Germany – Part III

***Continued from previous post.

{November 9 – 12:00 pm – Berlin}
On the ICE direct train to Nuremberg. (Cost: €194) The trains are so expensive! It should take about five hours to reach our destination. This morning we were up at 8:30 am (why, on our last day in Berlin, were we able to get up?!) to start packing our things. By 10:30 am we had checked out and walked down to catch the M5 tram to the stop just after Alexanderplatz. Hopped on the S-bahn to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Bought our tickets for the 11:52 am train to Nuremberg (Nürnberg). Grabbed some sandwiches to bring with us for lunch (discount with Welcome Cards).

{November 9 – 7:15 pm – Nuremberg}
Here we are in Nuremberg! The streets are cobbled and the architecture is beautiful. At the Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof, we waited in line at the DB kiosk so that we could ask directions to our hotel, the Sorat Agneshof, and purchased bus tickets. Before leaving the station we found a grocery store and bought a few snacks. We absolutely love these refrigerated Kinder snacks:


Kinder treats (iPhone)

From the train station we hopped onto a local U-bahn train. After going a couple stops, we realized that we were heading in the wrong direction! I find the underground railway so confusing to use. We quickly got off and went to the other side of the platform and caught the proper train to Rathenauplatz. Then we transferred to bus #36 and got off at the Rathaus stop. From there we proceeded to get lost in the dark! We didn’t have a map with us and kind of wandered around, going up and down the cobbled, hilly streets dragging our suitcases until we ended up sitting on a bench in what turned out to be Albrecht Dürer Square. I stayed put, munching on a chocolate pastry and guarding our suitcases, while Jordan went in search of our hotel. Less than 10 minutes later he reappeared and told me that we had walked by the street earlier. Figures! Checked into our hotel. The room is small but it was cheap so no complaints! There is a bed, a television, and a good-sized bathroom, which is all we need.


Jordan & I heading to Nuremberg

{November 9 – 10:20 pm – Nuremberg}
After checking into our room on the second floor, we freshened up and went in search of dinner. The gentleman at reception gave us a few restaurant suggestions. More wandering around in the dark took us back to the square and past the castle, until finally we ended up at “Albrecht-Dürer-Stube”. This restaurant is just around the corner from the hotel and came highly recommended. Everyone sits around communal tables and the atmosphere is very warm and friendly. I ordered the pork shoulder with dumpling and red cabbage, while Jordan had the venison stew. (Cost: €25) We are getting low on cash, better find an ATM soon.


Room (Sorat Agneshof) Bathroom (Sorat Agneshof) Pork shoulder with dumpling and red cabbage

{November 10 – 6:25 pm – Nuremberg}
After being out all day (what else is new?!), we are having dinner at “Karl’s Brückla”, a restaurant we found randomly.

This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel to save ourselves some time. (Cost: €14) We got a map from reception and pinpointed where the nearest Deutsche Bank ATM is. Walked over to the Hauptmarkt (main square) and found the tourist info kiosk. Purchased a special group day pass for €8 which we will more than make up for just by taking the bus to and from the Documentation Centre. Looked around the square for a little while; all sorts of tables were set up with fresh produce, cheeses, lebkuchen, etc.


Agnes Sorathof Nuremberg Hauptmarkt Nuremberg

Walked to the Deutsche Bank and withdrew €250. And then returned to the Hauptmarkt to catch bus #36 to the Doku-Zentrum stop. Our plan for the day is to spend some time at the Documentation Centre & Former Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Admission with audioguide to the Documentation Centre is €10 per person. We spent over an hour in there, touring through the exhibits. Although it was very interesting, we got so hot and bored with listening to the audioguide that we ended up hurrying through the last few sections. Most of the information we had already read about in other museums. At the end of the tour we stepped outside to view the inside of the Congress Hall. We handed in the audioguides then went outside for some fresh, but chilly, air and ended up walking around the Congress Hall to take some pictures. Jordan really wanted to see Zeppelin Field so we asked directions inside the Centre, then set out walking again in the drizzle. It is about a 10 minute walk from the Centre. I’m glad we went because it was neat to see. The steps are crumbling and it’s “climb at your own risk” and the immense field is now a stadium.


