Our Favorite Innsbruck Airbnb’s for Families

One thing we learned very early on in traveling with our kids was that renting apartments or houses is way better than staying in a hotel. (We had a particularly horrible hotel experience when Ali was 7 months old.) Sometimes a hotel is the only option, but for long stays like our Innsbruck trip, a hotel would not only be impractical, but also way too expensive.

Last year, we spent a little over a week staying in this apartment in the center of town. It was perfect, and our boys enjoyed playing in the big living room with that included a sunny perch overlooking a busy intersection – an ideal place for our then-3-year-old to set up his trucks and cars.

I was bummed when that apartment wasn’t available for our trip this year, and we soon grew worried over the lack of places that were available. To mix things up we decided to split our 3 week stay between two different apartments. Jordan picked one and I picked one.

Our first was located right downtown at Marktplatz. The kitchen window looked out on the busy intersection below, and to my surprise and delight, that view kept our boys so entertained that it completely replaced TV for our 2 week stay (and helped me get some work done!). The apartment was very spartan – with just the bare essentials, but it kept things simple and easy. It’s on the 3rd floor, so the elevator was key in bringing up the stroller. Everything we needed or wanted to do was a short walk away, and the Marktplatz station connected us to everything on the periphery of town.

There was some street noise, but it was never an issue at night (maybe this would be different in the summer with the windows open). The building was super quiet and we never had any issues with loud neighbors, and I felt like the walls were thick enough that the neighbors weren’t bothered when our boys were a bit…boisterous.

Who needs TV when you have a view like this?

After staying in the middle of the city we were worried our next stay would be too far away from everything, but that wasn’t the case. Even though it was quiet and residential, right next to a stream and large park, we were only 10 minutes away from the main train station and 5 minutes from a large mall and grocery store. The host also went above and beyond in making our family feel at home – with wooden trains and blocks at the ready for the boys to play with, and kids plates, bowls, and utensils, as well as a high chair. Even though we couldn’t bring our stroller up to the second floor apartment easily, we could leave it in the entry way vestibule, which made things easy.

This apartment felt relaxing and tranquil, and part of me wanted to stay forever. Here we had to be more careful to not disturb the neighbors, as it was quieter in general and the downstairs neighbor definitely heard when our boys were running around, and thankfully let us know! The woman living across the hall showered our boys daily with treats and goodies and gave me a chance to practice my subpar German.

Links in this post:

Have you stayed in a great place for kids in Innsbruck? Share it in the comments!

Going Car-less in Austria with Kids

What made our time in Innsbruck extra special was our last minute decision to not rent a car. This totally changed the dynamic of the trip. On previous trips to Europe we’ve always rented a car, and like the freedom it allows…plus it’s nice to drive on really well-maintained roads for a change. I haven’t relied on public transportation since living in Boston over a decade ago, but it’s generally something I enjoy figuring out in new cities, so I was up for the challenge.

Fresh off the plane, and onto the train.

After arriving in Innsbruck via train from Munich Airport, my first move was to buy a Tirol Card. For 99 euros, it gave me unlimited access to all trains and buses within the Tirol region for an entire month. Aside from it being more economical than buying single tickets for each trip, it also made things logistically easier as well — never having to stop to buy a ticket before hopping on a bus or streetcar. Since the kids are under 6, they were free. Tirol is a big area, and we didn’t scratch the surface on all the places we could have gone with the card, though we certainly got our money’s worth, even though we only used it for 3 weeks, not a full month.

Ali and Jordan en route to Mittenwald via train.

