Catching Up, Brussels to Hamburg, Germany with Koln in Between (September 7-11)

September 7 – Sunday – Funday

Today we set out on a journey that was not completed the day before. On this day we conquered the Belgium Beer Festival. It was held in the olde market square which was fitting because it is in front of the old brewers hall and museum circa 1600’s. In any case, we happily entered and found a place for us all away from the traffic. We settled the kids in with lunch, snacks, and nooks in hand. Mike was the hunter/gatherer. As I stayed with the children, he walked around and turned his caps in for delicious Belgium beers. Mike suggested that I take a walk around the square and check things out myself. Not only did I get to see a bevy of Belgium beer tents but I also stumbled across one of the breweries who were inducted (or knighted) that weekend. I turned the corner and heard a bag piper piping away in the brewers green attire. Around him were about 20 other brewers from the same brewery in the same outfits with huge goblets of beer. This was awesome! I was able to snag a quick video and a few pics of them proudly presenting their beers. They were from St. Freuillien Abby brewery circa 1725. I had to go back to the picture and zoom in to give you that bit of information. In any case they were very nice and I got great pictures. I continued on to meet a couple with a chihuahua and a french bull dog who looked like Roxy.  Snapped a pic and continued on. I bumped up against a table of people with jester hats. They smiled and I took a picture and continued on. Forward I marched back to Mike and the kids where I was ready for another tasting of Belgium’s finest. We finished up with Lindemans (you have to get it from the tap!) and then we walked down the block to check out the Mannekin Pis. This day he was wearing the St. Freuillien brewers outfit. WHAT?!!!! Way cool. Took a picture of him and then settled into the bar adjacent to the statue properly named, Mannekin Pis Bar. Gidda, our waitress whom we befriended from a few days before, was working and welcomed us with big hugs. We had lunch and of course, a few more beers. After lunch we treated the kids to another Belgium waffle (this time it was twice the price)! 

TIP-go to the waffle stand closest to the statue as it is the least expensive. 

As we were feeding the kids the waffle, we heard the bagpiper play again and looked up to see our St. Freuillien brewers marching down towards us. They stopped at the statue as their order (brewery) was being honored.  They were the rock stars for the day for sure. We continued on home and crashed after that. Unfortunately while on a vacuuming spree that evening, I blew a fuse and we were without electricity. We were working literally by candlelight and about to call it quits for the evening, when we heard the pitter patter of footsteps coming up the stairs and a knock on our door. Thankfully we have the best airbnb host ever and she literally came over as soon as she got off her plane (from Malta by the way) to help us out. We were there trying to write out our schedule and plan by candle light and so happy to see her. All hail the great Khadija! Mike and Khadija headed to the basement to get our power up and running again. Now we could continue to pack for our trip to Hamburg, Germany the next day.

September 8 -11 Hamburg, Germany

The first big train for the kids. Well, besides Sienna and I having to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes (and having to pay $1 each time) it wasn’t that bad. We got on the train and realized that almost all the seats were reserved. Soooooo unless some random stranger wants to volunteer to take care of my crazy 3 year old or my sassy 4 year old we were in trouble. 

TIP: Luckily, we remembered the dining cart. We ran in there and sat down. Thankfully another couple got up to let us sit as a family… suckers!!! This is our train car now! I told Mike I didn’t care if we had to eat and drink the full 2 hours it took to get to Koln (Cologne) Germany that we would. It worked out just fine and is a great tip for all would be train travelers looking to save money and go without a reservation.

I ate “linner” (lunch/dinner) very, very, very slowly. We stopped at Koln for an hour, took a few pictures of the kids running in front of the huge church while some street performer played the steel drums (not quite the Caribbean, yet still refreshing and it worked), and then boarded our next train. We let the kids watch movies for the next 4 hours. Luckily we had very nice ladies sitting across from us who enjoyed the movies we brought and the children. They even gave them a snack. We got off and grabbed a taxi to our new place in Hamburg, Germany.  We lucked out and have a great house host, Nadine. 

The apartment is in a great location close to where Mike has to work and walking distance to a huge lake. The kids enjoy running around the lake and trying to feed the ducks…These ducks are almost the size of them and hiss if you get too close. I swear they will rip off your finger if you get too close. Anyway, our children are obsessed with trying to feed them anything and everything. We actually met the duck whisperer yesterday (Wednesday) at the park. She was the ultimate crazy duck lady but she was also totally cool. She had a way with the ducks for sure. The kids loved that they came so close and she even gave them some of her duck snacks that she mixed up herself to feed them. She told us about the different duck families (all in German of course), etc. The park is really pretty but besides it also being a dog park the only thing I kept thinking about was that my kids are rolling around in dog and duck pooh. They are digging up pea gravel (which I am sure has duck pooh in it too) to throw it in the lake. They were promptly bathed after each outing. Each afternoon I worked with the nuggets with home schooling (they are doing well I must say) and then dance offs, of course.  By then Mike is home and we all have dinner.

Tomorrow….we head back to Brussels. Another train ride but this time I WILL BE BETTER PREPARED!

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