Strange sculpture On the bus Documentation Centre Congress Hall View of Congress Hall across the water Pausing in the rain for a photo

Caught bus #36 back to the Hauptmarkt. Looked around at a few shops. I bought a keychain for Lori. Walked around for what felt like eternity before finding a place to eat dinner. I ordered the pork cutlets stuffed with ham and cheese (also came with salad and fries) and a delicious hot chocolate; Jordan ordered pork topped with a fried egg (with potato wedges, salad, and 2 beers). (Cost: €27) I couldn’t finish my amazing meal because the cutlets were huge!


Press this button for Breakfast

{November 10 – 10:30 pm – Nuremberg}
After that filling meal we hopped on the U-bahn at Lorenzkirche and journeyed to the train station. Purchased our expensive tickets for tomorrow’s ride to Geilenkirchen. (Cost: €230) Also got a couple snacks then returned to the hotel for the night. Too bad we couldn’t stay here longer because we didn’t get to see very much!


Zeppelin Field Hitler's platform Pork cutlets stuffed with ham and cheese Amazing hot chocolate from "Karl's Bruekla" Warming my hands

{November 11 – 1:25 pm – Somewhere between Wurzberg and Frankfurt}
On the noon ICE train to Frankfurt. Once there we change to another ICE heading to Aachen. From Aachen we will end up in Geilenkirchen where Tammy & Tyler will pick us up. We ate breakfast at the hotel again, then took the bus and U-bahn to get to Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof. We should be in Geilenkirchen by 5:00 pm.

{November 11 – 3:00 pm – Montabaur}
We barely made our connection in Frankfurt. Once we boarded and found our seats there was announcement stating that the train would be delayed 6 minutes. I hope that doesn’t mess up our connection in Aachen. Ate our chocolate cookies for snack.

{November 11 – 6:00 pm – Tüddern}
Made our train in Aachen. Tammy & Tyler were waiting for us in Geilenkirchen, with their dog Doug. Now we are just settling in.

{November 12 – 6:45 pm – Tüddern}
Yesterday we had veggies & dip, various cheeses, herbed crackers, and sliced sausages for a snack at Tammy & Tyler’s home. Later, Tammy made chicken kebabs, rice, and white asparagus for dinner. We sat around eating and watching “Top Gear” on Netflix for the rest of the night.


Trier, Germany

Funky statue (Trier) Porta Nigra Trier's Church of Our Lady

Thermal bath ruins

Today we drove for 2 hours to Trier and walked around the town centre. We bought “cone fries” (aka fries in a cone of paper that we fell in love with in Austria two years ago) and “pizza in a pocket”. Bought a couple postcards to add to my collection. Took some photos of the Church of Our Lady, Porta Nigra (near the tourist information building), and the thermal bath ruins. Beautiful day to be out! I should note that I finally had to pay for use of a toilet today. When you gotta pee, you gotta pee!

{November 13 – 2:40 pm – Tüddern}
Tammy had to work today so Tyler, Jordan, and I drove out to Aachen. We wandered around the area near the cathedral. There are tons of bakeries selling printen (Aachen’s version of lebkuchen). I bought a bag of miniature printen pieces covered in chocolate. The christmas displays in the bakeries are beautiful to look at. Jordan bought a cherry danish for a snack. We found a Starbucks and I had to go in to try the lebkuchen latte; it tastes like a light gingerbread with a lot of cinnamon. Jordan ordered a caramel macchiato and we enjoyed our beverages sitting on a bench by the cathedral.


Enjoying a danish in Aachen Aachener printen Aachen Cathedral

Our main reason for coming to Aachen was to visit the Lindt chocolate factory. Jordan asked for directions in the Starbucks and the girl gave him a free map with the route drawn on. We walked over to the factory, when we probably should have drove. Luckily it wasn’t raining and we all seemed to have plenty of energy thanks to our coffees. When we got near the factory we noticed a huge sign saying “Lindt Chocolate Factory” but neither of us noticed the huge arrow pointing to the left. Instead we kept walking straight and ended up having to walk around the entire perimeter of the factory to find the entrance. Oops! No photos allowed inside the factory and it’s cash or debit only. I went a little crazy seeing all the beautiful chocolate for sale but knowing we could only pay cash, I tried to limit myself. I ended up spending €34 on chocolate! It could have been worse….


