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[Austria] Road Tripping Days .5, 1, and 2

roadtrip Yep. That does say 20 hours of driving!

I know I mentioned it before, but I’m pretty sure we were crazy when we organised our trip. 20+ hours of driving?

But it wouldn’t be the first time Tim and I have done a long trip – our trip right after our wedding was driving from my home in PA to my cousin in FL, which takes about 21 hours and when we went on our belated honeymoon in Autumn 2010 we drove to Austria. Still though, it is a lot!

We decided to break it down into several days of driving, and even started our trip around 7PM on the Sunday right after Tim had worked a 12 hour day shift. No, I’m not kidding. He got home around 6, and we loaded up the car and headed to Ashford where we had booked into a single room at the Travelodge for the night. We have booked into these family rooms before and have always found them to be spacious, but this time we had a very small room and there was only about 6 inches between our double bed and Mom’s single! Fortunately, it was the only night we were all staying in one room. We showered that night and went to bed around midnight with the alarm set for 6AM. Our channel crossing had a check in time of 0720, and we were 20 minutes away.

Checking into the Eurotunnel was easy and quick, and so was getting through French immigration……in fact, that nearly didn’t stamp my mom’s US passport (Tim and I travelled on UK passports)! Tim had to tell the I/O that we had an American in the car. He soon stamped her passport and we were on our way into the queue, where we sat for about 20 minutes before being directed onto the train.

The train was a lot faster than I had thought it would be. Probably because the last time I went by rail, I was on the Eurostar and travelled between London and Paris. It hadn’t dawned on me that we would only be on the train to go through the tunnel under the channel and the trip only took about 30 minutes. The rest of the time was mostly loading and unloading!

I also was surprised that you stayed sitting in your car and there were no snack bar facilities, but I also think that was du to my confusion on the length of the journey. Also, if they had to have coaches for passengers as well as the carriages for the cars it would have to be a VERY long train, or only take half the number of cars.

The rest of the drive on our first day was long and uneventful…..until we got diverted off the main road due to it being closed and could’t seem to find a way back (this clip wound up missing when I was doing the video, so I might do a separate one later) onto the autobahn! Our original hotel booked was called Schlossblick and was located in Schwangau. The check in deadline was a FIRM 2000. I kept watching the ETA on the sat nav (really, Google maps) and started to panic the closer the ETA got to to 8PM. I had read the reviews on Booking.com and saw that the owner does not give you any leeway, even if you ring ahead to tell her you will be late. As much as I was looking forward to having a balcony overlooking my favourite castle, we decided to cancel the booking around 4PM, as you could only cancel for free until 5. Fortunately, the booking.com app on my phone (I swear, I don’t work for them, I just really like their site!) helped me to find us a new hotel – this one with a 24 hour front desk. It was a SmartHotel, and we booked it about 2 hours before we arrived.

Of course, this couldn’t go off without some kind of hitch. The receptionist spoke perfect English, and I can speak German, but we still semed to hit some kind of language barrier and it took me nearly a half an hour just to check in. First, he said I didn’t have a reservation, then he tried to put the three of us all in the same room (at the rate for two rooms!). Finally, we sorted it out and we had rooms located next door to each other. Then, when we got to the room, I discovered someone had left their clothing in the wardrobe! After taking the clothing back to the front desk, I returned to the room and crashed for the night. I don’t know what Mom did, but Tim and I did not stay up very long!

In the morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and got on the road to Schwangau and Neuschwanstein!

Credit goes to Tim for this shot #neuschwanstein

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

Ultimately, we decided against doing the castle tours – The Maria bridge was closed, so no opportunity for those amazing photos, but you still got dropped off at the bridge. We remembered it being a 20 minute uphill walk to get to the castle, plus walking around the castle and up the stairs and decided with Mom’s knees to skip it, and instead we wandered around Schwangau for the morning and early afternoon. Tim and I wandered down to the Alpsee for some gorgeous photos of that “toothpaste green water” as Tim calls the Alpine water.

