Monday, July 23, 2007

Berlin Pictures

Vacation Days 6 - 10

Well, I am going to throw the rest of the vacation update in one post and then I will add the pictures seperate. I made a slide show with them because there were just too many of them.

Wednesday July 11, 2007

Today we took a river boat cruise a long the Spree River. It was a 1 ½ hour boat ride up the river and then of course we had to come back which was 1 ½ hours. The kids did fairly well during the first 1 ½ hours. We had a bit of rain, but just sprinkles so we stuck it out upstairs in the open air. During this cruise, we went under 32 bridges. Some were so low, you could touch the bridge with your hand as we went under them. All the bridges were different looking and some just plain gorgeous! It was hard to get pictures of the bridges though. Either I was too far away for you to see how great they were or too close to get a good shot.

There were some amazing buildings, cathedrals and also spots where we could see where “The Wall” stood. I basically had my kids on ignore as we were going up the river. Good thing there were 4 other adults with us who had their eye on them.

The cost of the river boat cruise was not as expensive as I thought. For adults, it was 15 Euros. My two older kids were half price. And then my three youngest were free. The thing where they get you, is food and drinks. We took the 1:45pm Cruise and our kids had not had lunch yet. So we ordered them hotdogs with potato salad. That cost us 4.50 Euros. There were 2 hot dogs on the plate. Oh and the drinks…..we bought the kids a Fanta to share. Fanta is comparable to Orange Sunkist. This was the smallest drink I have EVER seen in my life. I really could not believe how small. Perhaps it was 6 oz of drink. It was 2 Euros.

On the way back down the river to get back to where we started, the kids were really getting restless so we decided to head downstairs, which is an indoor restaurant. That is when we ate. As we all got down there, it started pouring rain. So our timing was perfect.

After our river Boat Cruise, we went to dinner at an Italian Restaurant. I wish I could remember the name, because it is worth a visit there again. You have to know how picky each person in our family is when it comes to food. Five Kids, two adults and we ALL found things we liked. Some had Pizza, some spaghetti. I had Lasagna.

After dinner, Spencer stayed with Adrian and went to see Shrek 3. It was a good time had by both of them. It was something Spencer really needed. Adrian is a brother to Spencer, even though we are not related by blood. And their relationship has always been great. It is amazing that even after three years, the kids remembered Adrian as if it was just yesterday.

I should say that Adrian, his mom Anita and his Grandma spent the entire day with us in Berlin. Not only did they spend the day, but Anita paid for everything we did. Such a generous gesture. We had met both Adrian’s mom and grandma in the states, as they came to visit while Adrian lived with us.

Oh, one more thing I just remembered about the river boat cruise. At one point, the kids got real excited. There was a building and it looked just like the Naboo Palace from one of the Star Wars Episodes, to them anyway. You have to understand, my kids are Star Wars Fanatics! So this was the highlight of their river boat cruise.

This was such a fabulous day for all of us.

Thursday July 12, 2007

Today we took a tour of Berlin on foot. We went into the city by bus. Once we got there, we started walking. There is history all over the place. We started out at Potsdamer Platz. Right away, there was a sign in the ground that said “mauer”. That means wall in Germany. And you can actually see the lines in the ground where the wall once stood. They have two rows of cobblestone to mark the path. The amazing thing as we are walking around, is you can see where buildings are sitting where the wall used to be. There are bits and pieces of the actual wall around Berlin. It is very tall and colorful as there is Grafitti all over it. The whole city is lined with information with timelines and what took place from 1961 – 1989.

As we walked a long the street, You could see Brandenburg Gate down a ways. We headed that way and before we got there, we came to a Holocaust Memorial. There are rectangle Stones. Hundreds of them. And they are HUGE. Not one of them are the same size. It seriously is like a maze. You are not allowed to sit on them, stand on them, walk on them. And there are police patrolling to make sure that people abide by these rules.

