We were on a mission this morning to find the items on our shopping list that were a “must have” for our trip home. Laurie, Lucas and I headed out and drove to Wildeshausen. We were mostly satisfied with what we found as far as the chocolate egg selection was concerned.
When we arrived at the house, we had seen advertisements for go-cart racing at the Kartbahn. We had hoped we would be able to take the kids, checking online it was nice to see that they operated “rain or shine”. They were open from 1500-2000 so we got there just after 3 PM, and it was raining lightly.
Due to the wet conditions of the track, we were not able to take out the big carts. The 9hp carts we did drive were plenty fast. After the first 10 minute session, the rain stopped and track conditions improved.
Everyone has a great time, Austin learned the “secret” of drifting… turn the wheel and give it gas until the rear wheels slip and start coming around.
We drove to Delmenhorst and then took the train to Bremen. We walked to the city center and saw the beautiful buildings and artwork. The train was very quiet and fast, only 18 minutes each way.
We returned to Delmenhorst and shopped there as well. We couldn’t find what we were looking for, so in the afternoon I drove Laurie, Cindy, and Heather to the markets in Harpstedt. Our suitcases are getting heavier at each stop.
In the evening, Peter, Christian and Regina came to visit. We had a pizza party watching the big game: Germany versus France. Unfortunately, Germany wasn’t able to score and lost 2-0. Regardless, it was very nice visiting and catching up with family.
We have had several missions that we had to accomplish on this trip, visiting certain landmarks and experiencing particular things. One thing we were able to cross off our list was securing a lock on a bridge over water, we did this in Hamburg.
Hamburg was about an hour and a half drive from our house. As soon as we arrived and parked, the sky opened up and dumped rain on us. We were able to get into the Hamburg Miniature Wunderland after getting tickets and waiting for 90 minutes. The time placing our locks on the bridge.
Today was the first “mostly sunny” day we’ve had in quite some time. We made the best use of it by heading to a place we’ve all heard stories from Laurie and Cindy about: the Magic Park in Verden. This amusement park has a unique feature: many of the rides are “self-powered”, you have to do all of the work!
We woke, had a quick breakfast and packed/cleaned the house. Goodbyes were said to ask of the kids barnyard friends.
We hit the road just after 1000 and drove West, for the most part in the rain. We made surprisingly good time considering the weather, it helped that it was Sunday. We arrived at our final house in Harpstedt.
After we arrived we went and said hello to Ingrid’s brother Peter on our way to visit with her nephew Martin and his wife Connie.
After our visits Dave and Heather joined us at the local restaurant for a late meal after a long day in the road.
Day 14 the campgroundWe tried to get on the road at a reasonable time, our main destination was a campground that Ingrid, Laurie and Cindy had stayed at over 30 years ago. First up was the Dutch Cheese Market in Alkmaar. This is an open air market at the city center where “cheese carriers” haul delicious cheese rounds on special carriers. There are vendors along the canal selling everything cheese related from cheese toast, cheese, herring, and pancakes. The market shut down around 12:30 and we had to hide from the rain a few times.
We continued north and crossed the land bridge bordering the North Sea. We stopped at the Monument Afsluitdijk, the wind was howling!
Our main goal was to find a campground that Ingrid, Laurie and Cindy had stayed at when they visited over 30 years ago. After a stop in Balk, we were fairly certain that it was in Wijckel. After following some convenient signs we arrived at Camping ‘t Hop. (In the rain).
We stopped at the restaunt and had some very good soup and fickadel. Laurie, Lucas, Austin and I braved the rain storm and walked through the woods to the old cemetery that Laurie remembered from her childhood. It was a muddy adventure.
Driving back to Sevenhoven went without a hitch, the GPS was accurate about the time, we got back home about 8 pm and had pizza.
We had breakfast and left Sevenhoven for Amsterdam for a day of sight seeing. While only 37 km away, the traffic as you get closer to the city is very congested. Once you are on city streets, it is gridlocked and basically every man for himself. Bicycles and pedestrians have the right of way, they know it too. Don’t be surprised to have someone just step into the street (because they have somewhere to go). Add to this rain and no parking to speak of and you have a stressful day.
We were finally able to find parking, and made our way to the Royal Palace at the city center. We then walked to the Anne Frank house. As we walked back we got a bit to eat and explored some shops. Then it started the raining, no pouring on us. By the time we got to the parking structure we looked like drowned rats. Leaving Amsterdam was easier than the drive in. Had the weather cooperated it would have been nice to rent bicycles (the boys were very interested in this activity), but in the end we had to head back to Sevenhoven.
Slept in this morning, it was much needed after all the driving yesterday. In the morning we went to the local market for provisions, always get a kick out of finding things they don’t have in the US. Like:
And scary clowns:
There was a powering zoo right next to the market.
We took off this morning and drove along the Rhine to Koblenz. The Deutches Eck is where the Rhine and Mosel rivers come together.
In the afternoon we drive past Cologne to visit Ingrid’s niece Ruth and her family. It was nice to get a home cooked meal and visit with family. Laurie took photos with her camera, they will be posted later.
The rain started in the night around 4:30 am. It grew steadily from a light rain to a full downpour. Lightning and thunder accompanied the drenching. Laurie got up and closed the windows closed up on our floor (we are on the 3rd floor of the house).
We all slept in a bit and got up around 9. After breakfast we set of four town and it was still raining lightly. The rain continued to slowly increase in intensity, going from sprinkles, at a light rain, to full on raining. We shopped for a bit and made our way down to a Christmas store where we were treated to some peach flavored brandy by a shop owner. He explained that his family makes the brandy along with other things they sell. It was delicious and we bought a couple bottles, maybe it was just good marketing? But we’re enjoyed it. He invited us back to try another flavor next time.
We went back to our house for a light lunch and headed for the near Castle. Rain or no rain. The waterfall we saw the evening before was raging as we made our way up the hillside.
Castle Rheinfels is a ruins and a present day hotel. We had a great time exploring the ruins, from the mineshaft below to the top of the tower. It’s amazing how accessable these historical sites are to the public. The boys love exploring the castles, by far their favorite activity in Germany.