Many months have passed since our last family vacation, thanks to a ruthless combination of my husband working feverishly to complete his MBA and my obsessive nesting and disproportionately large belly. But - I'm happy to announce - not long after ditching the belly for the baby (6 weeks, to be exact), it finally happened. My overly ambitious mate agreed to take two whole days off -- which, judging by his refusal to stay home after baby #3 was born, was a huge deal. Fast as a flash I researched inexpensive travel options both locally and abroad. I can now tell you that, here in Europe, cheap flights are hard to come by at the last minute (plus, baby Emma has yet to apply for her passport!). But, as luck would have it we live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and after just a 3 hour car ride we were ready to disembark for our first Alpine adventure as a 5-pack.
Berchtesgaden has everything needed to make a European-hungry "Ami's" (American's) eyes water with delight: a castle, two gorgeous competing church towers, a charming old chapel accessible only by boat, the Alps, incredibly scenic hikes, men in their notorious Lederhosen, women in traditional German dirndls, and - last but not least - a local bakery with fresh-baked breads and pastries.
But nearly every adventure can be improved upon and if we ever return to Berchtesgaden, I can assure you that we will not be staying at the farm we chose this time around. Something about the snuff running down the farmer's face, his lack of enthusiasm for his guests, the rusty old playground, the horses stalled up in a foot of their own waste, and the That-70s-Show furnishings in the guest house, say that it wasn't worth the €100 ($140) nightly rate in the off-season.
Fortunately for us, kids pay little attention to these things and Berchtesgaden offered plenty of incredible distractions, boasting everything from the Watzmann indoor swimming complex and child friendly "Salzzeitreise" salt mine tours to boat rides on the Königssee, the Aschauerweiher Fairy Tale forest, and endless farm animals. And, to our surprise, the hike (& picnic) turned out to be a major highlight of the trip from the kids' perspective as well.
Before last weekend we wondered how having three kids would affect our travel, but now I can honestly say that it hasn't changed much. Afterall, travel is always about getting out of your comfort zone. And no one ever said that traveling with kids would be easy. But it's so worth it. Just ask our kids. :)