We also walked by a place that had white crosses on a fence. These were for people who were killed while trying to flee East Germany. Most people were in there 20’s who were killed. But the one that hit me the most, was the last one killed. He was killed in February 1989, just months before East Germans had their freedom to go to West Germany.

I could of spent so many more hours in the city just walking around, but the kids did not like my ideas. It was too much for Emma and Ian. They are just so small.

My tip for this day is to buy a day pass and ride the city bus numbers 100 and 200. You can pick it up at the Berlin Zoo and travel all along Berlin. You can hop on and off as much as you like. It is a lot cheaper than an actual tour agency. And you can see what YOU want.

Friday July 13, 2007

Today, we drove 2 ½ hours to the Baltic Sea. It was a raining kind of day when we left Berlin. Kind of took our time because of that. I did laundry at the Youth Hostile first. Got up to the Baltic Sea and there was no rain. It was windy, but that is normal on the coast. It was so beautiful. And of course, the kids had a fabulous time playing in the water and sand.

We didn’t spend as much time at the beach as I would of liked and I am sure the kids would of loved to stay longer as well. But we had dinner plans with someone Gardner works with who lives up that way. We hung out at their Garden House and grilled for dinner. The kids played with her dog and Shantal had to over come her fear of THAT dog on this day. She still has a fear of dogs, but she got to the point she was playing with the dog like the other kids.

Saturday July 14, 2007

This was our last day with Adrian. And we started out meeting Adrian’s Dad for the first time. We all went to the Berlin Zoo. There is a baby polar bear named Knut that the kids got to see. Of course, the animals were fun. But the best part for the kids was the FABULOUS park for the kids there and the ice cream they got to eat.

The weather was HOT on this day. So hot, I said we had to leave. I was having heat exhaustion. We went to a Restaurant to eat. It was called Schnitzeli. It was along the Spree River. Yes, the food was yummy. And of course, the biggest piece of Schnitzel I have ever seen! The best part, there was a park right next to the restaurant so the kids could play while waiting for the food, and then the slow adults.

At night, I got to go out with Adrian alone. That was nice. We first went to Check Point Charlie. This is the place where the wall first began and where the wall first opened up. Afterwards we just walked around the city at night. I saw the Sony Center, which looks so cool inside. I don’t know if I can explain it well. But it was nice to see.

We really had a great time in Berlin visiting with Adrian and his family. I personally can not wait to go again. We are talking about going without the small kids next time. Gardner and I just want to take in all the history that is there. There is really so much to see.

Sunday July 15, 2007

Today we left Berlin. Before we even got out of Berlin, Gardner got a ticket. It was 35 Euros and he was going 19 Kilometers over the speed limit. Really was a tricky spot because it is construction and the speed limit kept going up and down. It is something we just paid right there so we did not have to worry about it again.

We stopped on our way home at Sibylle’s house again. We dropped off flowers for Sibylle’s Mom to say thank you. The kids ran threw their sprinklers to cool off before we drove on. They were in their underwear. It was funny to watch. Emma right away wanted to take off her diaper and just run around naked.

We got home around 7pm. That was not too bad considering we made some stops along the way.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Our Vacation Day #5

Tuesday July 10, 2007

We got up this morning and got our van packed. But before we left town, the bigger kids and Gardner went over to the church where Sibylle’s mom works. They took a little tour of the bell tower there. The kids even got to ring the bells.

Afterwards, we left Sibylle and her family and drove to Berlin. It is time for us to spend some time with Adrian, our exchange student from a few years ago. We got into Berlin at 2:30pm but needed to check into our place we were staying for the night. In Berlin, we are staying at Youth Hostiles. This is something new for us.

In the youth hostile, we ended up with 2 rooms. One room has 4 set of bunk beds. The other room as one bunk bed with 2 twin beds as well. One room was enough, but since they offered us 2 rooms, we took them. At first, Gardner and I were going to share the smaller room and have Ian stay with us. But we both decided it was not safe and the kids are just too small still for such a thing. So Gardner slept with the kids and I slept alone with Ian.

