Archive From Old Blog: September 2014

European Vacation Day One: Paris

Ok, so as of now I will have been up 29 hours straight. I’m not good at this, I’m a groggy traveler at best, and at worst I’m a grump when I’m tired, but I’m not a grump today because I am in Paris! Gorgeous, old, stunning Paris. The flight was one of those flights that lasted on, and on, and on. Nine hours and ten minutes. I thought, perfect! I’ll read for two hours, eat snacks and the in flight dinner for two hours and sleep for the remaining five. I didn’t sleep a second! the girls sleeping schedules were off, and of course sitting in a plane is the worst way to try to sleep. So my plan turned into five hours of sitting uncomfortably cramped and holding one or the other of the girls, or both!

We arrived in Paris before lunch this morning, and as soon as we stepped off the plane the air smelled French. I swear that even the baggage handlers at the airport were wearing perfume. Everyone smelled so good! And they were all speaking French! Which made everything so nice.

On our way to the hotel we saw the Sacre de Cure, Eiffel Tower, and Arc de Triumph, just as we were driving! This city is amazing. So many beautiful, famous landmarks all within a short taxi ride from each other. Along the Siene there was an open air market called a Manger Locale, and the whole thing smelled like eucalyptus. I want my house to smell like eucalyptus now.

We walked through sweet little neighborhoods to get to the Eiffel Tower, Leila squealed and danced around when she saw it. We’ve been hyping it up for her, and tonight when she was watching the light show on the tower she said,” I love the Eiffel Tower.” We didn’t get to the top but we will try to do that on Monday!

I’m about to pass out with wine and exhaustion, so I’ll wrap up here. I love Paris.

I don’t know what got into these girls this morning but they both woke up around 2 am and didn’t go back to sleep until 5am. Ugh, was I tired! Janet and I went down to the hotel’s restaurant and ate breakfast at their buffet. Omg…. Does anyone know what Europeans put in their scrambled eggs? Every time I have scrambled eggs in Europe they are so creamy and almost cheesy, and so, so, so good. I think it must be cottage cheese or something along those lines. It was so good. They also had fruits and cheeses and all sorts of nuts. I loaded up on cheese. Wow! I love the cheese over here. Just at breakfast I ate eight different types of cheese: goat’s cheese, hard cheese, stinky cheese, bleu cheese, a cheese with black spots on the outside, and one with white, and one with hard curds. Oh man, the cheese is good.

Right after breakfast we took a car to meet up with a tour group near the Eiffel Tower. The city hosted a run against breast cancer this morning so all the streets were closed in the area that we needed to get to, the driver was funny, because he was trying to get us as close as he could, but it was frustrating him. He was mostly nice, but gave me a dirty look when I started eating yogurt in his car. It was a very clean car, so I understand his admiration for it, and not wanting some goober to swipe yogurt across the seat. Everyone else on our tour was late too because Of the race , so it turned out ok. Paris is so stinking gorgeous. From the bus we saw a couple doing wedding photos in front of the Arc de Triumph, and I went crazy. I imagined that I was a very famous portrait photographer in Paris. That would be the dream job. That’s my long term goal now, author and photographer with a home in Paris that I can live in a couple months out of the year. Eeeeeee!

The tour guide was kind of dull. For the most part he pointed out restaurants in very famous French movies that I’be never heard of. I guess I need to watch more French movies, so I can place the restaurants, but I really wanted to learn more anecdotal/ historical details of the city. Oh well. Maybe I’ll pick some up while I’m watching French movies and looking for the very famous restaurants we saw today. 😉

After the bus tour, we took a tour of the Seine river, passing all the beautiful buildings along the way. Our ticket included a crepe and glass of wine! The best way to eat a crepe is with wine. Yum, yum! When we were standing in line for tickets to the boat tour we met two women from Australia who had just finished their European tour, their last stop was Paris and then Dubai, and they were in their late 80s! They said it was their last trip since they were getting so old, but I have a feeling they won’t stay down under too long. They were so happy talking about their trip. Annabelle, Amy, Jessica, Annie, Danae, Mom any takers for traveling with me when I’m in my 80s?

