Photo by Andre Liem

LAX Air Berlin - L

We depart from LAX at around 6pm on July 2nd.  Christopher and Elena had each been on an airplane only once before and were excited.  About halfway through the 11 hour flight to Dusseldorf (which was followed by a 1 hour connecting flight to Munich), the airplane ride lost a lot of its appeal.  The kids were great travelers though, with good humor and few complaints.  None of us slept more than an hour on the plane; luckily the movies, books and IPods kept us fairly well entertained.

Coach - L

We arrive in Munich in the late afternoon on July 3rd.  Basically, we have been up all night, but as we board our very comfortable double decker bus, we are too excited to finally see Europe and we stay awake for the rest of the evening.

Rudy loading - L

We load the trailer…the first of many times.  All large luggage and large instruments that were brought from the U.S. (cellos, tuba and bass clarinet) go in the trailer.  In Austria, we acquire rental larger instruments (2 basses, 3 timpani, a full drum set and keyboards) that add to our collection.  Everyone pitched in with loading and carrying, but special thanks must go to our wonderful bus driver Rudy who tirelessly and calmly worked throughout the tour. (seen in the trailer in this photo)

Countryside (to Austria) - L

We are on the road from Munich to Salzburg (about a 3 hour drive).  It is about 70 degrees and raining off and on, a pattern that continues for the next 2 days.  We were very lucky throughout the tour, as much of Europe had been experiencing unusual amounts of rain with flooding in many areas.

Hotel Mitte breakfast - L

July 4th and we wish each other a Happy Independence Day!  Our first morning in Salzburg and we head to the hotel restaurant for a typical Austrian breakfast.  The coffee was excellent, and we learned to load up on fresh vegetables, since it seemed that they were only offered at breakfast.  By the third day, we had all had enough of processed meats which Europeans seem to eat at every meal.

salt mines - L

After our morning walk through Salzburg, we went up to Hallein (about 30 minutes outside of Salzburg in the hills) and toured the salt mines.  We were given coveralls and walked, rode a small train and at times slid down metal chutes through over a mile of tunnels.  Deep into the mountain, we actually crossed the border into Germany and then looped back around into Austria.  We learned all about the history of salt mining and the wealth it brought to the area.