an april autobahn adventure.

Gloomy Neuschwanstein


Time is flying during my funemployment and one mega advantage of it is that I get to travel with some great friends who will be traveling to Europe for their first time! Cristen and I have been besties since first grade and her mom, Cathy, is my second mother. I go to their house for Christmas, so they’re family and I anticipate all sorts of shenanigans for this big adventure. I also look forward to showing off my German skills (not).

glory days – college roomies

my momma and Cristen’s momma

We will be renting a car after Munich and cruisin’ USA Germany. View Larger Map


They arrive early in Munich on a Monday morning, and I will be waiting anxiously for them at the airport gate. I’ll probably head down to Munich for the weekend to see my boy Simon and hopefully meet Hailey in her beautiful town of Aschau! Munich is my favorite city in Europe, and if the weather helps me out, I’m sure I will have no problem convincing the Cs that it, too, is their favorite.


I don’t have a whole lot to say here because I’ve never seen The Sound of Music. This little fact about me seems to shock and devastate discoverers, particularly due to my au pair history. However, I totally plan on watching it before as Cristen and Cathy might be most excited for this stop.


I’m REALLY excited to visit Garmisch. It’s a super popular ski resort town in Germany near the Austrian border and is home to the highest peak in the country, the Zugspitze. It has all kinds of amazing natural landscapes and it will be nice to breathe the fresh air, go on some hikes, and drink.Yeah, we will be doing a bit of drinking on this trip.

Expecting more snow than this with the rate Germany’s going this year…

Thanks Casey for the photo!


Füssen is best known for that little bitty, not-at-all-inspirational landmark, Neuschwanstein Castle. I’ve been, but alas, I slept hungover in the car due the the previous day’s Oktoberfest madness instead of going up to actually experience the iconic castle. So, I’m excited to go back, too.

Gloomy Neuschwanstein Let’s hope for better weather than this.


Although it may not be on everyone’s Europe itinerary, Karlsruhe will be a blast. We will be here on my 24th birthday, spending time at the Schlossgarten, and my flat will be hosting a big party that night since it is two our our birthdays. Plus, they will get to meet all my loved ones in Karlsruhe, which I’m most thrilled about. They can then report back to my mother that I’m in good hands here.


We will be heading to the city known for Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, not to see cars, but to celebrate Frühlingsfest, a sort of Spring Oktoberfest, with a group of 15 for my birthday. There are few things I get more excited about than wearing my dirndl, dancing to German party songs, and drinking beers so large my arms are sore the following day.

Then these two will be all ready to set out on their own for big adventures in Paris and London. Unfortunately, I cannot join as my German classes will be well underway and missing a week (aka 20 hrs of class) will be tough enough.

Tips for Salzburg, Garmisch, or the Füssen area?

I’ve got Karlsruhe (duh), Stuttgart, and Munich covered, but then again, you might have even better ideas!

  • Daddio

    Never seen the “Sound of Music”? Thought that was among your favorites, along with “The King & I”, “The Lion King”, “Titantic”, “Ace Ventura – Pet Detective” & “Dirty Work”? Oh well, learn something new everyday.

    My best to Cathy & Cristen. Have a safe, fun, moderate and loving time.

    Happy for, and proud of, you.

    Love always,


    • ifs ands & butts

      Yep, the others surely are favorites but The Sound of Music isn’t one of them. Maybe it will be once I actually see it…

  • bevchen

    I LOVE Salzburg (well, Austria in general really…). Here’s a post I wrote about our trip there:

    I was going to tell you to drink a hot chocolate at cafe Demel, but sadly I’ve just read an article that says it’s closed down. Booo! What you do need to do though is go to the Fürst confectioners and buy original Salzburg Mozartkugeln. They’re in a blue/silver wrapping and only available at Fürst.

    Sadly, I haven’t been to Garmisch or Füssen, and I’m sure you’ve got Karlsruhe covered 😉 So all I can do is cross my fingers that the Schloßpark weather actually shows up for you!!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Oh wow thanks for the confectioner tip – that sounds really special!!

