Friday, April 10, 2009

We got off to a slow start on Friday. We figured with Abby throwing up the night before and Cade not doing too well in the car when he is tired that we would just go slowly. Everyone was up by about 8 am and we made some toast in our little kitchen. The kids had some fruit too. I tried to finish cleaning up from the events the night before. I tried to dry out the pillow case with a hair dryer but it pooped out after a few minutes. Oh, well. I decided to just leave it hanging in the bathroom, damp. We finally made our way out at about 10:15 and were trying to get all loaded into the car. The owner came running out of the house and asked, “Has there been some mistake?” Huh?! was my thought. She continued by saying that one of the pillow cases was missing off of a pillow and had they not put one on. I think that was her nice way of saying, “Where the hell is the pillowcase?” Anyway, I told her that Abby had gotten a little something on it (okay, a lot of something on it) and that I had washed it out and it was hanging in the bathroom. She said that was nice of me and I didn’t have to do that. I thought, “Oh, lady…yes I did!” Anyway, we finished piling into the car and just before we pulled out, the owner’s husband came running out. “Wait!” he said. “You left some things in the bathroom…clothing.” We kind of laughed and said, “Oh, we are done with it.” “Trash?” he asked. “Yes, or you can have it. Whichever.” He smiled and headed back inside, probably thinking we were crazy. I thought they would figure it out when we stacked stuff on top of the garbage can. Anyway, for those of you who don’t know, when we travel we take old clothes and leave them behind. This leaves room for souvenirs and when we get home, less laundry! We had gotten rid of a lot of things because of the throwing up the night before. I hadn’t intended on throwing away Abby’s pjs, but they weren’t worth trying to wash out when she has about 7 more just like them. Well, for not really doing anything, it was an eventful morning.

We were finally on our way toward Berlin and the direction Trudy took us this day was much faster to get to the autobahn. We went along for about an hour and suddenly came to a complete stop. Traffic was backed up. The only time we’d inch up is if someone decided to exit. We sat there for almost a half hour before we decided to make it into the right lane and exit as well. Trudy took us back country with about 5 other cars to the next entrance onto the autobahn. There had been an accident about 15 cars ahead of us. The detour was meandering to say the least and as we crisscrossed back and forth over the autobahn, we saw that traffic had started up again…shoot! Oh, well. At least we were moving. We finally got back on the autobahn and drove awhile before we stopped at McDonald’s for lunch. There was another neat play area with basketball and a maze. This McDonald’s had free refills and ice, which is not common in Germany (well all of Europe, as far as I can tell.) We were on our way again and it was exciting to pull into Berlin. We tried one more time to get a green badge for the “umwelt zone” with no luck, so we just drove in. Trudy led us to the Novotel Mitte in central Berlin. It was easy to find and we rolled in about 4:10pm. For some reason they still needed 10 more minutes to finish our room. So, Derek went and parked the car and the kids played in a little toy area in the lobby. Our room was nice, but crowded. They had pulled out the pull out couch for us and made it into a bed, but that took up a lot of extra room. Abby watched some German cartoons and we relaxed for a little while before heading out into the city. We walked a few blocks and found ourselves at Museum Island. We were looking for the DDR Museum and thought we knew where it was, but didn’t quite. We asked and they pointed in the direction. The problem was that it was a very little building behind a great big building and we ended up at the great big building. We finally kept walking and saw it right along a canal. The museum taught about life in the former East Germany and there were displays and drawers and cabinets to open. There was also a living room and kitchen to show what a typical East German apartment would look like. The only problem was that it as stuffy in there and there were a lot of people. For anyone who knows me, you know that is not a good combination. I did not feel very good at all. At least now I am smart enough to recognize it. So, I sat down for a little bit and then made my way through