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Trip Report Trip Report: Family4travels to Munich, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Salzburg, Fussen: Bavaria, Bohemia & Bretzen!!

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Just returned from our trip last week. We spent 4 nights in Munich, 4 nights in Prague, 1 night in Cesky Krumlov, 4 nights in Salzburg, 1 night in Fussen and 1 last night in Munich before flying home. DH and I traveled with our two kids (DD age 16, DS age 12) and my parents (late 60’s/early 70’s). This was the first time that we had traveled to these places (other than layovers in Munich on other trips).

MUNICH

We flew coach on NWA/KLM from Portland to Amsterdam and then on to Munich. The plane flight was fine, but we found the flight attendants not to be particularly cheery. We arrived in Munich about 1:30pm. Since we have become such “experienced” travelers we decided to take public transportation the whole way from the airport to our hotel. This required taking the U-bahn and then switching to a bus at the main train station. We always do only carryons so everyone is in charge of their own bags and off we went.

Usually before a trip I listen to the 10-set Pimsleur tapes to learn the basics of the language, but DD just finished German III, so I told her she was going to be the interpreter. She helped us read the directions to buy our U-bahn tickets and we take the U-bahn to the Hautbahnhopf. All was well as we arrived at the main train station where we needed to get off. We all started moving our luggage and getting off the train. I got off and turned around and saw the doors closing as DS is still on the train!! Oh no!! and we forgot to go over the rules of what to do if you miss the stop!!! We were all banging on the door and trying to get it open to no avail. So many thoughts start running through my head - will he know to just get off at the next stop and wait for one of us to arrive? Will he get nervous? I start to run to the front, luckily a man sees what is happening and runs to the front of the train and tells the conductor to please open the doors - disaster averted and DS came safely off the train!!

Next, we picked up the bus which droped us off at a stop just 1/2 block from our hotel, Hotel Uhland. Before I say a few words about the hotel, I just want to say that I have never agonized so much about which hotel to stay in more than I did with this choice of where to stay in Munch. Usually, between reading fodors and TA there always seems to be a clear winner, but with Munich it just seemed more difficult. When staying in larger cities we generally prefer to stay close to the city center, but so many of the centrally located places in Munich were close to the train station or if in a better location than just really expensive. I had originally booked rooms at Hotel-la-maison in Schwabing. It was a bit more than I wanted to spend, but was recommended by a friend and looked quite nice, and I thought, while Schwabing isnít in the city center, it appeared there would be more things around it. Well, about 2 months before we were going to leave, I suddenly realized that it didn”t have air conditioning. I wasn”t sure if we would really need it or not (turns out we didn”t), but I just got really annoyed that paying so much I wouldn”t be in the city center NOR have a/c, so I hit the boards again, and decided to go with the highly rated but not located in the city center nor having a/c but VERY inexpensive Hotel Uhland. I am happy to report that we were all very pleased with the decision!!

The rooms are fairly sparse and our bathroom is pretty small (turns out our bathroom was the smallest of the 3 rooms we had), but the people at the front desk and breakfast room were very nice and the breakfast was quite good (most of the family voted it best on the trip -my #1 was in Cesky Krumlov because they made eggs to order!!). DS did dub the pillows “crackers” because they were large, thin and square -best way to use them was to fold them in half. Hotel Uhland is located right near the Oktoberfest grounds, which would be convenient for Oktoberfest, but for us, meant we were in a very nice quiet neighborhood at this time of year. A quick walk to the nearest metro station -very convenient. My only disappointment was that we had 2 double rooms and 1 room with two twin beds and each room was on a different floor. The kids are old enough so wasn’t a big problem, but would have preferred us being closer. Probably happened because I made the reservations so late. Overall, we enjoyed our stay there and I would probably stay there again on a return trip.

Our first night in Munich we had dinner at Augustiner am Dom (Frauenplatz 8) located near the Fraukenkirche. To be honest, we were a bit worried about food in Germany (DH really wanted to head back to Italy), but this first meal was a good sign that we were really going to enjoy the food. We like everything, particularly the homemade potato salad, the spaetzle and those incredible pretzels (called Bretzen in Germany). The potato salad in Germany, was consistently the best potato salad ever - if anyone has a recipe for this please share!! Practically melts in your mouth with that great vinegar tang. And the bretzen - how do they get the nice slightly crunch outside and soft and chewy on the inside!!??

Munich was celebrating it’s 850th birthday tht weekend so there were lots of food vendors and craft booths set up. We have some yummy crepes and enjoy perusing the craft booths and just beginning to explore the city. Despite what some say, right away we found Munich to be a great city and very charming. Our last trip was to Thailand and Cambodia, and as much as we truly enjoyed the adventure we were glad to be back in Europe!!

We were starting to fade so headed back to the hotel. As we get ready for bed DH starts plugging things in with the adapters, but then suddenly he blew a circuit and our electricity went out - then the kids called our room and said their electricity just went out!! Now DH was frustrated, but I was in hysterics, because I had just seen the movie “Just Married” with Ashton Kuecher and Brittany Muphy on the plane, and couldn’t help laughing because all I could think about was the scene in the movie where they just arrived in France, and Ashton tries to plug in the “appliance” without an adapter and blows the electricity in the whole place. Apparently DH did not blow the electricity in the entire hotel (although we could never figure out why the kids blew out as well, since they were on a different floor and different wing), but we called the front desk, and after a bit of trial and error things were back on.

