The continuation of our trip involved some time at Bad Tolz, Garmisch, Fussen, Lindau,
Freiburg, and on to Baden-Baden.


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After picking up a rental car at the Hauptbahnhof, we quickly left the city (thank God I didn't hit the car
on the way out of the 6 story parking garage!), and navigated our way to Bad Tolz. Bad is bath in German
and so I thought some hot springs would be just the ticket for some fun. We went to Alpamare in Bad Tolz,
which might be the coolest hot springs 'water-park' I've ever seen. Here is Natalia getting ready to go down
one of the waterslides.

Video of Natalia and I going down the 'Gaga' slide



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In addition to having nice hot springs pools, Alpamare also has waterslides, a wave pool, saunas, a bar, and
some type of surfing simulator that we think was only operating on weekends at this point. They also have a
really cool magnetic coin system that allows you to use it as currency, use the coin to lock your locker, and use
it to buy anything you want while on the property. Pretty sweet actually. This is the wave pool that Natalia is in.

Video of Natalia sitting in bubbles at Alpamare



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So, there is something European about not just having hot springs, but also having bubbles aerating the pools.


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Here is a photo of some of the bubble pools.


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Natalia found an ice cream treat with Neapolitan ice cream. I found beer. Mmmmmm.


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This is a sign from one of the water slides. I think it's awesome that they rate their slides like you
would a run on a ski hill. This one was only a 'red' slide, not a crazy 'black' slide. I also like the
sign to the bottom right of this that explicitly prohibits pregnant women from riding waterslides.


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Here is Natalia at the top of the waterslide area, looking out on the town of Bad Tolz.


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So, I had requested a Mercedes B class from Avis and when we showed up, the lady said we had been 'upgraded'.
Initially, I laughed that a Ford anything would be an upgrade, but this was like a BMW X5 and it was actually
quite nice.


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We walked into town in Bad Tolz from our lovely guesthouse and tried to find a bite of dinner.


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Of course, a pre-dinner appetizer was in order. Bad Tolz is definitely not too touristy since a one-scoop
gelato was only 0.80 Euro.


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Looking at this lady, it's hard to believe she didn't want a beer the night before. This is actually a 'radler'
which is beer mixed with lemonade.


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A more classy photo of my lovely wife at dinner.


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So, on this particular night (as with most nights), I wouldn't bring out my Lonely Planet guidebook, so that
we could see what we could decipher from the menu. On this night, there were no English translations, or really
anyone that spoke English, so we just winged it and actually wound up with a really nice dinner. Natalia had
some type of pork along with sausages and potato salad.


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Here is our great little guesthouse (except the hard beds) - called the Altes Zollhaus.

Hiking in the Alps


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Friday, we decided (okay, I decided and roped Natalia in) that we were going to take a hike in the Bavarian Alps.
After a delightful breakfast at the guesthouse, we drove to Garmisch-Partenkirchen and took the gondola up to
the Kreuzeck station. Here's Nati in the gondola.


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Here is a map of the ski runs in the winter time. Skiing the Zugspitze would be pretty cool sometime.


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This has more of a summer map of the hiking trails.


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Here we are walking away from the gondola, heading towards the pyramid-shaped Alpspitze.


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Nati thought some of the limestone formations looked like gremlin hangouts.


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This is a nice view into the limestone valley to the east of where we started.


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One of the funny things about hiking in Europe is that it seems like all of the best hikes have
a lift in there somewhere. In this case, this whole area has functioning lifts all over it. This is
at the Hochalm area.


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Once we got above treeline, the views were quite spectacular. This is Natalia looking up to the
Alpspitze. The rock ridge on the right actually has a metal 'Ferrata' going all the way to the
top of it. It also has a cable car that goes almost to the start of it as well.


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I liked the limestone cliffs in this area. There were bolts running up just about everything even
remotely close to vertical.


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Natalia, hiking with all of southern Bavaria behind her.


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There were probably 30 climbing routes on the Alpspitze. The rock was actually quite similar to some of the
rock in the Rockies, and it seemed like a lot of it was just as chossy.


