Deutschland and beyond

Living in Germany

Updates from the parents!

Whoops again… I DID take an amazing trip to Berlin and I’ll update on that, but the fact that I’ve gotten a pre-written update before me is great. My parents (finally) came to visit! And they were kind enough to write updates for all of you to get an idea of what we did… (as a precursor to the pictures, Dad INSISTED that he get in a large amount of them since a picture of just the building is boring, and everyone needed to see that he was there)

Munich (by Mom):

I didn’t realize that part of my trip would be adding to Colleen’s Blog- but I will indulge her- my apologies to her friends… Tim and I arrived safely in Munich where Colleen met us at the LARGE train station- by an old familiar friend- STARBUCKS. Needless to say after our flight we did need coffee. She helped us gather our luggage and took us to her room as it was too early to check in. We visited for a bit and caught up on all the news- it was so great just to see her 🙂 We took the S.bahn back to Marienplatz, checked in, and walked around the square. We sat at a table for lunch- at which Col ordered so fluently in German for us- the proud mom just beaming at this child who makes it look so easy. The rest of the afternoon she took us around and showed us the university and where she takes classes. The architecture of the buildings is so phenomenal, one building more decorated than the last. We had dinner at a great place called “ocui”, sort of like a “Flat Top” restaurant, the food and the wine were great. Then off to early slumber for the old folks.

Day 2 in Munich was rainy, but determined. We went to Fuessen and toured the Neuschwanstein catle. Tim could fill you in on the history of all we saw- I was just in awe of the gold, the decorations, the expanse of the castle. It’s nice to see that some of history is preserved. Tuesday in Munich was… rainy- but the 3 of us went to Salzburg anyway. Saw Mozart’s house, went into a museum to learn of the history of Salzburg (and to dry off), had wonderful pastries at Cafe Tomaselli, then had pizza back in our hotel room where Col caught up on some TV before heading back to her dorm. Day 4 in Munich- Wednesday, didn’t start out early. Col had classes in the morning, Tim and I went to the Alte Pinakothek Museum and saw great artwork- Southern Germany is very Catholic, so a lot of Christ-related them pics- very beautiful and well-preserved for their ages. Tim continued on and I met Colleen after class to go shopping! Very successful. We had dinner with Colleen and her friend Becky where the waiter Tony was flirty with both of them. We had an enjoyable meal, then headed back to our room where we were all able to watch USA beat Spain in soccer!

Neuschwanstein. Yes, even Germany has construction

Neuschwanstein. Yes, even Germany has construction

Vienna (by Dad): After reading “Vienna 1814” on the pleasant 5 hour train from Munich, I was ready for Austrian history, culture, and pastries. The Congress of Vienna took place over 9 months after the defeat of Napoleon to divide the continent of Europe (Sidenote from Colleen here: Dad, this really has nothing to do with our trip. But I’ll humor your history-loving self and leave it in)

Friday AM was spent at the Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches). Flemish, Austrian, and Italian paintings from the 16th and 17th centruies are in the same class as the Louvre, Prado, and Vatican. Afternooon was spent strolling the grounds of the Imperial Palace (Hofburg), home of the Habsburgs for 700 years. It includes 6 museums, an imperial academy, the Spanish riding school, and of course a butterfly garden! Admission is pricey and a la carte! But all the churches were free (C: and by all, he isn’t kidding)! As Colleen will attest we did not miss too many. After visiting the Town Hall, I managed to get us lost near the University. We had to stop at a cafe for ice cream and pastry before the long walk back to the Museum Quarter. Our hotel was only 3 blocks west in the Neubau District. Found a nice outdoor cafe on one of the many cobblestoned streets for a nice bottle of Austrian Pinot Noir and good food.  Did I forget to mention breakfast? Included with the room (a cozy triple) was a great spread of cereals, fruit, yogurt, ham & proscuitto, cheeses, breads, jams, teas, and strong coffee. We usually skipped lunch and went straight for the apple strudel and sachertorte later in the day. (C: by the way, our visit to Vienna was definitely such a success in no small part to my roommate Emily who studied there this past semester, and gave us a fantastic list of things to do/places to go. Thanks Em!!)

Mom and Dad in the Hofburg gardens

Mom and Dad in the Hofburg gardens

Saturday–> Walked through the Naschmarkt- open food stalls, clothes, and a lot of junk! Colleen did find some nice scarves in bright colors. Another long walk to the Belvedere Palace built 300 years ago as a summer palace for Prince Eugene of Stoy. It houses 19th and 20th centure austrian paintings, specifically Gustav Klimt (“The Kiss”). Beautiful gardens and the sun was actually shining! Next was a jaunt to St. Stephen’s Cathedral after a stop in the Lindt chocolate hop. Had to stock up on “souvenirs”. The Cathedral is amazing- 450 ft tower with multiple architectural styles dating back to 1144 when it was built. We almost were locked in for the 5 pm mass!! Grocery shopping was not easy. The plan was to pick up some salami, cheese, bread, and wine for dinner and a soccer game in the room. The meat counter had over 100 choices of hams, salami, etc and the cheese counter was twice as huge! Colleen made some fine choices. Always easier to order when you have a German-speaking daughter as your guide!

one of the stalls at the Naschmarkt (mom and I settled for cream-puff like desserts instead of fruit)

one of the stalls at the Naschmarkt (mom and I settled for cream-puff like desserts instead of fruit)

St. Stephen's from the side. The roof is all mosaics

St. Stephen's from the side. The roof is all mosaics

Sunday was our third straight day of good weather (only drizzles several times a day with occasional sun). Took the U-bahn to the Schoenbrunn Palace and Park. Spent 2 hours walking the grounds and gardens before the obligatory rain started. Only 50 of the 1441 rooms are open to the public (our tour only did 40). It was a wedding gift to Maria Theresia from her father the Emperor. Colleen wants to apply as a tour guide. She promises not to repeat herself 20 times like the one we had did.

