Tag Archive | travel

Food glorious food…coma.

German food. Very, very yummy. Not a lot of emphasis on green. Or red. Or orange. Unless they’re Smarties and gummy bears sprinkled on ice cream. But definite emphasis on the delicious. Here is the round-up of what we ate:

Every morning started with someone, usually Grandad, venturing to the bakery (or “makery,” as Molly termed it, which makes a sort of sense) with one or two children in tow to pick up fresh rolls (and gummy bears for the kids – breakfast of champions!).

Fresh-baked every morning!
©PicklesINK 2012

These would be served at the breakfast table along with soft-boiled eggs, fresh-churned butter, assorted jams, ham and salami, and local cheeses, most notably the delicious Heumilchkäse and Blumenkäse (literally, hay-milk cheese and flower cheese). The Heumilchkäse has a distinctly barnyard aroma and strong flavour and the Blumenkäse is milder and rolled in dried wildflowers. Heaven for a cheese-lover like myself! Ian wasn’t quite so enthralled and the kids were for the most part indifferent.

Heumilchkäse and Blumenkäse
©PicklesINK 2012

I have to confess to a weakness for Schnitzel und Spätzle so I sampled both as often as I could. My first opportunity was outside of Munich when we went to get the estimate for my (*sniff*) broken stroller (*sniff*) where we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant and I had Schnitzel mit Pfeffer-Sahnesauce und Spätzle (schnitzel with peppercorn cream sauce and spatzle noodles/dumplings). I was so hungry that I ate it all without thinking to take a picture first so unfortunately I have no record except for the memory of its utter deliciousness, but the sauce was creamy and amazing and the spatzle was plump and had been crisped to golden perfection.

We enjoyed a lovely meal al fresco at the Biergarten across from the house where I had Champignon Schnitzel und Spätzle (schnitzel with mushroom cream sauce and spatzle). I realize that I have unfairly painted all of the German chefs with the same brush – as you can see this meal did include some green and orange!

Champignon Schnitzel und Spätzle.
©PicklesINK 2012

Ben and Molly each enjoyed a Kinder-Schnitzel und Kartoffel Kroketten (kiddie meal of schnitzel with potato croquettes), to which I had introduced my picky eater before we left to make sure that there was something he would eat in German restaurants…

Kinder-Schnitzel und Kartoffel Kroketten
©PicklesINK 2012

And German mall food courts:

Schnitzel und Spätzle (again)
©PicklesINK 2012

On another beautiful sunny day out we again had lunch on the patio of another local restaurant where I had (you guessed it!) Jägerschnitzel und Spätzle (schnitzel with mushroom gravy) and a Radler (half Pilsner, half Sprite). Yes, I may have a Spätzle problem.

Jägerschnitzel und Spätzle
©PicklesINK 2012

Ian went off script and had Hähnchen-Cordon-Bleu mit pommes (chicken cordon-bleu with french fries). Once again, I realize that I was unfair to the German chefs as his meal also included a variety of vegetables. Bundled together with a strip of bacon.

Hähnchen-Cordon-Bleu und pommes
©PicklesINK 2012

Sometimes of course we needed a break from the heavy German food. Fortunately there was an excellent take-away pizza restaurant down the road that did European-style thin crust wood-fired pizza with every topping imaginable. 

Pizza Hawaii
©PicklesINK 2012

Pizza Oliven Salami Peperoni
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For our last night out we ate at an Italian restaurant where I had Tortellini mit Gorgonzola, which was delicious,

Tortellini mit Gorgonzola
©PicklesINK 2012

and a bowl of Pfifferlingen Cremesuppe, a cream soup of the locally in season Chanterelle mushrooms.

Pfifferlingen Cremesuppe
©PicklesINK 2012

Of course, it wasn’t all savoury dishes. Germans are also very fond of ice cream. In the form of ice cream sundaes:

©PicklesINK 2012

Banana splits:

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Liquor-spiked chocolate milk with a scoop of ice cream topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings:

Baileys Eisschokolade
©PicklesINK 2012

And of course, appropriately small portions of ice cream for the children:

©PicklesINK 2012

As comfortingly delicious as it all was, the first thing we did when we got home was head to the grocery store to stock up on a fresh, crisp, brightly-coloured assortment of fruits and vegetables.

