. We ate dinner at a nice beer garden and lucked out with another playground. After all this, the kids crashed hard and we called it a day!
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The view at dusk. Did I mention that this is a working farm as well? The farmer has been haying (same as my family back home) and the barn is right outside our balcony. The smell of fresh hay is making me a little homesick. I took lots of pictures of the farm equipment to show my family. What a nice day!
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We're off to Steingaden tomorrow. We will be near the big castles (Neuschwanstein, Linderhof, etc.) We may or may not have wi-fi so blog entries could be intermittent. Thanks for reading!

Posted by familyineurope 21:55 Comments (0)

Burghausen and Berchtesgaden

Saturday June 25 - After breakfast, we set out for Berchtesgaden, near Salzburg, Austria. We drove for a couple of hours mostly off the Autobahn on a smaller road. Our first stop was the longest castle complex in Europe - Burghausen.

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We parked at one end of the castle and walked to the other end. The castle stretched high along a ridge with the town below. The beginning of the complex was designed for the laborers. The middle part was for the chaplain and the main part for the dukes. We went inside the castle and climbed to the top. The castle was very medieval and sparcely decorated.

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After putting on a couple miles looking at the castle, we stopped at a random place for lunch. This turned out to be the best meal yet! Spaetzle (dense pasta) with fried onions and cheese, salad with prawns, and weiners.

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We continued driving and made our way into a bit of Austria. Diesel was cheaper in Austria so we filled up. The terrain changed greatly as we became closer to mountains that dramatically shot up from the ground. Where did these come from? We wound our way up a very narrow and steep hill as directed by the car's navigation. (Have I menioned what a fan I have become of navigation?) Finally we came upon our pension. We were pleasantly surprised by the incredible view of Berchtesgaden below! Wow! The room was comfortable and had Wi-Fi. The kids enjoyed watching some of their favorite cartoons in German. We were still full from lunch so we headed to the nearest grocery store and had a little picnic in our room.

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Our balcony is on the top left.
Here is the view!
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The resident goats were a big hit with the girls.
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Sunday June 26 - Salt Mine, Laundry, Rain, Relaxation

The news from today will be rather brief. We had an even better breakfast this morning. What a spread! We were all excited to see a variety of cereals and milk. The weather took a turn for the worse so we made a plan to tour the salt mine. We got there early which was smart because the place was mobbed when we left. We all enjoyed taking a little train deep into the mine, sliding down some steep slides to lower levels, taking a boat across a salt lake, and learning a bit about salt mining. It was also fun wearing matching miner outfits!

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The kids were already fading fast so DH dropped me off downtown Berchtesgaden with heaps of laundry while he took the girls back to nap. It turns out that laundromats are good places to strike up conversation! I met folks from the Czech Republic, Australia, and Germany. The machines in Germany also take INCREDIBLY long. It was nearly a three hour ordeal to complete two lousy loads of laundry. Luckily I was able to sneak a few walks around the town while waiting.
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We especially liked this Martin pretzel sign.
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We found a nice park for the kids and ended our shorter day with pizza in the main part of town. We came back early and took a short walk and enjoyed watching the sunset from our balcony. We're supposed to have much better weather tomorrow.

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Posted by familyineurope 11:47 Comments (0)

BMW Delivery, Playmobil Park, Nuremberg, Regensberg oh my!

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Wednesday June 22 – We began our day at the BMW Welt where DH went through the process of collecting his new car. We checked into the premium lounge for customers and were astounded by the service. Tons of food choices for breakfast! There was also an area for the kids to play. I was ready to move into this lounge. The staff was incredibly nice and did nice things for the kids. It was good timing because DD#2 had had another rough night and I’d about had it with her! She seems to finally be on German time now.

