Friday, July 31, 2015

Day 6—Munich

Our first afternoon in Munich only whetted my appetite for the day ahead. Again, we got an early start in order to squeeze in as many things as possible.  Nymphenburg Palace was the first check mark on our list.  Nymphenburg was the summer residence to many of the German Electors, beginning in about 1660.  The ballroom was my favorite room in the palace, and we both loved the gardens. 
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2015-07-25 10.45.23But hands down, the coolest thing in this place was the carriage museum.  This carriage collection would leave Cinderella green with envy.  There were baby carriages, hand carved sleighs, and beautiful coronation carriages.  I wanted to climb up inside one so badly!
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We didn’t have time for breakfast in the morning and so we were starving by the time we got done at Nymphenburg.  We had passed a little bakery on a corner right on our way into the parking lot and decided to give it a try.  HOLY COW.  Why does no one tout the expertise of German bakers from the roof tops?  We ate at more than a few amazing bakeries while in Germany (better than Paris in my opinion), but this one takes the cake.  We both had little ham and pickle sandwiches on pretzel buns spread with butter.  And then croissants.  Mine was filled with an almond marizipan and Rusty’s was filled with Apricot preserves.  We almost turned around and went back for more.  They were one on the most delicious things to ever cross my lips.  The food was consumed too quickly for pictures. 2015-07-25 11.42.11

We rushed back to Munich and had to run to the Marienplatz (Main Square) to make it in time for the Rathaus-Glockenspiel.  This was so adorable.  Its 43 bells and 32 life sized figures tell the story of the marriage of Duke Wilhelm V.  My favorite part was watching the knights on horseback slooowly race toward each other.  Obviously, the Bavarian knight wins Winking smile I waited with great anticipation for the little cuckoo bird at the end.  I have to say, he was a bit of a disappointment.  Three quick chirps and he doesn’t cuckoo at all!  But, this was still a highlight for me.  I love love love love love love the Rathaus (New Town Hall)  building.  Isn’t it funny that my personal style leans toward modern, clean lines, yet I am completely in love with ornate, over the top gothic architecture? And the flowers that adorn every building just make me so happy.
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Next up, climbing the tower at St. Peter’s church.  This was quite the adventure.  The stairs are very narrow.  So narrow that in most places if someone was coming down the stairs while you were going up you had to plaster yourself against the wall so they could squeeze by.  306 stairs later, we were at the top.  I think that many people had come up to watch the glockenspiel chime because it was CROWDED.  Like claustrophobic crowded.  Rusty couldn’t do it.  He waited on a bench inside for me to make my way around the very narrow ledge. The ledge is built on the outside of the building which adds a little to its craziness.  The 360 degree views of Munich were just stunning.  Those red roofs.  Love.
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We were both a little relieved when we finally made it back down the stairs to the fresh air below.  The weather had cooled considerably since Salzburg and our days in Munich were a perfect 75 degrees. 

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A stroll in the Viktualienmarkt was in order.  This outdoor market is HUGE.  Lots of food, flowers, and cute handmade crafts.  We ate our last sausage on a roll and last fresh squeezed oj and a pretzel as big as my head. We found some apricot preserves made by local farmers and bought them to take home to our moms.  We only had carry on bags and at the airport security almost didn’t let us take them home.  I must have looked pathetically sad because they took pity on me and let me take them through. 

(Isn’t this Maypole amazing?)

Ever since Rothenburg I had been on the lookout for the perfect German Christmas music box to get for Halle. I dragged Rusty all over town hunting for the perfect one. He was so patient as I changed my mind a million times.  Halle and I both share a love for fun Christmas décor and I was so excited to get this for her. I told her she has to share it with me until she moves out of the house.

