Ellmi’s Magical World

Still being a bit tired your kids were not in the mood to hike, but we as parents wanted at least some action, so we decide to go for a compromise. And this time it was Ellmi’s Magical World.

To get to the Ellmi’s Magical World (official page)you take the cable car from Elmau. For English speakers Ellmi’s offers all texts also in English, which is nice. The return ticket including the entry for Ellmi’s costs about 21€, which is quite some money for the attraction, but if you have the cable car pass like we have, then it is all included. So if you are on holidays with kids, then I strongly recommend the cable car pass here.

The Once you reach the mountain station you turn right to the shop where you get the collection pass. Basically the kids get a set of
crayons and a booklet with the “magical ingredients” for the cake that Ellmi wants to bake for all the creatures in the Magical Kingdome. Ellmi by the way is a small boy who got magically transformed into a frog.
To do the puzzle the kids need to find all the ingredients and colour them in the correct colours. All the ingredients are spread all across the area. The Magical Kingdome is full of playgrounds, climbing trails and other interesting things.

Once the collection card with all the ingredients is finalized one can return to the shop and every kid gets a small present.We also went to the restaurant up there for lunch.

It is a nice restaurant with a goof view across the maintain scenery. The food was o.k. , but also quite expensive. The prices for the drinks were really expensive to my opinion. A “Coke” from a plastic bottle for 3,80€ and a 0,3l Soda for 3€ is a bit expensive I think.

The Playground around the mountain station has been done nicely with lots of things to do for the kids.  In roughly an hour one could also walk to the “Kaiserwelt” from this location.  So if you have kids that like hiking that could be a possibility.
Somehow Ellmau seems to be one of the hotspots in the region. When we came here there were quite a lot of tourists and tourist busses. The Ellmi’s Magical World was also filled with people. Other locations we visited this holiday were not so cowdred. Never the less it is very nicely done and the kids love it. Worth a visit.

P.s.: I have no relation to this tourist attraction.


Daughter hiking

Today after a rather boring Kufsteintrip I wanted to head up the mountains again. How do you get your kids up the hill… yes… by promising them the best playground ever on the top (Kaiserwelt). A bit like motivation at work 🙂

From Scheffau the cable car goes up the mountain and you directly hit the playground. It took some convincing that a small hike would be a good idea before then going to the playground. Yeah it worked and we had a small tour called the “Murmeltier-rundgang”. No


Mamots in sight but a lot of hiking stick equipped elderly hikers – by the way the next pest in the mountains after the “E-Mountainbikes”. It is really bad, because some years ago at least the people on the mountain bikes were trained people who knew what they were doing. Now everybody seems to manage to get up the mountains and they do not know what they are doing. Often also very unfriendly as they seem to think they own the trails. And in the valleys they block traffic.

Well and the hiking stick fraction is basically the future because of the demographic change.

Cable car on the Kaiserwelt playground

But to be fair, there were also families with kids around. Some of the kids walked like ours, and some kids preferred the hard and cantankerous way.

After an easy 3 km walk we came back to the playground, which was a real highlight for the kids. Mostly because of the cool cable cars that both the younger and the older one liked.

It was hard to convince them to go back home to the hotel…


Start of the Sky Trail

After a good night sleep we went for our first trip. It can be recommended, if you stay longer in the region, you buy yourself the “Bergbahn Erlebnis-Card” of the region “Wilder Kaiser– Bixental”. That gives you access to several nice locations and obviously the transportation by cable cars.

We went up the “Talkaser“ which is the mounten where the “Alpinolino” area is.

Cross at the top of the mountain

We went for one of the two routs in the area – the sky trail. Our kids had to follow the trail and explore several things along the way. Mostly these were things about the wild life of the mountain region. The story is that a marmot child is lost and we had to find it by following the tracks of the marmot.