Drinking a lebkuchen latte Jordan's caramel macchiato Lindt chocolate factory

Posing in Aachen

We got back to the truck by 1:30 pm just as our parking was about to expire. On the way back to Tüddern we stopped at a gas station in The Netherlands and bought some sparkling Lipton iced tea! Reunited at last with my favourite iced tea. And then the realization kicks in: Oh no, tomorrow we leave!


Sparkling iced tea (iPhone)

{November 14 – 5:30 pm – In the Air}
We’ve been in the air since 2:00 pm. Time to play catch-up.

Didn’t do much yesterday after returning from Aachen. Watched the boys play Forza Horizons on Tyler’s XBox 360. Once Tammy came home from work she heated up some cheesy tortellini for dinner. And of course we snacked on more bread, crackers, and cheese. We talked the boys into turning off their game and instead watched more “Top Gear” episodes that cracked us up. By 10:30 pm we had our things packed and were in bed. I can’t believe how much cramming I had to do to get all that chocolate to fit in my suitcase.


Leaving Germany Plane food A fighter jet outside my window

Tyler came home from work early and drove us to the Köln-Bonn Flughafen. Took about 1.5 hours. He dropped us off at Crew Gate Alpha. After getting the attention of some military personnel on the other side of a glass door, we were let inside and passed through security quickly. We waited outside for what seemed like ages before a bus showed up to bring us to the plane. Sat on the bus with four other people, also for ages, before being allowed to board the plane.

***End of journal.


Welcome home!

The food served on these military flights is so much better than other flights I’ve been on. Each time the stewardess came by, she would give me cookies! The flight home was fine. Jordan and I sat at the front for the first leg of the journey, which gave us lots of leg room. Once we entered Canadian airspace, two fighter jets came up along side the plane and welcomed the soldiers returning from Afghanistan. That was pretty cool!

My chocolate stash and souvenirs:


Kinder and Milka Lindt chocolate bags Yummy Lindt treats

More Lindt chocolate bars

Postcards Magnets

Europe – Part VI

***Continued from previous post.

{October 20 – 9:11 pm – Amsterdam, The Netherlands}
Still not feeling well, big surprize. Couldn’t get up for the alarm and ended up sleeping til 10 am. Before heading out for lunch we went down to the lobby and I asked if there was any store nearby that I could buy cold medication from. The lady said to try “D.A.” since I would need a prescription to visit a pharmacy. So we went there and got some Kleenex packs and some cold medication. The store didn’t have anything like Advil or Tylenol and the lady there gave me some medication with Dutch all over the label and she explained to take a couple pills every hour.

Found lunch at “Small Talk”. I had a cheese omelet with toast and black tea while Jordan had fried eggs with toast and a cappuccino. Can’t remember how much it cost. While we were waiting for the food it started to rain and a bunch of people surged into the restaurant. After eating we hopped on a tram to Centraal Station (to get out of the rain) and bought two train tickets to Sittard, for tomorrow. Tickets cost 44€ total and would get us to Sittard before 4:30 pm, just in time to be picked up by Tyler & Tammy. Then we boarded the #9 tram, got off at Plantage Middenlaan, and walked to Hortus Botanicus. Entrance fee of 7.50€ per person. It was a little disappointing because I expected to see more flowers, but there was a butterfly conservatory and a cactus greenhouse, etc.



After spending some time there, we walked from the Plantage district to the Heineken Experience building. Even if you don’t like Heineken, or beer for that matter, it was still cool to go through the tour for 15€ per person (on VISA again). Kind of neat to see the process of how it’s all made. Myself, definitely not a Heineken fan, but we’re in The Netherlands! We had a sample partway through and then at the end of the tour we could use the buttons on our wristbands to trade for two more drinks. I kind of hurried us out of there since I was feeling pretty awful and was getting a pounding headache. Too cold out to do anything else, and getting late, so we returned to the hotel and sent Tammy a message to let her know what time we’d be arriving tomorrow. There’s still so much that I wish we could have seen, and I regret not getting to Leiden, but with our limited time and illness it is just not possible.



