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Magnificient Denali National Park

Posted November 2, 2017 By admin


A glorious view of braided rivers and majestic mountains from Polychrome Pass.


July 21,2017

After a hearty breakfast, we headed to the McKinley Resort Main Lodge and boarded a National Park Service bus to begin our 8-hour long Tundra Wilderness Tour. Our driver/trained naturalist has been doing this tour each summer for fifteen years and said, “Every day is different with no telling what will be seen or happen.” Our tour group was full of expectations as we rode to the Park Entrance.

Denali National Park and Preserve was established in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park. In 1980 the park was renamed Denali, a native Athabascan name meaning “Great One” or “High One”. It took longer to change the name of America’s highest peak. The name of the 20, 310 feet high peak was changed from Mount McKinley to Mount Denali in 2015. The park covers six million acres of land on both sides of the Alaska Range.

The only road into Denali is 92 miles long and parallels the Alaska Range. Beyond mile 15, access to the road is restricted primarily to park buses. The bus system reduces traffic and roadside disturbances so one can better see the stunning landscape and wildlife. Less traffic also helps protect Denali’s wilderness ecosystem. Cyclists and hikers are welcome on the road. Often, they will jump on one of the buses and ride to a desired trailhead or cycling spot. As we started our journey along the Park Road I realized we would be involved in the celebration of Denali’s 100th birthday.

When we started the tour, the driver told us to yell out, “Stop!” when anyone saw wildlife and, if safe to do so, he would stop for viewing from inside the bus. Since he had to focus on driving, he had to rely on the forty sets of eyes in the back to spot the critters. The bus was also equipped with a roof mounted zoom camera that was under the driver’s control. The video was displayed on a set of drop-down LCD screens spaced down both sides of the bus. That feature helped a lot, especially for those riders without binoculars or cameras with telephoto lenses.

We were greeted by a crisp sunny morning as our bus left the Denali Visitor Center (elevation 1,585 feet) and headed out on Park Road. For the next 106 miles (roundtrip) we traveled up and down in elevation through mountain passes and valleys. For fifteen miles, we rode through boreal forests, also known as the taiga. White and black spruce, birch, aspen and balsam poplar trees covered the land. A covey of grouse scurrying across the road was our first “Stop!” wildlife sighting.

A couple miles past the Savage River Campground we came to the Mile 15 checkpoint. A park ranger welcomed us and allowed our tour bus to continue. We left the two-lane paved road and climbed to Primrose Ridge (elevation 3,200 feet) on a narrow gravel road. As we climbed, we watched the landscape transition from forested taiga to treeless tundra. The tree-line in Denali lies around 3,000 feet.

We rolled down Primrose Ridge into the Sanctuary River Valley. We were still on the lookout for Mount Denali and wildlife. At mile 30, we had our first break at the Teklanika rest stop. It felt so good to get off the bus and stretch my legs. The scenery was magnificent with views of the Teklanika River coursing through the beautiful valley. In the distance, the mountains of the Alaska Range formed a natural backdrop. Blooms of pink fireweed scattered in the terrain added color to the landscape portrait.

The Teklanika River is a braided river. Such rivers are usually wide but shallow. They typically form on fairly steep slopes and carry large amount of coarse-grained sediments. When the river’s flow decreases, the sediments get deposited on the river bed leaving behind small temporary islands of sands that cause the river’s channel to split. Braided rivers exist near mountainous regions, especially those with glaciers.

We climbed 400 feet into the tundra among treeless rolling vistas. All at once we heard multiple shouts of “Stop!” There about 100 feet away on the left side of the bus, we saw a huge caribou munching on tundra flora. We gazed at the patchy brown-colored herbivore and took pictures. It was our first major sighting and we were excited. As we continued our climb up to Sable Pass, elevation 3,900 feet, I heard another “Stop!” A mamma grizzly bear was spotted with her cub. While mamma was preoccupied in some bushes, the cub was busy exploring its surroundings. Amazing!

