Fussen Germany – A Weekend Away

In May we spent a weekend away in a small town called Fussen Germany. We booked this trip to go and see the famed Neuschwanstein Castle, as well as Hohenschwangau Castle (same property). We had decided that when we got there we would decide what else we wanted to do that was nearby. We didn’t have too much of a plan and I decided that we should treat it as a little slow getaway. As a chance to relax, live a little bit slower, take it easy. It definitely was that!

We found a room on Airbnb at a place called Mein Lieber Schwan (website: https://www.meinlieberschwan.de). This has to be one of the best locations that we’ve booked and was the prettiest little apartment. We had a full kitchen/living room, bedroom, sitting room (we used this for the boy’s bedroom), and a little terrace that had an incredible view. From our bedroom window you could see the silhouette of Neuschwanstein Castle as well as the main town. This room was a dream and the location was perfect as it was walking distance from just about everything.

-1281214946695758235_IMG_2991Our first evening we wandered around the main town area before heading to dinner. The town itself is full of that European/German appeal that you come to expect. The main street/square is littered with café’s, restaurants, and shops.  It backs up to the Austrian Alps (you are right at the German/Austria border), so you can view the mountain range just about wherever you look. We wandered through the town, headed out to a short nature walk which went through a fort of some sort from 1897. We then headed out to dinner at a restaurant called Ritterstuben.

 

Our first full day in Fussen was our exciting day full of castle’s. We had decided to book to see both Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle’s as we were interested in both and if we were already going to be there, we might as well see both. Our tour times were not too early, 9:55AM, but we weren’t sure of the parking situation, we had to pick up our tickets, and they are very strict on the entrance times for the castles. For these reasons, we decided to get to the castle about an hour early and boy, was I glad that we did. There is so much more to see to this spot than just the castles.

At the end of the property there is an absolutely beautiful spot; a lake that backs right up to the Austrian Alps that you can walk along for a stretch. The whole area is breathtakingly beautiful but for this lake/mountain/nature loving family it was something truly spectacular (honestly, no joke or exaggeration, rounding the corner to this took my breathe away). We got to have a beautiful start to our day watching the fog breakaway from both the lake and the castles, and the boys got to mingle with some very friendly ducks.

Our first castle tour was Hohenschwangau, which is the smaller of the two castles, the older of the two, and the most “finished” of the two. There is absolutely no photography allowed in the castle’s themselves and while I don’t precisely know why, I suspect the reason is twofold- price of the tickets and preservation of the castle. The interior is all original, from the fresco’s and paintings to the furniture, layout, and lighting. The preservation itself is phenomenal and the tour gave us a little insight into the lives of the royal family at the time. Hohenschwangau was predominantly used as a Summer and hunting home by King Maximillian II, his wife, Marie of Prussia, and as a childhood home for their children, King Ludwig II and Kong Otto I. The castle made it through both world wars without damage and portions are still in use today by members of the former royal family.

The tour is semi guided- you have a tour guide who opens the doors and points out little tidbits, but on the whole the tour itself is given in audio format (via little devices that you can either plug headphones into or hold up to your ear). All in all, the tour lasted about 30-40 minutes and gave us a pretty good look at the interior and the family’s life.

We had about an hour or so before our second tour began so we decided to take a carriage tour up to Neuschwanstein. There are three options to get from the Hohenschwangau castle to Neuschwanstein: bus, walk, or horse drawn carriage. Now we have two little toddlers who are excellent walkers, but also love to be carried. We had already walked quite a bit that day (and they did really really well on this past trip with walking) and we knew that we still had a lot more to go. We ended up deciding to take the horse drawn carriage up to the castle (I know horse drawn carriages have their own issues) and it was definitely a fun way to feel special heading up to the castle. Every girl can dream of having that Cinderella moment and this is a good way to get that experience.

If you were impressed by the beauty of Hohenschwangau castle, just wait till we talk through Neuschwanstein.

 

This takes the castle concept to a whole new level. In fact, Neuschwanstein castle inspired the “fairytale castle” for Walt Disney and Magic Kingdom. Neuschwanstein was built by King Ludwig II (fun fact- he could watch the castle being built from his room in Hohenschwangau, he had a telescope set up in the room to do so).

