Friday, October 11, 2013

Karlovy Vary

Karlovy Vary is about 2 hours away from Graf in the Czech republic and makes a feasible daytrip option or an easy 2-day weekend trip. We've done both versions. When we stayed overnight we used to reserve the fantastically reasonable Residence Certovka, complete with children's playground, secure parking lot and fully furnished apartment.

When we're in Karlovy Vary we like to stroll the promenade, sip the strange waters out of the unique straw-handled cups, and take the funicular railway. The latter is not the most overwhelming experience, but we're big train fans so we do it.

We've been to two of the swimming pools: the rooftop pool on top of Hotel Thermal, and the indoor pool at the Elizabeth Spa. They were both fairly simple pools, with the Elizabeth having a bit of a kids' area and some jet-stream areas. I think the main attraction is the fact that the pool water has some thermal spring water in it, and they may both be a little overpriced, but swimming is a nice family activity that entertains the kids after a long car ride.

Lots of restaurants along the main street offer good food, and shoppers will find crystal, furs, and untold other treasures in the area. ATMs and money changers abound.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Galaxy Waterslide Paradise near Munich

On our way back from Salzburg, we stopped overnight in Munich and had to hit the self-proclaimed "biggest waterslide paradise" of Europe. With 20 slides, there was something for everyone in the family, from the three baby slides to the one reserved for 16-year olds and up. Galaxy Waterslide Paradies is connected to a large outdoor/ indoor pool complex that contains therapeutic thermal spring waters.

We arrived early on a weekday and had no crowds to contend with plus an early-bird discount-- definitely the way to go.  However, beware-- the slides are only open early on days that Bavarian schools are on vacation.  Check the website or give them a call for more specific information.

The indoor baby pool area was entertaining but in need of some updates, and there were relaxation extras (massages, etc.) available at an additional price. They're building a wave pool and continue to work on new slide action.

All in all we lucked out with the cheap family entry (early bird), low crowds, and convenient location right off the travel route back. I hope others can fare the same! Note-- at the time that we went, they were not familiar with the VAT form, but with the cheaper entry price it became less important. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Rock Labyrinth

Last summer we took a trip with the cub scouts to the Rock Labyrinth near Wunsiedel.  It took about 45 minutes to drive there from Grafenwoehr, and is a great destination for kids, nature lovers, and those wanting some good exercise on a hike.

Family entrance was 9 euros, and you follow blue arrows out, the red arrows back. It was exciting, with many narrow passageways between boulders as well as fun places to climb. We went in July when the wild blueberries were in season, but we also packed snacks! The whole thing took less than 2 hours, even with little legs keeping up.

Here's a link to a virtual tour (map) with clickable locations along the way (check the numbered list to the right) that show photos.

Note for GPS use- the name of the place is "Felsenlabyrinth Luisenburg" and the name of the town is Wunsiedel.

Other interesting destinations in the region include a Raptor park with falconry and a winter Rodelbahn (follow the same directions as for the rock labyrinth and just keep driving a bit further.

Happy travels!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Living History Park: Baernau-Tachov

What Colonial Williamsburg did for the Revolution, the living history park at Baernau-Tachov is working on doing for the Middle Ages. Our family ticket was 12 Euros and included audioguides for everyone! On the weekend that we visited, there were a number of families spending their summer vacation living in historical style-- pounding their porridge, wearing scratchy clothes, and sleeping on rope mattresses. Dedicated lovers of history!

 Check the park website for seasonal hours and to see about living history weekends, which add a whole new dimension to the experience.

Pack a lunch or dine at the history park cafe, and if you have little guys the playground/ archaeological sand excavation pit will make them happy, too!

The park is 1 hour and 10 minutes from Grafenwoehr, and, bonus: The Crystal Factory Outlet Store is right on the way. Neustadt also has a few restaurants and pizzerias if the morning was too chaotic to allow for packed lunches.

Monday, September 16, 2013


We love Kronach! Its cobblestoned streets lend it a true medieval feeling that gets lost in the more tourist-oriented German towns. The imposing Fortress Rosenberg towers over Kronach, and whenever we go we get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the place by staying in the youth hostel within the fortress.  It just doesn't get any more authentic, and at 17 Euros per person for bed and breakfast the rate isn't too bad. My kids loved our 6-person room of bunk beds, but there are other options.

A short walk down the hill leads to a street of pizzerias with the occasional Greek or German restaurant, or you can eat in the fortress's own dining establishment. Weather permitting, the outdoor area has a priceless view.

There's a walking path around the base of the fortress and we enjoyed the local swimming pool -- the seasonally open outdoor pool was especially kid- and toddler-friendly.

Kronach is only a 73-minute drive from Grafenwoehr, so it's an easy daytrip.  However, staying overnight in the fortress was an unforgettable experience that I highly recommend!