30 June, 2013

Catching up from the Rhein

We've had some good fun playing on the Rhein, from playgrounds to a nighttime cruise to Assmanhausen's winefest and fireworks. 

Rhein River Cruise

Rainy Day & Walk Along the Rhine

After a night and half day of rain, it was time to go outside for some fun!

29 June, 2013

Over the Border - Austria

We made it to Lechaschau tonight! After another all day journey that supposedly takes someone somewhere only half the day. Oh well. 

The children were amazing. And that is even after we turned in our nice, big, comfortable car in Trier and picked up a much smaller Audi. You should have seen how packed it was! 

This time we have kept quite a few bathroom supplies (are learning to never take for granted that there is toilet paper at our next apartment) and stocking up on a couple of kitchen staples (sugar, yes - SUGAR!). We only have five pieces of luggage, but add to that five backpacks and our bags of groceries ... well, lets just say that no one had any leg room. It's amazing how much you can cram beneath your feet (and in the wheel well ... but shouldn't there have been a spare tire there???).

We are also learning that no matter if he eats a breakfast or not, getting Chayton in the car even with a Dramamine soon after he wakes up is not a good recipe. This time there wasn't any time to find a Rastplatz, as it was pulling off the road while he half stood in the car and tried to aim every thing out and away from the car. Once he got it all out he was quite chipper the rest of the way, thank goodness.

This is what it is supposed to look like here. But it is so rainy, foggy and cloudy that we couldn't see much of anything. Tonight it is going to be 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Courtney has been asking me if I meant that we would be chasing the sun, but never catching it. 

Except for a warm day or two in France and Germany, we haven't had much sun since the North Island of New Zealand. As our wonderful host Gerda (who gave me a nice big hug when she saw me - I was going to give her extra points for just remembering my name without my prompting) told me that summer is going to come tomorrow, or so says the weather channel. We both laughed as we looked out the window when she said that.

That's it for now, it's after 10:00pm and we are all tired. It is just nice to have WiFi for everyone at the same time AND in our apartment. We are all playing or doing something online. But I hear my bed calling to me ...

22 June, 2013

Köln and Bacharach's Wine Fest (21 June)

Today's mini-adventures began with the city of Köln. 

We had such good experiences with the Paris and Trier Hop On -Hop Off Busses that we were all really excited about trying it in Köln. I have to say, don't waste your time. 

But we weren't disappointed with the Köln Dom (Cologne Cathedral)!  First was a cruise around the inside. 

Then it was up the South Tower and 616 steps to the tippy-top. We were actually sitting in the bell room when the bell struck 3:45pm. Luckily for us it was just one clang of the smaller bell!

It was more steps from here until the top. 

At the bottom Chayton found an old fashion pirate. 

A little more walking around and it was time to go home. When we got into Bacharach Courtney couldn't pull the car up by our apartment because the Bacharach Wine Fest Opening Parade was coming down our street. What timing!

After the parade and eating our pizza from our favorite pizzeria (Bacharach Pizza, of course, which is just five steps from our apartment); we took a 20 minute walk up to the Fest. They were still at the part of everyone giving speeches, but the wine was already flowing!  We walked around for a little bit then decided to head back home, ala the Wizard of Oz/skipping down the yellow brick road. 

After our walk back we stopped to get some Italian Ice. Yum!

20 June, 2013

Hot Day (18 June)

Whew. Today's high was 94 degrees fahrenheit. Just a little bit warm - and no air conditioning.

After spending the day reading, cleaning and doing laundry (Courtney's Journey to Ernie) we headed over to the amazing indoor swimming pool in Bingen: Rheinwelle.

It was so much fun! Two indoor crazy slides, one that you used a tube on; a lane pool, an exercise pool, a small lazy river connected to a play pool; along with a climbing fish skeleton and a climbing wall. What a great way to cool off and to have fun at the same time. We might even go again tomorrow ... it's supposed to be 94 again.

19 June, 2013

Scavenger Hunt and Appointments (19 June)

What a busy day today was ... Well, not really when we look back on how our life used to be. 

This morning Courtney has the kids do a photo scavenger hunt - photos of a slug, American flag, German flag, EU Flag, a toy, a cuckoo clock and a bank to name a few. Chayton tore it up and was awarded with €0.80 to go get an ice cream from the Italian Eis store. He was thrilled. We don't always reward with food, but ice cream is such a treat for us. 

The girls had emotional issues today and didn't quite finish their challenge. Both Courtney and I figured it was an easy challenge and that all the kids would get the ice cream. But there was time for a lesson on good sportsmanship, doing something that scares you and working together. 

After that it was off to the Apotheke (pharmacy) that is right next door. It's time to stock up on some vitamins/supplements and ibuprofen. I love how helpful and easy all the pharmacies/chemists have been in all the countries that we have visited. 

Then it was off to Courtney, Kaija and Chayton's hair cut appointments. Whew. This time management thing is hard. :-) They all turned out so brilliantly. Maybe it's time to cut my hair short again ...

Now we are a trying to lie as still as possible in our beds. It was up in the 90s again today and we do not have any air conditioning or fans. Chayton is fanning himself with one of his pieces of cardboard and not quite being able to lay still. The windows are all open and we are hoping for a breeze, but it's not looking too good. We just have to wait through tonight - tomorrow it rains and drops the temperature down into 70/60s again. 

Father's Day (16 June)

Today I woke up with the kids (normally I'm the one to sleep a little later and Courtney gets up with the sun). All three of them were so excited to give Courtney his Father's Day gifts!

First off, cards and peanut butter. Did you know that the French and German's do not stock millions of brands of peanut butter in their super markets? In each country (at least where we were) there was only one brand - one single, solitary row of peanut butter on the shelf next to all the Nutella and cookie spreads. Courtney's been a little sad about not having peanut butter since New Zealand.  So you can imagine how happy he was to see his gift!

Then came a real surprise: a keychain toy of Shaun the Sheeps fluffy friend. I'm not sure what his name is - he's the one that doesn't talk, but eats EVERYTHING. 

And then Chayton couldn't hold it in any longer. It was time for his special surprise. He's been raiding the recycling for a week and built this amazing cardboard house for Daddy. Complete with dust bunnies in the attic!

After that, it was off to the Cafe Steihl for a Sunday breakfast brunch, German Style. It was delicious! Courtney and I finally got a good sized cup of coffee while the girls drank a wonderfully large cup of hot chocolate. Since Chayton doesn't like tea or hot chocolate (he likes chocolate, just doesn't like regular milk; he's a soy milk kinda guy) he indulged in apple juice. We all enjoyed the different meats, cheeses, breads, yogurt and musli. Yum.

Next up, it was a trip to Rheinstein Castle that has been around in some form since the early 1300s. Prince Friedrich of Prussia, Princess Wilhelmine Luise and their son Georg are buried here.

Finally, it was time for a good walk. Halfway up a mountain towards the castle, then down a very sleep slope to walk over to the vineyards and climb up and down that, too!