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Along with some of our favorite churches, there was bound to be a dud or two.  I deem the Asamkirche “The Ungliest Church in the World.”
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I had been looking forward with great anticipation to the Pinotheke Museum.  They purport to have one of the largest Old Masters collections in the world.  I was especially excited to see the Rembrant’s and the Ruben’s.  When we arrived at the museum we were surprised how empty it was.  We were also surprised how cheap it was.  If we could have read German we would have realized this was because 1/2 the museum was closed for renovations.  And of course, that included the Rembrant’s and Ruben’s. I was one sad girl.  We did get to see paintings by Raphael and other early Renaissance painters.  There was an English audio tour that was extremely well done.  I think all art museums should offer well done audio tours.  The experience is all the more rich for it.  (No pics inside museums)

By this time we were ready for a nap.  So that’s exactly what we did.  We woke up refreshed and ready to tackle the evening. Rusty really wanted to ride bikes through the English Garden.  Our hotel had bikes but only offered an entire day rate.  Since it was already 6pm we tried to haggle the price, but they wouldn’t budge.  So, pay we did.  This was also a highlight of the trip.  English Garden is a city park bigger than Central Park.  But not nearly so well kept.  The roads are all dirt, the grass is long and everything is just a touch shabby.  I think all that only added to its charm. And the best part?  Just like at Central Park, there is a sheep’s meadow.  But this one has herds of real life sheep! I thought we took a picture of that, but I can’t find it!  We had dinner at Seahaus in the middle of the park.  After waiting a million years to get our food, I have to say, it was just ok. 

We rode our bikes back to the hotel in the dark, sucking every last ounce from our vacation. 
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We slept like rocks in our air conditioned hotel room with a bucket of ice nearby.

Our vacation ended with a mediocre brunch at the hotel.  We headed to the airport where we were taking separate flights home.  Rusty was headed straight back to Denver.  I was headed to SLC to spend a few days with the families and then drive the kiddos back home.  It was a magical, beautiful, fun filled trip. Germany, thanks for all the memories.  It will hold a special place in our hearts forever.  Auf Wiedersehen!
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 5—Garmish-Partenkirchen/Munich

We woke up early in hopes of being the first people on the tram to the top of Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain. We made it just in time to jump on the tram and head up the mountain.  This was one of the most expensive things we did and I was really on the fence about spending all the money.  But I’m sure glad we did!  It makes the Trip Top 3 for sure.  Even though this mountain is much, much smaller than many we have hiked or driven in Colorado, the sheer cliffs and the vast wide open spaces made it feel completely different.  I think we both had a little vertigo at the top.  The views reached in all directions and all you could see was mountain after mountain after mountain. 

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Rusty decided to hike to the summit. It was only about 1/2 mile, but it was crazy!  He was climbing up metal latter rungs that were drilled straight into the side of the mountain.  I am usually up for any adventure, but my choice of footwear that morning and my dizzy brain kept my two feet planted on solid ground.  He said it was a hairy climb, but totally worth it!

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That tiny purple person is me, safely on the platform Smile

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I have to admit, I was pretty glad when Rusty made it back alive.

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Now on to the German tourist attraction extraordinaire—Neuschwanstein Castle.  Again….lots of driving, lots of traffic.  When we got there we went to stand in the ticket line.  It was insanely long, and there were electronic boards updating the next available tour times.  Well….these times were 4-5 hours away so we elected to just walk to Mary’s Bridge for the great views and then just walk around the outside of the castle instead of touring inside.  There was a sign warning visitors how steep the hike was to the bridge.  We laughed a bit and thought the sign was for liability and probably wasn’t too bad.  It was.  It was so steep!  We were huffing and puffing all the way to the top.  But oh…the top.  What a magnificent site.  If Ludwig II was crazy, I want some of his pills.  This place was incredible.  Like, cannot even believe that this was possible 100’s of years ago. 
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Obligatory kissing selfie:

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Up next?  More driving.  We are so so glad we got a car for this trip.  Trains would have been fun, but we spent a lot of time in the car and it was nice to do it on our own terms.  On our way to Munich we drove by several strawberry fields.  At the corners of the fields were stands shaped like strawberries where farmers could sell their fruit.  It was so cute! (Thanks again google, for the pic)

We stopped at a grocery store to pick up chocolate and Haribo gummies for the kids.  And Rusty got another OJ.  He is really hoping Whole Foods gets one of these juicing machines. We also picked up some of those delicious strawberries.  Strawberries and German Chocolate make a perfect snacking combination.  
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FINALLY….MUNICH! We were staying in a Hilton hotel which meant Air Conditioning. And Ice. And normal pillows.  Oh happy, happy day.  I’ve never been so happy to see an ice machine in all my life.  Why has ice not caught on in Europe?

