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Report 866: Castles, Caves and Cablecars

By wendy lynn from California, U.S.A., Spring 2005

Trip Description: October 2005: After hearing about the beauty of Slovenia from a work colleague and doing a little bit of research, we decided to take our 8 year old daughter and 2 year old son on a trip to the Alps. On the way, we visited Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and Italy. Most of our 16 day vacation was spent in Salzburg and the Julian Alps of Slovenia. We had a wonderful trip that has inspired us to travel more with our children. We hope that you find our notes helpful.

Destinations: Countries - Italy, Austria, Slovenia, Switzerland; Regions/Cities - Lombardy, Veneto, Venice

Categories: Hostel; Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Walking/Hiking; 3-4 people; Adults and Young Children

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Page 1 of 16: Getting There: San Francisco to Zurich to Innsbruck

photo by Joe

Wendy and Julia at a carnival in Innsbruck

We were up before dawn to make our 8am flight from SFO to Dallas, where we would connect to Zurich. Despite the hour, Julia (age 8) and Alex (age 2) were up and excited about the airplane ride. Grandma Grace dropped us at the airport. On the first leg to DFW (3 1/2 hours), both kids had a window seat and were very excited on takeoff, especially Alex who couldn’t stop smiling. On the second leg, Alex napped and and was otherwise well behaved. Julia couldn’t sleep so she watched the Simpsons and “Because of Winn-Dixie” on the portable DVD player we bought for the trip (which really came in handy at times).

Before we knew it, we were in Zurich and on the road in our rental car by 10 a.m.. Our only trouble was the new stroller that had been checked as luggage and came off the carousel missing a wheel. We left it near a garbage can in the baggage claim area and were happy we had spent only $10 on it at Target, although we were a bit worried what we would do with Little Brother.

While the striking fall colors and European landscape were a relief from the dry hills of the Bay Area, Zurich was grey and cold. We all felt surprisingly alert except for Julia who promptly dropped off in the backseat.

On the way to Innsbruck, we had our first German food at a “Rast Station” near the Austrian border. While the food marginal (it was a rest stop after all), we managed to find a cool outdoor playground fully equipped with a see-saw, trampolines and a uniquely European cable slide. Wendy attempted her first German when she told another mom how “schnell” the slide was.

When we arrived in Innsbruck that afternoon, the weather was perfect. Towering behind the city’s towers and spires, the Austrian Alps impressed us with their beauty. Our hotel was the Hotel Weisses Kreuz on Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse, the heart of historic Innsbruck—right next to McDonalds (which we avoided). A very charming spot, although we did have to lug our baggage a few blocks from the park platz.

With only one day to explore, we cleaned up and set out. Just outside our door, we found the beautiful Goldener Dachl. Around the corner, Joe and Julia learned about the stations of the cross at the city’s dramatic Dom. Nearby we found an outdoor fair of sorts, where Alex and Wendy went for a spin on the merry-go-round. Wendy and Joe enjoyed an Austrian beer while the kids drank a guilt-free coke. After a stroll along the river, we found a playground that was based on a medieval fortress. Alex didn’t want to leave.

Back at the Weisses Kreuz, Joe wanted to sleep, but Wendy “forced” him to get food. Joe found a pizzeria “mitnehmen” (take out) nearby—as usual, European pizza at 5 Euros each hit the spot.

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