After the boat tour we walked to Monmarte. (Thanks for the tip Amy!) I took my turn standing on the vent and taking a picture in front of the Moulin Rouge. Whoa, it turned out super sexy, mostly because I was holding my shirt down to keep from flying off. We walked up to the Sacre Coure where they were having mass, and skulked around the sides of the kneeling congregants. We couldn’t take pictures, but I snuck in a few. Cathedrals are both amazingly gorgeous and amazingly creepy at the same time, especially when there’s a mass, and someone is playing the pipe organ in a minor key, and you’re looking at a full length stain glass window of a dying Jesus being lifted off the cross. There were thousands of lit candles, and that made it beautiful.

As we were leaving the Sacre Coer, a man grabbed Chris’s arm and began to weave a bracelet on it! saying that it was tradition to get a bracelet woven on your arm in front of the Sacre Coer. Sensing BS I stepped back and giggled at shocked and bewildered Chris. That’s when a second man grabbed my wrist and started weaving on it. I had to pry him off, and tell him no like fifteen times before he left. Three other guys came up with big smiles asking me if I was American. I had to pretend like I wasn’t, so told them I was British, but I guess they thought British and American were both suckers for BS traditions and tried to weave bracelets on my hand. Of course when the man was done he asked Chris for 20million Euro, so Chris gave him 1 euro. Anything sounds better than 20million. I can see these guys at conferences absorbing the latest training in how to pull a euro out of American suckers. “Now the next thing you need to do boys is quote them an outrageous price, so that they’ll laugh and pay you something in the middle. If you quote them 1 euro you’ll be lucky to get ,10 cents, but if you say something funny like 20 million they’ll laugh feeling like they made a local friend and you’ll get 5euros.” I can just see the hucksters at the Conning Tourists of the World Conference smiling and nodding and taking down notes. Last year it was roses, this year it was bracelets, and next year it could be key chains, we tourists love key chains. But the best part of this whole scenario was that the little huckster who made Chris a bracelet pulled out fingernail clippers at the end of the transaction and offered to clip his fingernails for an extra euro. Omg…. I almost died laughing. Needless to say I had a lot of fun at the Sacre Coer.

So the reason this post is called Little Denvers in Paris was because Chris, Janet and the girls all wore Broncos jerseys today, so we took lots of pictures in front of Parisian things of them in their jerseys. I will post some later. Several French people stopped Janet and told her they liked her shirt because 7 was their lucky number too. (She was wearing an Elway jersey) I wonder what they thought of the group of people wearing oversized orange shirts with big numbers on them! Steve and I didn’t get the memo and didn’t wear jerseys. 😉

Thanks for reading my post I’ll let you know about tomorrow!


Day 3:

We woke up at 9:00! I never sleep until 9:00, not even after staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve. I was so tired from the girls. They both woke up throughout the night. Annika 8-10 times! I kid you not. She must not be adjusted to the time difference. We walked over to the Eiffel Tower, and stood in line to get to the top. The line wasn’t that long. The view from the top is as amazing as you would expect it to be. Leila was overjoyed.

After the Eiffel Tower we took a bicycle taxi to the Louvre! The taxi driver was a young man from Afghanistan. He said he and his family moved away four years ago. He’s saving up to move to the United States where most of his family lives. Chris said he should move to San Francisco. I said he should stay in Paris. I think I would choose Paris over San Francisco. After he dropped us off at the louvre I had to run to the ATM to grab cash to pay him. When I got back. Chris and Janet were giggling, I guess another bike taxi driver was wearing really tight shorts and when he bent over to work on his bike they saw all his junk. Hehehe…. Don’t know why that stood out to me but it did.

