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Linds Across Europe, Days 2 & 3 & 4

October 21, 2014

Sunday….we woke in Karlsruhe, got packed and ate at the hostel.  It was a great German breakfast with cold cuts, breads, cereal, yogurt, fruit and coffee.  We hit the road a little later than we’d intended.  We hit an unexpected traffic jam (on a Sunday morning) and missed church (well, we found the church, but being so late, we didn’t want to interrupt.  So, we enjoyed the sights and driving around downtown Heidelberg – a beautiful city, home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and a beautiful castle and buildings and streets.

We finally found a parking spot along the river and a park.  We all got out to stretch our legs and wandered down the park.  This river had sailboats, rowing teams, narrow cruise ships and all sorts of fun things to see.  As we continued, the kids spotted a playground.  It was pretty basic, but they needed to play (even in their church clothes).  But, as we rounded the bend a bit, we discovered an entire giant kid paradise.  Besides the basic play structure, there was a waterworks park, a sand pit (which we skipped, between church clothes and car rides…), awesome wooden toys that I can’t even describe and it just kept going!  It was a fun find…all within view of the old castle.  We then hopped in the car and started off north again.  We thought we’d get to Frankfurt to eat, but we were all getting quite hungry and didn’t want to pay tourist prices for food, so we picked a random town and pulled off the highway.

The town was mostly asleep on this warm Sunday afternoon but we finally drove past a little cafe that said “Open” on the front.  I got out to inspect the menu, but I had a little problem.

I speak NO German.  None.  But, I saw the prices were very reasonable, they had food and drinks and I recognized the word “omelette.”  So, we went in and awkwardly looked around. It was a small bar with a few tables and some gruff-looking German men enjoying their beer.

We were shown outside, where the weather was perfect.  We are guessing someone transformed their yard into this lovely restaurant and we waited.  The only other people were this large family playing cards and drinking beer, but they seemed friendly and very curious about our random American family in the middle of no where in Germany.  One of the men came over and asked where we were from, in English, and really couldn’t believe we were from the States.  That’s when he told us he lives in Florida during the winters!

So, he told us the local specialty and passed it along to the waiter/cook/owner man.  After quite a long wait, because the food is made from scratch, we enjoyed what is probably the best German food we’ll ever eat.  Schnitzel (breaded veal) covered in the regional specialty, a cheese simmered with wine for several hours.  Also, amazing potato wedges and green beans cooked with onions and bacon.  Levi had meatloaf smothered in brown gravy and mushrooms and Amelia has scrambled eggs with chives and bacon, both had French fries on the side.  It was allllll amazing.  And there was a TON of it.  We literally stuffed ourselves.  And it was so worth it.

We hobbled our full bellies back to the car and hit the road again, a bit later than planned, but in good spirits.  All three kids (and their mama) slept for a bit, and we finally crossed the border into The Netherlands at sunset.

Monday morning, we woke late, since all of us slept in until nearly 8!  Lovely!  We had an awesome Dutch breakfast with our hosts, who you might remember we stayed with on our way back from Congo a year and a half ago.  Our two older kids are the same ages as their kids, so they have fun together.

We went to the Outdoor Museum in Arnhem and once the drizzle cleared, the day was lovely and we enjoyed the Dutch history and farming activities.  The kids were quite tired after such an exciting day outside.  We put them to bed and enjoyed a game of Settlers of Catan, in Dutch, of course!

This morning we rose to dark, grey skies, but continued on with plans to take our family to Amsterdam.  We drove into the city and parked at the stadium.  They have a neat program where you only pay 1€ for the day, as long as you take the metro or bus downtown and get your bus card stamped to prove it.  So, we took the metro downtown, grabbed a bus and got off at our destination: the Tropenmuseum (Tropical Museum).

We first went to the café to get some lunch – they serve themed tropical foods, so we enjoyed some delicious curry.  It was also fun to stand in line with a French family and hear them chatter (and understand them some!).

Then we explored each wing while a fierce storm raged outside.  Of course, the Africa exhibit was most fun – especially we recognized several items from Congo…and even owned a couple of them (things I bought at the market)!!!  We also enjoyed a west Asia exhibit featuring items from Yemen, where my parents lived for a year just before I was born, and Indonesia, where MAF has nearly half of their operations and, therefore, we have many friends.  Levi liked the swords, guns, and cannons.  Amelia liked the sparkly clothes from India.

The drive back was through yet another crazy storm, including hail, and some epic traffic jams, but we survived and got back to our hosts’ house.

I’m sure I’m leaving out all sorts of fun details, but we have more adventures to have tomorrow…

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