After ascending Sable Pass we coasted 845 feet downhill to the East Fork River Valley. Before we could explore the U-shaped valley, we were climbing once again. This time we were riding up to beautiful Polychrome Pass, one of the most spectacular and fear-inducing sections of the tour. That portion of the narrow one-lane road required the driver’s full attention due to the steep grade, sharp turns, nonexistent shoulders and breathtaking 1,000-foot drop-offs. Our bus driver said, “If you get scared, do what I do and close your eyes”.

When we arrived at the top of Polychrome Pass, elevation 3,695 feet, the scene was spectacular. The vastness of the park was in full view with braided rivers wandering back and forth throughout the colorful valley floor and the Alaska Mountains glistening in the distance. Polychrome Pass gets its name from the colorful volcanic rocks that can be seen from the overlook. The bright colors of Polychrome Pass were created by magma that welled up and spilled over older sedimentary rock layers. The basalt, rhyolite and andesite rocks color the area in brown, yellow, tan. white, orange, and purple hues.

On our descent to the Toklat River, elevation 3,035 feet, there was another “Stop” moment. We saw a lone grizzly bear walking through vegetation along the valley floor. We arrived at the Toklat Rest Stop for another break. We could see little white dots on the mountain ridges overlooking the rest area. With some magnification we discovered they were Dall sheep. The sheep favor wind-blown ridges and steep cliff faces where they can roam beyond the easy reach of wolves. They dine on the flowers and grasses in the summertime and mosses and lichens in the winter.

We were at the 53-mile halfway point and it was time to turn around and head back. As we were getting on the bus our driver spotted a bear ambling toward the rest area. Needless to say, we all jumped on the bus pronto. So far, the tour had been amazing but my only regret was that I hadn’t seen Mount Denali. It had been obscured by clouds. Our bus driver told us that the elusive mountain is covered in clouds two-thirds of the time partly because of the Alaska Range. The range bisects Alaska and is the meeting point for cold dry systems from the north and warm moist systems from the south. As the systems collide they often produce lots of clouds, obscuring the mountain.

We had many critter sightings on our return trip. We saw a momma grizzly bear and two cubs browsing for berries, several small herds of caribou including stags with huge velvet covered antlers, and a momma bear laying in the grass on her belly with her feet splayed out behind her. My favorite discovery was a big bull moose. Bullwinkle spent several minutes ducking in and out of thickets as he grazed. We were all waiting for the great reveal. He finally walked in the open and posed by a running stream.

Even though Mount Denali was a “no-show”, it was a glorious day. We saw Denali National Park in all its splendor. The majestic mountains, glacier-carved river valleys, meandering silt-laden rivers and magnificent wildlife all wove into a living masterpiece. It was a unique, unforgettable experience. We owe tremendous thanks to the people who had the foresight and determination to set aside this pristine wilderness for future generations.

In awe,




On the bus and ready to go for our tour.


A beautiful view at Teklanika rest stop.


Blooms of pink fireweed scattered with purple lupine.


The Teklanika River coursing through the beautiful valley.


The Teklanika River, is an example of a braided river.


The river is made up of deposits of sediment from glacial streams.


The gravel bars formed by braided rivers are travel corridors used by animals.


A caribou munching on tundra flora.


A mamma grizzly bear and her cub


At the top of Polychrome Pass.


A   view across the valley from Polychrome Pass.


A tour bus climbing up the colorful pass.


A majestic view of the Alaska Range from Polychrome Pass.


We leave Polychrome pass and head down to the Tolkat River.


A lone grizzly bear walking through vegetation along the valley floor.


Another grizzly bear meditating.


Rodge and Kathy posing in front of the Teklanika River.


More views of the Teklanika River valley on our return trip.


A small herd of caribou grazing on a hillside.


A stag with huge velvet covered antlers.


A close-up of a stag.


A momma bear laying in the grass with her feet splayed out behind her.


A bull moose ambling along a running stream.


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All Aboard the McKinley Explorer!

Posted October 31, 2017 By admin


The McKinley Explorer.


July 20, 2017 

At 8 a.m. we arrived at the Anchorage Depot and boarded our car on the McKinley Explorer. It was a picturesque sunny day as we looked forward to our 237-mile adventure to Denali National Park. We would ride in custom-made dome cars with 360-degree views. The cars were made by the Colorado Railcar Company for Holland America and pulled by Alaska Railroad locomotives.