Produce, sweet produce!
©PicklesINK 2012

I ate half a cantaloupe for dinner yesterday and I may swear off white flour for good.

~ karyn

Tobogganing in summer…does life get any better?

Two things that the Bavarian Alps have a-plenty are cable cars and Rodelbahns. Cable cars are pretty self-explanatory. As I Google though I am learning that technically what we have been visiting is known as a Sommerrodelbahn (sommer = summer) and an actual Rodelbahn involves snow, but for simplicity’s sake I will refer to it as the latterJust don’t blame me if you try to Google it and get very confused.

How do you feel about heights?
©PicklesINK 2012

There are of course many ways to climb the mountains – Many enterprising folks choose to walk (often with Nordic walking sticks, which I don’t begin to understand); some even more energetic types run; and we even saw (from our comfortable perch on the cable car) one person cycle up. He was practically standing still, moving up inch by excruciating (I imagine) inch, until he got to the top, turned around, and with an expression of glee let go and sailed back down.

Now that’s hardcore!
©PicklesINK 2012

We, however, chose the leisurely and absolutely safe method of riding up on a single-seat open cable car with a metal “safety bar” about 1 cm in diameter. Imagine a rickety lawn chair dangling from a cable 25 feet off the ground carrying you up the side of a mountain. With the kids on our laps.

What could possibly go wrong?
©PicklesINK 2012

Great photo opps though!
©PicklesINK 2012

Can you tell that they’re 30 feet in the air?
©PicklesINK 2012

From an ultra-protective North American standpoint the blasé attitude towards carrying your 2 year-old up a cable car with no more instruction than a bored teenager barking an instruction in German that essentially amounted to “Hold her forwards!” was both terrifying and refreshing. It was all fun and games until Molly tried to slide out of my lap saying, “I want to bounce on that grass!!” (No.)

Disembarking safely:
Ie. hold on tight and jump!
©PicklesINK 2012

But we made it up unscathed and arrived at our reward: The Rodelbahn. Essentially, this is a metal track that snakes down the side of the mountain that you rocket down on a plastic sled holding onto a  joystick that controls your speed (forwards = faster, backwards = brake). At every curve there’s a sign that says “bremsen” (brake). Yeah, right!! About halfway down there is a speedometer that displays your speed for all to see; You wouldn’t have a hope of being the winner if you were braking safely like a sucker to avoid overturning on all of the corners!! The top recorded speed for us was my sister-in-law’s 38 km/hour. Ben and Molly alternated yelling, “Whee! Super-fast!!” and looking bored all the way down.

©PicklesINK 2012

It was a great morning out and we actually went back a second time because the adults kids really wanted to have a rematch do it again. Unfortunately (for the kids, who were really interested) the speedometer was broken that time but I think deep down we all knew that I won.

~ karyn

“WINNING!” – Charlie Sheen
©PicklesINK 2012

A Kur for what ails ye

One of Ben and Molly’s favourite discoveries in town so far is the Kurpark (essentially “spa park”). Many German towns have these and they can be more or less elaborate, incorporating gardens and multiple pools with various types of mineralized (or simply COLD) waters. The Kurpark Ben and Molly have been enjoying is on the smaller side but plenty of fun for two kids. It has been beautifully sunny so the water, which is usually painfully cold, is actually quite comfortable for wading.

There are lovely gardens (if you peer closely at the pictures, Where’s Waldo? style, you may be able to pick out Ian practicing his macrophotography on the flowers), a wading pool, and a basin.

Where’s Waldo?
©PicklesINK 2012

There is a sign explaining how to properly use the Kurpark in order to get all of the health benefits.

©PicklesINK 2012

According to Google Translate unfortunately we are doing it completely wrong, as we seldom remember that “the most important principle in using cold water is a pre-heated body active” and thus do not warm up first by “moving through brisk gymnastics or running.” We also frequently use the arm and foot baths in quick succession rather than allowing 2 hours to elapse between even though the sign cautions us that this is physiologically wrong and counteracts both uses. I can assure you however that bathing your arms in the basin and then walking through the pool with proper “stork walk” form (lifting each foot completely out of the water with each step) does, as advised, result in a “strong cold stimulus.”

