We spent a long time at the soccer field tonight, and it was very hot.
It was such a gift for the twins to get spots in a neighborhood kindergarten. They run into their little friends at the grocery, playgrounds, and on the sidewalk. Today especially it felt like wherever we went, there were shouts of “Copley! Hammond!” from tiny voices.
Errol has recruited our three younger children as FC Barcelona fans. They love Lionel Messi and cheer “Força Barça!” with passion.
Barcelona has been the only place the twins wanted to visit. It is the only destination they have willingly left Freiburg for. Errol was there two years ago and returned with a longing to live in Barcelona someday. There was a lot of buzz around this trip.
On Friday evening, we flew into Girona, a RyanAir airport, about an hour outside of Barcelona. We stayed in Girona that night and explored the city for a couple hours the next morning. We were all impressed with the Roman walls that once surrounded the whole town. I loved how not crowded Girona was.
On Saturday morning we took a commuter train from Girona to Barcelona. It began to rain.
Errol, Vinnie, Lee, and Ned got on a bus for the soccer game. Thom and I took went down to the Gothic Quarter and stood in line for forty minutes for the Picasso Museum. Thom gets major props because Vinnie left her raincoat in the Frankfurt airport, and she wore Thom’s to the game.
After Picasso, Thom and I found the English section at the local library. We read and later ate delicious burgers.
Errol and the littles returned from the game wet and tired. Their bus back had been delayed, but they were all happy Barca had beaten Valencia, 2-1.
Sunday was a beautiful, sunny day. We visited La Sagrada Familia and La Rambla, We walked around the city and made stops at every playground we came across. Errol was thrilled to come all the way to Spain to sit on park benches and go to the library.
There’s a little cafe across the street from La Sagrada Familia and next to a playground. Errol and I grabbed a table while the kids played and had the closest thing to a date since we moved to Europe. The kids only ran over to us about twenty times. The man next to us was very entertained.
A downside of Barcelona was how expensive transit was. All our children required a ticket on all buses and trains, and there was no discount for younger passengers. Deutsche Bahn trains spoil us since all children are free, but most cities don’t charge for kids under six and give older children a 50% discount.
We were all very happy to return to Freiburg yesterday. I’m glad we took this family trip to Spain, but it’s too bad that it came so close after our Alpine adventure. It takes a bit to recharge and get all the laundry done...
We are home in Freiburg after our days in Girona and Barcelona. The smells were my favorite parts of this trip. In Barcelona, we stayed on a street lined with these orange trees. They smelled just like Tempe, and I loved it.
This week has felt so much like June in Princeton. It feels like summer, but we’re still chained to the structure of school days. The sun didn’t set until 8:15 tonight, and it’s only April 12!
This afternoon we had the twins’ kindergarten conference. One of their teachers shared the surprising but fantastic news that, yes, Lee and Ned speak German.
Those sneaky boys refuse to speak any at home and always claim they can’t. Errol and I are so relieved this isn’t the case. A huge reason we did this year abroad was for our children to learn a second language. Thankfully, it looks like the twins are soaking it up just like we were told they would.
Celebratory Eis! Thom and Vinnie survived their first day back after two weeks of Easter holidays. They did great riding bikes to and from school.
I love watching my kids climb, run, and play (in the appropriate venue). It’s part of the continual labor of fueling the child and then giving the child the opportunity to safely burn the fuel.
It’s a little mind-blowing that Thom and VInnie are now also able to burn their fuel so productively. Over six miles in a day is a lot for those little legs.
I told them that they could get ice cream each time they chose to ride bikes. Unsurprisingly, they have proclaimed they’ll ride their bikes everyday. Such proclamations are easily made on a sunny afternoon with an ice cream cone in hand.
More to say on our Easter break adventure, but we're home in Freiburg now. We returned to summer temperatures.
Vin and I spent most of the afternoon on our bikes. Freiburg's public transit workers are planning to strike on Tuesday, and we did a cycling to school test run today. Their school is a bit over three miles from our flat. Vinnie did great today, but she had the promise of ice cream on the way home. I'm a little nervous on Tuesday morning when the incentive to bike to school is just school.
We left Monday morning to catch the 07:49 train from Freiburg. With our change in Mannheim and the routine delays of Deutsche Bahn, we pulled into Munich five hours later.
Sadly, it wasn’t the kids’ greatest travel performance. Errol “joked” about scrapping the whole week and boarding the next train back to Freiburg.
Practice doesn’t always make perfect, but, we made it.
Usually the size of our crew requires us to rent apartments on our trips, but I had found a Munich hotel that offered six beds in one room. Kids stay free! Breakfast!
Upon check-in, we learned the luggage storage amenity didn’t mean free luggage storage. We headed down to the basement to rent a locker.
These kind of hospitality fees don’t go over well with Errol. His usual hotels--without his family--are not the type that would charge for a couple hours of luggage storage. The stark contrast of travel with wife and children and without is always there.
A backpack was lost, recovered, and picnic made near the empty fountain of Neptunesbrunnen.
I don’t know anything about art and am easily swayed on what is worth seeing. I saw a poster about a Paul Klee exhibit and announced I wanted to go.
Paul Klee was a subject in my German night class over the winter. I had struggled reading his short biography. Seeing his work would be much more fun.
Errol wanted to go to the Old Masters’ Museum. We’d split--I’d take a couple kids; he’d take a couple kids.
When the twins learned their next stop was an art museum, you would have thought they were being sent to dig ditches. Their reaction made Errol reconsider how much he wanted to see the Old Masters’ Museum again. He decided to stay outside with Lee and Ned while the bigs and I explored the Pinakothek der Moderne and Paul Klee.
Spirits were lifted and thirsts quenched when we reunited with the Valvanises. We crossed the street from the hotel and ate supper at the beer hall, Augustiner-Bräu.
Our second day in Munich was lovely. Lauren and I took the twins, Vinnie, and Alex to the Deutches Museum. All four enjoyed the hands-on exhibits within the KinderReich--especially the marble runs. Errol, Nick, Charolotte, and Thom visited the Residenz to admire its treasures.
We met up at Hofbräuhaus for even bigger pretzels and mugs of beer than the night before. In theory, we walked all of it off in the huge Englischer Garten. Though, the surfers in the river did seem to be working a bit harder.
We ended our afternoon in the Englischer Garten at the Chinesischer Turm Biergarten. Some of the group seemed to have Munich consumption goals, and I think they were met.
This morning we spent our final hours in the city around Marienplatz. We saw the Glockenspiel dance and sing and visited Munich’s dom. We spent some time at another playground before heading back to the train station.
We were off to Trento, Italy, and the Valvanises were headed back to Frankfurt to catch their plane back to America tomorrow.
It was so fun to have our dear friends come all the way to Europe to experience Germany with us.