MUNICH DAY ONE

Normally, on our first day in a city we would not do a daytrip, but since it was Sunday, and most things in Munich would be closed, we decided it would be a good day to go to Dachau. We took the S2 train to Dachau and the 726 bus to the memorial site. It was easy to do with public transportation. There was an English language film starting in about 10 minutes, so we headed over there first, then entered the museum exhibition. It is very informative, very well done and quite extensive and therefore quite long. We got through maybe half of it, before the kids started to peter out, so we decided to skip the rest of the exhibits and head to the barracks and the bunkers and spend some time in the yard. From here you can walk across the property to the three religious monuments (Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant). They are all interesting and unique. Next, right outside the gates is the crematorium and gas chambers. Haunting to say the least, despite the fact that this particular gas chamber was never used. Just to the right is a gravestone marking where the ashes were buried of those cremated. Also, markers to show where the firing squad would stand and the blood would drain. All amazing to think of, and realize how close this all was to the town of Dachau. An interesting thing I read which I did not know previously, was that the American soldiers made the people of the town of Dachau come to the camp to make sure they saw what was going on “right under their noses.” Being Jewish, this was a particularly memorable thing for me, and a place I just felt I had needed to go to for a long time.

If I had to do it over again, I would probably do the barracks, bunkers, crematorium, etc. first and then do the exhibition. As I mentioned the exhibition was very lengthy and we were a bit tired by the time we got to the other things, which were actually of great interest.

We took the bus back to the train station, but it was almost 3:00pm and we were starving so we stopped at a small gelateria for some gelato. We took the train back to Munich. For dinner we ate at Andechser am Dom – Weinstrasse 7a, and had another great meal of salads, potato leek soup, ghoulash, beef tartar, schnitzel, fish and of course yummy bretzen!! One note: at this restaurant, when the waiter was putting together the bill he kept trying to ask us how many bretzen we ate (they charged .50 euro each). At first we didn’t know what he was asking – in fact we thought he wanted to know if we wanted to take the extra bretzen home!!LOL! Finally he asked a patron nearby to translate for us. Of course, we really hadn’t paid attention, as we didn’t know we would need to keep track.

Oh, one interesting thing to note about the U-bahn. Unlike other cities’ transportation systems where you need a card to get in and out of the turnstiles, we never once had to use or show our card to anyone. Obviously, there is a hefty fine if they come through to see your ticket and you don’t have one, so of course we always did. But definitely more convenient than always having to swipe your card.

More coming up!

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    >how do they get the nice slightly crunch outside and soft and chewy on the inside!!??

    sodium hydroxide. Make a 3% solution and put the pretzels into it before baking. Don't forget to wear rubber gloves ;-)

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    Thanks for sharing your recent travels... I cannot wait to read the next installment!

    Potato Salad: Having a German family member fresh from Germany in town, I do know this, put diced ham in your potato salad (the ham that comes in a big can - gross I know, but it makes a huge difference). At every party, this salad is the big winner.

    My heart sank when I read about the arrival day and the mishap on the train with your son... Yikes! I would have started crying and hyperventilating! That is one of my biggest fears!

    Keep going! We can't wait to hear the rest!

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    Bavarian style:
    about 5 potatos, 1/2 onion cut into small! pieces, 4 spoons vinegar, 2 spoons oil, 250ml hot!!! water.
    Mix and stir carefully.

    German style is very different, done with mayonnaise.

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    Can't wait to hear the rest! (Loved your Morocco TR) We went in December for the Christmas Markets. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts. We loved the trains, but when we were getting close to Salzburg the conductor came by asking us for something. We had no idea what he was saying, I finally gave him the receipt for the tickets. He got a bit upset with me, but when I dug out the "real tickets" he realized that we were tourists (and had all of our tickets) he was quite nice. We had a scare in Munich too...My younger son wanted to walk back to the hotel "his way" and took off! Thank God he remembered our talk about getting separated from the group...plus I called him on his cell phone and we reunited within just a few minutes...felt like forever with all of the crowds in the market!!

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    MUNICH DAY 2

    Today we started out at the Residenz, the former residence of Bavarian Kings. We used the audioguides which we thought were well done and informative. Next we did the Treasury which is quite interesting, particularly the Crown Jewels. In retrospect, I would have done the Treasury first. The Residenz is quite a bit longer and we were already a bit tired and hungry when we headed to the Treasury, which I actually enjoyed more, but had to go through a bit faster than I would have liked.

    For lunch we ate at Blauer Bock (Sebastianplatz 9) a very upscale modern/hip restaurant. It was a bit expensive for lunch but the food was excellent and the service was impeccable. We enjoyed stroganoff, fish and veal, It is attached to the Blaur Bock hotel, but they are actually very different. The hotel has a much more traditional Bavarian décor rather than the modern décor of the restaurant.

    We explored and shopped around the Marienplatz after lunch before heading back to the hotel for a rest. Much of the shopping around the Marienplatz is typical European shopping – H&M, Zara, etc. Not a lot of small locally run shops. We don’t mind since we live in a small town where retail is minimal (closest Nordstrom is a 4 hr. drive away), so we always enjoy shopping on our trips. However, with the euro at 1.55 it did put a damper on this favorite pastime of ours….

