North America, Europe · 23 Days · 33 Moments · July 2017

T. Family, France & Germany, 2017

22 July 2017

Traveling home... cab to the Munich airport, flight to London (on British Airways but the actual carrier was Qatar Airways), and then an easy layover at Heathrow followed by a long flight home. Both girls slept for several hours on the flight - they were worn out from our week! We had a really good trip this year, although are also glad to be home!
A visit to the Deutches Museum (kind of like the Smithsonian) and a looong walk across town (Munich is really big) wrapped up our last day. We had such a fun time in Munich. There was quite a bit more we didn't get to (mostly in terms of day trips) and it was a good pick for a week with the girls!

21 July 2017

The castle being closed didn't deter us from our plan to visit the Augustiner beer garden for dinner that night! How did we not discover this place earlier! With a huge playground right next to tables set up for families who want to hang out and eat while their kids play, this was one of the best places we've ever had a meal. Because of a law that stipulates people can bring their own food into the self-service area of beer gardens, it's a very casual and picnic-y atmosphere. Beer is poured straight from the wood caskets into large steins, which are later cleared from the tables and loaded onto the bed of a truck that drives around to pick them up. The place has room for hundreds of people and this was a huge hit for all of us!
Since castles and palaces are always so much fun for the girls, we decided to visit one more before we left for home. Unfortunately, they were filming a movie at Schloss Nymphenburg over the weekend and the palace itself was closed. We spent the afternoon walking around the grounds, which were huge and gorgeous. We continued our game of "identify the Greek statue" and Maddie found her favorite, Athena. The girls also made friends with a family of ducks until Allie almost got nipped when they thought she was trying to feed them!

20 July 2017

We had placed a moratorium on churches during our self-guided walking tour on Monday (soooo many churches, although they were all truly beautiful). Thursday we visited one more before entering the Residenz, palace for the Bavarian monarchy. Maddie has fallen in love with audio guides and after visiting about 80 rooms we finally decided to speed through the last few in order to head home and get some dinner!

19 July 2017

Go, go, Google Translate! In case you weren't aware, you can download the language files for offline use and also use your camera to translate text onscreen. Absolutely amazing. And a lifesaver when you need to do dirty laundry!
Castles, Part 2. Neuschwanstein! We were so glad we were able to arrange a tour since we would have been sad if the girls hadn't been able to see the castle. This is the stuff Disney dreams are made of. But seriously, it's absolutely extraordinary, perhaps even more so because everything is original and, since King Ludwig II died under mysterious circumstances partway through construction, barely lived in. The first pictures are taken from the bridge across the valley. From there we walked down the the castle. The last one in the set looks back on the bridge from the castle. This visit was a huge hit for Maddie and Allie!
Castles, Part 1. It turns out that if you want to see the famous Neuschwanstein Castle you have to book tickets at least one full week ahead of time. Wow! We found another way to get there by booking a bus tour that also allowed us to visit Linderhof on the same day, so it all worked out well. Doing it this way means you don't have quite as much time at each spot, but with the girls it was really nice to have all the transportation take care of since the castles are about two hours away from Munich. These pics are from Linderhof (no pics allowed inside) and Oberammergau, which is a small village nearby. Maddie has had fun this trip trying to identify the Greek/Roman gods in statues and pictures. We've pretty much got Poseidon down!

18 July 2017

Allie: Daddy, are you love your beer? Steve: Yes! Allie, do you like your pretzel? Allie: Yes! PS, the pretzel doesn't look big just because of the perspective. It was massive. And delicious.
After a yummy lunch at the Victuals market (once again featuring a beer garden although we decided to hold off for lunch) we headed over to the English gardens. The park is enormous. We watched the famous surfing spot on the river, walked through the green areas, ate ice cream, searched for magic wands, and finished with beer and a pretzel in the center of the gardens (I posted a couple pictures of that separately).

17 July 2017

On Monday we got through the first half of our self-guided walking tour of old Munich. And doing half still took us six miles! I think one word sums it up: churches. They're absolutely beautiful here, both big and super tiny (one was only about 100 feet wide). We also visited two of the gates that remain from the old walled city. Since we hadn't had enough exercise, we climbed to the top of St Peter's Church overlooking Marienplatz and the town hall, then finished the day watching the glockenspiel!

16 July 2017

How convenient that our Munich apartment is located next to the Löwenbräu beer garden! When we arrived Sunday evening we didn't know where to find an open market and fortunately were able to pop right next door for dinner. Delicious!
Just landed in Munich! Flight was totally uneventful and smooth. The photo is from the plane looking down on Geneva as we flew over. Steve and Maddie had a view of Mont Blanc on their side. The Munich airport is huge and gorgeous. I have that nervous excited feeling that comes with visiting a new place and having to find your way. We're off to find the train into the city and check into our apartment!
BFFs on travel day. We said a sad goodbye to Montpellier and took a train to the Marseille airport, stayed the night, and are flying to Munich today. We've got lots on our list for Munich and hope to have a great week there!

15 July 2017

Steve and I absolutely loved this bottle for our tap water at dinner last night. Fantastic play on the warnings on alcoholic drinks. If we knew where to buy one, we would! "Drink without moderation Municipal Water"

14 July 2017

Last beach day and we had fantastic weather. It might be hard to tell from the panorama photo, but the Mediterranean looked like a lake that day. Almost no waves at all. The water was cold for some reason, but we braced ourselves and walked out to the sandbar to search for seashells. It was Bastille Day and we expected huge crowds but it wasn't too bad. A nice end to our time in Montpellier. We'll miss this city a lot
Wait, no, happiness is ice cream on a hot day!