Never leaving!! #bavaria #alpsee

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

We still had about 5 hours of driving to do, as once we were in Austria we still had to drive through most of the country to get to our first official stop! We encountered more road works, closed roads, and temporary roads. Fortunately, I was in contact with our landlord and was able to give him updates on when to expect us. We finally arrived around 7PM, long after the shops were shut for the night, so the landlords offered to feed us and we were treated to a smorgasbord accompanied by local beer. They spoke English, and I was slowly getting my German back….but Tim did much better than me!

After a pleasant few hours with our landlords, we retreated back to our apartment where once again, we fell into bed.

Read about the full trip here as links are added as new posts and videos are posted.


Map image at the top screenshot from Google.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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[Travel] Austrian Road Trip Summer 2016

austriaschedule We might be a little insane.

After we got back from our trip to Austria last October, we immediately began planning a trip back, but this time, we were going to take my mom along who had always wanted to visit Austria and who would be visiting us for part of the Summer. I spent many MANY nights researching all our options….flights, rental cars, trains (while Tim and I have his BR privs, Mom would not), etc. I finally worked out that it was actually going to be cheaper by nearly £1000 if we drove our car across and road tripped because flights for the three of us were coming in at nearly £500 and it was very expensive to rent a car for three weeks!

I used our Tesco club card points to book the Eurotunnel for the trip over, and I booked the cheapest ferry (DFDS) for the return trip. We knew we were going to have a stop to visit Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, and started making a rough idea of things we wanted to do and then picked regions to search for apartments as after renting apartments and self catering in October, we have decided that is the best way to go if you don’t want to tow your caravan or sleep in a tent as it gives you the freedom to be in charge of your meals. You can eat out if you want, but you have the options of staying in for all three meals. We usually had breakfast and dinner in our apartments and Lunch out.

We tried to add in some down time, but our first week was turning out to be VERY busy as we wanted to visit two railways (one of them twice) on specific days (due to their schedule) and day trip to Vienna. We also had my mom’s birthday while we were visiting, and I had decided to surprise her with the Sound of Music tour on her birthday, so we knew we had to be toward Salzburg by the 3rd. We also wanted to ride steam on the Pinz again, which had to be done on a Thursday, and the Zillertalbahn was only running steam Wednesday – Sunday. Tim also wanted to visit another line on one of the Saturdays, but after realising he would have to drive for 9 hours in the one day alone (as Mom and I would have taken the train to our next destination to get checked in on time) he decided against it and we decided to make a stop in Germany at the Chiemsee since we were cutting through it anyway.

Our schedule wound up looking like this:

Day .5 – Tim worked until 6pm, then we drove down to Ashford for the night in a Travelodge
Day 1 – Eurotunnel and driving. Originally it was going to be all the way to Schwangau, but we wound up stopping in Kempton instead.
Day 2 – Neuschwanstein and Schwangau and then driving to Weitra for our first apartment (Urlaubsnest)
Blog post for days .5, 1, and 2 can be found here
Review of Urlaubsnest can be found here
Day 3 – Waldviertelbahn and hopping across the Czech Border [Blog link]
Day 4 – Driving in the Czech Republic and JHMD
Day 5 – Vienna
Day 6 – Waldviertelbahn
Day 7 – Sound of Music Tour (Mom and I)/ Mondsee (Tim) and moved to Haus Reider in Pfarrwerfen
Blog post for Day 7 can be found here
Day 8 – Tim and I explored the area in car and on foot
Day 9 – Freilicht Museum (video)
Day 10 – Murtalbahn
Day 11 – Pinzgauelokalbahn
Day 12 – Salzburg
Day 13 – Chiemsee and Drive to Mayrhofen (Gasthaus Zillertal)
Day 14 – Exploring the local area
Day 15 – Brenner
Day 16 – Innsbruck
Day 17 – Zillertalbahn
Day 18 – Too rainy for much, so we had a lazy day and went on a walk
Day 19 – Drive to Goe, Belgium (Yellow House)
Day 20 – Ferry and drive home

Other related blog posts & videos:
(video) Austrian Grocery stores
[Travel] Grocery Shopping

Or watch all the videos here:

The countries we were in:
Czech Republic

(*drove in only)

with the exception of 2 single overnights at the beginning and a single overnight at the end, we stayed in three apartments and spent about a week in each.

