from sober silence to a raucous biergarten

How do I even write about our morning?  This morning we began with a tour of Dachau, the first concentration camp that was established in Germany.  I have no words to walk you though this, no story or narrative to share.  All I can say is that the photos shown here can never elicit the emotion that we felt walking though these grounds.  Just please focus on the last photo – never forget and never again.

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After Dachau we were all incredibly drained but our next step was to venture into Munich.  We stopped at the apartment we rented – and discovered it was basically a room to rent in his massage business (and the price of renting a full apartment…) but it was along a pretty stretch of cafes and shops – a mere block from where the tents for Oktoberfest were already being set up.  Oh, Ralf’s…live and learn!  We got back in the car and drove 2.5 km and parked in the world’s most expensive parking along Maximilian Strauss.  We walked and shopped before stumbling upon Hafbrau House – Munich’s world famous biergarden.  Naturally we stopped.  Pros at this whole beer garden business, the boys ordered a dark drink and a plate of sausage to split – mom and I weren’t feeling the whole beer garden food situation (I know, I know) so we opted to make this a quick stop before actual dinner 😉 Enjoying the breeze and people watching under the canopy of chestnut trees, we heard the table next to us speaking not only English but also clearly American accented English!  They were a very sweet family from Madison, WI who were in Germany for their old au pair’s wedding.  Ensued a lovely chat with some fellow Americas.  Cameron and Dad purchased some sweet HB house beer mugs and we were back on the streets of Munich, heading back to our “apartment” where Cameron and I walked a few blocks down the street to get some dinner.  We were served by the chef himself who clearly took an incredible amount of pride in his work; it was delicious!  Back to the apartment – where we got the “shhh”! because of the massage in progress- and to bed before we spent the next day exploring Munich!

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Lady Starbucks was our first stop the following morning for a grande Pike, venti sugar free nonfat Earl Grey tea latté, venti iced Americano, and grande skinny vanilla latté – ah, we are all creatures of habit 🙂  I’ll let you guess which drink belongs to who.  We also spent some time on the Wi-Fi (when we asked Ralf for the Wi-Fi password the night before he handed us a cord…).  Cameron and I walked around the shopping, stumbling upon a movie filming in progress in the square – complete with huge lights and expensive cameras!  We asked one of the street guards and she said it was for a documentary but they did have baby lambs that looked awfully sweet.  Eventually we ventured back to Starbucks, collected Mom and Dad, and began a fabulous walking tour around Munich.   We started with the Rathhouse and Dom – per tradition – and then waited for the famous glockenspiel to sing us her song.

SAM_0909{baby sheep!!}DSC_1589{bikes for days, absolutely everywhere!}

DSC_1591{this is for you justin!}DSC_1594 DSC_1598 DSC_1603 DSC_1606 DSC_1607 DSC_1608 DSC_1625{a 12 minute song that tells the story of the famous bavarian wedding that Oktoberfest celebrates every year}


Next we climbed the 305 steps up three-foot wide, two-direction staircase of the Saint Peter’s Church bell tower for panoramic views of Munich.

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Winding back down, we emerged into the market square, which was bustling with locals and tourists alike.  We found everything from pepper trees to dried apples, fresh flowers to smoothies.  In the center of the market was a swirling blue and white maypole that announced which vendors were present that day in the market.  We settled in a beer garden (if not Starbucks then beer garden?) where we got some lunch (and some delicious fresh, cheddar cheese) before we finished up the walking tour in the peaceful English Gardens.

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DSC_1588{the cafes have all the seats facing out throughout germany – all the better to people watch}DSC_1673 DSC_1670 DSC_1678 DSC_1679 DSC_1680{memorial to michael jackson…he often stayed across the street}

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Navigating our way back to the car, we went back to the apartment and while Mom and Dad navigated the completely German signage-out Laundromat, Cameron and I got dinner at a beautifully decorated Italian restaurant where we had the place to ourselves.  On to Rothenburg ob der Tauber via Nordlingen!

sounds of salzburg

Taking a step out of Germany, we landed this morning in….AUSTRIA!  The town most associated with the Sound of Music – Salzburg!  We quickly found a place to park and headed down the Salzburg River to the new town.

