We’ve started this summer break with no travel plans. None. Nada. Zero. After few quite days of unwinding at home we kicked it up a notch and didn’t stop until now just a week away from a new school year. That’s how we roll! Spontaneous, adventurous and always always on the go! A train ride here, a mini cruise there, the ferry to the beach, and buses, trams, and subways any and everywhere! Oh dear European summer, the long days, the mild temperatures, the mini skirts and flip flops… I love you! Summer in Europe is a festival! Summer in Europe means long sunny days (15 + hours of daylight), temperatures no higher than 80 F. Add crisp, clean ocean air with a light chill at night and every couple of days a summer thunder to cool of the pavement. It is magical. In addition to the perfect climate what I appreciate the most about living where we live is the proximity of some of my favorite countries such as Denmark, Sweden and to the south west: the Netherlands!!
I also love being by the sea – the Baltic to the east and the North Sea to the west! It is not the Mediterranean I’ll admit. But just being near the water, the sailboats, the cruise ships and the countless shades of blues are my kind of happy place. My kids have also fallen in love with the sea. They love the hustle and bustle of all the cruise ships docking at Kiel in the summer; they dream of all the places they could go by boat and count the different foreign licence plates of the more than 20 thousand visitors we get on a weekend basis. That’s a lot of people given that Kiel’s population has never surpassed the quarter million mark.
But back to our spontaneous visits to our neighbors to the southwest and the north. The beautiful country of the Netherlands to the south west of Germany is about 6 hours train / car ride from us. So first stop this summer: Amsterdam! And because Holland is so compact and the train connection to all major cities are exemplary we booked our hotel not in the capital city but in Utrecht instead. Boy, was that a great decision. We got to escape the crowds of this very popular world renowned metropolis but we got the same laid back feeling and the gorgeous canals of Amsterdam. I can’t stop gushing about how perfect of a city Utrecht was – especially when traveling during peak season with three kids under the age of 10!!! From Utrecht we were less than an hour away from The Hague, which lays close to the North Sea and has many gorgeous beaches to offer.
(Interesting fact: The Dutch have banned the 1 and 2 € cent coin. Interestingly, if your total purchase comes out to 1.57€ they automatically ask for 1.55€ even if the display states 1.57. If you are paying with plastic the amount you’ll be charged is exactly 1.57€ but if paying cash you’ll only owe 1.55€! If your purchase came out to 1.58€ you’d be asked to pay 1.60€ instead! This rounding up and down all day was like a little game for the kids to watch 🙂
The days between international travels we spent exploring our state and the nearby towns such as Neumuenster and Flensburg. My neighbor HG had recommend I visit the Tuch & Technick museum in Neumuenster this summer. They had a special exhibit of European Art Quilts. Wow they were breathtaking. Stella found them (especially one of them) very inspiring too as you can see in the below pictures. 🙂
After Neumuenster, we headed to Flensburg with our good friends C & T. We had been curious about the most Northern German city right at the border to Denmark. So onto the train we hopped and voila Germany’s most northern tip! Check!!
That’s us up there with C & T having the most delicious coffee break by the harbor. We love when C & T visit us in Kiel but we also LOVE going to Hamburg to see them. Hamburg is by far my favorite place in Germany. Having it so close and with good friends already there makes it very attractive for us and would be the only other place I’d love to move to with the family…
So here we were in Hamburg having a lovely brunch with our friends. As luck had it they live in walking distance to one of Germany’s best animal parks. So there we ended up on a lovely Sunday afternoon: Hagenbeck’s Tierpark. Fun was had by all – to say the least.
Since we can never get enough of this bustling city we decided to spend the night. When in Hamburg a boat ride on the Alster (lake) is a must. This one was a narrated tour full of trivia and along villas of the rich and famous of North Germany. I loved that the ultra-modern boats ran on solar energy alone! No emission! No noise! Needless to say WE ALL LOVED ever minute of this hour long ride!
Back home we had just enough time to do laundry and pack a bigger bag for the highlight of our summer: A long anticipated mini cruise aboard the Stena Line to Goeteburg, Sweden!!
The Stena Line leaves Kiel at 6:45 pm and arrives in Goeteburg, Sweden at 9 am the next morning. The ride through the Kiel fjord for the first hour and the ride into Goeteburg harbor the next morning are undescribably beautiful. The sunrise at about 5 am in high seas, the little Danish and Swedish islands at night that we pass by … the other cruise and container ships, the bridges, the cliffs… all the way to the lovely entertainment for the kids as well as adults on board are what makes this seafaring extra special.
As if the whole seafaring hadn’t been breathtaking enough we got rewarded by the sight of the Queen Elizabeth in our home harbor. Being on a cruise ship was beautiful at sunset while it drizzled, early morning at sunrise with clear blue skies, and the fog the next morning in Kiel had a charm all of its own.
The kids were troopers about all of the near and far travel. They were never bored while on the train, never once complained when we walked miles and miles in a new town, never fussed when we visited museums and exhibits, never complained about the random places we ate new and familiar foods at.
So this post is dedicated to my three world travelers: Isaiah, Seda and Stella. I hope that you will remember this summer as one of the best summers of your childhood. Never stop moving!
I love you!