13 July 2017

Happiness is...pain au chocolat.
Another fun scavenger hunt for Maddie this year was finding the trompe l'œil around Montpellier. There were a couple we didn't get to because they were outside the area where we spent most of our time, although it turned out one was in the park directly across from our apartment! My favorite is probably the one on the building across from the Eglise Saint-Roch because the artist painted a window reflecting the church. So clever and unbelievably realistic!

12 July 2017

After a failed beach day earlier in the week with grey skies and lots of wind (it was sunny and hot barely miles in the city) we learned to check the weather report for the coast before heading down. I do wish I'd taken a picture of the kitesurfers that day, though. We counted more than 20! Today was much better! Ps, the last picture is of one of the beach buses. I love that they're labeled for that express purpose!

11 July 2017

One of the small treasures we found last year that we were happy to visit again this year: Carrè Sainte-Anne, a deconsecrated church now used for art exhibits. I absolutely love the use of this beautiful church to display contemporary art pieces. This summer's exhibit consists of oversized jewelry pieces (gigantic necklaces, earrings, bracelets) made in glass. Nerve-wracking to take the girls since there was also a giant glass floor installation, but they did great!

10 July 2017

Guest post by Maddie!! Before lunch. After lunch.

8 July 2017

Nîmes, Part 2. After visiting the colosseum we decided to visit a couple of other sights that are a little further away. The first was a Roman temple on which the design of La Madeleine in Paris (one of my favorite churches) is based! From there we walked to the Jardins de La Fontaine. which is a garden built around the original water spring of Nîmes. The gardens are built into a huge hill and have beautiful wooded areas. Two Roman ruins are there: the Magne Tower at the very top (which we climbed all the way up) and the Temple of Diana. We didn't have as much time as we would have liked to explore the gardens since we had to get back to catch our train, but it was worth the walk!
Nîmes, Part 1. Taking advantage of Nîmes being less than 30 minutes away by train, we took an afternoon trip there yesterday. Maddie has been reading (listening to) a book about Greek and Roman gods so we thought it might be fun for her. At this age, the girls weren't much interested in the architecture or historical significance, but we still had a nice time! The colosseum in Nîmes could hold 24,000 people (amazing!) and is one of the best preserved in the world. It's still used for events and they're doing quite a bit of reconstruction because apparently the rain water doesn't drain well and has caused damage. The part where they'd cleaned the exterior was beautiful (see the last photo).

7 July 2017

Continuing our tour of Montpellier street art installations, today we bring you some of our additional sightings while looking for space invader mosaics! Some of the artists seem to be capitalizing on the fact that people are walking around looking up at the walls hunting for space invaders yet they're still fun to spot and we're starting to recognize various styles. Mr BMX has done installations in several cities and Maddie has gotten really good at spotting his bikes. There's one photo in here that's a repeat from those we posted about Invader, because I pointed and told Maddie, "look, there's one" and she replied "but mommy, we're not marking bikes on our map!" Turns out we were each seeing different things in the same street!

6 July 2017

Beach Day! At 83 it was a little cool for me, but the girls picked "beach" for our day's activity so off we went. The tram system here makes it unbelievably easy to get to the Mediterranean. From our apartment it's a short walk to our stop, which happens to be the line down to the coast. At the end of the line, the city has a row of buses ready for people to hop on and they drive you directly to the coast. The beach buses do nothing all day but loop back and forth between the beach and the tram line - they must take several hundred people a day. We'll probably be there several days next week!

5 July 2017

Montpellier has an amazing public and contemporary art scene that makes the city super fun to explore! This year, one of Maddie's and my goals is to find the 30+ street mosaics of Invader, which he installed here during the late 90s and early 00's. There were originally a little over 40 but some have been removed or degraded due to location. We're charting each one on a map because there's a surprise at the end when we're done! And then today, another family out hunting them told us there's an app where you can upload photos and compete with people around the world on a scoreboard (Invader does installations in cities around the world and assigns points to each mosaic. We've discovered all kinds of great cafes and sights while zigzagging our way around! For your remote hunting pleasure, we've selected some of our photos where you can look for the mosaics yourselves! For more info on Invader:

4 July 2017

The girls (read:Allie) are still getting over jet lag so we're taking it easy and visiting a couple of gardens we saw last year. These are taken next to a large cistern that used to be fed by a huge aqueduct that stretches across the valley. We finished the day at their favorite park and met Steve there after his day at the archives, then headed home.

3 July 2017

One of those parental testimonials to how whole-heartedly you love your kids: being woken up at 1am by a jet-lagged three-year old who's very hungry and wants some granola with milk, yet still finding her chatty conversation endearing. ❤️❤️❤️

2 July 2017

All checked in to our apartment! Easy train trip from the airport after a big breakfast (aside from almost no sitting room as the train was packed). This year we opted to stay a little outside the city center in a roomy space with a little outdoor garden. We lucked out finding a Monoprix that was open for some reason on Sunday and got food for a couple of days. There's a very small park across the street (we've realized the last couple of years how spoiled we were with parks on every other corner of Paris). We visited with the girls before dinner and they climbed up to a little nook together and showed off how proud they were of their climbing skills.

1 July 2017

Dinner on the plane (Allie loved getting to eat while lying in her seat), good sleep for both girls and then breakfast/lunch at Heathrow. We're about to board our flight to Marseille Allie keeps asking if we're in France yet and if the people around us are speaking French. So many languages at Heathrow! Both girls are pretty excited about the trip this year.
Eating a pre-dinner dinner (they won't serve the meal until almost 10pm) before we take off. Coincidentally, La Madeleine was our dining choice!
Transportation to Phoenix Sky Harbor courtesy of Gigi! Two bags? Check! One stroller? Check! Four carry-ons? Check! Two kids? Check! We're ready to go!