S: Germany and Austria 2011
FC: Germany | and | Austria | 20ll
1: Germany and Austria June 10 - 21
2: Houston to Frankfurt by air: 11 hours 45 minutes | Frankfurt to Fussen by train: 5 hours 15 minutes
3: After a quick dinner of trail mix and gummy bears (we were too tired to find a real dinner!), we collapsed into a deep sleep at the blissful Hotel Sonne. | The next morning, in Hohenschwangau Village, we bought tickets to both of Mad King Ludwig's castles. We also found a Bavarian May Pole decorated with emblems depicting the local crafts and a roof secured with rocks.
4: Hohenschwangau Castle
5: Hohenschwangau Castle was built in 1835. Originally used as a hunting lodge, it eventually became Ludwig's boyhood home. King Maximilian II and Queen Marie lived in the main castle while the children lived in the annex on the left.
6: Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II from 1869 until his death in 1886, is only 1/3 complete inside. We toured fifteen lavish rooms, climbed over 300 steps, and fell in love with the over-the-top throne room with its crown-shaped chandelier, intricate mosaic floor, and Wagnerian opera scenes on the walls. | Neuschwanstein inspired Walt Disney's creation of Cinderella's Castle at Disneyworld in Florida.
7: Neuschwanstein Castle
8: POLLET GORGE
9: We spent the afternoon hiking up to Mary's Bridge and down into the Pollat Gorge to soak our feet in the icy cold stream. As an afternoon snack, we tried quark balls, which taste like funnel cake with cream cheese in the batter. | Notice Claire's wet britches as she hikes out of the gorge. The stream proved irresistible even though it was a chilly day.
10: Dinner that night was a feast of schnitzel and spaetzle ... and Claire lost her first top tooth! The tooth fairy had to make a guest appearance in Fussen. She left two Euros for Claire.
11: The next morning we grabbed a nutella-filled croissant from a bakery and hopped another train to Hallstatt, Austria.
12: In Hallstatt, we rode a funicular up the mountain to a working salt mine. We dressed in miners clothes and walked deep into the mine. After learning that salt is extracted by pumping water into large chambers and then pumping the water out and leaving it to evaporate, we rode down two slides and out on a zippy train.
14: The next day, we rode a cable car up through the clouds to the Dachstein Ice Caves.
15: DACHSTEIN ICE CAVES
16: The Rain Dance | Notice that the umbrella is everywhere except above the head!
17: Hiking through the Echern Valley | One afternoon, we followed a glacial stream up to the Waldbachstrub Waterfall.
18: After two nights in Hallstatt, the good ship Stephanie took us back to the train station, where we hopped a train to Munich.
20: After making friends in Munich, it was time to head for the wedding in Mehring.
21: Despite all of Jack's worrying, Claire and I easily connected with Mom and Dad at the Trier train station. Josef picked us up and announced that Sandrine was expecting!
22: Bike riding along the Mosel River in Mehring, we saw grapes, poppies, and swans.
24: Theresia and Jon Michel
28: In Germany, all the little girls at the wedding throw flowers at the couple as they walk down the aisle. In addition to the flower crown, Claire was also given a special box of tongue tatoos to share with all the other children in the kids room.
29: The morning after!