Our first night we drove to Munich and ate in a gorgeous little beer garden in the English Garden of Munich. Roasted chicken, sauerkraut, bratwurst, pommes (french fries), and massive pretzels! After dinner we walked the massive park to old town Munich, people watching and taking in the city life.
One thing the kids, Daniel and I saw that we had never really saw before was a large number of Muslim women wearing Niqab, or head coverings. There was quite a large number of these shadows of women with nothing but two eyes peeking out from underneath these blankets of cloth.
I have personally read quite a few books on Islamic beliefs and customs. However it is so much different to see it up close and personal. First and foremost, the temperature must have been hanging just below 90 degrees on this particular day. I could not help but think about how the sweat must just roll off the necks of these women donning this traditional garb. For anyone that might not know much about it, these women wear this clothing based on modesty. They feel their faces and their hair are a large part of their sexuality that they reserve for their husbands. What shocks me is their husbands dress just like you and I- in shorts, polo shirts, and sneakers. Yet these women can only show their eyes for the purpose of only being able to see where they are going.
I understand many women that dress in this manner do not feel treated badly, or discriminated against. I guess as an American I will never be able to wrap my mind around it. These women also seem to wear a ton of eye make-up, carry expensive hand bags, and have the latest phones and ipads in their hands. It is hard to imagine with all the information that clearly lies at their fingertips they would still choose to wear these head pieces in their family vacation photos and on the hottest days of the year. Teddy had quite a few questions and did not quite understand it all. In fact he had a very insightful comment when we explained the religious views of these people.
"These women wear these things because they feel it is what God wants and he will treat they well if they wear it, but don't they realize if God wants them to wear that he is already being mean?"
Preserving their self respect, their privacy, modesty, and sexuality is such a large part of wearing this garb. Yet you can see in so many facets of life they strive for individuality. Their heavy makeup, jewelry, expensive footwear, lavish handbags, and hand tattoos are in great abundance.
After a day in Munich we piled in the car and made the impressive drive through the Austrian Alps into Ljubljana Slovenia.
When driving into Slovenia things seemed to be a bit more run down than what we have seen in Germany or Austria. However once we were settled into our hotel and took a stroll through old town we quickly realized the draw. Ljubljana has a gorgeous walk platz with so much history, and a fantastic castle looming on a nearby hillside. Quaint shops, sweet cafes sitting riverside with their tables and umbrellas set up for visitors to soak in the sunshine. Slovenia is considered the "sunny side of the Alps."
While in Ljubljana we ate local cuisine (fish, barak (cheese and meat wrapped up in a dough), as well as goulash to name a few. And of course, the kids had their fair share of homemade ice cream. We also spent a day touring the castle and wandering the city a bit.
We made a day trip to Trieste Italy. I am so excited about this day, as I spent 2 years of my life in Italy when I was 18 and 19 years old. Summers in Italy were always fantastic.
As we passed through the mountains of Slovenia into the seaside city of Trieste the landscape drastically changes. Tile roofed houses all of a sudden side on mountain cliffs hanging over the Adriatic Sea.
Our first stop was to the first concentration camp located in Italy from World War II, Risiera di San Sabba. It was a transient camp for Jews that were on their way to Auschwitz, as well as a detention and death camp for political prisoners. After the war, it served as a transient point and refugee center.
We were able to view most of the rooms in the facility, including the "death room" and the tiny cells where they would shove in 6 inmates each. There was a dress and shoe making shop on site where people were forced into labor.
It is believed 3000-5000 people were killed on site here, most likely by gas and their bodies then incinerated on site.
After touring Risiero di San Sabba, we made our way to the sea side. The kids were adamant about swimming, so we did our best to find a beach. This part of the trip was quite comical!
Daniel found a beach, however this particular one had a womens and kids beach, and then a separate men's beach. While paying our entrance fee to the beach, I was quickly reminded of what Italy is all about! Standing by the counter was a young man and his cute girlfriend, in full on lip lock, ass grabbing and all. Teddy and Patrick were trying not to stare, but I am not sure they had ever seen something like this before. I ushered the kids over to the side, but I myself was having a hard time not feeling distracted with my kids by my side! Quickly, the couple parted ways. She went to the women's side, and he over to the "boys club."
