Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Weeks 16 + 17- Visitors, cows, and castles

This post best enjoyed with yodeling in the background...

Back from Italy, we reunited with Mom and Dad, who had been travelling in Germany and Prague during our Italia trip. Unfortunately Mom came limping into our world after a fall and bad sprain in Prague on the castle stairs-- but Munich is relatively flat, and there aren't as many old crooked stairs as in the rest of Europe. :)

Despite the foot issue, we wanted to get them out of town and into the mountains, so it was off to Werfen, Austria, outside of Salzburg, where we stayed at another gorgeous little farm pension called Rettenbachgut. Wolfgang and Susanna and their 2 bernese mountain dogs, 30 or so cows, 3 horses, mini tractors and little kitten were our gracious hosts there. The highlight for the kids was definitely working in the barn and letting their new baby cow, Regentag (named by Vivian) suck on our fingers and chew on our pants. Big fun, although a little slobbery. :)

Werfen is gorgeous, and the old castle there, Hohenwerfen, was definitely one of our favorite castles anywhere. You really got that Old Castle feel and got to hike (or limp carefully with crutches- Mom) up and down rickety staircases, into the bell tower and around the grounds. The falconry show was so great we went twice to watch these great big trained birds (falcons, eagles and owls) fly around and come back to their medieval-dressed trainers. Quite a show! And a really nice way to spend our 17th anniversary. :)

We also had another great visit with Johanne, who came down to Munich this time while Mom and Dad were travelling. Lots of good fun touring around and seeing some of our local favorites one more time- Neuschwanstein, Garmisch and the lederhosen slapping kids, and Hamam- my personal favorite Turkish bath getaway. Tons of fun! :)

And then, we finally got our weekend in Prague in! Prague is really beautiful, and old, and interesting. I think that if we had done it earlier, it would have made a bigger impression. But after all the little, old, beautiful cities and mountain areas, really touristy Prague was a little overdone for me, honestly. We did go on a great- nearly private- tour with Eva, who walked us through all the major sites. Music is still a big draw there too, and we really liked all the street performers and dragged the kids to a string ensemble concert in a beautiful church- an experience that MOSTLY went over well. :) Our favorite thing there was definitely the Lobkowitz Palace-- just an incredible, beautiful smaller palace full of the most amazing things that the kids also loved- armory, interesting portraits and paintings, and even the original scores of Beethoven's 5th, a few Mozart scores and old string instruments. Amazing! The audio guide is incredible- told by the grandson of the last King Lobkowitz. The whole family was entirely driven out of CZ during the war and now the grandson (who lived in the US with his family) returned in 1989 to reclaim all their properties and artifacts after being taken from them first by the Nazis, then by the Communists. He moved his family with 3 kids back to CZ and is now lovingly restoring everything and sharing it with tourists. He had lots of great stories, told to him by his grandfather, about growing up in the palaces-- and getting into trouble there as a boy.

We also had to say goodbye to some dear friends here in Munich-- Becky, Sloane, Elizabeth and Katherine-- who went back home to S. Carolina. Elizabeth and Katherine went to Treehouse with Vivian and Miles, and the girls became quick friends. We miss them already!

Here are the pictures!

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