- Idiots Abroad: Taking Small Kids on a Whirlwind Tour of Europe
- I Flew Ryanair and I loved it!
- Challenges of Vacationing With a Large Family in Europe, and More!
- German Castles, Ausfahrt Jokes and the Sound of Music
- Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Pizza Galore
- The Long Way Home to Belarus… Literally
- Searching for Bono and Licking Donuts in Ireland
Well, I’ve been procrastinating long enough. We went to Europe a year ago, yet here I am, STILL not even half way through my long-winded trip report. But not to worry! If you love watching boring slideshows of a crazy family you’ve never met, you are in for a treat.
After our long, miserable economy flight on Air Berlin (avoid if you have other mileage redemption options), my family of four landed in Munich. My husband and I were completely exhausted after barely making our 30 minute connection in Dusseldorf. Let me tell you, running while carrying two sleeping children after a long overnight flight is no fun.
Thankfully, my in-laws were there to meet us. After spotting them at the airport, we just handed them our spawn and said: “They are all yours!” But our journey wasn’t over yet. We had to drive another two hours to our rental house in Berchtesgaden, located close to the border of Austria.
Fortunately, the view from the room made this whole miserable journey (almost) worth it:
Here is what this 300-year old chalet looks like on the outside:
This place actually had 7 bedrooms and we only occupied 4 of them. Naturally, being the cheap broad that I am, I started thinking as to how we could rent out the remaining rooms. Hmm, temporary hostel?
The set-up of the place was really weird: ceilings were super low and bathrooms were separate from sinks. But it was definitely unique, in the same way my daughter is unique.
My father-in-law would kill me if he knew I posted this photo. Fortunately, like most of my family, he doesn’t read this blog. What do you think of the stuffed squirrel on the wall?
After such a long flight most would take it easy, get some nap maybe. Not us. My sister-in-law has already booked a non-refundable tour on the very same day we landed in Munich. Carpe diem! We went to visit local salt mines (see Trip Advisor review) and here are the matching miner’s outfits we had to wear:
What do you think? Should I enter it in the contest of the most ridiculous family photos?
Actually, the tour was a lot of fun and kept us awake, so we could adjust to the local time and reset our internal clock. The kids did surprisingly well.
The next day we had to wake up at 6:00 AM because we had a three-hour drive ahead of us. Off to visit Neuschwanstein Castle we go.
All nine of us piled in the big van and started our long journey in the rain. There were some interesting cars on the road, like this one that had a sticker “My second vehicle is a Klingon bird of prey.”
In German, “Ausfahrt” means “exit.” This prompted all kinds of jokes, but not from kids. Every time a road exit sign came up, it said “Ausfahrt” and my brother-in-law would loudly announce it in German.
So, I would go: “Say it again. I didn’t hear you.” And he would, putting emphasis on the “fahrt” portion of the word. This went on and on till everyone told us to shut up. It was the only disagreement we had the entire trip. Kidding!
Was it worth the trouble and the long drive? I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong, it was interesting and the view was the best part:
It definitely evokes this “fairy tale castle” feeling:
But the thing is, our vacation rental was actually much older than Neuschwanstein. The castle itself was built at the end of the 19th century by king Ludwig of Bavaria, who was a serious fruitcake. I can’t get over his weird bed, which took months for artists to carve.
Overall, there isn’t a whole lot to see on the inside, since the castle was never completed during Ludwig’s lifetime. Speaking of, he died under mysterious circumstances, drowning while swimming naked in the lake with his psychiatrist.
Still, there is no question that the king was an (accidental) visionary. According to Wikipedia, no more than six weeks after his death, the regent Luitpold ordered the palace opened to paying visitors. The administrators of Ludwig’s estate managed to balance the construction debts by 1899. And it’s still bringing in the big bucks (or technically, euros) today.
Definitely visit it if you are vacationing in Munich or surrounding area, but don’t drive three hours to see it. It’s beautiful, yes, but fake. Germany has many other impressive and much older castles you can visit. And I guarantee you, they will have less tourists. That place is a zoo.
An interesting fact for Disney lovers. Walt Disney himself has actually visited the area and drew his inspiration for Cinderella castle from this very building.
Visit to Austria
As soon as my mother-in-law found out that we would be staying near Salzburg, she requested to take “The Sound of Music” tour.
For those of you who are too young to know what I’m talking about, “The Sound of Music” is a famous movie/musical (imagine that!) starring Julie Andrews and Cristopher Plummer. It has nothing to do with famous composer Mozart who was born in Salzburg.
It’s corny, for sure, the way all musicals are. But it’s a good one, and you should watch it. We decided to go ahead and book a private tour through Panorama Tours company at a cost of 380 euros for all seven of us. It was money well spent IMO.
For all the movie fans, here are some locations you might recognize. Even if you don’t give a rat’s behind about the musical, I honestly think you would enjoy the tour anyway.
Here is Mirabell garden with the view of Salzburg castle in the background:
The famous gazebo:
I’m no longer sixteen, going on seventeen, sigh…
After visiting several movie locations, we toured Salzburg Lake district area, which is spectacular.
Quaint towns with friendly people and scenic views at every corner.
Austria didn’t disappoint, and I wish we had more time in the area. However, this tour was definitely a very nice sampler.
Even though we only had three nights in the area and the schedule was super hectic, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Bavaria and Austria. I wholeheartedly recommend this region as a family tourist destination.
Readers, have you been to this part of Germany/Austria? What did you think of it?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.