It was built in the 19thCentury, however the interior was not fully finished, and King Ludwig only spent a very short amount of time in the castle before his death. This castle also made it through both world wars without any damage. On the tour we were able to see the King’s Quarters, the Throne Room, the Grotto and another. The tour is handled in the same was as Hohenschwangau, an audio tour led by a guide and once again, I felt like we got a really good amount of information about the castle and the King.

The final stop on our “Castle” Day was Marienbrucke.

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This is a bridge that crosses a valley on one side of the Neuschwanstein Castle. It provides not only a beautiful look at the castle, but also at the nature and mountains all around. It is absolutely stunning and well worth the short hike to get to it from Neuschwanstein (even for me who is absolutely terrified of heights/being suspended in air). Once again, an absolutely breathtaking sight. Most of the pictures that you see of Neuschwanstein are from this view point.

IMG_2068.jpgWe ended our day with another little walk through the town and dinner at a place called Gasthof Krone. This is a medieval restaurant that offers typical German food with the medieval environment. Beer is served in large mugs, soda’s and other drinks in pottery cups. They do set up shows and such, but for special groups and other times. It was a fun experience to have and we really enjoyed our meal (especially my husband who got some local dish). After dinner we headed out on a little mini hike back down to another bridge where we watched the sunset on the lake/alps. A Beautiful end to a perfect day.

 

Our third, and last full day in Fussen, we decided to do a morning breakfast at one of the cute café’s and then a hike. We’ve always loved being in nature/outdoors and if we can find something out in nature we will do it. This particular hike promised a fantastic overview of Fussen and a memorable experience. Breakfast was at one of the cutest little cafés’, Bio Café Baumgarten, that had both a fantastic backdrop and delicious food/drink. We fueled up with Crepe’s Croissants, and a Cappuccino for me, Blood Orange Juice for Rob. We actually stayed in this little spot for around an hour (the longest we’ve ever stayed like this) and it was just the most perfect start.

The sun really came out when we headed out for the hike to Kalvarienberg. The hike is uphill and touches on some religious aspects throughout. It does not have to be a religious experience if you do not want it to be, you can treat it as just a good hike. It is uphill to begin, alternating between steps and terrain and there a couple natural break spots should you need them.

Once you reach the top you are rewarded with one of the most spectacular views that you could ever dream of.

On one side you see both castles and lake along with the Austrian Alps and on the other you get a full look at the town of Fussen.  Again, breathtaking ( I feel like that word is really the only word that can adequately describe everything we saw and experienced on this weekend away). It was truly an incredible view to see.

On our way back down from the overlook we headed to Lechfalls, which is a waterfall system with an Austrian Alps backdrop.

The waterfall themselves were a beautiful sight and it was a really pretty hike to get to them and then get back to the room. The falls themselves are quite simple, it is more the backdrop I feel that adds the level of beauty.

Our final night included dinner at Alstadt Hotel. The dinner was fantastic, as always, and afterwards we wandered the Fussen Castle.

The town of Fussen has its own castle (though not as grand as the other two) and we wandered through its cobblestone entryway, read about its siege techniques, as well as the painting technique on the exterior (hint: all the bits you see are actually painted on to the walls, except for a certain few to give it a much more grand look). The castle itself is now an art gallery, although it was closed when we walked through.

This whole weekend away was beyond my expectations and dreams. I keep using the word breathtaking, but it is really the only word that can even come close to some of the sights that we saw and experienced. I’ll be doing a tips/tricks post, although it will be shorter than some of my past ones, but I highly recommend that you add Fussen and Neushwanstein on to your must-see list!

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Round the Kettle Ep 14 : June Already?!

Happy June!!! How is it June already? Where has this year gone?! I feel like this year is flying by and I’m not ready to be halfway through the year. Are you? Is it flying by for you as well?

I feel like June can be a bit of a breathe of fresh air. The weather is turning warmer (except this year some folks are getting that warm weather in May- not us), the days get much longer, and we all break free of our Winter and Spring Showers hibernation. The days are longer, the clothes are shorter, and the smiles are bigger.

