Monday, September 24
My grandfather invited us to join him and his step-grandson at the Lublin Farm Museum.
Right inside the museum entrance hall, there was a display with a map of Poland and various crests.
Theo at a cemetery gate inside the museum. (It was unclear to me whether to cemetery was real, or a replica.)
Theo with a working sundial.
Theo enjoyed feeding the tied-up goats apples, but was very nervous around the goats, despite his desire to see them up close.
A group shot on the way out of the museum.
At the car on the parking lot, saying goodbye for the last time.
We ended up staying at the farm museum until 1pm, and that pushed Theo just a bit too long on his nap. He ended up falling asleep in the car for five minutes, despite our best efforts at prodding him to keep him awake. Unfortunately that meant he didn't end up taking a proper nap, so we ended up going to Babyfant, another children's store (which mixed toys and clothing and strollers and the like).
Back at my aunt's flat for supper and more farewells.
Men's portrait, crashed by Vivian.
Theo raced his elephant away from Ola's animal.
Walking (jumping!) back to the car.
Tuesday, September 25
Today we drove to Rzeszow, to visit my dad's aunt, and her children. (Her grandchildren were all at work!)
But first, a quick photo of the main living room of our rented flat.
My great aunt with Vivian.
Not only did Theo get a box of legos as a present from my great aunt's children (would that make them my "cousins once removed"? I don't know!), but they also brought their dog Daisy over for a visit!
Much to Theo's delight, there was a playground just outside the flat. (And you had to ride an elevator to get there, making it doubly awesome!).
A group photo with everyone. Apologies for the slightly awkward camera angle, but there just wasn't a great place to put the camera.
Both Sarah and I were delighted to discover what a minibeast is, in this Polish-English dictionary.
Wednesday, September 26
Saying our final goodbyes in Rzeszow as we prepare for the long drive back to Kassel, Germany. Our original plan had called for a day trip to Rzeszow but we decided to make it an overnight as it shortened the distance we had to drive on non-highway roads to Krakow (and the highway) to just 2-2.5 hours.
Random church along the drive.
Once on the highway, most of the rest areas had full services, often including a playground. We spent quite a while at this one, which doubled as our lunch stop.
A wildlife crossing bridge. I've only seen these elsewhere in Canada.
Back in Germany!
We took one brief rest stop in Poland after lunch, and then took this one final stop in Germany for dinner. All told, we stopped only three times: an hour for lunch, a half-hour break, and an hour for dinner.
Thursday, September 27
Riding the elevator at Saskia and Thomas' flat in Kassel.
Marla and Vivian.
We went out to a super-awesome playground. It was empty because of the rainy day, but it was a lot of fun! The swing was scary to me, even.
Theo preferred to hang out in the train in the humongous sandbox.
Friday, September 28
We set out to see Hercules today. The journey started with a tram ride, at the end of which we transferred to a bus and kept going.
Hercules looms over the town in the distance. The Hercules monument was built by a rich prince in the late 1600s, and is basically a giant water fountain that is spring-fed and gravity powered. The water builds up in some hidden pool at the top, and is released twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The cascades, even while dry, are impressive.
Family portrait with two completely disinterested children. (Though admittedly Theo loved going down all the stairs, and walked almost the entire route back to the tram by himself.)
At the bottom of the first set of cascades.
Theo looks out from a bridge over the water channel.
Having walked down all the steps of the cascades, we were still following the course of the water but rather than something of continuous interest, there were pools here and there. Theo got slightly bored and slightly tired, and ended up trying to push Arne's toy truck down the hill. (Sadly the truck rolled for a bit, but the hill wasn't steep enough to overcome the gravel.)
An aqueduct which carries the water.
This is the view from the final pool back up to the top. This pool is particularly impressive as the water ends up spraying 20 meters into the air, from gravity alone!
Walking back to the tram.
In the afternoon we went downtown to the center of Kassel. Special festivities were underway for a twice-a-year "shop until midnight" event where stores would stay open until midnight. To Theo's delight, there was a tractor display where you could climb into any one of eight different tractors.
Some of the modern tractors were really impressive (and comfortable). Here, Theo is gesturing that he would like me to close the door. Presumably so he could start the tractor and drive over everyone.
There was also a carousel set up. Theo got the hang of giving the man a ride ticket very quickly, and strongly preferred to ride in the train with a button you could push to make a train horn sound.
Saturday, September 29
Theo ransacks Arne's room (where we stayed) for books and toys.
Theo was particularly fond of a wooden circus set. I lined up all the pieces into "trains". (Well, all the pieces except for the trees.)
Back at the playground, only on a sunny (and much busier) day.
Vivian turned four months old today.
Sunday, September 30We had a bit of a snafu -- the 8 of us had 4 tickets to take the train to stay with Saskia's parents in Frankfurt prior to our departure on Monday, but her parents got sick, so we ended up staying in Kassel an extra day.
Thomas, Arne, and I went to see the water on the Hercules cascades. (Theo was napping). There were many, many people unlike the previous day.
It's hard to believe the final fountain could shoot so high without anything besides gravity pushing the water out.
Marla and Vivian laying around.
Just before bedtime I took Theo to another nearby playground, lured by the promise of a ship. I think the other playground was better, but we had a good time anyway. We played a really fun game where I would touch the pointy chestnut shell and say "oww" and kick it away. Theo would laugh and laugh. (I though I had a video of this, but couldn't find it!)
Monday, October 1Well, it turned out the new train we had booked to take us to the airport the day of our flight was cancelled entirely. We had some last minute juggling wherein we tought we could take a different train and make a connection, but then that train was delayed. In the end, we had Thomas drive us to the airport.
Walking through the airport. Frankfurt airport supposedly has two playgrounds, but the unfortunate reality of the US' incredibly stupid security policies is that flights to the US need additional security measures, which means that pretty much all airports outside the US stick their US-bound flights into a secondary more-secure area -- in Frankfurt we were in a tiny area of just three gates, and unfortunately that meant there would be no playground (nor restaurant, nor any comfort beyond seats and a ball for Theo to play with).
On the plane, saying goodbye to Germany and Europe.
Back home at last, saying hi to all of our toys we'd missed over the past three weeks!