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After about 350m of vertical elevation gain, we came up to a small pass that had these chairs cemented
into the ground. It's hard to compare hiking in Canada since you'll often leave a trailhead and not see
anyone or any civilization for hours or days. This simply wouldn't cut it here.

Video showing the view Natalia has from her sweet rocking chair



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Natalia having a Nutella snack in her rocking chair.


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You can see the whole chair in this photo.


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This was the view looking to the north from almost at the Alpspitzebahn. It looked like we were some of
only a few that actually hike up anything. Most of the hikers we passed take a lift to the highest point
they're going to and then hike down.


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Here's a view looking down towards the pass we just came through.


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There is an awful lot of funny German names on this sign so I thought it was awesome.


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Another great thing about lift-assisted hiking is that it means you're never that far from a well-stocked hut/house/
full-on restaurant. In this case, we're at the top of the Alpspitze-bahn, and we had a full lunch complete
with beer. I mean, I like cold sandwiches, but this is pretty good living.


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This was a little bird who was interested in my French fries.


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The town of Garmisch lay below us in the valley.


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This is a new construction called the 'AlpSpiX' which is two metal curved ledges that allow you to
basically be standing out in the air above a lot of elevation drop. Natalia is looking down from
the glass edge.


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A look down into the Hollentalklamm from the top of the Alpspitzebahn (not quite the top of the Alpspitze).


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Looking at the 'AlpSpiX' from the side. It's pretty awesome actually.


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This shows a little bit of the steepness of the area as well as where we're heading to next.


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Now I can say that I've seen a chamois, even though it's made of wood.


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A look back to the Alpspitzebahn, before we headed over the pass to the Hollentallklamm.

Video of the view back to the Alpspitze and to the Zugspitze



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Here is Natalia and the highest mountain in Germany - the Zugspitze. There is actually two different
cable cars to the top of this mountain with a train going through the mountain with tunnels to complete
the cable car's journey to the top.

Video of the descent we're about to do
t>


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This is a really incredible photo showing the topography of the area that divides Germany from Austria.


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Natalia and I and the Zugspitze.


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Initially, we thought this house was the hut we were hiking to. It turns out that it's actually someone's
house although I still have no clue how they're getting to this house.


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So, the guidebook discusses 'seemingly never-ending switchbacks'. After Natalia's experience on this hike,
I'd say that they qualify as 'never-ending'. This is Natalia investigating the scene.


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After we stopped for a short break, Natalia found a rock in the shape of a heart.


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Limestone does make some really nice karst features using water.


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We descended from almost the top left of this photo to almost the bottom, covering roughly 800m in
only a few kilometres. The trail was mostly rocks along with a lot of wood to keep the rocks in place.


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So, the Germans definitely know how to make an 'Alpine hut'. This 'hut' has full power, running water,
heat, rooms, along with a full restaurant and bar. I thought I saw the 'hut' from a little ways away, but
it was the old outhouse, now preserved for 'historical' value.


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This is very clearly glacial features within this valley, looking up to the Zugspitze. Too bad about the
washed out sky, but the view was quite nice.


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Seriously, anyplace that has tea, cake, and cold beer from a tap is okay by me. In this case, it's a
600m elevation gain from the road (800m further up to the Alpspitzebahn) and there is no lift in the summer.


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From the hut, we started making our way into the canyon that would take us out of the mountains.
The two canyon walls got closer and closer together as we descended further down. This is Natalia
with a view into a really large cave.


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A sign for the hut, called Hollentallangerhutte, quite a mouthful. This hut is brought to you
by Hacker-Pschorr.

Video of walking through the Hollentalklamm



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The tunnels through here are pretty stellar. Here is Natalia walking in a carved out portion of the trail that
isn't quite tunneled out.

Video of the gorge



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Natalia with some waterfalls, tunnels, and carved out trails.


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This is a cool shot since on the left side, you see the tunnel we just came out of. In the middle, you see
the bridge going across the river, and on the right side you see the tunnels on the other side of the gorge.


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Get a load of the name of THIS hut. It means 'Entrance to the Hollental hut', but it's all one word.
At this hut you had to pay 3 Euros to continue to maintenance required on the trail. You can also have
a full meal, beer, wine, you name it. Did I mention this hut is stuck in the side of a freakin' gorge??

