Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ski Trip to Austria - 2011

Our children's school's PTO organizes a ski trip every year in mid-January. They have off for
"report card preparation" on the Friday. The ski trip is to Filzmoos, Austria where there are many ski resorts to choose from. We stayed at the Hotel Unterhof.

View of the pool...
Collecting the kids and bringing them to ski lessons in the "Schikinder Express" (Ski Kids Express).
View from the bottom of the ski slope across from the hotel.
View from atop the mountain.
The girls looking on.
Everyone is taking a break!
Bunny "mascot" that hangs around the lodge on top of the mountain.

One evening there was an outing where you would eat dinner at the lodge at the top of the mountain and then sled down after. Unfortunately we had to hike up half of the mountain and then a wagon picked us up for the rest of the trip. You ride these sleds down a winding "road" that is covered in snow. It is up to you not to fall off the side or bump into anyone. Not the US fear of lawsuits here.

When you get to the bottom, no more sledding!

At the bottom of the hill there was a cemetary...Evidently this is the tradition of Austria....Wrought iron grave markers.

Cemetary at night...

While walking in the town of Filzmoos...

The weekend we go there is a balloon festival as well.

The peak of "Bischofmutze" (Bishops hat).

See also our 2010 trip to Austria

Monday, January 17, 2011

Seasonal Foods

In Germany I notice more seasonal foods...or maybe I notice them because they are novel to me. There is Spargel (Asparagus) season, Cherry Season, Plum Season, etc.

However, one must be very careful: There is a big difference between




I much prefer Krapfen time. Krapfen are like jelly donuts, but they can have various fillings such as Baileys Liquor, Eier Liquor (Eggnog Liquor), Nougat (like Nutella) and various jellies as well.

In Bavaria, Krapfen are mainly prepared and eaten during the days and weeks before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. This period of time is called Mardi Gras or Carnival, and in German, it's known as Fasching.

There are many explanations as to why Krapfen are eaten primarily during this time of year, but most accounts attribute it to diet. As early as the middle ages, these sweet, fat-laden treats were eaten by the faithful in order to bulk up before 40 days of fasting during Lent.


Friday, January 7, 2011

You know you have been driving too long on Germany when....

1) You forget about Right turns on Red
2) You think people drive too slowly on the NJ Turnpike (80 mph? Is that all?)
3) You keep looking to the right for cars (in Germany, unless posted , cars coming from the right have right of way)
4) You think the gas station attendents are too slow

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our trip to the USA

What was supposed to happen:

The girls didn't get out of school until Dec 23 so we decided not to try to get to the USA for the holidays until Dec 26 so we could spend a quiet Christmas at home without worrying about missing it. Also there were activities we wanted to do the first week of January in the USA so we were going to return Jan 6th. We were supposed to fly from Munich to Newark, NJ on Dec 26, rent a car at the airport, and then drive to our destination.

What really happened:

On the morning of Dec 26, Snowmageddon hit the East Coast of the USA. We had heard whispers of a Nor'Easter so before we left for Munich we checked the status of the flight.
There was a CANCELLED next to our flight to Newark. $#&@. It says contact your carrier.
We contact Lufthansa but they really cannot help us on the phone. Really? In 2010?
We have to go to the airport. But who wants to drive 1.5 hours to Munich in the snow to maybe not be able to do anything? So we decided to drive to the Nuremberg Airport (only 20 minutes away) and see if they can help. We took all our luggage with us in case we could get on some kind of flight somewhere. We were trying to get a flight to an alternate destination on Dec 26 and the lady thought she had gotten us a flight to Boston, but when she printed out the reservations it said Dec 27th. No, that isn't what we wanted. Start over. Eventually we got a flight from Munich to Zurich to Washington DC (Dulles) on Dec 27th. We thought Dulles might end up being south of the storm and we could take the Amtrak train up to New Jersey and if we couldn't, we booked a hotel in Washington just in case. This flight leaves at 9:00am so we decide to drive down to Munich that afternoon directly from the Nuremberg Airport and stay at a hotel at the airport so we wouldn't have to get up at 4:00am.

After a snowy drive we get to the airport and eat at our favorite Airport Thai restaurant. Of course European hotel rooms usually only have one double bed and don't allow 4 people so we have to get two rooms. ($$$) We get up early and get on our flight to Zurich which is less than an hour flight. We have about an hour between flights so we hustle to the next flight and get on with no problem. Then we sit and wait to take off. And wait. Annnnnd wait. It was a 11:15 flight so after 3 hours we are getting bored and hungry. Sorry, the video system only works above 10,000 feet. But they ordered some sandwiches for us. The issue is that there is some de-icing part that isn't working. They are trying to fix it. The hubby reports later (he was upgraded to first class) that the Pilot talked to the first class passengers and said that the airline (United) wanted to wait until the part came (hours later) but the pilot said that he wasn't going to do that to the passengers so he postponed the flight until the next morning. As it was a airline issue they were going to put us up in a hotel and give us food vouchers. We sat and munched on our sandwiches and the economy passengers started to realize that hey, we can get off the plane if we want! So we asked if we can, and then we started deplaning. We picked up our luggage and then made our way to the hotel shuttle vans....There were a few, but each only held 14 passengers and had a little trailer to hold the luggage. We told the girls to get on and save us seats while we put the luggage in the trailer. The girls valiently defended our seats and we squeezed on. We got to the Movenpick hotel and played cards and ate and relaxed. Other people went into Zurich but we just kind of hit the "pause" button on our trip and spent family time together. 6:00 am we were up and at the bus to the airport (fortunately a large bus)...too bad our free breakfast started at 6:00am also! (although there were some coffee and croissants out).

So now it is Dec 28th and we really don't even want to go to Washington anymore! The storm is over. But that is not the airlines problem. We change our Amtrak reservation to the next day, cancel the Wash. hotel, and change our rental car reservation. We fly to Washington....too bad the little one's video screen didn't work and we had no idea what movies were playing as they did not match up with what was in the airline magazine...but we found a couple and shared the video screen. As we land we notice that Washington got no snow at all (there is 30 inches at our destination!). We take the super shuttle ($) to Union Station and catch the Amtrak Acela ($$$). We get a nice four person table and play cards and use the wi-fi. We take the Amtrak to Newark, and get off and then take the NJ Transit train back one stop to the Newark Airport Stop. Then we take the airport monorail to the rental car area. Firnally (around 8:00pm on Dec 28th) we drive down to our destination.