We are off to Salzburg, Austria! Our directions said it should be a 5-hour drive, but after 3 stops and a little bit of construction traffic, it took about 7. Connor didn’t nap until the last hour! By the time we parked, walked a few blocks to our hotel, and checked in, it was already close to 5:00. We lucked out with a big hotel room: a double bed, two single beds, and room to play! We walked across the bridge to meander around the Old Town area and saw the outside of the house where Mozart was born, picked up a souvenir Starbucks mug, walked inside a church, and saw a statue of Mozart. For dinner we found a small Italian restaurant. Connor chose gnocchi and devoured almost all of it. Charlie enjoyed his calzone and I had an omelette with roasted potatoes. After relaxing a bit at the hotel, it was time for bed!
Connor slept until 8:30, which is pretty late for him. We got ready, checked out, and walked back to the parking garage to drop off our suitcase. Next we walked a few minutes to a cemetery, stopping along the way to pickup breakfast at a bakery. At the cemetery we saw the graves of Mozart’s wife and father, and Carl Maria von Weber’s mother.
We walked across the river and found the house where Mozart was born, toured the museum inside, then went back across the river and toured a house where he lived later in life. Next we walked about 10 minutes to the Dom, which was absolutely gorgeous inside. It was destroyed by a bomb during WWII and was rebuilt in 1959. A few minutes later, we arrived at the Festungsbahn, a funicular train to take us uphill to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. We enjoyed walking through the grounds (and Connor enjoyed running in circles around a tree and climbing on rocks) before heading back down the hill for lunch. We had a delicious lunch at a Bräuhaus: beer-cheese soup with pretzel pieces, and beef gulasch with a bread dumpling. Connor inhaled pretty much all of my dumpling, but luckily Charlie shared a few bites of his with us. It was time to walk to the car and head a little over 2 hours to Garmisch, a town nestled in mountains of Germany’s Bavarian region.
It was a little after 5:00pm when we arrived at the Edelweiss Lodge in Garmisch, a lodge and resort for military and dependents. The drive was picturesque, and the houses look just like what you would imagine for a town at the base of the ski slopes. Edelweiss Lodge is gorgeous! Our room has a vaulted ceiling, two queen beds, plenty of space, and a balcony. Connor spent a while running around and playing in the wardrobe, pretending that it was his bed, and also pretended to fix things in the room. Eventually we went downstairs to get some info about tomorrow’s adventure up the Zugspitze, then had dinner at the buffet. Connor has been asking for Spätzle for two nights in a row, and here we are in Bavaria, but tonight‘s buffet menu was BBQ. He found plenty of French fries and bread to fill him up, and tried some pulled pork. After dinner it was time for bed! He was exhausted from not having a nap, and fell right to sleep at 8:00.
After grabbing a quick breakfast at the hotel’s coffee shop, we drove down the road to the train station. It was time to begin our ascent of the Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain! We rode the cog train about 15 minutes up the base of the mountain, then got off to switch to the Eibsee cable car. There was a line and we had to wait a bit, but we met another American family in front of us and enjoyed talking to them while we waited. Connor thought the mom was his new best friend! We were packed like sardines in the cable car, but managed to enjoy the view as we rode to the top of the mountain.
As I’m sure you can imagine, it was COLD up there! I think I heard Charlie say it was -9 Celsius, and there was plenty of wind on top of that. Connor loved playing in the piles of snow while Charlie and I tried to take in the incredible view…which was a little difficult, between the sun glare and trying to keep one eye on the little man. Once we had enough of the cold, we went back inside to look in the gift shop, where Connor picked out a souvenir “snow groomer” toy. We had lunch in Germany’s highest restaurant, enjoying our booth by the window. I had spinach-cheese dumplings served with creamed cabbage and had no complaints! Charlie had gulasch soup and shared some white sausages and a pretzel with Connor. We took the cable car down the mountain, and then had about 30 minutes to wait before the next cog train left. I managed to bounce around outside long enough for Connor to fall asleep before we boarded the train. Our new friends that we met on the cable car ride up were on this train as well. Connor woke up just in time to say goodbye to them before we got off at our stop.
We decided to drive to the center of Garmisch and walk around some stores we had noticed as we drove in yesterday. Just as we approached the shops, Charlie asked what day it was. Oops, it was Sunday, so all the shops were closed! Instead, we drove to the Olympia Stadium, which was used when Garmisch hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics. We relaxed inside for a little while and watched people ice skating, and as a bonus for Connor, we also got to see the zamboni smooth the ice! We also looked at the hockey rink inside the building.
Once we got back to our hotel, we found the playground outside. Connor had fun letting off some steam, and especially loved tromping through the snow and mud. The weather was absolutely beautiful today: sunny and almost 50 degrees. After some playground time, we walked a few minutes across the main road to Artillery Kaserne. We didn’t even know there was an Army base in Garmisch! It is definitely a small one. We walked through the tiny commissary and then the BX. Of course, Charlie managed to find two Lego sets that we couldn’t live without, and I picked out a floor puzzle for Connor.
We walked back to our hotel room and Connor put together his entire puzzle, taking breaks here and there to play with his snow groomer. Then we went downstairs and had dinner at one of the hotel restaurants. We all shared some appetizers and a pizza, and brought dessert back to our room. After a bath and books, it was time for bed!
We checked out, loaded the car, grabbed a quick breakfast to-go, and started the hour-long drive to Neuschwanstein Castle near Füssen. After parking and buying our tickets, we trekked uphill for about 30 minutes to reach the castle. We have been wanting to see this castle since we first moved here, and it did not disappoint us! Disney based Sleeping Beauty’s castle off Neuschwanstein. We had told Connor that we were going to see Mickey’s castle, and he kept asking if it would have a yellow rope around it. Neither of us could figure out what he meant, but then Charlie realized he must have been thinking about our Mickey Christmas ornament from Disneyland Paris that has a yellow string to hang on the tree!
After waiting for our entrance time and taking in the spectacular views from the outside, it was time to head inside for a guided tour. The castle was built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, and he died before it was finished. Only one-third of the rooms inside were completed. The rooms that we saw were absolutely breathtaking! Unfortunately, photos inside were not allowed. The tour lasted a little over half an hour, and then we stopped at the gift shop before heading down the hill. We decided to take a carriage ride on the way down, and Connor was excited about that. Well, he may have been even more excited about the Thomas the Train water bottle that the little girl had across the seat from him!
The drive home took about 4 hours, and Connor slept for a lot of it. We only have time for a few more adventures before moving back to the states. Next up: The Netherlands and the Czech Republic!