A Grand Tour With Nannie & Pappi

“When are they going to get here?”

Nannie and Pappi came to visit us for three weeks in July, and we certainly packed a lot into their time here! How do you sum up nearly a month of wonderful travel and family time?  It’s impossible! I’ll do my best here but ultimately it’s going to take a couple of posts to get all of the memories in! This was their first trip to this region of Europe, so we hit the road to see Bratislava, Vienna, Prague, Nuremberg, Dachau, Munich, Salzburg, lake Balaton, the Triglav region of Slovenia, and Budapest!

The kids were so excited to pick them up at the airport!  I needed a few things at IKEA so we stopped into IKEA Budaors where mom and dad got the full experience!  They were delirious but good sports about it. It took a day or so to recover from jet lag, but in the meantime we were problem solving delayed luggage that never arrived in Budapest. Three days later they got their luggage that got stuck in Zurich on their layover. Phew! Crisis averted.

It was so fun to have mom and dad here in our new home.  Of course they had seen many photos and snap videos but nothing compares to seeing it and getting a feel for things in person. We showed them around Papa…

Then we had $10 gel manicures, watched a flurry of puppet shows by the kiddos, introduced mom and dad to doner kebabs and cinnamon kürtóskalács, had a nice dinner with our friends Josh & Meryl at their house in a big beautiful thunderstorm, and then packed up for a road trip!

Touring was made extra special by the World Cup playing out in the background.  Each night we would check to see who was playing and it was always fun to see how each city responded to the games.  Soccer/Football is BIG in Europe!  We found ourselves pleasantly surprised by the hotels we stayed in (thanks, Booking.com!) and seemed to hit it just right with our food choices too.  I will write a separate blog in Observacations detailing the spots we visited but for now, here are a few memorable photos. (See captions for info!)

First, Bratislava! We toured Bratislava castle and spent a lot of time in the museum. It’s fascinating to know this place has only been a country for less than 20 years! The views were stunning and it was HOT. See captions for info:

Then, Vienna! Mom described Vienna as akin to lace. It’s so clean, the buildings are all refurbished and beautiful, and the streets are pristine. There is so much to see, so much history here, and it’s all grand! The film festival is happening now at City Hall and that was fun to walk through too, with all the food vendors and massive video screen. Here are just a few photos from our two days in Vienna:

Then onto Prague! We enjoyed a nice walk around Prague Castle, and then lunch inside right by the castle walls. We then found our way into the heart of the city driving the HUGE family van (which was an adventure!) and eventually got into our hotel, which was right across from the Charles Bridge! We happened to be in Prague, Czech Republic when our pseudo-auntie Jess was in town for work, so we met up with her for a nice walk and then dinner on the river! Beau was very proud to find a 10 Koruna Czech coin  (which is about 50¢) and spent it on holding a chinchilla for a photo! He couldn’t believe how soft it was! The kids got JUMBO candy at a candy shop, we tried ice cream filled chimney cakes, and braved the busy, artsy crowds! Here are a few photos from our time in Prague (much more to come in Observacations!):

From Prague we headed west to Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Germany. We visited the Documentation Center/Nazi Party Rally Grounds and found it fascinating and chilling at the same time.  A good playground session was in order as the kids were good sports at the museum, and afterwards, a walk around town and a delicious classic German meal! The “Playground of the Senses” along the river was so fun – but we realized quickly its risk factor would never fly back in the states!  High climbing is great for kids but scary for parents! That was the case with many playgrounds we have seen so far here, but they’re also the most memorable places for the kids. They enjoyed it so much!

Next it was onto Dachau Concentration Camp and Munich, where we hit up the Zoo (the perfect thing to do after touring Dachau).  It was a somber morning but a lighthearted afternoon. Mom and I had a chance to walk around Munich in the evening, too, which was a lot of fun! Every place we went, shopping was high on the list for mom, so we took every opportunity to browse the cute little shops on our trips!

First, Dachau:

Then, Hellabrun Zoo, Munich:

And evening in Munich…

Our final stop on this leg was a dream come true for me, and turned out to be a really fun day in Salzburg, Austria. We had so much fun walking around seeing all the beautiful buildings and pointing out the Sound of Music landmarks! I’ll write another post with all the best Sound of Music sights! This is only a taste of this beautiful city we fell in love with:

Here are a few photos of the drive – it’s all about the journey!

We took a few days to recover when we got home from this week-long road trip. We hung out in Papa taking walks in the usual places (the square, walking street, etc) and had some yummy pizza at Kattani. We also had kebabs and gelato again because they’re irresistible! We had a little incident where the girls asked Beau to cut their hair, and he did such a bang-up job I needed to and give them both “summer bobs” to fix it. We enjoyed an afternoon playing windy badminton and shooting archery, and watched TONS of Sound of Music extras. One day we had our favorite local masseuse come and give us all massages here at the house! (At $20/hr who could resist?) And one more manicure day for the girls was in order too, of course!

We spent a lovely day exploring Szigliget, having a delicious lunch at Villa Kabala, a quick walk around Tihany and then swimming at Lake Balaton…

Then we hit the road again for the piece-de-resistance, Slovenia! Mom and dad ended up falling in love with the Lake Bled region just as much as we have. We stayed in Radovljica (pronounced “Ra-dol-cha”) the first night and then two more nights in Bohinj, so we were able to explore Radovljica, Lake Bled, and Bohinj!  Mom and dad were troopers and did a whole lot more walking (and climbing!) on this vacation than they were expecting or prepared for, but they did awesome. Dad even got into a GLACIAL LAKE and LOVED it! (That is a huge deal!)

First, Radovljica…

Then, Lake Bled…

Then Lake Bohinj, our favorite spot!

A fun playground in Ukanc, Slovenia…

And a stop at Pyramidenkogel over Wörthersee in Austria on the way home!

Dizzy yet? The perspective from INSIDE the Pyramidenkogel slide!

Our last 2 days were spent in “our” country’s capital city, Budapest. We have grown to love this place and it was a real pleasure to share it with Nannie and Pappi! We took the hop-on hop-off tour bus to get them acquainted (and cut back on all that walking!), and got a taste of much of what Budapest has to offer. Mom and I had some time to do a little shopping and get FISH PEDICURES (!!!) and Derek and I snuck away after dark for a lovely walk through the lights of Budapest. We were lucky to stay for a great discount at the Ritz-Carlton which made for a very special send off!

Budapest afternoon…

Budapest at night…

Sunset in Budapest
Buda skyline
Chain bridge with Buda Castle in the background
Shadows of “Shoes on the Danube”

Budapest in the morning!

Saying goodbye wasn’t easy but our hearts were FULL of gratitude for this amazing summer visit!  Adventure is made even more memorable when shared with loved ones. ‘Til next time, Nannie and Pappi!

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