We spent the rest of the afternoon looking for Steve in the poor man’s designer district. There’s a small area where up and coming designers have boutiques cheaper than the big designers. There were some super cute clothes there, but they were still more than I would ever pay for clothes! I can’t buy anything new now knowing how amazing thrift store finds are. I did go into a few French thrift stores and got some cuties there, just leggings and a shirt. The poor man’s designer district was also the Hasidic Jew’s district, and there were lots of cute little boys with curly forelocks riding bikes or running after their fathers, who wore the hats and the long coats.

And after all that searching we didn’t find Steve, only a box of eclairs. At dinner I ate escargot. It was very good. I think I will order it again if ever offered the opportunity. On our way back to our hotel we cut through the Grounds of the Louvre. Under one giant archway beautiful music filled the area and echoed off the walls . It felt mystical and mysterious. It was accompanied by harmonious whistling, and I thought, ” how strange, it’s nice of the Louvre to play this music, but i was expecting something more classical.” It wasn’t until we walked through the arch that I turned around and realized that the amazing music was coming from a man throat singing next to a column. All of that beautiful noise came from him! Part of me wanted to film it, but I decided no, some things belong sacred and are better left in a giant archway at the Louvre. Maybe he will be there next time I go through.

Day 4

I woke up earlier and walked back to the park surrounding the Louvre. I took pictures of the morning light. Why is the light so beautiful in Paris? Does anybody know? Is it in the ideal longitude and latitude for morning and evening sunlight? Or is it because everything is so, so beautiful there and the light wraps it up in a perfect little bundle and says, ” here you go, here is a beautiful thing to look at, and I wrapped myself around it just for you to adore.” Maybe. I only took a few pictures, but I walked around a lot before heading back to the hotel to get the family ready for Switzerland.


We took an airplane to Zurich. It only took an hour and five minutes. And when we got off the plane the air in Zurich smelled amazing too! I swear these European airports spray something in their walkways to heighten the sense of a new place. Well done European airports. It helps cover the scent of my traveler’s B.O. As we waited for our luggage, Leila entertained our fellow passengers with German greetings. She’s very good at saying, “auf wedersain.” (She’s probably better at saying it than I am at spelling it.) There was a film crew there with twelve pelican cases full of camera gear. Chris sidled over and “talked shop.” He learned that they are filming a documentary about protons, or something and were going to Einstein’s house. They had accents from all over. The best one was an Australian guy who looked like Richard Attenborough. (The old man in Jurassic Park.)

After we grabbed our bags, we headed out and guess who we saw?!?!?! Jael! She said she wasn’t going to be able to meet us at the airport because she had class that day, but she’s a booger, and totally surprised us with a welcome sign and everything! It was a wonderful surprise, and we all picked up like it had only been a couple of days since we saw each other instead of two years. Leila and Annika were shy at first, but warmed up to her quickly. She rode up with us to Engleberg.

Now, the Alps…. Oh Switzerland, I am so sorry I thought you were kitchy and over rated! How could I have thought that, without even giving you a chance? It’s because I thought, ” mountains? We have mountains. What’s the big deal about the alps?” Oh boy, was I ever embarrassingly wrong. There are no mountains that compare to the Alps. I grew up under the shadow of Mt. Massive, and still there is nothing I could say about Mt. Massive if it stood next to a Swiss Alp. The mountains in Colorado are solid, trustworthy, and majestic, but the Alps make me feel differently. They are wild, spontaneous, asymmetrical. Those are the Swiss Alps. And the homes! I thought they were going to be all the same. Just a bunch of chalets, but how arrogant does that sound? There’s nothing tacky about a chalet lived in by three generations of a farming family who put love and care and money into creating a home that represents their little family. Each home is so very different from it’s neighbor, and a little creation of the people who live there. I could tell a lot about the families inhabiting each home we passed. And when we drove into Engleberg the combination of sweet homes, and wild mountains just stirred happy wonder in my soul, and I fell in love with Switzerland.

European Vacation Day 5: Glacier Caves and Rotating Gondolas


Mornings in the alps are just as you would imagine. The sun crests over the mountains making deep shadows across the valley, church bells in the village ring every hour on the hour, performing an extra long musical number at 7:30, and cow bells start ringing as the cows are let out to pasture to graze. We couldn’t believe how gorgeous everything was around us. It was heaven on earth.

