April 12, 2011

3 Days at the Bodensee

At Monkey Island - notice the stork nests on top of this building. This is their breeding ground and it was hatching season!

If you know us, grass doesn't grown under our feet. After Brad's one month TDY we squeezed in a mini vacation during the 10 days he was home before leaving again!

We spent days trying to plan out where we should go for the 3 days we had leave. The first plan was to head to Holland to see the tulips at the Keukenhof; then we decided it was too long a drive for such a short time. Next idea, France for some WWI & II sights and some pottery shopping. And finally, head to southern Germany on the Swiss border and see where we end up. Yep, we went with option #3.

It wasn't until the morning of our departure that we had solidified our plans (well as much as we ever do, anyway), and headed south. We found a wonderful Ferienwohnung (vacation apartment) for rent in the country side near the Bodensee (Lake Constance). This family didn't speak any English so it was a great opportunity to put my German to the test! Surprisingly, I didn't do too bad!

From base camp, we went to "Monkey Island" in Salem, Germany. This is a very interesting place. You actually feed the monkey's by hand. Upon entering you're instructed to grab a handful of popcorn and given directions on how to interact with the monkeys. As soon as we entered the gate, Jack was immediately jumped by the "gang", a group of 1 - 2 year old monkeys! Jack wasn't startled at the least, however our guide was!

We learned that they are very particular about the cleanliness of their popcorn. While giving them 2-3 pieces a time on our out stretched hand, a piece fell to the ground. So, naturally we picked it up to feed it to them. They instinctively knew that this piece was dirty, and ignored it in our hand. So we thought we'd out smart them and mix the "dirty" piece in with the clean ones. Funny, they knew exactly which piece was dirty and didn't even touch it while picking out the clean ones.

Okay, the photo below is for all of you who keep asking where is Mamarazzi? Yes, I'm still alive and kicking! You see I've trained Madeline to be the next photojournalist in the family!

Day #2: Mainau Island, Bodensee, Germany

It wasn't long after starting our day with the traditional European breakfast of bread, jelly and muesli, that we heard cried from the backseat of "We're hungry". While driving through a small lakeside town we saw the "meat truck". Brad and Jack checked it out while Madeline and I perused the bakery. SOLD - they spotted smokies. So for the price of 4 smokies the meat man threw in a free mysterious sausage. Sorry to say it didn't survive the afternoon heat in the car and was tossed along the roadside somewhere!

We made it to Mainau Island and enjoyed the beautiful views of the Swiss Alps and the lake.

When I asked the kids to stop so I could take their picture in front of the entrance they said, "No, not another shrub photo". Well, as you can see their enthusiasm is oozing!

Typical German fashion there was a park - and with water! The day was nice and warm, but still only in the upper 60's. Famous last words, "Just don't get wet!" Well see for yourself......



Yes, a plunge into the water - and with jeans and tennis shoes. After contemplating what to do, as I would have been miserable in those wet clothes all day; Brad said, "leave them on - they'll dry and he'll learn." I had almost convinced myself that is was going to have to be that way, when I turned and saw a sign for a Wäschetrockner (clothes dryer)! HURRAY! I think I was happier than Jack, to be honest. So, off whet the jeans, socks, and shoes and into the dryer they went, on high! Luckily we had a spare pair of shorts tucked inside the bag. So we waited in the sun to keep warm. A lesson was learned, I think; and a thanks to the parents before that saw the need for the dryer!!!

Along the perimeter path of the island we came across this amazing tree. It looked a bit like I feel in the mornings, stiff, achy and thirsty!

This island is famous for their flower gardens during the spring, summer, and fall. We just so happened on it during tulip season.

After our walk around one side of the island there was a vote to stop and take a break...who's working the hardest today?

Then of course a snack....

Now the question..."How do we get off this island?"

Thank goodness the kids had the map and were sure they knew the right way...

Eureka....we've found the way!

After a picturesque drive around the southern part of the lake into Switzerland we stopped at Rhein Falls, the largest plain waterfalls in Europe.

We arrived just before closing time and were able to access the falls for free! This was nothing in comparison to Niagara - but to see and hear the volume of water, that close,was pretty neat.

Day #3: Homeward bound

We decided we would take the scenic route home; it's always much nicer than the autobahn if you have the time! We stopped in the town of Triberg, as we were told it was a must. Well, take it from us, don't bother. It's a small tourist trap of a town. If you're in the market for a Cookoo clock this is your town. So what did we do? We took the obligatory photo and skipped town to a small village for lunch!

Along the way we stopped at the Barfusspark (see blog "Barfusspark " from August 2009).

This time Brad was able to join in the fun. Due to our time limits, and the park not fully open, we took the much shorter 1,5km route.

Doesn't it look like loads of fun?

Well, off to our next adventure....vacation in the USA! Stay tuned.