    For dinner we ate at La Fiorentina (Goethestrasse 41), a small Italian trattoria located close to our hotel. We were delighted to be greeted by a friendly “Buena sera” and had a wonderful Italian meal. Our waiter only spoke Italian and German which made it fun to communicate. There is a regular menu in English, but a very long list of wonderful specials is hand written on a long sheet of paper in what appeared to be an interesting combo. of italian and german. We really enjoyed our meal here and appreciated the close proximity to our hotel.

    MUNICH DAY 3

    We started out at the Rathaus and took the elevator up to the towers. There is a very nice view from up there, and we had no wait to go up. We visited the Fraukenkirche and then it was 11:00, just in time for the glockenspiel to go off.

    From here DH & DS headed off to the BMW Welt while the rest of us decided to go to the Schwabing area. What I had read in my guidebook was that there might be some more interesting shopping in that area. We ended up going to two different areas in Schwabing and never really found anything that was any different than the Marienplatz area. We enjoyed a nice Bavarian lunch at Unter Simple on Turkenstrasse, where we were finally able to order the elusive weisswurste (every other time I tried to order it they were already out) which were creamy and delicious. DD had a yummy beef consommé with semolina dumplings – which would continue as a favorite throughout the trip – sometimes it was served with sliced thin pancakes instead of the dumplings.

    Not enthralled with the Schwabing area we headed back to the city center and explored the Viktualmarkt. We had originally planned to spend some time in the Englischergarten, but while we were in Munich the weather was cooler and drizzly most of the time, so we decided not to head over there – something for our next trip.

    On the other side of town the boys thoroughly enjoyed the BMW Welt. Hubby loved to look at the new cars and there are apparently tons of interactive exhibits which kept DS enthralled. The BMW museum wouldn’t be opening until we were in Prague, but we would have a chance to go there on our return to Munich before flying home. Guys also enjoyed a great lunch at the restaurant in the Welt.

    For dinner we ate at Zum Alten Markt just behin the Viktualmarket (Dreifaltigkeitsplatz 3). This was our best meal in Munich and one of the top 3 of the trip. Several of us ordered their prix fixe meal which included an excellent veal carpaccio, delicious lobster bisque soup, a wonderful roast duck breast and a plate with a small assortment of desserts. One word of warning, the street is not listed on most maps. I had the front desk at the hotel help us find it on a map and we probably looked at 3-4 different maps before she took me to this VERY large map they had hanging on the wall – then we finally found it. It is located in a very charming square right behind the Viktualmarket – when you see the Subway (sandwich store) you are headed to the right plaza – a good landmark, but really incongruous in this otherwise charming location. Make a reservation – it was packed when we were there.

    Oh, before I go on I wanted to mention that before we left on the trip, DH had purchased a Flip Video. It is a new video camera that isn’t any bigger than a cell phone. It takes very basic videos (i.e. no zoom, etc.) but at about $150-$180 he figured it might be something that would keep DS occupied and he would enjoy. It turned out to be a big hit!! So small he could keep it in his pocket, and he really enjoyed taking quick videos of a lot of fun things – and kept him occupied on some of the car trips as he would video us and himself and then he would watch them. I figure it will also be helpful for those school projects when you have to make a quick video. It hooks straight into your computer and you just download it directly. When we saw something cool, we would tell him to “Flip it!!”

    Next up drive to Prague.

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    Hi jgg! Welcome back and great start to your report. I am especially glad the hotel thing worked out after all that angst.

    I am bookmarking this to follow along, but feel guilty and vow not to fully enjoy it until I get my own trip report from Greece started. We returned 2 weeks ago, but I have been so swamped that I still working on the photos and just finished my trip notes.

    Greece was awesome and a great place for a family. I promise to get my report started soon. :-)

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    Hello jgg :)

    This is great! Not only is your report easy to read, but your details are terrific! We'll be traveling throughout southern Germany beginning next week, so your tips are much appreciated!

    "We were all banging on the door and trying to get it open to no avail."

    When we traveled with our children, we too always tried to have rules of where to meet if we got lost. I'm so glad your story had a good ending.

    Now, I'm going to try to find the Zum Alten Markt on my map. Sounds too delicious to pass up!

    I'll be right here, waiting for your next installment. ;)

    Happy travels!

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    Glad you are all enjoying it. Sorry for the long breaks - but life gets in the way!! Fun4all4 - don't feel guilty - if you noticed I'm not incl. pictures at the end of each post (maybe at the end of the report!!)

    DRIVE TO PRAGUE

    Since there were 6 of us plus our luggage we had to rent a van big enough to hold all of us and our luggage. There were some 7 passenger vans but when we looked at the dimensions, we were really worried we would have a problem with the luggage, so we decided to rent a 9 passenger van instead. I was really worried that it would just be HUGE but it really was fairly compact. There were three rows that would seat 3 people each (incl. the front row with driver). So we had tons of room as we sat 2 in each row. We rented with Andrew Bestor at www.gemut.com who was extremely helpful. DH and my Dad picked up the car from Europecar near the train station. We had told them we were driving in the Czech Republic and I had been told you couldn’t take Mercedes or Audis into the Czech Republic but they gave us a Mercedes van.

