Friday, August 21, 2009
We have a huge map of Europe taped up in the hall outside the kids' bedrooms where we've kept track of all our trips. It's studded with colored dots: red for my husband's business travel, purple for family adventures, green for a few jaunts I've taken solo and yellow and blue for each of the kids. It's hard not to be mesmerized by it and we find ourselves looking at it all the time -- reliving journeys already taken and plotting out those to come.
Although my husband's work has taken him to Bonn, Berlin, and Munich, the rest of us hadn't stepped foot in that direction, reason enough to ditch Paris for a week in Germany and Austria. It was a trip packed with castles, gardens, Baroque churches, train rides, and lots of 1 euro ice cream cones, about half what they cost in Paris. Our travels ranged from the cheesy but fun Sound of Music tour in Salzburg to the depths of existential questioning on our visit to Dachau. We wandered medieval streets and forest footpaths, drove past Alpine meadows and lakes, and ate more than our fill of beer and sausages. Plus we got to spend a day with German friends Hans and Ulrike in their unexpectedly lovely home town, Landshut, about an hour on the train northeast of Munich. We resisted the potato chip aisle (where the modal flavors were paprika and sweet chili) but gave in to the pastries with plenty of schlag. And while it's good to be back home where there are plenty of vegetables, we'll relish the memories of craggy mountains, geraniums spilling from window boxes, eating meals in umbrella shaded cafes, the madness that inspired King Ludwig of Bavaria to build Neuschwanstein and Linderhof, iron shop signs, dirndls and lederhosen, glockenspiels and church bells.