fairly quickly. The best part was Abby pretending to drive an East German car. After we left, we bought some wooden Easter eggs from a street vendor and then found a little place to get some dinner. Derek and I each had a brat and we also got an apple crepe. The brat reminded me of the one I had nearly 20 years earlier at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin when I was there with my parents and brother. It wasn’t as cold outside this time, but it was still very good. I wish I’d taken a picture of it. It is really long, on a hard little bun, and had spicy mustard on it. Yum!Neither of the kids felt like eating, so we ate quickly and then headed back to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel, the kids had some fruit and crackers and not long after that it was time for bed.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If any day went the least like I thought it would, this is the day. We started with a typical, but good, European breakfast at Gastehaus Weiher. Frau Oswald served us with rolls, cold meat, cheese, hot hard boiled eggs, room temperature yogurt, hot chocolate, and orange juice. Abby started by not wanting anything, but after sitting there awhile, she joined in too. We pulled out by about 9am and were on our way to Munich. We thought it would take less than 2 hours to get there, but we were on some back roads and did not make great time. We knew that it might be difficult to get into the city center because of the “umwelt zone.” In many places in Germany, the cars have to pass an emissions test and then they get a sticker for the windshield. It is supposed to cut down on traffic in the city and help protect the environment. Well, we pulled into a gas station and asked and she either indicated that we didn’t need one or that she didn’t sell them. Regardless, we decided to say, “Screw it,” and we drove into the “umwelt zone” without our green badge. Trudy, the GPS, had been wonderful up until now. She had us curving around tiny little side streets no bigger than an alley. We wanted to get to the Marienplatz by 11am to see the Glockenspiel (giant clock) chime and the people to come out, much like we had seen in Rothenburg, but on a much bigger scale. Well, we hit traffic and it was clear that we weren’t going to make it when we were still driving at 11am. So, I made an executive decision and told Derek, “Let’s get out of here.” We got out of the city and headed for Dachau Concentration Camp. It is just NW of Munich and it only took about 20 minutes to get there. In the city of Dachau, we stopped at a Burger King for lunch. The playland was locked and we asked if it could be opened, but it was closed. Bummer. We ate and then I asked at the counter how to get to the Concentration Camp. Now, I know “Concentration Camp” is not German, but I figured they would know what I was talking about. I asked one lady and she held up a finger to indicate, “Wait.” A man came from the back and I asked him. He looked at me and said, “No English.” Oh, well, we were on our way to see what we could find on our own. Luckily, just down the road we saw a sign and it was just a minute away.
The camp was larger than I had thought it would be, but once we got walking around and I thought about how many people were living there, it felt small. It was the same kind of feeling I had at the Anne Frank House. The gate on the way in that reads, “Arbeit Macht Frei” which means, “Work will set you free.” I thought about all of the people that read that as they arrived at Dachau and how work had nothing to do with it. It was very powerful. We saw some cells and walked around the grounds. We stood where they had roll call and went into a recreated bunkhouse. There were only 2 standing bunkhouses and the rest we could just see the concrete slab with rocks where they used to stand. They were so run down that they had torn them down. We were there quite a while and the kids were tired so with a drive still ahead of us, we did a quick diaper change in the parking lot and were back on the road again.

We weren’t far on the autobahn when traffic pretty much stopped. It was bad! We finally left the right lane for the exit and got back in the left and just drove. We thought that maybe Trudy could find another way, but she wanted us to make a u-turn. So, we did. We drove a few miles up the autobahn, exited, and drove back down to the exit we were supposed to take. Luckily from our direction, it was hardly backed up at all and it wasn’t long until we started moving along pretty good.