    We found all the driving we did very easy and enjoyable. We did have a TomTom which we found very helpful. We also had a large map and I had printed out maps from Yahoo Maps, so we were pretty covered for all eventualities. However, TomTom never let us down. It took us about 4 hours driving time from Munich to Prague. Shortly after we crossed the border into the Czech Republic we stopped for gas and food and to buy our vignette sticker for the car. I took DS to the McDonald’s there which was the nicest McD’s I’ve ever been in. It was very hip and modern inside, and aside from the area where you order you would never know it was a McD’s.

    We arrived at Hotel Savic in Prague. This is a great hotel in an excellent location. Again, my only issue was we had three rooms and they were scattered all over the hotel (and this res. was made months before). However, the rooms are very large with beautiful bathrooms, great beds, nice storage armoire, air conditioning etc. It is well located within walking distance to everything, really just 2-3 blocks from the main square, but we were pleasantly surprised that we didn’t hear too much street noise. The people at the front desk were very helpful and pleasant. The breakfast was very good, and had some wonderful fruit – particularly the watermelon. There were also some buffet hot selections – eggs, sausage, potatoes, small pancakes and grilled vegetables.

    DH and my Dad headed over to the covered, monitored parking garage to park the car and the rest of us hit the streets. Wow! I was really enjoying Prague. Charming narrow cobblestoned streets with beautiful buildings and quaint stores. We do a bit of shopping – we really enjoy the smaller local shops and then head to Old Town Square just in time to see the astronomical clock go off. The square is just amazing. The Tyne Church is spectacular.

    Today was actually DD’s 16th birthday so I had made a dinner reservation at Kampa Park on the other side of the Charles Bridge. We walked leisurely there across the bridge taking in the incredible views of the castle and the city. We have a wonderful dinner as we sit outside with a view of the river and the Charles Bridge. Our food was very good and service was good, although a bit slower towards the end of the meal. This was a wonderful place to have a special occasion meal, but a bit expensive for just a regular dinner.

    As we walked back across the bridge and turned around to look at the castle as the sun is setting I am overwhelmed by the stunning view.




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    PRAGUE DAY 1

    We booked a guide through www.prague-guide.info/ as Sarka is highly recommended here and on TripAdvisor. She was unavailable but we had her father, Milan, who was wonderful. He took us for a tour of the Jewish Quarter. He was a great guide very interesting and informative. My only complaint was that he seemed so concerned about us having to pay money to go inside the cemetery or inside certain synagogues, that he kept trying to get us to sort of “sneak” in or just look at the cemetery through the gates. I finally told him that I didn’t mind spending the money, I came all the way here and really did want to go inside, particularly the Cemetery and the Old Synagogue. We enjoyed them both, especially the cemetery and Milan had several more interesting stories to tell as we wandered through it. The Pinska synagogue is particularly interesting as it has engraved on its walls all the names of the Czech Jews who disappeared during the holocaust.

    For lunch we ate at KolKovna (V Kolkovně 8) located not far from the Jewish Quarter and Old Town Square. This looks like a big pub so I wasn’t expecting much, but the food was actually really good (in fact we went back for lunch on our last day in Prague). We did a bit more shopping and then headed to the Torture Museum, which is just to your left before you go over the Charles Bridge. We had been to the torture museum in San Gimignano and as we were leaving there someone said, if you ever get to Prague you should see the one there. Well, of course DS remembered that so had to go there now that we were in Prague. In all honesty, I thought it was pretty much the same, but DS really enjoyed it so that was nice.

    For dinner we ate at Chez Marcel (Hastalska 12) a few blocks in back of Tyne church. It is a sort of French pub/bistro. We enjoyed another great meal, particularly the pate (yum!) and had a delightful meal visiting with a couple from Chicago and enjoying the excitement as Germany was scoring in their Euro Cup Quarter Final game.

    PRAGUE DAY 2

    We had booked Milan again to take us to Terezin. He arrived at 9am with a van and driver. It was about a 1 hour drive out there. There are certain places that you can wander on your own, the cemetery, a small museum in the fortress, and the women’s barracks but the main part of the camp you must go through with one of their own guides. We met up with our Tour guide at 11:00am. It was a very interesting tour as we went through barracks, cells, showers, and passages. One of the most disturbing things was to realize that where the guards family’s lived (wives, children, etc.) was just behind the concrete wall where they would line people up to shoot them…..

    Next, we drove about 5 minutes over to the Terezin ghetto, where people still got to live in apts. and generally live as a family, but they all knew when the trains came they were headed to places like Auschwitz. Terezin ghetto was basically just a weigh station to keep them until they were ready to be sent to a death camp. Milan took us to a secret synagogue that had been created in a small room in the basement of one of the apt. buildings. It was beautiful with much of the original wall and ceiling paintings intact. The ghetto feels pretty much like a ghost town now, although there are some people living there. They are giving rooms away as low-income housing, but apparently not too may takers.

    We got back to our hotel about 2:30pm and decided to go to Au Gourmand (Dlouha 10) for lunch. This is a little patisserie which had good sandwiches and great quiche but awful service. If you wanted to sit at a table you had to wait for them to serve you there, which was fine, but they kept helping the people with “to go” orders first, which became extremely annoying.