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We had heard good things about the Deutsche Museum, which is the world’s largest science and technology museum.  That sounded like something we’d be interested in.  Turns out, it wasn’t.  We give it a “Meh.”
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But, we did find an awesome souvenir for Josh.  It’s called Der Stern, and it’s a star shaped toy that can bend and flex into a million other things.  He loves it. 

We spent the evening milling around and enjoying the city.  I cannot tell you how much I love this city.  It is classy, clean, friendly, and so much fun.  I did not expect to fall so hard in love with Munich.  But I did.  One of our favorite things we saw that evening were the surfers in the Eisbach, a small channel of the Isar river that runs through the English Garden (Munich’s biggest city park)  What fun!

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(Photo below from flickr)

Another cool thing about Germany is that you are seated with different people if the restaurant is busy.  We ate dinner at Andechser am Dom (my favorite restaurant we ate at in Munich) with a Dad and his daughter who were touring Europe for her College graduation present.  It was lots of fun!  And I finally got to try pig knuckle.  Sounds gross, tastes delicious.
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And the thing I love best about cities?  All the totally random stuff you find.  We saw weird lights and music coming from one of the churches and stumbled into a modern art exhibit called “Clouds”  There were big bean bag pillows all over the floor of the church and people sat there staring up into the “clouds.”  There was music playing the the clouds would go from red to blue to yellow to orange to black to represent the different parts of the day.  It was pretty amazing!
Instagram media by michaelpendry - CLOUDS ligt&multimedia installation  26.6.-26.7 thursday to sunday from 8.30 to 11.30pm Come and have a look...watching the clouds #michaelpendry #multimedia #artevent #art #munich #digitalhaze

What a perfect German day!

Day 4—Berchtesgaden

What a charming little town nestled in the Alps not far from the Austrian border.  We drove in from Salzburg in the morning and found a fun little shop with the friendliest, kindest cashier that we encountered on our trip.  We had croissants (interesting note: bees run rampant in Germany.  They are all over the bakeries and no one cares one bit), chocolate covered dried apple slices and fresh bananas.  It’s amazing how good a simple piece of fruit tastes after eating out so many meals.  I wish we had time to linger and explore this cute town but we were headed straight for the Königsee.

We took an electric boat across this lake, which is the deepest and cleanest in Germany.  At one point during the boat ride the captain stops and plays a beautiful melody on a trumpet.  The notes bounce back off the steep mountain cliffs and produce a haunting echo.  It was so amazing. 
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We got off at St. Bartholoma and began our hike to Eiskapelle (the ice chapel).  It was a cloudy day which just added to the beauty of the mountains.  The end of the hike brings you near a glacier river and it gave new meaning to the term “crystal clear.” It was absolutely silver.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  I have to admit, the ice cave wasn’t quite as cool as I imagined it, but that might be because the day was so misty and foggy that we couldn’t really see inside the cave.  The cave is created by the river running under the glacier and carving out a cave. 
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This was Rusty’s favorite part of the hike.  I think if he died right then he’d have died supremely happy:
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We ate lunch at this lovely beer garden at the edge of the lake.  It was marvelous.  I love eating outside!  German service is very different than American.  There is typically one server for about a million tables and you really have to flag him down to get him to come to your table.  And they NEVER bring your bill. It would be considered very rude.  You must ask for the bill.  And you don’t tip.  At least not well.  Most the time you just round your bill to the nearest dollar.

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After our boat ride back we were off to Garmish-Partenkirchen.  We fought nasty traffic the whole way and didn’t get there till very late in the evening.  And again, no Air Conditioning.  We thought this would not be a problem because the mountain air was so cool and we had a door leading out to a back patio that we could leave wide open.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, the air that night was perfectly still.  Nary a rustle.  And we roasted. 
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But before the roasting, a feast.  I deem this our best meal in Germany. It was called Alpis Antep Kebap and it was heaven.  Turkish kebap that was grilled to perfection over hot coals in a cute little kitchen.  It was almost 10pm when we stumbled on this place, and it rained while we were eating outside but we didn’t care.  It was that good.  We had lamb, chicken and beef along with the best rice I’ve ever tasted and homemade Naan. Oh so good.  It almost made up for the fact that we got into town too late to see or do anything and we were leaving early the next morning.   (pic from their facebook page)