Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Joest's in Germany: Part I

In early July, my mom, dad, and little sister, Kari, came to Deutschland for a visit and some sightseeing.  They stayed for just over two weeks, and we had a wonderful time!  This was Kari's second time visiting us, and Dad was stationed in Germany in the 70s, but it was a first for Mom! In their short time here we visited Italy, Switzerland, France as well as many of our favorite local places.  For their first day, we hit our usual spots in Tübingen and Bebenhausen.  They are gorgeous places that really make you feel like you're in Germany!



I guess the jet lag caught up with Dad in Bebenhausen.


Kyle was off the day they arrived, but had to work the next several days.  I took them to some nearby destinations, starting with the Black Forest.  Instead of going to Triberg like we usually do, we went to a couple of places that I had not seen.  We started with some hiking around the Mummelsee, which is a pretty little lake.  We had a really nice hike that had some great views!  After our hike, we headed to the tiny town of Allerheiligen to see monastery ruins and a very pretty waterfall.  It was a great day, and it was nice to see some new things in the Black Forest!  (All of the Black Forest pictures are from Mom and Dad.  I've gotten really bad about taking pictures since Kyle always does it!)







On their third day in Germany, we went down to the Bodensee (or Lake Konstanz) on the German, Swiss and Austrian borders.  We went to the beautiful town of Meersburg right on the lake.  We walked around the town, had schnitzel for lunch and rented a little electric boat for an hour on the lake.  It was a beautiful, sunny and very enjoyable day.  (All of these pics are Mom and Dad's as well.  I spared you the picture of the old naked man that Mom took a picture of at the lake!)






We spent a lot of time checking out local farmer's markets, butchers, and bakeries.  The prettiest markets we visited were in Tübingen and Esslingen.  They had a great variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, flowers, bread, etc.  It's very enjoyable to nose through the markets in such beautiful and historic settings.

Nosing around Esslingen

On the 4th of July, we picked up some delicious spare ribs from the butcher and some other things from the market.  Dad grilled the ribs and they were awesome!  We also had some fried zucchini, fresh bread, salad, and a cherry pie with cherries from our own tree!  It was a perfect all-American dinner for the 4th!


Kyle had two sets of four days off while my family was here.  On his first set of days off, we took a road trip down to Lake Garda in northern Italy.  It was a gorgeous drive through the Austrian and Italian Alps.  At the border of Germany and Austria, we stopped to take pictures of the Zugspitze, Germany's highest peak.  My dad was stationed in Germany in the 70s and injured his ankle on the Zugspitze while doing some skiing.  I'm sure it was nice for him to see it again from afar and without injury!  (All of the Lake Garda trip photos are Kyle's.)



We rented an amazing villa that originally dated back to the 15th century.  It had beautiful views overlooking Lake Garda.  It was perfect for us!




Our first evening we spent exploring the historic streets of Malcensine.  It's an atmospheric town on the lake that sits right at the foot of a castle.  We enjoyed drinks, pizza and gelato by the lake.  You couldn't ask for a better start for a trip to Italy!







Mom and Dad's pic

Mom and Dad's pic


The next day we checked out the town of Sirmione, sticking out on a peninsula at the southernmost tip of the lake.  It is a gorgeous town with lush gardens, a castle and ritzy hotels.  The town actually dates back to the 5th-6th centuries BC.  There are Roman ruins there, as well as monastery ruins.  
Scaliger Castle, 13th century




Kyle caught this amazing moment on camera.  An old man opened his shutters and reached out his hand with a bit of food in it, and a bird immediately came to land on and eat out of his hand.  I wonder how many years this has been part of his daily routine?



Monastery ruins




Later that afternoon, Mom, Kyle, Kari and I visited a family run winery/organic farm.  The owner was so kind and told us all about their wine, homemade olive oils, jams, grappa, soaps, etc.  We did some tasting and bought a few bottles to bring home with us.

The next day, Dad stayed to relax at the villa while Mom, Kari, Kyle and I went to see Verona. It is a beautiful city, and it was well worth the visit!  The city had bit of a Venetian and Tuscan look to it.  There are plenty of quiet old streets to wonder, and impressive Roman ruins to see.  There are also some "Shakespeare" sites, since it was fair Verona where the star-crossed lovers laid their scene.  However, the Shakespeare sites, such as Juliet's balcony were built much later than those times and are purely tourist attractions.  Overall, Kyle and I were much more impressed with Verona than we were expecting!



Juliet's balcony...

...and the hoard of tourists below it.







Poor Kari getting drizzled on at lunch!




Roman gates

Roman Colosseum

It rained quite a bit once we got back from Verona, but it cleared up enough for us to stroll around the town of Torre del Benaco near our house before dinner.  Since it had been raining, the town was so quiet and peaceful.






The locals catching some dinner

The day we headed home was beautiful and clear, so we took the scenic route along the lake and through northern Italy.  When in doubt, always take the road less traveled.  It's usually worth the extra time!

Clear views from our terrace






It clouded up on the other side of the Alps, but we went ahead and stopped to take a few pictures of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.  It's just like a fairy tale castle!


Mom and Dad's pic

We had a wonderful little trip!  We managed to dodge the rain and see a lot of amazing places!  Coming up in the next post, we'll visit the Swiss Alps, monkeys and the Alsace!