A Travellerspoint blog

Rhine River, Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Mom Arrives, Black Forest

Last days in Germany. Boats, chairlifts, gondolas, luges, zip-lining, and more!

Circle tour around Bingen & Rudesheim

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We began another sunny day with C & R. I started with a short run around the countryside before heading to a yummy bakery. We drove about 40 minutes to the riverside town of Bingen. We were eager to buy the "ring ticket" which combined a boat ride, a mini-gondola, a hike to a famous statue, a chair lift, and a boat back to where we started. We had a little time to kill before the first boat departed so we found a convenient beer garden.

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After the first boat ride, we arrived in the adorable town of Rudesheim. We walked down a popular skinny street to the gondola lift. Each gondola only fit two people. We were so happy to have such a beautiful day to ride over the vineyards lining the Rhine River.

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After the 10 minute gondola ride, we hiked up to a famous statue with amazing views over the valley and river below.

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We hiked another 30 minutes to the chair lift that took us back down to the riverside. It was a slow and quiet lift except for the noisy birds. I could listen to German birds all day long. Such sweet singing!

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Finally, we took our boat back to the starting point after going past a castle or two. We had a quick pizza snack before concluding the ring.

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The guys decided to head back to the house while the girls headed to a fun outdoor pool in Wiesbaden. The pool was chilly but the slides were awesome and we took some great pictures of the kids hurling themselves off the diving boards.

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We ordered doner kebab for dinner. Delicious! R took each kid for an adventurous ride on his 4-wheeler. They spotted deer, bunnies, and stork on their rides. We sat outside and visited until too late once again.

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Darmstadt, World of Beer, Mini-Golf, & Last BBQ

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On our last full-day in the Frankfurt area, we decided to take it easy. R and I walked to the nearby bakery for a few breakfast goodies. We weren't in a hurry to go anywhere today, which was really nice. We decided to check out the nearby town of Darmstadt. We explored the HUGE Maruhn beverage store before hitting the center of town. So many beers from all over the world!

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We really liked the livable town of Darmstadt. I'm so impressed with the pedestrian areas in every German town I've visited. We had ice cream, did a little shopping, found a local brewery for lunch, and went to a grocery store to buy a few German snacks.

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We also went to a park just outside of town where DH, C and the girls played mini-golf. R and I went for a walk on some pretty trails.

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We had another BBQ with yummy meats and salads. C went to the trouble to prepare white asparagus, spargel, two different ways. Spargel is only available during this season. We also had a yummy cocktail that seems to be very popular around here - an aperol spritzer. They made fantastic ones! It was a very nice last evening in Dornheim. We are so lucky and thankful to have spent such wonderful time with family. They really showed us a great time!

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Frankfurt, Mom Arrives, Drive to the Black Forest

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After some goodbyes to family, we drove to Frankfurt to check out the city and eagerly await for my mom to arrive at the airport in the afternoon. We parked at the airport, took the train into the city, found a bakery for breakfast, and explored several parts of the city.

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We climbed 323 steps up to the top of Frankfurt's largest church. Stunning views of the city from the top.

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We found more ice cream, walked across a pedestrian bridge that was filled with love locks, and took the train back to the airport.

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We waited a long time for my mom to arrive. The Frankfurt airport is huge so there was a mix-up in finding the right meeting place. Once we were finally reunited, we drove south toward the Black Forest. We made a quick stop in Baden-Baden for dinner at a traditional (touristy!) biergarten.

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We were very happy and relieved to finally arrive at our cute farm apartment at 9:30pm. What a day!

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Zip-lining and Luging through the Black Forest. Woohoo!

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After waking up to more bird singing, we made our way to the nearby town of Hornberg for another bakery and coffee. We sat on a picturesque square and looked up at a castle above. We decided to drive up there to investigate. Great views of the valley to start our day.

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We stopped at a grocery store for breakfast foods and a few random snacks. Then it was time to split up for separate adventures. My mom, DH, and DD#1 went off on a zip-lining excursion while DD#2 and I went to a nearby luge and outdoor folk museum. (DD#2 was too small for the zip-line.) Both activities were such an adrenaline rush! My mom was so brave and loved racing above the Black Forest. The luge was very fast with sharp turns. We went as fast as we could!

