Gagabber

Adventures living as expats in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Munich and Rothenburg

Following the tranquility and relaxed pace of Oy-Mittleburg, Munich felt like a jolt back to reality.  After a bit of adjustment time, we were ready to take on the beer gardens and many sights on our list.   On our first day we headed to Marienplatz to see the old town area including all the beautiful architecture.  We also browsed around the Viktualienmarkt where vendors sell a huge variety of fresh fruits, breads, prepared gourmet foods, artisanal coffee, and plenty of snacks to fuel up on.   We were overwhelmed by the selection and by the time we were done really wished we had bigger stomachs so we could taste more.   Now I think back and wonder why I didn't take any pictures?

We also loved touring the English Garden, a huge urban park complete with a beer garden in the middle.  This was my personal favorite because the surrounding environment was so picturesque and calming which contrasted with the excitement of the lively beer garden. Another highlight of our time in Munich was a day trip to the Herrenchiemsee Palace which was definitely the most extravagant palace we saw.  Although the palace was far from finished on the interior, we learned that the construction cost was over $250,000,000!
New Town Hall in Munich
We couldn't miss the famous Hoffbraugh beer hall.  There was even non-alcoholic beer so I could join in on the fun.
Beautiful Munich Residence
Portrait hall complete with gold leaf frames in the Munich Residence
Our favorite dessert shop - I got an extremely addicting mango tart and Jeff, after much deliberation, opted for a molten chocolate cake
Herrenchiemsee Palace - one of our only pics since you can't take photos from the inside.  
Our final stop of the trip was Rothenburg, a truly charming little city that really gave us a feel for historic Germany with its still standing city wall and many watch towers throughout.  
Picture perfect Rothenburg
This was our unbeatable view during dinner on our first night where we enjoyed one of our favorite meals of the trip
This view of the city from the city wall made us feel like we were in a movie
Exploring the defense fortifications on the city wall
On a day trip to Bamburg, Jeff led us on a walking tour through the old town where we saw some historical churches, enjoyed a pizza lunch, and Jeff sampled the city's famous smoked beer called Rauchbier.
Bamberg Old Town Hall
St. Michael's Church
We also headed over to Wurzburg for a day where we strolled through the city and toured the Wurzberger Residence, a UNESCO heritage site.  It included pictures of the city after the bomb attack in WWII where 90% of the city was destroyed, but has since been reconstructed as it looked historically.  We stumbled across a market on our way back to the car where Jeff found a German beer stein and I fell in love with some blue and white porcelain serving bowls to complete our souvenir shopping.
Cocktail and soda water with of view of Fortress Marienberg
Just one more selfie at Wurzberger Residence


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Constance and Fussen

After the excitement and fresh air of the Matterhorn, we took the train to Zurich, picked up our rental car and started the road trip portion of our vacation.  Our first stop was Constance which came highly recommended by Johann and Bianka as a beautiful, relaxing lake town with a lot of historic buildings.  We loved wandering around, checking out the shops, browsing the farmer's market, and of course trying out a few beer gardens.  Speaking of beer gardens, each one we went to had non-alcoholic beer which was so much fun for me after the last 5 months of soda water at bars.  We even met up with our friends Monette and Rafael, who we met on a tiny island in Indonesia when we were visiting Komodo National Park.  It's amazing how fast time passes because we realized we hadn't seen them in 4 years yet it was so easy to pick up where we left off and they even remembered what a rebel Jeff had been in his younger days.  
Beautiful views in Constance
Day trip to Rhine Falls
Schaffhausen - I managed to carry myself and bump up to the castle lookout and certainly earned the gelato afterwards
Beer garden overlooking Lake Constance with pretzels and weisswurst
Day trip to Lake Mainau to tour some gorgeous gardens
Jeff hoofed it up the church tower in Constance to capture this panorama while I relaxed inside
Three days in Constance flew by and we next headed to Oy-Mittleburg which is a tiny town outside of Fussen with views of the Alps and easy access to Neuschwanstein Castle.
Practicing his feeding skills for when Jr. comes
Stunning views from the porch of our BnB
Selfie in front of Neuschwanstein after strong arming our way past all our fellow tourists with endless poses
Neuschwanstein inspired the Disney castle
Due to the shorter wait times we opted to tour the inside of Hohenschwangaue Castle which was certainly impressive although not quite as extravagant as the newer (and more expensive) Neuschwanstein
On our last day we took a short hike to some very old castle ruins which really brings out the kid in Jeff as he wants to explore every nook and cranny while I do my best to be patient

