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}

DSC_1684{rubbing the feet for good luck}DSC_1688 DSC_1689 DSC_1693 DSC_1697 DSC_1701 SAM_0916{cameron plays with the bugs}SAM_0930

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!

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}

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