As I write blog posts and post videos, I’ll be revisiting this post to add links to everything….I’m hoping to blog it all. I was a little lax in blogging our October trip, so I’m hoping I will do better this time!

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/


European Road Trip – Day Two: Neuschwanstein and Setting Up Camp

[Finally blogging about our trip to Germany and Austria we took in September 2010!]

Today was THE day. I was finally going to see what we affectionately dubbed “my castle”. I blogged about this all the way back in December 2009 when we started planning our trip, though at that time we had been planning on staying in Germany and not Austria. In between December 2009 and going on our trip in September 2010, our plans changed A LOT…but the one constant was always going to be visiting Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein has been the inspiration behind many artists, poets, writers, and….animators. Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World is partially based on Neuschwanstein. It’s no surprise…the castle is gorgeous. Even without going inside, I would have been completely satisfied with my visit having finally gotten the chance to gaze upon “my castle”.

I printed directions before we left the UK to get us from the hotel to the castle, and they seemed to work pretty well. At one point, we were driving on a tree-lined narrow road and I could catch glimpses of the castle through the trees. We pulled over and discovered a path through the bushes (obviously well-travelled by other visitors!) and I got my first in-person look at Neuschwanstein. It took my breath away and nearly had me in tears. We got back in the car, drove about 100 feet, and stopped again, this time to take a photo of the OTHER castle near Schwangau, Hohenschwangau. These two castles are within yodelling distance of each other. We did not tour Hohenschwangau that day, as my main focus was getting to Neuschwanstein, but we will go back and explore it on another trip. There’s so much to do right in that small area I could see us easily planning a week just staying right in that area.

We finally reached the castle grounds. You need to purchase your tickets before you get up to the castle at a special ticket booth (located next to one of the many souvenir shops!). This is also where you would purchase tickets for Hohenschwangau, as well as a combination ticket for both castles. After you have your ticket, you can opt to walk up the mountain, take a bus, or ride behind a horse-drawn carriage. As much fun as the carriage sounded, we opted for the bus ride up and the walk back down, figuring down would be lots easier than up! Tickets are for timed entries depending on what language you want the tour in (tours are offered in German, French, English, and then a multilingual tour where you walk around with a device similar to a mobile phone that translates into something like 30 languages), so you really need to watch how you get up to the castle and make sure there aren’t long queues! In fact, we nearly didn’t make it on time as the first bus to come down filled up with everyone ahead of us, leaving us standing about 5 people back from the front.

The bus drops off right near Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge), a very rickety wood and iron bridge that goes over the gorge giving you a perfect view of Neuschwanstein. Tim braved the bridge despite his dislike of heights to take a few photos for me. The bridge is still a decent uphill walk to the castle gates, so we had to get on our way quickly so we wouldn’t miss our booked slot.

Tours start from the courtyard. You can’t take large bags into the castle, so they offer lockers you can rent. Tim and I knew this ahead of time and left our knapsacks in the car, stuffing water bottles into the camera bag and my handbag. Each tour has a number attached to it and a barcode on your ticket. When your number is called, you have to go to the barrier, insert your ticket, and go in. When our tour was called, there was a mad (rude) dash to the barriers and I nearly got knocked over twice by people who seemed to think they had to be first.

Before I tell you about our visit, let’s talk about Neuschwanstein. The castle was built in the 19th century by a man who is better known as Mad Ludwig. It was intended to be his personal refuge, however he died while the castle was still being constructed. Ludwig wanted his castle to be a fairy tale castle and to pay tribute to Richard Wagner, and so all of the rooms are decorated to represent his musical works. Ludwig also had a slight obsession with swans, and there are multiple swans in every single room – carved into furniture, worked into the paintings, and even carved into the crown moulding. In fact, one of the first things you see when you walk in is a life-sized swan sculpture. Neuschwanstein means “new stone swan” in German.

Photography is not permitted inside the castle, but I did find a website with some interior photos.

