TLDR – Spring break trip this year took us to Frankfurt, Heidelberg, and Cologne.. Part two of the trip covers Easter weekend in Cologne
Easter morning train to Cologne
Travel day – We started the day with breakfast in the A&O basement canteen area. Cereal, some pizza, and donuts. While the kids were eating I hid a kinder egg for each of them to find. Gotta have an egg hunt on Easter. They loudly found the eggs then we hid them again while they ate some more. After they finished breakfast and opened the eggs. The kinds hide the toys from inside of the eggs a few times and found them. While the kids were hiding things momma went up to the room to pack in quiet. By the time we followed after her everything was packed. Great teamwork, ya that’s what we’ll call it, we will not call it dad getting out packing. The kids watched some show while Michelle and I read random stuff for an hour killing time and relaxing. Eventually, we checked out and walked to the central train station.
We made it to the train station about an hour before our train’s scheduled departure time. We bought two crepes, twice, from a crepe vendor from Kashmir. First round we purchased butter and sugar, second round we purchased cinnamon and sugar. After we ate those Maddex, Mila and I walked to obtain some sausage rolls and a fruit pastry. By the time we arrived back at the platform, our train was in the station ready for us to load. The train is cruising along at about 290kph in and out of tunnels flying across the German countryside popping our ears with every tunnel.
Maddex and Mila don’t have the best window seat. Good for them, they don’t really care as they each have snacks and an iPhone. We had Pringle’s, tomatoes, a fruit candy, and our sausage rolls for train food. We could not find space to park an assembled stroller so I had to unfix it and fold it. When we get off I’ll need to tie it up again. There was a seat next to us that was empty as we approached the station. I setup the stroller in the seat and tied it off with the HDMI cable as the train was stopping.
The walk from the train station to our hostel is about 2.4km. We’re staying at another A&O. On the route to the hotel, before crossing over the river Rhein, we noticed the massive Cologne Cathedral to our right and we noticed what looks to be an amusement park to our left . Looks like we’ve chosen our major destinations for the trip. About five minutes before the hostel we found our first play park. Thankfully it’s mostly in the shade next to a tall church tower. The kids played here for a bit before we carried on towards our room.
Checking in the guy behind the counter asked Michelle if she had two kids. She said sure knowing we were over capacity for the room we rented. The room is great. A bit larger than the last one with better beds and little track cubbies on the headboards the kids can use to set up their nests. After some battle over who was sleeping where the kids setup their nests. The TV in this room is “literally” three times the size of the one in the last room. I took the HDMI cable off the stroller and hooked the tv up to the laptop. Shockingly it still worked. While mom and I unpacked and worked out where to head next the kids watched some Ladybug Girl laying on the bed.
Looking for a Spielplatz in the shade
It’s like 27 out and the sun stings a bit on our pale Irish skin. We need to find a good playground, Spielplatz in German, with some shade to play the kids in. First stop after our break is Hiroshima-Nagasaki-Park about a 20-minute walk from where we are staying. According to the map, there are two Spielplatz in the long narrow park to the south of where we would enter the park. The first two Spielplatzs are not very well shaded so we kept on going looking for a better one.
Further to the south shortly past the bottom of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki-Park park is the people’s garden park, Volksgarten. With a pond in the middle and the smell of bbq from the nearly people covered grassy areas. There are loads of kids playing in a large shaded playground. We stayed here for a while avoiding the sun and letting the kids play.
Monday – Cologne laundry adventures
I don’t think the room ever dropped below 22 last night. We have a big window but it only opens a crack at the top. Plus we had the curtain closed all night which probably blocked any cold air coming in. Blankets were not needed at all last night. We’ll leave the curtain open tonight and hope for better results. It’s the Monday after Easter, a bank holiday here, most things are going to close. Oh well, we are here and we need to explore. First stop after breakfast in the basement is the laundry room. We’re nearly out of clean clothes.
We did laundry at our last hotel on Friday. Being that’s it’s been so hot and we did not pack much in the way of short sleeves we’re sweating out our outfits everyday not able to recycle. Laundry says it will take 30 minutes to run. While it’s running we’re going to explore around the hotel. We ended up at a Spielplatz with three small tricycles in it the kids played on. Michelle went back and swapped our laundry. The 4€ per run dryer was only going to take 40 minutes. We walked to a Starbucks to feed moms addiction then back to swap the laundry.
Monday – Off to a cathedral
On the way to the Cologne Cathedral, we stopped at a playground with a bit of a castle theme and let the kids run around and play. This park has a manual pump water thing that runs into a stone waterway. The kids played and pumped water for a bit while Michelle and I chatted. The cathedral square is packed. There are people everywhere all around the place. We didn’t think we’d be able to walk in but we were. We walked right in.
It appeared like there was a service going on with singing. They roped off the back of the church for people to walk in and out. We had a nice view of the place from the back. Looking all the way to the other end it looked like there was fog inside of the building. So massive it makes clouds inside I’m betting. Back outside we walked all the way around the building checking it out. It’s hard to find a good spot to take a picture of the whole building. The cathedral is surrounded by no car streets. Sadly most everything around it is closed. Expect for the American businesses. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts for donuts and toilets. By now it’s stupid hot out and the kids are cranky.
We walked back towards our hostel for an afternoon nap and show. Picked up someone pommes and kebabs for lunch then napped for a few hours. After a nap and the Lorax, we went back to the Hiroshima-Nagasaki park. Instead of turning left we turned right looking for some new Spielplatz for the kids to play in. Most of the ones we found were in the sun. The grassy areas in the park were mostly covered by people on blankets with BBQs. And almost all of them either walked or biked to the park. No four-door f350s with trailer and generators. One of the playgrounds had a nearly vertical slide. Roxi climbed up to it and slide down without hesitation.
