Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Hicks in Germany Part 3: But We're Actually in Amsterdam Still

I seized a double nap opportunity today to post about the rest of our time in Amsterdam.
We had originally planned on a play date this morning but as soon as our friends arrived Fiona spiked a fever and said her tummy was hurting.
She has been sleeping ever since, the poor girl.
The positive side of this is that I edited and sorted photos like nobody's business this morning.

Our third day in Amsterdam happened to be a Saturday which meant there was a great market open just a few blocks from us.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
One of the {many} things we loved about the Netherlands and Germany was the freshness of the food.
The seafood in particular was delicious.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
The baking was to die for. 
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
Jeff agreed.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
And the flowers could be found in abundance.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 This particular market really had it all.
We were even treated to a latte and some political info by the D66 party.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 After some walking to areas of town that just need to be witnessed but shall not be named we found a little urban park for the kids to blow off some steam in.
This is in my figuring-out-how-to-actually-use-this-camera-with-a-lot-of-help-from-Jon phase.
I didn't mean to capture the motion blur but ended up liking it.
{Aside: I'm still firmly in that phase.}
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 Can I just say again how unbelievably beautiful this city is.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 I mean, people get to live on this street.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
We got back to our own temporary home to find that we had left the spare key in the other side of the lock.
Big deal, right?
Right, it was a big deal since it prevented us from unlocking the door.
Luckily our unnaturally chill property manager sauntered over with a locksmith within an hour and our evening of eating all that fresh food and relaxing was saved.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 I realized after going through my pictures that I took almost no photos of the house.
You'll just have to take my word for it that the stairs were death.
The worst part was that the opening at the top of the stairs was the size of the entire staircase.
So if a child were to accidentally stumble they may not just tumble down the stairs but do a straight drop to the landing.
Luckily nothing of the sort happened and it was an amazing place to stay.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 Our last day was spent touring the canals by boat with this lovely family.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
Below is one of the few family photos we have from the trip and as hard as it is to believe, was the best of us all.
{Yes, even with Cedric's blank stare, my crow's feet and Jeff looking elsewhere.}
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 It was great to see the beautiful streets of Amsterdam from the canals.
We also saw sights that we may not have otherwise.
Like a close up of this amazing multi-story bike parkade.
Bike Parkade
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
As great as it was, by the end of the ride we were happy to get off to escape both the heat and the shusher behind us.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 This was the end of Amsterdam for us.
Next we're back in Dusseldorf.

**Update: Fiona is officially sick, stomach bug sick.  Here we go again.**

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Hicks Family in Germany Part 2: Heading to Amsterdam

We were so thankful to arrive in Dusseldorf on our originally scheduled day after the flight debacle.
It meant that Jon could pick us up before heading out of town for a couple of days for work.
It also meant that we had a chill day with Charmian and Alessandra before heading off for the vacation within our vacation.
Charmian warned us that Dusseldorf was just a normal city, not one of the major tourist stops.
She was almost apologetic for it.
When we got there however, we were immediately enamoured.
 I can only assume that she is now accustomed to her surroundings and that this is the new normal for this lucky family.
For us, however, it was beautiful.
We fell in love with the sights and way of life.
 The next morning we packed up and headed off to the train station.
One of the short-listed themes for our trip would have to be "we missed it" since we did so again at the train station.
 Our Starbucks addiction was to blame so it wasn't all bad since we obviously had Starbucks.
It also gave us some downtime to shop for souvenirs and grab a heartier breakfast.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
We also scored the family room on the train so were feeling pretty great about the whole situation.
I miss this girl so much already.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 The kids loved the train ride {see below}.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 The parents loved the train ride {see below}.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
Before we knew it we were strolling down this pretty Amsterdam street to our humble abode.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
Which in fact turned out to be not that humble at all.

You Auto Know in Amsterdam
The kids loved this 4 story beauty.
The parents had mixed feelings.
Though it was beautiful, and the location amazing, the stairs were death.
Yep, I have no better word to describe them.
I have very few pictures of the inside of the house but will share what I have in the next post.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 As a recently converted bike commuter, I was in love with the sheer volume of these beauties.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 And of course we fell in love with this beautiful city from the very first day.
The canals being the highlight.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 Fun spots like this "chandelier street" made the night beautiful.
I do wish more cities would be more on board with this type of display.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 Usually it's Fiona acting for the camera but Cedric took a turn here.
He was smiling a split second before and after this but when I said "say cheese" he did this.
He's a stinker but man is he cute.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 The symbol of Amsterdam could be seen all over the city but this was one of the nicest we saw.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 Fiona was a doll, actually all the kids were.
I certainly wouldn't say our vacation was without disciplinary measures but considering the expectations we set for these little ones I was impressed.
It was also eerie how similar mine and Charmian's parenting styles were.
Because of this I never felt uncomfortable in my parenting and discipline decisions or actions.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 I was expecting the buildings to be beautiful but I was struck by the house-boats that lined the canal.
They ranged from beautiful to questionable.
You can just see one of the nicer examples at the bottom of the photo below.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 We made the necessary stop at the Anne Frank House.
We decided not to go in since we had babes sleeping in strollers at the time.
Even so I was glad to have seen it and be reminded of her amazing memoirs.
The book is now next on my list to reread.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 There wasn't much I didn't love about this city.
Though I would have to say that their transportation was one of my favourite discoveries.
From genius bikes like the one below...
You Auto Know in Amsterdam the huge amount of foot traffic...
You Auto Know in Amsterdam just felt great to be there.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Hicks Family in Germany: Part 1

