Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Weeks 22 - 23: Last Hurrah & Homecoming

So it all came down to a last, crazy week-- Aside from the packing and cleaning, we made great use of our last days to spend time with friends here who made our time in Munich so special, to stuff our selves with German fare, and to soak up all things DE. So between our last days in Munich and 4 days in Austria, we hit the major must-dos, things we just couldn't do back home, to just live it up:

1. Beer gardens and good schnitzel- we filled our last days and tacked on a few souvenir pounds at beer gardens. Several of them. We had a great time with Treehouse friends at the Hirschgarden (our favorite one, with the deer), went to a cool one with a great playground in Bogenhausen, and visited with friends and ate at the Chinese Tower again. Man oh man how we wish there was such a thing in Seattle-- so great for families and community. I guess our backyard beer garden will have to do!

2. Big bike rides all over Munich- the last couple days before dimantling the bike, I brought the kids on a few great rides-- all through the English Gardens, to feed the cute geese, see the surfers, check out naked people by the river, watch a drum marching band rehearsal, and tightrope in between trees. We'll seriously miss the park and fantastic bike paths!!!!!

3. Hiking with cows- Ahhhh.... love it or hate it, there's something uniquely Alps about hiking up through "wilderness," getting to the top, and seeing a bier hutte and cows with bells around their necks. Very cute, very Austria. We went on a couple great hikes last week- the first was classic- straight up for 500 meters (Austrian / DE efficiency must be anti-switchback), then to a gorgeous postcard like green lake with a herd of free-grazing cows. And a donkey. And a couple goats. Our other hike was similar, and right when we were saying it looked like a scene out of Heidi, saw a sign saying the 1980's version of Heidi was filmed right there! How bout that! It is surreal and beautiful here. But I have to say, 400+ years of tromping around and farming in the mountains really has depleted any sense of "wild." Our hiking guide said there are 13 or 14 bear in all of Austria. We have the corner on wild, for sure.

4. Dangerously precarious trams- I must have been subcontiously putting off this little adventure, but we finally did one of the infamous Austrian Alps trams-- and rode basically in a stuffed-crowded bus hanging from a cable up Dachstein, to 10,000 feet. WHA??? Slight vertigo has been a recent issue for me, but this was just crazy. I was happy to be a bit stuck in the middle of the tram, with a clueless dog sitting at my feet that I could pet. The view? Totally amazing. One highlight was watching 2 people climb up the cliff below the glass-overhang, lift themselves up over the guard rail to a waiting mom with Schnapps- turns out it was a dad and his 14 year old daughter! Vivian was in awe.... :) I'm not quite sure how as a mom you could pull off a 5 hour wait coolly, unless she downed the remaining Schnapps during her wait. ugh. AND after a few days of more tooth torture, Vivian pulled out Tooth #5 on the tram! Very fun- here's the video-

5. Adventure Park- So I think Outward Bound used to have these, but surely a lawsuit has banned them by now. We went to a great one with varying heights of obstacle courses through the trees and I had fun watching Vivian breeze through these crazy physical courses 15 - 20 feet up and watch Eric get stuck a few times in suspended tubes and on little tightropes. :) Vivi learned to caribeener herself off and on the safety cables, and put on her own zip line pulley. Very exciting for a little monkey!

It was a huge relief that our trip back with the kids went PERFECTLY SMOOTH (as opposed to our trip out to DE) -- no one puked, no medical emergencies, we got a little upgrade, everyone got some sleep, and we even arrived an hour earlier than scheduled! Amazing!

Our homecoming has been fantastic- our neighborhood "Porkfest" was Sunday around the corner (as if we really needed more pork... but hey, it was BBQ! A different twist!), we got to celebrate Roger and Emily's wedding and see some old friends, and each day we've reunited with another Seattle friend that we've missed a ton. I've really enjoyed taking long baths in a tub the kids and I can all get into, going to the beach, and have a new appreciation for the Ballard Market. Now I'm just trying to figure out how to incorporate some of the lifestyle that I really grew to love- hope to keep up with the bike (although the hills are killing me), spend more time hanging out at parks, get rid of a bunch more needless stuff in the house and definitely live more simply. Can't wait to get to the cabin tomorrow for the weekend- to see some real wilderness and smell that pine needle Mazama smell.

We miss you, Munich and friends, and will be back to visit! You're definitely a second home to us now. Vielen dank! Please come visit us in Seattle so we can show off this beautiful corner of the world! :)

Favorite pictures of our last days: