Trip to Paris and Germany

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

While much belated, I’ve finally posted some photos and a trip report from our family trip to Paris and Germany back in August. We had a great time and it was wonderful to be back in Germany after almost nine years away. We were in Europe for two full weeks, starting in Paris, doing a day trip to Normandy (Kyle and me), then onto Trier, Germany. From Trier, we did a bit of the Mosel, the Rhine, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (Bavaria), Erfurt (Thurungia, former East Germany) and ended up in Berlin. We also did a day trip from Berlin to Pozna?, Poland. Kyle was thrilled to get to visit Normandy and we got to spend a wonderful few hours with some old friends in Würzburg.

Of course there’s some photos and a trip report:

Paris

Trip to Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia

For our 20th wedding anniversary, Suzanne and I decided to spent a week and half or so in Croatia. Suzanne suggested it while we were considering where to go. Neither of us had been before and it looked wonderful. We flew out Friday, 17-May, evening and came back Tues 28-May. We had a great time, seeing quite a lot including Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and several spots on the Adriatic coast (Split, Korčula, Dubrovnik). We also took day trips to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kotor in Montenegro. As an added bonus, we spent a few hours in Frankfurt during our long layover on the way back. If you’re wondering, Jack and Mary Lou we very kind to come up for a couple of weeks to watch Kyle.

Of course, there’s a (lengthy) Trip Report and several pages of photos:

The Old Port in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Germany Day 11 – A last, wet, day in Germany

When we awoke this morning, the temperature had risen to above freezing. However, along with the warmer temps came a steady rain. We eventually got going around midmorning, having to wait for hot water for a shower as the water heater had gotten turned off last night instead of set on “Night”. After a quick stop to deposit the rent money for the apartment, we hopped the tram to Karlsplatz for a stop at Karstadt and Galeria Kaufhof, the two big department stores, to do some gift shopping. After finishing here, we headed down the main pedestrian street toward Marienplatz. Pushing the stroller was a bit easier as most of the snow was gone, but I think I would have traded the rain and temps in the upper 30s for snow and temps in the 20s as we had been having. We stopped by to visit the inside of the Dom (cathedral), which was nice. We continued our walk, through Marienplatz, and around the Viktualienmarkt (food market). Somehow, we missed this on our trip in 2000. It was pretty nice, and we took advantage of our visit to pick up a donut for Kyle and a couple of pretzels for us as a snack. Back toward Marienplatz, I grabbed a last glühwien while Suzanne and Kyle ran into the bookstore for a gift for one of Kyle’s friends. We next stopped by the other Galeria Kaufhof branch where I finally managed to find a wallet to replace my current one which is falling apart. An S-Bahn, tram ride, and a stop by the supermarket (for lunch and more gifts), and we ended up back at the apartment.

After a rest, we headed out to dinner. Given the weather and the amount of stuff we had to get done tonight before leaving in the morning, we decided to try the Italian place (Natales) a few minutes walk from the apartment. Kyle was able to get plain ziti, which he enjoyed very much, eating the entire plateful. Suzanne and I had pizzas, both of which were pretty good. (Kyle’s meal, a small salad, two pizzas, one beer, and two other drinks was €35.) After one last quick stop at the supermarket for a few items we forgot earlier, it was back to the apartment to start getting things together for tomorrow. While I helped Kyle with his bath, Suzanne packed up our stuff. Unfortunately, we did end up with a third bag to check. We’re just hoping our larger suitcase is not overweight.

It’s hard to believe the trip is over. It’s been great to be back in Germany after three full years. (For that trip, we spent only three days here before heading to Italy.) The Christmas markets were as wonderful as we remember, especially with the snow. It would have been better if it wasn’t quite so cold, but I decided I’d rather have the cold and snow than the rain we had all day today. Traveling with Kyle wasn’t the easiest, especially given his picky eating. It was much easier once we were in the apartment since we could make plain pasta every morning. We’ll definitely return to Germany at some point, but it will likely be at least a few years. (It will also likely be when the weather will be warmer.)

Germany Day 10 – Separate Mornings and a visit to the Tollwood Festival

One of the things I wanted to do was to make the short trip to the suburb of Dachau and visit the concentration camp memorial. Suzanne and I had visited during our trip in 2000. She didn’t have a strong desire to return and Kyle is much too young. (While I did see some younger kids there, the museum is not recommended for kids under 12.) She felt it was okay for me to head off on my own, which I did. The trip was very sobering, as I expected. In 2000, we visited on a warm, sunny day in May, so visiting on a cold, overcast day in December made it more powerful. They have redone the museum since we were there and things are very well presented. Everything is captioned in both German and English. I don’t know that I’d call it a highlight of the trip in the traditional sense, but it was definitely worth doing. (Note, I have also visited Buchanwald, outside of Weimer, in late November 2003. While the museum at Dachau is much better, I feel that Buchanwald was even more powerful.)

