850 year old sausages

Leaving Dresden, our next stop was Regensburg!  Regensburg was the only medieval city in Germany to survive WW2 completely intact – it may not be the most magical but it is the most intact.  We began our excursion (after parking) walking across the majestic Danube on the 12th century Steinerne Brucke that is about 900 years old!!  We took a stroll through town (please note, we are walking an average of 10.8 miles per day!) seeing the Dom Saint Peter (everyone has something for him) and local Rathaus, finishing with a light lunch beside the stone bridge at Wurst Kuche (sausage kitchen).  With apple wood smoke billowing through the streets, Cameron and Dad thoroughly enjoyed a plate of sausages and sauerkraut from Wrust Kuche – a kitchen that has been cooking the with the same recipes for more than 850 years.  They chatted with a college student from North Carolina who was studying abroad who proceeded to help them order while Mom and I grabbed a delicious crepe up the street.

DSC_1251 DSC_1249 DSC_1257 DSC_1255{parrrrttyyy on the river!  they would set the cannon on their boat off every 50 yards or so and move on down the river}DSC_1252 DSC_1266{you can see the billows of smoke from the kitchen up on the bridge}

DSC_1267 DSC_1269 DSC_1271 DSC_1272 DSC_1273 DSC_1275 DSC_1276 DSC_1281 DSC_1284 DSC_1286 DSC_1288 DSC_1290 DSC_1291{apparently my mamma thinks it’s funny to take pictures of me taking pictures ;)}DSC_1292 DSC_1293 DSC_1294 DSC_1298{an authentic street presentation – we think it was a kinder theater group}

We jumped back into the car for an hour and 15 minute jaunt to Passau where we checked into our top floor room, got the windows all open to cool the room off and headed back into town to walk the enchanting city situated on the peninsula between the Inn, Ilz, and the Danube Rivers.  All three are drastically different colors making their confluence analogues to a scenic watercolor.  We saw the town Dom and Rathaus (typical) and walked along the Inn River, passing riverside picnics, an AWESOME kiddo playground made nearly entirely of rope, and even a summer carnival complete with a round top.  We reached the tip of the peninsula to find the confluence of the Ilz and Danube.  As we were all getting hungry for dinner, we decided to investigate a cluster of green umbrellas we saw on the opposite bank of the river.  We walked to and over the bridge to discover a lively street fair with schnitzel, whole chickens, mini pizzas, burgers that were 10-inches in diameter, and of course, plenty of beer.  The guys got a liter of the local Passau beer and we all got dinner – settling in to listen to the live music and people watch.  Then it came.  A huggggee, moody raincloud full of thunder circled over us and we huddled under the sun umbrella, waiting for the storm to blow over us.  The balmy summer air kept us warm and it was a cozy way to remember Passau.

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{marks on the sides of the buildings show how high the river got in record years}DSC_1318 DSC_1319 DSC_1322 DSC_1324{nature was a watercolor – from the moody sky, moving down the the confluence of the rivers just below the trees}

DSC_1327 DSC_1329{keeping our rain protection down!}DSC_1331 DSC_1333 DSC_1338{clearly, the locals have this figured out}

When the rain began to slow, we walked back to the car to return to the hotel.  Remember how we were on the top floor with the big beautiful skylight windows we opened to get a breeze in our room before we left?  Ooops….we arrived back to wet beds!  Some new covers and we all crashed for the night.

the balcony of europe

After leaving Berlin, we next visited Meissen, which is famous for it’s porcelain factory –the first in Europe.  We walked through the town, getting some fresh nectarines and grapes from a fruit shop – the various “departments” of our traditional grocery store are broken into separate shops (fruit store, butcher shop, grains, etc) that line the streets of these picturesque towns.  With sticky fingers, we paid to use the bathroom to wash our hands before continuing on the famous Meissen porcelain factory.  Since the early 13th century, the wealthy merchants and royalty of Europe imported their highly coveted porcelain at lavish prices from the Chinese.  Johann Friedrich Bottger was convinced (i.e. locked him in a room for nearly 10 years) by the king to discover the secret recipe that resulted in porcelain.  His work finished in Meissen in the early 18th century ad Europe’s first porcelain factory opened in Meissen – 300 years later it’s still here.  We walked through the stores but we couldn’t even afford to look at the creations in even the Meissen Outlet store…mighty proud of their porcelain 😉

DSC_1138{the outside of our fruit shop}

DSC_1132{moody skies}DSC_1137 DSC_1143 DSC_1146 DSC_1148 DSC_1151 DSC_1145{grapes grow like yummy, beautiful weeds around here!}DSC_1141 DSC_1153{peep that 1634 euro plate.  yep.}DSC_1154 DSC_1155

Next we moved onto Dresden.  Completely flattened with fire bombings in WW2, Dresden chose to rebuild in the old style in an effort to salvage their heritage.  The result is a beautiful medieval looking city that boasts all the comforts of modern day living.  Pretty sweet combo.  We took a Rick Steve’s walking tour around the town seeing the rebuilt opera house, royal palace and their expansive [Italian inspired] gardens, the Dresden cathedral.