This year June is shaping up to be no different. We finally seem to be at the start of a warm stretch of weather (our first without AC, wish us all the luck and good vibes you can!), we are going to be having a month of only day trips after back to back months of traveling (not complaining about any of that!), and the month ends with us moving out of the hotel and into a…house!

We are in the final hotel stretch and we’ve seen the house that we will be moving into. It is a really nice option with a very large fenced in back yard and we will be arriving just in time for that hot weather, sending the boys out to play time of year. We are really looking forward to being in a home, getting all of our things, and setting up a new house. So, even though we won’t be doing any of the long weekend travelling, we will be doing a couple day trips, planning for our big July trip (more on that later), and moving! An exciting month ahead for us.

What does your June look like? Is it a homebody month or an exciting travel filled one? Let me know down below!

I’ve been spending a good chunk of the past week at my computer, planning and writing for different posts and ideas I’ve got for the upcoming months. I am trying to do some goal setting, big dream planning.

I find myself wanting to DO MORE. To expand a little bit on my little corner and to start reaching out for volunteering, for making an impact in others, for just being something for someone else. There have been certain area’s that my heart has always felt that it needed to be and I am finding that I now have the time to dedicate to that. I’m trying to figure out how to move forward and starting doing some of things that I’ve been wanting to do.

Do you volunteer? Where do you volunteer at? Do you know that feeling of wanting to do more?

And, honestly, I think that is really all I have to say for this weeks Round the Kettle. I am a little tired/burnt out from the back to back trips and then all of the writing following that up. I am looking forward to a little relaxation and rest this weekend, as well as some reading, tea drinking, and family time (as always). Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

May In Travel

I feel like I say this every month, but how has this month already come to an end? We are looking at the end of May and almost being halfway through 2019! I can’t believe we are a)already at that point and b) have already been in Germany for almost 4 months!!! It seems like time is simultaneously flying by and standing still…if that makes sense.

We did a relatively decent amount of travel in May between day trips and weekends away. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that this might have been my favorite month of travel so far! It’s been a fun month of new experiences and although I don’t have all the details tracked out for you yet (coming in the next 2 weeks- stay tuned!!), I will give you guys little peaks into each place.

The first weekend wasn’t too terribly exciting as we adventured back to the big city that is going to be near our house (yes, you read that right, we have a house- more on that at the end of the post!!) and seeing what all the shopping options are in that city.

Our second weekend we did a day trip through our local Outdoor Recreation program that involved taking a steam train through the countryside and trekking through a cave. It was easily one of those cool things that you can do in an absolutely gorgeous location. The boys LOVED the steam train (they thought it was the coolest thing ever) and we all enjoyed leaning out of the windows on the train. The cave has quite the history and we emerged to a gorgeous sunny sky (after a bit of a cloudy start) and a beautiful overlook. It was a really fun day spent with friends. You can read more about it HERE.

Our third weekend in May we spent in one of the prettiest spots that we could ever imagine. Fussen Germany looked like it was a set straight out of a movie (and maybe it was-I’m not sure). I’ve got a full blog post coming detailing our entire trips as well as some tips/recommendations, but safe to say this is a favorite spot. It was the perfect pairing of slow, small town, and beautiful nature/scenery. We were gutted to leave on Sunday morning.

Our final weekend we spent in the absolute beauty that is Austria. We actually flitted back and forth on the border between Germany and Austria throughout the weekend, spending one day in Berchtesgaden and the second day in Salzburg. Once again as with Fussen, I will have a full blog post coming with all the details, but Austria is seriously just so beautiful. The overlooks to see the town are breathtaking, you see the alps from every area and the pacing of the town is just so nice. We aren’t even going to get into all the Sound of Music singing.

And that was our month in travel! We had a lot of fun this month, but are ready for a little breathing room. June is going to be a more “close to home” traveling month with day trips, some down time, and then an exciting move at the end of the month. We’ve finally got a house to move in to, so that along with a very exciting July is playing into a quieter June. As much as I love traveling and we’ve been enjoying it, we are homebodies at heart and are looking forward to a little quiet and peace.

