adventures, day trip, hiking, kids, outing, staycation, sunshine, travel with toddler, warsaw, weekend goals

Family Hike to Käser Alm

20160527104841_IMG_0998

We went hiking again! This was such a different hike than our hike to Siebenhütten but we loved it as well! This time we were near Chiemsee on the Samerberg, and hiked up to the Käser Alm.

20160527111333_IMG_1013

We drove (and what a drive it was! The views!!) to the bottom of the Hochriesbahn and parked, and then started our hike. The drive from Munich took about 55 minutes with no traffic. The beginning of the trail is rather steep and is paved, which was a little tricky because a few cars and a tractor drove past, and we had to be careful. This is just the first section though, and after we got out of the initial ascent there was no more traffic. We passed a thrilling mountain biking course and took a little break to watch the crazy bikers.

20160527113447_IMG_1030

We continued on through a section of field, which was the hardest and hottest section, until we entered a forest, where we took a “shortcut” up the hillside over roots and stones – it was definitely challenging but we had Luke in the hiking pack and Charlie stopped his complaining because he was so focused on scrambling up the trail – so although it was harder, he moved better and faster because it was simply more interesting. At the top we scrambled over three cow gates – a bit of a challenge because of the barbed wire, but also exciting in its own way – and found ourselves at the Alm!

20160527140828_IMG_1141

20160527133652_IMG_1125

The Käser Alm itself is situated in the middle of a valley with spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and the Paragliders above. There were two horses grazing, some cows in the distance, and, of course, a beautiful Biergarten with a spectacular natural playground. We ate a Brotzeitplatte and Kaiserschmarrn and drank some beer and fresh buttermilk – the food was really excellent and the prices were good.

IMG_20160527_143335016

20160527134147_IMG_1138

The Alm itself is cozy but quite picturesque and the kids loved playing on the really spectacularly designed playground – which managed to have interesting and challenging elements that completely fit in with the surrounding Alps – wooden bridges, interestingly shaped trees, stacked logs for climbing, and a shady sandbox.

IMG_20160527_153631604

We were pretty exhausted from the climb up – the signs told us it was a 20 minute walk, but we found the hike to be quite difficult and steep, and needed about an hour and a half to arrive – and weren’t particularly keen on hiking back down – so we took the chair lift! We paid 4.50/person and I will say – it was kind of the highlight of our hike, but it was also just a little bit terrifying. The chairs are single seats so we each had to have a kid on our lap – which was fine for Papa and Charlie but I had Luke and I was so worried he would squirm – which he didn’t, but if he had, I would have really had to hold on tight. If we did it again, I would definitely put Luke in our Mei Tai carrier for the ride down, for security. Nevertheless, we really enjoyed the ride down and the views, and we lived to tell the tale 🙂

20160527111330_IMG_1011

I recommend this hike to families even with young kids especially because you have the option of taking the chair lift either up or down – and you don’t have to take the path through the woods like we did, instead you can just follow the road and (I assume) it will stay flat and actually even stroller accessible. The road is pretty steep though so it didn’t look like much fun to push a stroller all the way up – just FYI. We were happy we had brought our hiking carrier.

Both kids were exhausted when we got back to the car around 4pm so we just headed home but if you had more time, the Naturbad Samerberger Filze is only a few minutes drive away and is a free natural swimming pool with stunning Alpine views. Or you could try out the Bauerngolf Samerberg, which looks like great fun, with giant plastic clubs (actually a wooden shoe on a stick) and balls in the middle of a cow meadow, with miniature golf-like obstacles (but in giant versions).

I know we will be back to try out these other two options!

 

Standard
hiking

Family Hike to Siebenhütten

20160522110849_IMG_0831

We aren’t the world’s most outdoorsy family, but we love the mountains and kids are just naturals in the wilderness. The weather was looking great for this past sunday, so we reserved a car through Statt Auto and started planning a hiking trip. I researched a bit and stumbled upon this recommendation for Siebenhütten.

20160522104141_IMG_0811

IMG_20160522_134718475

We set off around 10:30 on Sunday morning (kids may make you early risers but they don’t make us early-get-out-of-the-housers) and parked in front of Siebenhütten around 11:30 – so about an hour drive. We paid for parking and set off. The hike itself is supposedly 40 minutes – fast hikers could probably make it in 20, and families with little kids like ours… well I think we took well over two hours. But what a beautiful hike it was.