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DH had a few meetings to learn more about the car. We all went down to the level where they display the cars being delivered. Each car spins on its own turn-table. Neat! They took pictures of us by the car and explained the features to DH. After this, we drove the car on a victory lap and out the building. DH then took a tour of the factory where his car was built. I continued my quest to move into the lounge upstairs. They brought out the lunch items and we ate yet again. We were all entertained so we stayed for a couple more hours.
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We then drove about an hour to a small town outside Regensberg. We were excited to drive up to a beautiful and historic brewery complex. There is a church, some ruins, several old buildings, all surrounded by a rock wall. Our room is pretty simple but comfortable. The best feature is the beer vending machine at the bottom of the stairs. No kidding! For 1 Euro out pops a bottle of the beer brewed on premises. We ate a typical German dinner at the restaurant located here (Prosslbrau Adlersberg). It’s nice to see prices have dropped now that we’re out of the big city.
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Thursday June 23 – I began my day with a nice run up the hill to the next village. It’s fun to get a closer look at homes decorated with flowers, garden gnomes, and solar panels (lots of solar going on around here). We then went downstairs for a typical German breakfast. It’s so nice that it is included with the room rate. More food than we could possibly eat!
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Our big goal today was the Playmobil Theme Park near Nuremburg. It was an hour or so away on the autobahn. It’s fun driving an average or 80-90mph! I think 110 was the high. DH is still breaking in the car. The kids LOVED the Playmobil park. I was also pretty amazed at how many options there were for climbing, sliding, and creative play. It was busy but there were still no lines. This is an unusual theme park in that there are no rides. The philosophy is all about physical activity and creativity.
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After many hours at the park, including a lunch break, we headed into downtown Nuremburg. What an amazing city! There is an ancient wall surrounding the old city. We walked around the old town, peeked inside a couple churches, ordered traditional Nuremburg sausages on the street, and munched on ice cream. The kids hung in there really well despite being a long and physically demanding day.

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We made our way back to Adlersberg, used the vending machine, and called it a night!
Random thought – why doesn’t anyone drink milk here? My kids haven’t had a glass of milk since we left. They have been asking for it! We’re definitely making a run to the store tomorrow. Stores and many restaurants were closed today due to a religious holiday.

Friday June 24 - Another day exploring the area near Regensberg.

After another filling breakfast, we drove around 30 k to the village of Kelheim. First we visited an amazing architectural wonder called the Befreiunghalle. It was part of our palace pass that we purchased in Munich so entry was free. The structure was amazing and we were able to climb to the top - I enjoy climbing to the top of just about anything!

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After this climb, we boarded a boat on the Danube that took us through some massive cliffs to the Weltenburg Abbey. This is the home of Weltenburg beer - and our lunch. We enjoyed the boat ride and meandering around the abbey

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We made a pit-stop at a grocery store for some snacks and some much needed milk for the girls. They downed A LOT of milk!
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The last portion of our day was to finally explore the town of Regensberg. We found parking in the old center and began our walk through a maze of narrow streets. I wondered how we'd ever find our car again! There was a huge festival going on in the town. Apparently it only happens every other year for a weekend. There were food booths everywhere, arts, crafts, live music, beer, etc... It was quite the happening place! We stumbled upon a bouncy structure just below the largest church in town. It seemed kind of funny to have the kids jumping around right below such a monstrosity of a church! They burned off some energy and we came across a live jazz band. We bought a couple sandwiches and ate dinner on the tables outside. I pondered the bathroom situation as I watched the volume of beer being consumed. Hmmmm. Where were the portable toilets that you often see at US festivals? All and all, we liked Regensberg a lot. Although the festival was great, I'd like to return when it's a normal day.
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We ended our day at the beer garden at our zimmer. We enjoyed our stay but were ready and eager to move on to Berchtesgaden tomorrow!
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Posted by familyineurope 12:19 Comments (0)

Munich – Frolicking Bunnies, Birds Singing, & the BEER!