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We all reassembled for a few more luge runs. My mom and DD#2 got the fastest clocked speed - 51.6 km/hr with me and DD#2 at 51.3 km/hr in 2nd place. Still can't believe my mom beat me!

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Our guesthouse gave us a free pass to use the train system so we decided to take advantage. We took a 1/2 hour ride through the forest to a small town called Alpirsbach which has a highly-rated brewery and biergarten. We relaxed outside and shared smoked trout and more sausage before taking the scenic train back.

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After this adventurous day, we were more than happy to return to our little farm cottage to watch the cows and listen to the birds.

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Steinwasen Amusement Park and Freiberg

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I went for a run and we had a quick breakfast in our little apartment before making an hour drive to Steinwasen Park. The roads were so hilly, narrow, and windy. We're relieved that no one got car sick! The amusement park was fantastic. There were no lines or crowds and the rides were unique and just plain fun! We were able to go on every ride multiple times. It did rain pretty hard at one point and we were all soaked. But we were having so much fun that it didn't really bother anyone. The amusement park had a bobsled, a luge, a chairlift, a cool water rafting ride, a couple fast indoor rides, a 4D theater ride, as well as lots of play structures, animals, and scenery. I am a big fan of these little German amusement parks. Three years ago, we visited Bayern Park which was a little bigger but had a similar vibe.

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We had a quick lunch at the park before going on even more rides. (I finally tried the famous Black Forest cake.)

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After we finally wore ourselves out, we made a short drive to the very pleasant town of Freiberg. We found a brewery for a beer (yes, there is a pattern) and did a little shopping and exploring before picking an amazing doner place for dinner. Euphrat Restaurant had a line out the door and it was easy to see why. Yum! We had more ice cream, drove a different way back to our apartment, and called it a day.

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The girls jumped on the trampoline in the rain for nearly an hour. Finally, I had the time to work on this blog. I will be sad to leave Germany tomorrow but am eager to return to France. We have a long drive to Amboise, France ahead.

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Posted by familyineurope 22:27 Archived in Germany Tagged germany frankfurt luge rudesheim darmstadt freiberg dornheim gutach zip-line Comments (1)

Wurzburg, Heidelberg & Dornheim, Germany.

Even more castles, swimming, hiking, eating, and exploring!

A perfect afternoon in Wurzburg

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We left our hotel just outside of Bamberg around 10am after a quick breakfast from the nearby bakery. We made the relatively short drive to the Marienberg Fortress in Wurzburg. It towers impressively over the beautiful city. We wandered the site for at least an hour snapping pictures and exploring. We stopped at the fortress cafe for another coffee and were shocked to see a family that we knew from our hometown in Oregon. Truly amazing! DD#2 and their daughter both sang in the same choir last year. What's more shocking is that we ran into the same family when we were visiting Washington DC last March. What a small world! Here's DD#2 and her choir friend along with other pictures of the fortress:

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We reparked the car in the city center and ate at a pizza place recommended by a friend who lived here for a while. Great recommendation!

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We happily wandered this very pleasant city, looked inside of at least three churches, and walked across the old bridge, Alte Mainbrucke. The views were spectacular all over this picturesque town. When I move to Germany in my dreams, Wurzburg is at the top of the list. I know we will come back to this charming town someday.

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We refueled the car for the first time and headed to Dornheim to stay with family for the next four nights. Soon after arrival, we drove to the nearby swimming lake for a quick swim on another hot day.

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Finally, we were treated to a wonderful BBQ with friends and family. There were amazing salads, meats, bread, beer, and great company. No one seemed in a hurry and we sat and visited until nearly midnight.

Heidelberg

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DH and I were surprised to wake up at 9am. Oops! I guess we needed some sleep. We had a relaxing breakfast outside with C & R before taking two cars to Heidelberg for the day. We found parking right in the city center and even the car had a good view.

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We rode two separate funiculars up to the top of Heidelberg's hill - around 2000 ft. It was such a beautiful day and it felt great to be out in nature.

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There were amazing views from the top and we took a steep walk back down to the down through the trees.

