Monday, 20 June 2011

June 6th thru 13th (Second week in Lubeck and Denmark over the weekend)

Monday was a sad day.  Matt got up early and it was time for him to leave.  He had to take a train to Hamburg, the S-baun to the airport, fly to Paris, fly to Detroit, and then fly to Bloomington.  He got up around 5 on Monday morning.  I got an email from him at 5 on Tuesday morning saying he made it home.  Poor thing (it took 24 hours to get home).  We were all sad because he had to leave.  It felt right to have him there, and when he was gone, it wasn’t right anymore.
Monday then, I had to go to work, and the kids had to get back in the habit of some school.  They are still working on multiplying and dividing fractions, and this week they finished the book they had been reading, Robin Hood.  Monday it was raining when I got home from work and so we waited for a while and when it slowed up we got up and walked around.  We walked down to the city center, show my parents the marzipan place and walked until we found somewhere to eat.  We found a place that served noodles.  It was fun because the waiter could not really speak any English.  It was a really good dinner. 
Tuesday I decided I wanted to do a little shopping, so my mom and I went out and ran around for a while.  I had been seeing sundresses all over Europe and I wanted to get one (since I keep hearing reports of sweltering heat from Decatur).  I wanted to get Elizabeth some leggings too since she wears them every day and the European ones are a little different.  I accomplished all my missions.
Wednesday after work we all went out walking, and went back towards the center of town.  We stopped at a store and found a great deal on a German Soccer Jersey for the boys.  It reminds us of Finn, who loves the team so much.  We went back to the “flintstones” restaurant.  It was cheap pizza night.  We all got different pizzas, except me, I got – currywurst. 
Thursday was our last night – already!  We made a plan with the people, I work with.  My parents and the kids took the train to Travelmunde earlier in the day.  Travelmunde is a city on the Baltic Sea.  They walked around, played at the beach and in the water.  They had a nice playground with a ship, so they played pirates and sailors.  I drove up with my friends and we met my parents at the beach.  We walked along the pier, and along the harbor there, and found a yummy seafood restaurant.  We ate outside which got a little chilly but it was nice to smell the ocean.  My work friends drove my parents’ home and the kids and I took the train and walked back to the hotel.  It was a nice day.
Friday, I had a big conference call in the morning.  We couldn’t go into the office since we didn’t have a car (it had been driven to the airport).  I got up and started packing all of us up.  We had been in the room for 2 weeks, so things were a little unorganized.  About 9, I went and paid our bill and got ready for my call.  The kids and my parents finished getting ready to leave and walked to buy more marzipan for matt.  I was on my call till noon, our train left at 12:30 and we had to check out of the hotel at 12.  I took a cab to the train station, and I couldn’t find anyone when I got there.  I was starting to think we would miss the train, we didn’t.  They were waiting up by the ticket counter.  We decided that we would spend this weekend going to Denmark.  We went to Billund to the Lego headquarters.  Really all that is, is an amusement park, Legoland, but it was fun.  We stayed at Legovillage which is a hostel.  So we had to rent linens, but it was nice, we saved some money. 

We had to ride to train to Vejle.  Our Europasses give us first class tickets.  When we got on the train, we went to first class and there were plenty of seats.  The woman who check us in, gave us some free vouchers for a drink and a candy bar.  Nice!  We got into Vejle at a decent time and then we had to take a bus.  Now in Denmark they are not on the Euro system, they use Kronners.  We went to the bus and the bus driver said he would indeed accept Kronners, and so we got on and went to the Lego stuff.  We arrived at the Village, got settled, got something to eat, played on the playground stuff they had around, the kids liked “space balls” a big ball pit.   Then we decided to walk over to this big Lantias place next door (the front desk clerk and said to check it out).  We were under the impression that we had free admittance to the water park so we all had our suits on.  (Turns out that it was free admission to some other water park which was not open on Friday).  We walked over and the kids had their eyes open so wide… Paul said “this is kid heaven”.  It has large trampolines, and miniature golf, the water park (which closed at 8 which was when we got there), I can’t even remember what else.  It was built indoors, but it had a ceiling with special lighting etc that looked like you were outside.  Blue sky, clouds, the different stands looked like different storefronts.  It was really neat.  We walked around and figured out everything cost money, so I told the kids they could pick one thing.  We were about to pick something when I discovered a huge indoor playground, so they picked that, since it would be the best value, and they could play till 10 for the same money as other activities.  While the kids played, my mom and I went to the grocery store and got food for the next day there. 