Other things we learned about traveling via public transportation with little kids in Innsbruck:

  • I was so glad we didn’t bring the double stroller. It would have been so hard to get on and off the buses and streetcars. Our single BoB was perfect, and Ali was totally happy to ride in the “jump seat” when his legs got tired.
  • Bringing Ali’s Micro scooter was a great move. He rode it everyday, and it gave us another way to get him around without him walking miles. It also breaks down easily into 2 small pieces that easily fit under the stroller.
  • Don’t trust Google Maps to route you on public transportation in Innsbruck, and I suspect this is true for other cities as well. Instead, I used the tool on the Innsbruck public transportation website, which was always spot on.
  • I bought the Tirol card at the IVB office near the old area of Innsbruck. They’re often busy, but it was worth it to be able to talk through the different options with someone.
  • Not having to tangle with carseats for 3 weeks was pure bliss.
  • For my transportation-obsessed boys, this mode of travel made every trip out of the house an adventure, and by the end of the trip we were hopping onto buses and trains just to see where we’d end up. It took me at least a week to feel comfortable with the system (the map is intense), but the possibilities are endless and we could get everywhere we wanted to via public transportation and a short (1 mile max) walk.
Jurgs and I on the “forest streetcar.” We’re pretty happy, if you can’t tell.

3 Weeks in Innsbruck, a Love Story

Innsbruck Colored Houses

Now that we’ve been back home for a week, and have settled back into life in Golden, I can officially say our trip is complete. We’ve survived the re-entry phase (our easiest one so far), we’ve begun tackling our jungle of a yard, and are generally back into the ho hum of normal days.

Mellow moments in Innsbruck.

Before I get to the trip, a quick word on re-entry. After our trip to Europe in the fall, we really struggled the first week back. In general, we tend to pile too much onto our plates when we first get back. There’s work to catch up on, friends to see, school things to volunteer for, and everything else we’ve more or less neglected for several weeks. This time, we gave ourself a week grace period to have low expectations and minimum commitments and plans. I think that made all of the difference as our bodies chipped away at overcoming the 8 hour time difference. The boys were back to normal within 4 days, and were noticeably more on schedule after 3. Jordan and I were about the same – though our approaches to jetlag vary. More on that another time.

Theirs is a wonderful world in which to live. …and theirs is mine, if I keep my priorities straight and don’t let the obligations of being an adult make me believe otherwise.

Our 3 weeks in Innsbruck was a dream come true, literally. I’ve wanted to do an extended trip abroad for as long as I can remember, and 3 weeks is our longest to date. It’s a love story, because I got to do it with the 3 people I love the most in the entire world. But, it’s also where I realized that I am full on, head over heels, crazy about motherhood. Spending 3 weeks straight where I could focus and prioritize Ali and Jurgen above all else was such a tremendous gift. I loved living in their world and reveling in their delights. For the first time in my years as a mother, I didn’t feel pulled in two different directions — I leaned into mothering full bore. And, I adored it. While it’s not a sustainable arrangement for our family to do this in real life, it was a worthwhile lesson in chilling out and letting go of the small stuff. Travel always tends to refocus me, but this time, that refocusing sensation was stronger than normal.

Coming up:

Getting Around Without A Car

Where We Stayed

What We Packed

The Playgrounds of Innsbruck

Innsbruck With Kids Photojournal

Settled in Innsbruck

We’ve been in Innsbruck a little over a week and our little family has settled into a daily rhythm here that looks different than our life at home, but I love it just the same. We’re here for 3 weeks on a work trip, where Jordan is handling the work aspect and I’m handling the kids aspect. At home we have more overlap with these areas, so this is a big deviation from our norm, and one that I whole-heartedly welcome.

This park gets 6 (muddy) thumbs up!

Our Airbnb apartment is right in the middle of town, with everything we need within a couple minutes’ walk. The boys have passed hours perched in the kitchen window watching the busy intersection below, a scene straight out of a Richard Scary book: buses, trolleys, trucks, ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks, whizzing around as people scamper across the crosswalks pushing strollers, riding bikes, and hurrying to places unknown. Who needs a TV or an iPad when there’s so much going on outside the window?

Watching the city from 4 floors up: officially better than Paw Patrol.

