Amsterdam, Netherlands: Adventure Day 2

The weather was again crazy last night. Thundering and lightning, with massive winds. The rain had stopped but it was still blowing quite a bit.

We had a rough start to the day with lots of little bickering and short fuses all around. So we jumped on the bikes hoping a day of playgrounds would help. We really had no other goals.

The first one we came across was a working farm/restaurant/playground.

L was very proud of this cake he made.

This was just hilarious what they’d set up for the goats.

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We cycled through this park a bit more and found another farm/restaurant/playground. The kids loved feeding this deer!

We left there and found a lovely spot to eat our sandwiches. The kids then played, digging an existing hole deeper, while Ty napped, and I read my book. This lasted for almost an hour and it was amazing! I swear what kids come up with when they don’t have toys or electronic distractions is incredible. Why don’t they do this at home?!

From there we went to a hardware store so Ty could get packing materials for the bikes.

Also after the last playground I noticed I was pulling L on a flat tire. Ty pumped it up but it went flat before we left again. We didn’t have our usual tools with us so we crammed both kiddos in the chariot and hoped it would hold together.

We rode to another playground, it was apparently in Amstelpark.

We were all getting super moody again by this point. So we solved that by riding through another park and found a mama duck, with babies. We decided to feed them three week old airplane crackers!

Another so-so playground.

At this point I started taking photos of all the multi-person bicycles I could. They’re amazing here. I saw mamas with two kids one in front and one behind, and she was talking on the phone, just steering with one hand! Any number of kids you want to carry, they’ve got a bike for you. Ty really liked the ones with the giant buckets in front. He thought they’d be easier than the giant chariot behind.

It’s hard to see but that little blue seat and the one black seat are up by the handle bars. Then they have a windshield to protect the kiddo from weather and road spray!

They have the bucket with a canvas enclosure. But I like one with the little cushioned seat on the back. So much easier and lightweight.

Then there are bikes with three seats! This one looked like a Cadillac version. Just their kickstands alone are impressive.

We found an awesome playground that was like a tree fort hidden in the woods.

At another playground the kids were all playing in the woods. Making forts or teepees, or just running trails through the trees. It was really neat to see kids being encouraged to use more than just standard playground equipment.

Here’s another three seater bike. They added just a seat on the center rail up near the handlebars. So simple and effective for a bigger kid.

We were a bit overwhelmed riding in the city at this point. It was rush hour and even though there are bikes lanes they’re packed and they’re moving fast! Ty mentioned it was like Vietnam, with its overwhelming amount of scooters. I completely understood. The amount of bikers was intense. I’m sure you get used to it. It would also be much easier if you knew where you were going. I’m so amazed how well Ty could bike, navigate the traffic, and look at his phone for directions, all at the same time.

Ok this is my final bike photo. I took this outside of the Thai restaurant we found for dinner. The food was good but not great.

This is a long frame three seater! See the bonus little black seat behind the blue one?

Sorry I geeked out over all these bikes. Why don’t we see any of these options in the US?

After dinner we navigated our way home in the blinding sun. It was a nice change of weather. I got the kids cleaned up and into bed, while Ty started the long and hard process of breaking down, and packing up the bikes. Which he then had to carry up two flights of stairs to our room because the boxes were too big for the elevators. 🤪

We’ve got some time tomorrow before our afternoon flight. The plan is to hit up the hotel pool again and hopefully have better attitudes as we’re all ready to head home!

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Adventure Day 1

Last night was thundering and lightning like crazy and the morning didn’t look so bright. Ty headed out about 9am on his bike with the chariot to a bike shop about 9 miles away. He had arranged to get bike boxes from them. (He’s so organized!)

So the kids and I were left to our own devices for a bit. We lounged and then headed to the pool, which Ty had mentioned as being an average hotel pool.

He was so wrong! This thing was huge and we had it all to ourselves for a long time.

They even have these wooden buckets off to the side where you can pull a chain and dump freezing cold water on yourself after leaving the sauna. 🥶 L loved it! After a few hours we went back to our room and had some lunch.

What do you think these parking spots mean? Are they just for women?

The weather still wasn’t great and no one was really feeling like getting on the bikes and riding into downtown. So we splurged and paid for the hotel shuttle to drive us down there.

Downtown Amsterdam is beautiful. They have so many museums to explore but we just weren’t feeling it. I said I just want to see the canals and explore the streets a bit. If we found a playground or two that’s always good as well.

It was a cold and overcast day but still so lovely.

There are so many bikers around here. It’s boggling! They even have parking areas dedicated just to bikes.

We came across a flower market. They sold all kinds of seeds, starter bulbs, and roots. I just had to take a picture of this shop, even though I clearly broke the rules.

