München

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München is the German spelling of the city in English we call Munich and it’s an appropriate name since we munched our way though the city today. This morning we drove a little ways to get to a commuter train that we could take into the city. We had to get there by 11:00 to see the glockenspiel in the city square. The clock plays music and the figures move around for close to fifteen minutes. My favorite part was when the gold knight knocked the silver knight off his horse.

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After the clock finished we visited the Frauenkirche, Our Lady of Munich. A baby was being baptized in one of the small chapels that flanked the sanctuary and Katie, Tristan, and I watched. After making our way around the whole sanctuary we walked to the Victualmarket. European markets are just amazing. There were fruit sellers, and herb sellers, and mushroom sellers, and cheese sellers, and pretty much any other kind of food seller you could imagine. We had bratwurst, beer, and pretzels at a long table under the trees, a truly Bavarian moment.

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After lunch we went to the Deutsch Museum to recreate a moment from Stefan’s childhood. He vividly remembers making a miniature brick at a display in the museum about 30 years ago. Children are no longer permitted to press the buttons on the machine but they did get to see the whole process and they did each get a brick in the end. We also visited exhibits about technical toys, air ships, and glass-making. Each of the urchins bought a glass water dancer to bring home. We also visited the sundial garden on the roof where there was a wonderful view of the city.

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After a pit stop for cappuccino for the adults and ice cream for the urchins we decided to visit the Hofbrauhaus, we were in Munich after all. We found a table in the garden and ordered beer and pretzels. I commented that for a family who keeps saying they aren’t hungry for pretzels they sure do keep disappearing fast. These two were gone so fast that Tristan felt like he didn’t get much. So I told him that he could have another if he would go to the pretzel girl himself and ask her in German. Katie went with him but even with Nana’s help they couldn’t find the girl.

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He was rather dejected when he returned to the table so I took him into the building to find her. Once we did he went up to her and said Eine Bretzel Bitte, handed her a Euro and marched off back to the table. The girl laughed and I knew by the size of the pretzel that one euro was not enough money. By the time I had settled with her he had made his way back to the table grinning from ear to ear over his accomplishment.

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After the Hofbrauhaus we wandered around Munich admiring the architecture, the gardens, and the atmosphere before we got on our train back to the car. We had a late dinner in Brannenburg where there was much discussion about what a puten is. The best explanation has been that it is somewhere between a chicken and a turkey. After dinner we went up the hill to our inn and went to bed.

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Prien am Chiemsee

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My goodness, what a day! We left the inn this morning to go to the town of Prien am Chiemsee, where Opa lived until he immigrated to the United States. On the way into town he casually remarked that out the window was the house he lived in as a child. Jess, Stefan, and I immediately had the same thought, pull over the car! Sabina wanted to knock on the door but we settled for taking some photographs and hearing about how he used to ride his bike down the road to town and play in the meadow.

Prien am Chiemsee

Once in town we briefly walked around the square where he told us the well-known family story about seeing a man he thought was the devil emerge from a tank at the end of WWII. Jess and I both stood there struggling to conjure an image of that boy, about Tristan’s age. Down the road we passed his old school on our way to the dock on Chiemsee, a very large lake. Opa told us how they used to swim every day in the summer sometimes taking a rowboat across to an island and swimming back.

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We took the ferry to the largest island in the lake, Herren Insel, where King Ludwig II built a palace, modeled to be a replica of Versailles. Opa was a tour guide at the palace as a teenager. He gave the English speaking tour. After lunch at the restaurant, where Opa’s mother used to be a waitress, we made our way down the path to the palace. Opa said the tour was briefer than when he used to give it but that the speeches were still pretty much the same. I knew Katie and Tristan could barely understand our tour guide and I wondered if Opa’s English used to sound like that. On the ferry back to Prien Jess noticed a large building across the water and asked about it. Opa said it was a rest home on the autobahn and incidentally his mother had been a waitress there as well. He added, “actually, once Hitler stopped there and she served him.”

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After taking the ferry back to Prien we drove to Aschau to ride the gondola to the top of Kampenwald. I was a bit nervous about the ride since I get motion-sickness so easily. The ride wasn’t too rocky but it was so high. I don’t even know how to accurately describe how high it was. Unbelievably high. Despite the conversations with Tristan about what would happen if the cable broke or the wind blew really hard, or… we managed to make it to the top without incident. Once there, and actually on the ride up too, we were treated to the most spectacular views. Really, the photographs speak for themselves.