The other people in our tour group continued to be rude. It’s really a shame, but some people just didn’t have the patience to wait their turn and were pushing and shoving at us. At one point, Tim and I even got separated by a crowd of people because they managed to push by me. It’s a castle, for crying out loud! It’s not going anywhere! Despite (or in spite of, take your pick) the rude tourists, we still had a great time. I was in awe. At one point we were looking out some windows at the scenery below, and I asked our tour guide if it was all right to take some photos looking out the (open) window. She gave me permission, so guess what happened? Yep. About a dozen people in our group all went over to the window and started taking photos and I had to wait until they were done before I could go take mine. Not that the guide wouldn’t have given the others permission, but it just really rubbed me the wrong way to have that happen when I was the one to ask about a picture!

At the end of the tour, you can take a self-guided tour of the kitchens on your way to the gift shop and cafe. The kitchen was amazing, and I couldn’t help but dream of the kinds of meals I’d cook if I had that large of an oven and hob at my fingertips! Once again, we ran into an issue when we tried to use the cafe. Tim and I didn’t know what was going on and there weren’t any signs, so we stood there by the counter waiting to place our order while one of the workers did something away from the counter (but saw us). Tim and I both assumed that since she saw us, she would come over to serve us as soon as she was done. Not so. Three ladies walked in behind us, got in front of us, and started calling for the woman’s attention. We thought we’d get served before these ladies because the woman had seen us waiting, but no. She goes and gets the food those ladies ordered, and then goes back to her other work, completely ignoring Tim and I. Not ones to hang around where we’re not wanted, we left and decided to grab food at the food and drink stands dotting the perimeter of the castle.

We started walking down the footpath taking photos and Tim was trying to find a spot to set up his camera for a self-timed shot. Ironically, a British couple heard Tim and I talking and asked us to take their photo in exchange for them taking ours. Worked out perfectly! We started hiking down the mountain and found a footpath to follow that went through the woods. It was dotted with benches, so we had someplace to stop and rest if we needed to.

By the time we got to the bottom, we decided it was time to head towards Austria. We had booked a few nights at Camping Hofer in Zell am Ziller, and we had about a two-and-a-half hour drive to get there. Since we’d be setting up camp, we wanted to make sure we arrived while it was still daylight, and the office at the campsite closed at 7PM. If we arrived later, we’d have been forced to find a B&B for the night. Arriving in daylight also gave us the chance to see what shops were available near the campsite. Fortunately, we passed a Billa supermarket on our way.

We arrived while it was still daylight. One of the very odd things about where we were was the complete lack of a sunset. I think it was because we were in a valley completely surrounded by mountains on all sides. The sun must have been behind a mountain. Tim and I just barely managed to get everything set up and Tim was blowing up the mattress as it started to get dark. I fished out a torch (US: flashlight) and managed to make us cups of tea and instead of going back out to Billa, we decided to eat whatever we happened to still have in the cooler that night. A review of the campsite will be made in a separate post.

We had an amazing day! Tim really spoiled me on this trip, and day three was to be another day of my choice – Swarovski’s Kristallwelten

And the photos…oh, you know you want to look!

If you click on the photo once, it will take you to that photos page. If you click on the photo again, you will be able to view it full size. I have no idea why WordPress made it so complicated!

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European Road Trip – Day One

[Finally blogging about our trip to Germany and Austria we took in September 2010!]

Or I should say, Day .5 and Day One.

On the Sunday before we left, Tim had to work a 12-hour day shift. So, we packed the car up on Saturday afternoon – I dragged everything outside while Tim was at work, and then when he got home we spent a few hours stuffing it…and boy, do I wish I had thought to take pictures of the packed car! My friend Lou lives down near Dover, and she offered to let us spend the night at her place on Sunday so we wouldn’t lose a half day driving through England. What a lifesaver! We didn’t actually get to her house until past 10PM, and didn’t get to sleep (too busy chatting!) until around 12, but it was well worth it to get on a Ferry around 8AM. Thanks again, Lou (Lou is currently cruising in the Caribbean with our favourite band, Barenaked Ladies)!

Our plans for Monday were to drive across France, through Belgium and Luxembourg, and finally into Germany. The drive was LONG. I think when we do this again (plans are for 2012 or 2013!), we’ll be breaking the journey sooner, as Tim was really tired. Unless by then I’m driving, in which case we would be able to switch off. But we had important plans and a sort-of itinerary to follow. Plus, I booked us a room for the night in Oy-am-Mittelberg.