DSC_1160{dresden city square – the stone is beginning to look old because stone oxides about 30 years in the weather.  then they strip it and apply a silicone layer to seal it}DSC_1161 DSC_1165 DSC_1167{the statue of “no-one important”}DSC_1166 DSC_1168 DSC_1171 DSC_1176 DSC_1178 DSC_1180 DSC_1182{what statues are your favorite??}

DSC_1190{incredible palace gardens}DSC_1188 DSC_1191 {our fabulous tour guide telling us about what we were looking at – this reminded me a great deal of the Roman Baths we saw in Bath, England}  DSC_1197

{during the fire raids of WW2, Dresden was completely flattened}  DSC_1207{these murals are made of hundreds of Meissen porcelain tiles documenting the progression of weaponry and fashion over the course of 300 years}DSC_1208 DSC_1209 DSC_1217{their silverware always arrives like this!}DSC_1218 DSC_1219{clearly, i’m not too sure about this}

After touring the city, we checked in at our hotel across the street and took a quick nap before heading back to the downtown to see more beauty from the riverside.

DSC_1226 DSC_1228{a beautiful perch along the riverside dubbed affectionately as the balcony of Europe}

DSC_1233{sweet pants dudes}DSC_1240 DSC_1238 DSC_1244

beyond the wall

Awoken early in Lübeck to an already sweltering morning sneaking in through the cracked windows, we headed down to breakfast in our hotel to find deviled eggs, oatmeal, cold cuts, and **drumroll** a TOASTER.  Yep.  Lübeck spoiled us, ice water for dinner and a toaster for breakfast.  Calming down now…

After breakfast, we trekked back through the now-familiar streets to the Marzipan store, stopping at the post office (yellow here, not blue) to mail a letter to Justin, and REWE to grab an iced coffee for me.  When the store finally opened at 9:00 our senses were overwhelmed.  The detail in the store was extraordinary, the pastries were tiny, delicate works of art, and the chocolate shaped into various fruits and veggies were unbelievably realistic.  Dad got some chocolate, Cameron got a Marzipan glass and we were on our way to the sprawling city of Berlin!


We were aiming for a 1:00 walking tour but the construction throughout the city streets of Berlin took more time than we bargained for (the amount of construction in this city is absurd!!  They must be taking advantage of their summer months because truly every other street is closed).  Just a few minutes late, we were able to sprit along the river to easily catch up with our tour but after stopping for a few moments we decided a Tim Graham memory, Rick Steves book, and iPad with data could handle our own Berlin tour (we were right 🙂 ).  We spent the afternoon exploring Berlin:  the Berlin Dom on Museum Island, the Lust Garden, views of the East Berlin TV tower, adding a Berlin Starbucks mug to our collection, and walking on the River Spree.

DSC_0927{the dom at lustgarten}DSC_0928DSC_0930DSC_0932SAM_0797{spelled my name correctly WITHOUT BEING ASKED}

As late afternoon arrived, we set out to find our apartment where we would be staying the next three nights in Berlin.  Ten minutes north of downtown Berlin, it was a bit difficult to find (even with three GPS and four sign readers) as we figured out there are multiple streets with the same name – on opposite sides of the city.  However, the apartment was well worth the trouble!  Easily able to sleep seven, we had two bathrooms, three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a family room all to ourselves.  The rustic wood floors, ancient windows (that OPENED ALL THE WAY – we’ve had a few hot nights with windows that only cracked), beautiful views of the city, and just a lot of character in general, the apartment reminded Cameron and I of one that you would see in the movies.  We sorted out some laundry and hauled it back downstairs to the Laundromat ½ block down the street.  After getting the laundry all started in the washers, Mom, Cameron, and I crossed the street (dodging bikes, pedestrians, trains, and cars…in one intersection) to the grocery store where we picked up some things for dinner and breakfast the next day.  Cameron and I went up to the apartment to begin cooking while Mom went back to help Dad finish up the laundry. We didn’t hear the parents screaming at us to let them from the streets (oops…) but we did make a lovely meal of pasta, veggies, and chicken that tasted remarkably like pork (hey, it’s tough to shop with just pictures and Germans…your pig looks like a chicken, folks!!).  Regardless it was delicious and served as necessary fuel for our 14-mile stroll through Berlin the next day.