Ben and Molly improving their circulation in the arm basin.
©PicklesINK 2012

The only trouble is that the Kurpark is actually intended for adults to quietly and contemplatively wade and those who come for that purpose are not always impressed to find my very active 2 and 5 year-old splashing around!

Actually, reasonably good
“stork walk” form.
©PicklesINK 2012

It’s a only 2 minute skip across the road from us so I’m sure we’ll be spending plenty of sunny afternoons there!

Not actually intended as a “foot bath.”
©PicklesINK 2012

~ karyn

Everything I ever needed to know, I learned in Germany.

Aside from the sleep issues (Sleep update: Night 4 finished with Ian and I watching Inspector Morse on the laptop with earphones in the room until Molly fell asleep at 11:00 and Ben at midnight. Last night we took turns rubbing Molly’s back until she fell asleep; Ben went down easily; both around 7:00. Fingers and toes remained crossed all night and they both SLEPT THROUGH UNTIL 6:30!!!) the first few days of our trip have been GREAT.

©PicklesINK 2012

On Sunday we headed up to the town of Jungholz (technically in Austria, but accessible only from Germany and close enough to the village Ian’s parents live in that we walked home from there once in winter) to check out a craft fair.

Ben and grandad wandered off to explore by themselves for a bit and Ian, grandma, Molly and I had a look at the stalls. Molly was very taken by a couple of sleek black ducks in a chicken-wire topped crate watched over by a friendly young girl in traditional Bavarian dress. We passed by again a bit later and they were being transferred into a cardboard box. The young girl seemed very pleased as she put two new ducks into her crate and we realized that the originals were going to become a delicious roast dinner and this new pair might soon follow!

There was a one-room art gallery set up in the town hall by an artist who seemed to specialize in still-life paintings of fruit, stone fruits in particular, which caused my inner 15 year-old to giggle uncontrollably and think, “Nice plums!” (heh heh…heh heh…heheheheheheh…)

Once we found Ben and grandad, who had gone for a walk up the ski hill, we found a picnic table and sat down for an afternoon snack, which in Bavaria is it not uncommon to enjoy with either a coffee or a frothy golden-hued beverage. Have I mentioned the beer yet? Ahh…the beer. German pils is a thing of beauty. Almost every town has its own microbrewery and each beer is subtly different but all are delicious.

Molly took this picture of my beer.
©PicklesINK 2012

An afternoon snack also traditionally involves some type of pastry – I had a slice of apfelstrudel and Ben and Molly enjoyed some type of crumbly chocolate cake. Molly added an element of adventure to hers by mixing the crumbs in with the pebbles she had been collecting before picking them out and eating them.

©PicklesINK 2012

Germany has also been heaven for my fuzzy-water loving children – they have been happily sampling all of the different Mineralvasser.

Bottoms up!
©PicklesINK 2012

Besides the slaughter-your-own ducks, other artisans and offerings at the craft fair included clothing, wood carving, hand-woven baskets, candles, herbs, a bee-keeper, and a blacksmith. There was also a troupe of strolling players demonstrating that no matter the language, Medieval fair geeks are the same the world over.

©PicklesINK 2012

~ karyn

Sleep my child and peace attend thee…

Between having bad sleepers (Molly in particular) to begin with, an unfamiliar house, and a time change the last few nights have been rather long!

Night 1: You’d think that having had a total of about 8 hours sleep (Ben) and maybe 5 (Molly) between the flight and the car ride, they would have fallen asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillow the first night but no such luck. After many hours of crying (Molly), playing (Ben), playing (Molly), switching the light on and off (Ben), snuggling together (both), they finally crashed at about midnight (Ben) and 2:00 AM Germany time (Molly). And then, thank goodness, slept through until 11:00 the next morning. Hopefully tonight will go a bit better! (That of course, was written a few days ago in a vain fit of wishful thinking…now on to reality!)