Daniel and I quickly decided to let the kids just get wet, swim for maybe 30 minutes and then we'd go tour some more. Seeing rules are rules, Daniel took Patrick and Teddy to the "boys club," and I took Rowan and Liam over to the women and children's side.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN'S SIDE: First off, you will be hard pressed (at least in my experience) to find a beach in Italy that is NOT topless. Liam did not even notice, and if he did, he did not say anything. Rowan immediately noticed and asked me why no one was wearing a bathing suit top. I told her, "Italian women like nice tans and they don't like tan lines so they don't wear a top. They see the whole body as beautiful and don't feel like their is any reason to cover it up." She was completely satisfied with that answer and didn't bat an eyelash after that. There were women of every size and age over there, of course sans top. Children running everywhere. Rowan and Liam played with a couple Italian kids in the water and seemed to have a good time getting wet.
THE MENS CLUB: Daniel sat on the beach and watched the boys swim. They could see a few women on the other side without their tops, but really did not make much of a fuss about it. They had fun doing their own thing in the water. There was one minor glitch in the experience. There was a home for mentally and physically challenged people visiting the men's side this day. Daniel said he heard what he thought to be a bird calling over and over again. He soon realized it was a wheelchair bound elderly man sitting 20 feet from him grunting over and over. Behind this man was another mentally handicapped couple, sitting in the shade groping one another and kissing.
Rowan quickly told me she was hungry so I took this as a perfect exit to gather the kids and go about our business. I wandered over to the men's side to grab Daniel and the boys. It was all so bizarre, and we were glad to leave with the kids now able to say they swam in the Adriatic!
We found our way into the city and had a nice Italian meal for lunch, followed by some Gelato. We did a little window shopping, and let the kids run around for a bit. Then we loaded back and the car and drove up the coast a bit, before making the 45 minute drive back to Ljubljana.
The last stop on our trip was Salzburg Austria. We once again piled in the car and made the 3 hour drive to Salzburg. We ate lunch in a famous brewery, complete with playground for the kids. It was quite a hot day. We toured the city, strolled the riverside, and wandered old town. We saw many sites from the movie, The Sound of Music.
We spent the last day of our trip touring the Salzburg Castle. I could have spent all day snapping photos of the gorgeous landscape. Austria has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We tried to extend our time in Salzburg but could not get the room for another night.
The drive home was a little gruesome, a normal 5 hour trip turned into 8 with traffic jams the whole way back. It is always nice to go on vacation, but it is always such a sweet feeling to come back home.
Teddy, English Garden Munich
Abendessen in die Englisch Garden
English Garden Love
Downtown Munich mit Mama
The boys and their fussball
City building in Munich
My family and them woman in her covering
Austrian Alpine Beauty
Castle we drove by
Patrick & Rowan & Ljubljana
Teddy & Rowan riverside
Patrick's multi tool souvenir
Rowan and her flute
Fried pickerel and local food
How's the fish, Patrick?
Trieste Concentration camp
This was where the incineration of bodies happened
Letter discovered in the camp.
A few belongings of those exterminated.
Cell- 6 people per cell
Another cell. Graffiti was discovered on the cell walls
Door to the death room where prisoners were gassed.
Trieste Concentration Camp
Port side Trieste
Teddy in Trieste
Rowan on the nudie beach
Soaking up the sun
Daniel and Teddy dining Italian style
Family love in the city quarter
Narrow Italian street
You can try mine if I can try yours
Snow capped Alps
View of Salzburg
Brewery in Salzburg
Old Town Salzburg
Gorgeous chapel in Old Town
How do you solve a problem like Maria
Make a wish
Teddy in his Alpine head covering
I could stay here!
Salzburg & the Alps
Life does not get any better than this!
Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails
Salzburg Castle View
Salzburg Castle View
360 degree views
Beauty in the fore and background!
Doing things Alpine Style
Cheer up, Patrick!