A Travellerspoint blog

Luge, Linderhof, and Annecy, France!

July 1, 2011

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The weather turned nasty overnight. We had some serious thunder and lightning. I stayed up to watch the “fireworks”. It was funny to wake up in the morning and see the cows out our balcony completely unfazed.

We had another slow morning enjoying coffee, muesli, yogurt, and cereal. After spending time in this apartment, I think we all agree that travelling with a kitchen and separate bedrooms is the way to go!

We took a chance in a rain-break and headed near the big castles to the luge track. The track was closed when we arrived but we bought tickets upon hearing they’d open in 30 minutes or so. There was a fun playground in which to pass the time.
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The luge was fantastic! Both DDs were speed demons and had no problem with me going full-throttle down the metal track. DH wasn’t as lucky on his run and got behind some slow-pokes. This particular luge track wasn’t as great as one we’d visited in Austria years ago. Still, it was an adventure and a good way to spend the morning.
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We headed to Reutte, Austria for lunch. We found a recommended casual restaurant where we enjoyed fish, blintzes, and more croquettes!
We took a long and scenic drive along Plansee Lake. Gorgeous!
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A ton of motorcycles were along this road. Soon the weather took a serious turn for the worse! There was serious side-ways rain and hail. Still, we went to Linderhof Castle – the last of King Ludwig’s castles. We hopped on a 20 minute English tour and really enjoyed the ornate and smaller palace. The grounds outside were amazing. It’s too bad we really couldn’t enjoy them completely in the pouring rain. We did our best!
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We stopped at a grocery store for dinner fixings for grilled sandwiches. DH took a solo shopping tour in a Bavarian bottle shop. Sixteen bottles later…. It’s hard to stop yourself when surrounded by so many quality beers topping out around .79cents per bottle!
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We had a relaxing evening at home (drinking no where NEAR sixteen bottles) and enjoying the apartment for the last evening.
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Saturday July 2nd – drive to Annecy, France

Today’s entry is very short. We left Steingaden around 10am and began our 6+ hour drive through Austria and Switzerland to Annecy. The drive was mostly uneventful. We fueled up in Austria (cheaper there) and bought some cherries – first of the year for us! We hit nasty traffic near Zurich and were impressed by the many long tunnels.

We stopped for a quick lunch at an auto-stop in Switzerland. The stop had a mini-mall over the freeway with crazy expensive prices! We opted for the Burger King. I lost my appetite when I saw the prices. John had a cheeseburger and the kids shared one chicken nugget meal for around $15. Gulp! I was happy eating gummy bears, (can we say gummy tummy ache?) nuts, and cherries.
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Finally after a couple nasty tantrums (I’m mostly speaking of the children), we arrived in Annecy! The drive to our hotel was sketchy because the parking was in a pedestrian-only area. Yikes! Even though we’re sharing a room again, the room is charming and we’re a one minute walk from the old town.

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We rewarded our long drive with a typical Savoyard dinner – fondue! DH and I each ordered a different kind of fondue. Two massive cauldrons of melted cheese arrived at our table. I don’t care if I ever see cheese again! The fondue was delicious and the kids thought it was a kick. After a quick gelato stop for the kids (gelato is EVERYWHERE), we got the girls to sleep.

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I was able to sneak out for an hour walk discovering the magic of Annecy. What a gorgeous town! It really came alive on a Saturday night. People were everywhere dancing, eating late, and wandering the streets. I even peeked into a couple of churches and was the only one in the whole place! It was a great walk after a long drive. Whew – what a day!
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Sunday July 3rd

We slept in until 8:30 or so. I quickly got up and went for a run. I was so excited to see that a huge market was just getting started! I ran part way around the lake and was excited for a our first full day in France complete with fantastic weather!
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We wandered around the very busy market and bought delicious baked goods. We found a canal-side café for coffee. Mmmmm – perfect! The kids were in a good mood and all was well.
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Next we went by the lake and discovered that a big triathlon was taking place. We watched the swimmers come off the lake and down the canal and hop on their bikes. The kids played at a couple playgrounds while we watched the crowds. The kids rode the town carrousel too.
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After more walking, we grabbed a couple sandwiches and took them to our hotel outdoor seating area that overlooks the city.
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We then put on our swimsuits and took a drive part-way around the lake to a beach. The beaches were crazy busy today! Still, we paid our entry fee (nothing is free) and swam in the lake. DD#1 and I went down the slide a few times right into the lake and swam out to a floating deck. The lake was cold but so clean. It felt great! DD#2 had more fun at a man-made kiddie wading pool.
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There was amazing number of para-gliders all over the sky. It was like a swarm! At one point, I counted nearly 50 of them.
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We returned to our hotel, regrouped and went out for dinner. After some walking, hitting a playground, a pharmacy (DD#1 has a little cold/cough), we found a pizza place for dinner. We were almost the first ones there because people eat so late around here! The pizza comes as an uncut disk – interesting. Food was good and filling and nice to be eating outside once again. We made a quick gelato stop , had a few silly poses, and called it a day.
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Tomorrow - our incredible day at Chamonix. I'm a day behind. Happy 4th of July everyone!

Posted by familyineurope 12:52 Comments (0)

Ettal Monastery, Cheese, and Leutascher Geisterklamm Hike

Thursday June 30

We started our day with some serious rain. Last night's lightning and thunder was impressive. The cows seen from our balcony seemed unfazed. (The cows really wear bells here!)
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It was nice having a lazy morning enjoying breakfast at home. The girls especially needed some downtime.

We have encountered quite a bit of road construction but have never seen a road flagger. They always have portable stoplights. Seems like a good idea.
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We saw cheese being made in Ettal...
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and then ate some.
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The monastery in Ettal was beautiful despite the weather.
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We took a chance and continued on to the town of Mittenwald. Our plan was to take a hike along a gorge that was haunted by a friendly ghost. Luckily, the weather cleared up and we enjoyed a pretty drive by the tallest mountains in Germany. The walk along the gorge was completed in 2005 and cost 1.4 million Euros. They had to use helicopters to lower in the bridges across the gorge. As usual, the walk ended up being longer than expected - around 4 kilometers. We especially enjoyed the sections that clung to the side of the gorge!
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At one point on the hike, we could be in Germany and Austria simultaneously! DH has a foot in each country.
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Here is the ghost that lurked in the gorge. Poor DD#2 was freaked out for the rest of the hike after seeing this!
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There were interesting things for kids all along the trail.
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After the hike, we drove to a grocery store and bought snacks and dinner. I love spending time in grocery stores exploring all the unfamiliar products! I could easily spend a couple of hours perusing the aisles. Strange, I know. We made it home and relaxed. I'm already eager for our last day in Bavaria tomorrow! Luge, Linderhof, Reutte are on the itinerary. Stay tuned.

Quick question of the day. We saw little wooden huts all over the countryside. What are these for? Storing hay? Email me if you know!
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Posted by familyineurope 12:36 Comments (0)

Mad King Ludwig's Castles (and some waterslides)

Just had to start off with this picture of the day:
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Tuesday June 28th

We left Berchtesgaden around 10am and enjoyed our drive through many pretty villages surrounded by mountains. Our first stop was Herrenchiemsee Castle. This was one of King Ludwig II's castles located on an island on Chiemsee Lake. I thought this would be a quick stop en route to Steingaden but it took several hours! We boarded a ferry and took a 20 minute ride to the island.
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I liked the name of this boat...
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After we arrived on the island, we had a 20 minute walk to the palace. The palace was modeled after Versailles in Paris. We were not allowed to take pictures of the interior. We took a 35 minute tour, in English! The rooms were over-the-top gorgeous with ornate golden everything, tapestries, paintings, etc... The outdoor fountain/garden area was a great place to wait until our tour time.
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I bought a poster of this King Ludwig exhibit:
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Since the whole experience took longer than expected, we ate lunch at the VERY average restaurant in the palace. After another hot walk back to the boat, we eagerly hopped into the air condintioned car. We still had about 2 hours of driving to get to our next apartment. The apartment is located right next to Wies Kirche - about 20 minutes from Neuschwanstein Castle. We were nearly ecstatic to see our two bedroom apartment! It's been fun and all sharing one room for the last nine nights but we were ready for a separate adult bedroom. The kitchen is great too. We went to the store and stocked up on breakfast items and dinner. It was great making pasta and eating at "home".
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Our new "home" for four nights is in the house on the left.
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Wednesday June 29

The mother of all castles!
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We woke the kids early in order to make our morning ticket reservations at Neuschwanstein Castle. After a quick breakfast at our apartment, we drove on to castle land! The first glimpse of the castle is breathtaking. It's too bad it takes around 30 minutes to hike up to the entrance. DD#2 was having quite a grumpfest kind of day. We weren't going to let a four year old spoil the fun! The weather was perfect and we had a great time feeling like we were part of a fairy tale. We took a gazillion pictures but here are a couple:
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Another smaller castle off in the distance - Hohenschwangau.
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We made a stop on the way out to photograph the new car with some nice scenery.
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DD#2 desperately needed a nap and an attitude adjustment so we went back home. DD#1 and I went for a walk around the area and played a couple games on our balcony. Travel Sorry is great!

After nap time, we went to an indoor pool in Oberammergau - a town about 25 minutes away. There was a thunder storm coming in so being indoors was good. The pool was amazing! There were many different kinds of pools including a room with two waterslides. We spent pretty much all our time in this room! It's a good thing that I enjoy a fun waterslide too. The best part was that we almost had the whole place to ourselves. No lines!
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After wearing ourselves out, we had dinner at a place that made their own cheese - Schonegger Kase Alm in our little town of Steingaden. We sat outside and had a locally made beer with some fantastic food. We were really hungry!
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All and all, we had a great day and it's definitely time for bed. Zzzzzzzzz
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Posted by familyineurope 12:33 Comments (0)

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)

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