A typical weekday here:

  • Jordan picks up breakfast and coffee and brings it back to the apartment. Fresh bread, butter, and jam is our go-to. Most mornings he makes coffee here on the stove, but….I much prefer a cappuccino from Koffee Kult or one of the local bakeries. Just sayin’.
  • After breakfast Jordan leaves for work and I load the boys into the stroller for a morning run and exploration. I’m not running much these days, so these runs usually serve the purpose of running errands or scoping out playgrounds. The path along the river Inn is the perfect place for a stroller run – flat, paved, and a fairly straight shot.
  • Then it’s back to the apartment, where we get ready for the day, then set out for a park, playground, or something touristy. It varies by day and duration, but always involves lunch.
  • Once the boys are sufficiently tired, we load back into the stroller and cruise around town until Jurgen falls asleep for his nap. We mosey back to the apartment and Ali plays while I catch up on work.
  • After the down time, we head back out for more – usually to a playground – until Jordan gets back in the late afternoon/early evening. Once in awhile we go to a restaurant, but our favorite thing to do is grab takeout and do dinner at the park.
  • From dinner, it’s a stroll back home, usually involving a stop for gelato. Once back at the apartment, we stick with the same night routine as home. Then once the boys are in bed I sneak in some more work.
Writing practice for both of us while Little Bro naps.

It’s fun for me to spend so much time with the boys without having to worry about the stuff that comes from being home. Here, we have time for the little things that get lost in the shuffle of the everyday. My patience seems to expand tenfold, a win for everyone involved.

Mittenwald, with Munchkins

After writing about our harrowing (for me) climb up the Zugspitze, I wanted to at least mention all of the other things we loved doing in and around Mittenwald. Mittenwald feels like a town out of a fairytale, and only more so if you’re a family that enjoys the outdoors. So, yea, it’s pretty much a dream for us, and that might be why we keep ending up there.

Getting Outside

  • The tram to the top of the Zugspitze is probably the most popular attraction in the area. You can’t do much hiking from the top of the Zugspitze unless you’re ready for extreme terrain, but you can hike around from mid mountain. The cog railway runs to that point and is about a 40 minute ride from Eibsee.
  • The Karwendelbahn was perfect for us with 2 little kids. It was a steep, short ride to the top, where trails of all lengths and levels of difficulty began. We walked one that was about a mile loop, a rugged mile, that Alistair was easily able to do at the age of 4. Not only is there a restaurant with good eats at the top, but there’s also a small museum and viewing gallery, and, my kids’ favorite part: two sandboxes with digging toys.
  • Swim in Eibsee – it was chilly but swimmable when we visited in August 2016. The water is so clear and clean it’s impossible to not want to go in.
  • Follow the trail around Eibsee – whether you run or amble, it’s a 5k loop with rolling hills through a beautiful forest around a pristine lake. It doesn’t get any better.
  • Explore the trails to the west of Mittenwald. A system I’ve only scratched the surface of, but what I have seen are some of the best running (and cross bike) trails ever.

Looking down at Eibsee from the tram heading up the Zugspitze.

Karwendel hike with kids
Loving hiking in the Karwendel.

Karwendelbahn play area
On top of the world, but mostly just loving the sandbox.

First steps on top of the Karwendelbahn
Some of this little guy’s first steps.

Eibsee
Eibsee. Can the water be any clearer?

Sleeping

  • Eibsee Hotel – a lively, but family friendly, hotel right at the base of the Zugspitze. Great food, nice rooms, great views, all around awesome place.
  • Post Hotel – great for experiencing Mittenwald from the center of town and having all of the restaurants and shops right outside. The trail system was only about 1/4 mile away via very quiet roads. If you have light sleepers, note its close proximity to the church tower – the bells ring on the hour all night long.
  • Lautersee Hotel – this place felt like a true vacation. It was quiet (even with our two rambunctious boys), secluded, and completely relaxing. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel being outside of town, but we loved it. Another place with great food, and a friendly, relaxed vibe.

All three of the hotels mentioned have restaurants on site, where you can enjoy all meals of the day – breakfast being my favorite. Eibsee Hotel and Post Hotel took credit cards without a problem, but Lautersee only takes cold, hard, cash.

Eating

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a bad meal in this part of the world, but below are a few places that stand out and were easy to manage with very little kids. It seems ridiculous to only include 2 places, and maybe someday I’ll add to this list, but that’s only because everywhere we ate the food was delicious.

  • Osteria Veneta Mittenwald – good Italian food! We ate there a couple times and I even took the kids on my own for lunch one day while Jordan was running.
  • Gasthof Stern – right in the middle of town, a biergarten with a playground area for kids.