Suzanne and Kyle slept in, eventually getting going around 10:00. They headed off to the Deutsches Museum transport center, near the Oktoberfest grounds. Kyle really loved a few of the exhibits, especially the computer game about driving an ambulance. After they were done, we met back at the apartment for a late lunch and a nap.

After our rest, Kyle did not want to get up, but it was getting toward time for dinner. We headed out to the Hacker-Pschorr Brauhaus near the Theresienweise park (Oktoberfest grounds). Dinner was quite good and the place wasn’t too busy. There were a number of other families with kids, so we didn’t feel out of place. They even had chicken nuggets for Kyle. (Two entrees, one kids meal, one beer, and two other drinks was €45.) After dinner, we headed to the Tollwood Festival at the Theresienweise park itself. This is something of an “alternative” Christmas market. It was interesting, and they had an amazing array of food choices. Of course we had just eaten, but we did pick up some fresh roasted almonds. After walking around for a while, we hopped the U-Bahn and Strassenbahn back to our apartment for the evening. It’s hard to believe we only have one more day. It’s our plan to visit the main market once more and do some last-minute shopping. We’re also hoping to visit the Viktualienmarkt since we forgot (yes … forgot) on Saturday. Then, we have to repack everything for the trip home.

Germany Day 9 – A Busy Day in Munich

Another late morning as we didn’t get going until 10:45 or so. Our first stop was the medieval market in Odeonsplatz. The market itself wasn’t that big, but it was very nice. Everything is supposed to feel like the middle ages including the workers there being dressed in costume. They also have a really full schedule of events. We watched the magician and then watched the “comedy juggling” group. Even with our limited German, we still very much enjoyed them, even Kyle. By the end of the second show, the knight in armor had arrived. Kyle was impressed, but a little scared. We purchased a couple of items and then grabbed a snack consisting of meat on a skewer with dough wrapped around between the meat and then grilled. It was very tasty.

We were getting a bit cold by this time, so we headed toward Marienplatz and wandered though the department store for a bit. It was very busy. After getting warmed up, we headed to the big toy store on Karlsplatz. Suzanne managed to find something that we had been looking for all week and Kyle picked up another few cars. Kyle was getting antsy by this time, so we hopped the tram back toward our apartment, stopping for a few things at the supermarket as it will be closed tomorrow.

After spending a bit of time hanging out at the apartment relaxing, we headed out to dinner. We wanted to check out an Italian place in the Rick Steves near Isartor, but never did. Instead, we ended up at the Weisses Brauhaus, home of Schneider Weisse. It was very busy, but we were lucky to find a table after a few minutes. (We shared with two other couples. One kept to themselves, but we talked with the other, from Frankfurt.) The food was excellent as was the beer. They had at least five different hefeweizens on tap. My schweienehaxe was much better than Augustiner am Platzl and Suzanne’s saurbraten was equally good. (The total bill for two entrees, one “kids” meal, two beers, two other drinks, and a soup was €42.) We took another walk through the main market and down the main shopping street, catching our tram home at Karlsplatz. For tomorrow, the plan is for me to head out early to visit the Dachau concentration camp memorial (about an hour from our apartment). Suzanne and Kyle will sleep in and spend the morning/early afternoon at the Deutsches Museum’s transportation museum.

Germany Day 8 – Munich Day #1

It was a late morning. We didn’t have anything time critical, so we simply got up when we awoke. This turned out to be around 9:00. It was probably a good thing to let Kyle sleep until he wanted to get up as he was fairly well behaved today. Once we got going, we hopped the tram and the S-Bahn to the Deutsches Museum. This is a very large science and technology museum. Our first stop was the recreations of the a few types of mines. Kyle really enjoyed this as one of the new DVDs we got for the trip was a Mighty Machines about a salt mine, which one of the recreations was. After the mines, we headed to visit the ship section. Kyle really wanted to see the submarine (U-1 – the first German U-boat). Next we headed to the kids section. Kyle loved playing on the real fire truck. He also loved the water play area until he stepped off the edge and ended up ankle deep in water. This wouldn’t have been a big deal in summer, but given the temperature outside was hovering around 30, it wasn’t good. Amazingly, the area has a clothes dryer in the baby changing room as well as extra clothes. After some drying time for his socks and pants and some time under the bathroom hand dryer for his shoe, we managed to salvage the day. (It helped that Suzanne had packed a pair of tights to be worn as long underwear when we went back outside.)