 

Motherhood and You

Motherhood is all consuming, a never-ending cycle of care, but don’t let it consume you. Don’t simply become “mom”, don’t lose yourself, who you are, in caring for your children. Don’t cling to them as they start to grow up and grow away. Being a mom may be the most important hat you wear, or title you receive, (however you want to think of that), but it is not solely who/what you are.

All too often, starting almost immediately after birth, we become consumed by being a mom. By taking care of a little human being that depends solely on us for EVERYTHING (daunting, so daunting), by trying to be everything for this little being, and all too often we lose who we are in the process. We become so wrapped up in that “mom” role that we don’t take care of ourselves (a post for another day), we don’t take care of our significant other, we don’t take care of our friendships.

These things start to fall to the wayside, and it isn’t until we are a couple years in (or longer for some) that we realize that we don’t know who we are anymore. We have become a mom, the greatest blessing of all, but we’ve lost who we are in the process.

This is a normal thing that just about everyone experiences to varying levels. That isn’t to say that we can’t get back to who we are, or avoid this entirely, I’m just saying that this is a normal thing to go through. In fact, even the most prepared parents (the ones who swear that parenthood won’t change them) go through a level of this. It’s a natural instinct when we have a child that our world changes to revolve around this baby and it’s a very sweet time in our lives (postpartum depression/anxiety/and other issues aside). That doesn’t mean that it lasts forever. Our children will grow, they will mature, they will become independent and need us as parents less and less. That change is why it is important not to lose who you are when you become a parent.

How do we handle this? How do we allow motherhood/parenthood to take over our lives, and still maintain who we are?

Little things. What do you like to do in your free time? What did you like to do before you became a parent to relax?

Did you like to exercise? Find a gym that has childcare. Have your significant other take over the parenting duties for a few hours while you hit up a workout.

Did you like to read, write, watch TV, YouTube, etc.? Great! Naptime and after Bedtime are great opportunities to do these! (In fact, I squeeze a lot of my reading time during naptime and after the kids go to bed).

Did you like to shop or explore new areas? Perfect, you can do that with baby OR if you want baby free time, have your significant other or family watch the baby while you get a little break.

The main takeaway from this is not to have time away from your child, although that is needed too, but to find time within your day to do what works for YOU. What makes YOU happy. So much of motherhood is spent tending to others (and not just your own children, being a mom turns you into everyone’s mom) and it is easy to lose ourselves in that. So so easy to be swept away taking care of everyone and everything else.

If that is what fills you up and makes you happy, perfect! Do more of that. BUT don’t forget to take a little breath for yourself.

Big things. Find time for you and your significant other to have a little time together at the very least once a month. Take care of that relationship or it will fall to the wayside. Check in with each other throughout the day, send that sweet little text. Have a moment while the baby is napping. Hire a babysitter when baby is a little older to get much needed date nights in (no matter what those actually look like).

Everyone says that one day your children will go up and leave and then what will be left is you and your significant other. This is true, but what is more important is the example that you are setting for your children. From the get-go, our children learn from us. They see what a stable relationship and family looks like from us, so water your own marriage and your children will see how to water their own (when that time comes).

Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page as situations arise so that you can be a cohesive unit. Parenthood can help your marriage thrive and grow into new heights, or it can fall to the wayside. More than likely it will ebb and flow between both (again, completely natural), but the continual watering will help everything stay on a balance to continue to go towards success and happiness.

Ultimately, motherhood is a phase of life. For those of us who are mom’s (in any form) it is an all-encompassing blessing. It never ends and takes a lot of who we are. BUT it doesn’t have to be solely who we are. We were somebody before we were “mom” and while being mom takes precedence, don’t say goodbye to who you are. She is still there, and she should be able to shine as well.

Lately Loving – Media May 2019

Good morning! I wanted to take a little bit of time this morning and talk about some of the things that I am loving lately. I am going to keep this to strictly multimedia (books/tv/movies/music) as I will still be doing my full quarterly favorites. I don’t want to overload you with all of my favorite things, but rather I’ve stumbled on a couple of things over the past month or so that I’ve really loved in those categories that I want to share.

So, we’ll start with Books (as always) :

I’ve recently read two books that I’ve really truly enjoyed, Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. Two VERY different styles and genre’s, but both really really enjoyable.

