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.
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 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!
Happy birthday Papa Michael!
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.
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.
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 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.