Khaleesi slides down and cried because she was scared. Roxi looked at her then went back to do it again. The girl is fearless. On the way back from the park we picked the kids up some McDonald’s and ice cream than called it a night. The heat takes a toll on our energy and lack of food options is annoying. Tomorrow will be better when German opens back up for business.
Tuesday– Let’s check out the carnival
When we arrived we walked by a large carnival on the other side of the Rhine. Today’s mission is to walk over the river to check it out. First stop was an Aldi to pick up a snack. Yeah, shops are open again!! With a bag full of snacks we walked to the castle park we visited yesterday. We only spent about 4 minutes there before the kids started screaming. When they fight and scream at a park we leave. There’s a slight cloud cover today making the heat much more manageable and bearable – Clouds are radical.
We crossed the Rhine next to the cathedral on the Hohenzollern bridge. One of the busiest train bridges in all of Europe according to the internets. It’s also home to thousands and thousands of love locks. The kids were into the locks on the last bridge in Heidelberg, figured they would like some more. We slowly strolled across the bridge checking out the locks. Oldest I saw was 1998. Mila liked the jewel locks. Maddex found a turtle lock. Michelle found two locks with our names on them and a bunch of other locks with her name and some of her European boy toys I’m guessing.
We walked along the river towards the carnival. Yesterday this area was packed with people. Today we passed by a few bikes and two people sitting on the steps eating. Almost no trash in sight after a massive number of people the day before. The Germans wait for the light to walk across the street and they pick up after themselves.
The carnival is huge. It’s also portable. The big pars are a 58 meter Ferris wheel and a decent sized roller coaster they move from site to site. Lucky for mom and me at 1000 in the morning it’s not open yet. The kids are happy to walk through the place and check it out talking about the rides they might or would not go one because they look too scary. After the carnival the girls all peed in the grass then we walked to our second Spielplatz of the day; big dud. Michelle found another play area on the same side of the river which was great. We played there for a bit.
On the way back over the river we saw a car going on the roller coaster and the kids got super excited thinking the park was open. No one was in it, they were just running tests. Must not open till evening. On the way to our next Spielplatz, we stopped a REWE for some produce. It’s nice to be able to shop for lunch in a grocery store. Strawberries, apples, a wrap, smoothie, and water mellow lollies. We stopped to get some currywurst and a few orders of pommes to round out lunch. Being overcast vs clear and sunny the kids have more energy, they are not balls of sweat, and it’s more comfortable to hang out at a play area.
We stoped for lunch and relaxed for an hour while the kids played. This park has another vertical slide Michelle tires out. It also has a half globe you get inside and spin. Maddex and I rode it and I about vomited. Had to take a break for a few to let my poor tummy settle. While I sat Michelle played with the kids and worked out on the obstacle course. The clouds are so nice blocking some of the sun making it not feel like a furnace. The kids keep asking for a certain park. Looking at the map we’re not far from there.
Next stop is the park with the odd teeter-totter and the flat spinning things the kids have been begging for. We tend to name parks based on features then stick with those names. We found the right park. The kids all screamed and ran to it once they saw it. On the way home from the park we stopped at a Pennies for some fruit and chocolate milk for a snack. Then went back to the hotel for afternoon siesta. Two hours later it’s time to hit the thrift shop to see what they have. Michelle was having so much fun we left here at the shop and walked to the castle park.
Was past 1900 when we made it back to the room with a bucket of pommes and started the bedtime ritual for the kids. They were still a bit hungry so Mila and I walked to Aldi and picked up more fruit and olives for a snack. Michelle has been writing most of the day and cranked out four new chapters in her kid’s book from Spain. She read the new chapters to the kids, we kissed them all, and they were sleeping by about 2100 – long fun day over.
Wednesday – headed home
We started the morning with chocolate muffins in bed wow what a mess; good thing we are checking out. Then the kids and left Michelle for a mini mom break to listen to a book and pack up the room for an hour or so. As soon as we walked to the park it started to rain. Back to the hotel lobby to play on the toys while the rain lets up. After checking out, we were loaded with luggage. We walked to the castle park again then crossed over the river on the love lock bridge. Instead of going up river to the carnival we went down the river towards the Rhine park. With a massive playground and two super tall slides. Mila did both of them Maddex skipped the extra tall teepee slide.
Mila somehow managed to talk Maddex into the super tall teepee slide. Once down he went a few more times. Mila is turning out to be the most daring so far. She will cry and shake with fear but she says ‘fine I’m just going to do it !!” and does it We skipped walking to the botanical garden and walked back across the love lock bridge on the other side. Which has about half the number of locks as the side we walked across this morning and yesterday? If you want to put a lock on go for the downriver side of the bridge.
It was a 2€ Sbhan ride to the airport then we walked around between terminals until we eventually made it our gate. We had to have our tickets stamped at check-in. Then go through security to be checked again. After security, we had to go through passport control. On the other side of passport control was one shop selling 2-day old 0.30€ pretzels from Lidl for 3€ each; big fecking sigh. We counted out our 10 and 20 cent coins and bought a few 3€ sodas from a vending machine to share with the kids. A warning sign before the passport control stating eat now or starve would have been nice.
Under where we were waiting was another terminal void of people waiting. Michelle snuck down there a few times and hid some eggs filled with smarties for the kids. Parental survival technique, if you cannot feed the kids to entertain them and give them candy. Before the plane landed the queue to board was 100 deep. As the plane was offloaded they started checking people in lining them up on the stairs and hang way. About five minutes after the last person was off the plane we were loading. The plane turned and pushed from the terminal in 30 minutes. We landed in Ireland met with clouds and rain – it’s good to be home.