Amazingly, I am feeling somewhat back to normal.
Even though I'm in the midst of colorguard season, getting t4s ready and books to the accountant, not to mention the fact that birthday season is in full swing, I'm actually feeling ready to take on such fun things as blogging.
I still have to share in spurts so as to not overwhelm myself.
So, today is all about our air travel.
You Auto Know in Germany
This was our first time in the new Edmonton International terminal and I was impressed.
I especially loved the 3D art below as well as that by the talented Jason Carter. 
{No pic included, it was at security so my hands were otherwise occupied.}
Edmonton International Airport
The kids couldn't get enough of plane watching so we made sure to have a window seat in each airport.
You Auto Know in Germany
 Cedric flew on an infant ticket which was one of the reasons we could afford this trip. 
{The others were travel points and friends who call Germany home.}
The kids were both great on the flights {the ipad played no small part in this}.
What wasn't great was the 2 hours we spent in this plane {below} on the Edmonton tarmac.
It made our 2 1/2 hour layover in Chicago a smidge too short and we missed our connection to {and day-trip in} Dublin.
O'Hare is definitely one of those airports in which you need a long connection time, it would have taken us over an hour to get from gate to gate.
We, however, were stopped at security where they told us the flight was gone and sent us to the airline desk.
You Auto Know in Germany
 The positive {let's focus on positive} that came of the missed flight was being switched to a nearly empty flight to Heathrow which got us to Dublin in time for our final flight to Dusseldorf.
Yes, that's 3 connections through 5 countries.  
At least Fiona was thrilled with the numerous passport stamps .
We just made this new flight and it would not have been possible had we not carried on {I'm patting myself on the back as I type this}.
Since the passengers were sparse both kids had a decent sleep and we landed slightly tired but happy.
You Auto Know in Germany
You Auto Know in Germany
 Our original flights had us spending 8 hours in Dublin, enough time for a quick visit to town to take in a couple of sights.
Instead we had a quick 2 hour layover.
We were disappointed of course but quickly reminded ourselves of how lucky we were to be taking this trip at all.
Regardless, after even our small amount of research, Dublin is on the short list of places we would like to go soon.
You Auto Know in Germany
You Auto Know in Germany
Our trip home was fairly uneventful.
Though we did get stuck in Chicago on account of weather and therefore didn't make it home until the wee hours of the morning.
Considering our O'Hare experiences we will avoid it like the plague on future adventures.
I thought a photo of {hopefully} our last visit to this airport was appropriate.
Having said that, we would like to visit Chicago again some day.
Is there a train to Chicago?
Maybe we'll drive.
You Auto Know in Germany
In the end I would call our air travel successful despite the snags.
We kept true to our motto to go with the flow and it paid off.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Baby Love

I have so much to share from our trip.
It's actually overwhelming me a little so I'm giving myself some slack in the prompt blogger category.
I do however want to tell you about one of the most special aspects of our vacation.
This Valentines Day I would like to celebrate love in it's purest form.
Toddler love.
Parent-toddler love is so special but that's not the love I'm thinking of.
The love Fiona has for the friends she's known all her life is amazingly strong but even that is not the one I'm focused on.
The fast and beautiful love between the two peas-in-a-pod below was one of the best parts of our time in Germany.
And that's saying a lot considering the beautiful trip we had.
The shot below was taken on our first day in Dusseldorf, after a mere 4 hours of acquainting time between Fiona and Alessandra.
You Auto Know in Germany
They had so much fun and could have been friends for years.
In fact they could have been siblings considering the way they loved and fought.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 They insisted on matching hair for our first day in Amsterdam.
You Auto Know in Germany
 And both loved any time in front of the camera, requesting multiple "running" pictures.
No argument here, they were always so sweet.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
 On our final day there were no tears.
It was like they knew that they would see each other again and could pick it up right where they left off.
You Auto Know in Amsterdam
Not surprising of course since this has always been the case for me and this beauty's parents.

Happy Valentines Day!


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