Dwarf Trail

We heard a rumor about some friendly dwarfs living on a mountainside in Haslital area. We thought we better go investigate.IMG_0103

There are two adorable, family-friendly dwarf trails that can be found in the Haslital area. We decided on the Käserstatt trail. To get to there, you head up the gondola at Hasliberg-Twing and the trail starts right at the gondola stop.

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We followed this map to see if we could catch up with the busy dwarfs.

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We lucked out with beautiful weather and some amazing views.

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At each stop, you find a little house (of various sizes) and usually some kind of activity. There is also a story sign at each stop (both in German and in English) that keeps the excitement going for the kids.

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In this picture, E had to climb up a ladder and reach for the metal chain to “ring” the doorbell to see if this dwarf was home.

The bigger houses were absolutely amazing. The interiors were sparkling clean and there were so many detailed decorations in side.

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The kids loved having to search to find the houses (and climb up the trees).

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However, I think their favorite thing was this “cable car”.

 

The kiddos did an excellent job of hiking this trail.

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Though E needed help from time to time.

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The hike is about 3 km long and the trail website estimated that it would take 1.5 hrs. It took us 2.5 hrs and I felt we could have spent more time along the trail.

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We tried our best but we didn’t see a single dwarf. They were always off in the forest working. 🙂 We’re glad they were willing to leave their houses open for us to explore while they were away.

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For your trip:

As mentioned above, there are 2 different dwarf trails. You have to take different gondolas to reach each one. So you will have to plan ahead of which one looks best for you.

For our trail, we parked right at the Hasliberg-Twing gondola. There is a huge parking lot there. The drive up is a mountain drive for sure with lots of twists and turns. Here’s our GPS on the way up.

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Thats a pretzel road if I have ever seen one.

You take the gondola up to Käserstatt and then you will walk down to the middle stop of Lischen. You then ride the gondola back down to the Hasliberg station.

There was an excellent picnic area (with restroom) about halfway through with a nice little stream that runs next to it. I would recommend bringing a change of clothes so that the kids can play in the stream for a while.

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The trail is based on storybooks about Muggestutz. You can find out more about this dwarf on the website and there are also free coloring/activity sheets available to print to either take with or to do before/after the hike. That website is: https://www.meiringen-hasliberg.ch/en/  and then click on Muggestutz.

Happy Hiking!

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Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht)

The Aare gorge is a stunning stop just outside the town of Meiringen. This was about a 40 minute drive for us from Lauterbrunnen but I had tagged this as a rainy day destination. It was an excellent choice.

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We got there just as the entrance was opening. There were only 2 other families in line which allowed for easy distancing (as is needed in the time of COVID). From the outside, it doesn’t look like it is going to be anything spectacular.

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Once inside, the gorge shares her beauty with you.

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Part of the walk is through caves but most of it is done on wooden walkways, dangling on the edge of the cliffs.

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During this stroll through the gorge, the children are encouraged to look for the “Tatzelwurm” and its family. There are apparently multiple worms throughout the gorge.

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O and I looked everywhere and did not get a single glimpse of a worm. Ha! Guess we will have to go back!

After the walk, the kids got some time on the playground out front as the rain had stopped.

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The kids were holding up well with all the hiking so we decided our next destination would be a bit more of a challenge. That story is coming up next.

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For your trip:

There are 2 entrances to the Aareschlucht (East or West). The west entrance is the one that is considered more kid friendly as it has the large playground. It also has a shop and restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating.

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You can walk through the gorge and back, which is what we did due to very few people being present. Currently (due to COVID), they are allowing people to ride the train for free between the east and west entrances. They are trying to encourage one way traffic to reduce close contact between people and crowding. Remember a mask is required on the train so bring one with you if this is your plan.

Right next to the west entrance of the gorge is Reichenbach Falls. It is the setting for where Sherlock Holmes was murdered in the final book. There is a little funicular train that takes you up to the falls so this could easily be combined with a trip to the gorge.

If you are coming from Lauterbrunnen/Interlaken area, you will also pass the Giessbach Waterfall on the way to/from the gorge. This is a very popular waterfall to visit and could also be added to your day trip. Happy Trails!

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Allmendhubel

Another day, another playground. Day 2 of our Switzerland trip and we went up the mountain early to beat the rain. We decided on Allmendhubel, which was fairly close to our base in Lauterbrunnen.

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We caught the gondola up from Stechelberg, which took us to the town of Mürren. Mürren is an adorable, traditional Swiss mountain town that is completely car free. We had to walk across part of the town to reach the funicular train up to Allmendhubel.

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After a short ride, we had arrived! The best part…. we had the entire playground to ourselves!

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This was an excellent playground. It had all the essentials like slides, climbing ropes, swings and a zipline. It also had some bonus areas like a “cheese shop” with stackable cheese rolls, tunnels that ran under the playground, and a fake cow that you could “milk”. You had to pour water into the wooden cows mouth and kids could then “milk” the water out of the udders. Sounds crazy but was E’s favorite.

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It was such a peaceful location. We were able to sit and watch the kids play with nothing but the sound of cowbells echoing in the background.

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Next to the playground is a small flower trail. It has planters along the trail with all of the local wild flowers planted and labeled. There are also cute hands-on educational activities. Everything was in German and English.

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The trail cuts through a cow field so watch for cow pies!

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After our hike, we had an ice cream treat and retraced our steps back down.

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We made it back to our cabin just in time for the rain.

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Another lovely day in Switzerland in the books.

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Info for your trip:

There are 2 ways to get up to Allmendhubel from the Lauterbrunnen area. You can take the train from Lauterbrunnen or you can take the Stechelberg gondola. We heard the Stechelberg gondola was more scenic so we chose this option. For either option, there are gondola switches and train change overs but they are pretty straight forward. For either option, you still need to walk across Mürren to get to the funicular but it is a short walk with great views.

We were able to buy a combined ticket for the Stechelberg gondola and the Allmendhubel funicular at the Stechelberg station. The Stechelberg station also had a ton of parking available, which might make it easier to get to compared to the Lauterbrunnen station. Oh and it has a waterfall very close to the parking lot that you can pop over to see. Win-win!

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Männlichen

We recently did a week long trip to the Jungfrau region of Switzerland. It was the perfect place to get some fresh mountain air and some serious outdoor time. For our first full day of holiday, we headed up the Maenlichen gondola.

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Maenlichen is a kid friendly area and is know for the cow trail or LieselotteTrail. We didn’t get a chance to do the trail but did see the map and it looks super fun.

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The first cow stop is located at the gondola station at the bottom.

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It has been awhile since we have been on a gondola so it felt like a new experience for the kiddos.

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Once up top, you are greeted by a gigantic cow playground.

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You go up via the backside and slide out the mouth. Ha! On the inside there are a few play items and you can climb to the top for a view of the surrounding mountains.

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Surrounding the cow, there is other playground equipment with a stunning backdrop.

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(These are mini trampolines. It made it look like they were jumping for the udders. Ha!)

The top of the Maenlichen gondola is also where you can start the “Royal Walk” to the peak. At the top is a viewing platform in the shape of a crown and views of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks. The kiddos and I stayed at the playground while Gav ran to the top. He literally ran to the top and back down. He will use any excuse to run at altitude. Ha!

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It was a nice morning trip and a good way to start our holiday. We were back at the cabin in time for lunch.

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Info for your trip:

The Maenlichen gondola starts in Grindelwald. There is a large parking lot just outside the station and it is 5 CHF to park *cash only*. They are building a new Jungfrau cablecar at this location. The building is huge and they are putting in a parking garage next to it. This wasn’t open during our trip but you may want to check if it is open when you go.

Masks are required in the gondolas at this time. They were allowing people to space out and it was usually only one family per gondola which was nice. Kids under 6 travel free. Gondolas in Switzerland are always pricey so make sure to check the current rates before you go or you may be shocked when you get there. And as always, go early!

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That’s the end of day 1. More to come!

Faces in the Forest: Steckeschlääfer-Klamm

This summer is a bit weird, which I am sure it is for everyone. All of our usual activities and trips have been cancelled. So we have been searching for some fun and unique local activities to keep us busy. That is how we found Steckeschlääfer-Klamm.

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This little hidden gem is a short hiking path tucked between the vineyards and the Rhein near Bingen am Rhein. The trail winds through the Hasselbach gorge and along the path you will find 66 faces carved into trees and stumps.