      And yes, PLEASE keep those fingers crossed for the weather! I’d be so sad if we couldn’t enjoy the Schlossgarten!

  • Katrin

    Well, unfortunately I have never been to Fuessen or Garmisch (what a shame) and only once to Salzburg and I don’t remember that much. All I remember is that I had an awesome hot chocolate in a little cafe from where you could see the castle but I have no idea how it is called. And I saw them cleaning up after the Festspiele. I am not helping, I know. Sorry! But I hope you will have a wonderful trip!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Well, a lot can be said for an awesome hot chocolate with a view! I can’t wait :)

  • Helene in Between

    ohhhh how fun! looks like y’all have tons of fun planned. one of these days you will be posting about how I’m coming to visit you!

    • ifs ands & butts

      I want to write this blog post! Let’s make it happen!

  • Caitlyn

    Sounds like you’ve got a cool trip planned! If you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, I would go between Fussen and Karlsruhe via Augsburg – this means you’d get to go via part of the Romantic Road which is just gorgeous, it would probably add a couple of hours but you’d get to see some cute Bavarian towns along the way. There’s also another castle at Fussen – called Hohenschwangau – which is just across the bus parking lot and is also really pretty, yet there’s no tourists there! Also, just something to remember – last time I went to Neuschwanstein (September last year) it had scaffolding all over the side that you see from the Marienbrucke viewpoint, keep that in mind for photos! Oh and head to the lake that’s just further on from the castles (away from Fussen) which is so lovely, with the Alps in the background. You can go swimming in the lake when the weather’s nice, or rent a boat.

    For Salzburg, I can really recommend the Augustiner Brewery on Lindhofstrasse (up a hill near the river). Fantastic atmosphere and big beers, can’t go wrong! There’s also a schnapps farm just outside of town where you can get unlimited schnapps and ribs, what a combination! You can ask at the tourist office about that one, I can’t seem to remember what it’s called. Have an awesome time!

    • bevchen

      We went to Augustinerbräu as well. You pick up your own mug then take it up and order your beer from the counter. A tip from Jan’s dad (which we used): Take the big mug (1 l) but order a small beer (0.5 l, I think). They aren’t allowed to give you less beer than you’re paying for and they can’t tell where the halfway mark is, so they err on the side of caution and you get more beer for your money.

      I wouldn’t recommend eating there though.

      • ifs ands & butts

        hahaha love that – thanks for the tip!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Wow Caitlyn – thanks so much for all this! Great info! I really love the Romantic Road idea. Not sure if we will have the time yet, but it sure is a great thing to keep in mind and I’ve always heard wonderful things. And all those Neuschwanstein tips are fantastic. I’m sure we will check out the other castle too and now I know just where to go for the perfect photos (because let’s get real, why else would I be going? 😉 )

      Also heard great things about Augustiner so we will definitely be getting that. And the Schnapps farm?!!! Holy moly will totally be asking about that. How cool!!

  • Shushu

    Watch Sound of Music. Now. We wont speak until its over. Bye.

    • ifs ands & butts

      I don’t know why I’m actually dreading watching it so much. But I woke up at 7 today so I will be bored as crap. Today just might be the day.

  • Niken

    you make me want to jump on the first plane to germany like, now.

    • ifs ands & butts

      DO IT!

  • Kim

    Ohhh! SO fun!!

    I also really loved Munich in the one day/night I spent there in 2011! LOL!

    Did you ever read jenni-austria-germany’s blog? she doesn’t blog as much now bc she’s in law school but she lived in salzburg and loved it.

    So fun when friends from the states visit you abroad!! :)

    • ifs ands & butts

      Yes I used to love Jenni’s blog and already wrote down a ton of her Salzburg trips since it’s her favorite! She’s great! But gahhh I just love Munich; it has such a special place in my heart. I’m pretty excited 😀

  • Svenja Schoening

    I LOVE Munich, which is probably my favourite city ever- certainly in Germany though (although, I have to say, that I love where I am right now, as it is so much more affordable, and so much closer to my family).