SAM_0804SAM_0802{our beautiful home cooked meal in the apartment with the streets of Berlin below}

SAM_0808{solid attempt at a mirror selfie}

The following morning we ate a traditional American breakfast in our apartment and made our way down to the train station directly below our apartment to catch the train into downtown.  We confirmed our route with a fellow train-goer – and it was lucky we did!  The construction we had battled through the day before also effected the trains meaning we would have to make several transfers.  We drove 🙂 Arriving into downtown Berlin, we found a parking lot next to Starbucks (theme, perhaps? 🙂 ).  We all got a coffee and utilized their wi-fi for a bit to plan our day, check on pictures of Justin, and answer some emails.

Then we were off!  Beginning the tour at Checkpoint Charlie, we walked down by the old SS and then walked through the Charlie museum they had set up.  Charlie wasn’t named after a specific person but rather signified this was the third checkpoint (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie) on the border of East and West Berlin.  We were able to read about the how to get in and out of East Berlin and thus the checkpoint severed as the beginning of our sobering historical tour through Berlin’s turbulent history.  There were moments that I still can’t fully comprehend my own feelings of how humans could act like that; there’s just no logic anywhere and impossible to understand how some of the events of WW2 and the aftermath could have even happened.

DSC_0951IMG_0026IMG_0030IMG_0031IMG_0029IMG_0028DSC_0942DSC_0952DSC_0943DSC_0940DSC_0938DSC_0956DSC_0960DSC_0958{the mathies at Einsteins Coffee}

DSC_0959{check out the row of segways!}

DSC_0961DSC_0965{there are pipes like this painted a variety of colors throughout the city – we googled it and I guess they run water away from constructions sites because Berlin is only 7 feet above sea level the sites would flood otherwise}

{such interesting street art}

{east germany’s tv tower}

Next we walked to Babelplatz, the infamous square where the Nazi’s burned books written by Jewish authors or otherwise deemed to carry an unfit message.  In the midst of the busy square is an opaque glass window, set into the cobblestones.  Below you are just able to make our the shelves of the underground university library, expansively empty as far as you can see, serving as a unsettling, symbolic representation of the books that were lost to history forever.  German poet Heinrich Heine wrote in 1820 “where they burn books, they also burn humans” – a quote that becomes eerily upsetting when starting in this square because we all know the Nazi’s burned the books of Jewish authors and soon were cremating the Jews themselves.  The emotion and incredible weight of history that you feel when starting in this square – I just cannot describe it.

Continuing our journey through Berlin, we next saw the Brandenburg Tor.  Built in 1791, the gate is the last surviving of the original 14 that led into the walled city of Berlin and was a symbol of peace, however the Nazi’s misused it as a triumphant arch through which to return to their capital after conquering somewhere.  It sat unused throughout the life of the Berlin Wall as it was in the dangerous ground close to the wall.  Now there is a room of silence dedicated to thinking about all the gate has witnessed.
DSC_0967 DSC_0969 DSC_0971

We crossed through the gate and next saw the Reichstag – the German capital.  The building has a glass dome, symbolic of the transparent government after WW2 – glass (and thus clear) it means the German people can keep an eye on the workings of their government.  The Reichstag offers tours throughout the year, however closes one week per year for cleaning…that week is right now so we admired from the outside and moved forward for a picturesque walk through the Tiergartens.

DSC_0973 DSC_0974 IMG_0036 IMG_0035{we could NOT figure out how they did this!!!!}


The Tiergartens, much like Central Park of NYC, are a beautiful oasis amidst the noise and bustle of a large city.  There is an instant tranquility felt when you enter the park and the crisscrossing web of pathways is relaxing to wander.  We explored the park stopping at the Sowjetisches Ehrenmal (Soviet Memorial dedicated to the 80,000 Russian troops, American glockenspiel (gift to Germany from America), Siegessaule (Victory Column to celebrate military wins by 19th century Prussia) before taking a break for lunch at Café am Neuen See.  A Bavarian-style beer garden nestled on the shore of Tiergarten’s New Lake it was a gorgeous place for a bite of pizza, a beer, and some great people watching.  The couple behind us was speaking English and after saying hello we learned he was from Florida but had been living in Berlin for the past ten years.  He was able to give us some great advice about which pieces of the wall to go see.