Adventure Pack

Last week I took Ali (4) and Jurgs (16 months) on a solo trip to New Jersey to visit family. If you know me, I’m always after the “perfect pack” – packing just the right stuff to do the job, nothing more, nothing less. This trip I pretty much nailed it at keeping these two entertained for 4.5 hour there and 5.5 hours back (because, of course, we were delayed on the runway both times).

While I usually pack toys, this time I went for crafts. In addition to taking up less space than most toys, crafts have the added bonus of expendable – if something goes missing it’s not the end of the world.

Of course, in addition to this stuff, Ali also had an iPad loaded with shows and games. These days though, that only keeps his attention for an hour at most. There were also snacks and jellybeans! A jellybean distribution every 30 minutes went a long way for all three of us.

Here’s what we had in our adventure pack. It all fit easily into a gallon ziplock bag, hardly taking up any space in my carry-on/diaper bag.

PlayDoh – Santa brought a bunch of the 2oz PlayDohs this year, and they were perfect for travel. When I first heard someone recommend PlayDoh for the plane I thought they were insane, but it’s actually the perfect activity for the airplane tray table. And, as long as you stay somewhat on top of the situation, it cleans up really easily.

Floam – one color for each kid. Though they enjoyed the PlayDoh more. Jurgen was interested in eating the Floam, so I had to be extra vigilant.

Cookie Cutters – for the PlayDoh.

Paper straws – we use these to make PlayDoh or Floam sculptures, practice cutting, threading, etc.

Pipettes – these are my boys’ favorite. We get water during the drink service, drink most of it, then play with the rest. It just takes a little bit, and they love moving it from one cup to another with the pipettes. If it spills, it dries quickly.

Stickers – to decorate anything and everything that isn’t part of the plane (haha)

Safety Scissors – these don’t have any metal, so they go through security without issue. Alistair liked rolling out the PlayDoh with his hands then cutting the “snakes” with scissors.

Hole Punch

Yarn & plastic needle – use the hole punch to make holes in paper (we also had a couple paper plates) then thread the yarn through them.

Washi tape – keeps things in place without leaving a mark. Jurgs was also entertained just by peeling off pieces of washi tape stuck to the tray table.

Crayons

Notebook

I also threw in the usual suspects: Water Pen Book by Melissa and Doug // Kid-O Magnatab // Jellycat Book // Kids’ Magazines

The biggest secret to a smooth flight though? Attention. The flight isn’t my time to relax and watch a movie – it’s my time to engage with my kids, and I look forward to that. At home, there are always distractions pulling me away from giving my kids 100% of my attention: cleaning, cooking, work, laundry…on the plane, it’s just me and them, and we have a lot of fun. I’ve found that if I’m fully immersed in their world for 80% of the flight, I can get sometime to myself to read, when Jurgen naps and Ali is enjoying a show or craft on his own. But, if my expectation is to read or be “productive” that is a recipe for disaster.

See ya, 2018

We’re down to the final hours of 2018. I’m sitting in the back of my parents’ car, parked outside my brothers house, wedged between my sleeping kids. Rain is sprinkling, and the oversized moonroof reveals big juicy droplets resting on the roof. 8 hours to go in 2018 and I’m down with that. We’re ready for some fresh pages and a clean start.

Earlier this year I attempted a few monthly recaps and promptly gave up because…2018 was rough. But, in the spirit of ending on a positive, here are my favorite reads of 2018:

  1. Becoming (Michelle Obama)
  2. On Writing (Stephen King)
  3. Freedom Found: My Life Story (Warren Miller0
  4. The Hate You Give (Angie Thomas)
  5. The Fifth Risk (Michael Lewis)

And my 5 favorite moments of 2018 (unordered):

  • Strolling through my dad’s hometown with my parents and kids
  • Running the 5th Ave Mile in NYC with brother1
  • An impromptu surprise visit to Colorado from brother2
  • Finding ourselves in the tiny village of Monstein, Switzerland in April
  • Camping in New Mexico

Here’s to more adventures with family and friends in 2019!

