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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Steaks and Cakes

I missed a few days in my 30 days of blogging challenge because Josh and I escaped to Innsbruck for the night on Monday. We had so much fun exploring the city. If you are planning on going to Innsbruck, you only need a day or so to see the major sights. We saw the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), the Stadtturm (City Tower), had dinner at a great beer hall (pfeffer steak mit krauterbutter), and had wine and apfelstrudel at a little bar. We went to Swavorski Crystal World (one of the strangest places I have ever been) and bought cans of beer for 68 cents! More on this portion of the adventure later...I leave you with a few pictures from our trip!
Leaving the Brenner Pass...please note...it is a long way down and there is no guard rail for the train...

The view of Innsbruck from the Stadtturm

The Hofburg

The Goldenes Dachl

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Schloss Neuschwanstein

On the day after Christmas, we traveled about an hour away to Schloss Neuschwanstein. This is the beautiful castle that Walt Disney patterned his famous castle after. Ludwig the II had this castle built and it was never finished. The tour inside the castle is about 20 minutes. Once you park and walk to the ticket center, you will be in line for awhile. The tickets are 9 Euros and children under 18 are free. There are three ways to get up to the castle. The first is to hoof it. It takes anywhere from 20m to an hour depending on how athletic you are and how many kids you are traveling with! The second way is by bus and the third is by squeezing into a horse drawn carriage with the other tourists.

After standing in line for about twenty minutes, we got up to the ticket desk and saw a sign that the buses where not running. It was -6C out on this day and we were freezing. My husband was even cold and he never complains about the weather! We decided the weather was too much for the kids. We snapped a few great pictures, wandered through the tourist stores and put Neuschwanstein back on our list of places to visit this summer when we come back. I won't mind walking up to the castle in the summertime...I kind of like to feel my toes!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Photo Friday! Viennese cakes...yum!

One of my favorite parts about this trip so far is the plethora of bakeries! There is one on every corner and sometimes there are two or three right next to each other. In Vienna, we stopped at the world famous Cafe Demel to try the Sachertorte. We have tried four different cakes so far and my favorite is Esterhazytorte. They are not just cakes...they are works of art!



Visit other Photo Friday participants at Delicious Baby!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We are spending Christmas in Germany! What a fantastic place to spend Christmas! It is everywhere you look! One of the best parts about Europe at Christmas is the amazing Christmas markets. I think that we have been to seven of them now! You can find just about anything at these Christmas markets. My favorite one so far has been in Salzburg, Austria. It was absolutely humongous!

The drink of choice is Gluhwein (pronounce Glue-vine). This is an extremely strong alcoholic drink...kind of like mulled wine, only stronger. I could only try a sip! Pretzels, cookies, candies, and bratwurst can be found on every corner. Handcrafted ornaments, smokers, nutcrackers, nativities, and soaps are everywhere. Even if you are feeling like a Grinch, the Christmas markets can put you in a great mood.

The kids got a little crazy at the markets because there is so much to do and look at. Be prepared to purchase some treats because staring at them in the case is just too torturous! When one of the kids started acting up, we just pulled them to the side to calm down until they were ready to keep walking.

The Christmas markets are most beautiful at night when they are all lit up. This is also when it is the most crowded. If you are on your own, I recommend attending the market at night. Most of the larger markets open at 9 or 10am. If you are going to the market with your children, this is the best time to drop by. The crowds are light so you don't feel like you are constantly running around looking for your children!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

Wordless Wednesday

Vienna in Pictures

Because my laptop battery was about to die, I wasn't able to post pictures with my blog post the other day. Here are some of the places and things that I described!

The Hundertwasser House

The Lipazzaner Horses on their way to their morning exercise...they were beautiful!

Yumm! Huge pretzels EVERYWHERE!

The family in the Hofburg Palace

The Hofburg Palace--the palace of the Austrian and Hungarian emperors


The nativity in Stephansdom

Looking up at Stephansdom

The view from the Schloss Shonnbrun Tiergarten (the zoo!)

