|Visiting the llamas in the Frankfurt Train|
Ian was restless and eager to explore the plane, but we weren't able to do that. This was hard for him because he's used to being allowed to move and explore. After entertaining him with play dough, stickers, his felt book made by Aunt Erin, and loads of snacks, he finally fell asleep while nursing in my lap. Unfortunately, he then couldn't get comfortable for about 45 minutes of tossing and turning with a few outbursts, taking turns with the other toddler next to us. BUT THEN he settled slept straight through the last five hours of the flight.
He woke up for a short period while we purchased our train tickets and waited for our train from Frankfurt to Hannover, but then passed out again quickly as soon as we boarded the train. He slept the entire train ride to Hannover, too.Our trip started in Hannover Germany, where my cousin, Marianne, lives with her husband, Christoph, and her daughter Annie. You may remember them as the cousins who lived in Alaska. They are pretty incredible people.
Two years ago they moved back to Germany for Christoph to take a new job as an expedition manager for scientific trips to Antarctica. He's lead people on trips to the North Pole and now down to the South Pole. Marianne is the craft and sewing extraordinaire, as well as a fantastic teacher. She's always been like an older sister to me, ever since I spent every summer of my childhood living at our cabin not far from her and wanting to be just like her.
They hadn't met Ian yet, so it was neat to introduce them to each other and spend some time catching up together. Annie and Ian immediately started playing and bonding over a shared love for Butch, their dog!
Traveling with a toddler and visiting family has it's perks, for sure. Ian slept on the plane and the train, but Jim and I hardly got any rest. As soon as we arrived we were fed and chatted, but then sent off to nap away the jet lag, while Ian enjoyed playing with Annie in the yard. Thank you for the rest, you guys!!
After some rest, we headed out the next day to do The Red Line Tour with Marianne. Hannover literally has a painted red line running throughout the town, highlighting the sights that should be seen while you're in Hannover. Marianne was our tour guide, reading the book to us at each stop.
|With the "Sidewalk Judge"|
We went to the town hall, where they have four different models of the town spanning across the last couple centuries. It was a really great way to show just how devastating the war was for the city.
Hannover was greatly destroyed by the war and rebuilt without trying to return to the previous architectural designs. Some cities were strict about this, but not Hannover. Therefore it's not referred to as a "pretty city" by many.
It's a great place to live for many reasons. It's incredibly family friendly and offers loads of different playgrounds, pools, and things to do outside. It's also a very green city (as is so much of Germany!!).
I love, love, love this classic architecture. One day perhaps our house will look similar to this picture:
|"Dear Couple, Please Kiss Here." |
So we did.
Traveling with family and friends certainly has its perks!! Too many to count, really. One was that each place borrowed a carseat for Ian to use and my cousin borrowed a stroller that stayed with us for the entire trip. Thank you SOOO much for the generosity!!
The first week in Hannover was filled with changing and extreme weather conditions. It was cold and rainy and windy, and then a half an hour later it was sunny. It turns out that we were there for a hurricane!! Trees came down all over the city. A really big one came down in the neighbor's backyard.
Fortunately, the borrowed stroller had this AWESOME rain and wind guard, so Ian was kept dry and safe inside. We don't mind a little cold and rain, but our days would have certainly been limited had Ian not been comfortable, dry, and warm.
Next we went to the market and got a true, Southern German meal with loads of meat, sauerkraut, and potatoes. So yummy. A German lady told us off in German for allowing Ian to hold a fork. Marianne talked to her in German and said it was okay, but the lady continued to say that we might as well give him scissors or a knife. She meant it to be caring and thoughtful. Thanks for the input!! Sheesh.
|Their huge, beautiful back yard.|
That night Jim and Christoph went to the sauna. Jim LOVED it and wanted to take me back another day.
While they were gone we had a craft night. Marianne coached me as I made a shirt with a cowl neck. I love it!! The fabrics used are to the left. Marianne is one talented sewer. She can make anything.
The next morning it was the "girls'" turn. Marianne and I went and it was lovely. Many different saunas, saltwater pools, and aufgusses to enjoy!! An aufguss is a sort of ceremony in which the sauna employees pour water over the hot stones and do different practices, depending on the type of sauna or characteristics offered by the aufguss.
For example, my favorite aufguss "master" handed us an eye mask that was frozen, squirted an alpine mint oil into our hands to rub into our bodies, and then had three rounds of gongs and bells after each pour over the stones. It was a really neat experience.
We're both sauna converts now. My dad's always been a fan since he went to Finland and even built one in our basement. Now I understand the appeal. I wish we had a sauna like the one in Hannover nearby. I think we'd be frequent fliers.
One thing I loved about Hannover and all of Germany was the wonderful, creative playgrounds dispersed EVERYWHERE. No two playgrounds were alike. They were built out of different materials and quite eccentric. Ian played at a couple of playgrounds, but not too many due to the weather and the nature of our trip. If we lived there I would LOVE to take him on a playground tour, taking notes on my favorite features of each playground. Then, perhaps, combining all of the elements we liked into one to build at home.
It was a bitter-cold day and Ian wasn't quite dressed warmly enough and it rained and rained, torrentially until we got into the car again. Then it got sunny and bright. Crazy!!
But the town itself was beautiful!! Enjoy!
Stuck in the back seat with these two. I mean, how sweet is that? :)
Here's our traveling kiddo. He spent a lot of time one their curving staircase.
That night these two went out on the town together and met up with some of Christoph's friends.
Christoph is a trained, professional chef, so every meal was just incredible. We ate VERY well the whole trip. Thank you for your labor of love, Christoph! We are so grateful for your hospitality and warmth.
Annie enjoyed helping with Ian!
What a great place for kids and babies to play and moms to meet up with friends. I already have a business idea spinning in my head and I don't have the slightest idea how to run a business. All I know is that we need one of these in Blacksburg!
After lunch we split up and explored the city as just the three of us.
Ian enjoyed watching and waving to trains as they came and went. The sun came out and we had a nice afternoon together, enjoying the downtown, eating some sweets and drinking some coffee while Ian slept, and then taking the train home.
Marianne made Ian and Annie matching pants. How cute are these two kids? I obviously couldn't choose just one picture.
Their home and the Easter bread Marianne made for breakfasts. YUM!
|Very faint, but you can see a rainbow.|
And this was just part one of our journey. I apologize for the bizillion pictures. I've never been known to choose only a few, so why start on our trip to Europe!!??
Thank you, Marianne, Christoph, and Annie for opening your home to us!! We are VERY grateful. We love you guys so much.
This does not mark the end of our time with them, only part one of our European adventure. I had planned to get two parts done this morning, while Ian's being watched by a friend. So far, only one is done. More to come soon!