Moselle River

Family Bike Ride

Another perfect weather weekend calls for another family outing.  A short drive from our current house lies the Moselle river, and what we found to be the perfect length biking loop.

Being along the river the route is mostly flat and paved, an easy ride that the whole family is able to enjoy.  Located among the towns of Bernkastel and Kues is a 10 mile loop that traverses down either side of the river.

This easy ride afforded us lots of opportunities to venture into the towns and explore a little further off of the beaten path.  It is also an excellent trail for any of those wine lovers out there as the mountains on either side of the river are covered in vineyards.  Riding down one side of the river we pass a new winery every few hundred yards it seems. 

On the Kues side of the river we are even able to ride our bikes directly up to the front doors of Schloss Lieser, Schloss is similar to our word for mansion.  This enormous mansion and accompanying winery and restaurant has a very gothic look to it.  Built in the 19th century, this historic castle has been fully restored and renovated into a luxury hotel.

After exploring Kues a little bit, we continue our loop down the river and cross over to the Bernkastel side, pedaling back up the river is a much more relaxed path.  While the Kues side ran along between the river and the town, the Bernkastel side ran between the river and vineyards.  Traffic is lighter, both car and bike, and the pace is relaxed.

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Returning to our starting point, we lock our bikes back up to our bike rack and take a walk through the town.  The old cobblestone streets and timber built houses never seem to get old.  We stop at a corner pizza shop where we can sit in the window and people watch while we enjoy an early dinner, followed up by some ice cream at an outdoor cafe with live music.

Tired from the day’s ride, but happy for the change of scenery we head home.  Another day out and about, well spent.

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Rhine River – Ring Ticket

Still staying within the confines of the Covid lock down, we have managed a few day trips for a change of scenery.

We are lucky enough to live within driving distance of the Rhine river here in Germany and a lot of the touristy attractions have begun to open up.  One of which caught our eye is the Rhine River Ring Ticket.  An afternoon tour that runs through three towns located on the coast of the Rhine river; Bingen; Assmannshausen and Rudesheim.

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Joined by some friends of ours, we started our day tour in the town of Bingen with a short walk on the bank of the river to the boat dock.  Medium sized cruise boats make continuous loops between the three towns that I listed and all you have to do is catch one of them at your port.

We took our first cruise boat from Bingen to Assmannshausen, a short 20 to 30 minute ride at an interior deck table, enjoying the views from the river.  The upper, open air deck was full due to only half the seating being open in order to maintain social distancing standards.

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Hopping off the boat, we explored the small town of Assmannshausen and wandered the old country cobbled streets and took photos of the timber built houses lining our way.  Stopping at an outdoor cafe, we enjoyed a quick, relaxing, delicious lunch before following signs to the next leg of our tour.

In order to climb to the top of the hills lining the riverbanks we boarded a sesselbahn, a ski-lift as we would call it.  At the top of the hill we followed a nature path with incredible views to the Niederwalddenkmal, an enormous monument constructed to commemorate the founding of the German Empire in 1871.  The kids enjoyed the view, posed for pictures and climbed on the foundation a little bit.  Continuing down the trail we stopped at another conveniently placed cafe with a view for some refreshments and ice cream.

At the end of the nature trail was a kabinen-seilbahn, an enclosed gondola, that we rode down the hill into the town of Rudesheim.  The lift leads us right into the Altstadt, or old city section of Rudesheim where we are surrounded by some more timber built and “Harry Potter-esqe” cobbled streets.  Here we find some more sweet snacks as we wander along winding our way through the streets towards the port.

At the port we find our boat waiting and this time we are able to find seats on the top deck.  There we are served some drinks as we soak in the beautiful afternoon, the castles along the riverbank and rest our legs.  The boat pulls into port right back where we started.

As we walk a little further down the coast in Bingen we arrive at a biergarten, and decide to have an early dinner before heading back home.

All in all, a relaxing day out and about and a well needed change of scenery with good friends.