Watching the performing polar bear

Monday, December 22, 2008

Days 3 and 4--Vienna

On Sunday morning, we got up and hit the road towards Vienna. A lot of the traveling is on backroads through beautiful little towns. The drive was about 4.5 hours. The kids slept well. We stopped twice for bathroom trips. I am constantly surprised at how clean the restrooms are here. I have yet to encounter one that I refuse to go into! When we arrived in Vienna, we went straight to the Schloss Shonbrunn. The castle has a zoo that is considered the oldest in the world. The castle was built in 1569. The kids really enjoyed the zoo. It was a nice way to relax. We have tried to create an itinerary with items that the kids will enjoy. After the zoo, we checked into our hotel and got ready to go back out. We ate at a great little pub/restaurant that had all of 7 tables in it. I tried Goulash for the first time...it was very tasty! Sera loved it and left all of her own dinner behind! After dinner, we walked around a little Christmas Market.

Today, when we woke up, we caught the UBahn to Stephansdom. We wandered around the inside of it for a few minutes and then walked down the Graben. The original foundations of Stephansdom dates back to 1147. This was fascinating to me because I recently finished reading Pillars of the Earth and it reminded me of that book. I could just imagine everyone milling around and building this church up.

We walked down the Graben and checked out some great little stores and cafes. I found the famous Demel Cafe, known for their amazing tortes. I bought each of the kids a chocolate bar and then we sampled three of the famous cakes: Senegaltorte, Esterhazytorte (almond sponge layered with cream, and Sachertorte (chocolate cake covered with apricot jam and chocolate). YUM!

We saw the Hofburg Palace next. This was a great place for the kids to run around in. They had a large square that people were running around and shouting in. The kids were able to expel some energy before it was time to head out. We hit another Christmas market, where we found these fantastic delicious pretzels. We are now back in the hotel taking a little rest before dinner tonight!

The laptop battery is about to die, so I will post pictures later!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Day Two--Garmisch, Germany

We got to break in all of our new snow jackets and mittens and such...it is FREEZING here! Quite different from the 78 degree weather we left at home! Sera is not a fan of the snow jacket, but she loves the mittens and pink hat. Seth hates his jacket but wore it when we forced him to. We walked around downtown Garmisch for a bit today. We were so surprised at how many people were out on this dreary, slushy day. If it looked like this at home, the only place you find someone would be in the mall or Target!

Kind of reminds me of "A Christmas Story"

We took a walk through a very small Christmas market where the kids rode a little merry-go-round. I was amazed to see so many buildings painted with beautiful murals. Some were absolutely huge.

The kids found this statue of a boar in front of a bank and had to take their picture with it.You know I take too many pictures when my kids actually ask for a pic!

A view of one of the streets on the fussgangerzone

Tomorrow we head to Vienna, Austria!

Friday, December 19, 2008

We have arrived! Photo Friday!

Greetings from Garmisch, Germany! Our day started off on the WRONG foot. We arrived at the airport on time but it was too "froggy", as my son would say, outside for the planes to land. The plane that we were supposed to take hadn't even landed yet! Fortunately, when we bought the cheap plane tickets on Delta.com, we saved several hundred dollars by giving ourselves a 5.5 hour layover in Atlanta. Luckily that meant that we did not have to worry about our connection flights like the rest of the airport. We had an uneventful 45 minute flight to Atlanta. The kids were great and we didn't even have to break out any of the exciting toys yet!

Here is my husband and son playing Nintendo DS while we waited...and waited...and waited...

When we arrived in Atlanta, we grabbed some lunch and headed to our gate. We charged up the Nintendo DS and let the kids run around and expell some energy. Our flight loaded up and we took off around 5pm. The flight was 8 hours...Seth didn't sleep a wink! Sera slept for about 30 minutes before she woke up in the throes of a night terror. I spent 20 minutes in the little airplane bathroom trying to wake her up and calm her down. We brought a large carryon bag with toys and things for the kids to do...we should have just filled it with food! The kids were both great for the most part and everyone around was sympathetic to the kids acting like kids.
It is amazing to me that they did not sleep at all....ALL DAY LONG! Almost 20 hours... I take that back...much to the amusement of our seatmates, the kids both fell asleep as the wheels were dropping down for landing. That made getting off the plane quite a challenge...we had to get all of our carryon items off the plane and two sleeping children who weigh only 35 and 42 pounds, but while sleeping weighed about 250 lbs each! Going through customs and getting our luggage was uneventful as well. Luckily, the first few hours of this trip were not a sign of what was to come!
The last ten minutes of the flight..