Our kids were so motivated that therewas no stopping them even for something to eat. The trail is only 3 km long, but as a first rout with the kids at the beginning of the holidays it was a good start. Most of the time it is an easy walk, only to get to the very top of the mountain, where the eagle’s net is was a bit steeper. Our four year old had not problems doing it.

Marble run

On the way back there is also a cool marble run. You have to buy a big marble made from wood and then you can let it run in the marble run next to the trail. If your kids want to do the marble run again you simple have to walk up the mountain again and start again. Once back to the mountain station you can let the kids play on the playground and enjoy the deckchairs and a cool drink.

Our kids loved it and as they were still a bit tired form the trip it was the best start for them.

3rd day in Paris

Mona Lisa

Today we went to the Louvre, but first we had to collect the tickets that we bought over the internet. We had to wait 20 minutes to get them, because there were only two staff members at the tourist information on a day where Paris is flooded with tourists. Well in the end we got there and had to queue again for the security check. Still it was rather quick to get in. Without Ticket you wait ages.. just as a recommendation… buy them before and … even better, get them sent to you by post. It really saves time.

Like probably ninety percent of the people we directly went to see the Mona Lisa and I was shocked how crowded it was. You basically have to fight your way through to see the painting properly. Look at a copy in a book and you will have more time

Crowd infront of the Mona Lisa

and quiet to enjoy it. The masses of people are really stressful and nothing for old or disabled people, as the crowd is really pushing forward.

Frau mit Skorpion

There are so many fantastic pieces of art, and most people rush through the rooms and do not take the time to really appreciate the exhibits. I really liked the angle like victory statue in the staircase to the Greek execution.

After the louvre we went shopping in the area around the Hôtel de Ville. It rained a lot and therefore it was the best alternative if you did not have the time to go to another museum.

We went to a small gallery “59rivoli” though that had new artists in there. It was their workplace and you could either just look at the pieces or even buy them directly from them. Most of the time there were two artists per floor and the whole house had five floors. It was all modern art, and some nice and interesting pieces. I especially liked an artist who did pictures with rust.

In the evening our legs were hurting, also because of our trip yesterday and we had diner in a small Turkish grill. The second full day really made us tired. So, if you do the trip… take it at a slower pace unless you are really fit…

2nd Day in Paris


First some statistics and if you stay longer than we do I don not recommend this… We walked 23,5km and were totally exhausted at the end of the day. Because of the bad weather forecast we tried to do the outdoor activities first and then the indoor sights like the Louvre.

Starting from our hotel we went for a French breakfast, which is, by the way, and unusual for Germans who love big breakfasts, not more than a coffee and a croissant. Up the hill we reached Sacré-Cœur which is already nice from the outside but really nice from the inside. All the impressive mosaics make this church worth the while. Many people, especially in Summer, have breakfast on the steps down to the city, where you have a nice view over the town.

Moulin Rouge

We then went down, through the quartier, to the moulin rouge. The area is a bit like the Reeperbahn in Hamburg and then again no. A lot of sex shops and bars, shows… The Reeperbahn is more intense and concentrated than the area along the moulin rouge.

We walked down to the opera and passed the “Galleries Lafayette”. Like many old big shops like Harrods and the KDW in Berlin Lafayette has a nice architecture. The belle epoch style in the middle of the building is worth having a look.

We passed by the opera which is a really nice and impressive building. I would have loved to have seen an opera there, but I’m not a fan of Wagner and therefore I skipped that. If you walk straight on, then you reach the Louvre, and that is what we did. We Walked through the Tuileries to the place de la concord. There you have a nice view to the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower

As midday was approaching we walked across the bridge and walked to the area next to the chaps de mars and bought a baguette, by the way, the best baguette we had in Paris, and some wine. We walked to the Eiffel Tower and ate and drank on a bench in the sun. Watching the people was interesting and better than any TV show. Yes, there are some street merchants that want to sell copies of the Eiffel Tower, but it is not as bad as if you came from the side of the seine. It was really nice. We had not bought tickets for the Tower in advance and therefore did not go up. The queue was really long and only moving very slowly. After the view from Sacré-Cœur we thought it cannot be that much better.