Trail Running the Zugspitze with a Mountain Goat

Considering home is 5200 miles away, we find ourselves in southern Bavaria an awful lot.  This was our third time there in two years’ time – maybe we should branch out, but different things keep bringing us back, so we keep saying yes. Yes to adventure, yes to opportunities, yes to delicious food, and yes to pushing limits.

In 2016, we spent a few days at Eibsee Hotel, at the base of the Zugspitze (the tallest mountain in Germany), after celebrating Theresa and Michael’s wedding in Crailsheim. Jordan ran to the top of the Zugspitze then, while Alistair and I took the tram and met him at the top. He immediately started talking about someday climbing it together. Someday seemed a long way away – how would we ever do that with a little kid?

Nowhere to go but up!

Someday turned out to be 2 years and another kid later, admittedly sooner than I had thought. With my parents joining us in Mittenwald, they ponied up for a day of babysitting, and Jordan and I took off for the Zugspitze while the boys were still asleep. I knew the climb would be unlike anything I’d done before, and while I was nervous about encountering “no-fall zones” Jordan assured me it wouldn’t be too bad.

Jordan was full of shit baloney.

Direct quote: “Yea, it’s a no-fall zone, but it’s not in a place you’d fall.”

What I thought a no-fall zone would look like.

Somehow I fell for this line, as ridiculous as it was, and followed Jordan up the biggest mountain in Germany. For added fun, we were racing an incoming storm that could potentially leave us stranded on the side of the mountain with poor visibility and a wintry mix of rain and snow. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

What it actually looked like. Jordan – I absolutely could fall here! Just a few hundred feet of exposure…NBD.

Running the Zugspitze.
Running a nice, mellow trail, just above tree line – before things got crazy.

Up until we hit the tree line, the run was great: nice trails, beautiful scenery, time with Jordan doing what we love and not talking about work – a rarity, even on vacation. Then we popped out above the trees, onto the shale and started zigzagging our way up the mountain. It wasn’t bad. I could do this.  An easy via ferrata here, an easy one there – Jordan was right, these are mild no-fall zones.

Then we crossed a gaping scree field, the product of millennia of glacial run off, and things got terrifying. The higher we climbed, the more up became the only option – down climbing would have been even scarier.

Our jovial chatter turned to silence. Jordan is not afraid of heights, at all. He has no reservations or qualms about standing on a sliver of iron jutting out of a mountain, thousands of feet separating him from the ground below. We did not have climbing gear: carabiners, harnesses, ropes, helmets. We had running shoes. We climbed past 2 couples with full climbing gear. Jordan remarked to me, “You can really just use your hand like they’re using carabiners.”

Silence. I was so beyond my comfort zone – more than I have ever been before, that I don’t say anything. I’m not comfortable with heights, a fear I pretend to not really have because it sounds wimpy. I couldn’t freak out, I couldn’t get mad at Jordan, all I could do is climb. I thought of Alistair and Jurgen and focused on one iron rung at a time – literally climbing a ladder up the Zugspitze. I was not happy. I was not mad. I was focused and in a hurry to hug my kids and never do this ever again. Hours of this silence went by, Jordan, jovial as ever didn’t have any idea about my level of discomfort – a mix of a mountain goat and Spiderman, the only discomfort he was experiencing was how painfully slow he’s forced to move to stay with me.

About 4.5 hours after we started from the base of the Eibsee tram, we reached the top. The last 20 minutes – scrambling across loose dirt and rock on a very steep pitch without the help of iron rungs was some of the most uncomfortable climbing for me.  At the top we paused for about 10 seconds to hug and high five. I desperately wanted a bratwurst and half liter of beer, but instead we scurried through the crowds to catch the next train down off the top, my desire to see the kids outweighing my immense hunger.

How to fake a smile at 9,000 feet

Physically, the climb was hard, but mostly it was mentally draining. It took everything I had to maintain composure and not freak the hell out. I like pushing myself, and I’m glad Jordan encouraged me to do it. I’m also glad we returned safely without encountering any major hazards. I don’t think there’s a future for me in mountaineering. I love the idea of it, I love 95% of it, but that remaining 5% is a big deterrent. For now, and the foreseeable future I’ll be sticking to trails that only require 2, and occasionally 3, points of contact. There are still plenty of mountains I can climb that way.