DSC_1343DSC_1352 DSC_1351 DSC_1347 DSC_1345 DSC_1344Beginning our tour of the city in the gardens at the Palace of Mirabell we drank in the sites of perfectly groomed flower swirls, hedges, and majestic fountains.  In the Sound of Music, Maria and the children dance around the fountains and run up the steps singing “Do-Re-Mi” and use the steps as a symbolic scale.  The movie then continues up to the dwarf statue garden where we patted the one with glasses on the head – just as they do in the movie.

DSC_1355{Maria and the children dance around this garden – however it is absolutely beautiful in its’ own right}DSC_1359 DSC_1356{cameron was the only one who got the message i guess}DSC_1360 DSC_1361 DSC_1362 DSC_1363 SAM_0843 SAM_0850 SAM_0849 SAM_0845{entrance to the dwarf statue garden}

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Exiting the garden on the opposite side, we came to the pale pink childhood residence of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Salzburg’s original claim to fame.  Although Mozart was infamously kicked out of Salzburg after a disagreement with the archbishop, after which he moved to Vienna, this was where he and his sister grew up.


Moving through town, we began the ascent (not climb…) to the monastery for fabulous views of the city and the fort on the opposing hill.

DSC_1386 DSC_1391{views of the town from the monastery}DSC_1399 DSC_1401 DSC_1403 DSC_1406 DSC_1407 DSC_1410{mom taking a picture of us taking selfies 😉 and the resulting shot…}SAM_0856 DSC_1412 DSC_1413{we are pretty sure someone lives in that little hut – there was even laundry on the line outside}DSC_1416 DSC_1418

Climbing back down we moved into old town for some shopping and exploring before we headed back up to another birds-eye view of the city – this time via the nearly vertical vehicular to the Salzburg Fort.  The fort was never taken – although it was surrendered once – but the impressive size and security it provided to the city also meant that no one attempted to take it for quiet some time.

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After touring the fort and drinking in the tremendous panoramic views, we rode the vehicular back down the mountainside to continue sightseeing before we found our way to our hotel.  We rested for a bit and primed ourselves for some fabulous food, great beer, and a quintessential European ambiance at dinner that night.


DSC_1426{see the chunk out of the bottom of the building on the right?  legend says that an American solider during WW2 drove his tank through the alley and crashed on his way to the brothel…oops!  regardless, this street used to be the starting point of the only route that crossed the alps} DSC_1432 DSC_1437{our Mozart chocolate!  daddy already ate his}

DSC_1438{bustling shopping route}

DSC_1439{i spy with my little eye…}DSC_1454 DSC_1456 DSC_1458 DSC_1460{maria danced in this fountain on her way down to the von Trapp family}DSC_1503 DSC_1506 DSC_1507 DSC_1508 DSC_1511

{the street performers are incredibly talented}

In addition to the site of the Sound of Music, Salzburg was familiar to me as the University of Portland’s main study abroad local – they have an engineering specific summer program that many of my dear friends participated in.  I was excited to see the city after their fabulous stories of time abroad and when we arrived I was able to text some of my best friends for a recommendation.  Their recommendation was marvelous – thank you oh so much Kevin and Carrie!!  We ate at the Augisteiners Beer Garden where the monks who live there brew the beer.  You enter on the second floor where about ten vendors have booths set up with various kinds of German food – from whole roasted turkeys to pretzel twists, spiraled radishes to brats.  Mom got half a chicken and Cameron, Dad, and I shared three different kinds of schnitzel – a traditional pork schnitzel, a cordon bleu schnitzel, and a seasoned schnitzel.  We sat under the chestnut trees, ate our meal, people watched, and talked for a long while.  Such a great evening with even better people.

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And then we were off to Munich!