We walked down into the village. Engleberg is a ski resort town, but has summer activities too. We went in several really cute shops. They had some of the cutest clothes and household things, but everything is expensive. The sweaters I really liked started out at £200 and went up from there. So I got a hand towel instead.

We ate lunch at a pizza place and I got pumpkin soup! It’s crazy to think that when we get home it will be October and Chris can make us pumpkin soup out of his Jack-o-lantern innards. That’s something to look forward to!

After lunch we moseyed on over to the gondola that takes us to the top of Mt. Titlus. It was so exciting! We took three gondolas to get to the top and it took a total of 45 minutes. The last gondola had a revolving floor and could hold about 100 people. The revolving floor was pretty ingenius. That way, everyone had a chance to see every angle. It was freezing at the top. I remembered to bring mine and the girls coats, but I was wearing sandals and there was a lot of snow up there. We delicately walked across the snow and over to the highest suspension bridge in Europe. On the bridge we could walk out over a deep ravine, the walls of which were a glacier, I think. I always thought a glacier would be blue, perfect ice, but this glacier was brown and cracked and dry. I guess my idea of a glacier was kind of cartoony. On our way back to the gondola we walked through a glacial cave, and that ice was blue and smooth. It was an amazing experience. Oh, and from the gondola we saw a mother cow who had just given birth to a calf. It was brand new. We saw the after birth to prove it. Ewwwww…. 😉

On the way home we met up with a woman who drives a horse drawn carriage. We took a ride around Engleberg, and the girls were in their element. They even got to sit next to the driver and hold the reins. Oh what a day!

European Vacation Days 6 & 7: Angel Mountain & Bergwanderweg

Day 6: Luzern

According to the woman who drove our horse drawn carriage, Engelberg was founded in the 10th century when monks saw the glow of angels all across the mountain tops. They settled there and named it Engelberg (Angel Mountain).

Luzern is only 8 miles away from angel mountain, and it too is very beautiful. There is a lake there and buildings from the 16th century. When I asked Jael what else was of note in Luzern she said, “they have a very beautiful bridge there.” And yes they did have a very, beautiful bridge. The shops and galleries there were also quite unique. I got a lot of ideas for clothes I want to sew when I get home: a sweater with a zipper down the back, a long sweater jacket with ties made out of men’s neck ties, and a formal looking t-shirt with a necklace in the collar. If I was a fashion designer I would just walk around Luzern for a couple of hours to get ideas.

Day 7: Bergwanderweg

Oh, this day was one of my favorite days ever! It’s nice to spend a day with Chris. Just the two of us! We left the girls with their G-Moo and G-Poo and followed a trail behind our vacation rental house up the mountain behind us. I had scoured a hiking map the night before because I really wanted to go on a hike and I realized that the trail next to our house went up to an activity park on the side of the mountain. There’s a gondola that goes up to the park too, but I prefer to spend as much time outdoors as possible. Parts of the trail went through cow fields and farm yards. We saw a mama cat and two kittens playing on the hay in a barn. The chiming of cowbells filled the air. I love it! I want to find a cowbell and a cow and put them in my front yard so that I can hear cow bells all day. The trail we followed was marked with signs saying, “Bergwanderweg” literally meaning mountain trail on foot, and oh it was so beautiful. It reminded me of some of the gorgeous hiking trails around Palmer Lake, only not as rocky and with more meadows.

A cute little activity area greeted us at the top of the trail. A gondola led up to a restaurant, toboggan run, and a kids park with a climbing wall and a trampoline. Chris and I jumped right into line at the toboggan run. The first time I went down I braked between curves, but I didn’t go as fast as I thought I could so the second time I decided not to break at all. Not a good choice! By the second loop I started to lose control of the sled and it went higher on the track. I was going super fast! My arm got scraped as it was dragged along the slide and my legs were up in the air. I looked ridiculous, I jerked myself upward with all the strength I could muster in my puffy abs, and was able to right myself, but not soon enough to avoid getting rug burn and looking super unladylike. But it was so fun, and I giggled all the way down. So I’d say it was worth it.