I had found all of our places to stay on the internet before we left and we had reservations for all of them. The great thing about a reservation is that you know you have a bed waiting, how much it is going to cost, and generally what type of place it is going to be. The bad thing about a reservation, especially one that you have to pay in advance, is that you might not want to drive that far that day, or you might not be able to find it. Without Trudy, I don’t think we would have found this one. On the internet, it seemed to be not too far off the interstate. Well, that wasn’t exactly so. We were driving through beautiful countryside, but I just kept thinking, “Is this right?” I was sure hoping so because I was so ready to get out of the car. We finally found the small town of Konigstein and asked a lady for Haus am Markt. It was just down the street. Derek checked us in and the owner’s husband helped us with our bags. He showed us to our apartment upstairs. That’s right…an apartment. It was great. We had an entry hall with a bathroom, a bedroom with a large bed, a living room area, dining table, and small kitchen. The kids liked having some room to move around and we turned on German cartoons. I headed down the street to the market to pick up some things for supper and breakfast. I got to the town center, it was small, but I still didn’t know where the market was. I first almost went into a liquor store. I headed one direction and didn’t see anything. I found three old ladies sitting on a bench. I smiled and asked, “Market?” They all just looked at me and shook their heads. I motioned like I was eating and said, “Food?” Still nothing. I waved and moved on. I found the market the other direction than I started and went in. It was hard to shop for things and not be able to read the labels. I could guess some of the things because of the picture, but some I wasn’t too sure. I was looking at spaghetti sauce and I didn’t know if it was meat or tomato or what?! I mostly bought fruit (canned and fresh), Easter candy, pretzels, and milk. Oh, well…it worked. We ate dinner, watched German cartoons, and got ready for bed. Derek slept with Cade in the bedroom and Abby and I slept on the pullout couch in the living room. We weren’t sleeping but a few minutes and Abby threw up all over the pillow, her pjs, me, and giraffe-e. Oh, my…mandarin oranges. I got Abby calmed down, gathered the items that needed to be gathered and got Abby cleaned up. As I was getting her changed, she said, “I want that banana for breakfast tomorrow.” I had to laugh and told her that was fine. I got Abby settled back into the 1 sheet, 1 blanket, 1 pillow bed and started rinsing and washing. I decided I needed help and got Derek. He sat with Abby until she fell asleep and I made a sink full of soapy water. I washed out the pillow case, Abby’s t-shirt, part of the sheet, and giraffe-e and decided to throw away Abby’s pjs and my pj pants. Ugh! Luckily it wasn’t too late and Abby slept fine the rest of the night.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We woke up early at about 7:15 am and left the room by 8:00. We needed to get to get to the ticket office to pick up our tickets that we ordered online for the tours of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein Castles. Derek drove the kids and me there and dropped us off. It was only about a 2 minute drive. Then he drove the car back to the B&B and ran back to meet us. Yes…we are cheap. We didn’t want to pay for parking. The kids and I picked up the tickets and were just coming out of the building when Derek came walking up. We started our march up quite a hill to get to Schloss Hohenschwangau. It is the castle where King Ludwig II of Bavaria grew up with his parents and his brother. We got to the entrance and had about 20 minutes to spare until our tour started at 8:50am. I sat down to rest and the kids and Derek took a look around. When it was time to go in, I put Cade in the sling (which totally saved my arm) and Abby marched up the stairs to the entrance. We had our tour and the castle was pretty impressive. There were only about 10 people in our group, which was nice to be able to move around a little and the tour was all audio. I think a lot of people skip it and just see Neuschwanstein, but I am glad we took the time and energy to see it. After some more photos, we made our way back down the hill and into the town to find the carriage ride up to the top of the mountain (okay, not quite the very top, but it would have been a heck of a trek, especially with the kids.) It was well worth the 12 Euros! We enjoyed the ride up and Abby sang a Backyardigan song to entertain the rest of the people in the carriage. We’re going to the top of dragon mountain, she sang. We got to the carriage drop off and still had a bit of a hike to the entrance of the castle. After taking a few pictures, we only had