    For dinner we ate at Tri Stoleti (Misenska 4, Mala Strana). The notes I had said it was an Italian restaurant, but it really was Czech. We had a very nice dinner, not too expensive and our waitress was the friendliest we had since our arrival in Prague.

    PRAGUE DAY 3

    Today our plan was to go to the Prague Castle. We decided to take the tram up there. Note: the machine we got our tickets from only took coins, and you must validate your ticket after you buy it, which you can do when you enter the bus/tram. But note, that public transportation appeared to be on the honor system like Munich’s was.

    Once up on the castle grounds we bought family tickets for the short tour and the audio guides. You can wander around the castle grounds for free but can’t go in any buildings nor the Golden Lane without a ticket, however, you can go inside St. Vitus’ Cathedral without a ticket. Our ticket incl. the Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, The Golden Lane and the Tower. I have to agree with those who say the Palace isn’t all that interesting. The audioguide was fairly interesting, but several of the rooms were closed for renovation when we were there.

    As I mentioned, for St. Vitus’ Cathedral you can enter without paying, but if you have an audioguide you can go through another entrance. This turned out to be a very lucky thing for us. There was a morning mass going on when we first arrived which they said would be done at 12:00. We arrived at the cathedral about 12:30pm and mass was still going on and there was an INCREDIBLY long line all the way around the church for people waiting to go in. The line for those with audioguides was MUCH shorter. We still had to wait about another 30 minutes for the mass to end and the church to clear out. However, it was quite interesting to see the many parishoners, nuns, monks and even the Archbishop (with his red hat) leave the church.

    We walked back down the hill and really had the sense that the crowds were much bigger today, maybe because it was Saturday and the weekend. We decided to have lunch at Kolkovna again, which was a good choice as Josefov (Jewish Qtr.) was pretty empty since it was Sabbath.

    For dinner we had a 8pm dinner reservation at Restaurant David(21 Triezeste, Mala Strana) to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. It is located right near the American Embassy which DS likes, as he loves to stand in “America” when we are out of the country. We have another lovely meal of salmon, ghoulash, sea bass and veal. They served us complimentary champagne for our anniv. in the biggest glasses we have ever seen!!

    Next up Cesky Krumlov.

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    Great job jgg family! Liked the bit about getting the audioguide at the Castle and am looking forward to your CK report as well; we will be going in September and your report has been helpful.

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    Your arrival in Munich was quite similar to ours in February. We also took the S-bahn into town, and judging by the length of stops along the way, we figured the stop at the H-bahnhof would be significant. Fortunately, we exited with our 2 & 4 year old daughters and our suitcases, but when I turned around to retrieve the double-stroller, the train doors closed. I pushed in vain on the circular button and pounded on the windows. A woman who had been sitting across from us tried to open the doors, but to no avail, and the train departed. As it left, she pointed in the direction that the train was headed. So, I secured the family upstairs, whereupon our 2 year old furrowed her brows, stifled tears and determinedly said "Daddy, let's get our stroller back!" With this directive, I purchased a ticket and took the train to the next station. However, I did not see the woman or our stroller. So, I purchased another ticket and returned to the h-bhf, but still no sign of her. So, I left DS with the luggage, while I took the kids and searched for the lost and found to put in a claim in case the stroller showed up. Eventually, we found the lost and found office, and told the attendant that we had lost a stroller. She asked how long ago, and I said about 15 minutes. She said wait a minute, disappeared, opened the door, and dragged out our stroller. The nice woman on the train had returned to the h-bhf with our stroller and lugged it to lost and found! Although, our kids were pleased to see the return of our stroller, over the next several days, our two year old repeatedly asked me, "Daddy, why did you leave the stroller on the train?" My explanations were unsatisfactory.

    On about our second day at the hotel (which all, but overlooked the Octoberfest grounds), DS plugged in a 110 volt surge protector into the wall socket. There was a loud pop and flash, and our room lights went out. We too, were thinking of the Ashton Kutcher movie. We looked in the hall, but it looked like the rest of the lights in the hotel were on. Fortunately, our bathroom lights still worked. Since it was late, we waited until morning to tell the reception. The lights were fixed when we returned that evening.

    I'm glad to read that we are in good company with some of our exploits!

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    Yep, the classics. American tourists blowing fuses and loosing children in the subway/train. Blowing fuses, nobody can help you, own "stupidity". Loosing children because you're too slow, you'll find locals will do anything to help! ;-).

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    And yes, you do not need a surge protector in Munich/Germany, there aren't any power surges here, they are "verboten". :D
    If you have one of those protectors just leave it at home.

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    Economizer - that is amazing how much the beginnings of our trips paralleled each other. So glad you were able to get your stroller back, thanks to do nice German woman!!

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    Nice report. I'm still trying to talk the kids into Prague just after Christmas. :) Did your auto rental co. charge you more or require you to take more insurance when you told them that you were driving into the Czech Republic?

    Thanks!

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    There were not any additional charges or insurance requirements to drive into Prague. It did help that we picked up and dropped off in Munich so no extra drop off charges.

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    CESKY KRUMLOV

    Before I go on, I just wanted to mention that one of the most interesting things about Milan was talking to him about time under the iron curtain. He printed a “subversive” newspaper during that time and has a lot of interesting stories to tell about those times and the Velvet Revolution and his mother’s take on everything.