We jumped on the trampoline for a little bit and then sat outside for lunch. Oh, I had some of the best salmon up there on that mountain. It was all the contradictions that make salmon good: flaky and juicy, crunchy and soft, solid but melt in your mouth smooth. I love salmon.

The hike down was easier than the steep hike up, and We met up with the girls and Janet and Steve in the village. I found a pair of £10 pants from United Colors of Beneton, so that made me happy, and Chris got a wallet. He was so cute and excited about it, but when he brought it back to the house and switched it over with his old wallet he realized that it was way too fat with all his cards and ID cards and important papers. When he put it in his back pocket it made his right butt cheek look way bigger than the left one. (I think it is a woman’s wallet, and better off just thrown in a purse) Oh well, we’ll make it work.

Tomorrow we leave for Munich on a train!

European Vacation Day 8: International Showdown on the München Express

Day 8: Zurich to Munich

You can tell it’s a travel day by how bad I smell. I’m serious, I don’t know if it’s subconscious stress hormones, (I don’t feel that stressed) or if it’s the fluctuating temperature of the plane, train or automobile that I’m in, but I feel like I ruin whatever clothes I’m wearing on a travel day. Man, I smell ripe. I washed the clothes I wore today in the hotel sink and I can still smell them from here. It’s a constant struggle to stay on top of my BO when I’m traveling. Gah!

Since it’s a travel day I don’t have a ton to write about, but I did see an interesting incidence on the train.

A few minutes after the train left the station in Zurich, an Indian man came through our car with a push cart full of snacks and drinks. He worked for the train, and most everyone purchased something from him since it was almost lunch time. Janet ordered a sandwich and he was telling her what was on it when a Chinese man a few rows ahead of us stood up and yelled,”You be quiet!” The man selling food said, ” excuse me?” And the Chinese man said it again even louder before sitting down again. Janet, Chris, and I sat there with our mouths open. It was so bizarre and so incredibly rude. I couldn’t believe he did that. The man with the cart finished his transaction with Janet, then walked over to the Chinese man and said, ” I don’t know where you’re from, but in Europa we do not act like that.” Then he turned around and finished selling his food. I smiled and said, “good for you!” I like to see people stand up for themselves, mainly because if that happened to me I would just turn really, really red and start shaking before either yelling back at the man in a shrieky, upset voice, or bursting into tears. But the man selling food handled it calmly and in a way that he could feel good about. The second weird half of this whole thing was that the Man who yelled blew boogers into his HANDS off and on for the next two hours until he got off the train. He in fact was the one who was being noisy with his incessant honking into his hands. BIZARRE. So, I was wondering was he rude because that’s just a personal issue, or is there a prejudice there between Chinese men and Indian men? Because Janet was talking to the man selling food too, and he didn’t yell at her. Can anyone shed some light on this?

The train pulled into Munich around 4:00, and I’d say about one in ten people had on lederhosen and dirndl dresses! It was so wonderful! I felt like I not only entered another country, but a different time! And I have got to say, even though I wasn’t actively looking, just casually observing that Germany has some of the best looking men in Europe. Chris of course was the finest man in the train station, but there were quite a few second bests. He even bought some lederhosen in the train station, so that catapulted him into the Grand Meister of Hotness when he put on that checkered shirt and little leather pants. Mmmmhmmmm…..

We kind of took it easy at the hotel, my frivolous eating has caught up to me and I had a horrible stomach ache from all the sugar and bread I’ve been eating. So I guess I have to slow down and just eat boring food for awhile. BOO! But tomorrow we are going to Garmisch, so that will help me not be sad about having to turn down all the yummy pretzels, and gingerbread, and pastries, and pies, and…. WAH!!!