DSC_0964 IMG_0037 DSC_0976 DSC_0981 DSC_0989 DSC_0990 DSC_0993 DSC_0995 DSC_1000 DSC_1001 DSC_0994{we were about to enter the nude portion of the park…oops!!}

DSC_0987 DSC_0988 IMG_0038 IMG_0039 IMG_0043{the benches where we ate are in the background}

IMG_0042{there are bikes everywhere!!} IMG_0041 IMG_0040IMG_0045{our duck friend – he had a hurt foot so we fed him 🙂 }IMG_0044 IMG_0072 DSC_1005 DSC_1003 DSC_1002 DSC_0996

Leaving our peaceful little park, we walked to Ka-De-We, which was familiarly reminiscent of Harrod’s in London – eight floors of a department store, that houses everything you could want.  We spent the majority of our time on the 6th floor – the food floor – exploring the expansive displays that housed every brand, variety, and type of food you could ever think of.

DSC_1008 DSC_1010 IMG_0053 IMG_0050 IMG_0049 IMG_0048 IMG_0047 IMG_0046 IMG_0055 IMG_0054 IMG_0052 IMG_0059 IMG_0058 IMG_0057 IMG_0056 IMG_0065 IMG_0063 IMG_0062 IMG_0061 IMG_0060 IMG_0068 IMG_0067 IMG_0066 IMG_0064{that’s tongue, hooves, ahhhhhh!}IMG_0069 IMG_0070 IMG_0071

Tracking back toward to Tiergarten, we stopped for a few hours at the Zoo Berlin, a world famous collection of animals and sights.  It was relaxing to wander among them and very fun to see different species of similar animals (while most of the animals at our zoo’s are from the Americas, the majority of these were from Europe and Africa).

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After the zoo we stopped at Tony Roma’s for dinner before heading back to the apartment for the night.  All told, we ended up walking more than 14 miles through Berlin in a single day!

Our next morning in Berlin, we rose early and fixed breakfast at the apartment before backing the car and heading back to downtown Berlin – first stop, Starbucks 🙂  We ended up going to three different ones in Berlin (this one partially by accident and due to one long tunnel…).  We caught up on some emails and walked a few blocks to the Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  Covering an entire city block of concrete blocks and called the Field of Stelae, each steale is a different height and each represents a page of names of Jewish citizens murdered at Auschwitz.  Just standing here is enough to make your stomach twist.  Throughout the Holocaust Memorial under the field I was near tears.  It just is impossible to understand how humans could act this way toward one another.  It truly is repulsive, illogical, sickening, and just sincerely beyond words.  The emotion is raw and it’s something I will never, ever, ever forget.

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After the memorial we ventured to one of the three major sections of the remaining Berlin Wall.  Another example of the crimes humans can commit on one another for absolutely no reason.  The wall was built after over 3 million East Berlin residents migrated into West Berlin.  The first one we visited was a section of the wall that was residential – homes stood in between the inner and outer Berlin Wall were originally allowed to come and go as they pleased between East and West Berlin, however as East Berlin and the Russian forces got more intense, these homes had their front doors (which exited into West Berlin) boarded up and the residents were forced to move into deep East Berlin in the middle of the night.  It was incredible to see the more-or-less intact side of the East Berlin wall whereas the West Berlin side was bare clear to the inner wires because the West Berlin residents would chip away at the wall.  West Berliners would also dig tunnels from West Berlin to the wall so the East Berliners just had to match up one of the tunnels and could escape to West Berlin.  Despite this aid, many were shot in their bid for freedom to West Berlin.

DSC_1038 DSC_1039 DSC_1043 DSC_1045 DSC_1053 DSC_1055 DSC_1062{memorial for those who were killed crossing the wall}DSC_1060 DSC_1068 DSC_1070 DSC_1076 DSC_1041 DSC_1042 DSC_1050 DSC_1064 DSC_1065 DSC_1067 DSC_1073 DSC_1077 DSC_1082

After walking through all the monuments and exhibits, we stopped to eat burgers and hummus before getting back in the car to visit another section of the remaining Berlin Wall – a 1.3 km stretch now dubbed the East Side Galley (not to be confused with East Side Deli!).  This piece was covered with artistic expressions right after the majority of the wall was torn down in 1989 and on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall the artists were all invited back to repaint their masterpieces.  Some were meaningful, some enchanting, some beautiful, and some just weird.  It was fun to walk and point out each of our favorites.

