Friday, September 25, 2009

Garmisch day one

Thursday September 17, 2009

Garmisch, Germany—Another rough night, but better than the first, kids seem to be adjusting to the time difference. Henry loves the “shed” or cabin and asked to go back to it all day long which made his parents very happy. (Not) You have to have a key to unlock it from the inside, so maybe tomorrow we’ll just leave him here.

45 minute drive to the WeisKirche, a relatively tasteful Rococo Church built in a field in the middle of nowhere. There was a service going on when we arrived so after watching from the back for a little bit we wandered around the fields and got to know the cows (with bells and full udders) and friendly horses a bit better. Lizzy loved the horse and even tried to pick its nose. After the service ended we made it inside and tried to find something Henry could find interesting since we’re bound to be seeing more churches…Cherubs were the trick. The weiss kuchen, a sort of apple flavored fried scone, also helped curb the whining.

Then to Oberammergau, a small village on the “Romantische strasse” that stretches from a point right in the center of Germany down to Neuschwanstein, which is known for its woodcarving. The carvings were exquisitely detailed, artful and realistic, especially the nativity sets, but we didn’t really feel like plunking down $500 for a nativity set right now…maybe in the future when the pieces will be chewed less. Had a really yummy lunch at an Italian restaurant. Lizzy makes friends with the female staff at all the restaurants we go to and here the cashier followed us outside for some cheek-pinching.

Next was Linderhoff. Of the three fancy palaces/castles that Ludwig II built (Neuschwanstein, Herrenchiemsee, and Linderhoff) this was the only one that was completed and really lived in. It was actually quite modest in size…if not in décor…unless golden gilding and a “I really wish I was a snazzy French king instead of a Bavarian king subject to Prussia or Austria with Kleinfelters syndrome so I’ll just devote my fortune to shrines embodying Wagnerian operas” motif is your thing. Above the castle was the Grotto a building built to be a cave (and a good likeness at that) cum opera house (much more cave-y than opera-y). Great setting though, I guess I can’t make too much fun of a guy that put his castles right where I would have up in the mountains. And the cave was cool and really made. They built walls, covered them put dirt and plants over the roof to blend everything in with the countryside and even made stalactites and stalagmites. It was also one of the first places in Bavaria to get electricity. I find that interesting, a cave getting electricity. The cave was used for plays and operas. Can you tell Ludwig loved his opera? Interesting recluse guy.

Finally, back to Garmisch for some dinner and “knights and princesses” in the “shed”. Knights and princesses involves Dell and Henry hanging out in the loft, Henry with his sword, Dell with an invisible bow and arrow. Lizzy just sits on the floor of the loft while I bustle about downstairs tidying etc… and providing appropriate comments. Save me brave Henry, etc…. Henry’s Knight name is Sir Henry the strong eyesight—since he is strong and has good eyesight. Dell’s is Sir Daddy the clever hider. I think Henry shows a real knack for knight names, don’t you.


The little museum near Ruette was one of the best I've ever been to. I loved that they let us touch everything. We even tried on armor. I'll post pictures of that once I figure out why blogger is having such issues turning my pictures.
This picture is of Henry being knighted after he successfully completed the questionaire for kids in the museum. He is in good company because Rick Steves of guidebook fame was also knighted here.

once we hiked up to the castle we all had a fun time playing around.


The Market Place in Ulm. Lots of little stalls selling fresh flowers and produce. Everyone carried a basket to put there purchases in. I would love to do my shopping that way. Lots of moms on bikes with their kids in a trailer or bike seat. Seemed pretty idealic to me.

The cathedral in Ulm. Nice Gothic style.

Ulm and Reutte

September 16, 2009 0900 We woke up in Stuttgart at the Army hotel, had breakfast (Henry forgot to check on his ice, which was for the best) and headed down to Ulm to see the famous Gothic Cathedral. The trouble with GPS units in old towns is that they try their darndest to take you right to the place you’re looking for which became a problem as we were driving down a 10 foot wide “street” shared by lots of pedestrians. Luckily a nice german man did his best to explain where the parking garage was. We drove very slowly out of the pedestrian zone and walked to the Cathedral’s square where there was a farmers market filling the square with produce, cheese, honey and other farm goods filling the square. For some reason there were also two gentlemen surrounded by 6 secret-service looking guys with suits and earbuds. Seems kind of like overkill just to get some fresh produce, but to each his own.

The cathedral was Gothically beautiful and were were lucky to catch part of a service with lovely organ music and a sonorous female voice echoing back and forth the 450 feet from nave to rose window. Henry’s not a huge fan of old churches, Lizzy doesn’t mind them…maybe he’ll like the Rococco one tomorrow. Lunch was bratwurst on a roll for the boys and bakery pizza for Anna.

After some dithering on what to do the rest of the day we headed further South, driving at times near 100mph and still getting passed, towards the Alps and the Austrian town of Reutte. We drove through so many picturesque towns—tight clusters of red-roofed, white-walled houses surrounded by lush green farms, pastures and pines, and framed in front of towering granite peaks. Near Reutte we visited a “hands-on” medieval museum at the foot of hiking trails up to several ruined castles. The museum was perfect for kids and the young at heart. They provided a game for Henry where he had to answer a question for each room to get a letter that made up a secret word and if he got the word he would be knighted and given a certificate. My favorite room was the armor room where you actually get to try on different helmets and body armor. The plague room scared Henry too much so we didn’t see much of that. We’re usually not ones to make obligatory purchases at gift shops, but this time Henry walked out with a little wooden sword.

The hike to the castle ruins in a light drizzle took about 30-40 minutes and we spent another 45 minutes playing knights and princesses around the ruins and taking pictures.