We were going to go to Garmisch today, but decided instead to hang out in Munich where the parade for the Oktoberfest would be. Chris gets bored at parades after a few minutes, but not me! I love most parades, but this one was by far the BEST parade I’ve ever been to. The parade celebrates Bavarian culture, and is call the Bavarian Costume and Rifleman Parade. As you can imagine I went giddy over the costumes. It seemed to me, this may or may not be true, but it seemed like every village in Bavaria represented itself by wearing their own traditional versions of the Dirndle and Lederhousen. The Dirndles were all so beautiful, some were straight forward: skirt, apron, corset, and shirt. While others had shawls, and hats and arm bands, and flashy jewelry to set them apart. I took a lot of pictures. It seemed like people represented different occupations too, there were bakers, and farmers, and hunters, and jokers wearing motley. Everyone was dressed up, and not just the people in the parade,but the spectators too. I counted a clump of spectators across the street from me and out of the 100 people I counted, 37 were wearing traditional costumes.

Annika was a giddy mess. She loves, loves, loves horses and every so often 6-8 giant Clydesdales would lumber by pulling a traditional beer wagon. As they passed she would scream and point in glee, and after they passed she would cry because they were gone, and call after them until the next O-wah (horse) would pass by. I’m sure it was very emotionally exhausting for her.

One of the most interesting groups of people were the riflemen. They walked by dressed in hunting gear and pulling a wagon with a huge, dead stag on it. Two men also carried a pole with a big boar tied by it’s feet to it, and their float had stuffed boars on it as well. They also carried hunting falcons, and hunting dogs walked alongside them. I hope they at least eat the stag and the boar. :-\ Poor dead things…

I was having a great time until I saw some very old people go by in the parade, and it got me to thinking and calculating how old they could be and how long ago WWII was, and the possibility that they could be old, washed up Nazis. And it made me very sad because as good and as beautiful pride in ones heritage and country are, Germany took it to the sick extreme not that long ago, so it kind of put a sour taste in my mouth to see all that pride right in front of me. Munich was, after all, the epicenter of the Nazi party, and where everything got started. But then I got hungry for lunch and stopped thinking too deeply. I didn’t want to hate on those old people for no reason, maybe they weren’t Nazis back in the day.

We wandered over to the Hofbrauhaus for lunch. I got a cheese plate and a salad with 1/4th of a grilled chicken on it. The quarter of the chicken I got was the thigh and leg. Just as long as it wasn’t the head and scrawny shoulders! After lunch, Steve and Janet went back to the hotel to find a doctor for Steve. He had a sinus headache and thought it might be infected, so Chris and I took the girls to the English Garden and played in the children’s area for a bit. It was so cute seeing them play with little German kiddos. I guess it’s easy to communicate when one is making sand ice cream cones. They would take turns filling the cone with sand and passing it round to the others. It was adorable.

It started pouring down rain, so Chris and I darted under awnings to get back to the train station. We got soaked. It was a fun rain though. The sun would come out every few minutes and make everything sparkle. The rain looked like glitter falling from the sky.

We ate dinner back at the hotel, a vegetable pastry and lots of cheese! And afterward we went down to the swimming pool/ spa. There was a sign outside the spa stating, “please remove all clothing and jewelry.” Ummmmm….. No thank you. I went into the spa just to check it out and I felt like I was walking into a porno. A naked woman walked out of the sauna and held the door open for a naked man who had just left the shower, and he was walking a little stiffly, if you know what I mean. Giggitty. I then passed a steam room full of naked men. Ummmmm…. Yeah right. I am not taking off MY CLOTHES and sitting next to 6-7 old men with mild boners. That seems like a super awkward moment waiting to happen. Oh, and besides all the naked people in the spa, I saw a naked man sitting in the English Garden. I guess all parks in Germany have a clothing optional policy. I think that’s kind of cool. As gross as a I think it is to sit in a tiny, steam filled room with a dozen naked men, I think it’s really neat that anyone could take off his or her clothes outdoors and be that much closer to nature. That actually makes a lot of sense.

Tomorrow, Neuschwanstien!