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Family Bike Ride – Lautertal Radweg

A Covid Compliant Adventure

Restrictions are beginning to ease, but we are still largely home bound.  Time for a Covid compliant adventure, our traveling perimeter has widened and Germany is riddled with biking trails.  We have explored just about everything within the immediate vicinity, so we decided to pack up a lunch, load up the bike rack and do something a little further out.

Our boys are still young, so an easy family friendly path with little climbing is preferred.  Nearby is a well traveled mainly flat biking path that we could take anywhere from 2 kilometers to 30 if we felt up to it.

The youngest is excited to try his new (to him) mountain bike out on a real trail, and the older one is excited to “show him how it’s done”.  With my bike finally done being built, my wife has regained full control over her bike, and is ready to take it for a spin.

The Lautertal Radweg (Radweg = Bike Path or Bike way to be precise) runs from Kaiserslautern, Germany up to Lauterecken, some 35 or so kilometers away.  I knew we wouldn’t make it that far with an 8 and 6 year old, but who knows.

The trail is scenic as it wanders along between the train tracks and stream.  Just on the other side of the tracks we cruise on by small, quaint little towns.  Lots of bikers had the same idea that we had so we are forced to stay in a single file line or as the boys yell out when someone is spotted heading our way “Snake Formation!”.  Departing Kaiserslautern we pass by Erfenbach and decide to stop for the lunch that we brought with us.  After a quick meal it’s on to Otterbach and Sembach.  As we continue into Katzweiler our little one is showing signs of fatigue.  Not too bad considering we are about 9 kilometers in.

Turning around in Katzweiler, our youngest is not too enthused to find out that he now has to pedal back the entire way that he just came.  We mosey back the way we came, stopping plenty for photos and to check out the stream.  Each time that we remount the bikes, we egg him on with a reminder that there will be a surprise at the end of the ride.  Not knowing what the surprise is going to be just about drives the older one insane.

Pedaling back into K-Town we pass by the car and keep going, leading them just to the end of the parking lot fence.  An outdoor restaurant, just recently allowed to open up outdoor seating is situated in the middle of a plaza with a fountain.  Other bikes are parked all over the plaza, we add ours to the mix and sit outside the restaurant for…Beer and Ice Cream!  Beer for the wife not the kids, just in case you were wondering.  

PROST!!!!

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Burg Eltz, Germany

A Hygge-lism Day tripper

So where do you go when all the borders are closed and large gatherings are frowned upon due to a spreading virus pandemic?

A beautiful castle in the German countryside on the off-season of course.  I present to you Burg Eltz (under construction).

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Spring has sprung and the last thing that we want to be is shuttered up inside our house because of a flu running rampant.  We want to be outside, enjoying nature and getting some fresh virus free air. Burg Eltz is just under a 2 hour drive from our house and a lazy Sunday combined with mass hysteria leads to light traffic on an unrestricted roadway.  This combination allows us to cut about 20 minutes off the estimated arrival time both to and from our trip.

Just before arriving, we leave the highway and enjoy some beautiful country side back roads driving as we head up to the parking area for Burg Eltz.  The lot is at the end of a nice forest walk about one and a half kilometers from the actual castle. Winding through the woods, you never even have a hint as to how close you are to the castle.  Suddenly after rounding one last bend it reveals itself. A massive structure surrounded on all sides by a winding river, only accessible by a single stone bridge…amazing.

You approach the castle from an elevated vantage point and can enjoy the panoramic views for a good while as you descend to the bridge.  Being the off-season we are not able to enter and tour the grounds, but we new that ahead of time and are not disappointed.

We circled around the castle and explored just a few of the many nature trails all around Burg Eltz, each giving you a different unique view.  Stopping at one of the river banks we sit and have some of the lunch we brought with us. Just imagine, hundreds of years ago there was a very possibility that the residents of Burg Eltz sat by this river, ate and enjoyed the Spring weather just as we were doing today.

For more photos visit – @vaca_with_katie on Instagram

After mulling around for a bit, we headed back towards the car, taking a different path than the one that we followed on the way in. 

