normally, it takes me a bit to gather images and document a trip, but i felt it necessary to immediately write about our adventure to germany because, if i didn’t, i would potentially forget/block from my memory some of the dirty details. for those of you who follow me on instagram you are probably thinking it was a dreamy getaway with family… some of you may even have thought what rockstars we were for taking on this adventure… well, sorry to say we had you fooled. not intentionally of course, but simply because i didn’t photograph the doctors visit, the 24 hour stomach viruses and all the chaotic travel scenarios. i kinda wish i would have at least documented it on snapchat, but the truth is i didn’t have enough hands to manage that or enough time between each scenario! so… here goes, our 2016 german adventure, in all its glory….
there are no pictures of the first 24 hours because they went a little something like this…
the drama started before we even left our building with an extremely rude–and 20-minute late–uber driver who yelled at me for trying to give hayden a small snack on a 60-minute long trip to the airport. after checking in we rushed to our gate (which was at the other end of jfk, of course) in hopes to sit somewhere to have some dinner before our flight. we found a restaurant that had space and were seated. we waited for 15 minutes and not one person came to see or help us… i realize we have 3 kids, but c’mon! so, we had to get up and leave because it was getting close to boarding. while nate took rowie for a pre-flight diaper change i took the kids to find some take-away food. i was thrilled to find a close by spot to get us some burgers and fries for the flight… thrilled until the order took so long that we missed the prirotiy boarding time and by the time i got to the gate with the food, it was a zoo. great.
although rowan is young enough to fly on my lap, nate brilliantly had surprised me with a ticket for rowie so we were able to bring his car seat to keep him “contained” on the flight. well, the flight attendant at first didn’t want to let us on the plane with the car seat because she was convinced it wouldn’t fit. i clearly was not accepting that as an option. we had rowie set up in a window seat so i could hopefully keep him away from people and food carts, but this grumpy old lady started complaining that the car seat wouldn’t let her recline, which in fact, was not true… lady, seats don’t recline like that in coach! so, we moved rowie–while strapped into his car seat–across the isle and into two different seats until we ended up right in the same spot because the lady complained about us and moved elsewhere! OMG.
the flight was as one would imagine an 8-hour flight with 3 kids being… challenging. alexa and hayden did ok until they realized they were really tired and couldn’t get comfortable. rowie slept a little and cried a little pretty much the whole time. all in all, it could have been worst and we landed safe and sound in frankfurt with 3 grumpy and tired kids.
from the airport we had to take a bus to the train station. NOTE the image above as that is how much luggage/stuff we had to schlep everywhere we went. i actually think we did a pretty good job keeping it to two suitcases, it was all the extras that made it challenging. on a side note, we just got the suitcases we brought with us and i am obsessed! they are by a brand called AWAY and they are lightweight and look super chic. i am a big fan of rimowa suitcases, but i have to say that i equally loved our new AWAY suitcases. another lifesaver was a last-minute buy–a backpack to carry our britax car seat. we normally just use the red gate check bags, but this backpack made travelling around with a car seat actually possible.
so, regarding trains… i’d like to say i am a super savvy train rider. i have backpacked around europe a bunch and i love riding on trains. my brother-in-law previously explained that where you stood on the platform made a big difference, especially if you were going to get on fast with kids and luggage. he made a map for us and told us where to check on the platform. sadly, we got it wrong anyway. we thought we were on the right end of the platform when in fact we were supposed to be at the opposite end… when the train arrived and we realised our error we sprinted–as well as anyone can sprint with so much stuff. somehow we made it on and got settled, but not without sweating bullets.
an hour and a half later we arrived in dusseldorf and were greeted my nate’s sister and her kids–yay! we were thrilled to finally have arrived. all was good and well, but we still had to take another local train for 30 minutes to get to their home just outside of dusseldorf. aside from almost losing one of our suitcases out the side of the local train, we finally made it to their home safely and with all of our stuff. miracles do happen.
we had a lovely evening in kaiserswerth and had a great germany style family dinner at a restaurant called tonhalle. the schnitzel was divine and little rowie slept through most of the dinner so that is always a win.
that evening we made plans to visit brugge (belgium) for the weekend. we packed overnight bags and got ready for bed… however the evening was not as relaxing as we would have lived. if rowie being off his sleep schedule was all i would have been dealing with i would have survived, but i unforunately started to feel pretty crummy and had a terrible sore throat. i woke up pretty miserable and tried to put my game face on for the day. i went downstairs to find out that my little niece, ellie, had been throwing up since 9pm the night before. she seemed to have gotten a stomach bug that my sister-in-law said had been going around at school. yikes.