Once we were finished in the kids section, we headed to their cafe for lunch, which wasn’t bad. Next, we headed to the pharmacy/health section. This was brand new in 2000 when Suzanne and I were there before, but was still pretty good. Kyle really loved being able to walk inside a cell. For our trip, Kyle insisted on brining along his “science” kit, which consists of a magnifying glass, a ruler, a notebook, and a pencil. He used it all inside the cell. After the pharmacy exhibit we did a few more sections, but Kyle was getting tired. (He walked for our whole visit, five hours or so.) Another 20 or so minutes in the play area and it was time to go.

After leaving the museum, we headed to the Praterinsel Christmas market, which is on the island just north of Museuminsel, where the Deutsches Museum is located. Getting there involved a nice walk though a snow filled park. The market itself was very small, maybe five or so stalls and another five or so stands inside a building. After leaving here we ended up heading to the market at the Residenz. This turned out to be in a very nice setting, being in the palace courtyard. They also had a series of stalls depicting various fairy tales/Santa scenes with animated figures ala Disney. The only problem with this market is that was very busy as it was evening. Next we headed down past the Rathaus to the second major department store so Suzanne could look for warmer socks and Kyle could take a turn through the toy department. We then headed off to dinner, deciding to check out Steinheil 16 near the apartment, figuring if it wasn’t good, we could stop by the supermarket. It turned out to work well, though luckily we got the the last free table. Kyle ate the noodles we had brought, but both Suzanne and I had had excellent, and huge, Wienerschnitzels. (Total bill for three drinks and two meals was €30.) Then it was back home as we had to finish our laundry and were hoping to get Kyle to bed at a reasonable hour. For tomorrow, we’re not entirely sure what we have planned. We’ll likely hit the Viktualienmarkt and the Middle-Ages Christmas market. Aside from that, who knows.

Germany Day 7 – Off to Munich

The alarm went off early again at 8:00. After a quick breakfast, during which Kyle had nothing aside from drinking a cup of hot cocoa, we did our final packing and dragged our luggage through the snow to the train station. (Yes, at points I had to literally drag the suitcase as the snow was piling up and preventing it from rolling.) Once there, many trains were delayed due to the “heavy” snow. (The area did get probably 6+ inches and it was much earlier than normal.) Our train ended up being about 20 minutes late out of Nürnberg and 40 minutes late into Munich. However, we were better off than the earlier train to Munich that was 90 minutes late or the train to Munich that was canceled. It turns out that the reservations I had gotten on Monday were actually for Tues and not today. Oh well. I thought about going out last night, but decided not to as it was only a hour. Luckily, the train was not the least bit crowded and we even got a four-seat place around a table.

Coming into Munich was fine, though I felt bad for people who had connections when they announced we were too late to hold them, including the train to Budapest. After trying one of the tram/strassenbahn stops, we found the one we needed. The tram came quickly and it was a short ride to our stop. We are very happy with our apartment so far. It is clean and good sized. We are just down the street from a good-sized (especially by German standards) supermarket and right next door to a bakery. The view is so-so for us, but Kyle loves it as we are very near a construction site.

After relaxing a bit and having lunch, we headed out to visit the Christmas market. The tram right across from us drops us at Karlsplatz, which is the very beginning of the main pedestrian shopping street. Suzanne and I were here on our first European trip in 2000, but only for a day and half or so and didn’t really see much. (We kept meaning to return during our time in Marburg, but never quite made it.) We walked down here for a bit, arriving at Marienplatz and the main market in front of the old city hall. It’s quite nice and fair sized. (There are several others in town we plan to visit.) We walked through it, grabbing a glühwein and a snack for Kyle while doing so. After hitting the main bookstore, which had a very nice view over the market from their elevator, and the department store, we decided to start thinking about dinner early. A few of the places I had recommendations for were near by, so we decided to check them out and found a couple of promising ones. We walked some more, taking a quick trip through the very quiet Viktualienmarkt, we decided to head for dinner. It was only 5:20 or so, but Kyle was complaining he was hungry. For dinner, we headed up to the Augustiner am Platzl brauhaus, which is kitty-corner to the Hofbrauhaus. The food was decent, though Kyle didn’t like his wiener sausage. (We weren’t surprised, but figured we’d give them a try. He at least ate some of the fries.) I had the schweinehaxe which was pretty good. The service wasn’t great, but the waitress did have another huge table. After dinner, we headed back to the apartment, stopping for a couple of items at the supermarket on the way. Suzanne had to put some laundry in now that we had a washer and dryer and we’re hoping to get Kyle down a little early since he was not happy about having to get up this morning and didn’t get a nap. I think tomorrow we’re going to head to the Deutsches (science) Museum which Suzanne and I really enjoyed in 2000.