Burg Pyrmont

On the way home, we drove by another Burg, Burg Pyrmont.  Castles are rampant in Germany, you can practically see the next one before you’re out of sight of the first one.

We stop down the hill from Burg Pyrmont at a little guest house that we notice is open and serving food and drinks…also somewhat rare on a Sunday.  We sit between a waterfall and a view of the castle and enjoy some coffee and beer while the boys have ice cream, relaxed and carefree.  

At this moment, it is hard to believe that the world is in the midst of losing its mind.

For more and better photos of Burg Eltz and everywhere else, visit my wife’s Instagram by clicking —–>@vaca_with_katie

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Luneville & Nancy, France

Our Leap Day Vacay

For more & better photos of our vacations, be sure to check out my wife’s Instagram account – @Vaca_with_Katie

We have had enough of our winter time hibernation.  Leap day is upon us, what better reason to get out of the house and do something than a once every four year free day.

The Chateau de Luneville

A short two and a half hour drive south into France to see The Chateau de Luneville lit up for the evening is as good of a reason as any to pack the family into the car for a road trip.  We booked an overnight stay at an incredible little bed and breakfast called “La Fee Maison” in nearby Chatel-sur-Moselle, touted for its delicious homemade breakfast. Built in 1722, it’s original, nearly 300 year old features are just as incredible as you could imagine.

Once we neared our destination, our drive left the highway and we found ourselves on scenic back roads with beautiful views and even a rainbow that caused us to pull off onto a muddy side road for an opportunistic photograph. 

After arriving at our destination we took the afternoon to walk the streets while we still had some daylight.  The sandy colored buildings testified to the age of the town and our tourist instincts kicked in, causing us to stop at the end of streets and in front of detailed buildings to pose our children for photos constantly. This is not the metropolitan city sights of Paris or Strasbourg that you imagine when you think of France.  This is a quaint small town, with little traffic and few people walking the streets. Walking into a local shop, English is not spoken and our limited French makes conversation difficult, but a mix of charades and pointing sorts out most situations.

Our first meal is chosen for us by the host, a lunch special that he is sure everyone will enjoy.  He was absolutely correct, a delicious lunch followed by dessert and a coffee is our introduction to the local French cuisine.

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We visited the Chateau next, but icy rain and gusty winds forced us into hiding under the Chateau archways.  While waiting for the rain to pass, we decided to forego hanging around until the cold, wet evening for the lights and retreat to the warmer, drier climate of our room until dinner.

Part of “La Fee Maison’s” Breakfast Spread

The next morning, we awoke looking forward to the aforementioned breakfast and we were NOT disappointed!  We received a traditional French breakfast complete with a delicious homemade jam prepared by our hostess.  After satiating our appetite we enjoyed a conversation with the couple (Alex and Cyril) that owned the bed and breakfast and were even shown the kitchen and pot where the jam was made along with a little history of their ownership.  I highly recommend anyone traveling to this area look into “La Fee Maison” for their accommodation.

Prior to checking out, Alex and Cyril recommended a stop over at “The Place Stanislas” in the French city of Nancy.  So that was where we headed.

The Stanislas city square was a sight to see, and these photos hardly do it justice.  It was enormous, surrounded by incredible buildings and a nearby park. We explored the square, the park and even stopped at a roadside cafe for a coffee.  Roadside cafes are exactly what I picture when I think of France and now I found myself sitting at one, a mark off the old bucket list for sure.  

The park was very popular on this Sunday afternoon, and everywhere you looked there were joggers, bikers and families enjoying the day with a hint of Spring in the air.  There were even carnival style rides for the kids, and a small animal area with peacocks, monkeys, goats and donkeys to explore.

Less than two hours later, we were back home.  Our leap day (weekend) vacay complete.

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Ryanair Money Saving Tips

We now have a few Ryanair flights under our belts and have learned quite a few money saving tips that we would like to share with you.  Seeing the prices of flights on Ryanair, you automatically know that there must be some hidden fees somewhere. Luckily for you, they can all be avoided with these simple money saving tips.

