Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Great Trip to Europe 2012 (Part 1 of 3)

As you likely already know, we recently spent three weeks in Europe to visit friends and family in Germany and Poland. Having returned, we definitely feel we spent just the right amount of time for the trip -- any shorter would have been rushed, and any longer and we would have felt too homesick from traveling. As mentioned in the previous post, there are over 20GB of photos and videos. You can browse them all if you like, but I'll try and hit the high points in this post.

Monday, September 10

Theo loved watching the airplanes take off and land from a rocking chair in Seattle's airport.

After a while we moved on to the playground inside the Seattle airport. Not all airports have one, and it's definitely a huge plus.

Unfortunately Condor (along with every other airline we've ever flown two children on) was all-too-willing to issue boarding passes that put more than one infant-in-lap in the same row. (You can't do this, because there's not enough spare oxygen masks which fall from the ceiling in an emergency.) In this case, they sat three adults with three infants-in-arms together. Sadly the other mom had already booked the bassinet on the plane. I ended up having to move 19 rows back, but fortunately Theo and I got a window seat.

Theo decorated his window with static-cling stickers. At one point the flight attendant came by and said "sir I do not think that is a good idea" but then I explained they weren't really stickers.

The flight actually went pretty well. Theo only slept four hours of the flight, but his face was glued to the window during takeoff and landing, and we had other entertainment. The 200km, 2-hour drive from Frankfurt to Kassel was a completely different story. A lumber truck caught fire on the autobahn, and we didn't find out until it was too late to avoid it. The autobahn was closed for four and a half hours, and it took us 6.5 hours to get to Kassel -- two thirds of the time it took to get to Frankfurt in the first place. This is a photo I took of the traffic jam from an overpass Theo and I walked to -- about 1km in front of where the car was stuck.

Wednesday, September 12

We arrived in Kassel after Arne had already gone to bed, and despite being up for 4 hours in the middle of the night, didn't wake up until he'd left for kindergarten in the morning. That meant that as far as Theo was concerned, the entire house full of toys was actually a house full of Theo's toys. This caused some friction when Arne returned from kindergarten, but eventually things worked out.

Arne didn't know Theo's name, so he ended up calling him "The One Who Runs Around The Table". It was a very accurate name. Arne also didn't care for the fact that he couldn't understand us when we were speaking English.

Thursday, September 13

This was a travel day, and boy it was a doozy. We left Kassel around 9am and drove east. This is a photo at the Polish border. The sign is very complex (and far too complex to read the various rules while actually driving -- one important one that I missed was the "headlights on at all times" rule). The drive on the highway was great, but the highway ends at Krakow, dumping us on small, slow roads. While we had been going well over 100 km/h on the highways, we were now doing 30-50 km/h following trucks winding through construction zones in the dark. Ultimately we gave up on reaching Lublin in one day, and stopped at a dark hotel outside of Radom at midnight. I thought they were certainly closed, but I pulled the door just for fun, and surprisingly we got a very comfortable room (with breakfast the next morning). Unfortunately the room had very translucent curtains, so Theo woke up when it was light, after about 6 hours of sleep.

Friday, September 14

Theo was super-shy meeting his great grandfather for the first time, but all it took was some coins and he immediately snatched the entire handful.

Saturday, September 15

Everyone ventured out to the playground near Jola's house.

Sunday, September 16

Today we visited the garden that my grandfather keeps outside of Lublin.

Vivian was happy wherever we carried her.

Theo loved picking and eating the grapes. Eventually he picked up on the fact my grandfather was using pruning shears to cut them, and on a later visit, would ask that the shears be picked up and used on the grapes.

Theo also loved the apples for the picking.

And there was a tomato-filled greenhouse for Theo to get into!

Meanwhile people took turns holding Vivian on the porch. We even coaxed Theo into posing for a minute.

Theo loved collecting apples.

After a while Theo started treating the apples as balls, and throwing them. We did not discourage this behavior.

Theo started treating the railing as a ladder, climbing up and over several times.

After dinner we went to yet another playground near Jola's.

Monday, September 17

This morning we were on our own with Jola and Ola back at work and school, so we went out and drove until we randomly got to the Plac Litewski where, of course, a playground was found. Theo loved the see-saw, and got concerned about this approaching pigeon. This large smile broke out only after the pigeon stopped heading right towards him.

After nap we went out and met with my other grandfather.

While going to one of his flats, we passed by a playground. While we managed to convince him we had to "go around" as a way to not stop right away, we did eventually need to come back out and play.

It wasn't just Theo who got on the playground!

Of course Vivian didn't play, but we didn't forget about her.

Later we went back to my grandfather's flat and had dinner.

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