On January 4, we stayed local and visited Römerkastell Saalburg und Archäologischer Park, a reconstructed Roman fort that was initially built in the first century AD, also part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The archaeological park out front had extensively-excavated ruins from the original village outside the fort. The system for heating the floors in the bath was fascinating and far more advanced technologically than what I think of during that time period. I was also surprised by all the glass windowpanes and tools in the museum.
I didn’t take many photos inside because there were simply too many really fascinating, ancient artifacts to decide which to photograph. This was a chest of ancient coins in the basement of one of the buildings.
Raine wanted me to take photos of her on the grounds.
After leaving the fort, we drove to the Frankfurt Temple.
The visitor’s center was just about to close when we arrived, so we didn’t stay long.
January 3 we drove out to Eisenach and visited the Bachhaus, the childhood home of Johann Sebastian Bach. We arrived just in time to hear the museum curator play some of Bach’s harpsichords and organs. It was really interesting even though most of his presentation was in German, he also spoke some English along the way. After the performance, we quickly worked our way through the museum.
Raine with Bach’s viola.
After grabbing lunch at a bakery on the square, we drove up to the Wartburg castle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was originally built in the Middle Ages but has been added to throughout the years. It is the place where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German.
The only way in or out was through the drawbridge.
The doves had their own little built-in nesting boxes.
Mom and Raine waiting for the tour to start.
The tour started in the oldest part of the castle, built in the Romanesque style between 1157 and 1170.
The Elisabethkemenate (St. Elisabeth’s fireplace chamber) received its Byzantine-style mosaic in 1902 to 1906. This room was incredible. The entire thing was covered in colorful mosaics.
A short video of the amazing mosaics.
Daddy, Uncle Jake, Rose, Grandma, Raine, and Grandpa listening to our tour guide.
The castle was full of fine craftsmanship.
Schwind’s Sängerkrieg fresco in the Sängersaal (1854).
The Festsaal (Festival Hall) on the top floor of the Romanesque Palas, it runs the entire length and width of the building. The room was the site of the Wartburg Festival of 1817, when members of university fraternities organized what has been called the first democratic meeting on German ground.
Lutherstube – Martin Luther stayed in this room (and the sleeping room behind it) for 300 days in 1521-1522.
Carter found a suit of armor that was just his size
Carter and Daddy in the halway leading to Lutherstube
We stopped in Eisenach for dinner. Raine LOVES schnitzel!
January 2, we took a Rhine River cruise with Jake’s family and Grandma and Grandpa from Rüdesheim to St. Goars-Hausen. Then we rode the train back. It was COLD and foggy, which made the castles look very medieval.
The grandkids down below, where it was warm — Carter, Max, Rose, Seth, Grant, Raine
Mom and Carter up on the deck.
Max and Carter
Dad and Mom
On shore in St Goarshausen
We waited for the train eating pastries in a little bakery across the street.
Back in Rüdesheim, we ate a schnitzel lunch at a hotel overlooking the river. The town still had their Christmas up in the streets.
December 31 was our first day in Frankfurt. We stayed in a mission-owned apartment in Grandma and Grandpa’s apartment building. It was a fully-stocked, 2-bedroom apartment with a view of downtown Frankfurt (in the distance). We paid $25 per day for use of it, it was a deal!
First thing we did was head out to the playground with the zip line that Grandpa had told us about. We find a playground zip line in every country we visit, it’s become a tradition! (Wales, Brazil, Iceland)
After the playground, we found a local bakery to get some pastries — Carter LOVED the German pretzels.
After a lunch of bratwursts, we rode the ubahn downtown and visited Altstadt (old town). First stop was Römerberg (Roman Mountain) the main square.
Then we walked down to the Main river and the Eiserner Steg (Iron Bridge).
The bridge is COVERED in locks, many with names or initials engraved in them.
We wandered around the streets of old town and passed the Haus zur Goldenen Waage (House of the Golden Scales).
Our last stop in old town was Kaiserdom St. Bartholomäus (Frankfurt Cathedral Saint Bartholomew). It was full of art, artifacts, and incredible architecture, but photos were not allowed inside.
This placard in Kaiserdom described the destruction of World War II.