to wait about 10 minutes until it was our turn to go in. We were on the tour with a bunch of (I’m guessing) high school students from NYC, I think. One poor girl was sick and threw up into a garbage bag in the middle of the tour. We booked it to the front to avoid any germs and tried to steer clear of her for the rest of the tour. We had enough issues without getting any flu germs! Neuschwanstein was built by King Ludwig II and it was only partially completed (11 rooms, I think) before he died at about age 40. Please don’t take any of this information as complete fact. I’m just working off my memory! Anyway, he only lived in the castle for about 176 days. The rooms that were completed were amazing. We couldn’t take pictures inside the castle. I think that Neuschwanstein Castle (inside and out) is one of the most impressive places I’ve ever been. It ranks up there with the Great Pyramid in Egypt and the Great Wall in China. We bought some souvenirs in the gift shop and started to make our way back to the carriages. On the way down, we stopped at Schlossrestaurant Neuschwanstein for lunch. I had some good schnitzel, which was just like a giant pork tenderloin without the bun. Abby had some more margherita (cheese) pizza and Derek some potato soup. Cade just eats a little bit of what everyone is having. On our way out, we bought some Sneeballen, snowballs, which are donuts with powdered sugar. They sure were good! We rode the carriage back down the mountain, which was only 6 Euros this time and again, worth every cent. Back in town, we did a little souvenir shopping and then made our way back to the B&B. Abby and Cade slept and Derek and I sat on the balcony. When it was almost time for supper, we decided to go to Austria. We ended up at a McDonald’s, which was only about 10-15 minutes away. I figure someday when Derek or the kids are in Austria and someone asks, “Have you been here (Austria) before?” They will answer yes and then they’ll ask, “What did you do last time you were here?” It will be kind of funny to say, “We ate at McDonald’s.” hahaha Well, we made it back to the B&B and we were all beat. We sat on the balcony in our pjs for a few minutes and then we all fell asleep. What an amazing day!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Last night was the first night of the trip that everyone seemed to sleep pretty well. Abby, Cade and I had colds and we could not seem to find enough Kleenex in the world to wipe their noses as many times as they needed it. We walked over to the main building at the Kreuzerhof and had an excellent breakfast. We had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, rolls with jelly, rolls with honey, juice, and hot chocolate. It was a great start to the day. I was ready to do some souvenir shopping and I knew that Rothenburg would be one of the main places on the whole trip that I would find the kinds of things I was looking for. We made our way down the main street again toward the square and the first stop was a bookstore. I asked the man which would be a book that every German kid would know and he showed me a few different ones. Abby has quite the collection of foreign books and I think it is a neat idea. My parents and my brother have gotten her books from many different places and although she already had a German book from my parents, I thought it would be nice for her to have another one. We bought two “typical” German books and were on our way. The next stop was the Christmas store and I could have spent thousands in there. It was very expensive, but the things were very nice. I bought a nutcracker and an ornament for Cade. Then we went to another Christmas store and I found a night watchman for Abby that we will use as an ornament as well. I also picked up a little bunny for Abby and a duck for Cade since we would be in Germany for Easter. We made our way back toward the B&B and then the interesting part about traveling with kids happened. Well, again, not as if throwing up in the car twice wasn’t interesting! Anyway, for those of you who don’t like too much information, you can stop reading now and I won’t go into great detail, but Abby is much like an adult (well, maybe a female adult) when it comes to pooping away from home. She had decided she wasn’t going to do it and she was holding it. She had clearly become uncomfortable and we decided enough was enough. I went into a pharmacy to try to get some suppositories. Language Barrier!! I tried everything I could think of to explain to the poor woman behind the counter what our predicament was. I think I finally said, “She can’t go to the bathroom.” Seems simple, but I don’t know what I had said before that. She finally understood and spoke to the gentleman in German. She gave me a box and said, “Give her 1.” I asked how long it would take and she laughed and said, “5-10 minutes.” Well, they evidently have never met a