After we got settled into the youth hostile, we went to meet Adrian. First thing we did was meet his girl friend, Anja. She was very friendly. We got a tour of where Adrian lives (his apartment) and then we headed off to get something to eat. We ate Doner Kepabs and French fries. Very popular thing here in Germany.

Then we went back to Adrians apartment to discuss our plans for Wednesday.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Our Vacation Day #4

Monday July 9, 2007

Today we took the kids to Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg is the Corporate Headquarters for VolksWagen. We ended up at a Water Park. It was not very big, but big enough for the kids to have fun. They had 2 water slides. One you had to be 6 for. Luckily, the three older kids were old enough. But then there was one that you use a inner tube but you had to be 10. This did not go over so well with the kids. I did let Shantal and Spencer go down one time. Spencer loved it so much and couldn’t help but to keep asking to go again. Of course, my answer was no. But it was worth asking repeatedly.

There was also a lazy river. This was no ordinary lazy river. This was more like a rapid river. It was so fast. But that was one of my favorite parts. It started indoors and took you outdoors.

There was a wave pool. A big hit with the kids everytime the waves would turn on.

And of course, a kids pool. When we ask the kids what their favorite thing of our trip was, the water park was their number one thing we did.

It was our last night in Lengede. Ian got his first taste of ice cream. That was soooo funny. And yes, he LOVED it! After dinner and ice cream, we played board games before bed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vacation Day #3

Sunday July 8, 2007

Today we took the kids to Braunschweig to the Petting Zoo. This was a lot of fun. The kids got to feed Raccoons, Camels, Donkeys, Horses and goats. The kids really enjoyed feeding the raccoons. Normally, we only see those at night while Camping.

It was a really hot day, so we let the kids run through the sprinklers. After awhile, we took off back to the park from the day before. They had train tracks there and the kids all got to ride a small train. They each got 2 rides. And the rides were only 50 cents each. I felt that was pretty decent for what they got.

A big thing here in Germany is Garden Houses. They have a big piece of land with a small house on it and they use it for growing gardens or whatever. I shouldn’t say a house, because it really is only the size of a living room or something. It is pretty small and there is a bathroom usually outside. Kind of like an outhouse, but it is flushable toilets.

Anyway, we went to their Garden House. The kids got to pick Raspberries, Johannisberries and Carrots.

We ended up back at the house and had a bar b q. It was such a hot day. The only sunny day the whole time we were in Lengede. Other than Sunday, it rained everyday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vacation Day #2

Saturday July 7, 2007

Today we woke up and took the kids to a Park / Walking Path. The Walking Path was also a Fitness Path. You move a long and at different parts of the path were different things you could do. Like rings, or a pull up bar, beam for jumping back and forth, ect. We walked around the course first and the kids had fun getting on every piece of fitness equipment that was there. On the other side, was a fun park. It had a zip line and that was a hit for all the kids, including little Miss Emma. Now most parents probably would never of allowed their 2 year olds on such a thing. But Emma has no fear and after having so many kids, it is not such a big deal to me anymore.

After the park, we hiked to the top of this hill. It really was steap and it took me ½ an hour. But it was beautiful at the top. At the top, you could see all of Lengede.

We took the kids over to a lake. The weather had been over cast and it did look like rain. But the kids were in their clothes and just playing on the sand with their feet in the water. All of a sudden, it started to rain. And not just a little sprinkle, but a down pour. We ran to the car. We were Soaked. We sat in the car for five minutes and then went back to the lake. The rain had stopped just as fast as it started and the sun came out.

Sibylle’s mom did a lot of cooking. On Saturday, we ate Schnitzel, Brats, Soup, Pommes and Brotchen. We were really pampered from the Gross Family. They refused to let me help with anything telling me I was on vacation. I felt funny not helping when I am the one with the five kids.

March 2007