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We wandered around the castle for a while soaking it all in and taking pictures. At so many of these castles, I stop and think of how in the world they were built! Every brick had to be hauled up a hill without modern machinery. I'm sure many laborers never even saw the project finished in their lifetime.

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We saw the world's largest wine barrel. Incredible!

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After a quick sausage snack, we wandered the lower part of the town and took more pictures from the old bridge. We also managed to get a picture of the six of us.

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The kids found the lucky monkey symbol of Heidelberg and we rubbed him for good luck.

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After a little shopping and walking along the very long pedestrian drag, we drove to a restaurant along the Rhine River for dinner. Schnitzel. Yum!

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Another day in the books! We are so thankful to have family show us around Germany.

Posted by familyineurope 23:33 Archived in Germany Tagged germany heidelberg wurzburg dornheim Comments (1)

New car, Nuremberg, & Bamberg!

Finally got some sweet wheels, castles, gorgeous towns, more swimming & more beer gardens!

BMW European Delivery!

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We left our hotel early and headed to the BMW Welt to collect our new car. Again, we are feeling incredibly lucky and spoiled to have such opportunities. We had a light breakfast in the lounge area and got a thorough explanation of the car from a knowledgeable guy named Rudolph. The car is wonderful and DH couldn't be more happy. We relaxed for a while in the lounge before making the relatively short drive to Nuremberg for lunch.

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It is so handy having sim cards in our phones for google maps, messaging, phone calls, Facebook, etc... Every time we travel, it's a little easier to stay connected. I admit that I miss the aimless wandering that I've always enjoyed. Sometimes it's too predictable to have the google lady tell you about every turn. I think we will have to turn her off at some point! We found the famous Nuremberg sausage place - Bratwursthaustl. We could see the famous finger-sized sausages cooked over open flames.

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We walked in the heat uphill to the Nuremberg Castle. Nuremberg was seriously bombed in WWII. They have rebuilt much of the city and construction and restoration was still going on at the castle today. We climbed the tower for some lovely views and got to see the old castle's well. The guide poured water into the well so you could hear just how deep it was. She also lowered candles that were surrounded by modern cameras so you could view the interior of the well on a screen. We didn't understand the German commentary but it was still interesting.

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We found ice-cream, a few more photo-ops, and a grocery store for some supplies before driving a bit further to our hotel. We are staying at Gasthof Schilller just outside of Bamberg. It's a smallish hotel with a popular beer garden outside. We noticed that we were the only English-speaking people at dinner. We opted for salad and fish after many pork and sausage-heavy meals.

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DH and I happily enjoyed a beer while the girls went up to the room to hang out. All and all, a really pleasant day in northern Bavaria.

Bamberg

After a nice run, in the countryside, we started our day with another typical German breakfast. The kids are most fascinated with the cool automatic espresso machines. I admit that they are pretty nifty! We drove about 20 minutes to the Bamberg Altenburg Castle. It had yet another tower to climb with beautiful views overlooking Bamberg. I might just attempt to climb a tower a day on this trip! This tower was especially interesting because it had been turned into a cell phone tower. A little blending of old and new, I guess.

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After wandering around the beautiful castle for a while, we drove to a very different attraction - Bambados. Bambados is an amazing swimming center with both indoor and outdoor pools and slides. Temperatures reached the low 90s today so swimming was a priority. DH decided to go for a drive in the new car while the rest of us swam. The waterslide area was the favorite. We were the only people on the slides! Unbelievable! There were some challenges with understanding German instructions. No one yelled at us so I consider that a good day. At one point, the kids took a break for a blue slushie while I had a beer. Shocking, I know.

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DH kindly picked us up before heading to Mahrs Brewing for lunch. Mahrs is imported to Oregon sporadically so we knew we wanted to try it at the source. We had a simple lunch of salad and sausages. Unfortunately, it was getting very hot.

Still, we persevered and parked near Bamberg's center. We wandered, shopped a little (DD#1 got Birkenstocks), and took pictures. It's really a gorgeous town. I hope to return someday. Bamberg seems to have escaped much of WWII's bombs unlike nearby Nuremberg. It's easy to see why it's a Unesco Heritage Site.