such a strong willed American 3-year-old because it did not happen in 5-10 minutes. About an hour later and after playing at the park, and still no poo, we decided to be on our way. It was getting later than we had planned on leaving so we decided it was best to skip Nordlingen and Dinkelsbuhl (other walled cities) and just get on the autobahn for our 2 hour + drive to Hohenschwangau. We stopped at a McDonald’s for a late lunch and after we ate, Derek drove into town to get some more Euros and the kids and I played in the play area at McD’s. They have a play area in almost every BK and McD’s over there and we were lucky with this one. It wasn’t big, but one part had a basketball area and another part with a maze that the kids could climb through and time themselves. We met the sweetest little boy in there and even though we had no idea what each other was saying, he and Abby had such a fun time together. He shared a ball with Cade and Abby told him “danke.” It was so sweet! We were finally back on our way and we were pushing the limit with the drive and Cade was ready to be done in the car, but it was getting close to 5pm and we still weren’t there yet. For some reason, I didn’t think to get directions to the B&B or an address. So, even though we had Matt and Sarah’s GPS Trudy, we had no way to find the B&B except to ask around. We finally found it after asking about 5 different people. WOW! We were at the foot of the mountain and there was Neuschwanstein Castle. It was amazing. The kids played in a little patch of snow left on the front yard and I stood on the driveway and stared at the castle while Derek checked in and was shown the room. We were in room #1 of Gastehaus Weiher on the second floor. We had a double bed, a single bed, and a balcony with an absolutely amazing view of the castle. We settled in and Derek went to the store to buy some meat, bread, and fruit for supper. We ate on the balcony and the kids played. Later that night the poop issue was resolved and Derek and I sat on the balcony and stared at the castle with the full moon slowly creeping past. That night we all slept great!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy birthday Papa Michael!

We woke Cade up at about 8:45 and tried to give him some breakfast before we pulled out at 9am. We were able to use Matt’s car from his work, which was awesome! Well, not the car exactly…it was a small Opel Corsa (or something like that) (it was actually one of his co-workers) but the fact that is was free was AWESOME! Anyway, we were probably about 20 minutes into our 4 hour + drive when Cade threw up in his seat. We pulled off the interstate and got him and the seat cleaned up as best we could with diaper wipes. He seemed to be okay, so we continued on. Both of the kids fell asleep for awhile, which was nice, and then we stopped for lunch right off the autobahn. We were in Germany and the only way I knew was because EXIT had changed from UIT to AUSFAHRT. Now, because of my sister-in-law’s lesson for me, I knew that AUSFAHRT was exit and not a really big town 🙂 The restaurant had a play area for the kids so we took time and relaxed and let them get some exercise. While we were there, suddenly the camera said there were no pictures on the memory card. Sarah had put them on their computer so we used her cell phone (which they had let us borrow) and called Matt to tell him to make sure not to delete them. Luckily, as you know from earlier posts, the pictures all made it! Whew! So, we were on our way again. The German Autobahn is crazy, but it works. All you have to do is stay in the right lane (not just the middle lane) unless you are actively passing someone. When you need to pass, look to make sure that no one is coming for a long time, get in the middle or left lane and floor it. Really, if people in the US would just stay over unless they were passing, it would clear up the roads so much. We usually traveled between 80 and 90 mph and got up to 100 mph more than once. It seemed unsafe at first with the kids in the car, but other people were driving so fast that if you went slowly, it was actually (I think) more likely to be in an accident from someone hitting you from behind. We were well on our way and had just stopped for a rest and some icecream when we were making our way up a mountain. Cade threw up…a lot! We pulled off in a pull off area and got him out of his seat. We had to take the seat out of the car and vomit was dripping out of the bottom. I changed his clothes while Derek tried to scrub out the seat with diaper wipes. Ugh…what a mess! We found out later that day that Cade was cutting molars. He also had a cold. Factor in the time change and being out of his normal surroundings and possible motion sickness from the fast moving Corsa and it is no wonder why he threw up. Poor boy! Well, we got cleaned up the best we could and we were on our way again.