For our final dinner in Holland we ended up at “Mezzaluna” for pizza and pasta. Unfortunately I couldn’t taste my food, nor smell it, but it looked tasty. Add in green tea and a hot chocolate and the meal came to 23€. Now back to our room to rest and take some more drugs, which aren’t working very well. Why is there no Advil Cold & Sinus here?!

{October 21 – 11:50 pm – Tüddern, Germany}
Woke up to the alarm at 8 am to start packing. Now I have one small suitcase, my purse, the Salzburg bag, and the Amsterdam bag, plus Jordan’s suitcase, all crammed with stuff. Yikes! At 10:45 am we went over to the bakery for a sandwich, cookie, and apple turnover (7.10€). I ate half the sandwich, Jordan had the cookie, and we packed away the food. Checked out a little before noon. Hopped on the #2 tram to Centraal Station and boarded the 12:38 pm Eindhoven train rather than the 1:38 pm due to a very tight transfer schedule between trains. We figured that, if we did happen to miss our connecting train, we wouldn’t be late for Tyler & Tammy. At Eindhoven we got on the bus to Weert, and then took the final train from Weert to Sittard (still in The Netherlands), arriving at 3:18 pm. Waited inside in the warmth til 4:45 pm for our ride. Long day, but it felt great to be back at our friends’ home. Later that evening we ordered food to be delivered: pizza, fries, and schnitzel. Didn’t eat much as I still was not feeling well. We watched “The Hangover” and then I took some Nyquil (yes, REAL drugs!) and fell asleep.

{October 22 – 11:12 pm – Tüddern, Germany}
This morning I was still sick so I decided to not accompany Tyler and Jordan to the Düsseldorf Airport. I had a granola bar and apple turnover for breakfast, and some water. My nose is sore. Jordan and I have our suitcases packed, finally. Tyler picked him up before lunch and left for the airport. Even though Jordan and I are parting today, with him heading back to work in the Middle East, I’m glad to be going home tomorrow. I had a nap from 1:30 to 3:30 pm and ate leftover pizza for dinner. Tammy and I watched the new “Robin Hood” movie and then I went to bed. Coughed all night.



{October 23 – 10:30 am – Tüddern, Germany}
We leave in an hour for the airport. I made myself some tea with sugar and peanut butter on toast for breakfast. Trying to stay away from milk, as that makes my cough worse. I have no idea how I am going to handle the two plane rides home in my state. My ears are plugged and I can hardly breathe. I should be in Toronto by 8:15 pm tonight, then a looooong drive home!

{October 23 – 3 pm EST – Somewhere Over Atlantic Ocean}
Tyler & Tammy drove me to Düsseldorf Airport. Before checking in I thanked them profusely for allowing us to stay with them. Got my boarding passes. The first flight to Amsterdam was only 30 minutes on a little plane. Once in Amsterdam, I found my gate after passport control. I’m on my way home! What an amazing trip!

***End of journal.

Made it home in one piece. The last flight home was great, no turbulence, however my plugged ears caused a lot of pain on the descent to Toronto Pearson Airport. Such excruciating pain, I don’t know how I stood it. During the flight I kept myself pumped with cold medication, otherwise I got coughing and couldn’t stop. Home sweet home.

Europe – Part I

Jordan returned home from his deployment the evening of November 4th, almost a month early. I am overjoyed to have him home and I hope that he won’t be sent away again for a good long while. As I mentioned many times before, we planned a trip to Europe during his vacation days: October 6th – 23rd. It was just a fluke that he came home only a couple weeks after this! Just as I did during our trip to Thailand, I wrote in a journal each day of our Europe adventure. And once again I’ll re-create that journal here, for myself and for anyone else who wants to read about our trip. Except for the first entry in Toronto, all of the times I have listed are local for the cities we are in.