We took an early morning ferry, around 8AM BST. Unfortunately, we crossed into a new time zone and we actually lost an hour. I think next time, we’ll aim for a 7AM sailing, as well. I also discovered that P&O sail continuously through the night, so we could have driven down after Tim got off work, gotten on the ferry and stayed at a hotel in France and given us a jump start. Oh well. We know for the next trip. The ferry was also cold. We went outside on the open deck while the ship was leaving port in Dover and while it was docking in Calais, but then we went inside and ordered breakfast. Food on the ferry was expensive, but it was worth it – They had a breakfast deal where you got something like 6 or 7 items for a flat rate. I took a picture of Tim’s plate!

We reached Calais around 9:30AM local time, and started in on the long drive. We made a bathroom stop somewhere in France, and stopped in Belgium for Lunch. I packed things into our cigarette lighter socked powered cooler so we could have a picnic lunch and we took a decent break. Original plans were to get to our Gasthaus in plenty of time for Abendbrot (evening meal), but that wasn’t going to happen. We finally gave in and stopped around 8PM at a service plaza. Our options were an expensive authentic German meal, or Burger King. Needless to say, we opted for Burger King. No reason to break the bank on a dinner break! This also is where we learned about Frauenparkplatz.

A Frauenparkplatz is a parking space, or series of spaces, reserved for women. The spaces are a little wider than traditional spaces, which lead you to think the Germans perhaps don’t think women can park. However, these spaces were actually created for women’s safety and are located close to doors and well-lit. Personally, I think it’s a great idea…it just also has the potential for jokes!

Around this time, we also discovered one of the perks of the Germany Autobahn — Many sections have raised speed limits or even NO speed limit. At first I was afraid for Tim to be driving at 100, but then I soon realized that if he didn’t, we’d get squashed by all the other passing cars! The sections aren’t very long, or at least, driving along at 100 they don’t feel very long. It helped us to make up some time, too. Our Gasthaus had a check-in time of by 10PM and if we didn’t get there, we’d lose 80% of the room rate plus not have a place to sleep. Fortunately, I was able to call the Gasthaus from my mobile and they were willing to “wait up” for us until 11. As luck would have it, we managed to arrive right at 10PM!

We stayed at the Ratskeller. A Gasthaus I picked completely by random based on it’s location and price. I just looked at a map of where we planned to be the following day, and picked out a few towns to check that looked like they were within an hours driving distance. I picked the Ratskeller completely blind, but it turned out to be an excellent choice.

Our room was basic, but it had all the basic commodities you expect from a hotel – comfortable, clean beds, a clean WC with shower stall, a telephone, television, and as luck would have it- free WiFi. Our hosts even offered to cook a meal for us when we arrived at 10! We declined, since we had made a stop already for food. We did make the mistake of assuming there would be a kettle or coffee maker in our room though and wished we had asked for some tea. We were really tired, so we set our alarms for 8 the following morning, plugged in some of our electronics to get them charged up, pushed the beds together (we booked a double room, but it consisted of two single beds), and collapsed.

The following morning we pulled back the curtains to absolute beauty. We missed it the night before since we arrived in the dark, but Oy-am-Mittelberg is in a valley of the Bavarian Alps. It’s stunning. Most of their tourism comes from skiing in the Winter, so in the off-season it is fairly quiet. When we went down for breakfast, there was only a handful of people present.

Breakfast (Frühstück) in Bavaria consists of a continental breakfast of meats and cheeses, and then there is usually a second breakfast called Brotzeit (“Bread Time”). The Gasthaus gave us a nice spread of breads, meat, cheeses, cereal, and hard-cooked eggs. The meal also included tea, coffee, milk, and apple juice. Surprisingly, the tea wasn’t bad! Tim and I adopted the continental style breakfast for the duration of our trip, as it made Frühstück a lot easier to prepare before we headed out for the day!

We were soon on the road and on the way to our first tourist stop of the trip – Neuschwanstein Castle. We stopped a few places along the way to take some photos. I’ll try not to overwhelm you with photos, but it’s going to be hard to pick my favourites!

If you click on the photo once, it will take you to that photos page. If you click on the photo again, you will be able to view it full size. I have no idea why WordPress made it so complicated!

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We’re Back!