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Finally – a blog post while we are traveling! We spent the first three nights of our trip in Munich at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel. Wi-Fi was offered at some crazy price of 5 Euros for 30 minutes. I’m finally able to post while sitting at the super cool BMW Welt while DH collects his new car. (“Collect” truly is the proper verb. They don’t say “buy” or “purchase” here at BMW.)
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Air Travel with the munchkins: Luckily, I have little to report on the 11+ hours of airplane travel. Lufthansa was great and having seat-back TV screens was AWESOME! The kids zoned out and crashed hard. DD#2 slept for at least six hours straight. I spent most the time watching my family sleep. I don’t sleep well on planes. The food was average and the vino pretty good! The kids were especially impressed with the toilets that were located downstairs in the plane. Overall, this was one of the best long flights I’ve been on.
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First evening – We arrived in Munich late. We used the Lufthansa Airportbus to take us to our hotel. It was well worth the 20 Euros. People sure drive fast around here! The hotel room is great – especially considering it was a steal using Priceline. We have a nice balcony that faces some trees filled with singing birds. There is a grocery store and a bakery located in the hotel. That has been very convenient.

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Although we were tired, it was around 7pm when we finally checked in, we were eager to walk to a biergarten! We bought a 3 day subway pass (around 20 Euro) and traveled a couple stops to a nearby biergarten. Sadly, after a 15+ minute walk with tired kids, we struck out. Things close early here on Sundays. Luckily, we walked past an Italian-ish joint and had a pretty good first meal.

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Monday June 20 – We started the day at the little bakery. I think we were their first customers. We all woke up around 5am. Gotta love jet lag! We are all BIG fans of the German baked goods around here. Yum! Next we took the subway to the BMW Welt and watched DH drool over the cars and amazing architecture. It was only 8:30am at this point and nothing was open. We meandered to the nearby Olympic grounds and were the first ones to the top of the Olympiaturm. It’s the tallest structure in Munich. It was kind of chilly outside and drizzling off and on.

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After this, we took the subway downtown to the Marienplatz. I wanted the girls to finally see what old (or rebuilt in this case) European architecture looks like. We wandered and climbed to the top of St. Peter’s church. I think we all liked the views here better than the Olympiaturm. I think I forgot to mention another stop at a German bakery. We couldn’t help ourselves! Hey, we’d been up since 5am!

After more wandering through the markets and busy streets, we found a recommended restaurant for lunch – Andescher am dom. They served the famous Andechs beer that DH and I enjoyed on our last trip. We finally had some fantastic wurst for lunch. After a quick peek in another church, we took two melting down kids back to the hotel for naps.

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4+ hours later….. (yes, we all accidentally fell asleep) we realized all attractions were probably closed. Since we had energy, we decided to hit a couple of biergartens for dinner. Did I mention that it was still cold and drizzly? First stop was the Augustiner biergarten. Where was everyone? The garden was nearly empty. We sat by the playground and let the kids play for a while. None of the self-service food stands were open like we had hoped. Luckily, the Augustiner had a neat downstairs cellar restaurant with a live oompah band. We enjoyed a Bavarian cheese plate down there and relaxed for a while. Does this sound like enough for one day? Of course not!
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We continued on a tram to the largest biergarten in the world – the Hirschgarten! It was in a lovely park that was MUCH more walking than anticipated. Our poor kids! They mostly kept it together although we buckled and carried the 4 year old too much. Sore back and shoulders! The Hirschgarten was also pretty empty and we had to eat at the restaurant part. This was getting expensive. A new strategy was in the works for tomorrow…. Anyway, we enjoyed spetzle and pork with more beer. I cringe a bit when going over just how much we ate today. However, it seemed like two days. Does that count? The kids kept calling the morning’s activities yesterday. The walk back to the subway from Hirschgarten was longer than expected. Luckily, there were adorable bunnies hopping all over the place which kept the kids entertained. We were fascinated by the number of bikes outside of the subway stop. It’s Munich-style park and ride!

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Tuesday June 21 – Ahhhh – relaxed and up a whole hour later than yesterday. 6am. I was ready to run off some of that wurst and cheese. I went for a long run through the Englischer Garden. It reminded me a lot of Central Park in New York. I had considered coming back to the Garden later in the day but realized just how much walking is involved. I love walking but after yesterday I vowed to be more considerate to 4 and 6 year old legs.

