The first step in planning a trip to Europe is deciding where to visit. My first idea was to map out an itinerary that faithfully recreated Matt Daemon’s adventures in the first three Borne movies. After closer examination, however, this plan requires travel to four separate continents and would probably not be suitable for small children. Also, to be honest, I don’t think Katherine would be willing play the part of Marie who ends up getting shot and driving a jeep off a bridge in India. Similar logistical issues arose when I considered other movies such as National Lampoon’s European Vacation and Taken.
The scaled down version of our trip took us to Frankfurt, Paris, and Amsterdam which form a equilateral-ish triangle served well by high speed trains.
Since a trip to Europe is more involved than, say, just about any other place I’m ever going to visit, carefully planning what to bring is crucial. While a cooler full of soda and crunchy potato chips might provide a refreshing snack, such an approach might not prove to be cost effective given the current state of airline baggage fees.
After deciding what clothes to bring, I told Katherine to make sure everything was washed and would fit into the designated luggage. Our washing machine, sensing the importance of getting our clothes clean, decided to rebel. “The washing machine is broken” is not the text I wanted to receive at work the day before our big vacation. But what fun would that be?
A little home appliance side note here– all I needed to do to fix the washer was to clean out the drain trap. However, the way Whirlpool designed the machine I had to unstack the washer and dryer, tip the washer up, and remove screws on the bottom of the machine just to reach the trap. Thanks Whirlpool for adding several hours to what should have been a ten minute project. Also, I called customer service to have someone come out and help me lift the dryer back on top of the washer but they informed me that… OK, I didn’t actually call, but I fantasized about it. Obviously the entire design is a result of the small appliance repair mafia.
You might not believe what happened on the nonstop flight from Denver to Frankfurt– nothing. We all just sat in our seats and watched a bunch of movies. Being on a plane for 10 hours and crossing 8 time zones did take a toll on us when we arrived. After checking into our hotel in Heidelberg, Germany, we stopped at a local fast food type restaurant called “The Heidel Burger.” No, it wasn’t really called that. This is where Samantha’s body decided, in no uncertain terms, to be asleep.
Our next stop was Paris. We might have enjoyed this city more if I hadn’t been pick pocketed on the Metro. While not any fun, Katherine managed to keep her wallet the rest of the trip. So I was just a gentleman and let her pay for everything the rest of the trip. She did give me a modest cash allowance each morning.
While in Paris we visited the usual tourist destinations– the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, the Soc duh something, and Notre Dame. We also stopped at the Chocolate Museum, a few random playgrounds, and about 5 local bakeries. After hauling our kids on the Metro for three days I really feel like they are ready for anything else life has to offer.
Next town– Amsterdam. Since I had lived in Holland for 6 months back in the day, I really took over the tour guide duties. Our hotel room, I think by total chance, ended up being the coolest room in which we have ever spent the night. It had floor to ceiling windows and jutted out sideways from the side of the building.
We spent one day visiting Haarlem, the town where I lived. While I generally preferred fast food while on the trip, I did insist that we have a nice steak meal at my old hangout Wilma and Alberts. We also tried to rent bikes to see more of the city, but we couldn’t find bikes with kid’s seats. Side note here– Haarlem is a lovely medium sided town in Holland and Harlem is a much, much, less lovely borough of New York City. I dream of scraping together enough money so I can get out of this shit hole and move to Lovelaand.
We acquired two bicycles with kid’s seats in Amsterdam. We rode around the outer most canal of the city. Most of that time I spent being completely confused about who had the right of way and riding carelessly into the path of oncoming trams. We also took a break at a playground so the kids could stretch their legs. Apparently riding on the back seat doesn’t wear them out too much.
Frankfurt was our final city to visit on this trip. Our hotel was a small hole in the wall with beds made from surplus WW2 mattresses. We all missed this hotel in Amsterdam, but it was too late to turn back. The highlight of this town was a small playground near our hotel. I didn’t think it was that great, but the kids loved it and we ended up going there three times just to keep them happy.
By the time we arrived in Frankfurt I was tired of navigating foreign language public transit systems, so we just walked around places near the hotel. One thing I noticed is that people in Germany don’t jaywalk very much.
So after 10 days it was time to head back to Denver. While waiting for our connection in Washington, DC, Samantha told me, “I’m not tired sleepy, I’m tired complain-y.”