Part III of my wedding week posts covers the days following the wedding. Or what I am calling our “familymoon”. As mentioned in my previous post, one of the reasons we chose to keep our wedding small was so that we could spend some of our budget on a trip with our families. It was the first time our families met and the first time my family was visiting us in Germany so we really wanted it to be special.
Ever since my first visit to Europe, a constant feeling I have when I visit a new place is that I wish I could share it with my family. I’m so grateful that I can share via technology with Facebook, Instagram, Facetime, this blog, etc. But I always imagined how amazing it would be to have them here with me in the moment. I was so excited to finally get to experience this!
We spent a lot of time thinking about and doing research on places to go. Ultimately we decided on a place we had actually looked at as a potential wedding location. It was a rental house we found through HomeAway.com. Alex and I had already scouted it out during a weekend trip when we camped in the area. Nestled in the Tyrolean mountains, Mesnerhof-C is a 400 year old restored farmhouse in Steinberg am Rofan, Austria.
The farmhouse is unlike any place I’ve ever stayed before. So much attention was paid to restoring it in a way that kept the character of the original farmhouse. I absolutely love old places like this and imagining the history that took place there.
It’s always a bit worrisome when you plan a trip that involves 12 people staying under one roof, especially with two small kids. However, the place was so big that there was a bed for everyone and plenty of room for relaxing. Everything we could have needed was there. A full kitchen and even some pantry items and beverages you could purchase if needed. We had a washer, linens, towels, a BBQ. There was even the luxury of heated flooring in the shower! While all of this was great and added to the comfort of our trip, the real standout of the place was the view. We spent countless hours sitting outside and just feeling like we were characters in a fairytale book, or in The Sound of Music. We walked through the fields surrounding the house while the kids picked wildflowers and we discovered an amazing playground at the church just a few hundred meters away and all became kids again. I think the greatest part about this house was the child-like feeling it brought out in all of us. Family, nature, fresh are and good food. Can you really ask for more?
Sure you can! Ok, while it would have been more than fine to spend our days relaxing at the house, we wanted to do a lot of things with the family so that they’d get the full experience. Since we were only 15 minutes driving from the gorgeous lake of Achen, or in German Achensee, we knew we’d have to have a visit there. We decided to combine it with a hike we’d heard about to a waterfall. In the end the hike was more challenging than expected. The description made it sound suitable for our group–we wanted something easier since we had two kids with us–but with the heat and the quick gain in altitude it was a bit more than we bargained for. However, everyone pushed through and we made it to the waterfall where we were rewarded with a cool mist that only slightly cooled us down. Then it was back down to the lake where we could really cool off with a dip in the clear turquoise water and a beer on the shore where the kids went into wrestling mode and the Dads took a nap.
The second full day we drove to the Hintertuxer Glacier. In the summer you can take a gondola to the top (3,250 meters) and get a little taste of winter. I loved that we were able to do this because it was a way to share the experience of some of the amazing views we get to see when we go on hikes in the Alps. It took a little bit of convincing to get my mom on the Gondola, but in the end I think she was really glad she overcame her fear of heights and went to the top with us. The view is just spectacular and there is enough snow all year round that skiers and snowboarders are still getting in some turns in July. I think this was really cool for the kids to go from swimming in the lake one day to playing in snow the next. We took a bunch of the required tourist photos from the top and then tested out the complimentary snowtubing hill which was lots of fun. Afterward we took the gondola back to the mid-station where it was a bit warmer at a lower altitude and enjoyed some beers and ice cream in the sun.
The rest of the time in Austria was spent exploring more, touring a castle, cooking and eating together, playing games, and going for walks. Just some good, old-fashioned, quality family time. It couldn’t have been any more perfect!
On the final day in Austria we were already one person short as Kristin had already flown back to the U.S. More goodbyes took place as we parted ways with Alex’s family temporarily. My parents, Alex and I would join them again in Tiefenort (their hometown) the following day. First we had to head back to Munich for one final night before taking Lauren, Jeff & Co. to the airport. We drove the scenic route back to Munich and made a couple stops to stretch our legs and check out the scenery. When we stopped to take across Sylvenstein Bridge for the view and we stumbled into the setting of a movie…literally! There was a film crew filming a scene with a guy who looked like a version of James Bond, driving a fancy car across the bridge. We had to stop and wait for them to finish the scene before we could walk across. None of us knew who the actor was though so it remains a mystery. Any readers recognize him? We made one more stop in the cute, mountain village of Mittenwald for some beers and souvenir shopping for the kids. The restaurant we chose had a nice view of the mountains and a TRAMPOLINE! Something you would never see in the U.S. for liability reasons.
Back at the apartment we had one final evening together and there was no avoiding it since for this night EVERYONE stayed with us in our small apartment. My parents in the guest room, Lauren, Jeff, and Harper in our bed, and Alex, Brayden and I had a slumber party on the convertible couch. I woke up the next morning to start my birthday with Brayden crowding me out of the bed and stealing the covers and I couldn’t be happier. While I ran out to the bakery, unbeknownst to me my family was preparing a birthday surprise. I came home to flowers, a birthday breakfast cake, and presents. I was completely surprised and so happy to be celebrating a birthday with family…it happens so rarely now. I only wish they could’ve stayed the whole day!
After more goodbyes at the airport we traded the giant van in for a smaller car and started the drive to Tiefenort. We spent a couple wonderful days there where Alex’s parents were amazing hosts and fed us all well. We BBQd for my birthday dinner and had the best Black Forest Cake I have EVER had. We took my parents on a tour of the salt mines in Merkers. On the final day we did some fishing together and had a nice BBQ at the local hunting lodge. I am still completely amazed at how well our parents were able to communicate with each other regardless or not speaking the same language. Body language, and facial expressions go a long way I guess!
What incredible experiences and memories we all made together. I hope it inspires them to all visit us again (and soon!). It was really a once in a lifetime trip for all of us I think and will probably be one of the best memories of my life.