Saturday, April 19
Today was the longest day of driving we had planned: from Napoli, Italia, to Edelweiss Resort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The kids did a great job, but we were so very glad to arrive and find our deluxe loft suite ready for us. We were also extremely hungry and devoured the pizzas from the hotel restaurant before crashing.
Sunday, April 20 (Easter)
While it would have been amazing to attend the sunrise service for Easter, it wasn't possible with our late night and tired/draggy kids. Still, we did what we could to focus on the meaning of the day. I had packed the Resurrection eggs from Family Life, and the kids enjoyed hiding those and remembering the parts of the story. The kids also went to the hotel lawn for a giant egg hunt. By the time Ted got down there with our kiddos, most of the eggs were gone. Zaden batted his big, sad eyes at one of the hotel clerks and managed to procure plenty of extra eggs though!
Once Seanin was up from his nap, we had our ducks in a row and piled in the Suburban for our first adventure: getting to the top of Germany's highest peak, Zugspitze. We waited in line for close to an hour to ride the cable car up the mountain, but time went faster once I began chatting with a deaf couple whom I had seen signing in line behind us. They weren't from America, but they knew ASL well enough, and we had a lovely conversation. I'm so thankful I got brave enough to sign them a few questions! They were so sweet, and I was thrilled to find that I remembered so much sign language from our time in Las Vegas, when I learned quite a bit from my friend Sarah and her family and got to practice at least once a month when I met with a dear group of older deaf ladies to teach stamping classes.
Anyway, we got to the top of the mountain and enjoyed wandering around seeing the views for quite some time before getting in line to take a smaller cable car down to the train that would take us the rest of the way down the mountain. This part of the journey was very slow, and we were more than ready to get back to the hotel and rest.
Monday, April 21
Today's excursion took us to Salzburg, Austria, which we attempted to explore on our own for the morning and early afternoon. We managed to find a few of the locations where scenes from The Sound of Music were filmed (the official tour was too expensive for our whole crew). Then we drove a short ways out of the city to a wonderful place--Hellbrunn--where we took a fun tour of the trick gardens around a palace and got nice and wet in the process! There was a beautiful playground and garden area (where the Sound of Music gazebo is set up!) right there, so we relaxed and let the kids play awhile before starting back. Aside from the fact that massive amounts of traffic doubled our time getting back to the hotel...it was a great day.
Tuesday, April 22
We took it easy today. I took the older kids swimming while Ted kept the little boys for naps in the hotel room. We had a tour with Jake from "All Things Garmisch" scheduled for 4-6pm, so we let that be our main event for the day. Jake was awesome. He told us all kinds of great stories about the town of Partenkirchen, where we did our walking tour. We learned a lot about local culture as well as some general tidbits about German life that we didn't know about. The tour included a stop at a playground, where the kids played while Ted and I hiked up to see an abbey. We saw some unique buildings in the town, heard stories about the beautiful paintings on some of the buildings, sat in a theater where a challenge from The Amazing Race was filmed, and ended the tour at a restaurant where we had an absolutely fantastic German meal. YUM! The kids loved Jake and learned a lot (I think the candy incentives were helpful there...), and to this day they still light up when we mention Jake the tour guide. Well worth our time and the cost!
Wednesday, April 23
This was a full day! We slept in as much as possible, then headed out for lunch and the afternoon. We ate at a "magic restaurant" in Oberammergau, where the proprietor came out and did various magic tricks at the tables, up nice and close so the kids could see. They loved that, and the food was great, too! Then on to the alpine slide, which was H-U-G-E, way bigger than we expected. The younger kids were too little to go at all, so Ted went with Kenna, Charis and Tobin shared a car, and Arden went by himself. I stayed at the bottom of the mountain with the little boys, who were troopers in waiting for at least half an hour before we could go anywhere: it started to rain, and I didn't have the keys to get back into our car! So we huddled under a roof overhang until we finally saw the rest of the family cruising to the end of the track.
Next up was Linderhof Palace, the summer home of King Ludwig II. Since we had seen Neuschwanstein Castle last summer, it was great for the kids to have a reference point. We all especially enjoyed the room of mirrors, but the whole tour was nice--not too long so that our littles didn't get distressed! Walking around the garden and courtyard area was cool, too. Very beautiful and peaceful. On our drive back to the hotel, we took a different route so we could see Lake Plansee (in Austria), and the kids had a blast throwing rocks into the water. It's the little things.
Thursday, April 24
We reserved this morning for a leisurely stroll through the town near the resort to do a bit of shopping and playing. Charis was in heaven when she found a yarn store, and the boys were thrilled to go back to the playground we had discovered on Jake's tour. We had a fast-food type of lunch, but the food was good (schnitzel is just good wherever you get it, I think!). In the afternoon, after we got little boys settled for a nap, the older kids watched a movie while Ted and I slipped out for a date hiking the Partnach Gorge, which is located close to the ski jumping stadium where the Olympic competition was held some years ago (can't remember which games). The walk through the gorge was beautiful! And definitely something we would not have wanted to take all the kids to! We enjoyed our time together and capped it off with a coffee on our way back...but we agreed that it didn't come close to Italian espresso. I think we're getting spoiled.
Friday morning, April 25
Our last bit of sightseeing in Germany took us to Ettal, a little town close to Garmisch where there is a monastery that apparently is famous for the cheese it makes and the beer it brews. We spent some time gawking at the beautiful cathedral before grabbing some bottles of beer to bring home (Ted wanted to have some to share when his brother came to visit) and then settling in for the traveling portion of our day--through Munich and on to Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic!