Thursday, November 29, 2007

Willkommen Grossmuti Ba Ba Ba

When Miles gets hard to handle, anxious parents look to the heavens for relief. Specifically, to Scandinavian Airlines flights 938 and 1661.

The Seattle-Munich Grandmother Express has now delivered our latest eagerly awaited visitor: Dean's Mom Judith. Welcome to Team Miles!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Weekend on the Home Front

After a round of travels up and down Bavaria, we were really for a quiet weekend at home in Munich. Fortunately, there were plenty of things to do on our own turf.

We started with a visit to the Deutsches Museum, reputed to be the world's greatest permanent exposition of technology and applied science. Occupying an entire island in the middle of the Isar River, it must also be one of the world's biggest museums, period.

Even with an unusually compliant Miles (who set a personal record with a three-hour nap), we saw only a small part of the museum, focusing our attention on ships, aviation and mining.

I was happy to see a Klepper Aerius II folding kayak (just like my dad's) represented in the excellent maritime history section.

Meanwhile, Lisa and Miles checked out a cross-section of the first U-Boat.

Among the many elegant aircraft represented in the aviation section, we were most impressed by this homemade plane, built in the 1980s by an East German family out of motorcycle parts and small pieces of scrap metal. Unfortunately, they were arrested the day before their planned escape to the West, but aviation experts testified at their trial that the plane was airworthy (gee, thanks, guys). On the bright side, the plane was returned to them after their release from prison and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and they very graciously donated it to the Deutsches Museum.

Miles woke up in time to enjoy a walk through the basement of the museum, an appropriately subterranean exploration of the world of mining.

And a vast world it was -- by the time we completed the tour, we probably qualified for a nice pension.

Christmas was in full swing the next day in Marienplatz.

The window display at the Kaufhof department store captivated Miles (OK, and us too) with hundreds of mechanical bears and other critters attending to Christmas festivities.

Skaters, fortified with Glühwein, filled the rink at chilly Karlsplatz.

Aided by his own audioguide, Miles took us on a tour of the Alte Pinakothek, Munich's impressive collection of medieval, Renassiance and early modern painting.

When we'd finally had enough art, we settled in at the Paulaner restaurant on Tal for some weissbier and Nürnberger sausages.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Catching Up with Mr. Miles (November Edition-Part 2)

Making room in the playpen for new toys.

Miles wanted more.

Once more from the Hofbrauhaus.

Taking his blog into his own hands.

Trying out his happy feet.

With his babysitter Medina.

The Early Bird.

Getting big for his britches.

Technology entrepreneur.

Organic alarm clock.

Joining the conference call.

Making a Break for It

Watch Miles' great escape unfold.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Danke, Grandma Margee

Munich felt a lot more like home for Miles with his Grandma Margee around.

She was there to read him stories.

And get his Santa suit just right.

He had another familiar person to sleep on.

And to bargle with!

We were sorry to see Margee return stateside after two-week stay with us. But don't worry, Miles, another Grandma will soon be on the way!

Monday, November 19, 2007

At the Hofbräuhaus

For its grand finale, the birthday fest moved on to (where else?) the Hofbräuhaus, where Miles' friends in the oompah band gave him a proper tribute:

Miles Geburtsfest (Part Zwei)

Back in Munich for another round of presents, Miles gets a special one.

Grandmas Margee and Judith collaborated on a nifty outfit -- Miles own set of lederhosen!

If I had a hammer...

...I'd chew it in the evening.

Posin' in the hosen.

When presents attack...'ve gotta fight back.

Nice dog, Miles. But watch out for the springy tail.


Goin' for Baroque

Our journey back from Neuschwanstein took us through some zehr scenic terrain, beginning with the town of Füssen and a quick dash across the border into Austria -- just because we could.

We spent a good chunk of time decoding cryptic signs and inching through snow-covered back roads of the Bavarian countryside in search of the Wieskirche. For a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the famous baroque church seemed to boast an unexpected, Kafkaesque inaccessibility--until we discovered the four-lane road for tour buses approaching from the other direction. The white interior of church was particularly beautiful in the bright, snowy afternoon light -- though it was matched by the equally pale beauty of the Nürnberger sausages and sauerkraut offered at the restaurant across the street.

Finally, we took the Deutsche Alpenstrasse through Oberammergau (a few years early for the next rendition of the Passion Play) and back to Munich for Miles' birthday finale.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Miles Geburtsfest (Part 1)

'Twas the morning of Miles' birthday.

Not a creature was stirring...

..well, except for this mouse.

We weren't sure whether Miles would understand the concept of presents at the tender age of 1. Such doubts were clearly misplaced.

But he did take more interest in the wrapping than the contents.

Fröhlich Geburtstag, Herr Miles

We'll have full coverage in due course, but here's an exclusive glimpse of Miles' first birthday festivities in Germany.

Waking to a view of snowy Schloss Neuschwanstein.

Making his move on a first round of presents.

He's the one.

Back in Munich, sporting new lederhosen from the Grandmas.

A big hit at the Hofbrauhaus.

Natürlich, the oompah band played "Happy Birthday."

And our little man had a grand time!


We queued up for the horse-drawn carriage ride up to Neuschwanstein, the Big Kahuna of Bavarian castles, perhaps even of castles generally.

In hopes of conveying the grandeur of Ludwig II's fantasy schloss to an American audience, the guidebooks invariably mention that it was the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland. It's a bit like trying to pump up Paris by calling it "the Bucharest of the West." Neuschwanstein is the real thing.

Still, the castle was clearly an exercise in wispy nostalgia at the time it was built (1868-86), and Ludwig II probably would have gotten along fine with Walt Disney. As it was, he hired a theatrical set designer (rather than a traditional architect) to give Neuschwanstein its medieval-romantic-operatic vibe. Call him crazy, the dude knew how to do castles.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


It was our lucky day. We'd all gotten over our flus and colds. The sun was out. We were driving south to the Bavarian Alps. There was fresh snow everywhere, except on the road. Einfach spitze!

First stop: Hohenschwangau, the Bavarian royal family's mountain retreat. This was the boyhood home of King Ludwig II, the maniacal castle builder whom attentive readers will remember from our visit to Herrenchiemsee. Anyway, Ludwig liked the area so much he put up his own fantasy castle, the überfamous Neuschwanstein, on an adjacent hill.

We bundled Miles up in his new snowsuit and set out to explore.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Catching Up with Mr. Miles (November Edition)

With the help of his Mom and Grandma, Miles made it through a difficult week, battling his first round of flu-like symptoms for five days before returning to digestive normalcy. The little guy remained plucky throughout, notwithstanding his obvious discomfort. His mom developed cat-like reflexes, tucking Miles under her arm and sprinting toward the bathroom at the first sign of trouble. His dad's reflexes were, well, less cat-like. But hey, that's why there's laundry.

Well, those were the lowlights. Now, here are some highlights from the first half of Miles' month:

Out for a Sunday stroll.

Turning on the cute.

Having a ball at the airport.

Taking a number of baths.

Snoozing on his newly appropriated bed.

Trying out the Santa suit.

Ho, ho, ho.

Crawling up a storm.

Wedge potato.

They haven't build a playpen that can hold him.

The early bird gets the worm. But can he digest it?