    And the Fruehlingsfest is hilarious. I went a few years ago, and I must say, even though it is not the Oktoberfest, it gets in the direction of a proper German beerfest experience. Also, it is good for getting over the large break of 12 months from one Wiesn to the next 😉

    Salzburg is also truly beautiful in my opinion. There is this cute little castle, the wonderful landscape which can be adored when uphill and the Mozart-tradition surrounding the place. It is good for shopping and walking / sitting around watching beautiful people. Once a year there are the Festspiele, which is quite famous for everything around classical music.

    I think your itinerary is wonderful! Even though I am from the Northern part of Germany, and find that the South is significantly different, i would always suggest the South for first-times.

    Have a wonderful trip!


    • ifs ands & butts

      We definitely share the love for Munich. It’s so hard to pinpoint the exact reasons I love it, but the vibe there is just insanely perfect. And I went to Frühlingsfest in both Stuttgart and Munich last year and it was just as fun as Oktoberfest, so I’m pretty excited. It’s the ultimate birthday party for me :) I’m excited to finally see Salzburg, I can’t believe that I’ve never been! Southern Germany is definitely more of what the tourists expect, so I have to agree with you!

  • Steven

    Salzburg, Garmisch/Zugspitze, and Neuschwanstein are all on my list of “haven’t gotten there yet, probably this year,” so I’m really looking forward to your posts *afterward.*

    • ifs ands & butts

      Ooooh in that case, I will try and be a thorough blogger, for once 😉

  • Sam

    I had planned a similar trip over this past Christmas, but couldn’t get the family excited about it! I can’t wait to hear about it and live vicariously.

    • ifs ands & butts

      What! Why wasn’t your family excited? Apparently they don’t understand the greatness of Bavaria! Ok, I’m a little obsessed with Bavaria actually, but whatever. I’ll try and take tons of pictures!

      • Sam

        I don’t know! I think they really didn’t understand what it would be. So jealous!

  • Jenn

    Looks like such a fun trip! Can’t wait to read about it :)

    • ifs ands & butts

      Eeek can’t wait! I’ll try and take lots of pictures!

  • Stephanie @ meet.make.laugh.

    That sounds like a great trip! Neuschwanstein Castle was always a bucket list item of mine, and I actually got to go last October on my visit to Germany. It was unreal. I loved it. We also went to Berchtesgaden which was a beautiful area (quite close to Salzburg)…. and took the trip up to the Eagles Nest for incredible views. It was awesome, but you can’t be scared of heights!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Oh gosh – I really want to go up to the Eagle’s Nest but I am in fact, terrified of heights, but more so manmade heights that natural heights like mountains. But really, still terrified of mountains. I usually tough it and stay far away from any ledges :) So glad you enjoyed the region, I can’t wait!

  • Melanie Fontaine

    Sounds like a great trip, I’m sure you’ll have a fab time! I’ve been to most of these places, but it’s been years… back when I was in Elementary school 😉 Don’t feel bad about not knowing Sound of Music – I think most people in Germany and Austria have never heard of it before! I was once forced to watch it on a long, long bus ride and it was kind of not appealing to my too-serious-don’t-like-kitsch German attitude ;)I imagine Salzburg must be beautiful, though!


    • ifs ands & butts

      Hahahaha love your perspective on Sound of Music. The people I’m traveling with our FANATICS though, so I should probably watch it as we will be 100% Sound of Music Touring while there :)

  • haileyhiggs

    YOU MUST WATCH SOUND OF MUSIC. It’s like my favorite movie.

    and can’t wait to meet you! I’ll try to get something good going with my friends here in Aschau for Saturday!

    • ifs ands & butts

      I will, I will. My roommates tried to make me watch it sophomore year and I just wasn’t in the mood.