20160522133450_IMG_0904

20160522144103_IMG_0949

The path is gravel, and level, but still interesting, winding through the woods and alongside the Felsweißach stream, with spectacular views of the mountains the whole way.

IMG_20160522_122311831The kids were tempted to stop and splash in the stream but we held them off until we arrived and had some ice cream, then we picked a spot on the icy water and let them play. After lunch and drinks, we retraced our route back and were back at the car around 5pm.

20160522132911_IMG_0898

What a day! I highly recommend this “hike” if you want to test your toe into the waters of family hiking with a great goal in mind, and spectacular views to boot!

Standard
munich, Uncategorized

How to find an Apartment in Munich (a sarcastic guide)

IMG_20160409_120231901We were recently confronted with DOOM – a letter from our landlord stating that he was cancelling our lease so that his in-laws can move in. Germany has spectacular renter protections, but as we would soon find out, this situation, called “Eigenbedarf”, is the one exception to those stoneclad rules. So we found ourselves suddenly, unwillingly, on the market for a new apartment.

For those of you who know Munich, you know that the rental market is insane – and we didn’t even realize how crazy the prices had gotten in the nearly five years we had been living in our last apartment. We would be paying 500 Euros more for our apartment a month, easily. So we started to look, and quickly figured out that apartments were either affordable (there were very few of those) but nearly impossible to get (we started to suspect that it would come down to bribing someone) or expensive and nice, and indeed available, but yeah, expensive.

If you start an apartment hunt in Munich, you won’t get around Immobilienscout. The app was forever dinging on my phone, we had a full schedule of visits and our heart felt shattered by rejection. In the end, we found a place, and we are so excited – it has its own yard, and it’s beautiful. We did learn a bit in the process, so here are my humble tips for surviving and finding a place you will be happy with:

  • Throw yourself into the hunt

We found the best strategy to be to immerse ourselves fully in the hunt. We had apartment viewings scheduled nearly daily, and it was exhausting – but for us it was the right strategy. We were able to put all our energy into finding a place in a short amount of time.

  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate

I would never have thought this in a crowded real estate market like Munich, but time and time again, when we asked if various things were possible (do we REALLY have to take the parking spot? Can you install a kitchen free of charge? Will you lower the rent by 200 Euros? (seriously)) We got yes after yes. Seriously, all of those questions were answered by yes. So ASK! Often, the agents really do want to rent the property quickly, so if you have requests, they are willing to grant them!

  • Broaden your search

The place we ended up signing for was listed as a tiny two bedroom –  initially we were only looking at 4 + room places upwards of 90 square meters – but I went ahead and broadened my search to include smaller places. As it turned out, the place we found was listed as a 3 room but being renovated to be a 4 room – but if I hadn’t broadened my search we would have missed it! So do look a but further afield, you may get lucky.

What tips do you have for braving the apartment search?

Standard
Uncategorized

Family Weekend Tips Feb 27th-29th 2016

Still wondering what to do this weekend in Munich? Here are a few ideas:

Munich Book Expo – Junior

books2.jpg

Head over to the Münchner Stadtmuseum and check out the kid’s book expo – there are books to read, comfy beanbags for cuddling, little huts for hiding and lots of literature to discover. Daily from 9am-7pm – and it’s free!

Sledding

rodelpistenkarte-rodeln-in-muenchen-13If the snow sticks around (uncertain at this point) check out this interactive sledding map for Munich and hit up a new hill with the kiddos!

The first Spring Clothing Bazaars

fleamarketIf you’re looking to add some new items to your child’s spring wardrobe, the first spring kids clothing and toy bazaars are starting – try stopping by the St. Maria Thalkirchen Church on Saturday from 1-3pm for some browsing and cake.

If these options don’t suit you, try heading to Bergtierpark Blindham (always a blast!) and checking out their indoor play around after feeding the sheep. Or take the train to the beautiful Monte Mare Therme in Schliersee – the weather looks to be the perfect combination of chilly but sunny!

And a bonus date night idea: Braukunst Live – craft beer and fun!

Standard
baby gear, Uncategorized

Baby and Kid Items you Need for Germany

babiesingermanyMaybe you’re pregnant and expecting a baby in Germany, or maybe you’re moving overseas with your family. Whatever your situation, you might feel like you know what you need. There are a few items, however, that you may never have thought of that will soon become essential for your new life in Germany – some are things that aren’t really used elsewhere, some have to do with particularly Germany quirks, and some have to do with the weather. Here’s hoping this list helps you prepare!

