A Travellerspoint blog

New car, Nuremberg, & Bamberg!

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

BMW European Delivery!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


The kids enjoyed building rock sculptures.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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


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.


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!


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

Hua Hin Beach, Bangkok (again), and HOME!

Last days blur together... Love Thailand but ready for Oregon!


These last 4-5 days in Thailand are a complete blur. While at our beach resort in Hua Hin, we found ourselves completely in vacation mode. We were tired, a little homesick, and perfectly relaxed swimming and hunting for shells on the beach. Our resort was very isolated from the city. It was a $6 taxi ride to get into the town of Hua Hin. By this point, we were not feeling very motivated to do much of anything. We ate at the same great restaurant 5 out of 6 nights! Chef Cha was pretty good. He even came and said hi to us on the 4th night and remarked that we were sitting at the same table each time. The menu had a good selection of Thai and Western foods. DD#1 was pretty happy with a burger by this point.


We happily spent hours hunting for shells at the beach. It was obvious that different critters occupied these waters.


We had laundry done for the last time. Receiving my laundry folded, clean, and wrapped like a present might be the thing I miss most about Thailand. (Kidding. But it is pretty fantastic!)


The girls and I headed to a nearby waterpark for one of our day's activities. Black Mountain Waterpark was so much fun! There were no lines and we spent hours rocketing down a variety of slides. DH stayed back at the resort and used the fitness facilities at the nearby Sheraton Hotel.


One night, we worked up the energy to head to the Cicada Market just south of Hua Hin. It was a great market full of authentic souvenirs. I bought a handmade wooden piano clock that I just love! The girls were happy to have their nails painted at the market. A 25 minute manicure cost about $1.50 plus tip.


Each evening, the clouds rolled in sometimes bringing a little rain. Usually, we could see an electrical storm off in the distance. DH tried to take pictures of the storm.


One morning, we found a special café for yummy smoothies, Thai iced tea, cake, and this marvelous red velvet waffle creation. Dessert for breakfast!


One of the many interesting snack foods in a Thai market.


We have all gotten used to special smoothies and iced drinks.


After many more kilometers logged around our resort's pool, it was time to head north to Bangkok for one last night. We checked into a different hotel, Bann Glang Soi, and explored yet another neighborhood. We did a little last-minute shopping at the massive MBK mall, ate one last yummy Thai dinner, and called it a trip! (Notice the no alcohol sign in the picture. We ended our trip on the holiday just before Buddhist Lent.)


We managed our nearly 15 hours of flying to get to Seattle. Ugghh. We flew EVA airlines and connected through Taipei. We stayed the night in Seattle with our wonderful family before heading south to Oregon.

I am so happy that we got to experience Thailand. It was a vacation that we will never forget! The food, traffic, history, weather, people, shopping, and pure adventure of it all will never be forgotten. I think we are all going to miss those $1 fresh fruit smoothies! But there's nothing like landing in the Pacific Northwest and seeing the mountains in the distance, the giant trees, and never-ending green. One of the best things about travelling is the reminder that there's no place like home.

So until summer 2017 (Europe again!) familyineurope bids farewell. Thanks for reading!

Posted by familyineurope 10:19 Comments (1)

Ayutthaya and Hua Hin

More old ruins, biking, a boat ride, and paradise!

More History


And Paradise


The last few days have been quite different. We have gone from historical sights to a beach resort. Here's a brief summary.

We took a train from Sukhothai to Ayutthaya - about 3.5 hours. The train still uses tracks that were laid in the late 1800s. It was very bumpy and a little scary (for me). If you come to Thailand, do yourself a favor and don't google things like "train derailments in Thailand" or "Thailand tour bus accidents". It makes travel a lot scarier! Transportation has been my biggest surprise and source of anxiety on this trip.

Once we arrived in Ayutthaya, we made our way to a teak Thai guesthouse called Luang Chumni Village. The place was unique! The small door led to an all wood interior complete with mosquito nets. The small guesthouse complex was surrounded by a moat. The bathrooms were below the bedrooms (inconvenient) and the mattresses were on the floor. I thought it was cozy and felt a little like a cabin.


We found great street food that evening settled in for the night. A street food dinner for our family is around $7. It was delicious!


The next day, we were offered a nice breakfast once again. Most breakfasts consist of a plate of fresh fruit as well as eggs made to order, French toast, crepes, toast, etc... Pretty normal breakfasts. We rented bikes from the guesthouse and set off to discover more historical sites.


This is the most photographed sight in Ayutthaya. It is still a mystery as to how the Buddha head ended up intertwined with these roots. There is a guard near the head to remind tourists to kneel to stay lower than the head. Staying below the Buddha's head is a sign of respect.


It was incredibly hot in Ayutthaya - probably our hottest day yet. We took breaks for beverages and rode slowly. The kids were happy with Ayutthaya's most popular snack. It's a sweet crepe filled with cotton candy floss.


We rode back to the guesthouse and had a few snacks before hiring a small private boat to take us around the river that surrounds Ayutthaya's old town. For about $20, we took a tuk-tuk to the dock, hopped aboard a small boat, and saw the city from a different angle. The driver stopped at four different sights.


The most interesting part of the ride was going through these crazy rootless plants that take over the river. No kidding! We just blazed straight through them. We also saw three monitor lizards. Yuck,


She finally got her coconut.


We were very hot by the end of the boat ride and asked the tuk-tuk driver to take us to a place with cold drinks. The heavy rains were coming so we set out for a nearby night market for dinner. Tasty again! Well, except for the weird fishy flavored donuts that everyone seemed to be buying. At least we found mango sticky rice again for dessert. We didn't try the fried bugs and larvae. Here are a few market scenes:


An entire section of MSG. What?


The next day, we splurged and hired a private van to take us the 3.5 hours down south to Hua Hin. Hua Hin is a beach resort about 2.5 hours south of Bangkok. This last stretch of our Thailand journey is a vacation from our vacation! We were more than happy with the great airbnb condo we booked months ago.


The kind condo owner welcomed us with an excellent fruit tray.


The best part is the pool that wraps around the complex for one kilometer. It takes a long time to swim one kilometer!


We spent our first day at the resort alternating between the pool and walking along the beach. Check out the size of this jellyfish!


The condo complex is like a ghost town. Almost all of the units have been unoccupied. We are wondering if lots of Bangkok residents will head down here for the Thailand holiday weekend. We are here five more nights. Tomorrow might involve a waterpark. We shall see....


Posted by familyineurope 18:52 Comments (0)

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