We’re back from our two-week European road trip! We had a GREAT time and loved camping. Photos are slowly going up on Facebook….between the two of us, we have over 2500 pics to go through, but Tim has way more than me (since he took more when we rode trains than I did!)

Here’s a breakdown of what we did:

Day .5 – Drove down to my friend Lou’s house to spend the night
Day One – Got on the ferry from Dover-Calais. Drove across France, Belgium and into Germany to stay in Oy-am-Mittleburg for the night
Day Two – Neuschwanstein, then drove to set up camp in Zell am Ziller at Camping Hofer
Day Three – Kristallwelten and Innsbruck
Day Four – Zillertalbahn
Day Five – Achenseebahn and Achensee
Day Six – Drove across Austria to set up camp in Nußdorf at Camping Gruber along the Attersee
Day Seven – Steyrtalbahn
Day Eight – Vienna (by rail!)
Day Nine – Murtalbahn
Day Ten – Salzburg
Day Eleven – Ybbstalbahn and Mariazellerbahn
Day Twelve – Long drive into Germany, overnight near Köln
Day Thirteen – Drove back to Calais, decided to take an earlier boat instead of another overnight and we arrived back in Lincoln at 12:30 in the morning.

I still have to finish up posts about Wales, then I’ll start in on Austria, but I do promise to blog about everything!

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Camping in Our Garden

A few weeks ago, Tim and I went camping in our garden. One of his co-workers alerted him to a great deal at Halford’sa 4-man tent, 4 sleeping bags, 2 air mattresses, & 2 lanterns for £90 online marked down from over £200. We also tacked on to the purchase a cooking kit which has a burner, 4 pots/pans, 4 plastic containers, utensils, and a carrying case for £25, and then we picked up a kettle at Tesco for £6. We thought we ought to try to put together the tent – a) to make sure we knew how it went together before we book a pitch somewhere, b) to make sure there aren’t any defects with the tent or gear, and c) because it’s been on the warm side and last week I told Tim I wanted to sleep outside.

It was….

-Chilly. We unzipped two of the sleeping bags and used one as a pad for the air mattress and the other as a cover. But unzipped it isn’t quite big enough to cover both of us if we aren’t cuddled up, so I wound up covering myself with the spare blanket I grabbed last night (my Penn State stadium blanket) But it was also…

-Hot. Tim and I always are warm at night because both of us are human furnaces. It was difficult trying to sleep in it because if our bodies were touching, I felt sticky from the combined body sweat. But then when we weren’t touching/cuddled up, it was chilly!

-Small. The mattress, despite claims of being a double, is smaller than our bed upstairs. I wound up moving practically off the mattress close to the “bedroom” wall in order to try to put some space between us, and Tim rolled (in his sleep) towards the other wall. Another word to use might be…

-Cozy. Even though we have a huge 4-man tent, the side “bedrooms” are only large enough to hold the air mattress. It was nice when Tim and I were cuddling before bed, but once I zipped shut the door to the “bedroom”, it felt really small.

-Hard. The air mattress lost air overnight, but I think that’s fairly typical when using an air mattress. I’m wondering if we should get a bedroll/mat type thing for underneath it, since my back started to get cold from feeling it seep through the mattress. I think Tim has one already, but it might just be for a single mattress. Alternatively, since we have 4 sleeping bags, we could always line the floor with a sleeping bag, then put the mattress on top or even just get a tarp to add a layer between the mattress and groundsheet. I’ll talk it over with Tim and see what he thinks. (also, how did I manage to sleep on an air mattress at Mom’s for years*?)

-Noisy. Lots of wind that kept waking me up. I know at least twice I woke Tim up, too. Actually, I’m awake now at 5:30AM because I needed the loo around 4 and figured I might as well stay in here until I’m tired enough to go back to sleep.

Fortunately, the tent is a “two bedroom” tent. Our plans are/were to use the second “bedroom” to store gear, but I might suggest we take along the second mattress and set it up for moments like this. If I’m going to be awake well before Tim, I’ll need somewhere to go/something to do. I could keep a book in there and just move my pillows and a blanket if I couldn’t sleep, that way I wouldn’t disturb Tim trying to read until I felt tired again.