  1. Foot Muff
    This is like a super cozy sleeping back for the stroller. Keeps the passenger warm and snug. These come in all different versions, from fleece to lambswool. We have this one
  2. Tights and Undershirts
    Your baby must not have any exposed skin. No I’m not kidding – Germans can’t stand the sight of naked baby feet or legs, not even a centimeter between pants and socks. Both boys and girls wear tights up through until 6 or so. Really. Buy the cute ones with characters on the butt. Those are the best.
  3. Rain Pants
    These are like snow pants, but for rain.You will need these and honestly, I cannot fathom why this isn’t a normal thing for kids to have in the US. They’re great for playing in the rain, of course, but they’re also perfect for going anywhere that might be damp or muddy – and they make the slides faster. If you have a little crawler and it’s not summertime, just suit her up and let her crawl around on the wet ground – no worries!
  4. Baby Bassinett
    For the stroller. Germans prickle at the idea of pushing babies around perched in their car seats – and there is quite a bit of research to suggest that the upright positioning of car seats for babies, especially little ones, isn’t the best. Stroller bassinets are perfect for the early days, and they’re great because if you LO falls asleep you can just transfer them right up to your apartment in the bed, and they’ll be super comfy. We used to use ours as a travel bed the first few months.
  5. A good, robust stroller (with all the gear)
    We’ve mentioned the stroller a few times. You have one, right? We live car free and you might be planning to as well, but even if you aren’t, most of Germany’s cities are highly walkable and it is a beautiful luxury to stroll around with your little one without having to transfer from car to stroller/carrier and back to car. You’ll want a stroller that hold up to all that use, and has a large under stroller basket for groceries, as you’ll probably do your shopping on foot too. Make sure to pick up a rain cover and a foot muff (see above).
  6. House Shoes
    It may not be as strict as in Japan, but Germans generally do not wear their outdoor shoes in the house. At the same time, the idea of being barefoot on cold floors gives most Germans the heebie jeebies (they will immediately catch a cold). If they see barefooted CHILDREN – oh boy. The best kind of house shoes are those leather moccassins – lightweight, grippy, comfy and robust.

Do you have anything to add to my list?

Standard
pregnancy

Pregnancy and Birth in Munich

IMG_20140630_183609

Charlie meeting Luke for the first time

I’ve done the whole shebang twice through now so I thought I would share some tips for newbies (or those who have never had a baby before here in Munich). We live in Sendling so some of the local institutions are more relevant if you also live in the area. Feel free to ask questions in the comments

IMG_20140629_204943506

our hospital midwife holding Luke

Doctors and Midwives

It can be hard to find an OBGYN with openings. They are booked up – but don’t dispair! Just stick with it. My doctor is Dr. Tymiec. She’s great and speaks excellent English but it’s tough to get an appointment (also, she’s not in Sendling). Just keep calling offices until you can find someone with an appointment – or stress that you just moved here and perhaps they’ll make an exception. If you prefer, you can have most of your prenatal appointments with a midwife so ask at the office if you would prefer to have yours with the midwife – often they work directly with one or two and can advise you. It’s great to make a connection with a midwife now, as you will need one for your postpartum care (see below).

DSC_0959

tiny Charlie on day 3

Birth Prep

Your insurance will pay for a birth prep course – take advantage of this! I took my courses at the amazing Kidler 19 – which I highly recommend, but don’t forget that the courses are in German (but I still think you should be working on your language and taking this in German – it will prep you for your hospital experience!) If you are really brand new and you speak no German, there are a few English speaking birth prep courses out there. I recommend taking a women’s only course that meets weekly over a number of months – you will form relationships and learn the most this way – and then make sure to sign up for a partner course for a weekend so your partner knows what to expect, too.

DSC_0941

Charlie just a few hours old

Yoga and other classes

I took prenatal yoga, also at Kidler 19, and I adored it. This is usually covered by insurance too – just make sure you attend at least 80% of the courses, which is mandatory! When in doubt, just send in your bill.

Baby Gear

We did most of our shopping either at local flea markets (we especially adore the Hofflohmärkte) or on amazon.de. Make sure to sign up for Amazon Prime!! As for day to day baby stuff, DM really is the best place to go. They even have adorable clothes.

