Christmas season is upon us. Temperatures are low, light is rare, people bundle up when they leave their cozy homes. I have one word to describe this year: Speed! It’s already December and I am in awe of the speed … Continue reading
This spring break we got to board our favorite cruise ship right here from downtown Kiel to head to Oslo, the capital and with 648,000 people the most populous city of Norway.
We were so excited about boarding this ship after hearing and seeing it twice a day every day at 10 am and 2 pm.
The trip takes about 20 hours.
We boarded at 1:15 pm and by the time we checked into our room and headed back upstairs to the observation deck we heard that ship horn and smoothly left the Norwegenkai in Kiel. Bye bye Kiel! See you in a few days!
Checking into our cabin is always like unwrapping a gift:
Our cabin was rather small but we spent more time exploring the ship then inside of it anyway…
A little wind and rain didn’t keep these three from enjoying the open sea on deck.
Back inside there was a lot to do as well:
arcades, game center, cafes and restaurants with & without ocean view… a fitness center and an indoor pool area (one place I wasn’t allowed to take pics at)!
After a relatively short night we arrived early morning in Norwegian waters and lots of little island to see before we docked in sunny Oslo at 10 am.
We grabbed the first taxi for a short ride downtown to our hotel: Citybox. Perfect for families, simple, central, modern & clean!
We had 24 hours to explore this gorgeous city so no time to waste… We explored everything by foot and with this crisp air from the Fjord …
In front of the Oslo City Hall
We loved having the place to ourselves and dancing on the beautiful marble floors…
From the city hall it was a nice walk along the boardwalk to the Oslo opera house and the main train station:
Seda didn’t miss a good photo opp. She had to do it! 🙂
The central train station (Ostbanehallen) is a sight to see on it’s own. It’s home to exciting restaurants, bars, cafes and shops – all under a glass roof! Our absolute favorite place was this bread bar called BIT! The cinnamon bread was out of this world!
The cool silver Airport Express Train leaves downtown Oslo every 10 minutes and reaches Oslo airport in 19 minutes! The whole atmosphere at the train station is so low stress – it’s incredible!
The next day it was back to the Color Line terminal for us. We were hoping to catch a Tesla taxi but had to make-do with a Benz. Oh well – first world problems!
Oslo City Hall from the top floor of the Color Line.
The fjord is absolutely breathtaking and for ours we had beautiful sights to see and photograph when leaving Oslo.
Back inside when we reached the open sea the kids loved the chip & dips and the kid’s drinks in grown up glasses … Below Isaiah in the observation lounge with ‘captain’s view’.
I absolutely loved this spectacular sky!!
20 hours at sea later we arrived back home – back in Kiel!
Looking at the above pictures I realize once more how beautiful Kiel really is!
Thank you Color Line for taking us to Norway and back home safely!
Stella WITHOUT a hat? It has to be spring in Germany! Thank goodness it’s finally spring! Every day there’s more light, every day there’s more warmth. 10 degrees Celsius feel like 25 right now. We’ve been in such a long winter … Continue reading
Made with love – indeed! I managed to do some sewing in the first quarter of the year. A striped pouch for my sister: A matching girl-doll skirt combo: A tulip skirt for my little Stella: A handful of mini-skirts … Continue reading
Another visit to Berlin – this time in the winter! Berlin’s landmark is undoubtedly the Brandenburger Tor above but this is more like what Berlin means to us = family reunion! Warm food, countless hugs, hours of conversations and many … Continue reading
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!
February, you short, cold, frozen month! But we survived and had fun too! Sledding, building tiny snowmen, and dressing up for Fasching! Glad March is here though and with it the promise of spring! And a short trip in the books come April! All very exciting!
Although this might have been the coldest winter I’ve experienced since I moved to the US 13 years ago, I do appreciate the light here in Germany. Already mid-March the sun rises at 6:30 am and sets at 6:30 pm! And the days are getting longer in huge leaps. Unlike the US, we haven’t ‘sprung’ forward yet. We are still on wintertime. We also haven’t been on spring break from school either. Spring forward, spring break, Easter, visit from daddy and a trip to Brussels – coming soon! Welcome spring! Looking forward to a nice time together.
The year started of on the wrong note for me. Butch had to fly back to the US early January 2. After 6 weeks of family bliss it was hard to let him go. Just as soon as those many fireworks went of into the brisk night my mood went from happy, blissful, content to gloomy, dark & cold … Thankfully, I was distracted by the schedule renovation of Isaiah’s room. That got me busy and motivated again.
Once school started back on January 7th there was no time to sit around and mope. We quickly got back into our daily routine. Stella went back to her favorite Wednesday activity: dance class!
Isaiah had indoor soccer tournaments EVERY weekend!
Seda started guitar lessons.
Isaiah started playing the keyboard.
And I squeezed in some sewing here and there:
I also did some (Ikea) shopping while the kids were at school. Isaiah’s room is finally done!
He got to spend one whole week in there before he (happily) vacated it for my friend Jen who visited from Texas. Oh, how I love getting ready for company. The anticipation and the preparation for days leading up to the arrival are my favorite. And then just like that she arrived! No jetlag, no nothing! A real trooper! She didn’t miss a minute of her very short week stay in Kiel.
We picked up the kids from school together.
We celebrated my birthday together.
We went tea shopping together.
We had tea together.
and some more tea:
We also had coffee together.
We ate out together.
We ate in:
We went into every tea shop.
And of course we took selfies. Lots of selfies!
Dear Jen, thank you so much for making the long journey over the Atlantic to spend time with us – away from your own. You are by far the easiest, most pleasant guest I’ve ever hosted in my house ever since I got married 13 years ago. Every day with you here was exceptional. XO
As if that wasn’t already enough of joy and good fortune in one month, my boy got invited to try out for Kiel’s best soccer club! We’d been waiting for this day all summer but there were no dates for try outs scheduled. Long story short, Isaiah joined Holstein Kiel on the spot! Little did I know how busy my life was really going to get NOW!!
Wow! Busy is no exaggeration but we are all very excited for Isaiah. He has to work really hard, practice OUTSIDE in below freezing temps but he is so excited & proud to wear those red, white & blue jerseys of Holstein Kiel.
And talking about freezing temperatures: January was full of winter’s beauty! We got just enough powder to get a good taste of what winter is supposed to be like. We haven’t had enough to bring out the sleighs yet but spending time outdoors has become interesting & fun again.
No matter what the weather, I hope you feel warm & loved. I am curious to see what else 2015 has in store for us!
P.S. February brings another VIP to Kiel! Stay tuned.