Tip #1 – Be flexible with flight times and days to get the best price.  Mid-week late at night or early morning are the most inexpensive times to book a flight.  If you are able to get to the airport at 4:30 a.m. on a Tuesday then a 22 euro round trip ticket to Ireland or Greece or 20 other locations is absolutely for real.  In order to keep it at 22 euro though, just follow these additional tips.  

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Tip #2 – Check in online and print your boarding passes a day or two before your flight.  We had failed to do this for our flight to Ireland, our first Ryanair experience, under the assumption that checking in for your flight was something that would be done at the airline counter at the airport before the flight, silly us.  An additional 55 euros was required to check in and print the boarding pass, PER PASSENGER if you fail to do this prior to arriving at the airport. Being that there were four of us, this mistake over doubled the cost of our round trip tickets. 

Tip #3 – Checked baggage; if you can pack all that you need in carry-on bags, one per passenger, this expense of up to 40 euro per bag can be easily avoided. We had one bag to check and we knew ahead of time that this would cost extra, so we were prepared for this expense.  

This is all that we travel with, no matter the trip length

Tip #4 – Seating assignments; don’t be picky.  If you decide that you would like a certain seating assignment for any reason at all, a fee will be required.  Extra legroom – that’s 7 euro a seat. A front row seat, rows 2-5 – that’s 7 euro a seat. A different standard seat, rows 6-15 or 18-33 – that will be 3 euro a seat.

Tip #5 – In flight refreshments; avoid purchasing snacks and water in flight.  There are a few ways to avoid having to purchase food and drink items in flight, and these are especially useful when traveling with children.  Prepackaged sealed food is allowed to be brought on board. Items such as unopened granola bars, crackers and really any still sealed boxes or bags of food are allowed.

As for water; bring an empty reusable water bottle through security.  After the security check you can refill the water container at a water fountain free of charge and no questions asked.  Totally worth it to avoid a 5 euro bottle of water purchase in my opinion.

Tip #6 – Resist, resist, resist.  A Ryanair flight doesn’t have in-flight entertainment, but you do get a flight long infomercial free of charge.  Once they have you in your seat, you have nowhere to go so they will try and sell you items for the duration of the flight.  The staples at the moment are; #1 food and drinks, #2 perfume and duty free items and #3 scratch off lottery tickets. Resist the temptation to win a million euro on a scratch off and you will save 10-20 euro.

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Other items of note;  while the carry on baggage dimensions look stringent, experience has not supported that this is strictly enforced.  Any typical carry on that you have used on any airline is perfectly fine in our experience. Also, the Ryanair site lists fees for items such as booster seats.  We travel with two booster seats in addition to our carry on baggage and no extra fees have ever been required.

With these simple tips, and 22 euro flight will stay a 22 euro flight.  Ryanair is an excellent source of cheap, safe air travel. Safe travels.

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Pompeii, Italy

Excavation Site

Pompeii was buried when Mt. Vesuvius erupted, burying the city and all of the remaining people in the town in 74 A.D.  To this day, the excavation of the once great city is still underway. New areas are being uncovered and opened up for historians and tourists to come explore everyday.

When a highway abruptly ends, we are thrown into a maze of back roads and alleyways that our GPS is no help with.  After a little creative driving we find our way far enough past the blocked of highway to be able to follow the given GPS directions once again.  After a sharp ninety degree turn up a hill we are suddenly next to the excavated city and surrounded by touristy shops, food and pay per hour parking lots.  We pull into the first one on the left that has open spots and park our small rental car in what appears to be a grove of orange trees, about a week before they are ripe.  Of course we pluck a few from the branches and give them a try anyway. After our sour snack we peruse through the shops and grab a gelato while waiting for our friends to navigate their way to the parking lot.