The trail is flat and very easy. They have placed multiple bridges across the little creek that runs along the gorge. It was a child’s dream.

The hunt for each new face was so exciting for the kids.

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You walk through the gorge and then back on the same path. This gives you an opportunity to look again in case you missed any faces 🙂  We managed 59 out of 66 faces. Not too bad!

This is a great way to start a day with the kiddos. Highly recommend for families with small children who want to get out in nature.

Getting There:

The address provided for the Klamm didn’t work with our GPS. However, you can put Steckeschlääfer-Klamm into Google maps and it will take you directly there. On the google map, you will see Wanderparkplatz just south of the Klamm. This is actually the entrance and the perfect place to park. You will see this sign:

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It is a 40-50 min drive from Wiesbaden. Have fun!

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Indoor Skiing

The kids just had a week off of school for the ski break. Yes they get a whole week off to go skiing. This is our 3rd year at the school and we hadn’t managed to go skiing on the actual ski break, until now. Well, sort of….

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Instead of making a big trip to one of the famous ski resorts in Europe, we thought we would start the kids off easy at an indoor ski hall not too far from our home. Alpenpark in Neuss (also known as Jever Ski Halle) is about 2 hours from our house and had everything we needed for the kiddos first proper lesson.

You are able to rent all of your gear right there and pick-up (and return!) is in the locker room. So there is no lugging around of equipment. This was a welcome relief for this mom, who is the carrier of all things. You pick up your gear, get it on, walk through the turn-style and you are ready to go.

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There is one large run and then a smaller kids/teaching area. We spent our time in the latter.

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Gavin was tasked with the duty of instructor so we had a tag team approach. He would go in with one kiddo at a time and I would sit in the cafe with the other one until it was their turn to switch.

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I did have to wrestle both children into their winter gear and boots but I think Gavin may have had the tougher of the two jobs. Ha!

Once the kiddos had enough of skiing for the day, we were able to use the sled hill that is also located inside.

The Park provides the sleds for free (no outside sleds allowed) and this area is included with your general admission.

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We ended up staying at the park for the weekend. There is a regular hotel and there are “treehouse” family chalets. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I got of our treehouse.

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Also attached to the Alpenpark is a playground, mini golf, Kletterpark (climbing park) and something called Funfussball. Funfussball appears to be like mini golf but played with a soccer ball. All of these things (minus the playground) were closed during our visit but would have been a welcome addition to our weekend.

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We had a great weekend and the hotel was excellent. However, I think next time we will make this a one day trip. At 2 hours each way, it is a long day in the car but reasonable. This is an excellent location for beginner skiers and will most likely be our go-to option until the kids are ready for real mountain fun.

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Das Praehistorium

What’s the best remedy for a cold Saturday in Germany? Why a gigantic indoor dinosaur museum of course! Gondwana- Das Praehistorium in Schiffweiler was where we spent our day.

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Das Praehistorium calls itself an immersive museum and that has to be the best way to describe it. It has typical museum things such as real dinosaur bones and informative displays.

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However, it also has these rooms that have been recreated to simulate the ancient world with great attention to detail. In these little “worlds”, the dinosaurs of that era are on display as full sized animated animals.

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The museum warns you about these animations ahead of time as they are rather loud and in most scenes they are eating something (so a bit bloody). The museum actually recommends that children should be 6 and older as they do not offer a refund if children become scared and do not want to continue through the museum. However, O loved it.

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There are also multiple little shows and movies that play throughout the museum. Hand held sets for English are provided free of charge at the entrance for the adults. We skipped most of the movies as the staff warned us they can be scary but we did watch the “World’s biggest dinosaur show” at the end. There were large animatronic dinosaurs kind of fighting to protect their young. It was really impressive. Though E started chanting “Eat those eggs” at the Aucasaurus, so that got a little weird.

Once we completed the dinosaur section, there was also an entire wing dedicated to the evolution of man, which was also fascinating to walk through.

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Once we made it through the museum without a single tear shed, we celebrated by enjoying the indoor playground that is part of the museum.