We ate at the nearby bakery again and headed off to Nymphenburg Palace. It was a long subway and tram ride. Luckily we are public transportation geeks and enjoy the novelty! The palace was beautiful despite the main building being wrapped in tarps. (Lots of construction going on.) We bought a 14 day palace pass that is good for many of the castles we plan to visit in Bavaria. It seemed like a good deal for 40 Euros. The palace was full of rococo gold cherubs and paintings. The chandeliers were particularly impressive. The girls liked the old stable where the Cinderella-esque carriages and sleighs were kept. We grabbed a quick sandwich and buttered pretzels at a bakery and ate on the tram. (The girls already have a thing for the pretzels that are sliced and filled with an obscene amount of butter!)

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Again, the girls were wearing down – especially DD#2. DH and I decided to divide and conquer. He took DD#1 back to the BMW Welt and Museum while I took DD#2 to the hotel for a needed nap.

Random things I’m noticing: there don’t seem to be drinking fountains ANYWHERE! Water really does cost 4+ Euros in a restaurant. We’re carrying water bottles from now on. Beer is around 75cents in the grocery store vs. 3,50 Euros in a biergarten. Hmmmm … I’m starting to do the math here. Math is never good on vacation.

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I know this is super detailed. I probably won't be able to keep this up!

Stay tuned for the next post about our experience at the BMW Welt picking up the car. Unbelievable service! I'll wait until I have photos to do it justice! That's all for now!

Posted by familyineurope 01:24 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Packing 101

Here are some of the special things we're bringing along to help our 47 day journey!

We're a little over 3 weeks from lift-off and have been busily making lists and purchasing special items. We both read a lot of travel blogs and guidebooks and although we plan to pack light, we think we have a few special items that will make traveling easier. For instance, I bought myself this cute and functional Baggallini purse for Mother's Day. Love it!

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Naturally, we can't leave home without the basics:
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Passports, International Driving Permit, & guide to our new BMW

Since we're bringing along the 4 and 6 year old daughters, I have been strategically buying little things to pack away for the entire trip. I'm going to hide most of these things in various parts of the luggage. I love shopping for these spoiled girls!
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Even though our car will have GPS, I went ahead and printed maps from www.viamichelin.com. These maps are very detailed and might make the passenger (me, mostly) feel a little bit in control. I think it's important to have GPS back-up! Besides, I really love studying maps.
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My friends joke about my three-ring binder. It is coming together. I have a section for each location with researched attractions and restaurants. I'm not set on following every single thing. I just like to have options available. Tripadvisor has been invaluable for finding current reviews on restaurants and family-friendly attractions.
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We've chosen the following guidebooks to bring along. I know it seems like a lot. I'm probably going to tear apart the Rick Steves Germany book and only take the relevant chapters.
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We'll also bring along a D-Day book to read about the Normandy invasion. I'm a reader so a couple novels and books for work will come along.

A good friend recommended we bring a few Oregon-made items along. If we meet someone particularly friendly and helpful, we can give a small gift of appreciation. I hope to add a few more things to this pile before we leave. You'll also see a small photo album. This contains pictures from Oregon. If people we meet want to see where we are from or we are feeling homesick, we can have a visual reminder.
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This next photo is a few random things that might make life easier. Starbucks Via might fulfill our American coffee need in a pinch! I am looking forward to European espresso and cappuccinos. But in case it's not available.... The collapsible cooler will help with our picnics - which will happen often. We've read that packable grocery bags are handy. The battery-operated votive candles will be makeshift nightlights in case we stay in a place with dark bathrooms. These are mostly for the kids.
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Naturally, electrical adapters are necessary in Europe. The nitrile gloves are all for my DH. He has heard repeatedly that diesel pumps at filling stations can make quite a mess and people often wear gloves when refueling.
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Not pictured will be items like music on MP3 sticks, zip-locs, rubber bands, baby wipes, packable duffel bag (for items we purchase abroad), etc... Despite all that we're bringing, I do hope to purchase some necessities in Europe. For instance, I'm planning to buy shampoo, soap, toothpaste, laundry detergent, and other toiletries while on the road. I think it will be intersting to try some non-American brands.

If you're still reading this boring post, bravo! You are a true friend. I have a feeling that the blog posts when we are actually in Europe will be far more interesting!

Posted by familyineurope 20:50 Comments (0)

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