Continue reading 2nd Day in Paris

Trip to Paris

We went from our home town to Cologne to finally enter the Thalys to Paris. Before that we had something to eat at “Dean & David” which was ok but not the best food to my opinion. I had far better curries in the past. We also went to get a car too expensive coffee at Starbucks… which was a mistake. We really lost time though that. On the train platform we had the usual Cologne train station chaos. At one time I had the feeling three trains were on the same platform and I was kind of annoyed with the uncertainty whether the train would really leave from that platform. In the end it all worked and we were finally in the train.
The TGV or Thalys is kind of old fashioned but it was still comfortable and fast.
We reached Paris and walked to the hotel. If you reach Gard de Nord like we did, then Montmartre is a good choice to stay. Unfortunately, it was too late to go out for the evening.

Small update on the house

We finally moved into our new house at the end of July 2017. It took us roughly four months to do the interior of the house. We did some fundamental changes to the house. Removed walls, replaced all the windows, did new floors and painted all walls.

We also got ourselves a nice new kitchen and a new bathroom.
Now I must say that we have a beautiful home with a lot of space. Space is something we have plenty of now both in and outside of the house. And that is why we now have a new hobby… Gardening.

The last steps for phase one of redoing the house is that now the house gets repainted and our house extension as well as the garage gets a new wooden surface.
Once the exterior is also finished I’ll post some images from inside and outside the house.

We bought a house!

Why buying a house?

We love Cologne! We live in a nice part of Cologne next to a park, close to the Zoo, not far to the city centre and to a public swimming pool. The Kindergarten is just opposite of our house and I can go to work by train as the main station is not too far away. It sounds like the perfect place to live, but the flat has not enough space for the four of us. It started when we had to give up the office room to turn it into a children’s room. We are happy to have two kids and we managed to integrate the office into the living room by using intelligently designed furniture. Now as both kids get older the want to have more space and maybe some garden arises. So we decided that we wanted to by a house.

Buying a house

Buying a house in Germany and especially in the greater areas of big cities is a rather tiresome task. We searched nearly 2 years until we found a house that was almost the one we wanted.

How to find a house in Germany?

Yes I said almost, because one of the first opinions that we had to through over board was the though of finding our dream house. My wife and I split the search area in two, as it was too hard to search both areas alone. Later I’ll explain why.

My wife was responsible to search in the area of Bad Honnef near Bonn and myself for the southern part of Cologne. At that time I was still convinced that I want to stay in Cologne with our family so I took that part of the searching Job.

So what we did and that worked really well for us was, that we searched in the German web-based housing platforms like www.immobilienscout24.de or www.immowelt.de.

Most of the houses that are for sale have several ways of contacting the agent or the seller. You can use all of them, but what I recommend is to call. Email and web-based contacts are simply to slow. If you found a really nice house, then you are probably not the only one interested. So to be fast, look into the platform once a day and contact then agent by phone. Be ready to directly make an appointment to look at the house. Sometimes there is only one date where all interested people can visit and you will have to make time to use that spot. At the moment (2016) it is a seller market. Take it or leave it. Even bad houses somehow find a person who will buy it.
In the end we found a house in Bad Honnef that was most convenient for us as the prices for the house size that we wanted was simply too expensive for us in Cologne or that houses were in such bad shape or the place was not convenient enough.

How to buy a house in Germany?

After finding the house we wanted to buy we had some small negotiations with the seller and he fortunately agreed to give us the house a bit cheaper than he originally asked for. Before that we also went though the house with an expert to see whether there was anything wrong with the construction of the house.
The house was marketed by an agent and so we had to pay around 3.5 % of the house price as a fee for the agent. What we also had to pay were the taxes for buying a house, which are 6.5 % in this part of the country.
In Germany the buyer decides the solicitor who does the contract and so we chose one in Bad Honnef. After reviewing the contract from both parties we met with the sellers at the solicitors place and signed the contract.
There are some formalities like some background checks on the house that we had to pay for. Finally also the solicitor wanted 1.5% of the selling price. Basically we had to calculate 13% on top of the buying price to cover all the costs.