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The final evening in Berlin, we headed back to the apartment, Mom and Dad did more laundry, Cameron and I caught up on Suits and we got ready for an early morning drive into Messien.  Below are some random things we’ve noticed wandering the streets of Berlin…

IMG_0094{flyers on the pole thicker than my hand}

DSC_1013{the number of bikers in this city warrants their own TRAFFIC SIGNAL}

IMG_0034{<3 <3 <3}

seaport towns that are prettier than Aberdeen ;)

Breakfast this morning was wonderful and quiet – we were fairly certain that we were the only ones who stayed the night. Presented with a bottle of cherry wine upon check out, we dropped a letter to Justin in the International Mail bin they had and were on the road to Bremen via a stop at the Hannover Starbucks (duh).

Bremen is a German seaport town that was made famous by the Bremen Town Musicians fairytale (another from the Brothers Grimm) which chronicles the lives of four farm animals – a donkey, dog, cat, and rooster – who were getting older and of no use on the farm anymore. Instead of awaiting their fate, they escaped and joined on the road to Bremen, intending to live out their days as musicians in the city. Fate intervened as they surprised a gang of robbers in a cottage. The four used teamwork to chase the robbers away and proceeded to live happily ever after in the cottage. The statue in the town square pays tribute to the four and legend says that kissing the feet will bring one luck.

DSC_0817{the four of us next to the original}

DSC_0823{there were versions of the Bremen fairytale throughout the town}


We spent time in Bremen wandering the shops in the historical district and market plaza.

DSC_0806{it’s always one of us…haha}

DSC_0805SAM_0697DSC_0838DSC_0837SAM_0695SAM_0688{the COOLEST machine that juiced the whole orange from the top into very fresh, very yummy, orange juice}

SAM_0687{fresh fruit stands dot the marketplaces – fun place to pick up some grapes or a fresh squeeze juice}

SAM_0686{our orange, carrot, apple juice}

SAM_0685SAM_0683{we are getting a knob in the cities we stop in to decorate a 9 drawer dresser we have at home – it will be the dresser of the trip!}

SAM_0680{lace, lace everywhere!}

SAM_0677{cameron wanted to purchase this…and put it in our living room….}

SAM_0674IMG_0022{we purchased a neat jar with the bremen characters on top and the only one who likes this type of candy got to fill it up :)}


{fun street performers are everywhere – statues and musicians seem to be the most popular}

Lübeck was our next stop and our destination for the night. While Dad checked into the hotel, we watched a couple of drivers fighting for a parking space. Each had pulled in half way and neither was going to give the spot up. We watched for a good 15 minutes and neither got out of their car to fight or argue (as they probably would have in America….) just waited it out. Talk about playing a relaxed game of chicken! After loading Cameron in the elevator with all the suitcases and sprinting up four floors to meet him, we dumped the luggage in the stuff room and quickly escaped down to the cooler streets below.


For the next few hours we completed a walking tour throughout the beautiful sea town of Lübeck, beginning with the ancient and impossibly thick city walls.

DSC_0850{the gates to the city}

DSC_0845DSC_0855DSC_0852DSC_0859{the old salt store warehouses}

DSC_0862DSC_0870SAM_0725SAM_0729{our ever fantastic tour guide leading us on a tour of the city}

SAM_0700{urban dictionary says that ausfahrt is the largest city in europe 😉regardless, the word means exit and makes us giggle every time}

SAM_0699{they have mirror guards – speak volumes to the width of their streets and their driving habits!}


We ate dinner at a wonderful little restaurant – both the ambiance and the food we all agreed was our favorite so far this trip. Nestled in a peaceful and decorate courtyard off of Huxstrasse, OHANA had great, recognizable food (pasta, salads, burgers, schnitzel) but this was the kicker…water….with ICE! Like real ice, people. We are incredibly spoiled in the US in case anyone was wondering ☺ Our server, Jeremy, spoke superb English and was very helpful. He also loved talking to us, asking us what we call silverware and picking up on colloquial tendencies that I suppose you can only learn by talking to a native speaker. He helped us with our German and brought the best meal of burgers, salad, and potatoes (wedge fries).


After dinner we finished the city tour – having walked entire perimeter of the island city.

SAM_0775SAM_0773{well, they tried.  forever 18 is down the street….}

SAM_0768SAM_0756SAM_0776{i’ve been fascinated by their buggies – the babies lay completely down!  finally, i asked a couple if i could take a picture of their stroller haha}

SAM_0755{hidden courtyards are private escapes from the city streets}

DSC_0920DSC_0918{the view from our hotel window}


The famous Lübeck candy company, Marzipan chocolate, was closed so we checked the hours to come back after breakfast the next morning.