Before we departed the depot, Rodge and I explored our double-decker train car. The lower level contained a kitchen, a dining area, a lounge, two lavatories, a spiral staircase which reached to the upper level and an open-air viewing platform. The upper level was the sitting and observation area that accommodated eighty passengers. The front of the car was equipped with a bar/snack preparation area.

All Aboard! At 8:15 a.m. the journey began. Rodge and I joined Kayli and the thirty-eight other people in our tour group. The diverse group consisted of people from all over the United States, as well as Holland, New Zealand, Canada and St. Martin. A little north of Anchorage we chugged by Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and saw paratroopers jumping out of an Air Force C-130 plane. We were also able to glimpse the triangular peak of Mt. Denali shining brilliantly over the landscape.

We passed by Eagle River, the small tribal town of Eklutna and the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. The last is known for its record-sized vegetables that are made possible by the long hours of summer daylight and fertile soil. Just past the town of Willow, we started following the Susitna River. The silty, muddy, brown river fed by silt from melting snow and glacial ice flows 313 miles from Susitna Glacier in the Alaskan Range to the Cook Inlet twenty-four miles west of Anchorage. We would shadow this diverse river for eighty miles.

Throughout our journey we were briefed and entertained by our train tour guide. He provided lots of information, facts, local color stories, and jokes. At noon we headed down to the lower deck for lunch. We were seated with another couple, David and Pam. After thirty years in Seattle they had just moved to Chicago. They were on another Alaskan tour with some of David’s high school friends. We also found out that David had attended the Naval Academy. So, we had a great lunch with conversations of Annapolis, our families and Alaska.

We arrived in Talkeetna midway through the trip and stopped to pick up some passengers. The small town is a jumping off point for mountain climbing expeditions to Mt. Denali. All climbers have to register with the National Park Service at Talkeetna before taking a thirty-minute flight to the Kahiltna Glacier Base Camp. Since we mistakenly left our climbing gear at home, we were forced to remain on the train for the second half of the trip to Denali National Park.

All Aboard! We continued north past the ghost town of Curry. Along the way we saw homes inhabited by people living off the land and not connected to civilization by wire or road. The railroad was the only communication/transport available to them. The Alaska Railroad is the only “flag stop” railroad in the United States. Residents along the tracks can flag down a train anywhere along the route. Conversely, the trains will stop on demand to drop off passengers.

As we rolled along the tracks Rodge and I made multiple trips to the open-air viewing platform on the lower level. There we were one with nature at 30 mph. As magnificent river views, mountains and forests passed by I made an attempt to capture the beauty in pixels. My camera could never record the immense beauty I saw and the feelings I felt.

Thirty-eight miles past Talkeetna we said goodbye to the Susitna River. Twenty miles later we crossed the longest bridge on the railroad, Hurricane Gulch Bridge. The trestle bridge built in 1921 spans 918 feet across the gulch and is 296 feet high. The train slowed down to 10 mph while crossing the bridge to prevent overstressing it. Due to the slow crossing we had terrific views of the gulch below.

After riding through Broad Pass and the town of Cantwell, we started shadowing the Nenana River. The river originates from the Nenana Glacier in the Alaska Range and flows north along the east side of Denali National Park. We followed the river twenty-three miles to the Denali Park Railroad Station. After the magnificent eight-hour train ride we were ready to retire to our lodging in the McKinley Chalet Resort.




The luggage from several tour groups waiting for a ride to Denali.


Rodge standing at the front of our car.


Houses outside Anchorage.


All aboard the McKinley Explorer.


A lone hill on steroids.


Chugging along the Susitna River.


A photo-op from the open air viewing platform.


Beautiful mountain scenery.


Riding through Broad Pass.


Kathy enjoying the beautiful scenery.


The glacier fed Nenana River.


A nifty train track photo-op.


Our lodge at McKinley Chalet Resort.


Kathy checking out the scenery in our lodging at McKinley Chalet Resort.


Our sitting area in our lodging at McKinley Chalet Resort.

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Anchorage Here We Come!

Posted October 31, 2017 By admin


A decked out moose greets us at the Visitor Center.


