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Monday, June 4, 2007

Two Weeks in Alpine Europe Part V: Rhine Valley

bern europe alps rhine valley mainz bingen rhusesheim tyrol innsbruck wattens interlaken bern grindelwald vacation travelog travelogue trip notes bavaria germany austria switzerland
Google Map of our recent vacation

(Continued from previous post...)

Part five in this series covers our brief vacation in Rhine Valley, and the visit to Berlin. We stayed with my friend A in Berlin, and with my aunt in Darmstadt.

DAY 8: Woke up and relaxed in Darmstadt at my aunt's house in the morning. We got back from Switzerland and returned the rental car the previous night, so, we decided to take the ICE train (Inter City Express) from Frankfurt to Berlin.

I was impressed with the train systems and the train stations in Germany, and throughout Europe. And, Berlin Hauptbahnhof was huge - quite like an airport with shops and such.

Arrived in Berlin about dinner time. A, my friend, (we were room-mates and became good friends at the International House in Indianapolis, about 10 years ago), greeted us at the station and took us to her home. She presented us a nice warm meal of Spargel and potatoes. Ana seemed to take to the place well - she went into A's kids' room and made herself at home!! Helped herself to their toys and generally shoo-ed me and D away so she can play in peace!

DAY 9: Went to the Berlin Zoo to visit Knut, among other residents... Ana was not too thrilled, and somehow circumstances arranged themselves to force me and Ana to take it easy... so, D went around town on his own.

DAY 10: Ana and I had to back out of the adventure, so D went about exploring Berlin to his heart's content. I had already visited the usual spots like Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Unter din Linden, Victory Tower, Alexander Platz, Brandenburger Tor, Reichstag and such about 8 or 9 years ago. I found the modernization of Berlin pretty interesting. The street names have of course changed since I was there last...

D being camera-phobic, he did not get *any* picture of his tour of Berlin. I just managed a few at the Zoo and that's about all we clicked of Berlin this time.

DAY 11: Bid adieu to A and her lovely family, The Erdmanns, hopped on the IC this time (not the ICE) and headed back to Darmstadt.

Baby hated the train ride up and down. She did not want to stay put. She took a short hour-long nap on the 4+ hrs ride. I had a few mini puzzles, her dolls and two little pixi-series German baby books (Drachenfrühstück and Der Klein Eisbär) handy, but after about 20 reads, she wanted something more.

It was quite challenging to travel this leg with Ana in a restless and cranky mood. I don't blame her though. She was uprooted, without much warning, from her usual daycare routine and shunted around for nearly 10 days not seeing anything familiar and comforting except her mommy and daddy... but, she was pretty good overall.

Arrived around tea time at Darmstadt and relaxed at my aunt's house. Then, headed out to Darmstadt's own Schloß-graben Fest. It was a fun fest, with lots of music, eats, drinks and shops.

DAY 12: Decided to make a day trip to the Rhine Valley. Took the train from Darmstadt to Mainz and switched trains to get to Bingen. We took the boat ride (castle tour) and got off at Rudesheim to explore this quaint wine town.

Rüdesheim was incredibly pretty with all the vineyards. We took the kabinenbahn (cabin rope-car) to the top. Relaxed a bit. Baby was extremely tired and napping tight, so we just let her sleep in her stroller and walked around to see all that we wanted to see.

We had lunch and late-afternoon tea in Rüdesheim. Lunch was alright, not spectacular, D as usual tried some local delicacies recommended by our waitress. I opted to share vegetarisch Brazilian beans and rice with Baby (tut-tut indeed! where is my adventurous spirit regarding trying new foods?!)

We finally bade good-bye to the beautiful Rhine Valley and hopped trains to get back to Darmstadt and pack for the flight back home the next day.

One day of flying out, one day of flying back home, plus 12 days visiting beautiful places makes a memorable Two Weeks Vacation we never thought we'd be able to pull off with a toddler in tow :-)

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Blogger Praba said...

Hi Sheels -

Wow! Seems like you guys had a wonderful trip to Europe. Very impressed how you were able to do this with a toddler! We felt proud of ourselves for making it to Maui last December with the girls, and S was hardly 6 months then...Can't imagine doing trips like these the next couple of years...

You've done a great job capturing all the details from your trip - the names would have been pretty tricky I guess - at least for me it would have been... did you guys face any barriers in that front or were you ok?

I saw your comment on PB. Will get to it soon...have a nice weekend see you on gmail/yahoo soon..:-)

5:01 PM  

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