For 30 Euro, our family of 4 is granted entrance to the site and are immediately surrounded by the remnants of a city that was buried back in the first century.  The tragedy completely buried the city in molten lava but in the process also preserved the area amazingly well. Uncovering the city now, we are witness to an amazing look back in time, and walking through what has been uncovered you can almost feel what it was like to be a Roman walking the streets almost two thousand years ago.  The city was preserved so well that you still see some of the painting that covered the walls both inside and out of the buildings. Lots of reds and golds and blues adorned the walls, paintings and sculptures decorated every available space. Stone and brick were the building blocks of the entire city and the cobblestone streets were dug a foot into the ground to direct the water around the buildings.  Large stones served as walking bridges from one side of the road to the other.

It becomes immediately apparent that the modern day modesty was not a concern during that time, nudity is rampant in the sculptures and paintings.  The naked form is celebrated and not something to be ashamed of. The souvenir shops are stocked with penis shaped key chains, bottle openers, magnets and you name it.  The penis was considered a good luck symbol and can be found all throughout the city, carved into the sides of the buildings and into the stone walkways.

This city as you wind through the streets and read about the various houses and buildings had everything that a modern day city has now.  They did not shy away from the grandeur, the coliseum is large enough to house the populace of the entire town, and even today was notably used to film a popular Pink Floyd and Beastie Boys performance among many other musical acts.

Once of the more interesting “attractions” if you could call it that, is the shapes of bodies that were encased in the lava during volcanic eruption.  Forever preserved in the position that they were laying in when covered with the molten rock, they now reside behind glass as a reminder of the tragedy that occurred.

The effort to preserve the area is almost taken to extremes in certain areas with attendees being constantly watched over to ensure nothing is climbed on or trampled over.  Don’t even try to pick up a stick or move some rocks around, you will be reprimanded.

Six hours of walking through this ancient city and  we are all exhausted and ready for a break and a good meal.

Just outside the gates to the city is a variety of restaurants and vendors.  We sit down at an outdoor cafe and are given a menu with all of the specialties that you would expect to find in Italy.  I don’t know if it was because we were so hungry, or if the food was just that good but we all agree that we were served the best meal that we have had in Italy to date.  My meal in particular was the spaghetti carbonara and I cleaned my plate to the point that it didn’t look like any food was ever on the dish. I followed the meal with a cappuccino and the table was offered a free round of limoncello shots.

A must see if you ever have the chance, the city of Pompeii is both amazing and a reminder of how powerful mother nature can be.

For more, BETTER pictures of Pompeii – visit my wife’s Instagram @vaca_with_katie

Giovinazzo, Italy

The Thanksgiving Holiday

An extended holiday weekend, calls for an extended holiday vacation.  We decided to take advantage of the boys having a couple extra days off from school and spend the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend in a warmer climate.  A couple good friends of ours with a daughter just older than our boys join us for the trip. Giovinazzo, Italy is on the east coast of southern Italy, just above the “boot heel”.

One backpack a piece and a camera bag is all we need

In order to accomplish this, sacrifices must be made. In this case, sacrificing some sleep is well worth it.  2:45 a.m. is the time that I set on my cell phone alarm, that gives us about a half an hour to 45 minutes to get everyone up, dressed, fed and into the car.  We have our bags packed the night before, we travel light just one backpack a piece. The drive to the airport takes about an hour and 15 minutes, which should get us there at around 5 a.m. for our 7 a.m. flight.  Two hours on a plane and we touch down in Bari, Italy, from rainy and 3 degrees Celsius (38 F), to Sunny and 12 degrees (56 F). We take a quick drive northeast for 25 minutes or so and arrive in Giovinazzo just after sunrise accentuating the panoramic ocean view.  It takes us another 45 minutes of follow the leader driving to find the parking for the hotel as we navigate through a maze of amazing one way streets that resemble more of old stone tiled alley ways than they do roads. Some spots so narrow that we have a hard time maneuvering our ultra compact hatchbacks through the narrow openings.

After a few trial and error laps around the area, and multiple near misses with a construction workers ladder, we find a parking space close enough to the hotel for us to throw our hands up and say, “that’s good enough”. Our friends take a shortcut the wrong way up a one way to reach an area that seems impossible to reach any other way, but we are both finally safely parked. 