Even though it was a very exiting and stressful time we are now happy to have signed the contract.

Now we will start renovating the house the way we like it starting April 2017. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

Monte Baldo

monte_baldo1We felt like going into the mountains a bit. As we thought it was too much for the kids and we were not well equipped enough we decided to go for a cable car ride to the top of Monte Baldo. With only 40 minute car ride it was not too far away from Costermano and we were early enough to get into the first car park.

The prices were rather expensive. The tickets are 20 € for adults and 8 € monte_baldo2for our older daughter (5 years). So all in all not a cheap trip, but…well we’re on holidays… We got the tickets quite fast, but then the rather small queue to the cable car turned out to be a slow one. After several turns of “I spy with my little eye” and already annoyed kids we finally got onto the cable car. Even though I do not know why there needs to be middle station, there is one. There are some houses but no one really leaves the way uphill. The second part of the cable car ride was really nice as we could look over a huge part of the Lago di Garda. The small one of our two girls did not like it as she thought it was much too high. The car turns 360 degrees on it’s way up the hill, so even she did not have to bear the deep view all the way of the ride.

monte_baldo3On the mountaintop you have nice view into the Dolomite Alps and over the Lake. We only walked a short round to the chairlift, which comes up from the other side of the mountain.

If you like mountain biking or love to hike, than this a trip worth taking. After the mandatory ice cream for the older daughter, the younger daughter was sleeping in the monte_baldo4backpack for carrying children, we headed back down the mountain with the cable car.
Reaching the bottom we saw that the queue was really long by now and I really petty the ones who were still standing in line. It must have taken then hours to get up the mountain.

Mental note…”it is not so bad that your kids are early birds”.


Venice1Venice is about two hours away from Costermano, so it is a nice opportunity to go there at least for a day. Obviously it can be just a first impression, but never the less we tried a trip with the kids. It is a dream for a lot of people to once have visited Venice in their lifetime. A dream city it is, if you can block out the tourists who are everywhere. If you want to save some money you should park your car in the Via dei petroli. The parking costs 4.50 € per day which is a good price. You pay 26 € for a day at the Piazza le roma. Form the main road you take a bus for 1.50 € the bus to the piazza le roma. From there you can start exploring Venice.

We decided to walk via the Mercarto di Rialto, the Ponte di Rialto to the Piazza di San Marco.Venice3

If you need to refill your water supplies there is a good COOP Supermarket on the square around the Church San Giacomo dell’ Orio. Supermarkets are hard to find in the town which consists only of tourists or tourist related businesses. It must be hard for the real Venetians. If you like fruits or sea food, the Mercato di Rialto is your place to go. Our kids loved to see some of the Sea food as originals (without being cooked). On the market the dustmen and the respective ship were an interesting thing, too. In the end our kids called Venice “the wrong way round city” as everything is different here. An other highlight was an ambulance that speeded though the Canale Grande.
Venice2The Rialto Bridge is a bottleneck in the tourist flow through the city. It was so crouded that nearly nothing was moving anymore. An annoyed Venitian shouted “keep walking, keep walking” and the sluggish mass of tourists started to move and nagged about being advised to move.

The place in front of the Basilica of San Marco is incredible. One can really imagine how rich and powerful the city must have been. If you have the time spend a week there. It is worth it.

On our way back we used the water bus. We took the rout number one as it took us all the way along the Canale Grande and we got to see the city another time from the waterside. If you are in a hurry, then take number two, which is faster as it has fewer stops. The trip with route number one took us at least half an hour.

Venice is truly magical and we will come again when the kids are bigger and appreciate the cultural facets of Venice.