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Bonn or Bust (Europe 2016 Part II)

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This may be a bit presumptions, but if you want to hear more about the trip, you can read about Prague, a City I Will  Never Forget. Otherwise, I will dive into the second leg of the trip, covering Bonn, Germany.

Center of Bonn

As we said our farewells to Prague, we jumped in a rental van and started the 419-mile (674-Km) trek to Bonn. As this was a six-and-a-half hour trip (non-stop), we had to be patient with our one-year old. While this wasn’t his first rodeo driving long distances, he was now older and wiser and a little less manageable. So when most could make the trip in relatively close to 6.5 hours, we were not even considering a non-stop drive. Thanks to Europe’s great rest stations along the way, this actually made for an easier journey than I thought. Many service stations have great options for restaurants (sandwiches, hot meals/buffets, barista stands, etc.) and the food’s not all bad! While I’ve never been to France with Charlie, one of my favorite roadside stops is Paul. As a side note, you can find Paul in the US, but I believe they’re East Coast only.  This is similar to the type of foods you can get, but believe me, not all roadside stops are the same…even in enchanting Europe.

One of the really neat things about a lot of these roadside stops is that they designed with the family in mind. A lot of stops have picnic tables, shops (some good/some not so good) and playgrounds for the kids.

Fun playground at an autobahn service station.

Long Distance Travel Tips

  • Stop every 2 (or so) hours. It’s not only good for getting your little one some space to run around, but it’s good for you too! Stretch those legs!
    • It’s always a good idea to find some green space to run around.
  • Bring something to soothe your kiddo with, even if she or he isn’t upset. Having a favorite blanket, stuffed animal or a pacifier helps to prevent those upsetting moments. For example, we call Charlie “Linus” because he’s always bring his ‘baba’ with him. He loves those Aden + Anais muslin swaddles.
    • Note: Charlie hated these as a baby. But just before 1, he started dragging them around everywhere.
  • Have some of your kiddo’s favorite snacks. For Charlie, he LOVES Gerber Yogurt Melts. But also bring something new to try. This is where I would have thrown in a snack or two from our Graze Box.
  • Listen to your little one’s favorite music. But, DON’T feel like you have to listen to the Wheels on the Bus the whole time. Switch it up, but make sure you have of her/his favorites.
  • Find a fun place you can explore together, along the way. Whether it’s your great American road trip or trekking across Europe, there is always something fun and unique to see. Keep it short, but allow your family the time to make memories from the travel days too.
  • When all else fails, don’t beat yourself up if you have to crutch on some screen time. Charlie loves videos of himself and you’re not going to ruin your kiddo if you allow for some controlled screen time.

Music to My Ears

After about 8-9 hours later, we finally arrived to Bonn and settled into our Airbnb just a 15 minute walk outside of downtown. The property was amazing and the owners had an adorable kids corner with a Rody Hopping Horse and a fun welcome snack for our boy. He loved it! I mean who doesn’t love Kinder Eggs. They have a surprise inside!

Now that we made it to Bonn, the real purpose of our trip was starting. My husband’s startup company was meeting in Germany to test their app at the Nuerburgring. This meant Charlie and I were off on our own to explore this amazing town. Bonn just so happens to be the home of Beethoven, so Charlie and made our way downtown to check out the famous composer’s birth place. From there, we went to the town Platz (square) and enjoyed lunch and eis (ice cream) before heading back to our flat. Overall, the first day was glorious and we looked forward to the next couple of days together.

Charlie, not so happy about taking a picture with Beethoven.
Beethoven’s House and Birthplace

Not Versailles but Still Beautiful

Getting around Bonn was pretty easy for me. I took about eight years of German throughout high school and college. With one day under my belt, my language skills were starting to come back. Going to Bonn, however, doesn’t require one to have any level of proficiency in the local language, however. For me it was fun to put my schooling to practice, but it also did help with reading things like menus.

With the men back off to the Nuerburgring, Charlie and I made our way to the Poppelsdorf Palace and gardens. This is a great place to take kids! While you can’t go inside the palace (I think it’s part of a university now), walking the botanical gardens is extraordinary. While we were there, one of the local schools was taking a field trip to learn about the local flora and fauna. In the fountains around the property, you can listen and see frogs and watch the butterflies flutter away. The class was clearly enjoying themselves and Charlie was enthralled with watching the ‘big kids’ run around.

Poppelsdorf Palace and Botanical Garden

Bonner Munster

After a good nap, we finished the day back near the city center and took a self-guided tour of Bonner Munster. If you’re a European Church enthusiast then, Bonner Munster is for you. It is one of Germany’s oldest churches, dating back to as early as the 11th century.

To top off the day, we stopped by the local farmer’s market and picked up some yummy, local strawberries. We enjoyed eating them before heading back for the evening to reconvene with the guys after their day at the track.

Strawberry face

Auf Wiedersehen

On our last day in Germany, Charlie and I headed off to the Zoologisches Museum Konig (a natural history museum).  This is a smaller museum but it’s perfect for kiddos. With giant stuffed giraffes, an elephant, antelope and other cool critters, children of all ages where having a great time learning about natural history. It doesn’t take long to tour and is very friendly to toddlers just learning to walk. In the main room little ones can hold onto a railing that goes around the entire exhibit. Charlie was (unbeknownst to us) days away from taking his first steps, so having the railing was fun for him to be independent, but still have the ability to stabilize and look at all the cool animals. Definitely worth a stop!

After our morning at the museum, we all jumped in the car and headed off to the Frankfurt to catch our flight to Italy. It wasn’t ideal since Charlie didn’t have a proper nap, but at least he slept in the car for a bit. The exciting bit was watching him attempt to take his first steps. We were all hopeful it would happen soon, but it wasn’t meant to be in Germany.

Afterthoughts

Bonn is a smaller town, compared to even local Cologne just up the river. However, there is so much to do there! If I had one regret, it was not jumping on a ferry to cruise up and down the Rhine. The Rhine is dotted with spectacular castles. I know Charlie would have been so happy to jump on a boat and see everything. So if you get a chance to go to Bonn (or the surrounding area) make sure to take a river cruise and step back in history.

Fun Germany Phrases

  • Hallo, wie geht’s = Hello How are you. (The “W” in Germany sounds like our “V”.)
  • Bitte = Please
  • Danke = Thank you
  • Wo ist der…. = Where is the…(again, “W” sounds like a “V”)
  • Schloss = Castle
  • Entschuldigung = Excuse me

 

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