Garmisch, where we are staying the night was only a short, but amazing drive away past the Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain. We got settled into our “rustic cabin” at the Edelweiss military resort—bedroom with double bed and bunkbed set, loft with two sleeping mats, small living room, electricity, heat, but shared bathhouse a short walk away for just $57USD a night We spent almost that much for our German dinner…hearty, lots of cheese. In the free marketplace of ethnic foods, there’s a reason German cuisine hasn’t taken over the world. (The rest of the Edelweiss resort is pretty fancy and still reasonably priced for what and where it is).

Saturday, September 19, 2009

guten tag

Hi ya'll,
I thought I'd try to post some of our adventures in Europe since we're lucky enough to be in a place with internet access and football and we're waiting for the BYU game to start. Yep it's midnight, but it's dell's birthday and we've got some laundry running so why not stay up all night. Oh yeah, right, we've got kids and they're sleeping right now so they'll be up in the morning. Oh well, football comes first and mountain dew should carry us through the day tomorrow, or er today.

Anyway, here's some of Dell's daily log and some pictures. Enjoy. Most is written by Dell though I comment at times.

Germany September 2009

Sunday Sep 13 0944—Leave officially started and signed up for Baltimore to Germany Space-Available flight.

Monday Sep 14 1230—Depart for airport. Southwest flight to Baltimore was good, Lizzy was a tray baby (sitting on the tray with her back against the seat in front…optimal position to elicit smiles from passerby).

1800 Arrive in B’more, go to Space A desk to check in. Roll call starts at 2030 so we wait in the USO with free snacks. We’re pretty confident at this point we’ll get on the flight. Roll call, 45 seats available, we’re not in the first 5 called…or then second…getting nervous…or the third…more nervous…thinking about ways to get over to Dover to take the flight from there the next day…not in the 4th group called…very nervous…finally second to last called…big whew! Pay $60 for our 4 seats. Load up with all the soldiers going to Iraq. Henry and Lizzy asleep by takeoff. Lizzy wakes up to feed once, Henry wakes up 8 hours later when we’re getting off the plane. Awesome. Kids look adorable as they sleep. Henry has a ski hat pulled over his eyes to keep out the light/sun coming in from the windows. Lizzy has a pink sweater over her green pjs and a blissful expression as she sleeps. All passerbys comment on their cuteness.

Since Dell and I can’t really sleep (hazard of being on last row—can’t recline seats) we find other ways to pass the time. Dell watches in flight movies while I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Yep, real title of book. It’s Pride and Prejudice with Zombies. Quite entertaining really, Jane Austen’s actual words mixed with oriental style zombie fighting. Buffy meets the Bennets.

Tuesday Sep 15 Ramstein Germany 1230—Get bags, customs, I take base shuttle to the Rental car place and return for Anna and kids. Stop by the commissary for reasonably priced (dollar denominated) car food and we’re off.

1700—Heidelburg—Starting to figure out our GPS, stick-shift driving, remembering how crazy fast some Germans drive on the Autobahn. We’re clipping along at the posted 130km/h (75mph) and every few miles someone comes flying by us going 90-100mph. We finally got the GPS taking us to the right Heidelburg Castle which was a really cool partially ruined partially restored castle all made of this warm red rock with great views overlooking the town and river. We especially liked the large old houses in the hillside neighborhood we walked through to get to the castle…you could see the inspiration for a lot of the design elements we would see in the nicer older houses in Milwaukee. As an extra bonus, we just happened to park next to this little hillside park with the coolest slide that the lawyers would never allow in America. This was particularly important because Henry now likes Europe (he wasn’t thrilled after the long flight.) Henry did love the castle though. He ran from place to place and would make up stories about the things we see. “this fountain was where the good guys would get drinks with their cups just like Jesus did.” (I think there was some confusion with the woman at the well story from the new testament.) Castles are great places for 4 year olds. He just ran and ran about. What’s here, what’s here, that sort of thing. Oh and you should have seen the stairs we navigated—lugging strollers and children. I am going to be sore tomorrow.

Once we figured out how to get out of Heidelberg we drove to an army base near Stuttgart where we checked into an army hotel. Henry got free hot chocolate from the automatic coffee machine in the lobby (“It’s a robot!!” in amazement) and he also enjoyed the park behind the hotel. Once we got to the room Henry noticed the mini-fridge had a freezer and before we knew it he had three cups of water in there to turn into ice, it’s a cute but sometimes messy hobby of his. I like the fact that the pack in play comes with cute teddy bear sheets and matching blanket. Plus the old guy at the desk takes the time to show us around. I love travelling among the military. So many nice people. As we left the airport a nice man in uniform gives us a hand with the stroller and one car seat. (you should have seen us. Stroller laden with bags and one car seat perched on top. Me carrying Lizzy, Dell carrying another car seat, military duffle bag and rolling our one suitcase. We looked laden.)

After settling down nicely in the hotel and heading to sleep at 9:30 it’s now almost 2 am and Dell and Lizzy are splashing in the bathtub while Henry sleeps soundly and I type on the computer. Dang jetlag. Henry is unphased, but Lizzy….. She knows it’s just 7 pm and will head to bed in a bit. I think we may have to stop by the commissary for some unisome or Tylenol pm for Dell and do some sunlight therapy with lizzy tomorrow to help her reset her clock. She’s sure cute about it though. Cooing and laughing in the dark. Luckily Henry is sleeping through it grandly. We will work on getting her to be as great a traveler as her brother.

Henry in Heidelburg

view from the castle

Awesome hillside slide