  • Jess

    Salzburg looks ah-mazing! Have a blast!! And take tons and tons of pictures, of course.

    My Travel Tuesday Post

    • ifs ands & butts

      Gah I have been the WORST blogger lately in terms of photos, but I definitely plan on snapping a ton!

  • Julika of Sateless Suitcase

    This itinerary sounds amazing Alex! I’m sure they’ll love Europe after this! I’ve been to Garmisch like 10 years ago and really loved it, because it’s so cliché German and so adorable that it’s almost unreal. They have great Biergärten with a view of the Zugspitze, but the whole place is quite expensive. And regarding Munich — last summer I did the free walking tour with New Europe Walking Tours and it was absolutely awesome. Highly recommend it, especially for Germany-first-timers! And I also really loved Max Emmanuel Biergarten, which is the kind of Biergarten the locals go to. Best part: You bring your own food (we brought tons of Brezen and home-made Obatzda :))
    Looking forward to hearing all about your adventures!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Homemade Obatzda?? I LOVE Obatzda so I should probably learn how to make it. Thanks for the Munich beer garden tip – that sounds fantastic! I’m really excited about Garmisch and cliche German is perfect – they will surely love it then, too!

  • Ech

    Haha I forced my husband to watch Sound of Music. He fought me, but in the end I won and now he can fully appreciate Salzburg when we visit.

    • ifs ands & butts

      I don’t know why I feel like someone is holding me down and torturing me to watch it. I apparently lack enthusiasm about old movies, but I WILL watch it before.

      • Ech

        Haha! It’s definitely not for everyone. You’ll have to let all of us know what you think!

  • Steph G

    That looks amazing. I would love to do a trip like that.

    • ifs ands & butts

      I’m pretty excited. We should have some spectacular scenery, hopefully accompanied by sunshine, which Germany has been lacking.

  • pinkparliament

    Monday… as in this Monday?! I would LOVE to meet up with you if thats the case, I leave for home in 13 days!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Ah no, sorry – this trip is in mid-April so I think we will just miss each other unfortunately!

  • Kaity

    I loved Salzburg! we stopped by the city twice during the Austria leg of our big Brown family vacation. if you’re up for touristy things, I’d definitely recommend one of the Sound of Music tours – obviously it’s more appealing to fans of the movie/musical, but outside of that it’s still a great way to see Salzburg and some of the surrounding area (which is GORGEOUS, for the record). plus it’s a bit of a fun history lesson! Von Trapps 101!

    also, this isn’t in the city, but I thought I our salt mines tour was pretty neat. and they give you fancy salt samples! free stuff is automatically a win, right?

    • ifs ands & butts

      We will most definitely be doing a Sound of Music tour as they are big fans (and hopefully I will be too once I actually see it)! Thanks for the Salt Mines tip – that does sound pretty neat!

  • Heather

    I looooooooove Salzburg. Everytime I’ve gone there it’s just been so gorgeous I couldn’t stand it. I wrote about the last trip here…

    Get the Salzburg card for how ever long you’ll be there, and you can do all sorts of free stuff. I definitely recommend the Untersberg cable car (hopefully the renovations are finished now), the Monchsberg elevator for the city view, the castle tour, the Stiegel tour (self-paced and with free beer and a present), and the boat trip if the weather is nice. Oh, and it includes public transport too, because you’ll need the bus for the mountain and brewery. :)

    The Sternbräu restaurant I wrote about in the post is great too. Right in the city center, and delicious. Just make sure to go to the Bierstüberl side… or if it’s nice the gardens might be open. Ack, now I want to go back again!!

    • ifs ands & butts

      Ahhh yayy thank you so much Heather for all of this!!! I can’t wait!

  • Sara Louise

    It’s going to be brilliant! You are clearly an expert travel planner :)

    • ifs ands & butts

      Thank ya, thank ya! I sure hope so – they’ve been a big and difficult run but I know the trip will turn out fantastic!