July 19, 2017

It was 8:15 a.m. (PST) and we were ready to board our flight to Anchorage, Alaska. After spending five days exploring beautiful Seattle we were ready to start our two-week Holland America Alaska Land and Sea Journey. In 2013, we embarked on a week-long cruise along Alaska’s Inside Passage and vowed we would return.
It was a beautiful sunny day as our Alaskan Airlines flight taxied the runway and then soared into the air for our three-hour flight to Anchorage. It was a smooth flight — just a few minor bumps as we flew low over the mountains ringing Anchorage. When we arrived in Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport we met up with Holland America representatives who took charge of our luggage and whisked us off to a comfortable coach bus for our ride to our hotel.

At the hotel, we met our journey guide, Kayli, a Vanderbilt graduate from Wisconsin in her late 20’s. It was Kayli’s third year leading an Alaskan Land and Sea Journey so we knew we were in good hands. After an introductory briefing, she handed us our first information packet of the tour. It was filled with our itinerary for the next day and information on exploring Anchorage.
Rodge and I checked into our room, donned our rain slickers and ventured out into a sixty-degree rainy day. We headed for the Visitor Center, a large log cabin with a sod roof covered in flowering grasses. There we jumped on a trolley for an hour tour of the city. The red car rolled through historic neighborhoods and by the famous Alaskan Railroad. We watched seaplanes splash-land and take off from Lake Hood and traveled through Earthquake Park. We were on the lookout for moose along the way.

The route took us over many streets that were devastated during the 1964 earthquake. Over the course of four minutes, on Good Friday the 9.2 magnitude quake split roads, uprooted trees, and started a landslide that sent many houses into the waters of Cook Inlet. In Earthquake Park you can still see the earth ripples left over from that singular event. In the area there is no evidence of any residential housing, only hilly landscape covered in forest.

After the trolley car tour, we headed to the State Visitor Center. Since it was connected to a Federal Courthouse we had to go through a security screening similar to what takes place in an airport. The center was excellent with displays about Alaskan wildlife and geology. Lots of taxidermy skill was on display including a huge polar bear. We ended our stay watching a 45-minute film about the Klondike Gold Stampede. After dinner, we retired for the night to rest up for our eight-hour long train ride to Denali National Park.




We arrived in Anchorage on Alaskan Airlines.


On the red trolley for a tour of the city.


Our view inside the trolley.


Hood Lake where seaplanes land and take off.


Anchorage. Air crossroads of the world.



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Beautiful Vienna !

Posted April 28, 2015 By admin


Imperial Park called the Volksgarten.


The bustling streets of Vienna city center.


Interesting mural on a building being renovated in Vienna.


Vienna city center with St. Peter’s Church.


Looking down Graben Street toward St. Peter’s Church.


Renovations on St. Peter’s Church.


Historicism architecture along the Ring.


St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a Gothic church in Vienna’s city center..


One of the towers of St. Stephan’s Cathedral.


The guys haggle over Mozart concert tickets.


A Vienna shopping center.


The Austrian National Library, located in the Hofburg Palace.


The entrance to the Austrian National Library.


Horse-drawn carraiges line up outside of Hofburg Palace.


Waiting outside the venue for the Mozart/Strauss concert.


The Mozart statue in the Burggarten.


Austrian Parliament with a statue of Athena, the goddess of wisdom.


Dan and Kevin in front of the Austrian Parliament building.


The beautiful gardens in Imperial Park.


Imperial Park with the Empress Elizabeth Monument.


Mimes on the streets of Vienna.


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On to Vienna!

Posted April 22, 2015 By admin


Mirabell Gardens


Beautiful pink begonias on display in Mirabell Gardens.


Flowers as far as the eye can see in Mirabell Gardens.


Mirabell Gardens Fountain with Mirabell Palace in the background.


A mime in Mirabell Gardens.


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Salzburg, the City of Mozart

Posted December 5, 2014 By admin


Mountain view of Salzburg on the way to Hohensalzburg Fortress.

August 12, 2014

We left our Fussen accommodations and boarded an 8 a.m. train for Salzburg. After a short stop in Munich, we arrived around noon in Austria’s fourth largest city of 150,000 residents. Right outside the train station, we conveniently jumped on a bus, which took us within walking distance of our lodging.

