Thursday, May 28, 2009

Garmish & Berchesgaden Trip May 24-27, 2009

This was a GREAT time!!! When I was a child, I visited a few of these places, so it was interesting to appreciate the different viewpoint as an adult. We hope that you will enjoy our thoughts and pictures as much as we did....oh and Steph...I still could not get the slides to only showed the code on the preview....aarrgghhh...otherwise there would be more pictures than there are..sorry everyone!!!

So we drove for almost 6 hours before arriving in Berchesgaden. We hit a lot of construction and 'staus' (pronounced sht-ow) which is german for traffic jam. When we arrived there on Sunday, we decided to walk around the village and do some window shopping (all the stores in Germany are closed on Sundays). We ate some great food...the kids had hot dogs and french fries, Thom had schnitzel (breaded and fried pork) and salad and french fries, I had roast beef, fried potatoes and savoy cabbage. After dinner we visited a beautiful Catholic church, right across the street from our gasthaus.

We finally made it to the gasthaus, and went to sleep...because Monday was going to be a very busy day.
After a scrumptous traditional german breakfast (brotchen, jellies, meat and cheeses) we headed out. Our first stop was to Kleinhaus (Eagle's Nest in English). This was Hitler's 50th birthday present; a huge house on the top of the Alps. We had to take a bus ride to the top of the mountain; this was a very narrow narrow that the bus was the only vehicle that could fit on the road. Jakob and Feliciti didn't even want to look over the edge because it was that high and we could "tip" over as Thom jokingly told the kids if everybody looked over at one time. Once we got to the top of the mountain we had to walk through a man-made tunnel through the mountain to get to Hitler's brass elevator to get to his house. We were unable to view his house, b/c it was only open to those people who took a tour, and we were not allowed to take the tour b/c we had kids under the age of 6. But we were able to view the outside of his house, and the magnificent view he had. Here are some pictures of what we saw.

After we left here, we went to the Salt Mines. We learned a lot about how salt is actually made. We thought it was just mined, and processed and put into containers for sale. Boy it is a lengthy process. We all got to dress up into mining outfits...Emilee and Dominick looked like little Oompa-Loompas. It was very cold in the mine (about 32 degrees ) but felt good since it was hot outside (mid 70's). OK, so we are not use to hot weather anymore, for all of our southern readers!!! We got to ride a mini train into the mines, and then we got to do some of the things the miners on a boat (while watching a laser show across the small lake), ride down two 60 meter wooden slides, and even ride on a cargo elevator. It was very interesting, and we all enjoyed the tour and extracurricular activities very much.

Our next stop was Konigliches Schloss (King's castle). It was interesting to see such beautiful architecture and furniture. We got a tour, half in German and half in English (I could understand most of it, and had to translate some of it for Thom and the kids). We learned about how the Augustinian princes and princesses lived (in 1803), and that the Duke of Munchen still visits, lives there and has parties in the castle occassionally. We were unable to take pictures inside because all the furniture is still original, and they want as little damage as possible. There is a Catholic church there too; and they still celebrate mass. There use to be a monastery there as well. I remember this schloss from when I was a kid and even took a picture of the kids at the same fountain where my sisters and I took a picture.

By this time it was 4:30pm, and the kids still wanted to do one more thing before leaving Berchesgaden. They wanted to ride a cable car up to the Alps...they closed at 5pm, so we had to rush to get there (only 5 min down the road). We made it, and we were all happy we were able to take this breathtaking ride. It was a 600 meter ride up the side of the Alps and took us about 15 minutes. Once we were up there, we took a little detour and found a 100 meter metal slide that we rode in. OK, so you are thinking metal slide in the heat (that is what we thought too)....but we actually sat on a mini-bobsled, and went down the twisty course pretty fast...but we had control with hand held brakes. Even Dominick got to ride....we all had a lot of fun. We then had to walk back up the hill probably about 150 meters to get back to the cable car. On the way down we were really able to get some great pictures.

So it was now time for dinner, after a long, busy and hot day. We decided to get some Italian food....and it was very yummy. OK, now we had a 2 1/2 hour drive to Garmisch...because we had reservations at Edelweis (the military lodge and resort). We arrived there at 10:30pm...and went straight to bed again....we were wore out!!!!

So our first stop today was to Scloss of 5 "houses" that belonged to Ludwig II. His other "houses" include Neuschwanstein (the "Disney princess castle was designed from this), Schloss Nymphenberg, Herrenchiemsee and Hohenschulangau. Once again we were not able to take pictures of the inside of the castle, b/c everything is copyrighted (had to buy postcards)....but we were able to take pictures of the outside. Linderhof was the only castle that he saw completed before his death at age 41 (in 1885). This is a VERY impressive and elaborate castle with 10 types of marble from around the world, a 100% African Ivory chandelier (the most expensive piece in the castle), all but one room had gold leaf (total of less than 10 pounds of gold was used...though with seeing it you would think 100 times more was used) decor and crown molding, oil paintings, a minature version of the Versailles Hall of Mirrors, fountains, beautiful gardens, and even a cave that was built for his entertainment and relaxation. It took 9 years to build the entire castle and area. He never married, and was declared insane and was imprisoned and 4 days later was found dead at the bottom of the pond. Experts are unsure if it was murder or suicide.

The kids were ready for something different to do by now. So we went to a monastery that has been making cheese, bread and their own beer since 1330. We all thought that would be pretty interesting....well, b/c we did not book it with a tour group, we were unable to see how it was all done. We were able to, however, look around the church and monastery grounds. This was a very beautiful church. Thom wanted to try some of the beer so we bought some..both light and dark Ettal beer.

Our next stop was they are "famous" for the intricate woodwork; the huge Catholic influence with crucifixes and statues of Mother Mary and saints; and also the site for the Passion Play which is put on every 10 years (next one being held in 2010). We were looking for a store that allows us to see a demonstration on some of the woodwork...but were unable to find it...even after asking one knew where it was...but our 2009 guidebook says it exists. After a long day we decided to treat ourselves to some cake and ice cream...and just in time becasue it started raining after we finished. This was the first time it rained our entire trip...we were very lucky since we were in rainy season in Bavaria Germany.

Our Edelweis hotel was very nice. We had to get back there by 5pm, b/c Feliciti, Jakob and Gabi had 'kids night out'. Too bad we couldn't get Emilee and Dominick there too..oh was still a bit more of a quiet evening of Mexican food at the hotel.
Checkout was by 11am, so we decided to go swimming for the morning before eatting lunch and heading back home. We all really enjoyed our trip. We already realized that there is so much to do at Garmish that we are already planning our next trip there....this Jan/Feb for a ski trip in the Alps. Anybody want to join us?

Our next trip is going to be June 13-15!! See you then!!!!