    The drive to Cesky Krumlov from Prague was an easy 2.5 hour drive. When we arrived in CK they were in the last day of their annual Five Petal Rose Festival (a medieval festival). Today was their procession or parade and so the main street of the town was closed off to traffic (the street our hotel was on). There were barriers and a policeman turning traffic away. When we got to the policeman we tried to ask him about getting down to the hotel, but he explains that he only speaks Czech or German. DD says she can speak a little German. He is very kind and talks clearly and slowly to her. She is able to converse with him and he allows us to park on the side of the road while we walk our baggage down to the hotel and check-in and then come back to move the car to one of the public parking lots.

    We had booked a 2 bedroom suite for the 4 of us and my parents had a double. Our room was extremely large with sort of a narrow sleeping porch for the kids. It worked out great for us, we also had a small balcony out the back with a view of the castle. My parents had a nice size double. The hotel is very old and so the floors tilted and creaked a bit, but we actually found it charming!! The only other oddity was that they did not use fitted sheets but flat sheets on the beds, which had a tendency to come out. The breakfast was very good and they also made eggs to order which I LOVED! The hotel is very well located just up from the main square. The front desk people were very nice and gave great restaurant recommendations.

    We went out into the street right outside the hotel and the parade was starting. It was not that long but consisted of people in Medieval garb. Fun to watch and they hung around town after the parade as well. There were many different activities that had been going on all weekend, although most of them were through by the time we arrived. We still hadn’t eaten lunch so we went to Nonna Gina’s (Klasterni 49) as they were supposed to have good pizza. It wasn’t air conditioned, but they did have a no smoking part upstairs and the pizza and gnocchi we had were excellent. We walked around this charming town for a bit. We got this yummy treat they were making (I don’t remember what it was called)– they cooked it around a cylinder shaped mallet, then dipped it in cinammon and sugar.

    The receptionist at the hotel had recommended that we eat at U Dobraka (Siroka 74). It is a very charming open air, small restaurant where the chef cooks the meat over an open fire pit. Don’t be put off by the basic menu. Basically, the menu just lists things like “Beefsteak” or “Fish” with no descriptions. Well, the beefsteak was one of the best steaks we have ever had!! The sauce it comes with is wonderful and we also enjoyed some delicious mushroom soup. DS ordered fish, which was great as well. Our waitress was also extremely nice, something that was not always the case in the Czech Republic.

    I had reserved a Night Tour for us through Otto Sramek on the official Cesky Krumlov website for 8:30pm. We were met at the tourist office by our Canadian guide named Mark. He has lived in CK for over 5 years with his wife and baby daughter. He is an excellent guide and takes us through CK, the church and 2 castle courtyards. He explains a lot of history and other interesting things. The tour was supposed to last 1.5 hours, but we ended up going for 2hrs. It was 10:30pm by the time we headed back to the hotel.

    Before I go on, I just want to thank the many people who recommended staying in CK overnight rather than doing as a daytrip. This was excellent advice that we were glad we took. CK was actually our favorite stop on the trip. There is a lovely river that runs through the town, and if we had another day there I think it would have been nice to rent an inflatable raft and head down the river for a lazy afternoon.

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    Enjoying your report and loved reading about CK, we too are having an overnighter there next year. Not sure if I missed it but where did you stay in CK. I like the idea of the Night Tour, I will look into that.

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    I can't believe I forgot to include the name of the CK hotel. It was Hotel Konvice. (http://www.en.stadthotel-krummau.de/). We enjoyed our short stay there, and Mark (our guide for the night tour) said he thought it was one of the better run hotels in the city.

    Here is the website I used to book the Night tour.
    http://www.ckrumlov.info/docs/en/atr138.xml

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    Waiting for the next installment. Love your report!

    PS: you mentioned that the transportation system in Prague seemed to be an honor system. When I was there with a tour, our director showed us how to use the system and warned us about random checks of tickets. One man in the group poopooed the warning. Later that day several of us were on the subway together and the guy got caught and fined on the spot. The other five us almost cheered out loud. Even his wife got a coughing fit which needed a hanky to cover her mouth.

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    Thanks for your patience! I am back.


    DRIVE TO SALZBURG

    We got up the next morning but relaxed a bit on the balcony until it was time to check out. The drive to Salzburg was about 2 hrs. 45 minutes. Again, an easy drive and TomTom took us on some beautiful backroads in the Czech Republic before crossing into Austria and heading on the highways.

    We arrived at our B&B Haus am Moos about 2:30pm. Haus am Moos is a B&B located on the Moostrasse about 10-15 minutes outside of the city center. It came highly recommended on Fodors and Tripadvisor. We had our car and were easily able to drive to one of the public parking garages and park there when we headed into Salzburg. There is a bus stop just a few hundred feet from the B&B and have read of many who have used the bus to get into the city center. We rented their family apt. for the 4 of us and my parents had a double in the main house. Our apt. was very nice with two bedrooms, one with a king and an extra single bed and another room with two singles. We also had a small kitchen and eating/sitting area as well as a nice size bathroom. We never actually used the kitchen amenities but really enjoyed the extra space. This apt. is in an older house on the front of the property so the doorways are quite short, but we had been warned and DH just learned to duck.

    My parents had a very nice double room with a balcony and beautiful views of the mountains. Breakfast each morning was typical fare, but our hosts Walter and his wife were always present and very helpful in answering questions and giving directions.