On our way to Munich, we made a quick stop at Church of Wies which was quite the masterpiece to see


Monday, August 1, 2016

Frankfurt and Switzerland

We enjoyed our time last summer in Paris and Italy so much that we knew we wanted to return to Europe this summer.  After much deliberation and a check of direct flights from Taipei, we decided on Germany.  While planning our trip we had two Bavaria experts advising us on the best towns and we're so thankful for all the great tips from Johann and Bianka.  We had a smooth flight from Taipei to Frankfurt and even scored a "family couch" after Jeff announced that I was VERY pregnant (at only 5 months) to the kind lady checking us in.  I've never been able to sleep on a plane very well but the couch was so comfy that I managed to score a few hours of sleep next to Jeff who snored for 12 of the 13 hour flight.  

We stayed a few days in Frankfurt with our friends from Jakarta, Angela and Greg, who originally inspired Jeff to become a cocktail mixologist about a year ago when they hosted a dinner party that included a full menu of cocktails.  
Historic plaza and church in Frankfurt
First beer in Germany!
Can't pass up the pretzels!
On our second day in Frankfurt, Angela offered to take us on a ferry along the Rhine River where you could view dozens of castles along the way.   This had been one of the activities that Jeff had thought we didn't have time for so it turned out to be such a nice adventure.  Greg even grilled us some brats that evening along with an amazing spread of salad, mustards, sauerkraut, and German potato salad.  

Angela and I enjoying a little town along the Rhine
One of the many picturesque castles we saw along the river 
After our quick Frankfurt visit, we bid our hosts "auf wiedersehen" and boarded a train to Bern, Switzerland.  We had some beautiful weather for our stay there and enjoyed a walking tour that Jeff narrated along the way as well as some of the best gelato we've ever had.  
Beautiful views of Bern 
Clocktower with astronomical clock in Bern
 Next on our itinerary was a visit to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn.  We were warned about the the prices in Switzerland but were still struck by sticker shock and determined that the Matterhorn was probably a "once in a lifetime" trip mostly for financial reasons.  The views were of course jaw dropping and reminded us of how beautiful Mt. Hood is during the winter.
Beautiful Matterhorn
On our way up to the viewing platform
I managed to waddle along on a 1.5 hr hike and really enjoyed the beautiful scenery 
Jeff is pumped to be out on the trail, I opted to post this picture instead of his yodeling video which sent all wildlife scurrying away in a panic  


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Weekend Trip to Hong Kong, 2016

Jeff had a few extra days of vacation this month that he needed to use so we booked a last minute flight to Hong Kong to visit our friends Tane and Yan.  Conveniently we were able to fly directly out of Taichung and avoid the 2 hour drive to the Taipei airport.  After a quick 1.5 hour flight, Tane and family surprised us at the airport and joined us on the short ride bus ride to our BnB in Discovery Bay.

That night we opted for a relaxed dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant.  It didn't quite compare to the authentic taqueria close to our house in Oregon, but you can't be too choosy on this side of the world.  :-)
Getting ready to dig into our tacos and burritos.
We lucked out with an amazingly clear day and were able to see the lights of Hong Kong Island from Discovery Bay.   
The next morning we set out with plenty of water, comfy walking shoes, and a rough itinerary of places to visit.  Jeff has been quite a few times, but this was my first trip so he was the official tour guide for the day and managed to fully wear us out.
We took the train to Victoria Harbor for some awesome views of HK Island.  
Star Ferry on the way back from Kowloon.

Before leaving Taiwan, we watched Anthony Bourdain's HK show and one thing high on my list was a seafood dinner on Lamma Island.   Many people trek around the island when they come to visit, but the weather was HOT so we opted for some cool refreshments overlooking the bay while we built up an appetite for dinner.  


Dinner view
Our seafood spread was certainly one of my favorite meals and included - crab, clams, calamari, oysters, fried rice, veggies, and (after Jeff's persistent bargaining) 2 free beers.  



On our final day, we all went up to the Peak for lunch and sightseeing.  We were both amazed by the scenery, and Jeff was stunned that he had never taken the time while he was in HK to see the Peak.  


Fun times on the tram!
Yan cooked up an amazing meal for our final dinner.  Sadly I was coming down with an embarrassing cold that left me sneezing nonstop so I opted to rest up in our BnB.  Yan was so sweet and packed up dinner for me and I'm convinced her fish and ginger soup drastically sped up my recovery time.
Practicing being Dad with adorable Ariayana.