Mom and Dad at Schoenbrunn (I got a few picture-taking requests after this one)

Mom and Dad at Schoenbrunn (I got a few picture-taking requests after this one)

Linz (also by dad): Linz, 115 miles west of Vienna on the Danube, is the 2009 European Cultural City. We missed any of the film/music festivals but had a pleasant one day stay. The reestablished hotel from 1565 was right in the city center. No A/C (like Innsbruck). The train to Postlingburg Bahn is based on a pulley system- rising over 1500 feet to give a giant view out of the city. Of course there is a church (of the 7 sorrows) on the bluff. There are 12 other churches in this town- only saw the 3 main ones (C: mom was really bummed about that I’m sure). Lunch al fresco at the Lentos Kunst Museum overlooking the Danube. Spend the day and evening exploring this historic town. (C: I unfortunately couldn’t go with them to Linz, I had to go back to Munich for about 1.5 days for this thing called “class”. So I don’t have any pictures from here. Sorry!)

Innsbruck (back to mom): The last leg of our jouney has been the sunniest. We arrived Tuesday from Linz and Col met us at the train station. We dropped off our luggage at our hotel and toured the town. Looking at all the buildings, all I kept thinking of was the origianl movie “Frankenstein”. (C: wait what? not the Sound of Music?? where does Frankenstein come into play!?) The villages, the music, the building facades. We ate at an “Italian place”. Go figure- Colleen was ready for a dietary change anyway- We were able to sit outside and enjoy good food and wine.

View from one of the bridges in Innsbruck

View from one of the bridges in Innsbruck

Wednesday we were able to connect with our neighbors John and Rosa Ernst who had been in Alpach for 5 weeks. They picked us up at the Innsbrook train station and took us back to show us where they’re staying. A very nice slef-contained village, overlooking some beautiful green, lush terrain and mountains with snow visible on the peaks. We stopped in a few towns (Rattensburg and Kitzbuehl), walked around, had a great lunch (finally I had Wienerschnitzel. C: not in Wien (vienna). go figure), got back in the car where John proceeded to take us up in the mountains so we could view a hidden waterfall and more spectacular landscapes. On our way down, we convinced our driver to stop for coffee and… pastries. A beautiful view of the mountains again and good company.

Dad, Colleen, John, and Rosa at the waterfall

Dad, Colleen, John, and Rosa at the waterfall

Thursday found us taking a cable car up 826 meters to a 2 hour hike. It was a beautiful sunny day and a great way to burn off calories. Once again great views from on high- really brings a sense of peace and calmness when you’re out of the city. We came back down, had lunch, did a little more shopping, and now we are headed back to Munich to fly out Friday. As I sit on the train, Tim reads and Colleen sleeps, I look at her and know it’s going to be hard to say goodbye again (she’ll be home in 3 weeks) but I also see a very mature, confident, secure young lady who has truly enjoyed the experience and will do well wherever she goes.

Looking down on Innsbruck on our hike

Looking down on Innsbruck on our hike

Mom was definitely ready to head back after her first continental European extravaganza. Dad on the other hand, really likes the idea of all these vacation days and can’t wait for 2 weeks in Michigan in August. That’s all for now, have to get back to my homework/essays, it never ends. Hope everyone had a happy 4th!


July 5, 2009 - Posted by | Germany, Travel


  1. Hey Colleen,

    Sure do miss that good O’Connor humor of yours! Colleen, didn’t you know “like father, like son”! Your dad takes after Grandpa Doc. Never misses a church on vacation. I personally enjoy the cemetery tours. Maybe you could take me on a few of those!! Miss you! See you soon. Love Ya!

    Comment by Aunt Tee Tee | July 7, 2009

  2. awwwwww im so glad you are so confident and mature and secure young german lady ein heldenleben leiderhosen! those are the only words i know. i actually dont even know what heldenleben means. but ein heldenleben is an orchestral piece by richard strauss with crazy horn parts. in case you were wondering. but i digress…

    wooooot germany wish i could have come! but i was too busy throwing crazy parties while home alone i mean whatttt

    no heritage centers? hmmmm darn.

    love cala

    Comment by Cala | July 12, 2009

  3. (I’m a little behind the times in catching up with your blog – sorry ’bout that!)
    ….but wow Colleen! You got your mom to bypass fruit for PASTRIES?! Will wonders ever cease?! Must have been that wonderful Germany-Air going to her head…but I’m sure she’ll bike an extra 5 miles to make up for it once she gets home! 🙂 Hahahahaha!
    Anyway, we all sure do miss you! Can’t wait to see you when you get back!
    Love, Auntie Anne

    Comment by Auntie Anne | July 21, 2009

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