With only two and a half weeks for traveling together, we had to narrow down the cities we wanted to visit. After much thought, we decided on the following: Tüddern, Germany (basing ourselves at our friends’ home); Salzburg, Austria; Bruges, Belgium; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands. By choosing only a few destinations, we allowed ourselves to spend a good amount of time in each city to relax as well as explore.

{October 5 – 7:00 pm EST – Toronto Pearson Airport}
Dad picked me up at 3:30 pm and we drove in the pouring rain to the Toronto Airport. I think we arrived around 6:30 pm. Dad dropped me off and I brought my baggage inside: one large suitcase (filled with autumn-weather clothing for Jordan), one carry-on suitcase (filled with my own clothes and toiletries), and a big pink zippered purse crammed with two cameras, a book, notebook and pens, snack foods, passport, Euros, etc. Dad had parked at the entrance closest to the KLM counters, so once I went inside it was easy to spot where I needed to go. My flight was scheduled for 10:35 pm and I was four hours early. A woman with an Air France uniform showed me how to check in at a kiosk and print my boarding passes. Then I waited another half an hour until we were allowed to line up to check our baggage. After that it was a quick trip through security. My boarding pass says I need to be at my gate at 9:20 pm. Bought an over-priced bottle of water to drink during my wait. I seem to be the only person in the waiting area of my gate. This first flight to Amsterdam should be about 7 hours; then a quick flight to Düsseldorf, Germany, where I will be reunited with my husband! I guess I will read for awhile.

{October 6 – 12:30 pm – Amsterdam Schiphol Airport}
The flight out of Toronto left 10 minutes late. The flight itself was uneventful; minimal turbulence. I had an aisle seat. The food was alright, nothing fancy. I drank a lot of water and attempted to sleep most of the journey. The late departure meant a late arrival in Amsterdam. I was in a rush to get through Passport Control (huge lines), security, and then to my gate which seemed to be at the far reaches of the airport! The man who stamped my passport asked me if there was anything else Dutch about me besides my last name. I explained that my father was born in The Netherlands but I wasn’t taught to speak Dutch. The lines through security took forever as well but here I am, at the gate, with 15 minutes to spare before boarding! I am starving and so tired. This airport is very stuffy and warm, my throat feels very dry but there’s no point buying water when I can’t bring it onto the plane with me. All I can think is that I will see Jordan this afternoon!



{October 7 – 9:30 am – Tüddern, Germany}
Very long day yesterday and I didn’t have time to write, but here’s what went on. Once my flight was called for boarding, we were herded onto a bus and driven to our “City Hopper” plane that would be flying us to Düsseldorf. During the short 30 minute flight I was asked to complete a survey. We were served orange juice and a cookie for snack. I hate orange juice but I was so thirsty I drank it anyway. Now, this plane was very small and us passengers were crammed in together. The landing just about turned my stomach because I could feel every drop in altitude. I much prefer the bigger planes for their smooth landings! Anyway, we disembarked onto the tarmac and headed into the “Schengen” building (no passport control), away from the gloomy overcast sky. I could hardly believe I was finally in Germany! Proceeded to Baggage Claim (sometime after 2 pm), collected my big suitcase, and headed to the Arrivals hall. And there they are, Jordan and his friend Tyler, waiting for me! During the journey from the airport to the little town of Tüddern (lots of farmland, wind turbines, and sugar beets), we got pulled over by the police. Apparently there was a sign indicating “no over-taking”, and Tyler didn’t see it. I’m not sure what that even means. Anyway, Tyler ended up with a ticket, but he wasn’t really bothered by it. He and his wife have lived there for over a year now (military posting) and it was their suggestion that we stay with them for a few days. At some point, before or after that little incident, we stopped at a gas station to buy something to drink for Jordan and myself. I used the washroom as well, which cost 0.50€, but a machine issued me a ticket that offered the same amount off any purchase. Finally we arrived at their house and were shown around. The toilet is weird and I couldn’t figure out how to flush it the first time, haha! While Tyler & Tammy went out to pick up groceries for dinner, Jordan and I showered and changed. Later, while Tammy prepared dinner, Tyler, Jordan, and I sat outside around the firepit in their backyard. The weather was cloudy but not really cold, and the warmth from the fire was perfect. For dinner we had garlic chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, garlic potatoes, salad, and fresh rolls. The food was delicious, especially after all that airplane food! Rest of the night was spent around the fire. Around 11 pm, utterly exhausted, we finally went to bed. Now it’s the morning of our first full day in Germany and time to shower and change!