Hillbilly Elegy shines a light on the Appalachian way of life, what it was like growing up with that and how he found himself becoming the man he is today. He approaches this novel in a very frank manner (he wholeheartedly acknowledges that he is what would be considered an above average individual) and shines a light on some problems that aren’t typically talked about or are rather glazed over. He doesn’t offer solutions, but rather talks about different options and what we could try to do to help. I appreciate his insight and the fact that he acknowledged and balanced both sides of the equation in this novel.

I’ve been in quite the memoir mood of late and have two more on my list to read, Becoming by Michelle Obama and To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins.

Crazy Rich Asians went the completely opposite direction, depicting a story of an Asian family that has riches the rest of the world can’t even dare to dream of. It tells the story of a young woman trying (and fumbling) to navigate her way being introduced to her boyfriend’s family. His family happens to just be one of the oldest, wealthiest families in Singapore (think- members of the government and royalty owing fealty to them-wealthy) and also the strictest in terms of marriage and relationships. We follow several characters in their heads and their lives as they all come to terms to what wealth really means. It is a lighthearted novel that is just really easy to read (I read the 500+ pages in a little over 3 days!) and would be the perfect read for a summer vacation. It is part of a trilogy that I fully plan on continuing.

Next up on the list, TV:

I don’t really watch a lot of TV, but I have been starting to for a series that I’ve been putting together for my other blog (thecosybookshoppe.com). I’ve been working through a couple of shows and plan on starting a couple here in the next couple weeks.

The first show I’ve been watching is Strike. This is a British produced mystery/crime tv show based off of the Cormoran Strike series written by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). I really enjoyed the book series and the TV show was not a letdown. In fact, I almost prefer the TV show to the books. It’s the perfect balance.

We’ve also been working our way through The Ranch on Netflix, which I have to say has very much surprised me. I enjoy a good show that somewhat comments on current issues in a comedic, light hearted way. The Ranch balances out current issues, with family drama, friend drama, work drama and everything else that comes with a Sitcom. We are on the second “season” (or part as Netflix says) and have been having a good chuckle here and there.

Finally, I’ve been watching A Discovery of Witches…again. I think I actually talked about this in my 1stQuarter favorites, but it is finally coming out on American TV, which means I can purchase it through iTunes, which means that I’ve been watching every episode as it comes out. I’ve been loving watching it again and seeing the characters that I’ve loved from the book come to life in front of me. This is one of those series that I don’t think will ever get old for me (similar to Harry Potter).

I do plan on watching a couple of shows coming up: You, Game of Thrones (season 7- we are behind), and a couple of documentaries on Netflix. I’ll probably share more of those as my end of quarter wrap up.

Third up, Movies:

Next would be Movies, but we haven’t really watched any lately. Most of the movies we watch are animated for the kids, but even those have been sparse. Send me your movie recommendations because we need some!!

And finally, Music:

Oh boy. Another category that I am kind of lacking in. I’ve still been all over the alternative scene, replaying Billie Eilish’s album over and over and over again. I’ve also been loving listening to Muse’s most recent album, Dean Lewis, and Charlie Cunningham. I get really off and on with new music and I think right now I’m just savoring the music that I’m loving, rather than hearing all of the new stuff. I will say though; I wasn’t the biggest fan of Taylor Swift’s new song <gasp>. It was ok, but nothing that I would go absolutely crazy over.

Some Mommy Picks:

I am going to include some mommy picks in here, because my kids have FINALLY found a show that they love more than Paw Patrol. It’s a miracle! They have recently fallen in love with a show on Netflix called DinoTrux. It’s exactly what it sounds like, Dinosaurs in the forms of different types of trucks (a T-Rex as a crane or digger, Triceratops as a bull dozer, etc. ) and they have just been having a blast watching that. They also love the Boss Baby show and surprisingly they enjoy Teletubbies too (which Netflix has brought back from whatever vault that was in).

And that about wraps up what I’ve been loving lately! What have you been loving lately in the multimedia category? Let me know below!