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We were wiped, sweaty, and tired. So after a quick stop at a grocery store, we headed back to Gasthof Schiller for more chill-out time in the biergarten before calling it a night.

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Posted by familyineurope 14:21 Archived in Germany Tagged germany bmw munich nuremberg bamberg Comments (0)

Unexpected Reykjavik and Beautiful Munich

Summer is here! Biking, swimming, history, beer, and more!

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After planning this mega-trip for close to a year, it's almost surreal to be on the actual vacation! So many hours of planning and anticipation went into this trip and we are so incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.

We flew from Seattle to Iceland for what was supposed to be a short stopover. Our plane was finally about to land near Reykjavik (500 ft from the ground) when we quickly switched directions and gained elevation. All of a sudden, the flight data screen was listing an entirely different airport on the east side of Iceland. No immediate word from the pilot. I'm a nervous flyer so any deviation from the plan causes me a lot of anxiety. Eventually, the pilot said there wasn't enough visibility to land and we didn't have enough fuel to circle and wait for the fog to lift. So we landed at a dinky little Icelandic airport, refueled, and made our way back to the main Iceland airport. Weather had cleared and I was so happy when the landing gear made contact with the ground! Sadly, we missed our connecting flight to Munich. I was very impressed with Icelandair's service. They rebooked us on a flight 24 hours later and sent us to a nice hotel in Reykjavik with all meals and transportation paid by the airline. We were sad to miss a day in Munich but decided to make the most of the time in Iceland.

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We ate an amazing breakfast at the Foss Hotel and promptly crashed for a few hours. Weather wasn't great but we finally did manage a walk around the town. We were particularly impressed with the beautiful and modern concert hall.

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The kids enjoyed building rock sculptures.

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We wandered the main pedestrian street, did a little window shopping (prices are so expensive!), and stopped for a happy hour beer. To give you an idea, the happy hour special was $5 off a beer. I think that still made my beer a whopping $11. We ate dinner, I took another walk, and we called it a day. The three buffet-style meals made me feel like I was on a cruise ship.

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We were transported back to the airport in the evening where we waited for a midnight flight. I fell asleep both on the bus and in the airport. This unexpected layover put a kink in our jet-lag plans. Luckily, the flight to Munich was uneventful.

Munich!

I could live here. For real. There's something so charming, organized, and livable about this city. We checked into Hotel Brack - the same hotel we stayed in three years ago. They scored huge points by having our room ready by 8am. We had a great breakfast before DH and DD#1 took naps while the rest of us wandered around.

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We took the U-Bahn into the main part of town to explore. We were tired but also so excited to be back in Europe!

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We went to the BMW Welt to check-in, have a snack, and check out new cars. Our car will be ready in just two days!

After the Welt, we made our way to the Munich Residenz. We were dragging by this point and wanted to attempt to stay on local time. We thought the Residenz museum might keep us awake. The rooms were beautiful but there were so many of them. Many paintings were absent due to WWII. Much of the palace had been rebuilt. It was very beautiful but we would have appreciated it more if we had been more awake.

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We found a small Augustiner pub for dinner. We all wanted to be sleeping by this point. We made it until 8pm and called it a day.

Biking and Therme Erding

DH and I woke up before 5am. I went for a 5.5 mile run around the Isar River and Marienplatz. It's all so lovely before the crowds hit. After another traditional breakfast, we borrowed bikes from the hotel and rode around the city. DD#2 and I split off from the pack and biked many miles near the Isar River and Englischer Garden. Such a memorable ride! We even stopped into a small biergarten around 10:45am. I looked around and saw many locals having beer. After my run and bike ride, I decided to join them!

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We had separate casual lunches - DD#1 and DH found currywurst while DD#2 and I had doner sandwiches. Yum!

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We took a long S-Bahn train out to Therme Erding. It's a fabulous waterpark with tons of slides. We had such a great time! Some of the slides were unlike ones we had ever been on before.

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After many hours at the park, we made our way back to a biergarten close to our hotel. First liter beers of the trip! The place was packed even at 8:30pm!