Our hotel, S. Martin sits right on the coast, and has actually been converted from an old monastery built around 1100 into a hotel, the architecture and design are a sight to be seen and transport you back in time.  Some of the artwork adorning the shelves and walls would not typically be found in a monastery but it doesn’t look out of place.

After checking into our rooms, we all meet in the hotel bar for a quick drink and a little snack before heading out to wander the city, which is much more enjoyable on foot than it is trying to navigate one way streets in a car that feels like it is six inches wider than the road it’s driving on.

The smell of saltwater and the gentle lapping of waves accompany us as we do a little coastline walking.  Large stone castle like buildings hug the coastline as we walk and talk, the kids run ahead of us, climbing and jumping from rock to rock near the ocean’s edge.  The buildings give way to a small inlet packed with fishing boats. Here we see wooden boats with a few decades of use, painted and repainted in every color that you can imagine.  The amount of modern fiberglass boats can be counted on one hand. A few fishermen are preparing their boats for a trip out to sea and a few more are already spotting the horizon.

Just past the inlet, we see a small area with a sandy beach that the children can’t wait to get down to, as we stroll along at an easy pace behind them we come across a rooftop with 10, yes, 10 cats sunbathing on it (I counted them).  They pay us no mind as we walk by, the person they are waiting for isn’t due to arrive for another 15 minutes it turns out. An older Italian woman carrying a large shopping bag rounds the corner, and all of the cats instantly stand up and begin to gather on the sidewalk next to the building.  As the woman feeds the litter of cats, a crowd of people just as large as the crowd of cats gather to take pictures and hear what the old lady has to say.

After watching the cat feeding spectacle, we decide to go in search of some lunch of our own.  Exploring more of the stone tiled back streets and alleyways, every side street is a picture opportunity, the quintessential Italian neighborhood that you have always imagined come to life.  Religious statues and murals appear randomly but regularly, odd decorations like a small wooden ship hanging in an archway over the road start to catch the eye, and the ever present semi-camouflaged cat around each twist and turn.

We settle on a small pizzeria restaurant not far from the hotel entrance for lunch.  After we all pick out a variety of pizza to try, we are informed that they don’t serve pizza until the dinner hours.  We end up ordering a couple meat and cheese plates and some salads. Some much needed nourishment complete, we decide to head back into the maze towards center city and pop out in a large fountain square, the kids run gleefully through the square playing freeze tag while we relax on a park bench and I go grab us all some coffee from an eclectic little shop across the street.

When you get up a 2:45 in the morning, lunch can feel like dinner, so after sitting in the fountain square we are surprised to see that it is only 5:30 in the afternoon.  We head to the hotel to relax for a little while before heading back out. For dinner, we are interested in a pizzeria that is actually serving pizza. 7 pizzas, a 2 liter of Fanta, 5 beers and 1 glass of wine later we are ready to call it a night.  It’s just past 8 p.m. and our first day in Italy is coming to a close. It has been everything that we ever could have imagined it would be.

Just 10 minutes up the street is the neighboring  city of Molfetta. It is a similar yet slightly larger city and offers a more extensive array of restaurants and shops.  A tightly packed coastal “old town” area is a sight to behold with its historical buildings and sidewalk sized streets. This time of year, the addition of holiday decorations adds to the wonder.

The empty streets of the Molfetta shopping district during lunch time.

We took our time walking along the coast and sat for a little while in the park while the kids jumped and ran around the playground.  When we decided to wander down the main shopping street we realized that we missed our window of opportunity. Apparently it is common for all of the shops to open for the morning, close at around one in the afternoon and then reopen again around five.  Being that it was about three o’clock when we arrive, all we manage to do is window shop for about an hour before heading back to the park.

We also took a day trip to the west coast of Italy to explore Pompeii, I will cover that trip in a future post so stay tuned.