Vielen dank to my parents for watching the boys while we were out there playing around in the mountains. They do that fairly frequently (like, last year at Jackson Hole when Jurgen was only 4 months old!), and we appreciate it. I’m thankful for their understanding that it’s stuff like this that makes me tick – sometimes I think they know me better than I know myself.

Also, continued hugs and high fives to Jordan. He’s the best, and I don’t say that often enough. I recently read a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that sums us up pretty well: “Love doesn’t mean gazing at each other, but looking, together, in the same direction.” Whether that direction is the top of the Zugspitze, the longterm goal for Powder7, or the general direction of living a life infused with solid doses of adventure (even with the kids in tow!), I’m beyond thankful that we are always looking in the same direction.

 

5 Days in Fellbach (is not enough)

Our European vacation was a little different this time around: we moved places 4 times in 2 weeks: first visiting Fellbach, a town just outside of Stuttgart, then we drove 3 hours east to Mittenwald, and after that we flew to Split, Croatia. The fourth place doesn’t really count, as it was an airport hotel at Heathrow in London.

What we learned / confirmed: traveling with a 13 month old is hard. Alistair, at 4, is a really calm and enthusiastic traveler – he needs his down time a couple times a day, but as long we factor that in he’s generally up for anything and surprised us with how well he adjusted to the time difference (+8 hours from Denver). Jurgen did great, for a 13 month old. It’s just kids between 9 and 18 months are really hard to travel with. We knew this going in and were prepared for it and even with the added challenge of a squirmy, wiggly baby-toddler, it was totally worth it. (More on traveling with kids in the 9-18 month age bracket another time.)

At the Mercedes Museum. I have no idea why Jurgen doesn’t have on shoes.

Here were a few of our favorite things from our 5 days in Fellbach, my dad’s hometown:

We stayed, and ate, a lot, at Hotel Alte Kelter. It’s a smaller hotel (15-20ish rooms), right on the edge of the vineyards at Kappelberg. We ate dinner most nights at their restaurant since it was not only the easiest thing to do, but also very delicious. My favorite was the maultaschen, which is similar to meat-filled ravioli, but in a clear broth.

Lunch with my mom and the boys while Jordan and my dad were out driving a 911 – photo by Ali!

Aside from eating amazing food, during our time in Fellbach I had 2 goals:

1. Hoof it through my dad’s hometown with him as a tour guide.

2. Hike to the tower in the middle of the forest and eat a bratwurst at the snackstand there.

We thought five days in Fellbach would be plenty, but as the days ticked by I found myself frantically trying to squeeze in the two things most important to me. It seems to be the nature of travel, especially with little kids battling a time change, that time just sort of goes by. Every morning in Fellbach we struggled to get out of bed before 11, missing the hotel breakfast all but 2 mornings. For a family that generally wakes up on the earlier side, this threw us off bigtime. It meant shorter days to do all the things, hunger pangs striking at bizarre times, and strategizing optimal times to get the kids to sleep at night – early enough so they’d adjust to the time, but not so early their bodies would mistake it for a nap.

One, literal, step closer to keeping up with his big bro!

In sum: I wish I had more time. Which is pretty much the status quo for everyone with little kids, whether they are traveling or not. I always wish I had more time. I’m pretty sure that the meaning of life is entwined with time and that it pretty much all boils down to how we elect to spend our most valuable commodity. But, that’s for another post.

Little Jurgen and Big Jurgen near the Kappelburg tower.

I did accomplish both my goals, though of course wish I could have lingered a bit more during both as those were, easily, my favorite parts of the trip. To amble up and down the same streets that my dad, aunt, and grandparents walked daily in the 40s and 50s, with my dad and his cousin by my side was the highlight of the trip. To walk through the woods where my grandfather wandered on Sunday mornings more than half a century ago (and where I got hopelessly lost in 2002), was divine. And of course, I wanted more of each, so we left Fellbach with my thoughts churning, “I’ll come back someday. We’ll do this again, someday.” I hope we do.

Starting our walk (scooter) through the woods.