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Pros: Unique museum experience, lots of hands on activities, designed well with good mixture of regular museum, movies and themed rooms, and an indoor playground! Cons: Some of the dinosaur scenes were graphic and loud (the museum repeatedly warns you about this so you know going in and they are happy to direct you around things they think might scare the children), distance from us ( 1 hr 45 min) and the price. It was 58 EUR for a family card ( 2 adults and 2 kids). However, to be fair, you can spend an entire day in there with all of the shows and the indoor playground.

North Pole

Have you ever wanted to travel back in time, perhaps to the 1950s? Well you have the chance when you head up to the North Pole in Cascade, Colorado.

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The North Pole is a family-friendly amusement park located at the entrance to the Pikes Peak Highway. It opened in the 1950s and it has been frozen in time ever since (in the best way possible). It was a must visit item on our list when we were home in Colorado for the summer.

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The park is sparkling clean and it has all the fun old school rides of yesteryear.

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Most of the rides were for younger kids, which was perfect for us. There are some rides that are a bit more daring so the park is probably best suited for kids 2-12. No Six Flags style roller coasters here.

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Besides the rides, you also have the opportunity to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus or you can touch the North Pole (yes that’s ice in the middle of summer).

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They also have little shows throughout the day. We were able to catch the magic show and the kids were amazed (despite what E’s face looks like. Ha!)

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We love the North Pole. It is a great place to visit and a great place to take the grandparents as there is a nostalgic factor in there as well.

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Here is my favorite picture from the day. Don’t worry this was their favorite ride and they rode it multiple times, which makes this picture even funnier to me.

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Mathematikum

The winters in Germany are long. The three weeks of school Christmas break are even longer. After our millionth trip to an indoor playground, we needed to mix it up a bit, which brought us to Mathematikum in Giessen.

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This little museum is about an hour from our house and features super fun, hands-on activities to help kiddos learn about math and physics.

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This table is actually spinning.

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Giant bubbles are always a hit.

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Puzzles, puzzles and more puzzles.

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This is a code breaking game. I kept changing it to English and E kept turning it back to German. Either way we never broke the code. Ha!

We took a break halfway through and had a snack in their café. It was a really small café but had nice choices and the cappuccino was a pi-ece of art. Oh that was bad. Ha!

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We finished our day with a few more puzzles.

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The top floor of the museum has a section for the littlest Einstein’s (under 3).

Overall, it was a nice quick day trip and something fun to do indoors during the break.

Olden & Stavanger

Just as I did with Geiranger, I made sure to set the alarm, got up early, and headed to the top deck to watch the ship cruise through the fjord and into Olden. Unlike Geiranger, I was greeted with an almost completely empty deck. It had rained early that morning and I think everyone voted to stay in bed after having an early morning the day before. They had no idea what they were missing.

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Olden is what I imagined Norway to be like. Mountains, mist, green grass, red barns and of course waterfalls.

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The final view at port.

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Unfortunately, the rain from early that morning was just a prelude for the day to come. It rained most of the morning and even teased us all with a little bit of snow. There was one break in the weather and we headed off the boat to see Olden. We did the tourist train. The kids fell asleep immediately and slept for the entire trip. We were afraid to move in case we waked them, so we have zero pictures of our little jaunt around. I promise it was beautiful. We headed back to the boat to warm up and got back just in time to join Spider Man’s Web Warriors.

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An ice cream run and we called it a day.

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The next day was our final stop of Stavanger.

Stavanger is an adorable town. You dock right in the middle of town and everything is walk-able. We headed over to the Norsk Oljmuseum (Norway Oil Museum). Now you might think an oil museum doesn’t sound very kid friendly but this museum was very hands on and even had a play area.

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You could climb up into that helicopter and make the blades spin. There was also an escape shoot you could try out to see what it is like to get out of an oil platform quick. A small, but super fun, museum.

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Just outside the museum is the Geopark. It is a park made out entirely of recycled materials used in the oil industry. I have mixed feelings about this park but the kids seemed to love it.

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E jumped on that trampoline for like 20 minutes and O loved bouncing on the buoy balls and balancing on different objects. But yeah….glad I brought hand sanitizer.

Stavanger also was home to lots of great quirky shops and cafes. Overall I would love to come back to Stavanger on its own and do a more thorough exploration of the area.

Norway is such a beautiful country with so much to see and do. Already thinking about another trip!