we still made the drive to brugge that day and arrived early evening. we stayed at the crown plaza hotel. i highly recommend it. it was a great central location and very family friendly. although i was continuing to feel worst and worst, i couldn’t bear missing out on brugge so i popped some dayquil and hoped for the best.
we didn’t have any plans but to walk around and explore… which is pretty much my favorite way to do europe anyway. the cousins were having so much fun together… chasing each other around statues and playing in the wind.
this is the basilica of the holy blood, famous for housing a phial of the blood of christ. the basilica is beautiful, definitely worth a visit.
ellie and alexa are only 1 day apart, it was fun to watch them enjoy each other’s company so much. we don’t get to see nate’s sister and her family as often as we would like so this trip was really special.
(alexa just got those adorable fringe moccasin boots from fabkids and she won’t wear any other shoes at the moment. she is totally obsessed with how warm and fuzzy they are.)
i totally fell in love with brugge. it is so beautiful–the canals, the cobblestone streets, the shops, the cathedrals… it is enchanting.
we strolled rowan around in the maclaren quest umbrella stroller. i love it because its lightweight, but it reclines pretty far back. my only complaint is the buckle/strap system is kind of a pain, but overall its a great stroller.
on a hilarious note, rowan wouldn’t keep his shoes or socks on anywhere we went. we were constantly looking for socks that he had pulled off and dropped on the street.
i just bought this lightweight puffer for rowan from lands end, it is the packable primaloft jacket. i love how it fits and its a great packable piece. since i am sharing favorite pieces, i am obsessed with my cashmere beanie from rag & bone–i wore it almost every day!
probably one of the most epic comedy of errors on the trip was the drive back from brugge. my sister-in-law, trista, and i were in the car with hayden, rowie, and my nephew ben. about 45 min into our 3 hour ride ben said he wasn’t feeling too well… before we could even react he started throwing up all over the floor of the car. the stomach virus struck again. we rushed to the first rest stop we could find and of course everything was closed–it is not like here in the US where there are rest stops and food chains everywhere, it was pretty desolate. thankfully i had a ton of baby wipes and once we had done the best we could to clean up the mess we were on our way again. when we finally came across a proper rest stop we were about to pull in when i looked back to check on ben and next thing i know rowan starts throwing up everywhere too. shit. at this point, trista and i could only laugh… because honestly, it was either laughing or crying and laughing seemed like a better option.
that evening was a rough one. ben and rowie were sick all night, i was still feeling terrible and to add to it, nate said his throat was starting to really hurt too. you really can’t make this stuff up.
the next day trista made an appointment for nate and i to go to the doctor and as i had imagined, we both had strep throat. the good news was that we were getting antibiotics. we spent that entire day laying around the living room, as nate put it, in survival mode.
our last day before heading back to frankfurt turned out to be pretty great. although nate stayed home with rowan relaxing, trista, the kids and I went into dusseldorf so that we could see the city and the christmas markets.
hayden got to try his first nutella crepe… he was a fan of course.
trista introduced me to the killepitsch bar where killepitsch liqour shots are served from a little walk up counter.
our last night seemed on the up and up until hayden started complaining about his tummy too… sure enough hayden spent the night throwing up. seriously?
by the grace of god, we all seemed to be doing ok the next day. hayden seemed to have recovered quickly from the night of stomach issues and nate and i were feeling almost back to normal thanks to the antibiotics.
on our last day, after saying goodbye to our family, we took a train ride back to frankfurt.
my feed bag was the perfect catch all travel tote–from my handbag to snacks to everything else in between–it was a star. also noting favorite boots (the walker boot from rag & bone) that i wore almost everyday… i guess alexa and i have that in common.
when we arrived in frankfurt we were pretty excited because it happened to be the opening of the christmas markets. the frankfurt christmas market is one of the biggest in germany.
sorry rowie, no egg nog for you!
the evening ended with the lighting of the christmas tree… which incidentally felt like a german version of the rockefellar tree lighting due to the crowds. it was total chaos, but lovely at the same time.
i’m happy to report that our travel day home went off without a hitch. the flight was great, the kids were great and we got in a little early. nate and i wouldn’t even acknowledge how well it went till we got home for fear of jinxing it.
so after all that drama… if you are still reading this novel of a post… we are still super happy we went. it was an adventure and it was so wonderful to be with family… and i am pretty sure we can now tackle just about anything thrown our way!
our next adventure is around the corner…. fingers crossed it goes a bit smoother! :)