After an hour or so they were getting bored of all the climbing and sliding, so they started playing with the huge Legos.  They ended up making a house that went up to their chest.  That was neat.  We then walked home to bed.  When we were walking home (at 10) the sun was just setting.  We ate some ice cream and went to bed.  The kids liked the room.  Not only did it have a Lego table in it, but there were beds that folded down from the wall.  So Libby and Paul slept on those bed, that folded down, and Jacob and I slept in other beds where were already set up.  Our room key had a Lego on it.  A funny thing happened when we were looking for our room after we checked in.  She said it was on the first floor in the yellow building.  We looked all over and couldn’t find it, and finally found it up the stairs.  We should have known better, but we forgot.  In Europe the ground floor is called 0, so the first floor, is the first floor up.  Kind of funny.
Saturday we got up and prepared for the day of Legoland fun.  We had breakfast for free at the Village.  I told the kids to eat a lot because we wouldn’t eat again for a long time.  The park opened at 10am.  We were there ahead of that which allowed us to be early in line.  I had to buy a ticket, which I bought at the hotel, and the kids and my parents had season passes to the Legoland Windsor which gave them free admission to this park too.  We decided to head straight for all the roller coasters first and do the looking at Lego stuff when the crowds were bigger at the end of the day.  We pretty much went from ride to ride with no major lines until 12:30.  At that time we had done all that we wanted to do.  My dad lost his glasses on rollercoaster #3, I think, and so he and my mom had spent a lot of time trying to retrieve them (to no avail).  Around 12:30 it was starting to look like rain.  We needed to leave at 3:30 in order to get to the bus, to get to the train.  We walked around some of the Lego, what do you call them?, sculptures, until it started raining.  Basically they have all this stuff made out of Legos.  They had a Lego Star Wars exhibit which had a scene from every movie.  Then they had Lego sculptures of farms, and towns, and an airport, all kinds of stuff.  They had boats and working locks, and things that moved.  It was really amazing and if you had been to any of these places, it was really impressive, because they looked like the real thing, but they were made from Legos.  They had a Neuschanstein Castle that I really liked (remember we saw that in person).  They had Los Angeles where you could move a movie camera and “flim” the movie that was happening with Legos in front of you.  They taught about different types of power, you got to see different kinds of architecture in northern Europe and all made out of Legos.  As my father said, “they took a children’s toy and turned it into an art form”.  It was neat to see.  We took a boat ride around some other sculptures.  In between looking at all these Lego sculptures it would rain, and we would run inside and look in the shops.  They kids each got to pick out a little Lego kit, and a Lego person as a souvenir.  It is a fine deal, because it is all they play with, they only toy the boys brought. 
We had a little more time, and so we walked around to check out different rides.  None of us wanted to spend much time in line, so we picked shorter line things.  Then it was time to go.  Libby and my mom walked to the bathroom and then to the bus stop.  The boys, Dad and I walked back to the village to get our stuff, and to the bus stop.  We had had a bit of snack in the park, but at the bus stop we had our sandwiches.  We got on the bus, and… yes, the bus driver did not accept Euros and we didn’t have Kronners.  Actually what happened is that my dad got on to pay while I loaded all 6 suitcases on the bus.  My dad got off and said to unload, and so I did, but my mom, unwilling to give up, “negotiated” with the bus driver to let us on with Euros.  Finally he did, at a great profit to himself I might add.  We didn’t care; we had to make the bus to make the train to make the next train which was an overnight train that we had reservations for.  We ended up with extra Euros anyway, so it was ok.  I reloaded the suitcases on the bus and we were on our way.
So we made the bus, to the train.  At the train station I was laughing because my mom was giving directions to another American because she had investigated the trains so well she knew them all.  They called me the pack horse since I was loading and unloading the suitcases all those times on the bus (and everywhere else) and I called her the travel agent.