{October 7 – 11:10 pm – Tüddern, Germany}
Yet another long day! After getting ready and eating breakfast (cereal for me, fried egg on toast for Jordan), the four of us drove to Monschau, a quaint town untouched by the ravages of WWII. We parked outside the town and walked in. Cobbled stone streets, canals, picturesque houses and shops, but very touristy. We spent the whole afternoon walking around without realizing it. The weather was absolutely perfect, with only a few clouds, bright blue sky, and a warm sun, definitely better weather for October than back home in Ontario! We wandered through a flea market, walked down the narrow lanes, window-shopped – I ended up buying a postcard for 0.40€. In the square we sat down at an outdoor table; everyone ordered a tall glass of beer, while I had a tall glass of water. Then we moved to another table whose associated restaurant actually served food and we ordered lunch: personal pizzas for each of us. Tyler helped to translate the menu. My three years of German courses back in university helped a little bit, as well. Pizza mit Käse und Schinken seemed to be the best option and it was delicious. Jordan also ordered a side of fries. I love fries and was not disappointed in these; they were certainly better than any I’ve ever eaten. Maybe it’s because they were German? I believe the pizzas each cost 7€ and Tyler insisted on paying for the meal.



We decided to walk around some more after lunch. Found a free public toilet. Walked up some steep stone steps that eventually brought us to the ruins of an ancient castle. All this time Jordan had been munching on the fries that he stuffed into his pocket from lunch, because he didn’t want to throw them out. These came to be delightfully known as “pocket fries”, yum! Fries are always better when they’re from somebody’s pocket. lol By 4:30 pm we made it back to the truck and drove back home, stopping at the train station in Geilenkirchen first (closed). We sat outside by the fire again, drinking Caesars (which I tried for the first time) and hot chocolate. Leftover chicken sandwiches for dinner. Now it’s bedtime and tomorrow’s adventure is Maastricht, Holland!



{October 8 – 6:00 pm – Tüddern, Germany}
Woke up early this morning. First we headed over to the train station in Geilenkirchen so that we could purchase our tickets for tomorrow. Then we were on our way to Maastricht! It wasn’t a very long drive and once again we lucked out with beautiful weather. The streets are very narrow with other cars, buses, and cyclists coming at us from every direction. I’m glad I wasn’t the one to parallel park the big truck Tyler was driving! We walked around and explored the streets and shops, and stepped into the “VVV” (tourist information) to buy a map of the city. Took some photos of the ancient Third Wall of the city, walked up the Helpoort (donation of 5€), and walked down by the water looking at boats. Everything was so lovely, I didn’t want to leave! But we only had parking until 2:30 pm, so we eventually had to walk back to the truck.



We decided to drive over to see Fort Sint Pieter but it was closed. Although we couldn’t go inside, we did climb the steep hill for a great view of the fort. Very hot after this uphill walk. Getting hungry, so goodbye Maastricht, we are heading over to Sittard for some food and easier parking! Once in Sittard we sat down at a restaurant called “Luna” in the square. Ordered beer and water, of course. Jordan tried a Hoegaarden “Rose”, which looks like a girly cocktail when poured in a glass. For lunch I had a ham and cheese panini, with salad; Jordan ordered a Hawaiian panini with twister frites on the side. Our meal cost 25€ including tip. After this delicious food, the four of us walked over to the grocery store “Albert Heijn”. I picked out some salty black licorice candy, Belgian waffles, and milk chocolate sprinkles to bring home to Canada. Now we’re back at the house, with laundry on the go, and watching a movie. We’ll have to pack tonight because our train is at 7 am tomorrow morning!



***Continued in next post.