After wandering down the Zeil, through the shopping district, we took the ubahn back home.
The fireworks on New Year’s Eve lasted for hours. This was the view of downtown from our balcony.
By about 30 minutes after midnight, the smoke from fireworks was so thick that we couldn’t see downtown any more.
A video was the only way to capture the insanity of the fireworks in Frankfurt. The nearly-continuous line of fireworks in the distance is on the Main river. At the end of this video you can see a firework fly right at us on the balcony; that’s when we decided to watch from behind the glass door!
On New Year’s Day, we slept late and played at the playground while waiting for Jake’s family to arrive and get settled.
Monday (12/30) we left Austria and started the drive back to Frankfurt. We stopped at the famed Neuschwanstein Castle and couldn’t believe how many people there were… thousands! Luckily we didn’t have time to take a tour, because the line for tickets was at least a quarter mile. We were lucky just to find parking in one of the main lots. Then we hiked up the steep, winding path to the castle.
There were several locations to stop for photos as we hiked.
The main gate into the castle.
The inner courtyard.
The view of Hohenschwangau Castle and the valley from Neuschwanstein Castle.
After seeing as much as we could of the castle, DJ drove us the rest of the way to Frankfurt… at about 170km/hr (105mph) on the autobahn.
Sunday morning (12/29) we drove an hour to Innsbruck to attend church. We got lucky and an American sister missionary interpreted for us over headsets.
After church we did a little sightseeing. First stop was Old Town where we saw the Golden Roof and the Christkindle Markt on Herzog-Friedrich-Straße.
Standing along the Inn river near Old Town.
Raine in front of the Swarovski Crystal tree. When you stood under it, looking up, the crystals all sparkled in the sunlight.
The Golden Roof.
Grandpa, Raine, Grandma, and Carter
Spitalskirche (aka Hospital Church of the Holy Spirit) or as we called it… the pink church.
The inside of this church was incredibly ornate.
After leaving Old Town, we drove up to the Olympic park. When I went there, back in 1998, you could drive right up to the rings. Unfortunately, now you can’t get to the rings without paying a ridiculously huge fee to enter the park. So we just enjoyed the overlook and saw the rings from a distance.
The large Wilten cemetery is right there in the middle of the photo with the Wilten Abby behind it.
Thursday 12/26 we landed at the Frankfurt airport early in the morning. Grandma and Grandpa Anderson picked us up and we started driving to Landeck, Austria where we spent the first 4 days of our trip.
Entering the Austrian Alps.
The view from our apartment.
Friday and Saturday (12/27-28) we drove up to Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis ski resort and skied until we were exhausted.
The road up to Ladis was narrow, steep, and snow-covered.
Carter’s snowboarding skills have come a long way, especially considering he has never had a lesson from anyone who has ever snowboarded, just Mom!
Carter bellying up to the bar with a Sprite.
Raine found out the hard way that the trail ratings in Europe are not quite the same as in the U.S. We ended up on a VERY steep run for a couple minutes and she somersaulted her way down part of it! There were some tears, and cursing of Mom, but eventually she made it down and we had a BEAUTIFUL view over the fresh powder.
Yummy goulash stew for lunch— well, for me anyway, I think Raine had a hamburger or something equally non-European.
Saturday afternoon, Grandpa Anderson borrowed my gear and skied a run with Carter before declaring that that one run was all his almost-70 year old legs could handle!
Here’s a short clip of Carter snowboarding at the end of the first day (he was very tired and the run was pretty icy), Raine skiing early the second day, and Grandpa skiing with Carter the end of the second day.
The day of Christmas Eve was a mad scramble to pack for our trip to Germany and wrap up everything we needed to before being away for 2 weeks. Once we had everything finished, we took a family Christmas photo and opened pajamas.
I told the kids that they could wake up as early as they wanted on Christmas morning since it would only help alleviate our jet-lag once we arrived in Europe. So at 3-something a.m. they broke through the barrier and we opened presents.
Around mid-day our Lyft driver took us to the airport. There weren’t any lines so we had plenty of time for Christmas dinner at Love Shack Burgers— one of the only restaurants that was open— before boarding our plane!