Malbun, Liechtenstein

Malbun is a ski resort located in the principality of Liechtenstein.  This double landlocked country has to have the highest natural beauty per square kilometer in the world.  Despite being one of only two countries in the world to be double landlocked, the per capita GDP is third highest in the world.  Situated in the Alps means there are snow capped mountains in every direction.  The entire family enjoyed our time in Malbun.DSCN2814

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We stayed at the Hotel Turna for three nights. The breakfast was included and was fabulous. The breads were world class, the fresh fruits were what we had been accustomed to during our time in Europe (excellent), and the owner/chef was dedicated to providing a 5-star experience.
This picture was taken at the same time as the above photo.  If we were staying at the Hotel Turna in the winter, the lift would have been between less than 100 ft from the entrance of the hotel.
On our first day we walked up the ski slope and encountered many wildflowers.





There were many gopher holes on the way up the slope.  Sarah took a different route up the slope and was rewarded by seeing four gophers. Two of the gophers were staring at each other.  It is spring.  Skiing down a run you would never think there are gophers hibernating below the snowpack.
Ella (pink sleeve) and Rachel (black sleeve) climbed to the midpoint of the slope.  While there they collected bouquets of wildflowers.  In the background you can see Malbun.
While Marcia watched Ella and Rachel collect wildflowers, Sarah and I climbed to the top of the lift.
The last third of the climb was a killer.  We were both winded and did not look forward to getting down the mountain. I was thinking, bad dad to push to the top. We had almost no energy reserves to make it down.  Some sections near the top were very steep. We made it down without a dangerous loss of footing.

Memmingen, Germany and Schloss Neuschwanstein

From Salzburg, we drove to Memmingen.  Rather than stay on divided four lane highways, we used well-paved two lane mountain roads.  We used these roads so we could pick up our tickets for the Neuschwanstein Castle the next day.  Marcia had made reservations and we would have needed to arrive two hours before our reservation time, so we hoped to avoid the need to get up early and be at the Castle two hours early.  Marcia went to the ticket office was told she had to return the next day, no advance tickets for the online reservations.

We used the autobahn to go to our the Riku Hotel in Memmingen. As mentioned in a previous blog, drivers of the German cars zipped by at 90-100 mph. It was fun to put the metal to the metal for short stretches.  I’ve enjoyed driving our French car.  The steering is precise and the car doesn’t feel as though the five of us and our gear is too much weight.

Leaving Memmingen in the morning was complicated since the public garage where we parked the car was closed on Sunday.  At the hotel we were given an electronic token that was supposed to open the garage door and lift the gate.  No such luck.  In the garage there was a group of six college age young people who had been at an outdoor music festival. Their car was parked in the garage and they had called the phone number on the booth inside the garage.  No answer. I went back to the hotel and explained the garage was closed and that I was unable to get the garage door to open. I followed the clerk’s directions and went back to the garage, again the door did not move. After the second try, the hotel clerk kindly offered to go with me to the garage.  She brought a second electronic token.  She watched as nothing happened when I inserted my token.  We traded tokens and the new one worked.

Going back and forth to the garage resulted in a delay of 45 minutes.  This meant we did not arrive at the castle two hours before our reserved time.  The ticket agent informed Marcia her reservation for the two castles and the museum was cancelled because we did not arrive in time.  This turned out to be another time that plan B was better than the initial plan.  Since the online reservation did not require a deposit Marcia saved money by only purchasing only the tour of Neuschwanstein Castle (click on link for more info on the history of the Castle).  The 90-minute tour was perfect for our collective attention span. DSCN2718

The walk up to the Castle was supposed to be 10 minutes.  We had the option of taking a bus (2.4 Eur pp) or horse drawn carriage (6 Eur pp).  For five people that seemed like there were better ways to spend 12 Eur.  Even though there was a slight drizzle, we followed others and headed up.  After at least 15 minutes, Marcia questioned the 10 minute estimate.  We walked for 25 minutes and came to point where the horse drawn carriages stopped.  Near that point there was a sign saying 10 minutes to the Castle.  No one complained and the above picture is one of the sights on the walk up.
We bribed Rachel and Sarah to appear in the picture by agreeing to get them ice cream.  Sarah doesn’t look to excited by the deal, but she is in the picture!  Ella stated she did not want ice cream.
Notice the smartphone in Rachel’s hand.  A practice that started when she was walking to fifth grade continued while we were on the trip.  She read while walking.  Over the last couple of months, she extended the skill by reading while we were on climbing or descending stairs.  Often the stairs were tricky circular ones.
The view from the Castle.  Sarah is to the left taking a picture she shared via Instagram.  We walked down to the lake that can be seen below. We ate at restaurant on the edge of the lake.
Another view from the Castle.
On the walk down, we came across this snail.  The walk down was quicker and we were on a mission to find a place to eat and get some ice cream for Sarah and Rachel.
The wildflowers were in full bloom. Everyone enjoyed their lunch at this restaurant.  The restaurant was on the edge of an amazing crystal clear lake.  
The view from the patio of the restaurant.
Sarah’s order of potato pancakes
Marcia’s order of Salmon Trout with white aspargus.
The Castle we did not visit but could see from the restaurant.