You want to hear a tragic tale? Wikipedia search King Ludwig the II of Bavaria, lovingly referred to as the “Fairytale King.” He built beautiful castles in Bavaria, (including Neuschwanstein) was a Patron of the arts, and a creative recluse whose introverted tendencies were turned against him when his cabinet dethroned him by creating bogus accusations about His mental health, including having a “Dr.” of psychiatry diagnose him as mentally ill even though the doctor never examined him. The day after he was committed to a psychiatric ward, and before his people could do anything about their disposed king, he was found dead in a lake along with the psychiatrist who labelled him mentally ill. Their deaths remain a mystery.

On the way up to Neuscwhanstein we drove to Garmisch and through the beautiful hills and valleys of Bavaria. The clouds lay low in the hills, wisps of mist curled around trees and brought to mind the folk and fairy tales that were created there hundreds of years ago. I imagined an old, wizened grandmother telling tales to her grandchildren of fairies and giants and brave folk who dared interact with them. I tried to spot gnomes, or elves, or fairies in the trees, but we were going too fast. When I get back home I’m going to be so inspired to finish my second book.

Garmisch was a cute little town. We only spent an hour or so there, walking up and into it’s little old town district. There were a lot of second hand shops that I spied from the road, and I went into one, but second hand Dior and Yves Saint Lorent are still waaaaaaaay out of my price league, but I do love looking at their clothes. It’s funny, I’ve never “gotten” the idea of designer clothes before. Clothes to me are something that keeps me warm, cover up private parts, and have to be semi-cute to up my attractiveness quotient, but after this trip and looking at a ton of designer clothes I do get the appeal. The quality, material, the creative drapes and fold of the fabric, the attention to details. I can understand. I still could never drop that much money on clothes, but I can and I will try to make my own! ;-D

After Garmisch we drove to Neuschwanstein. About 5 kilometers away I could see it on the hillside. It looked very tiny, and not at all like the pictures, but the angle we came from didn’t show the backside. That’s the side that’s usually shown in photographs. Oh man! It was a zoo up there! There were so many people and it was so confusing on what we needed to do. By the time we got up there we missed our tour time, but we were able to go in with the next group. I love that castle. I like King Ludwig the II. We could totally hang. He would probably not have liked it since he was so reclusive, but I think that after a few hours he could warm up to me. I wouldn’t even ask him about his homo erotic tendencies. I would have only asked him about his favorite fairytales, which happen to be some of mine as well.

After Neuscwhanstein we drove back the scenic way to Munich, through little villages and fields, past farmers walking draft horses in the pasture, and little homes with flower boxes in every window. Bavaria is a beautiful area, and very different from northern Germany as several Bavarians have been sure to point out to me. I think they miss their Fairy Tale king and the sovereignty of Bavaria.

If anyone would have told me that Oktoberfest was a classier version of the Pueblo State fair I don’t know if I would have believed them.
Here are the similarities:
Carnival rides
People getting drunk in the afternoon and evening
Tons and tons of food booths
Tons and tons of people
Beer tents

Here’s what Oktoberfest has that the Pueblo State Fair doesn’t have:

80% of Oktoberfest goers are wearing some sort of traditional costume
Their rides and games have a definite Bavarian flair
Their Beer tents are giant, amazing, beautiful structures you could just sit in and enjoy the lighting
Gingerbread Hearts
People sitting next to the toilets that you have to tip
Oompah Bands

Here’s what the Pueblo State Fair has that Oktoberfest doesn’t have:

Really horny unattractive teenagers who make out in the food lines, in the carnival lines, in the middle of the walkway, everywhere….
Indian Fry bread
Funnel Cake

Now, someone may read this list and think that I don’t like the Pueblo state fair. That’s not the case. I don’t go to the Pueblo State Fair anymore because of the horny, unattractive teenagers making out everywhere, but if they weren’t there I would love it as much as I liked going to Oktoberfest. It was so much fun! We all dressed up, and we sat next to a sweet Bavarian couple in the beer tent, and we did the whole Oktoberfest fest song, and the girls rode on rides, and we ate some delicious junk food, and Chris played carny games, and it was just fun and silly and a perfect festival. Oktoberfest is well worth the price of admission. (It’s free to enter, but once you’re inside everything is tripled as expensive as it would be outside the festival grounds.) But hey, it’s Oktoberfest!

