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 started to get our shopping done for the things we plan to bring with us back to the states. From the looks of what we bought, it’s mainly junk food and chocolate.
We started the morning by visiting Ingrid’s childhood home. She spoke to the owner of the home (who lives across the street). The man explained his daughter lives in the house and that we were welcome to go into the yard and look around. As we were exploring, the man who lives in the upstairs portion of the house (where Ingrid’s family lived) came over and offered to show us the flat. The house was very nice inside, almost like a museum inside.
After, we walked down to the shops and farmer’s market of Delmenhorst. Cobblestone streets and fresh food. It rained a bit, but then quickly cleared to a beautiful day.
After the shopping, it was time to drop off the goods and head up to visit Stephan and Gundy. After visiting with them at their home and enjoying delicious cakes and coffee, we all went to the harbor in Bremenhaven.
The destination was the top of the Atlantic Hotel Sail City. They have a great observation deck on top with amazing views all around.
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 packed up and sadly said goodbye to St Goar. We were able to successfully navigate around the road closures as we were familiar with the local roads by now. We had planned there events on the way to Amsterdam: Draconfels, the cathedral in Cologne, and a bridge in Cologne.
We arrived in Honigs-Winter thanks to our gps. Unfortunately, or gps also took us onto a private nature trail to the top of Draconfels. We dropped Joe and Ingrid off at the top and drove down to town to catch the tram to the top. Sounds nice and easy. Not! Road construction again conspired against us. After an hour we were able to find the tram station. Laurie went to the top and retrieved Joe and Ingrid, by now we were way behind schedule.
We decided to stop at a McDonald’s for some fast food. The McDonald’s here have the McCafe with coffee and baked goods. By now we needed to make up some time and decided to forget about Cologne as we had to meet the cousins in Amsterdam.
Traffic and construction on the autobahn put us way behind schedule. We arrived at our farmhouse about 5:40 pm. It is absolutely beautiful.
The boys were so excited as the host explained the features of the house. Especially the part about being able to pretty and hold the animals (chickens, rabbits, goats, pigs, and goats). There is also soccer balls and am area to play soccer.