I was never so happy to have a road trip end as when we pulled into the city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. I had pretty specific directions of how to get to the B&B and it led us right into the old city. We drove through the big tower, made a few turns and we pulled into the parking area of the Hotel Garni Kreuzerhof. The owners greeted us as we got out of the car and it seemed like a decent enough place. Derek got us checked in and instead of the double room that I had reserved, he took us to a quadruple room and asked if that would be okay…yes! The room was not fancy, but it was clean and spacious. We took a little time to unload the car and get organized and then we headed out for some dinner. We found a nice little restaurant, Adria, right next to the wall where we came into town. We sat outside and ordered 2 pizzas and some drinks. The food came before too long and it was good. We ate it all and then headed for a park. The kids played for awhile and then we walked through the town. Rothenburg is an old, walled city and there was something about it that just didn’t feel real. It was just so old. Some of the buildings had dates on them from the early 1600’s. All the shops were closed, so we just walked around and enjoyed the beautiful weather. We strolled into the town square just before 8:00, which turned out to be perfect timing. At 8pm, the big clock in the square began to chime and two windows opened up like on a cuckoo clock. Two men drank their beer and moved around. After that a real night watchman came into the square and the people all gathered around. He gives a tour every night, but we figured with the kids it would probably last too long for us, so we didn’t go. We did, however, get to listen to his introduction and watch lots of people getting their pictures taken with him. Abby said, “I want my picture taken with that man.” I said, “You do?!” Her answer was yes, so I told her, “Well, get up there then.” When she looked at him kind of sideways with her finger in her mouth, the crowd all gave a chuckle. It was too cute! After that we headed back to the B&B for some much needed rest. It was a long day but what a neat, neat town. I went to bed excited to explore the town again the next day.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

This day started at about 2am when Cade decided to wake up. Luckily Abby stayed asleep and Derek wanted to watch the Michigan St. vs. UConn basketball game online so he took Cade downstairs and got him back to sleep. While he was gone, though, we had another visitor. I thought I had gotten all of the food out of the bags, but I found out the next morning, I had actually missed some. The bag was closer to the bed this time, so I just kept banging on the bag until it decided to leave. I was glad it didn’t take too long and I was able to get back to sleep.

We started the day by driving to Keukenhof Garden. It was a short drive, about 20 minutes, and we arrived at about 10:00 am. Again we skipped the lines and were able to walk right in since we purchased and printed tickets online. We walked around and admired the beautiful flowers. There were whole fields of tulips and lots of other kinds of flowers too. Abby went through a maze and Kaylin rode the zipline with Sarah. Then we went into the petting zoo. A hairy donkey started chasing Matt when he was pushing Shane in the stroller. Matt asked me to help and he handed off the stroller to me. Of course, then, the hairy donkey started chasing me. I dodged and maneuvered my way through the crowd and was able to lose him. I figure I saved Shane from the crazy beast 🙂 The kids (and adults) waded through all the poo and smell and generally speaking had a good time. Then the girls played on the playground before it was time to eat lunch at the cafeteria. I had forgotten how European hamburgers taste and made the mistake of ordering one. Luckily Abby did not eat all of her chicken nuggets so I was able to sneak a few of those. I also got the girls each a tulip sucker which you will see pictures of later. They both licked and sucked on them all day long (literally)! After lunch we looked at more flowers. Derek, Matt, and Abby walked on some stepping stones across the water and were able to get a close look at a fountain out in the pond. I think it was nearly 3pm before we decided it was time to get heading back the house. Abby fell asleep on the way and we took her up to her bed when we got there.

