First Family Trip to Europe


If you’ve noticed I haven’t posted lately it’s for good reason, I’ve been in survival mode. We had a 12 day trip to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  Yes, we’ve been home for two weeks now but the time since we arrived home has been consumed with the end of swim season and running the concession stand for City Meet.  That and of course surviving the boys.  Ever since we returned home they are at each other all the time.  Maybe it’s getting over the jet lag, or maybe it’s just because summer break is too long.

In a perfect world I planned to have several posts ready for  while I was gone, but planning this trip took it out of me.  So here you are getting a summary of our trip.  Just picture the Dalrymple boys eating their way across German speaking Europe.  They LOVED it!!

Like I said before, the planning was crazy. We were going to Germany for Jens’ wedding.  He lived with my family for a few months the same year I went to Germany for a year of high school.  We’ve been in touch and visited over the years. A bonus is that we would see my parents on part of the trip, the boys were excited to share their European adventures with Oma and Opa.

We all arrived in Zurich within 15 minutes and collected our luggage and got a rental car. I picked up some yogurt drinks at the airport along with some chocolate and we were good to go.  The drive to Salzburg was downright hellish.  The boys were tired and cranky.  The rental car was a little smaller than my car so the boys touched each other when they nodded off and had a fit.  “He’s touching me” was the phrase of the day.  Many meltdowns ensued.

We arrived in Salzburg and found the rental apartment.  The problem was my phone app wasn’t working for some reason and I was unable to call them to get in.  After running around the train station looking for a phone on the hottest day of the year we finally got into our apartment.  The whole family was exhausted and rested.

Finally we had the energy to go get some dinner.  We headed to a nearby Biergarten and my friend Karin met us there.  It was so fantastic to see her again.  Josh and I last saw her in 2005 when we lived in Germany for six months.  It was her first time meeting the whole gang and we all had fun catching up, speaking both English and German.  Josh ordered the Riesen Schnitzel (giant schnitzel) and the entire family helped eat it!  The boys were hooked from the get go, schnitzel became their go to meal.


The next day we went to the fortress in town with Karin.  It was a historical sight the boys could get into.  Traveling with young children changes your perspective.  They certainly weren’t interested in going to Mozart’s House.  A fortress though, with weapons, definitely!  We had lunch there as well with a fantastic view of the city and river.  My vegetable strudel with pumpkin sauce was incredible.  The boys loved their clown ice cream for dessert.  Josh was thrilled with beer and pretzels.


That afternoon we headed to Hellbrunn Palace.  Karin recommended this as a great place for kids and she was right.  Not that my kids know the movie, but parts of The Sound of Music were filmed here.  Now that they’ve seen the palace I’ll have to show them the movie.

The kid friendly part was the water games.  We all had lots of fun exploring the grounds and anticipating where the water would shoot out next.  What family wouldn’t love playing in the water at an old palace in the heat of the summer?!  Add in a fun zip line on the grounds for some play time and it was a fantastic outing.

On our last day we went to Eis Riesen Welt, also a great idea from Karin.  I lived in Austria for a year during college and went to Salzburg a couple times, I had no idea the world’s largest ice cave was right outside of town!  Our other choice was to go to some salt mines, something I definitely wanted to do but thought the boys would like an ice cave better.  Something for next time…

Now remember, we’re from South Carolina and left home on a day when it was going to reach close to 100 Fahrenheit (37 Celcius) and packed for a summer vacation.  Smart mom that I am we did all have jeans and long sleeves, plus a fleece for the boys.  So off we went, all bundled up.


The drive was beautiful, especially seeing Burg Hohenwerfen nestled in the mountains.  We arrived at the cave parking lot and we off on our first hike up the mountain.  It was cool but nice.  Then you ride straight up the mountain, a fun experience for all (though I could anticipate the plunge down the mountain might not be so pleasant).  The next hike up the mountain was steep and starting to get hot from all the hiking.