After we checked in, we were off to explore the city of Mozart and the “Sound of Music”. We began by walking over one of the several bridges that crossed the brown rushing waters of the Salzach River. The city was filled with excitement and music. It was the height of the Salzburg Music Festival, which ran from late July to the end of August.

Dan led us on a tour through Old Town Salzburg, which included a climb to the Hohensalzburg Fortress. The fortress, which sat atop Monchsberg Mountain, was built in 1077 and was the largest, fully preserved fortress in central Europe. It served as a fortification, a military barracks, prison and temporary residence of the prince archbishops for many years. Now the fortress is open to the public year round and serves as an impressive setting for concerts and city events.

We started our journey to the fortress by riding the Monchsberg lift (elevator) 1700 feet straight up through mountain rock. When the doors opened at the top, the panoramic view of the city was magnificent. We hiked along paved wooded paths that passed by an abbey, villas, and green meadows dotted with farmhouses. Medieval city walls, dating back to1470 escorted us to Hohensalzburg Fortress.

The fortress courtyard was huge and served as the main square for some 1,000 medieval residents. It was where they set up shop and sold their goods making the fortress a self-sufficient community. We walked around the grounds and explored the fortress chapel. Our most memorable experience was our climb up the Reck watchtower to the highest point of the fortress. From this vantage point, on one side we could see a magnificent view of the Alps and on the other side a great panoramic view of Salzburg.   

When our fortress tour was over, instead of hiking back to the city we rode down on the funicular (cable) railway. We reached Old Town and walked by several Salzburg Music Festival venues. We saw everything from performing artists on street corners to concerts shown on large open-air screens. In Residence Square, we spotted several horse carriages where beautiful stallions standing all in a row waited to show off their charming city. After admiring them, Kevin treated us to a horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic city center. It was a great way to end our busy day.

Bis spater,



Dan and Kevin strike a pose on a bridge over the Salzach River.


Mountain view of Salzburg with the fortress in the distance.


A view of the Salzach River winding through beautiful Salzburg.


A view of Salzburg from Monchsberg Mountain.


We pass by a villa on the way to Hohensalzburg Fortress.


Rodge, Dan and Kevin admire their surroundings.


Medieval city walls dating back to 1470.


Hohensalzburg Fortress.


Kathy approaching the fortress.


A view of Salzburg from the fortress.


A view of the Salzburg Cathedral from the fortress.


A view from the fortress tower.


A view of the Alps from the fortress tower.


Distant views of green meadows dotted with farm houses.


City of Salzburg viewed from the fortress tower.


A view from the fortress tower.

Residence Square with its ornate fountain.


Horses waiting patiently in Residence Square.


Horses eager to show off their beautiful city.


A musician serenades us by the Mozart statue.


In celebration of the Salzburg Music Festival, a Violinist plays in Mozart Square.


We are entertained by Salzburg Music Festival musicians.



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Fairy-tales Castles in Picturesque Bavaria.

Posted November 19, 2014 By admin


King Ludwig’s fairy-tale castle, Neuschwanstein.


 August 11, 2014

After a hearty breakfast and several cups of coffee, we headed to the train station. It was time to say goodbye to Munich and head south to the small town of Fussen, located at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. We arrived in Fussen at 10 a.m. and walked to Hotel Sonne, our lodging for the night. We had only a few minutes to check in and drop off our bags because we had a bus to catch at 11 a.m. We were on our way to tour King Ludwig’s fairy-tale castle, Neuschwanstein.

King Ludwig inherited the throne of Bavaria in 1864 at the age of eighteen and two years later started building his castle. To execute his dream project, he commissioned a stage designer and several engineers as architects. It took seventeen years to build and Ludwig only lived in it six short months before he died at the age of forty. With only a third of the interior finished, it was opened to the public seven weeks after his death.

We arrived in the tiny town of Hohenschwangau where we picked up our tour tickets. It was a cold rainy day but we were ready to make the best of it. Our tour started at 2 p.m. so we had an hour to get to the castle. We could either take a shuttle or walk. We opted for the moderately steep 30-minute hike because the shuttle line was super long. As we climbed along paved road through the forest, horse drawn carriages full of families passed us on their way to the castle.