    When we arrived at the B&B it was already 2:30 and we were starving for lunch so headed to Laschenskyhof (Josef-Hauthaler Strass 49) where we had a nice lunch outside. Just as we were leaving it began to sprinkle. The waitress said it shouldn’t last very long, but by the time we got back to the b&b it was pouring. We all decided to rest and wait until it stopped raining. By 7pm it was still raining, but we decided to head to the city center and explore a bit and find a place for dinner.

    When we got there we are really surprised at how empty and quiet the town is. Probably due to the pouring rain, but still seemed like very few people. We stop in at Trattoria da Pippo (Alter Markt 2) for a quick dinner. We have some good pizza.

    SALZBURG – DAY 1

    Today we were doing Fraulein Maria’s Sound of Music Bicycle Tour (http://www.mariasbicycletours.com/welcome.htm) and my parents were doing Bob’s Sound of Music Bus Tour. We met at 9:30am in front of Mirabelle Schloss (keep in mind they do not have a storefront nor a kiosk. Just look for the bikes locked up and a large wooden box with their logo). There is one other family on the bike tour with us who are from Chicago with their girls (ages 5 and 8). We each get a cruiser bike (the 5 yo rode with her Dad on a tandem) and set out through the city. It is a lot of fun and a very easy bike ride and our guide was great. We saw several SOM sites and just really enjoyed riding through the city as well as the countryside. The furthest point we rode to was out at the gazebo at Hellbrun, where we also took a 30 minute break before heading back. The entire trip was about 9 miles. The only negative was that DH kept having problems with his bike, first with the chain coming off, then when he switched bikes with the pedal coming off!! We would have to stop while she fixed it. I would only recommend that they do a better job of maintaining and replacing their fleet of bikes. Other than that it was a big hit, and we are looking forward to doing more city bike tours in the future.

    My parents thoroughly enjoyed their Bob’s bus tour, which included stops out to St. Gilgen and Wolfgansee.

    For lunch we ate at Saran Essbar (Judengasse 10). We had a nice lunch, but nothing too special, although DH thought they had the best sauerkraut. By now it is about 3pm and we are pretty tired so head back to rest and enjoy relaxing outside at our b&b.

    Tonight we were celebrating my parents’ 50th anniversary. We had a 7:30pm dinner reservation St. Peter’s Stiftskeller (St. Peter Bezirk 1-4). We were seated in a beautiful outdoor area. We had a nice dinner, but boy did our waiter screw up our order!! Once he finally admitted he screwed it up instead of telling us that we were wrong, things finally got better. Then he was very nice and apologetic. Atleast it made the dinner memorable!!

    SALZBURG – DAY 2

    Today were headed to Eagle’s Nest. Our b&b was located outside of Salzburg in the direction of Berchtesgaden so it was an easy drive. You now how there's always 
a day in a trip where everyone has just sort of hit the wall and is a bit tired - well this was our day!! Basically, by this time everyone was a bit tired of audioguides and reading displays so we actually never went into the Documentation Center. We headed straight for the bus up to the Eagle's Nest. As soon as you get off the bus you have to book your return bus down so you have to decide really quickly how long you think you will be up there. They suggest 2 hours. I do wish we had just done one of the english tour guides that were standing to the side, as we stood and listened to one of them at one point while we were up there and it was quite interesting. 

The views from up there were spectacular - we got lucky as it was a beautiful clear day. However, I just have to say that it was a bit of a disappointment as it was very crowded and what disturbed me the most is that the house itself is a full service restaurant (which I already knew) but outside on the terraces they just had all these food service places and souvenir stands (keep in mind this is not a large area) with tables and umbrellas with advertising on them. Personally, I thought it was a shame.

    We headed back down the mountain and had a great lunch in Berchtesgaden, where everyone enjoyed their lunch but my Mom’s potato pancakes were particularly yummy. Sorry I don’t have the name of this place. We drove over to Konigsee, but there were so many people there and tons of tour busses and with that “wall we had hit” we decided to skip it and headed over to Salzburg to just shop and explore, as we really hadn’t had a chance to do that yet.

    For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant Il Sole as our guide on the bike tour said she thought they had the best apple streudel. When we got there I really wanted to sit outside but there were no tables big enough for all 6 of us, so we headed inside – this turned out to be very lucky, as within 20-30 minutes it was pouring rain and lightning and thunder!! I really understand now why the kids ran into Maria’s room when it started to lightning and thunder in SOM!!

    SALZBURG DAY 3

    Our first stop today was at the Berchtesgaden salt mines. We decided to hit that one as the owner at the b&b said she heard it had the longest slides. We didn’t have to wait in line and got right in and enjoyed the tour very much. Out of a group of 40-50 people we were the only ones who spoke only English. Our tour guide would say things in German and then he would turn on a tape for us to listen in English. The only disappointment was he kept saying things that would make everyone laugh, but we never understood them, and our tape never had the jokes!!

    From there our plan was to go to the tobaggan run in Hallein but when we got there it was closed. So instead we decided to drive in a big circle and headed to Hallstat and then planned to stop at the toboggan outside of St. Gilgee. The whole time we were in Hallstat the sky was dark and looked like it was about to start pouring rain, but somehow we got lucky. We had a nice lunch there along the water and then took a stroll through the town. They had some “interesting” art installations in the water along the walk way. Some modern art, which for us didn’t seem to go with the setting – I am guessing they might be a bit controversial.