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A few facts: the mountaintop is 4,813 feet above sea level; the gondola travels 2,760 vertical feet to reach the top, Opa says that as a teen they would hike up the mountain, have lunch, and then ski back down. The gondola hadn’t been built then. The ride down was steep and Tristan kept saying how fast we were going and how it seemed windier, and “Mommy, don’t you think we’re going so fast, maybe we are too fast.” so I readily admit I was quite happy to get out of that capsule.

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We had dinner in Aschau at an Italian place, we were actually fairly close to Italy. While we were finishing it started to rain. We returned to the car and started driving back to our inn when we noticed a rainbow. What followed was one of those family comedies that has everyone laughing with tears in their eyes. We chased that rainbow down a tiny road, it was actually a double rainbow, and everyone kept shouting to stop so they could hop out and take another photo. One such time Opa fell out of the car half sitting in Katie’s car seat. That’s when the belly laughing really started. It was an amazing rainbow, we could see where it touched the ground in a meadow, and we could see the entire arc. We all agreed it was one of the best we’d ever seen.

Getting There

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So, it takes a long time to get to Germany. Did you know? We knew we were going to have trouble with Katie sleeping on the airplane but it turns out the entertainment options were so exciting for Tristan that he couldn’t sleep either. They each did doze eventually but by the time Tristan was headed off to dreamland Katie was getting fidgety after being asleep sitting up for too long.

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And who would have thought we would come all the way to Germany and our rental car would be a Ford. It seems wrong doesn’t it? After getting the car we stopped for breakfast near the Munich airport and then headed on to Brannenburg to drop off our luggage at our inn. As were driving into the Alps I kept saying to Stefan, “Look how pretty it is!” Tristan was noticing how many Volkswagons passed us with bikes on top.

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Our inn is up a hill overlooking the town of Brannenburg. It’s right next to a small church, St Margarethen, with a cute little cemetery. The grave markers are mostly sculpted metal, very different than our granite ones at home. The bottom of the churchyard had a beautiful view of Brannenburg and the valley beyond. It was late morning when we arrived so we left our luggage and headed off to Bayrischzell.

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Over the Mountain

We went up and over the mountain, past a waterfall and through a one lane tunnel cut though the granite mountainside. The views were stunning, the countryside looks just like you imagine it to be. Bayrischzell is a cute little town, we did some window shopping and got some buns for a snack. We peaked into the churchyard of Sankt Margreth. I noticed the door was open and we found the inside to be beautifully adorned. The ceilings were covered in images and the altar was coved in gilded carvings.

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After exploring Bayrischzell we went back to our inn in Brannenburg where our rooms were ready and napping was on the agenda. We had dinner at the inn where Tristan unexpectedly turned up his nose at his spaetzle but tried and liked Katie’s wiener schnitzel. In an effort to keep the urchins awake a little longer we made our way down to the village for a walk and some ice cream. After that we did some journalist in our room and got everyone to bed. Tomorrow we are going to see the town where Opa was born.

Bavaria Bound

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The urchins are headed to Bavaria, the fatherland, quite literally. We’re headed out with Opa, and Nana, and Aunt Jess to see where Opa grew up. We’ll be spending two weeks there and thought we might resurrect this here blog so anyone who is interested in hearing about our adventures can keep up with the madness. This afternoon two taxis will be taking all seven of us to the airport. Tomorrow morning we’ll be in Munich. Talk to you then!

Lost Vegas

Katie: Mommy, Jimmy said Mrs. Pearson [one of her preschool teachers] is in a place called Lost.
Mama: Really?
Katie: I think she’s really in a place called Vegas.

I Keep Throwing Money Away

And I don’t mean metaphorically. I think I have twice now actually thrown money in the garbage never to be recovered. I’m not talking about 47¢ either, we’re talking an envelope from the bank. The kind of envelope that holds tens and twenties. I blame Katrina, her and her little bits of paper everywhere. The money, which I think was on the kitchen table, probably got buried under some artwork that was recycled. I bet the garbage men didn’t think to look through the trash for a tip. Oh well, easy come easy go. I seem to have perfected the latter now if I can just figure out the former.

UPDATE: Apologies to Katie, I have unearthed the most recent envelope which was also the most cash-filled one. I’m still pretty sure the other ended up in the trash though. Must figure out a new system….