The rain held off until we arrived outside the castle, then the heavens opened up and a downpour followed. We were able seek refuge under a castle archway until it was time for our tour. The outside of the castle looked stunning with walls covered with a veneer of  limestone and beautiful towers and spires that rose to the sky. I could see why Walt Disney used Neuschwanstein Castle as an inspiration for his Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.

Our 15-room tour of the castle was amazing. We walked through ballrooms, bedrooms, formal dining rooms, servant areas and a very modern kitchen. Our tour guide filled us in on the history and what life was like in the castle in the late 1800’s. The inside was filled with magnificent architecture, frescos, paintings, carved works, mosaics, furniture and decorations. King Ludwig was a big fan of Richard Wagner and surrounded himself with paintings of characters and events from Wagner’s operas.

Although built in the 1870’s, the castle was equipped with all kinds of technical conveniences, which were very modern, if not revolutionary at that time. It was equipped with running water throughout, including flush toilets and hot water in the kitchen and baths, and had a forced-air central heating system. An elevator from the kitchen three stories below serviced the dining room. King Ludwig even made sure the castle was connected to telephone lines, even though at the time of its construction very few people had telephones. Truly amazing!

After our tour, we hopped on a bus and rode back to our hotel in Fussen. That night as we dined on our pizza at Ristorante La Perla we reflected on our day and the magnificence of King Ludwig’s Neuschwanstein Castle!

Bis spater,



A Bavarian restaurant in the quaint town of Fussen.


Hohenschwangau Castle, King Ludwig’s boyhood home.


A roadside view of Neuschwanstein Castle.


Neuschwanstein Castle.


Near the entrance to Neuschwanstein Castle.


One of the castle towers.


A view from the castle.




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Beamers and Boards in Munich!

Posted November 5, 2014 By admin


The BMW corporate headquarters located north of Munich.


August 10, 2014

We started our second day in Munich by jumping on the U-Bahn (subway). We were on our way to the BMW Complex located north of Munich. The complex consisted of the corporate headquarters, the BMW Museum, BMW Welt(World) and the BMW Munich Plant.

When we exited the subway station, we were in front of a cloud-shaped glass and steel building.The spectacular modern structure was the BMW Welt. We entered the impressive high tech building and were immediately entertained by a stuntman zipping around on a motorcycle. The spacious building displayed all of the newest BMW motorcycles and cars.

On our walk through the building, we marveled at new Mini Coopers, Rolls Royce and electric cars. We got a chance to sit in some of the models and dream. I personally enjoyed sitting on the decked out, high tech motorbikes. Along with exhibiting the latest and greatest BMW had to offer, the Welt served as a delivery area. Up to 160 daily customers received their brand new BMWs there.

Our next stop was the BMW Museum, which charted the history of the car company. Founded in 1916, BMW built airplane engines. In 1923, they started manufacturing motorbikes and eventually in 1928, they moved forward with the production of cars. Shortly after WW II, the Allied Forces dismantled BMW’s factories and the company was only allowed to manufacture household utensils and bicycles. In 1950, BMW returned to the production of cars.  

For the next hour we strolled by exhibits of airplane engines, cars and motorcycles from 1916 to the present. It was interesting to see the first BMW that looked like a delivery truck, evolve over the years into a high tech, sleek glossy car. While we were there, the museum was having a Rolls Royce exhibit, which displayed antique and modern models. After walking through years of history, we decided to jump on the U-Bahn and head to the English Garden.

The English Garden is a 900-acre public park in the center of Munich. It is one of the world’s largest urban parks and stretches from the city center to the northeastern city limits. The park, created in 1789 is named for the English style of landscape gardening. Along with a beautiful lake, the park main attractions include two beer gardens, a Chinese Pagoda, a Japanese teahouse and a Greek-style temple. 