After a few hours, we woke her up so we could go on a canal boat tour. After a tram ride and a walk, we got to the boat tour and saw that it lasted more than an hour. We decided it had been a long enough day and that we would probably be better off holding off on the tour. We walked to the flower market instead. I bought some tulip bulbs to bring home and we walked along the rest of the market. Back at the house we relaxed and the kids played on the back patio. Just before bed, Abby and Kaylin colored eggs and Cade colored (or cracked and drew on) one. The girls had a lot of fun choosing their colors and stirring and splashing! Matt tried out an old family spin, swirl trick which (kind of) worked. It was fun. I couldn’t believe that our time in Amsterdam was coming to an end. I was glad to know that we were coming back on Easter so that we didn’t really have to say goodbye just yet.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

This day actually began at midnight because that is when both of the kids woke up. I mean WOKE UP. Within minutes of each other, they both were wide awake. I suppose it made sense because at home it would have been 3pm, which is often the end of nap time. Luckily I felt pretty awake too and we didn’t feel like fighting with both of them for who knows how long in the bedroom, so we took them to the basement to the playroom. They played and had a snack. I had just sent Derek upstairs to the couch at about 1:15am when Abby announced she was ready to go to bed. She still sounded pretty chipper, but I wasn’t going to argue with her about that, so up we went. Cade went back to sleep fairly easily, but Abby stayed awake until about 3am. She didn’t complain and fuss, but was just awake and tossing and turning. Just after she fell asleep, I knew that it wasn’t just the 4 of us in the room. We had a visitor looking for some American goodies. I had read Sarah’s blog so I knew that mice were common in Amsterdam and any time she tried to get someone to get rid of them, they treated her like she was crazy. Derek asked, “Is it raining?” He had obviously heard the noise too. I just said, “No.” He asked again. Again, I answered, “No.” I didn’t want to tell him what it was because I knew he would be a little freaked out. I wasn’t sure that Abby was sleeping, so I finally told Derek, “M-O-U-S-E.” Derek, “What?” I repeated, “M-O-U-S-E!” Derek, “What?” I got tired of spelling it out and said, “How many times do you want me to spell it out. It’s a f*&%$%^ mouse!” Derek was shocked and appauled. I finally got tired of listening to it and threw Derek’s shoe across the room at the bag. Finally it was time to rest.

We woke up to some cool weather for our first full day in Amsterdam. When we woke up I found a hole in the backpack, a chewed through baggie and the corner missing off of a decorated Easter cookie. Stupid me for leaving food in the room. I knew better and just didn’t think about it.
We had reservations at the Anne Frank House and planned to leave the house by 9:00. I think it was closer to 9:30, but we were doing okay. We walked to the tram and then walked some more once we got off the tram. We were on the edge of the redlight district and I can only imagine what the middle of it might look like, but it was early in the morning so it was tame 😉 We got to skip the line and go right into the house since we had already purchased and printed tickets online. I read The Diary of Anne Frank before we left and it was amazing to be in the annex and to think that Anne and her family and fellow housemates had walked on the same floors and looked at the same walls. In one sense it felt bigger than I had imagined but then when I thought about being stuck there and not being able to go outside for years, it suddenly felt very small. The bookcase that hid the annex was open and we walked right up the stairs. The kids were patient, obviously not understanding what we were doing there or how long we would take. We couldn’t take pictures of the inside, but I can picture it perfectly in my mind. It was very powerful. I plan to reread the diary sometime soon and be able to create the scenes in my mind better this time. We took some pictures of the outside and then were on our way to the central train station.
On our walk, I was amazed how many canals there are in Amsterdam. I had no idea that there we so many. We made it to the train station and again it was nice to be with someone who knew what they were doing. Matt got the tickets, led us to the right train and we were on our way to Zaanse Schans, which is a traditional Holland village with windmills, woodcarving, a cheeseshop and some other interesting sights. We ate lunch at a little restaurant there and had pancakes. It wasn’t Abby’s favorite (not quite like our pancakes at home) so she mostly just ate her Pringles. Then we moved on to some shops. We sampled some cheese, bought souvenirs, and took pictures in the big wooden shoes. Matt, Derek, Abby, and I went into a working windmill that was grinding pigment and got to go out by the propellers (not sure if that is what they are called or if that is how you spell it, but anyway….) They were going very fast as it was a breezy day. We also kept getting the smell of brownies all day and couldn’t figure it out until we realized that there is a cocoa factory in the town and the wind was blowing in our direction. We made our way back to the train station, walked to the tram and walked some more. We finally made it back to Matt and Sarah’s and it had been a long day. The kids played and the adults relaxed (I think!) It was a great day and we all had a great time.