You arrive at the opening of the cave somewhat sweaty from all the hiking and then it hits you in the face.  The wind is intense when they open the doors and then you’re in a very cold cave. The boys loved it, for a while.  The natural ice formations were gorgeous and hiking up the cold dark cave by lantern was fun.  But then it got too cold for them.  Obviously we all survived though!!  After buying some crystals in the gift shop they recovered.

Next we were off to Ulm, Germany to visit my host sister Tanja (she stayed with my family during my senior year of college).  The boys LOVED the curry wurst they had at a gas station on the road too, what’s not to love, curry ketchup and sausage!

The boys absolutely loved staying at her house and playing with her baby Oskar.  Plus my parents were there too so it was fun to see Oma and Opa again.  This was a highlight of the trip!  While there we took the train to Munich for a day outing.


The train ride was fun for the boys, especially playing with Oskar.  They also liked pushing Oskar’s stroller through the city.  They even imagined how much fun it would be if Oskar was their brother!  While in Munich we went to the museum of science and industry, Opa went too.  It was great fun for the adults as well as children.

The boys had their first Döner, essentially a gyro, in a park.  We walked all over the city due to some underground closures and saw some nice sights along the way.  When we arrived back at the house later that night Tanja’s boyfriend had prepared a spaghetti feast for everyone.  After dinner I had some fantastic apricot schnapps from Austria and knew I needed to get some at the end of our trip when we went back through Austria.


Tanja served some wonderful German breakfasts while we were there.  Fresh breads, pretzels, meats, cheeses, jam, honey, yogurt, Nutella and fresh fruit.  It was a lot of choices for the boys!  This might be why we skipped lunch many days during our trip, load up at breakfast and that was enough.

Stuttgart was next because Josh had to see the Porsche Museum.  We’ve been twice already but it was rebuilt a couple years ago.  The boys of course liked it too.  As a foodie my favorite car might have been the pink one, made to look like a pig and marking off all the cuts of pork!


Finally we were off to Dieburg, just outside of Darmstadt.  This is the reason for the trip, Jens and Kerstin’s wedding.  We met up with my parents here again.  Good thing too since Jack stayed in their hotel room.  Let’s just say German hotels aren’t made for families with three children.

We had a couple days until the wedding and laid low.  We explored the small town where we were staying, played at a nearby playground, ate, drank, slept.  We also attempted to find a winery unsuccessfully.  Jack ran a fever and I went to the pharmacy for medicine and he stayed at the hotel with my parents while the rest of us went on a shopping excursion in Frankfurt.

Jens and Kerstin had a cookout at their house a couple nights before the wedding and it was incredible.  They live in an extremely rural town and have horses, chickens, peacocks and more right outside their door.  Sean and Ewan had so much fun playing and exploring with the neighbor girls.  Jack wore himself out playing and rested most of the time, his fever coming back.  We ate delicious sausages, noodle salad and the first lettuce from their garden made a scrumptious salad.


Oma and Opa took Jack back to the hotel early and the rest of us stayed and made merry.  Beer may have been involved, for Josh anyway.  Their landlord took us for  a walk at dusk (around 10:30) and showed us his horses.  It was so much fun and relaxing.  There was a mix of German, French (his host brother from Canada and girlfriend were there too) and English.

The wedding was beautiful, as was their daughter’s christening.  For the boys it was all about the food, well and playing too.  Immediately after the ceremony there was champagne and snacks (fresh rolls and pretzels) in the parish hall.  It was meant to be outside but it was raining.  Give the boys a pretzel and they are incredibly happy!

We eventually headed to the reception all and luckily the grounds were child friendly.  The boys played soccer with other guests and on the playground.  They spoke the common language of children and had so much fun.  Their eyes lit up when they first walked in and saw the candy table.  They immediately filled up on chocolates!

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Then the cake table was getting set up.  I’m not talking your normal wedding cake table either.  They had something like 14 different cakes, and then a wedding cake too!  We had afternoon coffee and cake, played and socialized and then dinner was served around 8.  Ewan was the only boy who was able to handle two pieces of cake, the wedding cake being his favorite.  It was a light chocolate sponge with flavored whipped cream between the layers and fresh fruit.  Oh how I love German cakes better than super sweet American ones.WeddingCakesCollage

They had noodles and sausage for all the kids at the dinner buffet.  My children couldn’t be bothered with that.  Once the saw the schnitzel it was decided!  I have three schnitzel addicts on my hands now.  Unfortunately we left the reception before the music and dancing even began.  Around 10 it was time for us to go, we had a long night ahead of us.