    From there we drove to the tobaggan run at St. Gilgee where everyone, particularly DS enjoyed the rides. He really could have done this all day.

    BTW, this was not the most efficient way to see things, Berchtesgaden-Hallstat – St. Gilgee, but we didn’t really mind and enjoyed the driving through the Salzkammergut.

    For dinner we were too tired to head back into Salzburg so ate dinner at Laschenskyhof again, where they were showing the Euro Cup game on the big screen tv. I actually ordered their fried chicken, which was quite good!

    Next up a stop in Oberammergau and a night in Fussen.

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    Wow!! I am usually not this tardy in finishing up a trip report, but time really got the best of me on this one!! So, I am finishing this as much for me as for the help it may provide others. Here goes:

    FUSSEN

    We had originally planned to do either Zugspitze or Wendelstein on our way to Fussen but it was pretty cloudy, so we decided it wouldn’t be worth the time or the money – we will just have to save it for the next trip! So, instead we stopped in Oberammergau for lunch. We had a nice lunch there and enjoyed strolling through the town.

    From there we drove the Romantic Road to Fussen. Wow! This was definitely some of the most beautiful scenery we saw on the trip. The beautiful green hills and valleys with the backdrop of the mountains was just spectacular!! I was quite awed on the entire drive. We arrived in Fussen about 3:30pm and checked into Hotel Zum Hechten. It is well located in the middle of town. My parents had a regular double room and we had a quad that was absolutely HUGE!! A large bedroom for DH and I, a large bathroom and a very large family room with two single beds, couch, chairs and tv. It was too bad we were only there for one night. We explored the town, which was extremely charming. They were having their annual KaiserFest (another Medieval Festival) so many people were wearing period costumes and we were able to see a nice procession with trumpets after dinner.

    For dinner we decided to eat at Zum Hechten’s restaurant as many people on fodors had recommended it. I have to say it was definitely our most disappointing meal of the trip. Just kind of “blah” and I regretted that we hadn’t picked one of the other restaurants in town.

    FUSSEN - CASTLES

    The next morning we had a nice breakfast (much better than the dinner) in a wonderfully large breakfast room with two of the nicest servers.

    We got up early to pick up our tickets for the castles. We had reservations for the 9:45/11:45 times, but arrived so early we were able to get on the 9:15/11:15 tours. We walked up to Hohenschwagau and really enjoyed the tour there. The tours for each castle are about 30-35 minutes each. From there we walked back down and then decided to take the bus up to Neuschwanstein and Mariensbrucke. Personally, I was really glad we took the bus. We did walk down from the castle but I think walking up would have really pooped us out (and I walk regularly- but why get all hot, sweaty and tired??). The views at Mariensbrucke were spectacular and I encourage everyone to stop there. I have to say I don’t agree with those who say it is not worth going inside Neuschwanstein. We all really enjoyed the tour inside, and thought it was well worth the half an hour.

    We decided to stop at one of the restaurants right near the castles for lunch before heading back to Munich for our last night. We weren’t expecting much, but to our surprise we all really enjoyed our lunch of potato pancakes, weisswurst, consommé, steak and some delicious spaetzle mixed with onions and sauerkraut. It was the restaurant in Hotel Lisl Jaegerhaus. From here we drove to Munich which was about 1.5 hours. The new BMW Museum had opened while we were traveling in Prague and Salzburg and DH and DS were anxious to get there. We drove there and my parents took the U-bahn into the city and we prepared to meet them for dinner. The BMW museum was pretty cool and had some neat exhibits, but I actually think the guys preferred their time in the BMW Welt and DS particularly enjoyed the interactive exhibits there.

    We met my parents for dinner in Munich and ate at Augustiner am Dom again. Then drove over to the airport where we stayed at Hotel Kempinski Airport. It is literally right across from the airport. You could walk to certain gates, but our gate was a bit far and they recommended we use their complimentary shuttle service, which we did. We had an uneventful flight home, which we are always happy about!!




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    Dear jgg,

    I'm really enjoying your report!! I head to Munich for 2 weeks in Sept. for a language course so I am taking note of your restaurants there.

    I keep shaking my head in agreement as I read your report when you say, it would have been better to do such and such first, or to skip this or that.... It's so hard being the planner - and especially when with teens as they can be a tough audience. But, hindsight is 20/20. It seems you planned an amazing trip!

    My teens loved Salzburg!

    My family also visited Dachau this summer. We spent time on the grounds of Dachau first and saw the movie after. We skipped the museum as we have done a lot of travel related to WWII and the Holocaust and most of the museums are very reading intensive. My girls were very nervous about visiting Dachau as they have seen a lot of disturbing movies and such, but they seemed to do okay. I'm glad we went. I had hoped to get to Prague and your report is inspiring me to keep it top on my list.

    I agree that the tour of Neuschwanstein is worthwhile! I really enjoyed it - especially all the murals of the opera scenes. We stayed at the hotel you had the nice lunch at and the room had a view of both castles and was lovely. I also was so taken by the scenery of the Romantic Road...really gorgeous and I do hope to return sometime.

    Thanks for letting me revisit some wonderful spots through your report. Can't wait for the rest!

    gruezi

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