December 21-28, 2011
Munich, Germany is where my daughter, son and I spent our Christmas holiday in 2011, while my wife stayed home with our goats and dogs. For all of us, it was our first trip outside of North America. We chose Germany because both my daughter and son had at that point taken quite a few German classes, and my daughter especially was looking to try out her language skills.
My lousy memory does not allow me to remember the details of what we saw, but here is a high level rundown of our week.
December 21 – This was a travel day, as we flew to Munich from Detroit, with a stop in Amsterdam along the way. When we arrived we took the train from the airport to the Pasing neighborhood in Munich, where we then walked the 5 blocks to the apartment we had rented. We chose to rent an apartment we could get more space and more beds for the same price as a hotel, and we could go to the local market and buy food to make at “home”. The guaranteed wifi was a plus as well. We liked the apartment quite a lot and relaxed there for the day before walking around Pasing and having a not so traditional German dinner – at an Italian restaurant.
December 22 – This was our get acclimated to Munich and do touristy things day, so I talked the kids into doing something we would normally never do – take a guided tour. I (and I think we) was so glad we did! We took the Munich City tour with Curt at Big Hat Tours. Curt was awesome and we learned so much more than we ever could have wandering on our own. I highly recommend spending time with Curt and Big Hat if you go to Munich (they are still going strong as of 12/27/15).
December 23 – Nuremburg was our focus for the day. Nuremburg has great architecture, especially its castles and churches, and we enjoyed an unstructured day wandering the town, seeing its sights, and enjoying its food.
December 24 – After our great experience with Curt at Big Hat, we decided to do another tour, this time going on the Third Reich tour with Curt and his teenage (at most) son. Curt’s son was every bit as good as Curt and really knew his history. I learned so much in that tour that I would have never known otherwise. Again, impressed.
December 25 – Zugspitze Garmisch-Partenkirchen is where we headed on the train today. My son is new to snow-boarding and wanted to try out a slope in Europe. As my daughter and I do not ski or board, it made me a bit nervous to see my son disappear up the chair-lift on a real mountain (where we live in SE Michigan, a ski mountain is a big hill on which you can sit in the ski bar and watch your kid ride all the way up the rope and ski back down). It made me even more nervous after 1, then 2, then close to 3 hours went by. Big damn mountain I guess. When he did show up, he was wiped out, and sore. He had a great day, but he had accidently went down a black route, which by Michigan standards was probably quite evil for a newbie. Sounds like the other skiers were nice and helped him out at times. All in all, pretty cool (after the fact), to say you boarded one of the harder routes at the tallest mountain in Germany – site of an Olympics long ago even. Sadly I have no pictures of his experience, just of the town (Hausberg).
December 26 – We rented a tiny car (sadly) and drove out to Neuschwanstein Castle, then ducked down into Austria and enjoyed the view out our windshield before having dinner and heading back into Germany and finally to our apartment.
December 27 – Our last full day in Germany was spent taking a sobering lesson in human history, as we toured the Dachau Concentration Camp. I put those pictures in their own post.
December 28 – Back to Michigan.
Overall we had a great trip and would love to go back. The only bummer was that the Germans were all to eager to switch to English anytime they sensed German was not our native language, thus my kids’ language skills did not get much of a test. Oddly, it seemed “learn English” businesses were as plentiful in Germany as 7-11’s are in America.
I will say that everything we hear about the great transportation system in Europe proved to be true. All the trains were timely, clean and comfortable. Also, visiting during Christmas was at a time when many resident are out of town. Food was a bit hard to come by on Christmas Eve and Christmas, much to be expected, but the food vendors at the train station were open.
Looking forward to our next trip!