The Travels of Jazz

We travel a lot, and with five kids we garner attention.  We are the ones clogging the public restrooms, talking too loud, running around everywhere,  taking far too long to order fast food, and getting in other people’s way. We get plenty of attention from others.

For all of the attention we get though, it’s The Little One in Curls who always seems to be the star of the show. Wherever we go, she is the one who seems to be able to melt away the ubiquitous German scowl. She makes friends wherever we go. She’s the one they’re talking about when we hear someone murmur “suß kind” (“sweet child”). When they look at us and smile or laugh, it’s usually because she smiled or laughed first.   We don’t know what casts her spell, whether it’s the curls or the always-on smile or petite stature – maybe somehow a recipe that she mixes together to create some sort of charm.

Last week Jazlynn went on a walk with Melissa to run some errands.  They passed a local vegetable market they visit regularly. As they walked by the owner’s son recognized Jazlynn and stepped out to give her a free Apricot.  They walked on and then back some time later to the vegetable market, where the same man – seeing her again – gave her a free cherry. After picking out some vegetables, Melissa stepped in to pay where an elderly woman – the man’s mother – occupied the register.  Jazlynn gave her a smile,  and in return the woman gave her a shiny red apple.  Evidently the smile grew, because the woman then reached behind the register and presented Jazz with a nice new stuffed rhinoceros as a gift.  Jazz beamed with the prize, and as they left she must have still been beaming, because the young man outside slipped her a free banana.

Those are the travels of Jazz.


Jazz atop Burgruine Wolfsburg in a light snow.

Studying a curious memorial at Buchenwald Concentration Camp, Weimar. Attracting the attention of strangers on a wooden unicorn – Salzburg, Austria. Sometimes a barrel just needs a hug. I love this picture.  While all of the other children are passing the time –  Anna looking away, Chase looking down, the other kids and adults preoccupied –  in the middle of all of the indifference, Jazlynn is having the time of her life.  Wine Harvest Festival in Neustadt




Cool day on Utah Beach. Posing below the Alps in Austria.
Not to be consoled on Omaha Beach. Once again, having the time of her life on the hold-on-for-dear-life slide at the Speyer Technik Museum. Signalling that she is a little tired of the Louvre, Paris.   Concentrating on the art of the swing in Höhe Loog. Looking smug at Germany’s Highest Waterfall in the Black Forrest. Here’s hoping she always looks up to Dad.

That smile. 

Austria Gallery: Bertchesgaden and Königssee in Southwest Germany

Bertchesgaden, an Alpine area in southwest Germany just across the border from Salzburg, is home to high granite mountains and Hitler’s Eagles Nest. The nearby lake Königssee is said to be Germany’s cleanest high altitude lake.  Both are beautiful areas, but unfortunately for us both were obscured by cloudy weather.   The pictures below can also be found in Picasa. 


Destination Salzburg



The legendary autobahn, with it’s glass like surface,  portions with no speed restrictions, and populated with sleek powerful BMW, Mercedes and Audi’s….frustratingly often stands at a complete bumper to bumper stop.   Occasionally it’s due to road construction, sometimes due to accidents, and sometimes – maddeningly – it screeches to a standstill for no particular reason at all.  We made it worse on ourselves by deciding to travel on a holiday weekend to Salzburg, driving through München during commuting hours.     On this trip we found ourselves the ultimate butt of the joke, at one point  staring at an unlimited speed sign posted on the shoulder to the left while sitting on the road at  a complete stop, watching other drivers around you get out of their car to stretch their legs. That is not an exaggeration.

Nonetheless, we lived through that part.  Our destination for this trip wasn’t so much Salzburg.  Rather, we went to the Alps to see the mountains.  Our kids have never see real, honest-to-goodness mountains with snow capped peaks. Unfortunately, what we saw instead on our first day were clouds.   Funny thing about staying in a picturesque valley in the Alps, on a cloudy day it pretty much looks like a cloudy day in Iowa.    We passed that day with a trip underground tour of a Salt Mine (which was actually pretty interesting), and an worthwhile (yet still unsatisfying) visit to Bertchesgaden  and Königssee.

View of Salzburg from the fortress above the city

The draw at Königssee is to take an electric boat tour across the clear, high altitude lake, hear a bugler demonstrate the echoes from the mountain cliffs, and visit the remote church of St. Bartholoma on the opposite shore.  In Bertchesgaden, the thing to do is to hitch a ride to the top of the Alps to visit Hitler’s Eagles Nest, and Alps retreat built for him for his 50th Birthday.  We skipped all of that due to the inclement weather and uncooperative 3 year old and opted instead for a short hike.

Cable Car above Zell am See

Day two was a visit to the actual city of Salzburg, a popular tourist destination made so by the von Trapp family of Sound of Music Fame  and a less famous musician by the name of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Day three, the clouds parted, and the high alps came to full view.  That day was for us was full of Austrian Alpine cliches…green meadows, snow capped peaks, emerald rivers, rides on cable cars up the mountains, and sunny afternoon by a crystal clear Alpine lake.   It might be  cliche, it might be stereotype, but it was nonetheless amazing….too hard to describe really, so instead we’ll post a couple of photoblogs in the next few days of our tours around the area.