Germany Day 6 – Bamberg

The alarm went off early this morning as we wanted to catch a 9:44 train to Bamberg. Kyle was a bit fussy as we had to wake him up. After a rushed breakfast and walk to the train station, we made it in plenty of time. After a 45 minute ride, we arrived in Bamberg. We decided to walk down to the Christmas market instead of taking the bus. It wasn’t far, but it was cold. The market itself was fairly small. They’re supposed to have several, but only one was running. Kyle got to ride the fire truck on the carousel and I had some warm mead. After the market, we did some shopping and walked through the part of the city south of the river/canal. We were getting cold by this point and were looking for lunch. We had passed a place on the way down that had a promising kids menu, including pasta, but it turned out they were closed for lunch except on Saturday and Sunday. After a brief detour into the department store, we finally found a small pizzeria that was able to make some plain pasta. The pizza was actually pretty decent. Kyle ate virtually all of his lunch, which was good. We detoured back to the market to get a Bamberg Gl?hwein mug and headed back to the station for the 2:30 train back to N?rnberg. Bamberg seemed like it would be a very nice city to visit, but the cold made it less than it would have been.

Back in N?rnberg, Suzanne and Kyle were very cold, so we took advantage of our transit day ticket to take the subway the one stop back to the hotel. (The exit is right next to our hotel.) They decided to stay in as it was snowing quite hard. I went back out to the market, taking the subway as close as I could. The snow was really coming down. It made the market quite nice, but Kyle would have been quite cold and uncomfortable. I took a bunch of photos, but it was hard as the camera was getting damp from the snow. Once it was getting dark, I put the camera away and enjoyed the market along with a N?rnberger wurst and a gl?hwein. I headed back to the hotel, stopping at the train station for dinner. (Okay, I admit it, I got some McDonald’s for Kyle.) After eating dinner in our room, we hung out for the rest of the evening, catching up on photos, the blog, and doing our packing for the trip to Munich tomorrow morning.

Germany Day 5 – A Cold Day in Nürnberg

We ended up sleeping in this morning, not getting going until 9:30 or so (just in time to catch breakfast, which ends at 10:00). After getting a decent breakfast, we headed out to the Deutsche Bahn (German railroad) museum. Suzanne and I went here in 2002 and thought Kyle would really like it. We weren’t disappointed. He wasn’t too keen on the artifacts, but loved the trains on display and the hands-on section designed for kids. He didn’t want to leave, but it was getting toward 1:00.

After a brief stop at the hotel (which was literally behind and across the street) to put on warmer clothes, we headed out to the altstadt. Unfortunately, today was quite cold. Before really visiting the market, we walked up to the castle and explored the courtyard. Then we headed back down to grab some lunch at the market and visit it bit. Kyle was getting cold by this time, so we headed to the kid’s market so he could visit the Playmobil hut, where they had several Playmobil sets setup in a small and, importantly, heated building. Kyle had some “issues” sharing, so we headed back out to the walk through the entire market, which we hadn’t yet done. Kyle was doing better by this time, but getting cold, so it was back to Playmobil for another 30 minutes or so. By now, it was getting late, so we headed away from the market, stopping at the department store so Kyle could spend some of the money Mary Lou sent and so we could pick up a few groceries. Back at the hotel, I asked for a recommendation for somewhere close by which would be good for kids. They didn’t really have one, so we headed out to a place I had found on TripAdvisor that was back in the Altstadt, thought only about 10 minutes from the hotel. Padelle D’Italia turned out to be very good and quite reasonable (€35 for two drinks, two main meals, one “kids” meal, and one soup). We got a plate of plain spaghetti for Kyle and he actually ate the whole thing. It’s the most he’s eaten since we arrived. He also behaved very well. After grabbing a quick crepe, we headed back to the hotel as Kyle had to have a shower before bed tonight. All in all a very good, though cold, day. Our plan tomorrow is to head to Bamberg, about 45 minutes by train from Nürnberg.