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We are still feeling a bit sad that we had one fewer day in Munich due to our flight diversion in Iceland. However, I know we will return to this amazing city in the near future. Munich will always be at the top of my travel list.

Posted by familyineurope 02:22 Tagged munich reykjavik Comments (4)

Back to Europe in a Few Short Weeks!

This is a big one! Nearly six weeks in Germany, France, Spain & Portugal.

In a few short weeks, our family will be heading back to Europe for a much-anticipated trip. Countless hours of reading and preparation have gone into our ambitious itinerary. This time, my mom will be joining us for nearly one month of our journey. Our daughters are now 10 and 12 with their own opinions about travel priorities. I will blog as we travel so here is a little of what is to come:

Munich, Germany - 3 nights at Hotel Brack.

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We stayed here last time and enjoyed this German-retro place with wonderful breakfasts. I hope to visit the Residenz, ride bikes, visit some beergardens, and Therme Erding waterpark! We will pick up a BMW foreign delivery car on our way out of town.

Bamberg, Germany - 2 nights.

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We are staying at a hotel with a beergarden just outside of town. We visited Bamberg two years ago but barely caught a glimpse of the town. This time, we will do a better job exploring the town and its environs. We'll save some time for luging and swimming!

Dornheim, Germany - 4 nights.

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We will stay with family in their home outside of Frankfurt. We really enjoy their company and look forward to some excursions in this part of the country including a daytrip to Heidelberg.

Gutach, Germany in the Black Forest - 3 nights.

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My mom will join us at this point. We are staying in the country at a working farm. The kids are sure to love the animals and space to play. From this point on, every part of our trip will be new to us. We will do more luging, check out an amusement park, explore the town of Frieberg, and go zip-lining!

Amboise, France - 3 nights.

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After a long drive, this will be our view from our apartment! We plan to visit some chateaus and a famous zoo with a panda. Hopefully there will be a chance to bike around a bit and soak up some French culture.

San Sebastian, Spain - 3 nights.

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We are eager for some beach time in this popular Basque town. San Sebastian is known for its fantastic food, charming city, and beautiful setting. From this point forward, we are using airbnb and homeaway apartments.

Salamanca, Spain - 2 nights.

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Salamanca is a thriving college town with a beautiful town center. It's supposed to be affordable and steeped with history.

Lisbon, Portugal - 4 nights.

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I am especially excited to visit Lisbon. We will take a daytrip to Sintra and look forward to exploring the many neighborhoods in Lisbon. We scored a nice 3 bedroom apartment for a reasonable amount.

Nazare, Portugal - 2 nights.

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I figure we will need a couple nights to just kick back in a beachy town just north of Lisbon. This one supposedly retains its fishing culture from the past.

Segovia, Spain - 3 nights.

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We are staying in an apartment just outside of Segovia. The town looks beautiful with its ancient aqueduct, church, and castle that inspired Walt Disney. From experience, I know our pace of travel will be slowing at this point. Our apartment is near a pool and I predict that we will be partaking in the customary siesta by this point in our journey.

Teruel, Spain - 2 nights.

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We picked this more remote location based on a recommendation from my brother and sister in-law. They loved the desert city of Albarracin which is close to the somewhat larger town of Teruel. This makes a convenient stop-over on our way to Barcelona.

Barcelona, Spain - 4 nights.

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I might be more excited about Barcelona than any other location on this trip! We already have tickets to see some of Gaudi's architectural masterpieces (Sagrada Familia and Park Guell) as well as a flamenco show at Palau de la Musica and a jazz concert on the rooftop of Casa Mila. We picked an apartment that is centrally located, pre-paid for parking, and hope to celebrate this city and end of our trip. My mom will go home after just two nights in Barcelona.

Carcassonne, France - 2 nights.

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I have always wanted to see this lovely walled city. I know it will be touristy but hopefully it will help to stay a couple of nights to see the site after the day-trippers have left.

Geneva, Switzerland, 1 night.

After one final long drive, we will drop off our car and fly to Dulles, Virginia to see friends for 1 night. Then, we will fly to Fargo, ND for a family reunion before heading home to Oregon. What a journey!

I can hardly wait for this adventure to begin!

Posted by familyineurope 21:46 Comments (1)

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