Round the Kettle Ep 13: All Over the Board with Updates and Chats

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday! I’m curious…are you having a productive get all the things done Sunday or a laid back/full of adventure Sunday Fun day? I am currently writing this post on a Wednesday (no shame in my prep game) as we are out of town…or rather driving back from out of town on this Sunday. BUT, I balance back and forth between the two. I definitely appreciate a really productive, prep for the week Sunday, but there is also something to be said about spending it outside, with family, doing something absolutely crazy or fun.

Tell me below which camp you fall into, Productive Sunday or Funday Sunday…

For us, we’ve spent this past weekend exploring somewhere new, somewhere exciting, and just getting away for a little while. We will be doing the same next weekend, going somewhere new and exploring. We’ve done a lot of traveling just in the few months that we’ve been here, but things are going to start settling down a little bit more as we head into Autumn. My husbands schedule will once again start to pick up, we will be in our home/be a little more settled, and the long weekends away will go down to probably just once a month, which honestly is more than we could have even asked for!

So, the second half of May is going to be an exciting travel filled one, so to balance that out we are going to be spending June with a couple of day trips (maybe an overnight one, not sure), but mostly close to home as we will be getting our home towards the end of the month! You read that right, we are going to FINALLY be moving out of the hotel and into a house the end of June. We’ve been jumping for joy as we are beyond ready to have our own home and all of our household goods. It’s been an experience living in a one bedroom hotel room and has given me a whole new respect for families that have to live in cramped quarters on a regular basis (it’s also reminded me just how blessed we are).

I want to share one more little tidbit, food for thought type of deal, within this Round the Kettle post. This past week I worked with a photographer to get some new professional photos done for the blog/social media/etc. and we had quite the conversations while we were shooting. First off, such a fun fun session (I can’t wait to see the final photo’s – keep an eye out as they start to hit Social Media)! We just clicked on so many levels and it was nice to chat with someone that just…”got me”. If that makes sense? She was super cool and laidback and we definitely plan on getting together another time. Friends are everywhere, just waiting to be met. BUT all that aside (I’m getting off topic over here), we talked about a couple things that I want to mention, but will probably do full blog posts on another day for.

The first being the topic of being introverted vs. extroverted and how that comes across. A lot of times people are quite surprised to hear that I am very introverted because I will socialize, I will talk with others, I enjoy hanging out with friends, etc. What you don’t typically see from me is that after that, after I’ve hung out with friends or anything social/noisy/talking/etc. I have to come back home and have some quiet time to myself. I have to be able to recharge myself in my own home on my own terms. THAT is what introversion is. It is all about how you get drained and how you recharge.

This is also something that I was briefly speaking about with another mom at our little playgroup at it really applies in parenting and intimate relationships. It actually leads to quite an interesting conversation with others as well, so…

Tell me, are you introverted or extroverted?

And finally, the last thing was the idea of Self Confidence. We were talking about how we became much more confident in who we were and what the catalysts were for that. I definitely have a blog post on this coming (way beyond the little tidbit that I am going to leave here), but in the moment I just simply said, “I’ve got two kids, I don’t really have time to sit and worry about what others think of me”. While that is VERY TRUE, it is not the only reason I’ve become so much more confident over the past few years. I’ve kind of hit a point in my life where I recognize who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. I’ve realized that I’m not everyone’s “cup of tea” and I’m not going to make everyone happy. I’ve realized that that is OK. It doesn’t reflect poorly on me and you know what? Not everyone has to like me. Life isn’t a popularity contest. I’d much rather spend my time happy, in the moment with my husband and children, than worrying about what this person thinks or what that person said. Like I said, I’ll talk more on this on another post…

So, now that I’ve rambled on for approximately 874 words, I’d love to know what you’re up to on this Sunday afternoon! Leave me a comment down below 🙂

Frankische Schweiz and Pottenstein – A Day Trip

***As a note before we begin, some of these photo’s (in particular the cave one’s) were taken with my cellphone, not my nice, good camera. Between the cellphone camera and the dark nature of the cave, the photos did not turn out in the best way that I would normally feature on my blog. My apologies***

This past Sunday we decided to do a very special Sunday Funday trip and take a Steam Train Ride and explore a cave in a region somewhat near us. Our local post has an Outdoor Recreation Office that organizes a variety of trips for the residents assigned to the post. Sometimes it can be a little more cost effective to go through them for the trips they offer and sometimes they will offer up experiences that you hadn’t otherwise planned or thought about doing. A lot of times they are organized for group numbers and can therefore be offered at a lower price point than if you were to book it on your own.