Neuschwanstein Castle


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Because I had broken Natalia the day before hiking, she wanted a horse ride up to the castle. I graciously deferred
and allowed it.

Video of the Carriage ride



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When we arrived at Neuschwanstein, it was pouring rain and about 6 deg C. Not the best day to tour, but a
good day to be inside the castle. Since the castle people insist on no indoor photos, I took a lot
of photos of the exterior.


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Me at the front of the castle.


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Since we had almost an hour between the time we arrived and the formal check-in time at the castle,
we went for a warm-up beer and hot chocolate at the little cafe down the hill.


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Inside the courtyard of the castle, waiting for tour 444 to start. Of course, the Germans would be this kind of
efficient - you buy a ticket for a tour and it's only good for one time. When that time arrives, your tour # is
listed on this sign, and you can then self-scan your ticket and line up on the other side to wait for your tour guide.


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The view from the 2nd floor out to castle Hohenschwangau. Here is some information about King Ludwig II , the guy who had Neuschwanstein built.


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A little cooler photo of the mist in the mountains, and the little alpine lakes.


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One of the turrets in the middle of the castle.


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Natalia and castle Hohenschwangau. Here's some information about Neuschwanstein .


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From the Marienbrucke (Mary's bridge), you have the standard postcard view of the castle.


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Natalia found a cream cheese fried puff pastry on the hike down to the car.
Sadly, from here, we were planning on touring around Lindau, but it poured so much that when we got there
we elected to just keep driving to Freiburg, our destination in the Black Forest.


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So, a reminder for future trips, everything is pretty much closed in Germany on Sundays, due to the whole country
being so Catholic. This is the 800 year old guesthouse we stayed at in Freiburg.


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The old town is cobble-stoned everywhere and it was a bit of a fiasco driving into the town to find the hotel.
Natalia finally had to close her eyes as I wound up driving into a pedestrian-only area and had a trolley on either
side of me. Good times!


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The next stop on our tour was the little Black Forest town of Triberg - the home of the cuckoo clock.
Natalia loves to toodle through little shops.


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Here is the House of 1000 clocks. I thought the climbing beaver on the outside of the building was pretty awesome.

Video of the Climbing beaver


Video of the House of 1000 Clocks calling out the hour



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I think the giant hunting clocks are some of the best.


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Check out the horns on this thing.


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Check out the quantity and variety of sweet clocks.


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There are also some really 'modern' clocks as well.


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Some of these clocks are really nicely painted.


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More sweet hunting clocks.


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Natalia thought this was a cute clock with a German lady and her rolling pin.


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This one is really awesome and has a couple cuddling on the bench.


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I took Natalia to the home of the original Black Forest cake at Cafe Schafer in Triberg. The original
recipe is still being followed by the baker here.


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Here is a Black Forest cake.


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Natalia's piece of cake.


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The story of Joseph Keller and the Black Forest cake - Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte.


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Natalia and her cake.


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We found a master carver who makes cuckoo clocks and he taught us everything there is to know about
cuckoo clocks. Natalia loved this mushroom clock. There was also a clock with Hansel and Gretel on it
that Natalia really loved too.


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Nati and I went to the home of the world's largest cuckoo clock.


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The front of the world's largest cuckoo clock.


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Nati and I and the clock.


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We had some Asian tourists take a photo of us at the clock.


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Natalia and the deer at another large cuckoo clock.


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Close-up of the rolling pin lady.

Video of the moving cuckoo clock



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Upstairs at the Adolf Hess shop at the big cuckoo clock, just outside of Triberg. It turns out that some
of the carvers also make beautiful grandfather clocks. The look on Natalia's face is priceless.

We next went to Baden-Baden


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The inside of the Baden-Baden spa.


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There is a pool inside and one outside at different water temperatures.


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Again, there's lots of bubbles in most hot springs in Europe.


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The view from the outside pool to downtown Baden-Baden.


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We spent a lot of time with the water jets since Natalia's (and my) legs were a little stiff. I took
a photo under water of Natalia's calf that I think is hysterical.

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