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Linds Across Europe Days 5 & 6

October 23, 2014

Ahhh, yesterday.  Nicolien, my fabulous Dutch friend for nearly ten years and our host, and I and two of our kids (one of hers and one of mine) went shopping.  We started at Hema, essentially Dutch Target, in that it has everything fun and useful and adorable and wonderfully affordable and it is hard not to spend too much.  I bought a few things, she bought a few things, then we headed to the grocery store.  I grabbed some snacks for the road and we returned home to Matthew still alive with the other three kids.  Ha.

After lunch we packed up and headed out…I’d like to not mention what happened during the 5.5 hour drive that took 9.5 hours…but, for full disclosure, and just so you realize that I’m not trying to make a road trip across Europe with three small kids seem like a fantasy, it was messy.  I forgot about a load of laundry in our friend’s dryer…45 minutes after we left.  It included some essentials and so we turned around.

We both weren’t sure if that was the right decision, but after finding out about the traffic jams through Frankfurt and beyond that we MISSED because we were 1.5 hours later, well, it seemed like a better use of time at least.  Then, just after Frankfurt our GPS announced a sudden 173 minute delay on our route.  173 minutes.  We went from arriving around 7pm, to around 9pm, to 11:30pm!!  No, just no.  Not knowing anything else and realizing it was dinner time, we found some food at a beautiful truck stop.  Honestly, it had the BEST kid’s restroom we’ve EVER seen, complete with froggy toilet seat, kid-sized everything else, and very clean.  The dinner wasn’t too bad either.  Watching the scenes from Toronto with the active shooter wash’t exactly pleasant, since the broadcast and scrolling bars were all in German and it would be hours before we learned what had happened.

We hit the road again an hour later, sought the GPS for signs of delays, hoping that during our dinner everything had cleared.  It mostly had.  We hit a 30 minute snag, but the kids slept and we sailed into Nuremberg around 11:30pm.  Ew.  Not our bright spot, but oh well.  It can’t all be rainbows and unicorns pooping Skittles, can it?

But, the hostel is nice and right downtown and we all have our own bed, so there’s that.  We slept pretty well, got up early (not by choice, unless you count Axel’s choice) ate some of our snacks and headed out for one of the big highlights of our trip and the only things we really had planned for ourselves.  And it did not disappoint.

The PlayMOBIL Funpark is absolutely, hands down, the best thing EVER if you have children under 8.  Actually, Matthew and I probably had just as much, if not more, fun than the kids.  All three of them had stuff to do all day.

It was cold, so we began in the large (<– understatement) indoor building, with themed areas with all of the PlayMOBIL sets that you can play with.  The stations are expertly organized and there are teams of employees sanitizing and reassembling pieces all day long.  There were little infant pits with infant-safe PlayMOBIL toys in them, so Axel was absolutely thrilled.  Levi and Amelia bounced between sets like they’ve never seen toys before.  And Matthew and I sat and relaxed…for a few minutes, but it was hard not to play for a bit!

The LARGE room next door held a HUGE play set with slides, and several stories of rope-climbing, bridges, tunnels and climbing things.  We ran around (yes, all five of us, though Axel just crawled) and wore ourselves out until the lunch room opened.  By then we were starved, so we went to the restaurant (in the same building…did I mention it is HUGE?) and were basically the only ones there.  The kid’s meal is absolutely one of the perks…for 5 euros you get a generous-sized main dish, a yogurt, a drink in a take-home PlayMOBIL cup AND a brand new PlayMOBIL figure!  The pizza is fresh cooked, the chicken nuggets were real chicken (not pressed) and the fries were awesome.  Matthew and I got the curry sausage, which was also a fun treat.

After lunch we set out to the play sets outside.  Seriously…I cannot emphasize enough how awesome this place was.  I have pictures, but not uploaded from the camera yet.  The Castle and Pirate ships were our favorite, for sure.  The Castle had three levels, including a dungeon underground, and you could enter the castle in any number of ways, including secret tunnels.  The Pirate ship was on a real lake (though it was shallow), and you could enter on the plank (no guard ropes, it was the real deal, ya’ll), rope bridges, or even a raft that you drove your self…literally, take a raft, stand on it and paddle to the ship, paranoid parents would have heart attacks.  Levi and Amelia were so brave and did EVERYTHING (truthfully, so did we, because it was AWESOME).  I even raced a German kid across the pond on a pull boat…I lost.  I am not ashamed.  I also have no idea what he said when we were done, but he was very nice.

The tree house had rope bridges twenty feet off the ground and no safety net…and Levi and Amelia were just out there, doing it.  The slides were several stories high, the water works flowed through the sets.  The Noah’s Ark was more for summer weather, since it had lots of water (it was probably in the 50’s F today, I’m not really sure), but the Western area with its mining cave, dino section with a bouncing multi-level volcano and more play structures than one could count…we were all played out!  Axel got cold, finally, and so did we, so we went back to play inside and the kids were content for two hours!

The little things, like awesome kid bathrooms, coffee bar, beer (it’s Germany, of course), and seating for parents EVERYWHERE, made it all amazing.  The whole place is designed for kids – even the pretty plants and water fountains are maintained and designed for kids to run through and around them – interacting with EVERYTHING.  Oh, and at 4:30, the stage-like area on the floor of the large indoor building suddenly opened and the kids rushed down.  I assumed, silly me, that there would be a show, but NO, it was a participatory dance/music thing!  A guy led it, told a story and there were songs and dancing that all the kids did.  No just sit-and-watch anything here!  No touch-screens, computer things or even electronics!  It was the BEST.  Sadly, I have no idea what the songs or the story were about…because my German is still severely lacking.

After the show, we found the last of the slides we hadn’t slid yet and the construction area with diggers, rocks (fake, clean rocks), shovels, and all sorts of little sliding things before the park announced it was closing and we had to leave.  Bummer.

“Wow,” you think, “that’s probably great for your kids…and as expensive as Disneyland.”  Ya’ll, it was 32 euros.  Total.  8 euros each (Axel is free).  That’s it.  For everything (except food, of course, but even that was cheap for park food…and tasty).  I tell you because I want to suggest that anyone in the vicinity NEEDS to visit if you have kids this age.  There is a park in Florida, and one in Paris (and a few other places)…but I can’t speak to those parks and whether they’re the same size/value/amazingness.

So, now I’m soooooo tired from all of the climbing and sliding and running and playing I did today.  But, it was seriously, the best day ever!

Tomorrow, back to Heidelberg!

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