We got on the night train before 7 which was nice, just because we were settled and we didn’t have to switch for 12 hours.  The kids and I had started reading a book that Matt had brought to us, called “Monster in the Hallows” which is by Andrew Peterson.  It is the third book in a series he is writing.  We love them, I would highly recommend them.  So we read some chapters and we went to bed, early, but it has been such a long day, and we went to bed late the night before and we were tired. 
The next morning came early, we had to switch trains in Cologne.  We got rolls from a bakery in the train station and waited for our train to Brussels.  We made it to Brussels and found our hotel.  We dropped our luggage around 10am.  We were rather putzing around and I asked my mom what our plan was for the day.  We couldn’t decide between Gent and Brugge.  I had been to Gent and not Brugge, my parents had been to Brugge but not Gent.  My mom said that the train was leaving at 10:05 for both, and so we booked it across the street to the train station and got on the train.  Just in time.  We sat on the train and decided that rather than either Brugge or Gent we would go to Ostendee to the Ocean.  It was a sunny day when we arrived, we kinda walked aimlessly around, saw their cathedral and found the main drag through town.  It was a pedestrian street with tons of shops.  Our goals for Belgium were waffles and Pomme Frites.  None of the waffle places we saw were what we wanted.  We finally bought some Pomme Frites because we were getting pretty hungry (remember breakfast was just rolls in Colonge a long time before).  (Pomme Frites are what we would call French Fries).  We reached the beach, the boys rolled up their pant legs, Libby took off her tights and ocean frolicking commenced.  My parents went off in search of food while the kids played.  It was overcast now, and with the ocean breeze it was a little chilly, they kids didn’t care.  We saw the English Channel from the other side, which was pretty cool.  My parents found a sandwich, a _________, which is another Belgium favorite, and we ate that, it was pretty yummy, they went and bought 2 more.  We ate those too.  Then we decided we had seen what we wanted to at Ostendee and so we walked back along the beach to the train station.  Along the last street there were tons of vendors selling things made out of fish.  They also had a fish market that we took the kids to, so they could see what one of those was like.  There were many sites and sounds.  It was nice.  We made the train, decided to take it to the central train station in Brussels instead of the south one we were staying at.  The central one is downtown and we knew where to get the good waffles and Pommes Frites from there.  That, and of course, my mom wanted more chocolate.  We hit all our favorite spots and walked back to the hotel and just relaxed for an hour or so.  Then it was time to figure out dinner.  We went down and talked to the front desk and they recommended a nice Belgium restaurant just a short walk away.  We went there and it was really yummy.  My Dad got beef stew, Libby and Jacob got chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce.  Paul got meatballs in tomato sauce.  I got cheese Croquettes (another Belgium food we hadn’t eaten yet.)  The restaurant was really cute, with a circular staircase in the middle, and stain glassed windows and a stained glass dome at the top.  We walked back home with bellies full.
The next morning, we got up and went back to the train station to take the Eurostar to London.  We left about10.  When we got to London, we took the tube back to our cute apartment and we were all very happy to be settled again.  We were all very happy to not be lugging our suitcase around anymore.  My Dad will leave on Saturday and we will have just 10 days left after that.  The time will go fast now.  We are a little concerned about how we will get all this stuff home, but we just have to make it to the airport and then it should be ok.
I worked from the kitchen table till 5, my parents worked in the bedroom and the kids played Legos.  Paul worked on math, but I think he forgot stuff in the time he had off.  It shows the importance of doing this stuff every day until it is engrained in their heads. 
After working we walked to the grocery store and the park.  We came back home to a pasta dinner and played and then read our 2 chapters of Monster in the Hallows and went to bed.  It was a nice day.  It was funny, I guess since it was before 6, but the drug store next to the grocery store was open for the first time.  It is usually closed.  My dad was able to get reading glasses which help him survive until he can get his real glasses.  That was a blessing.  After the glasses we went to the park, my dad was chasing my children around to their great glee and the glasses fell out of his pocket.  Fortunately the boys found them.  I hope he can keep a hold of them for a couple days. 
After that it was home and eating and to bed.  We made it through another week and our time is coming shortly to an end.  Time goes fast, and we still have a lot to do! 

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