A quick drive back to the airport the next morning concluded our trip.  Italy was amazing and there is still so much more to see there. We will definitely be making a return trip, my wife has her sights set on Sicily…

For more and BETTER pictures of our trip to Italy, check out my wife’s Instagram @vaca_with_katie

Strasbourg, France …Happened

A tale of I wish we had two bathrooms

Our European tour started with a bang,  shortly followed up by a gurgle and a burp.  This would set the tone for all of our future excursions through Europe.  Something easy, inexpensive and highly enjoyable. Just a quick weekend getaway…

My wife’s birthday was right around the corner.  After the stress of relocating our entire family, including two cats to Germany, what could be better than a quick stop over to the self-proclaimed “most romantic country in the world”…right?  

I set out to plan the whole trip; sightseeing, outdoor cafes, wine, cheese and bread for days!  A week before we head out, our youngest caught a bug. No sweat, plenty of time for it to work its way through his system…I will not be deterred.

I found a nice enough hotel room, one bedroom for us, two single beds in the main area for the boys and even a small kitchenette.  All within walking distance of the city center. Sure enough, the entire day before the trip everyone was back in good health or so I thought, the mission is a go.

We head out early enough, but not too early so that we will be able to check into the hotel when we arrive.  Our crossing over the border of Germany into France becomes apparent instantly. From the language on the signage to the design of the speed limit and off ramp signs, the style isn’t drastically different but unmistakable.  We had purchased a cell phone for my wife, and it instantly chimes to tell her that we have now left Germany, if she would like to continue to receive calls she must turn on roaming. No big deal, something I love to do during vacation is unplug, in fact I recommend everyone unplug every chance that they can.  Our car comes equipped with a GPS anyway.

A handful of miles into France and something strange happened on our GPS however, it looks as if we have left the road and are driving through some random road-less field.  I can assure you that we are in fact still road-bound, despite my logical argument the GPS seems to continue to disagree. We fiddle with the controls for a few minutes then are left with no choice but to bite the bullet and turn on the roaming feature of my wife’s phone in order to Google map the rest of our way to the hotel.  Again, I will not be deterred, once we arrive we will have the WiFi from the hotel and no need to drive again so we will be able to turn it off again.

Only 20 minutes until we reach our destination, my oldest son starts to complain about not feeling well.

“We are only 20 minutes away, surely you will be able to make it to the hotel right?”

He must just be a little car sick, my wife and I justify his not feeling well.

“I will tr…BLAAARGHHH” comes his response

His corner of the car is suddenly covered in this morning’s breakfast.

“Oh no!” I say as I look for the first available spot to pull over.  My wife is already rolling down the window.

“BLAAARGHHH”, last nights dinner.  “BLAAARGHHH” yesterdays….lunch?

After spending the next 10 minutes on the side of the road, we have the mess somewhat handled.  We debate turning back and scraping the weekend but decide that at this point 15 minutes to our hotel beats an hour plus driving back home in a vomit encased car interior.  Our oldest looks like he will need to get to a toilet as soon as possible anyway.

We arrive at our hotel and I run inside to check-in while my wife hangs outside with the boys so we don’t have an incident in the lobby.  We get everything in order and get to the room, with a sigh of relief we show our oldest just where the bathroom is. As they settle in, I have to go back down to the car to move it around to the parking garage at the rear of the building.

Strasbourg is mid-sized city, but like most cities it is composed of mainly one-way streets.  Moving the car to the back of the building suddenly became a little more complicated. I am unable to turn right to get to the back of the building, so I look for the next road that I can turn down only it doesn’t come right away and the road curves away from my intended destination.  After a few more twists and turns in my pungent car, I deem myself lost. One more attempt to reach the road I am trying to get to and I find myself back on the highway that i came in on, and in the wrong direction. I try to re-locate myself with the “you’re driving in the middle of a field” car GPS, unsuccessfully.  I start patting down all of my pockets for my wifes cell phone, which happens to still be with my wife. A moment of panic rises in my chest, I am lost in a foreign country, on a highway going the wrong direction, with a sick child in a hotel room that I can’t find.

