Europe was great and all, but I’m going to let you in on a secret. I missed blogging. I missed the kitchen, I missed writing about it, and I missed you. All of you. Sound weird? Weirder than being on a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime vacation and wishing you were installing a bathroom door?
Welcome aboard the crazy train, I guess.
I’m going to assume that, like me, you are also more interested in DIY projects than vacation pictures. So I promise to get 2 1/2 weeks crammed into this one post, so we can all happily return to the kitchen. Let’s start with the event that inspired this trip in the first place: Oktoberfest!
The thing that surprised me the most? It’s a carnival. With roller coasters and spinny rides and stuff. But they serve lots of beer. Which seems like it would be a bad combination.
The first afternoon we were there, we managed to score a table in one of the “tents.”
There was live music. We spent the whole afternoon drinking and singing a mixture of American pop songs and traditional German drinking songs, as is customary.
Surprise #2: It comes in liters.
Around 4:30 in the afternoon, they start kicking people out of the tents to make room for evening reservations. You can only purchase beer inside the tents, so once we were outside of the tent, we had to find another way to pass the time. We did the next most logical thing: we started riding the rides.
Surprise #3: A roller coaster is pretty fun when you’re buzzed. Surprise #4: I did not puke. Winner!
The next day, before heading back to ‘Fest, we decided to attempt to be cultural. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the Residenz Museum, the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs.
It was cool, but sad. The bombing during World War II was extensive, so most of the historical places we saw in Munich, including the Residenz, have been rebuilt since 1944. So it’s not original, and a lot of artwork (like the murals on the ceiling) is still missing.
One museum was enough. Then we went back to Oktoberfest.
The next day (I think), we spent most of the day wandering around the Englischer Garten, the huge park in Munich. It’s bigger than New York’s Central Park. And it has three (possibly 4, I don’t remember) of its very own beer gardens. And a lake.
And monuments to beloved-yet-crazy kings.
And according to these guys, you can surf in this little canal.
But according to this sign, posted about 8 feet from those dudes, surfing in the canal is frowned upon.
I don’t speak German, so my translation could be off.
Next day: 1) Pick up rental car. 2) Drive to Telfs, Austria. 3) Stay in a guesthouse where this is the view from your balcony:
4) Climb a mountain in the Tyrolian Alps.
If the above picture continued just a little more to the right, you would see that we were within spitting distance from a climbable mountain. So the next day we woke up, ate some pastries from a bakery in Telfs, and set out to conquer Hohe Munde.
Unfortunately, the cloudy, rainy weather followed us from Munich. But the views were still spectacular.
The rain made our steep, narrow ascent even trickier, because the path was mostly rock and mud…which gets a bit slippery in the rain. And then there was that time that Chris and Mike went to inspect that big rock over the canyon.
Somehow, despite our best efforts, we made it to the top in one piece.
Hanging out in the clouds with the birds.
On the way down, I played a solo game of Stack Rocks on Rocks.
I guess you can’t take me anywhere without me trying to build something.
The sun came out a little tiny bit while we were on the way down, and I snapped this picture:
When we got about 40 minutes from the bottom, we stopped at the guesthouse for a beer, and this was my view through the window:
The next day, we didn’t really feel like doing another hike in the rain (plus we were a bit tired from 7+ hours of hiking the day before). We girls left our husbands to fend for themselves and drove the 30 minutes to Innsbruck to check out the old town.
It was adorable. So quaint, I can’t believe people actually live there. We strolled through the Botanical Gardens while we were there…
…and now I’m convinced that every single park bench in the U.S. should be painted bright yellow. Cute!
Next day: 1) Drive to Badia, Italy. 2) Stay at an agro-turismo place where the view out your front door is this:
3) Climb a mountain in the Dolomites.
We arrived at our place in Italy fairly early in the afternoon, so a couple of us followed one of the many hiking trails right behind the house for a short look-around. We found a turquoise mountain lake with swans in it.
No big deal. Also, there was playground next to the lake. With swings. And a pirate ship.
The mountain we chose to climb the next day was Lagazuoi. Once again, the weather followed us. And the fog was so thick that there were no views — and therefore no amazing pictures — to be had. I did snap this picture though, which pretty accurately reflects everything about the climb: Foggy, steep, and narrow, with occasional cables to clip to so you don’t fall off.
Wish we’d brought some clips.
The cool thing about Lagazuoi, though, is the story. During World War I, the Austrians were stationed on top of the mountain, giving them a pretty strategic view of the area. The Italians came up with the brilliant plan to tunnel up through the mountain, then blow the top off…and the Austrians with it. It took them 4 months. They removed something like 40,000 cubic meters of rock, dumping it down the side of the mountain during thunderstorms. And they planted 33 tons of explosives beneath the summit. That’s dedication.
We took a challenging hiking trail up the outside of the mountain, and saw the remnants of WWI trenches, but you can also get up to the top through the tunnels. The whole mountain is basically a museum. There’s also a cable car that runs all the way up to the refugio on the summit, so you can take the easy way up if you just want to eat at a good restaurant on top of a mountain. Of course, we got there just a few days after it closed for the season, so we made do with hiking snacks before finding our way down through the tunnels.
That evening, we discovered a bunch of maps in a drawer, and to my great amusement I noticed that one of them had my name on it.
We did a bunch of research on the interwebs, but apparently there is no digital record of Fosses Riedl. Google Maps is unaware of its existence. All I found out is the “fosses” is French for pit, or trench, or — wait for it — grave. Hmmmm.
According to the map though, it was kinda nearby our next excursion: Tre Cime di Lavaredo. We’d be driving through Cortina on the way to Tre Cime, and apparently the Information Centers (more like booths, really) in these Alpine towns are good resources for hiking and climbing trails and national parks and such. So we decided we’d stop in and ask if anyone had heard of Fosses Riedl.
The next day, the sun started peeking out a bit while we ate breakfast.
With bellies full of cheesy eggs and potatoes, we hopped in the car. We drove. We stopped at the information booth thingy in Cortina. The girl there was clearly knowledgeable about the area. And, having never heard of Fosses Riedl, she looked at us like we were crazy.
We should have brought our mystery maps to prove it.
And that’s the story of how I’ll never discover this possibly important piece of my family history. That nobody in my family knew existed until I published this post. And that may not be related to my family at all.
On to Tre Cime! Of course, by the time we got there, the sun had gone away again.
One and a half of the Three Peaks:
Oh, but hey! The sun came out momentarily about 3/4 of the way through the hike. The color of the sky was breathtaking.
And then the clouds rolled in again, shrouding the Three Peaks in mystery once again (and apparently bringing out my melodramatic side).
After our hike, the sun came out for another minute or two…just long enough for me to get this awesome picture of the valley below.
And the rest of our time in Italy was spent chillin’ close to home in Badia. We did some easy hikes in the hills around our place. But for the most part…chillin’.
So that’s our European vacation, in a pictorial nutshell. It was fun — not exactly “grouting tile” fun, but still, a good time was had by all. And not having DIY projects to focus on gave me some time to daydream about building some sort of agro-turismo B&B in the Italian Alps. And then blogging about it, of course.