Everyone was dragging by this point. We even turned back from a playground due to lack of energy. Amsterdam is apparently known for their pancakes. So I made everyone try them, hoping for a carbo boost. R loved her mixed fruit, it was better than Ls apple. However, I think the cheese, onion, and bacon Ty and I split was the best!

Before the food:

After the food arrives:

The pancakes definitely helped. Then Ty picked up some 5€ pizza and pasta dishes for later. We wandered a bit more trying to find a good playground but that was a bust. We ended up playing hide and seek in a very small hedge maze where you had to watch for the pile of feces in the back. 🙄

We headed back to our hotel on the bus around 5pm so we could make it to a showing of Aladdin at the hotel! R was over the moon excited. L had to have a major pep talk a few times and agreed to watch the preview before saying no.

At the hotel L agreed to watch the movie but was determined not to wear his 3D glasses. I don’t know how he could stand the blurriness but I did convince him to try them on a few times. We all loved the movie. Ty and I a lot more than we expected to. L said it was ok but then proceeded to talk about it for the next hour.

It was a late night by a good one. Tomorrow’s our last full day of vacation.

Duisburg, Germany to Amsterdam, Netherlands: Cycling Day 13

It’s our last day cycling the EuroVelo 15! Yay but also boo. It’s been quite the experience.

It was already a steamy day in Duisburg.

I loved all these little fields we rode past. Tucked in amongst houses. I wondered if they were private or part of a larger farm?

Quick playground and potty stop.

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Lunch stop shenanigans.

Neat town art.

We had quite a bit of riding to do today but Ty tried to find a playground to stop at about 2/3 of the way through. The first one was a bust. He rode past another and I was starting to get peeved. I needed a bum break! But we were led to where we needed to be. We ended up at the most amazing playground. It was all hand built structures and play areas built by kids. The man was literally opening up the as we were looking in the gate. Since it’s a bit rougher they have an adult supervising when it’s open. The kids were practicing starting fires when we were there. Sounds crazy but it was really awesome that kids have a place like this to explore these skills safely.

We stayed longer than planned talking with a woman who was onsite for the kids. Once we did leave it was an uphill slog. Nothing as bad as Hawaii for elevation gain but enough on a tired body that it felt exhausting. It was also on this weird, kind of narrow road.

Looks scenic and relaxing without cars trying to pass you on what’s essentially one lane. 🙄

After riding 60 miles, we made it to Nijmegen, Netherlands!!!

From here the plan was to ride a train into the Amsterdam airport, Schiphol. The only snag we hit with this was apparently bikes aren’t really allowed on trains after 4pm due to rush hour traffic, and it was now 4:30. 😬

The first conductor kicked us off the train. Telling us to wait till 6:30 before we could ride with our bikes. Thankfully trains to Schiphol ran every 45 minutes. So we just planned on trying to get on the next one. Happy to say our plan worked! We set our bikes up in the bike compartment, jammed the giant chariot into a nearby area and grabbed the 4 nearby seats.

We got through about 4 stops before the conductor came by, saw our bikes and told us he’d have to kick us off in two stops. It was simply going to be too busy, with too many passengers to allow us to bring the bikes. He was very kind about it but we were so tired.

The train stopped and he told us we needed to get off. Since we were going to the airport he assumed we had a flight to catch tomorrow. We didn’t exactly correct him, hoping this might help our case. We got the chariot and one bike off the train before he stopped us. We were in total limbo, kids and bags off the train, Ty and I on the train with the conductor in the doorway, telling us to wait three minutes to see. It was less busy than he had thought it would be. At the very last minute he told us to load everything back up!

We were so happy!!!! This saved us arriving in Schiphol after it was dark. It was forecasted to rain tonight as well. It was such a kindness, we truly appreciated him taking a moment to see the big picture for us.

We arrived in Schiphol and ate dinner in the airport. Put the bikes back together again outside the taxi and bus area before loading up for the last ride of the day. https://hamptonsonholiday.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/img_4324.mov

We made it to our giant hotel, and we are all so happy!! The kids are asleep in their bunk beds. The weather is thunder and lightning again outside. I’m so thankful we’re not out riding now and so proud of all we accomplished.

Excited to explore a bit of Amsterdam tomorrow and hoping the weather clears up by morning.

Köln to Duisburg, Germany: Cycling Day 12

Today started off a bit ominously with L waking me because he was scared of the thunder. Thunder and lightning with the rain pouring down. Not the best way to wake up on a biking day.

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Thankfully by 9ish it had mostly stopped. It did a brief dump on us after we got the bikes outside. Of course 🤷🏻‍♀️ but then we were one our way. 40+ miles to Duisburg.

We did some town and some country riding today once we got out of Köln. Then we hit the semi truck portion of our ride.

We were with these guys for quite a while and it was loud. However I was so thankful to be on a bike path and not sharing the road with them like we did in Hawaii.

