Spring Break 2017 – Benelux plus Paris

Feeling blessed to be able to plan and execute this trip, this year, with this beautiful family of mine.

It is spring in Europe and by far the most beautiful time of year. The temperatures are rising – although slowly – the blue skies are back and the trees are blooming! It is so pretty. Here in Kiel it almost feels like that there are just as many sailboats docking along the Kiel’s East & West Coast as cars are parked in the city.


 

And although it is just so pretty at home right now – the new sectional helps too I admit  🙂 – we planned a trip outside our surroundings and outside of the the country.

So here it goes: Spring break travel diary: 

Tuesday, up and out early. Super organized start to our trip. We were up by 4:30 am and out by 5:19. It was really a good move to avoid the typical morning rush hour and get a third of the first leg of our drive behind us before sunrise. First stop Bremen for coffee and a little gasoline fill up. Then south we went via Osnabrück, Münster to Holland. Finally Utrecht, Holland and a very yummy lunch and much needed break from driving. So grateful to be able to return to the city we instantly loved last summer. I’m grateful to be able to sit in this car with these people and travel on these safe roads accompanied by perfect traveling weather.

Tuesday afternoon, arrive at Antwerp, Belgium. Check into hotel, not a very luxurious one but conveniently located close to the major highways. rest on the patio and give Butch time to catch up on some sleep. Evening drive to the harbor to have some burgers at Ellis.

Wednesday morning checkout and hit the road. Quick gasoline fill up and a road side breakfast.

A beautiful two hour drive southeast through Belgium to Luxembourg. Here we checked into our tiny hotel in the mountains only to get back into the car to drive to the city of Luxemburg. I knew I would love Luxembourg and had an image in my head what it would look like. And just as I envisioned the capital city of Luxembourg with it’s over 115K inhabitants was royal, breathtaking, gorgeous, unique, clean, the ancient fortress makes it a very romantic and impressive site to see and experience.

It wasn’t hard to find one’s way around this well structured city laid out on different plateaus. We happen to come across a very authentic crepe restaurant in an alley and had the best service and yummiest food here to get us reenergized to take on the city fortress by foot with a four year old skipping away as we descended the ancient stairs to what we thought was the coolest skate park with an adjacent playground. What a treat.

On the way back up the fortress we opted for the elevator and were back to our starting point without breaking a sweat. I think Luxembourg was the perfect combo: I got my urban fix in sans the crazy busy city-life and traffic, the kids got their mix of culture and play time. Perfect place to hang out with the family. We picked up sandwiches at a deli downtown and headed back to our quaint little cottage in Bigonville.

It probably was the quietest placed I ever slept at – not even a bike or a pedestrian near or far – which we really needed after all the driving we’d done in two last. In the morning we had arranged that the landlord would have breakfast for us which we enjoyed in the cottage’s private dining room. My list of gratefulness was extra long that morning with the smell of fresh coffee, the crisp baguette and fresh butter, that I got to enjoy with my husband and my three kids who themselves seem to really understand and appreciate this special place. The landlord didn’t speak any English but was fluent in German by the way. This we encountered many more times traveling through tiny villages of Luxembourg and the East of Belgium. A good motivation to practice my French for sure.

The drive downhill from this teeny tiny place through the woods of Belgium to France was very quiet and unique. No huge trucks or other travellers on the road as was the case between Holland and Belgium. Since the drive into Paris would take almost four hours we scheduled a stop in Reims, France. A little walk through the city’s old town and a pit stop at a burger joint later we were excited to finally start the final leg of our trip and reach the highlight of our trip – Paris!

By four o’clock on Thursday we reached our hotel in the south west of the city. The pictures on the booking site didn’t lie. This Novotel was brand new, super clean, very conveniently located and the room absolutely perfect for our big family. I know I was very relieved to finally put my feet up and start daydreaming about walking to the Eiffel Tower – the same night! And so I did. None of the kids nor Butch felt like leaving this gorgeous hotel anytime soon so I grabbed my camera, vallet and the room key and followed along the main street to reach the hub Montparnasse. From here already I could spy that gorgeous ever-so-adored tower which motivated me to walk another 45 minutes downhill always with the Eiffel in viewsight. Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed this walk and adventure by myself without any small children slowing my pace. I was asked for directions by other French people many times and felt really a part of this city! Me on a mission to discovering this city of love. It was worth every step. I know I will cherish this experience for a very long time. By the time the sun set at 9 pm I had purchased a whole set of Metro tickets for the family and used the first one to take my first-ever ride on the Parisian metro! An absolutely cool experience! And a quick 15 to 20 minutes later I surfaced back up right in front of our hotel! I love the metro. It’s so convenient, affordable and so easy to travel with. Paris is really beautiful!

 

The actual fabric shopping I’ll postpone to my next trip that is sure to come – most likely alone or with one of my daughters. I’ll be sure to visit the multiple friends I have in town that time. This trip was really just a teaser.

A few things this trip has taught me:

  • Go to Paris ‘sans kids’ next time
  • Vacation for kids is a park with other kids, ice cream, pasta or pizza for lunch & dinner – you don’t have to go far for that!
  • The thing that a pre-teen needs most: unlimited access to mobile devices, a glass of orange juice and a croissant for breakfast – whether organic or not, served on real dishes or just on a napkin makes no difference
  • Most essential item for me while traveling: A cell phone with extra power bank!
  • Good to have also: Full bank account!
  • Short break every couple of hours to refill on caffeine
  • Shopping is overrated when the city is this beautiful and selfie-opps are in every corner
  • Who needs a gym when you can walk historic sites – healthy & inspiring at the same time!
  • Another important lesson I’ve learned this week: French is a good language to know.  It is essential while traveling especially the small towns of Luxembourg or Belgium. In Holland though English is perfectly enough. And when in Paris, it is a pleasure to be able to speak and understand the language of these beautiful people.

A few hobby related words I’ve picked up from the stack of magazines I purchased in Paris:

  • Sewing machine: machine a coudre
  • Embroidery: broderie
  • Skirt: jupe
  • Dress: robe
  • Pants: pantalon
  • To sew: coudre
  • To knit: tricoter
  • Cut: couper
  • Scissors: ciseaux
  • Thread: fil a coudre
  • Yarn: la laine
  • Measuring tape: decametre a ruban
  • Pins: epingle
  • Needles: aiguille
  • Buttons: bouton
  • Fabric: le tissu
  • Crochet: faire de crochet
  • Iron: fer a repasser
  • To measure: mesurer

And then finally HOME! It’s true – there’s no place like home! As inspiring and rejuvenating travelling is, to know that there’s a clean and comfortable, peaceful place to come back to and know that I live in a very safe and peaceful city. It makes me feel especially grateful.

Love,

Yasemin

 

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