Friday, October 16, 2015

Oktoberfest, Munich, and Flying Home!

For the last two days, Thursday and Friday, of our trip, we drove from Salzburg to Munich. We spent a lot of time trying to find a route from Austria to Germany that would avoid the major backups that were happening on the main highway due to the Syrian refugees moving across that part of Europe. We found a route that was only a little bit out of the way and left before 8:00 in the morning, and it worked out perfectly. We were able to bypass the traffic and made it to Munich in about two hours.

The first thing we did was Oktoberfest. Tony had read that Thursday mornings were the least crowded. It opened at 10:00 AM, and we arrived to Munich and parked to make it there not much past that. It really wasn't very crowded when we got there either.
We went straight to a beer tent and were able to easily find a table.
My Mom, Dad, and Tony stayed at the tent and ordered their huge beers while I took the kids to do some rides.
They also got a huge pretzel from the ladies selling baskets of pretzels, rolls, sausages, etc.
Cole was super excited to ride the rides after he did his first one the night before in Salzburg. Our kids have never really done fair rides or anything like that except at Disney. We got the tickets for their first ride, the cars that go around and around. Cole chose one that Cate could ride with him.
The next kid ride we found that they wanted to do were the helicopters that went up into the air. We were the only ones on this ride and it was two rides for the price of one. So they just went twice!
At this point, we had spent all the money we had, so we went back to the beer tent to see how the rest of our group was doing.
I made them get a second pretzel when we came back from doing rides! It was the best one on our trip!
After they finished their drinks, we decided to walk around some more and see some of the other beer tents.
We went into the Augustiner tent. By this point, everything had started to fill up and there didn't seem to be any open tables. We were so glad we got there when we did.
We couldn't get over all the rides...Ferris wheel, roller coasters, swings, all the fair type rides.
My Mom and Cole did the bumper cars together!
While they were doing that, we took Cate to do a train ride by herself. She was so cute riding by herself. Big girl!
Then, Cole wanted to ride after his bumper cars were over. Cate got to go again too. They loved this ride and kept talking about it because they got little bags of Haribo gummy bears afterwards.
We had such a fun time at Oktoberfest! It was definitely one of everyone's favorite things that we did! My Mom had Cole counting all the lederhosen because everyone was dressed up.
We stayed at the Hotel Opera for one night in Munich. We had been spoiled with our apartments this trip and realized quickly that we were glad that we didn't have to stay in hotels the entire time. Hotel rooms are so tiny in Europe and with two extra bodies, it filled up quickly!
Our hotel was in a good location. We were able to find restaurants that were a short walk away, and there was a train station close by that took us to the other areas we wanted to check out.
Cole loved taking the trains. He especially had fun going up and down all the escalators.
On Thursday afternoon, we spent a lot of time walking around, got lunch, went to a big toy store for the kids, and got dinner. On Friday, we had to check out of our hotel by 11:00 AM, so we just hung out and got things together until then. After that, we took the train to see the Glockenspiel, a big clock in the Marienplatz where the characters around the clock dance and play a song at certain times of the day. We got there a few minutes early and had to wait a bit.
These two just kept getting all snuggly with each other.
The dancing figures were ok...I think some in our group thought it was a little silly that we were standing around waiting for these guys to start moving around. Cate actually enjoyed it the most and was dancing to the clock's chimes and music.
We went back to pick up our car and drove out to the BMW Museum. Finding it and parking were super easy. They had a BMW Experience area that was free and an actual museum that we paid to go into.
It was a beautiful day outside. We walked on this overpass to go over to the museum, which is the round building in the background.
Cole really wanted to play the driving video game. We waited in line and everything. He was a little short to reach the pedals so Tony had to help him out. Who knows how they even got it to start since all the directions were in German.
The Olympic park and sports venues from the 1972 Summer Olympics were right next to the BMW complex. We randomly saw this tram when we walked out of the museum and decided to ride that around to see the Olympic stadiums. We were pretty tired of walking and happy to sit down for a little bit.
The stadiums all had these pointed roofs. It was a very unique look and pretty dated. It sounded like they still use the fields and pool for different events though. It was cool to hear what my parents remembered about those Olympics since they were in their late teens then.
We stayed Friday night in a small town between Munich and the airport. We headed there for the night and spent some time reorganizing our bags and getting ready for our flight the next day. It surprised us that we were able to find a decent restaurant a short walk from our hotel. We had no idea what we would find since it was such a small town.
Our flight home was at 7 AM Saturday morning. We had to leave our hotel around 4:30 to return our car, check bags, etc. It was a very early morning for everyone. Our flights home were from Munich to London, London to Houston, and Houston to Tulsa. Three flights was a little much for everyone. Especially since we had to go through security and passport/boarding checks at every airport. We even had a stroller incident where we asked multiple times if we would be getting our stroller planeside in London, only to be assured that we would. Well, we got to London and no stroller. We were told it was being checked through to Houston where we had to claim all of our bags to go through customs. It was really annoying because the London airport is huge, and we had to walk super far to go through security and then all the way back to where we started again. We got so many different answers as to why that happened...I don't even know what the answer was or what we should have done differently. So, we just had to deal.

We had a three hour layover in London (which was really about an hour and a half by the time we got back to the gate area), and Tony was so smart and brought our United Club passes that we had gotten with our credit card. He brought six of them, not knowing about the kids, and we really did have to use a pass for each kid. It was so nice though! We found a table and everyone got something to eat and drink, used nice bathrooms, and just relaxed before heading to the gate. We even made PB sandwiches for the kids to eat on the airplane on the way home. It was a nice break for everyone.
Our flight from London to Houston was also nine hours. The kids still did well on the flight. They just didn't sleep as much since we were flying during the day. I think Cate only slept an hour and Cole slept about two and a half. Cole binge watched movies and ate Rolos with my Dad. We just wanted everyone to be happy and not have a fit at this point! Survival! Cate kind of watched a few shows, played her Elmo game, or wanted to sit in laps, eat snacks, or walk around. Cate did sleep pretty much the entire way from Munich to London and Houston to Tulsa.
We were so tired once we got back to Tulsa. All we talked about was getting some dinner at Taco Bueno! The kids fell asleep as soon as we got in the car to drive home, so I think Tony and I were the only ones that actually ate. They were grumpy and not interested in eating much when we woke them up at home.
We were all exhausted that night and went to sleep easily, but everyone was up around 3 AM again. We watched some of the Solheim Cup we had recorded for about an hour before going back to bed. Our jet lag coming home lasted a few more days than it did when we got to Germany. Cate only cried a little during the night and went back to sleep for about three nights after that first night. Cole was actually getting up around 3 or 4 AM thinking it was time to get up for the day. They both napped well and caught up on their sleep and were back to normal by the end of the week though.

We had a great time on our trip! We got to see so many different places and felt like we were gone for a long time. It was tiring, but worth it for the kids to travel outside the US and see different countries and cultures. Tony and I hadn't been to Europe or on an international trip in at least five years. It's such an adventure and we are thankful for all the memories we will have from this trip together as a family!

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