Sound of Music Tour – Salzburg

Marcia is a good sport.  I tried to get the girls to do the same pose, but they would not go for it.DSCN2658

Several months before we left for Europe, Marcia insisted we watch the Sound of Music. Prior to getting on the bus, the girls and I were a bit reluctant about the tour.  On the bus they announced it would be a four hour tour, and we looked at each other.  Four hours, oh no. Turns out we all enjoyed the tour.

The queue waiting to get on the bus.
The building to the right is where the boat scene was filmed.  They had to do two takes, because on the first take the youngest daughter fell out of the boat on one side and everyone else on the opposite side.  It would not have been as scary if she knew how to swim and would have fallen on the same side as the rest of the children and Julie Andrews. As it was spring during the shooting, the mountain feed lake was extremely cold.  Nevertheless they did a second take and got it right.
There is a tiny trail to the right of the tallest mountain.  That is where the train scene was filmed.
This is the church where the filming took place.  The director decided the actual church where the von Trapps married was not grand enough.  
The interior of the church fit the requirements of the director.  The figures at the altar were not on a painting, rather they were carved statues.
A closer look at the altar statues.
This is the gazebo that appeared in the film.  It was moved from the grounds of the mansion because people were climbing fences and walking across the frozen lake to get a pictures with the gazebo. It was moved to a park in Salzburg.  The filming of the actual song and dance was done in one half of a gazebo constructed on a sound studio in Hollywood.
We had a break to explore Mondsee and we happened upon a bakery with a couple of outdoor tables.  The desserts looked so good, we stopped and feasted on the above desserts.  The total came to 11 Euro.  We clearly were not in Paris.  Tasted as good as they look.

Salzburg, Austria

The car GPS indicated the drive from Vienna to Salzburg was 2 hours 50 minutes.  There was considerable traffic when we were trying to get out of Vienna.  Once out of the city, it was a divided four lane with a speed limit of 130 km/h (81 mph).  There were occasional reductions to 100 km/h around interchanges, but for the most part the posted speed limit was 130 km/h.  Off and on there was light rain, more like a drizzle.  The traffic was fairly heavy and a truck passing another truck would mean significant braking at times.  In Europe, drivers do not sit in the passing lane.  They use the lane to pass and then move to the right lane.  (I wish drivers in the US would behave that way.) The challenge on the drive to the Saltzberg was if you pulled into the right lane and there was a truck ahead, you would close the distance  quickly and be unable to pull into the passing lane because a cluster of cars were doing 145 km/h or more.  Typically the cluster included cars from Audi, Mercedes Benz, Porsche, and BMW.

While in Vienna we saw multiple Bentleys.  On the road to Salzburg, we saw a tractor trailer carrying 4 new Bentleys, not a sight you see everyday.

Yesterday, it was raining in Salzburg.  Unfortunately rain was the forecast for the four days we plan to be here.  The girls are reading, watching YouTube and laying around.

Our apartment was on the level with the balcony.  For the first time this trip we parked the car in the garage.  For the first time in two months the interior of the car was vacuumed. The apartment had a nice backyard.  A big bonus was four bicycles that were stored in the garage.  The Salzach River was a half block from the apartment. It had a great bike path.  The people of Salzburg are cyclists.
Salzburg is serious about bicycle parking.
A line of bicycle garages. Very civilized!

On our street (Bergheimerstrasse) were clay figures that adorned the front door of a neighboring house.  We were at Bergheimerstrasse 49 49.

A look across the Salzach River.
We thought that Paris was the only pedestrian bridge where couples used padlocks as a way to demonstrate the permanence of their love.  Once a couple locks it to the bridge, they throw the key in the river.  No combination locks for these couples.


Meeting Josh and Val in Vienna

We met Josh and Val at their hotel.  Josh is Marcia’s second cousin on the Campbell-Fenwick side of the family.  We missed them in Budapest because we had left for Vienna. Josh and Val arrived in Vienna the day we departed for Saltzberg.  However, we overlapped for a lunch get together.

Marcia, Val, Josh, and Jack

Before we met Josh and Val for lunch we headed to the Anchor Clock to see the parade of figures rotate on the hour. The Anchor Clock is set in an elevated bridge between between two buildings owned by the Anker Insurance Co.  It was built between 1911 and 1914.  The Anchor Clock was created in the Art Nouveau style by painter and sculptor, Franz von Matsch.

We arrived about 10 minutes before noon and a small crowd had already gathered.  The girls were unsuccessful in their efforts to practice patience.  Noon came and went without seeing any action on the clock.  At 12:05, people were looking at their watches and wondering.  In another couple of minutes the clock finally started.

When the clock strikes 12:00 the figures in the center parade across the face of the Anchor Clock.
Lots of smartphone moviemakers taking video of the Anchor Clock. 
Even across the street, tourists were taking in the sights and music of the Anchor Clock.