The Fine Line Between Austria and Germany

I’m pretty sure that Austrians and Germans would disagree with me on this one, but it’s a very fine line between their countries and their cultures, especially on the border.  Driving from one city to another on our week-long trip, we often (seamlessly) passed from Germany to Austria and back.  We don’t speak German, so of course, Austrian German sounded like German German.  The food is really similar, if not the same.  The Bavarian architecture runs rampant throughout the entire area and you can even ski from one country to the other without knowing it.  Anyway, you get the point; to us, these regions are really similar.  Oh, and did I mention it’s one of the prettiest, most spectacular areas we’ve been to?  (You can also take a look our previous trips to this area here and here.)  There are lush green valleys (when it’s not snowing), towering mountains, and lakes dotting the landscape.

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Rounding-out August – Hannover, Kassel & Ingolstadt, Germany

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This post is a little late, but Bobby and I rounded out our big August Scandinavian trip by stopping in northern/central Germany.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had a lot of opportunity to travel in Germany, so we were excited to see more of the area.  First stop – Hannover.  Although the city has medieval origins, most of Hannover was destroyed by Allied bombing during WWII.  In fact, more than 90% of the city center was destroyed in 88 bombing raids.  We took a walking tour and indulged in some tasty pretzels before heading down to Kassel, Germany to spend the night.  We rounded out our trip by taking in the Audi Museum in Ingolstadt.  … [Read More]

Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland

Double-decker bridge

After seeing Minimundus last year in Klagenfurt, Austria, I officially knew my husband was a little kid in a big(ger) kid’s body.  He loved seeing the miniature models of popular tourist landmarks around the globe and for the entire week that followed, he went around muttering “Minimundus” to anyone that would listen.  So, needless to say, I wasn’t surprised that he was incredibly enthusiastic to hear that Hamburg, Germany had a miniature train museum.  I do have to give him a little credit though.  This isn’t some ordinary train museum.  There are over 13,000 meters (42,650 ft or over 8 miles) of track in the largest miniature train museum in the world and the lines travel through cities in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia and the US.  The museum also has future “construction sites” for Italy and France.

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A Weekend in Berlin

Old Eastern Bloc car breaking through the wall

Berlin has been on my “top places to visit” list ever since we moved to Europe.  We had the opportunity to spend a weekend in Berlin with our friends the Senkowskis (OSC ’12) and it exceeded all our expectations.  At first glance, we were impressed by its size, its large public transportation network, and the accessibility to international food. (Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian food anyone?)  Although it is a very trendy city with its modern art and architecture and hipster-clad 30-somethings, it is also deeply rooted in history.  There may well be a WWII museum on every corner.  I found the juxtaposition between new and old refreshing; it seemed as though the city embraced its past, but aimed to make a splash in the future.

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Eagle’s Nest – Berchtesgaden, Germany

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Kehlsteinhaus, or “Eagle’s Nest,” was built as a retreat for Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday present.  Constructed on Mount Kehlstein in Berchtesgaden, Germany, the chalet-style house served as an extension of the larger Obersalzberg complex, which also contained houses for Hitler’s top henchmen, SS offices, Hitler’s tea house, and several strategic bunkers.  Although almost all of the Obersalzberg complex was destroyed, the Eagle’s Nest survived.  Today, the Eagle’s Nest continues as a restaurant built around the original red marble fireplace that Mussolini gifted Hitler. … [Read More]

Olmsted Ski Trip – Part 2

Looking towards the frozen part of the lake

After the first couple days of non-stop snow, the second half of our Olmsted ski trip has been blue skies and warmer weather.  Bobby and I ventured to Konigssee Lake, the clearest body of water in all of Germany, on Wednesday and then Bobby skied Flachau Ski Resort on Thursday.  Today, we tried a new winter sport – the biathlon!  This has been an absolutely wonderful trip and we’re pretty sad to leave tomorrow (although we are returning to 60 degree weather in Florence!)

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Hell on Earth: Dachau Concentration Camp

I sure hope not.

Our last couple days of Christmas vacation were spent in a somewhat depressing, but very educational, fashion.  First, we stopped in Nuremberg, home of the Nuremberg trials, where Nazi leaders were tried (and mostly convicted) after WWII.  Although the biggest players in the Third Reich — Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels were not tried (all three committed suicide prior to the indictment), the proceedings brought to light the horrible crimes the Nazi regime had committed.  Every country around the world watched these trials, and it seemed as though “justice” was finally being served on an international stage.  Next, we traveled on to Munich, where we visited Dachau Concentration Camp, the site where it all began.  Built in March 1933, Dachau was the Third Reich’s first camp and served as the model for all those built afterwards.  Over 200,000 incarcerated prisoners passed through its gates, and over 43,000 died there.

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Toytown: A Day in Munich


Next stop: Munich!  I read that Munich’s nickname was Toytown, which I immediately associated with cars (I’m not sure why, other than the fact that we visited the BMW museum).  Apparently, ex-pats gave Munich the name because of the large number of children in the city.  I can’t say I saw an exorbitant number of kids running around, but I’ll take their word for it. We didn’t have much time in this beautiful city, but we did get to see lots of cars (Bobby is somewhat of a car-nut), visit the 1972 Olympic Park, and take the short trip to Dachau to tour the Nazi concentration camp (this will be in my next blog).  Munich did prove to be beautiful, even though we didn’t see a lot of the actual city center.  We were very thankful for the first sunny weather of the entire Christmas trip!… [Read More]