*Toilet humor ahead...read with caution!**
A funny for the day: Seth learned a valuable lesson about German plumbing today. 1. Some toilets are grey...that doesn't mean they are dirty. 2. Seth was concerned that business wouldn't not get taken care of because the product was not in the water. He was excited to find that it does indeed flush just like home!
On the agenda tomorrow: Wander around Garmisch and see the sights, go to first Christmas market of many, buy diapers!
This is part of Photo Friday! Visit Delicious Baby to see photos from places all over the world.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thursday Thirteen Edition #5

Hello from somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean! We touch down Friday morning and I can't wait to blog all about our trip! Thanks for stopping by...I will drop by your blog this weekend!

Thirteen Reasons to buy a raffle ticket from Passports with Purpose

1. You are supporting a great cause and might just win one of the great prizes!

Here are some of the prizes up for grabs:

2. Three nights at the Wyland Waikiki Resort

3. $150 gift card to B&H Photo

4. Flip Video Camera

5. Portable Solar Charger

6. MaClaren Techno Stroller

7. Peg Perego Car Seat

8. 100 dollars in Creative Memories supplies

9. Lonely Planet Travel Books

10. $100 gift certificate to Amazon

11. Tickets to the Bucs!

Even if you don't win, your donation will go to help families support themselves!

12. 20 dollars buys a flock of chicks, geese, or ducks

13. 30 dollars buys honeybees!

Stop by the prize page!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Packing for 19 days

Packing for one is hard enough...

Making sure your significant other is bring everything they need is twice as hard...

Packing for two kids on top of that feels like you are packing for an army!

For this trip, we decided to try Space Bags. These bags are great! We were able to squeeze ski clothes for four people into a medium sized suitcase.

Using three different Space Bags, we packed four heavy jackets (two adults and two children), four pairs of ski pants, three pairs of goggles, three pairs of mittens, two pairs of ski gloves, four scarves, and four hats!

Currently we have three suitcases, two carry-ons and two personal items. Our house looks like a hurricane has hit it!

We have also tried very hard this time to make sure that we do not overpack. We are probably underpacking. I have tried to look at everything that I want to bring differently. Instead of 8 pairs of pants, I am bringing 4 heavy duty ones. Instead of 10 shirts, I am bringing 5 with the intention of doing laundry every few days since we will have this luxury.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My first featured post!

I guess that is what it is called! Imagine my surprise when I was exploring one of the travel blogs that I read regularly, Travels with Children,and saw a link to my post about thirteen things to do while traveling with small children in New Orleans. It was featured in Minnemom's article, titled "Finding More Fun, 12/06/08". I wish I had found the post earlier! Thanks so much!

30 Days of Blogging and Passports with Purpose

We are halfway through the Passports with Purpose raffle! Check out the prizes that still don't have any raffle tickets sitting in the virtual bucket!

Make sure you visit the prize page and make a donation to this great cause! You might be a winner!!!

On a side note, today begins my first day of the 30 days of Blogging challenge! We will see how I do! Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

To take the birth certificates or not?

We will be traveling internationally in a few days and I am trying to figure out if we need to travel with the birth certificates. When we traveled a few years ago, we brought my son's passport and his birth certificate but we never had to use it. I did a little searching and found mixed information. A lot of sites say the birth certificates are handy to have in case you need them, but other sites say that they are not necessary if you have a passport. Has anyone had any experience with this? Have you traveled and needed your child's birth certificate or did the passport suffice?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Photo Friday!

We have been busy preparing for our trip...wrapping presents, picking up last minute travel things, charging batteries up, and checking the passports...900 times! The pictures I have included for Photo Friday, hosted by Delicious Baby, are from one of our Atlanta trips. Check out Delicious Baby to see great pictures from other travelers!

We went to the Georgia Aquarium while we were there. The Georgia Aquarium has some amazing exhibits. My son especially liked the whale sharks thanks to Go Diego Go! Unfortunately, the aquarium setup leaves a bit to be desired. You explore the exhibits off of a main room and it is sometimes difficult to get back to the main room due to the crowds. It is well worth the trip, but I recommend you make it on a weekday in the afternoon. In doing this, you will avoid the massive weekend crowds and the school trips. We waited and waited, but were glad we did! We also saw my mom's family friend, Garrett Atkins (Go Rockies!!!), beat the Braves.


The famous whale sharks!

Go Garrett!