If you ask Alistair what his favorite part of visiting Fellbach was, it would be riding the Strassenbahn. One day, while Jordan and my dad were out driving around a brand new 911, on rental from the Porsche Museum, my mom, the boys, and me hopped on a streetcar with no destination in mind. We got off at a nice-looking park, and spent the better part of the afternoon wandering around parks and neighborhoods, while Alistair scootered around and played with local kids.

Scootering at a park in Cannstatt.

Since Alistair is all about trains these days, we also took a proper train ride to Crailsheim, where my college friend Theresa, lives. Crailsheim is one of my favorite places to visit and Jordan and I jump on any chance we get to visit Theresa in her hometown. This was our 4th time visiting her, and her and her family truly offer up a herzlich willkommen. While only 90 minutes, navigating a foreign train system was an adventure that I’m looking forward to repeating for a bigger journey when the boys are older.

Jurgen really started walking on this trip, which was so fun to see. Here they are outside Kafe Kett in Crailsheim’s town center. Alistair is an amazing big brother.

Since we were short on time, and Theresa was in the middle of helping at her family’s cafe during their busiest weekend of the year — Volksfest — we only spent an afternoon with her and her family. So we left Crailsheim with that same, “I’ll come back again.” sentiment. And, I guess that is why we keep going back to southern Germany. It feels good to be there – to run on those trails, to eat the food, to engage with the people (even if my heart races every time I try to conjugate my German verbs correctly). So yea, we’ll be back.

Jurgen and Ali on the famous horse in Killesberg.

The deets:

The tower on Kappelburg.

Who is happier to be on the seesaw?

Outside Kafe Kett with two of my favorite people.

Next week’s post: Climbing the Zugspitze! (Going to try publishing 1 post per week on Sunday or Monday…we’ll see how long I can keep it up!)

Thanks for reading,
Amy

40 Inch View

“Mom, can I see your phone?”

Ugh…it’s starting already. At the age of 4, Alistair is already requesting my phone. He’s no stranger to technology, we’re not no screentime kind of parents. We’re realistic, but this gets me. We’re in Stuttgart, Germany, starting our walk through the closest thing we have to sacred grounds: the Mercedes Museum. We’ve been building this up to Alistair since before we left home, and I figure even with the hype there’s a 15% chance he’ll love it. But to be bored, already?

There are pictures of most of the vehicles in the Benz Museum (which is saying something). Photo: Alistair

“Why? What do you need?”

“I want to take some pictures.”

And I remember: in the frenzy of packing up 2 wee ones for a trip to the other side of the globe, less than 24 hours ago, Alistair had asked to bring his camera. I told him no, and felt guilty about it – it’s rare that he wants to flex an artistic muscle, and here I was shooting it down. I promised him that if he wanted to take pictures on the trip he could use my phone. I figured he’d forget about it and I wouldn’t actually have to hand over my phone to a sticky-fingered preschooler.

In the garden of Hotel Alte Kelter. Photo: Alistair.

But he didn’t forget (he never does, I should know this by now). I handed him by phone over and over, whenever he asked. We have hundreds (!) of photos from our 2 weeks in Germany and Croatia taken from the vantage point of 40 inches off the ground. Handing over my phone, repeatedly, was scary, but I love the result. I have the closest thing I can possibly have to what it looked like through Alistair’s eyes. What did he think was important? What caught his attention most? In most cases, it’s different than what stood out to me, and I love that. I love the moments he captured, whether it’s a photo of my dad and I strolling through the Mercedes Museum, or a photo of Jordan mid-blink at dinner…this is what Alistair sees, and I love having a glimpse into his world.

At the Benz Museum – Jurgen and I checking out the World Cup team bus. Photo: Alistair.

My main parenting goal for 2018 was to do a better job of seeing the world through my kids’ eyes, and by doing so hopefully having more patience and understanding with day to day meltdowns and temper tantrums. As an adult it’s easy to get frustrated when a kid inexplicably loses it over nothing. But is it ever really nothing? Not to them. There’s lots of talk about taking a “40,000 foot view” of life, but I think we can learn more from a 40 inch view.

Here are some of Ali’s snaps for our time in Europe in September:

[photoblocks id=1]