European Vacation Day 12: Dachau

What is there to say about Dachau? If I think about it too long or too much then I feel like I’m going to throw up. Standing in the middle of the yard where thousands of inmates of Dachau stood, within a lifetime ago, every morning and every evening waiting for roll call I had to turn around. I couldn’t look anymore; I couldn’t stand there for more than a moment, or the wave of grief would overwhelm me. There was so much to be sad about.

Dachau Concentration Camp sits nestled up against the village of Dachau. It was one of the first concentration camps to be liberated, and when it was, American troops showed the 3,000 dead bodies that were left by the S.S. to the residents of Dachau. Members of Hitler’s party were used to bury the dead. They were loaded into wagons and carried to nearby graveyards to be buried in mass graves.

But I’m covering raw emotions with the facts. I have been for the past day. The facts of the war, the facts of the concentration camp, the facts of the mass killings. All I can think about are the impressions that Dachau left me with, because when I think about the faces in the photos on display, the sick, twisted methods of murder, the families desecrated and destroyed by the Nazi party then I think I could never return to Germany again. To me, there is something oppressive here still.

The poplars still stand in Dachau, lining the road through the barracks where the inmates slept. Amazingly tall, quiet watchers over a century of life and death in Dachau. They were full grown in the historical photos of the concentration camp. They are behemoths now, and their leaves fell constantly, like a thick rain. Maybe they still mourn the atrocities they were silent witness to. The trees offered the best memorials. Behind the cremation ovens a beautiful grove of trees grew thick and wild. A shaded walkway led me to the back where a plaque under a tree read: “execution site and blood ditch.” A scarlet vine grew from behind the ditch and up the tree. It’s leaves in clusters of teardrop shaped leaves. Nature had erected it’s own memorial.

European Vacation Day 13: Travels to Salzburg

Travel days tend to be the pits! The girls are extra, super, cranky and whiny on travel days, and they make it so difficult to make it from point A to point B peacefully. On top of that we have about six pairs of Lederhousen, twelve beer steins, fourteen Oktoberfest calendars, one flugelhorn, and four soccer jackets that we need to transport back to the states. So between the four of us we have about sixteen bags. (Ok, so I am being facetious about the souvenirs. We don’t have THAT much, but Chris really did get four jackets, and we really do have sixteen bags of various sizes and quality, so that makes it a bit stressful to make sure nothing’s left behind.) but it also makes it funny! I can tell that our packing skills appall even the more laid back Europeans. Oh, the sensible ones are easy to spot with their tsk, tsking and their comments to themselves, and their rolling of the eyes when we parade by, but even the cool teenagers with their cigarettes and their jeans rolled casually up to their ankles will do a double take and shake their head, making some comment as they ride by on their bicycle. So yeah, that was pretty much my morning. Fending off affronted stares, and calming woebegone girls who just needed to nap for a day and a half, but when we got to Salzburg it magically changed for the better.

We left our burdens in the hotel room and walked through the gourgessness that is Salzburg, Austria. The city soothed my traveler’s fatigue, and showed me it was all worth it. Even though when we first arrived in Salzburg it was raining and it seemed like everyone in the hotel was chiding us for some reason or another. The receptionist scolded us for letting Leila walk through the revolving doors. Stating how dangerous it was. Good grief. And the bell hop was appalled that Annika wasn’t wearing a hat as we left the hotel, I had to point out that she indeed had a hat, but she just kept pulling it off. He looked at me like I was an unfit mother and just walked away tsk, tsking. So after disappointing all of Europe with our packing skills and mothering style, I will say at least Europe didn’t disappoint me. Salzburg is amazing. Can’t wait to share more with you after a good night’s sleep!

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