Considering the challenges of long airplane travel, a 9 hour time difference, a virus that got us all but hit the Papaya especially hard, and a painful emerging incisor for the Banana, the kids were great travellers. We spent the first few days (at a friends' house in Kaiserslautern) mostly enjoying the green humidity, walking to the excellent local bakery & buying cheap, fresh bread, watching the five kids (ours & our friends') play together, and admiring the beautiful flowers everywhere. We spent the next few days in the green, rolling hills region of Bavaria, staying with Papaya Daddy's folks & visiting small villages, castle ruins, and large cathedrals in bigger towns. We did a beautiful, short river cruise with towering cliffs on either side of us and enjoyed a little bit of Germany's wonderful rail system. Then we traveled to the mountain region of Bavaria & took in the breathtaking scenery of the Alps. We rode a cog rail train that ascended a couple thousand meters towards the peak of Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak (on the Austria border), then got on cable cars that took us almost the rest of the way up (some stairs, a ladder, and a few well placed cables facilitated our climb to the very summit). We rode more cable cars to an indescribably lovely alpine hiking base called Alpspitze. We toured the bizarre Wagnerian-opera fantasy castle that Mad King Ludwig built in the late 1800's. On the way back to Frankfurt for our flight home, we stayed the night in a converted monastery inside Rothenburg, an amazingly preserved medieval walled city.
We packed a lot into a short two weeks! And we are tired.
1. Nice mix of the old and the modern. Lots of history - almost every town has its own castle ruins, cathedral, or both. But the houses had (on the indoors) a nice, modern, clean-lines, Ikea-like style that we favor. There were all kinds of well-made, convenient features - like heated floor tiles, roulades at all the windows, cool toilet flush mechanisms (you could choose big flush or little flush each time), big bathrooms, heated towel racks, etc.
3. Good, cheap bakeries. Good cheese. Great cheap produce. Cherries everywhere, basically falling off trees (it was the season for them). Very good, cheap chocolate. You can buy great food from all the EU countries without paying import tax.
Waiting in the Phoenix Airport, full of energy & excitement (at least the kids are).
View of Eibsee from cog train (on the way up to Zugspitze)
View into Austria from Zugspitze cafeteria (Austrian side)
Heaven (aka Alpspitze) - see the cable car?
More heaven. Hiking trails everywhere, from easy to expert
Not a bad place to kick up your feet
Coffee & cake break
"Climb every mountain..."
Picking a dandelion bouquet for Mommy
Walking the old city walls in Rothenburg