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Distant Lands

Friday, 14 December 2007

The Bavarian Alps

We rented a car in Munich and drove down to Fuessen to see Neuschwanstein and tour the Alps.  Since the car we'd reserved wasn't actually available when we arrived at the rental agency, we had to negotiate for a similar car (or at least something big enough to carry 4 adults, one baby in a carseat, and luggage).  I strongly recommend being familiar with the makes and models you are likely to be offered in the area you're traveling - thinking you're getting a luxury sedan when you rent a Mercedes A-class will be a let-down.

I thought driving in Munich was great, but keep in mind I was coming from Athens.  Still, I found the signage good and the other drivers quite decent.  When we left the city, the baby and I started our first-ever trip on the autobahn (the others had traveled in Germany before). 

The views of the Alps across the Bavarian farmland were tremendous, and we passed through a couple charming little villages, complete with partially iced-over ponds full of ducks and swans.  At 8 months old, just driving in a car made the baby pretty happy, and he could have his bottle as we drove.

Our hotel in Fuessen was a lovely family-run place complete with a huge German Shepherd that the baby immediately crawled all over.  The dog seemed happy about this, and returned the greeting by licking the baby's face with a tongue about the size of baby's head, eliciting much giggling.  Like all the hotels we stayed in while in Germany, the room was so clean that the baby could romp around on the floor and work off the long car trip.  They also provided a pack-and-play and twin beds pushed together with individual duvets (I adore duvets).


We'd arrived in the afternoon, with plenty of hours in the day left, but not much daylight.  We'd wanted to drive across the Alps into Austria to visit some ruined castles, maybe have dinner over there, but as it got dark, the road got scary:  mountainous, curvy, steep, and icy.  My husband and I made the call to turn around and abort the mission, much to the confusion and disappointment of our friends.  This is another one of those new challenges and new mindsets that you get as a parent that doesn't come with instructions.

Fortunately, these were long-time friends and understood pretty fast (of course, that was part of the hang-up; pre-baby, we'd have gone for it).  So we returned to Fuessen to find not a lot open.  The medieval center of town was attractively lit and decorated for Christmas, so we decided to walk around and find a place to eat.  The place we found seemed like a kitschy touristy Busch-Gardens sort of deal, but as it turned out we were the only tourists among several locals.  And the jaegerschnitzel was amazing.

The baby fussed a bit, it being past his bedtime and a long day, but spaetzle turns out to be a lovely food for kids just starting solids…and the waitress had plopped big bibs over our heads, which made a nice tent as the baby fell asleep on my lap and I finally got to eat dinner.  (Tag-team eating, another key parental skill).

Upon returning to the hotel, we found that we were the only guests staying there that night.  The family showed us where to find things, invited us to help ourselves to their game cabinet, and left.  We tucked the sleeping baby into the crib and adjoined to the empty dining room down the hall to play Kniffel.  The German Shepherd patrolled ceaselessly, checking in on the baby, checking on us, doing his rounds.  Later in the evening when we brought out salami and cheeses purchased at the Viktualenmarkt in Munich, his stops at our table would be a bit longer, but not much.
Posted in Europe : Infant : Toddler by Raq W. at 9:38 PMPermalink

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