A Travellerspoint blog

June 2011

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!)

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.

We saw cheese being made in Ettal...
and then ate some.
The monastery in Ettal was beautiful despite the weather.

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!

At one point on the hike, we could be in Germany and Austria simultaneously! DH has a foot in each country.
Here is the ghost that lurked in the gorge. Poor DD#2 was freaked out for the rest of the hike after seeing this!
There were interesting things for kids all along the trail.

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!

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:

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.

I liked the name of this boat...

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.

I bought a poster of this King Ludwig exhibit:

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".

Our new "home" for four nights is in the house on the left.

Wednesday June 29

The mother of all castles!

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:

Another smaller castle off in the distance - Hohenschwangau.

We made a stop on the way out to photograph the new car with some nice scenery.

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!

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!

All and all, we had a great day and it's definitely time for bed. Zzzzzzzzz

Posted by familyineurope 12:33 Comments (0)

Berchtesgaden & Konigsee Lake in the SUN!

We started our day looking at this:
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.

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!

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.


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!

The kids lucked out with another scenic playground.


The ride back was just as peaceful. We were pretty exhausted by the sun and exercise.

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.

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!

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!
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.


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.


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.


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.

Our balcony is on the top left.
Here is the view!

The resident goats were a big hit with the girls.

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!


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.

We especially liked this Martin pretzel sign.

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.


Posted by familyineurope 11:47 Comments (0)

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

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.


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.
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.

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!

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.

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.


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!


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


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!

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.

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!

Posted by familyineurope 12:19 Comments (0)

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