At the end of July, we caught up with some German friends in Munich! This was our second trip to Munich in as many months, but it was fun all over again. We had an *amazing* time catching up with our friends! Todd & I were friends with Christian & Elke before any of us had kids. We met for the first time in Munich when we crashed a party for Elke’s birthday. They later moved to Austin, where our families started growing and we all started camping together. They moved to California a few years ago and we’ve missed them tremendously. As we don’t seem to be able to coordinate a trip in the U.S. (something about jobs and 5 kids between 2 families), we managed to catch up in Europe this time, doubly amusing because none of us actually live in Germany…
Germany is one of our family’s favorite places to visit. I think the primary reason for this can be summed up in one phrase: beer gardens. Even if you don’t imbibe, there’s something to be said for eating at a picnic table while the kids run around and play on the playground instead of having to sit at the table while the boring adults chat on and on forever. Everyone wins! There are large pretzels, apfelschorle, good bratwursts, and plenty of space for the kids to roam and play while the grown-ups hang out. Thus, once we were checked in to our hotel for the evening, we were off to the beer garden for dinner and catching up with our friends.
The hotel turned out to be fun, as well. Our room had a large bed for Todd and me, plus two bunks. There was a (small) ball pit downstairs in reception, which was a great place for the kids to play during check in and check out. There was a foosball table. And the breakfasts were very good, so we didn’t have to hunt down food early in the mornings.
Our first full day in Munich, we headed to Olympic Park. Todd and I went there several years ago (the same year we crashed Elke’s birthday party), but we didn’t go to the top of the tower then as we did this year. The view from the top is unparalleled!
We headed to lunch once we’d finished enjoying the views from on high. Great news! At the top of the hill, we found the beer garden. While this one didn’t have a playground, there was a patch of forest close by, so the kids were able to explore there while the baby napped and the parents chatted.
The next day, we had a park play date. Christian and Elke arranged the fun and then offered to watch our kids while Todd and I did some shopping. I bought a new dirndl (I bought a used one 15 years ago and it’s worn out) and Todd finally bought lederhosen. Elke’s family left early to head to their next hotel destination. We were staying in Munich for an extra night, so we joined our other friends for dinner in Munich instead. If you guessed we found another beer garden, you’d be right! This one had 2 playgrounds so the kids were thrilled. We stayed out way too late with our new friends before catching the tram back to our hotel.
The following morning we had a leisurely breakfast in our hotel before packing up and moving on to follow Christian and Elke to the next destination. After figuring out how to navigate the partially-closed railway system, we found our way to a wonderful new hotel. This one is about a half-mile walk from the train station (but it’s out in the country and you can see it from the station). The best part? The beer garden is part of the hotel property! The kids saw their friends and scrambled over the fence to play while Todd and I checked in. Our friends were hosting a large group of local friends and we got to enjoy the party. The kids played all afternoon in the open field beside the tables. We took Laine and her friend Milena for a rock-climbing adventure in the woods behind the hotel. A full day of outdoor time led to some DEEP sleep that night!
We spent the last couple of days of our trip in Würzburg, which was absolutely beautiful. We had the chance to learn some of the city’s history from locals (it helps that we were traveling with them)! In particular, we learned that on 16 March 1945, about 90% of the city was destroyed in 17 minutes by fire bombing from 225 British Lancaster bombers during a World War II air raid. Many of the residents hid in the hillside caves during the raid.
All of the city’s churches, cathedrals, and other monuments were heavily damaged or destroyed. The city center, which mostly dated from medieval times, was totally destroyed and 5,000 people perished. Once the war had ended, the city was rebuilt reasonably quickly and primarily by women. It took about 20 years. (There are some areas of Europe that are still rebuilding even after 75 years). They tried to rebuild everything just as it had been before the war. Every year at the time the fire bombing occurred, the church bells in all of the local churches chime for 17 minutes.
We climbed to the top of the Marienberg Fortress for an amazing view of the city. There is a lovely garden at the top and the kids had a great time running around and preparing to fight battles on the garden steps. Thankfully there weren’t many visitors that day, so we didn’t have to worry about them disturbing other patrons.
While the view was lovely and the kids were entertained, we could see the rain coming in the distance, so it was time to move on. We found another beer garden for lunch. We hadn’t been in a beer garden for nearly 24 hours at that point, though, so we were overdue.
The beer garden where we lunched was down alongside the river. If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a lock on the near side of the river. This allows the barges to move back upstream. While we were at lunch, we got to see two barges in the locks with the water levels rising. The kids were unimpressed, but the adults were fascinated! As we were watching the lock flooding with water, I looked up to see dozens of people on the bridge overhead watching as well.
We did a short walking tour of the city after lunch, crossing the bridge into the city center. We were able to see the room in the Rathaus (town hall) where our friends were married before they moved to the States. We also peeked our heads in at the Residence, but decided not to pay to tour. The kids were ready for some fun. We found playgrounds for them and they got to let off a bit of steam.
That evening we returned to our hostel for some rest before catching a flight the next morning. They had a nice breakfast set up, so we ate there in the mornings. Isaac and Todd were able to squeeze in one last game of foosball in the lobby before we left.