Night 2: We did our best to get back to our usual schedule and put Ben and Molly to bed at about 7:00 PM local time, and it worked! They both fell right to sleep! And then woke up again. And again. And again. Molly was up around 8:30 PM and cried…and cried…and cried…until about 11:00…then, having  played that tactic out, she suddenly turned chatty: “Daddy! I didn’t brush my teethses! Daddy? I didn’t brush my teethses! Mommy! I never brushed my teethses!” No reaction. “Daddy! I have a poop! [not actually true] Daddy? There’s a poop in my diaper! Mommy? I have a poop!” Still nothing. And so on. Until 1:00. Ben slept beautifully for about 2 hours at a time, but every 2 hours he woke me up to ask if it was 6:00 yet (“NO!!”). He also finally crashed out around 1:00 and slept the rest of the night until Ian woke them both up at 9:00 AM to try to avoid a repeat. (He very kindly left me to sleep in until noon which was absolutely luxurious.)

Night 3: We got the daytime schedule back to normal with Molly having her afternoon nap and Ben having quiet time, then dinner at their usual time followed by bath and bed…and SUCCESS! Both kids fell asleep right away and slept right through until… ….9:00 PM when Molly awoke screaming. Another long night followed. Thank goodness Ben sleeps like a rock and Molly’s hours of screaming and crying did not pierce his veil of slumber. We tried putting her in a room by herself and Supernanny-ing her back to bed silently (“NOOOOO! NOOOOOOOO!! NOOOO!”), ignoring her (she pulled a Goldilocks and tried out every other bed in the house), and then watched How I Met Your Mother on the iPad and waited her out until she again crashed out at 2:00 AM.

Night 4: No nap for Molly today. She hit a wall at 5:30 and practically begged for bed, then fell right asleep. She woke up at 7:00 sobbing her heart out and we ignored her until we heard a furious shout of, “I WANT TO GO OUT GATE!!” (there is a gate at the top of the stairs) followed by the sound of the gate opening two small pairs of feet padding their way down. Molly was still furious at our treatment and Ben was disoriented and thought it was morning and cried bitterly on learning that it wasn’t. When I brought them back up the evidence informed me that Molly had climbed into bed with him, bringing her noonies, teddies, and duvet with her, and snuggled with him until he woke up. The new deal is that they are now in the room together and she can stay there as long as she lets him sleep (no crying or yelling). I’m not holding out much hope for it working since I’ve had to go in 4 times so far to remind her.

If it was only a matter of waiting her out until she falls asleep every night, we could trade off doing that and make it through this holiday relatively unscathed but unfortunately as of tomorrow other family members start arriving and we’re really hoping to be able to let them sleep undisturbed…

Any ideas?

Back on solid ground

Travel day has come and gone. Apparently some people pack a week in advance, which I think is just plane crazy (heheheh). Why would you stretch that kind of stress out over the course of a week when you could just concentrate it all into a 6 hour period and be done with it? In the end I only forgot one thing, Ian’s tripod, so well done me!

We checked in and checked our baggage and then met up with my family for a lovely, leisurely dinner near the airport…a little too leisurely, perhaps, as it was followed by a full-on run across the terminal to our gate interrupted by a brief interlude of pretended calm to clear security. But we made it before they had even finished pre-boarding and got shuttled right on, set the kids up with the iPad and Innotab and sat back and tried to catch our breath!

©PicklesINK 2012

©PicklesINK 2012

Ben and Molly were absolutely amazing on the plane. Ben fell fast asleep within about 10 minutes of take-off. Molly held out for a while longer but eventually succumbed to sleep as well. Ben slept soundly until they turned the lights back on for breakfast. Molly was a little more fitful (and by “a little” I of course mean “a lot”) – she wound up sleeping for a couple of hours in my lap in various positions that were I’m sure very comfortable for her although not so much for me! She woke up after a few hours but was mostly content to snuggle and stare until “morning.”

When the kids woke up, they discovered that they could both fit in one seat and spent the next couple of hours watching shows on the iPad.

©PicklesINK 2012

As I mentioned in my last post, I was fully prepared with a backpack full of activities to keep the kids going through the whole flight if necessary. So here’s the summary of what we actually used:

©PicklesINK 2012

So yes, perhaps it was overkill, but I think it was still worth the backache for the peace of mind!

Finally, one important piece of advice that I picked up for traveling with young kids: Don’t be afraid to take a good stroller – it will be a great help getting through the airport and you can check it conveniently at the gate. Make sure you bring luggage straps, specifically bought for the purpose, so you can fold it and then secure it tightly:

All wrapped up in a nice, neat little package! ©PicklesINK 2012

That way all the baggage handlers have to do is pick it up and carry it to the hold and there’s no chance that anything could possibly go wrong and damage it. Then when you arrive at your destination, they will just bring it right back to you at the gate so you can pop it back open and use it right away!

