Saturday, June 22, 2013

German Fun with the Kruse's: Part 1

Our great friends from Indy, Jason and Lydia, recently came over for an epic two week European vacation.  We pretty much hit it all, from the Alps to big cities, a serene lake and everything in between.  The first few days of their time here we spent showing them quintessential Germany, so this post is just about that.  I couldn't fit all of the awesomeness into only one post!

Jason and Lydia arrived in Stuttgart in the early afternoon, and we didn't waste any time!  We dropped off their luggage at home, gave Lydia a caffeine boost and headed out.  We headed 20 minutes south to our favorite local town, Tübingen. We love to take our guests there on their first day because it really makes you feel like you're in Germany!  We had a great lunch and great beer at the Neckarmüller Brewery. Sadly, we couldn't get Jason to try a delicious German pretzel, no matter how hard we tried!

 After wandering around Tübingen for a bit, on our way home we stopped at the tiny and quaint monastery town of Bebenhausen for a look around.  We never get tired of seeing these places!  We headed home after that for a great dinner of shredded pork tacos.  (Very non-German, but I've got to get my Mexican fix somehow!  The German Mexican restaurants just don't quite cut it!)

The next day was full of amazing sites!  We headed to the Black Forest for the day.  On our way, we stopped to tour the impressive Hohenzollern Castle.  Seeing the castle spires on top of the hill in the distance as you drive to the castle is always such an incredible site.  The views from the top are just as wonderful.  We walked the castle grounds, took a tour of the gorgeous castle (in German) and then continued on to the Black Forest.

Our first stop in the Black Forest was Triberg to see Germany's most beautiful waterfall.  (When you think of the Black Forest, think cuckoo clocks and gnomes.) We ate a tasty lunch by a cute little pond to fuel up before our hike to the waterfall.  After having so much rain in Germany, the waterfall was extremely impressive!  At the base of the hike, they sell peanuts to feed the little red squirrels.  I told everyone that in the three times I had been to the waterfall, I had never seen a squirrel there, so don't bother with the peanuts.  Well, of course I had to be proved wrong this time.  We saw two cute little pointy eared squirrels on our hike!  I have seen only a handful of squirrels since we've been here, so it was a big deal!
We drove a ways south down the incredibly scenic Schwarzwaldhochstrasse (Black Forest High Road).  The scenery is breathtaking with the dense and dark forested hills along with the bright spring green rolling hills and fields.  We were heading to an awesome pool to relax for the rest of the evening.  We spent most of our time in the tropical Palm Oasis mini-resort, where there's a swim up bar and a revolving door in the pool to get to the outside section.  So cool!  During the last 20 minutes before the pool closed, we checked out the water slides.  There was absolutely nobody else in there, so we did as many slides as possible in the short amount of time.  It was so much fun, we were just like giggling little kids!  We took the autobahn to get home, which Lydia was very excited about!  It was great driving late at night with no traffic!

For our third Germany day we decided to see a major German city, Munich!  It's pretty much the stereotype that everyone thinks of when they think of a German city.  Munich is a two and a half hour drive from our house.  We got there just in time for lunch in a beautiful shaded beer garden next to the awesome Viktualienmarkt where Lydia and I stocked up on some unique spices.

We hit the main city sites and then headed my favorite part of the city, the Englischer Gardens.  It's actually a park rather than a garden. It's at least as big, if not bigger than Central Park!  We enjoyed watching all of the people out sunbathing, playing and enjoying the beautiful sunny day.  We even watched some surfers on the river!   We made our way to the Chinese Pagoda to relax like the locals in the beer garden.
The Marienplatz

One thing all four of us have in common, is that we love to watch the ducks and geese!  Lydia had saved some bread to feed the ducks.  They ate right out of our hands!  So cute!  Duck feeding became a common theme throughout the rest of their time here.  :-)  Before heading home, we ate a delicious, traditional dinner at the Augustiner-Bräu, Munich's oldest brewery, established in 1328.

The next day I dropped Jason and Lydia off at the airport for their four day excursion to London, where it sounds like they had an amazing time and walked their feet off, like we usually do!  While they were in London, Kyle and I welcomed an American family to Stuttgart.  The Anderson's just moved here, so we spent a few days with them and their incredibly adorable kids to help out with their transition to Germany.

Jason and Lydia came back to Stuttgart after their London trip, and our fun continued in Italy and France, with quick stops in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.  Stay tuned for part two of our European fun with the Kruse's!

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