Usually, Matt and I plan a trip to the minute; both of us are Type A planners and having no itinerary for a trip is not an option. We plan in “down time” (of course we do) and pad all our timetables with at least 20 minutes on each end because we’re not new and we travel with four kids. But it’s a rare thing to not have a plan at all for a full afternoon on a trip with Matt and I.
Thank the gods for small blessings, though.
During our tour of Neuchwanstein Castle, we realized that not far from us was a town called Tegelberg, where a cable car would take us up the mountain for some really cool views and an alpine coaster (which we loved in Chamonix!). We cabbed it from Neuchwanstein over to Tegelberg and it was one of the most amazing things we’ve done in all our travels yet!
We took the cable car up the mountain (not nearly as steep or dramatic as the one to Aiguille du Midi, but really amazing anyway). At the base of the mountain it had been warmish – probably in the low 50s. At the top, though, there was snow everywhere and we had somehow crossed a threshold into an alpine wonderland.
Looking in one direction we could see green fields surrounding this huge, calm lake, and then when you turned to look in the other direction, it was just snow-capped mountains and evergreens. The contrast was astounding.
We had lunch at the cafe at the top of the mountain – more wiener schnitzel and fries, and some good German beer – and took a walk around. There were lots of hiking trails heading up into the mountains, but unfortunately none of us was dressed for a wintery, snow-covered path and we had to skip the hike. We did see two para-gliders take off though. They just ran off the edge of the mountain and floated away. It looked so serene; I’d never considered trying that, but now that I’ve seen it, I think I’d like to give it a go one day.
We took another cable car ride back to the bottom of the mountain and we all had a round on the alpine coaster. So interesting to see how my children react differently to being in charge of their own speed on this sort of thing – it’s funny to see who the daredevils are and who is more cautious. (And it’s not who you’d expect.)
The next day we got back in the van and headed to Stuttgart. Matt had work there for a few days, so his parents and the kids and I did some touring on our own. On the first day, we visited the Mercedes Benz Museum, which was in walking distance from our hotel. Although I am not really a car person by any stretch of the imagination, this was one of the best museums I’ve visited!
The museum was certainly centered around the cars, but it traced the evolution from the very earliest horseless carriages up to the present day, and tied the automobiles into what was happening across Germany and around the world at the time they were made.
We each had an audio tour which had three listening options: a more technical one for the car fanatics, a general one related to the history of the time, and a children’s one that simplified everything and told a few stories about the cars and the time periods in which they were built. It was a fantastic learning experience and the actual cars were pretty amazing too.
One of the funny highlights of our time in Stuttgart was that our hotel room had a sauna in it, which the kids loved! They’d never been in one before, and they couldn’t stay in very long, but they loved using it and now we all want one in our house!
We were also lucky enough while we were in Stuttgart to have dinner two nights at friends’ houses; Matt has work colleagues based there who hosted us two nights in a row and it was really great to take a break from restaurants, hang out with friends, and just let the kids play. Plus, both nights we had great views of the city and some stunning sunsets!
We had one more stop on our road trip – Colmar, France – and I loved it so much it’s getting it’s own post! Coming soon. (Part one of the Alpine Road Trip!)