We still need to get a folding table (for dining/food prep), and some kind of cooler and then we might have everything we need to go camping. Our first big trip is scheduled for this September, when we’ll be camping in Germany & Austria! I’m really excited. Originally, we were going to take the train the whole way and stay in B&Bs and things, but even with adding in the cost of petrol, camping will save us money. The average campsite cost is €6/night, and with making our own food, we’ll even have money leftover for a few nights out at nice restaurants or for some souvenirs!

I practised cooking with the gas stove, and while I completely trashed the pan (fortunately, I was able to clean it!), I still managed to cook breakfast 2 mornings – the first morning I did scrambled eggs and sausage, and the second bacon & fried eggs. Tim even bought a device for making toast on the stove that works pretty well!

The tent we purchased IS kind of big for just two people, but the hope is that this will be a long-term investment even after we have kids. If we can keep the tent in good condition, there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be able to use it in the years to come.

….now to find a place to store it! I’m hoping it will fit in the loft after we get the flooring laid in there, but for now I guess we’ll have to store it in one of the bedrooms, since the workshop and shed are a bit full of workshop/shed stuff!

There also is a video, but youtube is taking too long to upload it, so I will have to post it later, as I’ve had this window open for THREE weeks…..

*Long story short – when I moved to Michigan in 2006, I told Mom to sell my bedroom suite because it was a four-poster twin sized bed and I knew I wouldn’t want it in the future. I had an air mattress (with bedframe) to use in my house in MI. After I broke my foot and had to move back to PA, my old bed was gone, so I set up the air mattress. The plan was to eventually buy a new bed, but I just never had the money for it, so I lived on the air mattress until the bedframe finally broke and then I yanked the mattress off the sofabed and used that on the floor.

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Wir fahren nach Deutschland!

I’m so excited.

When I was 11 and I walked into my first quarter of German with Frau R (the district I went to divided the year into quarters and we took one quarter each of German, French, and Spanish to give us a “taste” to help us decide what foreign language to study), a GIANT poster of Neuschwanstein was hanging on the wall above the blackboard. I spent a good amount of time that quarter looking up at that poster – if there was a quiz and I needed to think, I’d glance up at it. If Frau R was talking to another student and it wasn’t relevant to German, I’d look up at it. I wound up picking German as my foreign language largely because I wanted to some day visit that castle and be able to speak the language.

When we moved on to HHS, I continued with German. I loved the language, loved the country, loved the food….I didn’t want to stop talking German. And guess what poster was once again, hanging up above the blackboard? Yep. Neuschwanstein. I studied German at HHS all four years, and even took the AP class/test testing myself out of 2 semesters of collegiate level German.

My Love for German didn’t end there. When I went away to college, it was harder to stick with German, as Penn State York didn’t have a German class at my level. But I still loved the language, and read my German books.

When I moved into a dormitory, my uncle gave me a poster that came with a puzzle of his. The puzzle? You guessed it. Neuschwanstein. That poster hung in all of my dorm rooms, reminding me of how much I loved German and wanted to go to Germany. At one point, I had even switched my major into International Business, with the intentions on doing IB/German so I could work in Germany. I didn’t stick with it, but only because once again, being at the “wrong” campus gave me no options for higher language courses, and it would have taken me an additional 2 years to complete my degree.

Tim has always known about my love for Germany, German, and Castles, particularly Neuschwanstein. He wanted to take me there for our honeymoon, but with all the other costs involved with the move (visa, shipping stuff, airfare) we decided to put it off and do it at a later point, hoping for Spring 2010 or even Fall 2010 to be for our anniversary.

When we got Tim’s schedule for 2010, he found out that his summer fortnight was actually in September. Our canal boating plans had to be put on hold until 2011, but we decided we are going to head to Germany instead!

We’re going to mostly be in Baden-Württemberg and Bayern (Bavaria). At this point, I don’t think we have any plans to go farther North, and we’ll have to plan a Northern Germany trip for another year, as there is a TON I want to see in Germany. Of course, a trip to Neuschwanstein is in our plans.

…..Now to brush up on my German, as I haven’t spoken it in…oh….10 years? Tim’s got audio CDs, and I found a book I’d like to order. Hopefully it will all come back!

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