After lunch, we entered the sprawling park filled with acres of open space, shaded woodlands, streams, lakes and footpaths that followed along the river or through the countryside. It was a beautiful, tranquil place to spend the afternoon. The park was full of people cycling, jogging, swimming, paddle boating on the lake, sunbathing, and enjoying horse drawn carriage rides. On our walk, we came upon the Chinesischer Turm beer garden. We were surprised to see a pagoda-style Chinese tower there. The all-wooden structure was five stories tall and outfitted with a German oompah band playing foot stomping music. We walked around the beer garden but didn’t imbibe or chow down because we were on a mission to find some river surfers. 

There aren’t many places in the world where one can find World-Class river surfing, except right in the middle of the English Garden. Munich was the birthplace of river surfing and has been the center of surfboard riding on stationary waves since the early-1970s. The wave, which reaches a height of two meters, was created by concrete slabs that were placed on the riverbed in the 1970s to weaken the rivers flow. We watched barefooted surfers in wetsuits line up along the bank taking turns entering the water with their boards. Surfs up river shredders! Who needs a gigantic ocean wave to Hang Ten?

Bis spater,



Kathy styling on a new motorbike.


A decked out BMW with wings?


One of the first BMW cars.


A 1930’s BMW Teile in Eile.


Kevin checks out a row of vintage BMWs!


A vintage Rolls Royce.


Another vintage Rolls Royce.


A sleek sweet 1956 Beamer.


Another classic BMW.


Apple strudel a la mode.


Chinesischer Turm beer garden in the English Garden.


River surfing on the Eisbach River. Hang Ten?



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Hop-on Hop-off in Munich

Posted October 29, 2014 By admin


Munich’s world-famous beer hall, Hofbrauhaus.

August 9, 2014

Our hotel was close to a big transportation hub with the main bus station, train station and a subway station within a fifteen-minute walk. We decided to take a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. From the open double-decker bus, we were able to see main attractions as well as hop on and hop off at conveniently located stops around the city. Our guide pointed out historic galleries, churches, palaces and museums. It was a great way to get the lay of the land and basic information on some of the sights.

We hopped off at the Marienplatz, the heart of the city of Munich. The main historical square, full of grand buildings, great shops and outdoor cafes was bustling with people on a mission. I was very impressed with the bicycle friendly city and the rows and rows of bike racks everywhere. We were once again entertained by a mime standing atop a pedestal.

One of the first buildings that caught my eye was the New Town Hall with its world famous glockenspiel. The 300-foot long ornate building with hundreds of statues, turrets and arches looked like something out of the Middle Ages but was constructed between 1867 and 1909. Unlike many building in the area, it survived the bombs of World War II and served as a home to the city government and the Munich Tourism Office.

On our walk, we discovered Holy Ghost Church. The Gothic “Hall Church” was holding a summertime “Garden of Eden” display. Inside it was decorated with trees, bushes, flowers and an origami display of white doves suspended from the ceiling. It was a beautiful sight.

Since we were in the heart of Munich we had to explore the world-famous beer hall, Hofbrauhaus. It started out as a brewery, but in 1808, the brewery moved out and a 5,000-seat food and beer palace was built in its place. When we walked into the packed hall, it was standing room only. We wandered around and absorbed the ambiance of the grand hall. The beautifully painted arched ceilings and dark wood paneling on the lower walls dominated the room. Long wooden tables full of lively people downing beer and munching on Bavarian cuisine surrounded us. Servers dressed in traditional attire, zigzagged their way through the crowds with liter-steins of overflowing beer. We worked our way to the top floor where we found another huge beer hall, but it was not open for business. Its walls were covered with historical pictures, old menus and other memorabilia. I was happy we got to spend time in this great treasure, which was an essential part of Bavarian history and culture.

After lunch, we had one more place to visit, the Residenz. The Munich Residenz was the former royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs of the House of Wittelsbach from 1385 to 1918 and was the largest city palace in Germany. It was officially opened to the public in 1920. During World War II, the Residenz was destroyed but many of the masterpieces inside were moved to safety before the bombs hit the palace. Restoration began in 1945, and most of the rooms were reconstructed by the 1980s.  

We started our walk through the 120-room residence; the first area we discovered was the Shell Grotto. This unusual display was built with fresh water shells in the 1580’s with a golden statue of Mercury as the centerpiece. The walls were covered in fish, mermaids, pots of flowers, and baskets of fruit all made of shells.