😀 😀 😀 LOLZ J/K!!! 😀 😀 😀

Okay, for REALZ now! Make sure you use an el cheapo $20 job and don’t bother with the luggage strap crap since the airline will rip it off and leave it behind on the baggage cart anyway (which you know because you can see it through the plane window) and crush your very favourite phil&teds double stroller to a pulp and then send it into the “bulky items” baggage claim for you to pick up only after you wrangle your 2 exhausted and hyper kids plus 5 carry-on bags through immigration and customs on foot!

Snapped clean off. How did that even happen? It’s not a flimsy stroller! ©PicklesINK 2012

Squashed metal frame. The frame is also bent out of shape so that the seat back no longer lies flat. ©PicklesINK 2012

But we made it through relatively unscathed (except for my stroller…sniff), Tetrised the luggage into the car, and made the 4-hour drive from the airport to the house and settled in with some lovely European-style pizza (mmmmm…) and some German pilsner…


…and a good night’s sleep. More on that later.

~ karyn

Come fly with me

We are in the midst of preparations for our first plane trip with two kids. Ben is very excited for both the flight and the trip (to Germany to visit Ian’s family). Molly is extremely excited for the trip but is telling everyone that we are travelling by school bus, so the airplane might come as a bit of a shock.

I’m a little trepedatious since our last flying-with-child experience was an unmitigated disaster. Ben was about 1 ½. The trouble started at Heathrow when we went through security and the guy, who I’m pretty sure was modeling his look off of Ringo Starr circa 1964, told me that of course I was allowed to bring all of the baby food, milk, juice, etc. ON the plane; I just had to taste it first.

“Taste it?” said I. “Taste it,” said Ringo. “All of it?” said I. “Everything you want to bring on the plane,” said Ringo. “Bottoms up,” said I as I took a slug of lukewarm milk and chased it with a spoonful each from assorted jars of English baby foods, then bid a sad farewell to the junior-sized juice boxes and the shelf-stable tetrapaks of formula that I had counted myself so lucky to find at that Boots in Windsor (“Won’t these be perfect for the flight?” I had said happily.) “You don’t have to throw them out!” cried my obviously childless friend Ringo before I explained the physics of the opened tetrapak.

Having gained an appreciation for the surprisingly tasty quality of English baby food, we continued on to the gate where we gave Ben a dose each of Children’s Benadryl and ibuprofen (*on-the-paeditrician’s-orders-don’t-judge-me) and boarded the plane.

Once on board, we carefully secured Ben’s carseat in the seat between us, buckled him in, and watched his eyes droop as he finished his bottle and the rest of the passengers settled in around us. We (and by we I mean everyone who had realized that they were stuck on a plane with a baby for the next 7 hours) breathed a collective sigh of relief and sat back to enjoy a peaceful flight.

Then the flight attendant said those fateful words: “You have to move that.” “Move…the…carseat?” “Yes. The baby seat has to go in the window seat.” “Uh…why?” “You might not be able to get by in an emergency.” “Listen, my friend, if there’s an emergency, I’ll be taking the baby with me.” *shrug* “You have to move it.”

Well, it was all downhill from there. Ben woke up when we moved the carseat and did not sleep for the rest of the flight, in large part because it took me an hour to track down our favourite flight attendant to ask her to fill Ben’s bottle. *deep sigh* “I’ll have to see if we have enough milk.” By the time we landed I was pretty sure the rest of the passengers were plotting to toss us out the window, led by the angry nun who had the misfortune to be seated right behind us.

Credit: http://www.madeyoulaugh.com

So this time around we’re going to be prepared for anything. We fly out around 9:30PM so in an ideal world Ben and Molly should sleep the whole time, but we are also bringing a selection of activities to keep two kids (and their parents) distracted for at least 7 hours. Or possibly 7 days.

©PicklesINK 2012

Overkill? Maybe. Or just enough kill… I guess we’ll find out.

On further reflection, maybe I should pack a whole lot of chocolates and tiny liquor bottles to pass out to the other passengers as necessary. They’re under 100mL, right?

~ karyn

A Mother Life