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Monday, June 23, 2014

Germany Tour, Part 1 (Month 40)

Yes, we are brave!  Though our family trip to Ireland had its ups and downs the week before, and then we came home to Levi getting the flu!, we decided to go ahead with the German tour that we planned, leaving for a week the next weekend!  We wanted to see some of the other major cities in the country, which is about the same size as the state of Nevada.  It's a lot of ground to cover!  There are many more cities and sights we haven't yet hit, but this was a good start to getting to know the country in which we've lived for over a year.

Sometimes it takes me about a year to come up with the right idea.  And it's always out of desperation in the end.  Though we have always talked with Levi a lot about our trips and tried to prepare him, I finally realized that he needs a visual element.  Poor little guy.  I wish so much I had done this earlier!  But you have to know there is a problem before you can fix it, right?  So, this time I went all out.  Levi would know exactly how long we would be gone, our route, what we would do each day, pictures and all.  Worked like a charm….Note to self.
Wow, packing the diaper bag has certainly changed over the years!
Our first stop: Leipzig
 A very sleepy Levi looked around our fairly normal hotel as we arrived late and night and whispered: "It's so pretty."  And then, seeing his bed, "Mommy.  I just noticed something about this bed.  There are two pillows.  One for Mommy and one for Levi."  Ha!  Well, off to a good start at least.

While off to explore the city and learn some about Bach we listened to his music to get into the mood.  Levi informed me, "Mommy, I think I would like to play the violin and trombone."  (He's all about the trombone this month.  Huh.)
Thomaskirche where Bach was Kapellmeister
In front of Bach's grave
A choir and orchestra was practicing while we were there!
The Bach Museum
Listening to Bach's music through organ pipes!  Very unique idea.
Screens throughout the entire museum where you can listen to any of his works.  
Instruments actually played in the church in Bach's time!
Walking around Leipzig, listening to street musicians
As always, we find a park ASAP, this time for climbing trees and chasing birds.
Trying his first quince.  He'll try anything once.  This one wasn't a hit, but it did pop right out of his mouth when he tried to bite it.
Too-Cool-for-School Berlin
Berlin is so very interesting.  As history lovers, seeing the wall was an important event for us.  We were able to explain it at a 4 year-old level and even Levi seemed impressed.  There is also great food to be had as it is a bit more creative than traditional food elsewhere.  Fantastic museums, of course, including many for kids.  However, we were a bit put off by the extreme angsty "coolness" the city seems to be trying to hard to project.  I mean, on our way to dinner we walked past a very "cool" bike shop which doubled as a coffee shop that had couches spilling out onto the street on which 20-somethings in all black could hang out while they listened to (get this) Tupac.  It's just trying a pinch hard, wink wink.  

Our hotel was a good example.  Really cute and quirky, BUT the quirky stairs to our loft bed were actually dangerous, musicians played live new age music ALL NIGHT LONG (at one point, 4 notes for one full hour) at the train stain across the street, there was a loop of The Big Lebowski playing 24/7 on an old TV in the very dim hallway, a soccer net kept us from falling out of our loft bedroom, and nets were used for clothes instead of dressers.  Oh, and we were given coconut water when we checked in.  See?  Just one too many "cool" things….
Looking down from Mommy and Daddy's loft bed
Poor Brad got Levi's flu one night during our stay.  In order to give Brad more room in our very hot loft (loft + no AC is not recommended), I tried to share Levi's bed.  However, as I listen to the train station "musicians" in the wee hours, Levi woke up and told me: "Mommy, I need some privacy,  You shouldn't sit here for so long."  Bit of a long night.   Thankfully, Brad recovered very quickly!
The lobby/cafe
Can you see the notches cut into each step to save space?  Cute idea, scary in function!
Lots and lots and lots of young Americans in Berlin and everyone speaking English.
May steal this idea….
The hallway playing The Big Lebowski right by our room….
The Wall!  Here you can see the river, and both walls with the space in-between.
We posed next to this because there was art for the U.S. and Berlin.  Later I realized it was the exact picture I used in our 
Germany Tour Lapbook!
We thought that Levi would love seeing the dinosaur skeletons at the Natural History Museum, but this was not a hit.  I am not sure if it was just the day, or seeing the huge skeletons, or still feeling a bit sick….Just one of those family vacation misfires.  
We regrouped though!
The tallest dinosaur skeleton in the world!
This room was strangely a bit more of a hit.  A huge warehouse of preserved animals.  A bit spooky, really, but fascinating!  
Taking in some of the famous sights like the Brandenburg Gate surrounded by the embassies, including the U.S.
The stark and thought provoking Holocaust Memorial.
The old Tempelhofer Airport, sight of the Berlin Airdrop, that has now been opened up as a park.  It is a very popular spot with the locals for biking, walking, flying kites, barbecuing.  It's a bit funny to walk around a huge, overgrown airport, but a nice idea for reuse!
Trying to ride his bike backwards just like Curious George does.
The Berlin Aquarium
Someone was excited to go!
Posing by a fossil
The aquarium is also right by the very dramatic zoo entrance.
This is how Levi experiences something like a zoo or aquarium - in hyper speed.  Getting him to slow down is tricky.  
The big fish, lizards, and turtles helped, though not as much as you'd think.
Great Chinese lunch, but the name was the best park: Good Friends.
And on to Hamburg…...

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