One of my favorite attractions was the Antiquarium. When I walked into the massive hall, I was captivated by the immense 66-meter long room. The ceilings and vaults above the windows were decorated with fresco paintings while sculptures and busts were lined along both sides of the walls. It was the oldest room in the Residenz complex and was built between 1568 and 1571 by Duke Albrecht V for his collection of antique sculptures. It was a wonderful place to sit and view works of art hundreds of years old.

On the upper floor, we were able to see the Wittelsbach’s lavish private apartments, banquet halls and ornate chapels. As we walked by room after room, we were taken back to past times when rulers lived in gilded Bavarian grandeur. Over the centuries, the Wittelsbachs amassed important collections of porcelain, silver, paintings and miniatures. Treasures of bronze sculptures, magnificent tapestries, rare furniture, candelabra and chandeliers were also collected. All of these could be viewed in over ninety rooms throughout the Residenz.

After walking around the grand palace for three hours, we were exhausted and had overdosed on opulence. It was time to hop on the bus and head to the beer garden for dinner.

Bis spater,



Exploring the heart of Munich.


Dan and Kevin strolling through Munich.


The New Town Hall located in the Marienplatz.


The ornate tower on the Old Town Hall.


A mime entertaining in Munich’s Marienplatz.


“Garden of Eden” display in the Holy Ghost Church.


Mermaids made out of shells in the Shell Grotto.


A golden statue of Mercury in the Shell Grotto.


The sixty-six meter long Antiquarium.


The massive ornate Antiquarium.


Imperial Hall in the Residenz.


Antique furniture in the rulers lavish apartments.


A grand hallway in the Residenz.


Part of an antique plate collection.


The Ornate Chapel.


The barrel vaulted ceiling of the Ornate Chapel.



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Munich, Here We Come!

Posted October 6, 2014 By admin


Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas museum and store.

August 8, 2014
Our goal for the morning was to explore more of the town and shop. We had until 12:50 p.m. before we had to catch the Romantic Road bus to Munich. As we approached a Rothenburg street corner, we saw a gold statue drawing a lot of attention. When it started moving, we realized it was a mime. We stood watching for a while and then moseyed on.

We discovered Rothenburg’s largest church, St. Jakob’s. The Lutheran Church, built between 1311-1484, was a great example of Gothic architecture with its high arched ceilings, stone pillars and towers. Inside, the church had wonderful woodcarvings and beautiful stain glass windows. St. Jakob’s high alter; also called the Twelve Apostles Alter was considered to be the finest in all Germany. After exploring the church, I sat in the main hall and took in all the beauty and reverence around me. The sunlight shone through the stained glass windows and bathed the alter in color. It was a lovely place to rest and reflect.

Dan and Kevin were on a mission to shop for cuckoo clocks and beer steins. After exploring several stores, they discovered a wonderful little shop and found the gifts they were looking for. After they finished shopping, we had just enough time to return to our hotel, grab our luggage and hoof it to the bus station to catch the Romantic Road bus.  

We boarded the tour bus and readied ourselves for a five-hour ride to Munich. The bus was half-full and we had plenty of room to move around. Our gregarious driver greeted us, made sure all were accounted for and then started on our journey. Germany’s Romantic Road was a trade route during the middle ages and ran from Frankfurt south to Fussen, near the Austrian border.

We traveled by beautiful pastoral countryside with small medieval towns tucked in between. The driver provided several opportunities for us to depart the bus for a few minutes and explore some of the towns. It was a long but enjoyable ride with the bus driver providing commentary on things of interest. When we arrived in Munich, we walked twenty minutes to our hotel. After getting situated, we headed to a neighborhood beer garden for supper. Sausage, French fries, German potato salad, pretzels and beer were on the menu.

Bis spater,



A mime standing on a Rothenburg corner.


The high alter of St. Jacob’s Church.


A Rothenburg store window full of collectables.


Rodge and Mr. Nutcracker.


A bear entertaining us from a toy store window.


A store window full of steins.


The German countryside along the Romantic Road.


The guys drinking dinner in a Munich Beer Garden.


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