High Above the Treetops

Finally, here we are in Germany. One of the things Kevin and I discussed before our trip was whether it was preferable to travel west to east, as we did, or to start in Germany and end the week in Budapest. It was a moot discussion because we had absolutely no choice in the matter, but even so we thought our route was the preferable one. In hindsight, I’m so glad we had the chance to end our journey in Passau. It was a wonderful, relatively leisurely way to wrap up our trip.

We began, as we had the day before, with another overcast sky, but it was actually welcomed as we were heading out for a walking tour of the town. Our local guide, pictured below, was so fantastic.


She was dressed, as you can tell, in period costume and wearing, bless her heart, the most hideous wig I have seen in my entire life. She spoke in the character of a resident of Passau in the 1500s and got members of our group involved as she shared the history of the town. One person was the archbishop, another was a baker, and one poor soul was a person suffering from the Plague. The door she’s standing next to is original from the era—the center grate was used to communicate and pass food to the afflicted resident.

Apparently the current occupant of the home isn’t a big fan of the tours, as evidenced by this sign in the window.

Our tour concluded at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which is home to the largest cathedral organ in the world, and the fifth largest overall. It has 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, and I don’t know what that really means but it sure sounds (and looks) impressive. We were fortunate to be there while they were warming up the organ and got to hear it booming through the cathedral.

The rest of the cathedral isn’t too shabby either. One of the craziest things about this region to me, compared to the United States, is how absolutely normal it is to be surrounded by such stunning architecture. I know we were obviously shown the best of each city and town we visited, but there were so many places just like this that we didn’t have the chance to see. It’s a little overwhelming to even contemplate.

After they gave us some time to explore the cathedral, our group walked over to Cafe Simon, where one of their pastry chefs walked us through molding a chunk of fresh marzipan into the shape of a statue in town. Well, roughly anyway.

Here’s our model and Kevin’s finished product.


Whatever, it was delicious.

Afterwards we had some free time to walk around the city, which we spent dropping some serious Euro on souvenirs. We found a little woodworking shop that had a ton of beautiful Christmas ornaments and spent some time picking out gifts for friends and family (and ourselves, come on).

I love the concept behind these painted cobblestones. They are intended to be a trail leading you to local artists, with each branch ending at the door of a studio.

I love the concept behind these painted cobblestones. They are intended to be a trail leading you to local artists, which each branch ending at the door of a studio.

On our way back to the ship I stumbled across a little shop that had a ton of traditional dirndls. I had been thinking about buying one for Olive all week and finally found the perfect one and pulled the trigger on it. Do we think she liked it? I was so tickled a few days after we got home when Carrie posted a video on Facebook and Olive was already wearing it again. Wear that dress out, kid!!

Okay back to Germany and important things…like food. I’m not sure if I’ve talked enough about our meals aboard the AmaViola but they were excellent. While most of the menu options weren’t quite paired to the region, we did have an Oktoberfest-themed lunch on our day in Germany. They had a variety of sausages, some seriously delicious potato salad (it was served warm and had a texture similar to gnocchi. I need to do some recipe research and try to recreate it…), pretzels, beer and a bunch more.

I definitely ate a bigger lunch than on other days, which is good because we needed fuel for the afternoon’s adventure. We headed back across the border to Kopfing, Austria, to the Baumkronenweg.

This place is mostly referred to as a “treetop path” and I guess that’s the best way to describe it. It’s a giant wooden structure with stairs that bring you high above the trees. It was a little hazy on the day we were there so we didn’t have a great view of the Alps, but what we could see was still pretty spectacular.

Once you climbed to the top, the path just kept winding through the trees.


There were a few areas to lounge along the way. Can I get one of these for our backyard?

This slide was closed, which is good because I probably would have concussed myself on it.

Back at the ship (which had sailed just slightly up the river to Vilshofen for our final night), we had a cocktail reception to celebrate our fantastic crew and adventure guides, who had all dressed for the Oktoberfest celebration we were having after dinner.


I feel like it’s hard for me to accurately convey exactly how fantastic these eight individuals were. They worked absolutely nonstop, socializing with guests, keeping the kids entertained, answering questions about excursions and logistics, and so much more we probably didn’t even pick up on. They gave us coins to use the pay public toilets when we were out on excursions, kept us entertained on bus rides with snacks and telling stories, helped us take pictures spinning in the Austrian countryside, and were just great friends during the trip. Kevin and I had a discussion after we got home how it messes with your brain a little that we had such a great time with these people who were basically paid to be nice to us, but I truly believe it was at least 97% genuine.

They were the ones responsible for everything running so smoothly during the whole week. And man is it a high stakes job at times, something I didn’t realize until day 6 when one of the older couples was a half hour late meeting up with the group after our free time in Salzburg. But the situation was handled gracefully and without a sense of panic. Someone on the trip (I can’t remember if it was a Disney employee or a guest) told s that just one in 1,000 applications to the adventure guide program are accepted and it absolutely makes sense. These guys are fantastic.

…Which is part of why it was so hard to say goodbye. It was probably for the best that our farewell took place at a rowdy Oktoberfest party. I unfortunately don’t have many pictures (I think I was snapchatting…) but a local band and some dancers performed in a tent outside the ship, and we were all served German beer and pretzels.


(The band didn’t come with those Mickey ear hats… One of the families on our ship had them and decided these guys should wear them at one point. They were good sports about it!)

Once the party wound down, we headed back on board to say our last goodbyes and pack. Here’s Kevin with a sneak attack from Danny, one of our adventure guides and our new long distance bff.

Our whole experience with Adventures by Disney was so wonderful. We had heard of these trips before but had never seriously considered them because of the cost involved. We figured that we could see the same cities for less money, but there is no conceivable way we could our would have arranged the same level of experiences we had on this trip. I can be pretty Type A about trip and itinerary planning, but I have to admit it was really nice to let go of that and have everything taken care of for you. We’re definitely fortunate to have had this opportunity.


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