We went to Oma and Opa’s hotel room, changed and hit the road.   We drove all night to Austria for the Formula One race!  I know, crazy insane.  But Josh’s theory was we were so close to an F1 race how could they guys all resist.  We arrived at the track and waited for the gates to open.  At first the boys were extremely excited, despite the light rain.  We got a schnitzel sandwich and leberkäs sandwich for breakfast and they were allowed to pick out one item each to buy (two got a car and one got a hat).


We finally headed out to claim some space in the grass and they played around.  They liked the races before the main event, the airplane show and more.  Then Jack finally crashed.  They didn’t sleep well in the car overnight and Jack slept through almost the entire race!  It was still fun though, rain, sleep deprivation and all.

The race was in Austria, close to where I went to university for a year.  Unfortunately we just didn’t have time to swing by Graz.  After the race we left for our apartment rental in the Alps, south of Salzburg.  The apartment was wonderful.  This is exactly how Josh and I imagine our first trip to Europe with the boys.  Staying in a nice apartment in the mountains for a week or two and exploring, hiking, biking, relaxing.  Too bad we were only here for the one night before we headed back to Zurich for our flights home.

We stayed up and watched another soccer game (the European championships were going on while we were there).   Josh and I had some schnapps and chocolate.  It was hard work, but we had an open bottle of schnapps we needed to finish before our flight!

The next day we took the scenic route through the Alps on our way to Zurich.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  We saw an amazing waterfall, went up twisty roads.  We stopped for lunch and toasted out last meal in the mountains.  The boys developed a love for Fanta and had some with their pizza.  I really wanted to have some strudel and ice cream for dessert but was too stuffed.


While it was a beautiful drive, it was a little sad knowing the trip was coming to an end.  We certainly had fun and did many things, but there is so much more I wanted to do.  So much more we wanted to eat and drink.  I never found homemade apricot jam in Austria to bring home.  We didn’t go to an Eis Cafe and have spaghetti ice cream.

That being said the boys tried new foods and drinks.  They now love multivitamin saft, a blended fruit and vegetable juice.  Josh and I have yet to find one that is the same here in the States.  They had their first fresh currants, too sour for one of the boys but two others liked them.  Milchschnitte, Kinder Pinguin, Kinder eggs, Kinder Joy…so many delicious treats.  And then don’t get me started on all the bakery goodies we all loved.

Stay tuned for a In My Kitchen roundup of everything we brought home from the trip….





15 thoughts on “First Family Trip to Europe

    1. Gretchen Post author

      It was a wonderful action packed trip Amy! I don’t think you would be jealous if the jet lagged sleep deprive meltdowns times three 😉 The boys and I have some recipe planning to do based on some of the things we are there. Stay tuned…..

    1. Gretchen Post author

      It is nice to be home again! It was a fun trip, just extremely busy. Now once school starts I’ll be able to breathe again 😉

  1. Karen

    You and your family certainly did pack a lot into your short stay, it sounds wonderful. That wedding cake looks amazing. We’ve been to many of the same places…Austria is so beautiful. We will be going back again in October to both Germany and Austria.

    1. Gretchen Post author

      It was a crazy schedule, kind of like visiting all your relatives in a few short days! We had fun though and definitely are well. Enjoy your trip, October should be beautiful there.

  2. ChgoJohn

    What an amazing trip! And to think you did it all with 3 young boys. I’ve not been to that part of Europe and always thought that I’d get there, if, for no other reason, than for the strudel. How I love good strudel!!!!

    1. Gretchen Post author

      And I didn’t even get a sweet strudel this time. The vegetable strudel was fantastic though. I’ve had a really good apple strudel in Venice though, closer to your usual travel spots.


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