A couple deep breaths and I gather my thoughts, I exit the highway and loop around to the other side of the highway and re-enter.  I am going the right direction now, I must be able to remember the exit we got off of. I look for the spot where we pulled over to let my son puke while we cleaned up the back seat.  I don’t see it, and this has to be too far. I try again, exiting and entering the highway back and forth one more time. Panic is starting to rise again. This time I take what I think is an exit at least near where I want to be.  After circling through the city of Strasbourg in stop and go city traffic I know I have to be close. I pull over and jump out of the car in search of someone that knows English preferably and possibly the road that I am looking for.

I run into a couple guys who look to be in their 20’s.  Their English is spotty, but they are willing to open up Google maps and let me put in my destination.  Turns out I am about 3 roads away from where I want to be. I can hardly stifle the relief that I feel, I extend my thanks and get back to my car, two minutes later I am sitting in front of the hotel in the exact spot that I started from.  I will not be deterred. I circle around the hotel a drive up what I now recognize as a road next to the street trolley tracks to the parking garage. Victory! A piddly two hours and countless kilometers have passed since I last said I will be right back, I have to go park the car.

I finally walk back into the hotel room.  My youngest is watching Netflix on the laptop, my oldest is looking as pale as a ghost trying to rest on one of the single beds.  

“Where’s mommy?” I ask.

They point to the bathroom…”BLAAARGHHH”

“Oh no.”  I wipe my hands down either side of my face.

I describe my car parking adventure while my wife and son exercise the bathroom door hinges and toilet handle.  We gathered up as many receptacles as we could find in the bathroom to accomidate the double occupancy at times.

“I wish we had two bathrooms.” My wife says repeatedly as she is forced to share the bathroom with my son who is using both the toilet and a bucket at the same time.

I left the room once more that afternoon, for a food and water run.

That night, we quarantined my wife and son to the bedroom while myself and my youngest each took a single bed in the living room.  They were equipped with tissues, towels and buckets. I checked on them regularly while hoping beyond hope that myself and my youngest weren’t next on the list of victims.

After some restless sleep everyone seemed to be feeling a little bit better the next morning.  Myself and my youngest were anxious to get some breakfast and my older son felt like he might be able to keep some food down as well, so we all went down for some free hotel breakfast.

During breakfast we decided that it wasn’t even worth it to try and explore the city, everyone just wanted to go home.  The last thing we wanted was for another bout of vomiting to strike in the middle of a walking tour of the city. Our choice would prove to be the correct one.

We packed our bags, cleaned up the bathroom as well as we could and just before heading out, my oldest decided that he did NOT in fact want to bring the free breakfast home with him and tried to find room for it in the already overfull trash can.

Our return drive to Germany was on pins and needles, as every cough, burp, sniffle and hiccup resulted in my looking around for some part of a lunch from three weeks ago to appear in some form on the car seats and floor. Our sole souvenir gripped between my son’s hands for the entire drive, the hotels plastic bathroom garbage can liner.

By the time that we arrived back at a house with two bathrooms, no one needed either one anymore.  So I guess you can say that we have visited France, but I’m not ready to mark that country off our bucket list quite yet.

Please excuse the lack of pictures…but I’m sure you understand.

Adventures

We love to travel, as most people do.  As a family of four though, travel can be expensive, stressful, tiring and as exhausting as it is rewarding.  By adopting Hygge-lism into all facets of our lives though we started to notice that the peg on the travel-meter started to swing away from the exhausting side and more towards the rewarding side of the meter.

Instead of throwing money away on loads of items that we didn’t need, we began to invest in experiences and living life.  We applied our lifestyle to our travel and started to see that we could travel cheaper and easier. We stopped dragging so much stuff with us everywhere we went.  Less stuff meant that we needed less space and fewer bags which equaled less expensive travelling.

As luck would have it, just as we were getting our Hygge-list traveling underway, my day job presented us with an opportunity to relocate to Germany.  This was an opportunity primed for taking advantage of.

In the coming posts we will show you how and where we travel.  Big adventures on little budgets with less headaches and lots of memories.  Not to mention some awesome photos supplied by my incredible travel photography wife.

Check out some of her awesome photos on her new Instagram page – @vaca_with_katie