First, a six hour drive from Chateaulin to Charles du Gaul airport, Paris to turn in the rental car that we have been using in France. Second, we had to pick up our new rental car that we will use during the first half of our Germany adventure. And finally, we had a six hour drive to the town of Bacharach, Germany. Phew.
Our car in France was a very nice, Renault Magane. It technically fit five people and our luggage - but just! Once our luggage was out, it was a great car for our short trips around the countryside and beaches.
What a treat when Courtney showed us our next car! It is a Peugeot sort of crossover vehicle. Which means it can technically seat eight (when the back seat is up). We haven't had this large of a car since the white van that we drove to Monte Verde in Costa Rica. The children have room to stretch their legs. Of course when our luggage is in the car it means no third row, so they all have to sit together.
This hasn't been too much of an annoyance, believe it or not. Most of the time they have all coexisted quite nicely in such close quarters on our rides. I think when we hit travel hour number nine, though, they started to reach their limit. Both Courtney and I started expressing those time-honored parental words:
Do NOT touch your sister!
Don't even think about touching your brother.
Stay on your own side!
Do I need to pull this car over?!
Which that last one, Courtney actually did do it once. Slammed on the breaks and just stopped. It was pretty quiet after that.
It also didn't help that both Courtney and I were getting tired and cranky, too.
After what seemed like ages, we crossed the boarder into Germany. Courtney was a little disappointed because he didn't get a passport stamp. Actually, we didn't even have to stop. It was quite eerie as we snaked our way through the old border crossing, abandoned buildings sadly sitting along the side of the road.
At one point as we drove out of a forest towards the open area of a bridge, a double rainbow broke out of the clouds. I think it was the biggest, most colorful rainbow that I have seen in some time - each of the colors strong and wide. It was a nice welcome into Germany!
Our apartment is in the middle of the old part of town in Bacharach, which is right on the Rhine River. it is located in the Upper Middle Rhine region which is a UNESCO Heritage Region. Our apartment is above the Cafe Haus Stiel. The owner (Frau Stiel) owns the cafe, the apartments and a toy store - plus is the mayor of the town. It seems we are well connected. We are just a few steps away from a bakery and numerous restaurants and shops are within walking distance. It is waaay cool!
When I enter the bottom door of our building and into the stairwell, I am surrounded by the smells from my childhood. It reminds me of our building's Hausfrau and the fresh bröchen she always brought for my brother and me.
Inside, it is a very typical European apartment - airy and clean. The girl's are in love with their wardrobe - just like in Narnia. Chayton is happy that he is sleeping in Courtney and my room. Courtney is ecstatic that there is a dishwasher (so am I!).
Our first outing was finding a grocery store. Our town has a small one, but the next town over has a much nicer size Lidl. Driving down the road along the Rhine our car was enveloped in flying white fairy fluff. It was everywhere! Quarter-sized dandelion fluff looking globs floating around. First rainbows and now fairy fluff!
The Rhine is well over it's normal size right now. The rain wasn't as bad as in the areas around the Danube these past few weeks; but it was enough to have the Rhine flood it's banks last week. On the river you can't even see the ground that surrounds the trees on the islands in the middle - it looks like their branches and leaves are floating in mid-stream.
On one of our walks we went through the old town center and all the way to the end of town. Towards the end we ran into an older man and woman standing on the sidewalk. The gentleman had a blue, double-winged dragonfly land on his hand. It was sparkling beautiful. The dragonfly stayed on his arm long enough for all of us to walk over and admire it. I don't think I have ever had a dragonfly stay so still for so long with this many people around it. Unfortunately, it wasn't long enough for a photo.
Along our walk the girls used their hard-earned allowance to purchase a new purse. It seems their life was quite bereft without one.
Chayton had his eye on a woodworking shop that had been closed when we passed by earlier in the day. On the way home I thought to just see what the hours of the store was - guess what, it was open! There was one excited little boy next to me.
The store was amazing. Not only does the artist work in wood, but he also has a wonderful talent in watercolor landscapes. I foresee stopping by again and getting a watercolor of our street.
What Chayton was interested in was the boxes. Little wooden boxes (jewelry box type) with a hinged lid and beautiful carvings on the top and the sides. He found one that even has a lock and key. The artist engraved it for free, it reads "Chayton's Treasures" on the inside of the lid. He is a very happy boy.