This was not the case with this trip (I think our pricing was just standard pricing as if we had gone to get tickets ourselves), but they organized the whole day from start to finish. It did mean a very early start to our day (alarms set for 5 AM, to make sure we were ready, with a leave time of 7AM), but it was so incredibly worth it. A real dream come true. If you have the option to go through a group travel or through your own Outdoor Recreation office, you should totally do it! We love to travel on our own but doing it in a group was really fun as well.

So, we started our morning off with a beautiful, scenic drive to Frankische Schweiz area to a little train station (you can view the website for the train HERE, but you’ll want to use a google translate as it is only in German). We did end up blowing a tire not far from the station (thankfully it was that close, and we were moving at a slow speed so no real loss of control or anything like that), but it gave us a fun memory to go along with the experience. Our guide from the day was very informative, talking us through not only the day, but cool spots to come back to in the future.

Once at the station we got to take a look at the train itself, watch them bring the steam engine up and connect it all before boarding the train. Our boys LOVED  being able to watch the steam engine pull forward, backwards, and hook up to the train car. It wasn’t too long after we boarded that we were slowly starting to move. The Steam Train itself is from the 1930’s and still runs really well. The full ride was an hour, or two long and we got to lean out the windows, which the boys loved, and get out at the halfway point to watch them move the engine car to the other end. And, of course, they sounded the whistle anytime we were coming through a station or crossing.

If you get a chance to take a steam train ride, wherever you are, I would highly recommend it. Not only do you get that nostalgic feeling of a time gone by, but it is also just such a slower, prettier, more relaxed way to see the countryside. The steam trains can only go so fast, so you really get a chance to take in the towns and landscapes around you.

We then stopped for lunch at a little restaurant along the Wiesent River where three families with 4 toddlers and 2 infants managed to have a full calm no fuss meal. It’s a miracle! The restaurant was called Bruckla and I had a lovely tomato soup and a sneaky little slice of cake. (No pictures this time though!).

Once we finished lunch we boarded back on to the bus to head over to Teufelshohle Pottentstein (Devil’s Cave). This is a naturally formed limestone cave that features several different formations and can be trekked about a mile through. You climb about 400 steps during the course of the tour. It was discovered in 1922 and was extended/ dug through for the following 10 years. It is the longest cave in Germany (sitting at just under/around one mile) and the largest in Franconian Switzerland. You can read about the Cave/Visit the Site HERE, but again it will be listed in German so Google Translate will be a good option.

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There are several “landmarks” of the cave, the first being Devil’s Hole. This is the first hall and features some of the equipment used to dig through after a cave in and some natural formations on the ceiling. Walking past here we can see several natural limestone formations before reaching the next “landmark”, Bears Grotto. This features a complete skeleton of a cave bear. Per the cave the bear was approximately 900 pounds and stood at 12 ft high. There are also some pretty cool formations staggered around the hall.

One of the other “landmarks” that we saw within the cave was a large cavern that was covered in stalagmites and stalactites. Called the “Colossal Hall” It is 42 ft high and features the two oldest limestones of Devil’s Cave. These two formations are suspected of being over 300,000 years old. Then finally we saw the Candle Hall and headed through some very (and I mean VERY) tight quarters to find our way to the exit.

IMG_0831Upon exiting the cave, you come out to this beautiful rock formation and a lite gorge hike to reach the exit of the park. When we walked into the cave we had some light cloud cover, but when we stepped out it was full sunshine and a blue sky. What a wonderful way to come back to ground!

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Overall, this was one of our most memorable Sunday Funday’s and a day trip that I am not likely to forget anytime soon. If you have the chance to do a group travel through your own Outdoor Recreation program I highly recommend it. It was a great way to get to know a couple other families (we knew one of the other families) and you get to experience these things together which is always a fun addition.

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Sunset at the end of Sunday Funday