DSC_0948

Charlie in his rolling bed

Hospitals and Birth

I birthed both of my sons at Klinikum Harlaching. We were really happy with our experiences. I had two natural births, lots of attention from the midwives, acupuncture and homeopathic meds, the possibility of a water birth (which I didn’t use) and nice rooms with ensuite bathrooms. There are great tools for coping with labor – cloths to hang onto, birthing balls – and the midwives and doctors both were very helpful and knowledgeable.

IMG_20140703_193017843

Luke snuggles

Postpartum

These days, it’s getting hard to find a postpartum midwife, but don’t give up – YOU NEED ONE! Keep calling until you find one who is available, and always ask for suggestions of names. This woman will be your saint postpartum. She will come to your house, check on you and your baby, bring you all kinds of lotions and potions and be on call 24 – 7 to answer even the most mundane of questions. From breastfeeding to baby’s weight gain to your own postpartum healing – this is who you will turn to, all from the comfort of your own home. Make sure to meet your midwife beforehand because I can’t stress enough how amazing this resource is and how important it is that you find someone who you get along well with and who shares your personality somewhat. I can highly recommend my midwife, Costanze Steller Debole so if you live in her area, give her a try.

Childcare

Do yourself a favor and sign up online for the Munich city childcare waiting lists ASAP if you think you will need childcare. It doesn’t take long and you we be glad you gave it a shot. Also look around your neighborhood for private institutions that are interesting for you. Both my kids attend the Montessori Kinderhaus am Harras and we love it.

Questions? Ideas? Write me!

 

 

Standard
sendling

Winter Favorites in Sendling

Because of the excellent response to my last post, 9 Sendling Favorites, I decided to put together a list that works for winter, since most of those ideas were very outdoor oriented. So here are some of our favorite family friends places and things to do in Sendling when the weather is cold(ish)!

Turnen

turnenFor the non-German speakers among us – what the heck is Turnen? I would translate it as “movement group” for kids. We belong to the FTM München Süd – it’s a “Turnverein” – which is a traditional German institution but basically amounts to a sport club – they have more than just movement classes! For a very reasonable fee (9 Euros/month/kid) you can attend all of their offerings. For littles, there is a “parent-kid” movement group where they transform their spacious gym space into an indoor playground with various pieces of atheltic equipment – rings, mats, balance beams, trampolines – you name it. There are a slew of other offerings, such as a morning badminton group where you can bring your babies, or a song and dance hour for littles while the older ones learn tumbling – take your pick! If you choose to also become a member as an adult, you can chose between a great selection of sport offerings such as Aikido, Yoga, Step, Ping Pong, Volleyball… I personally swim with the group every week. There are also regular events open for non members – check the webseite and join in a lovely cultural institution! (stop by one of the courses – no need to sign up first, and the first two “schnupper” days are free! (photo c/o FTM Süd)

Library

The Stadtbibliothek in Sendling is a godsend on an icky cold day. You can push your stroller right in, take the elevator down to the basement level, and set your kids loose on all the books which are sorted in boxes right at eye level. There are tons of stuffed animals and beanbags, carpeted stairs for cuddly reading, and a corner with a huge selection of board games. There are also CDs and DVDs to rent, and if you have a tiny baby take the elevator upstairs and grab some magazines from the periodicals section before retreating downstairs to read them in peace (or at least in the kids section you won’t feel bad if your little one starts to scream)

Lunch Specials

When I started my new job, my husband stayed home with my younger son. Every day at naptime, he packed him up into the stroller, walked until he fell asleep, then chose a Sendling restaurant with an enticing lunch special to enjoy while Luke was sleeping – Brilliant, right? His favorites are: Stemmerhof (this is really delicious and something special), Ninh (vietnamese), and Pizza Il Tabie

Sledding

IMG_20160117_110314886If there is snow (and lately, this is a big IF) grab your sleds or “Poporutscher” and find a hill to speed down. Our favorites for first time sledders are Valleyspielplatz (head over to Valleys for a Schnitzel afterwards), Neuhofner Park – either at the “Fußballplatz” behind the playground or over near the “Monopteros” on the hill. For thrill seekers, Neuhofner Berg is a great Rodelhügel.

Südbad

This list wouldn’t be complete without giving Südbad another mention – in winter the indoor space is inviting and warm, and the outdoor pool is steamy and lovely. Always a welcome respite from the bitter cold.

 

Standard