Always time for a playground break. Then the school kids went on recess and we were overrun.

Another playground stop of course.

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Followed by some amazing handmade pasta for lunch!

Only Ty would pull this!

I don’t think she sleep but she looks so cute!

Which path to choose?

Tunnel fun

Selfie!

We got to our apartment late afternoon and it is glorious! The host has thought of everything and he welcomed us personally. We played a bit at a playground across the street before getting some groceries for breakfast. Then we walked to the restaurant that our host also owns. Dinner was so good! I was trying to get a family selfie but my arm wasn’t quite long enough. When I finally saw what Ty was doing I was crying laughing!

Apparently he can take the dinner photos from now on. 😂

Back home now. The kids are asleep and the blog is up to date! We only have one more day of riding the EuroVelo 15 trail tomorrow. Can’t believe this adventure is nearing its end. We’re already talking about what trail we should tackle next!

Köln, Germany: Adventure Day 2

Today was all about Phantasialand! It’s a bit smaller amusement park than we went to at Europa Park. However it’s still massive!

R woke up to balloons all around and a breakfast celebration of candles in her Belgium waffle with whipped cream topping. She requested presents next and was gifted chocolates, gum (that was like Vick’s Vapor Rub 😣), play dough, glow sticks, and a kids magazine which came with a pink fan. She seemed super happy with her grocery store gifts!

We wouldn’t tell the kids where we were going that day but got everyone out the door and into a car for a 30 minute ride there. They were over the moon when they figured out it was another amusement park!

It was Sunday of a holiday weekend so we feared it was going to be super packed. Amazingly it wasn’t! The weather was again a scorcher. But we kept hats and sunscreen on everyone and we survived without sunburns.

R got a button which told everyone it was her birthday. She was so proud and everyone kept wishing her a Happy Birthday!

One of the greatest things about this park was the free balloon artists and free face painting! We never pay for those things usually so it was really fun to finally get to say yes!

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They didn’t have a lot of big thrill rides we could do but we found enough to keep everyone very satisfied.

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We also watched a show called Jump. It included BMX riders, breakdancers, trampoline artists, and guys wearing those kangaroo boots. It was a great show but we felt bad, the audience was super small. The kids loved getting a photo with the guys afterwards.

They apparently have a dragon theme.

Dinner was a few slices of pizza and candy apples!

One final family selfie before waking out the gate. R is showing she’s now 8!

A long drive home and another quick bite before throwing the kids in bed again. Ty and I packed up a bit since tomorrow we’d be back on the bikes.

Köln, Germany: Adventure Day 1

What a wonderful way to start the day. Just letting the kids play and relax at the apartment. We finally left sometime after 9 and got an Uber ride to the Köln Zoo and hit the ground running. This place is massive and it was shaping up to be a beautiful and hot day. It ended up in the 80s! It felt wonderful.

We didn’t take a ton of photos this day. Just relaxed and enjoyed being together, not on the bikes 😉

They had quite the playground area!

We didn’t leave the zoo till late afternoon. Our other goal for the day though was to try and find a drindle (traditional German/Bavarian dress) for R’s Birthday. We got her last one in Austria two years ago, and it was time for a new one. We ended up going to 4 different stores before we finally found one. Apparently they’re very seasonal and mostly around Octoberfest. However, we found the one costume shop that had them in kids sizes! L also agreed to try on lederhosen but they were so expensive and hard to size so we passed on his. You can see a brief glimpse of R in her drindle here.

We got a ride to our apartment and had Phat Burger for dinner. 😄 What we needed was quick food by this point. We had been hoping to grab a bubble tea after dinner. We’d been talking about it all day. But the place we’d found on Yelp was closed. So we soothed ourselves with some incredible baklava instead and threw the kids into bed.

Tomorrow was a big day! R was turning 8 and we were surprising the kids with another amusement park day.

Also I had to go to the grocery store to try and find filler birthday gifts for R. Since we’re biking we have very little space. So the plan was to just find stuff before. That didn’t seem to work out so off to the grocery store I went.

Bonn to Köln, Germany: Cycling Day 11

Since Ty has learned to work the credit cards and their benefits he’s managed to get us both Dimond Hilton status. This allowed us to get breakfast for free at the hotel. Otherwise it’s like $30 per person and we’re way too cheap to spend that! 😆

Oh my goodness this was maybe the most amazing hotel breakfast spread we have ever seen! There was a cereal station, typical American breakfast cooked food station, European sliced meats and olives station, a fruit station, multiple coffee stations, a tea station, a juicer, and a mimosa bar! It was overwhelming how much was available. I wanted to stay for hours just to try and sample it all. I was in love the moment I saw they offered honey comb.

Also who wants to install a fresh butter machine in their kitchen?!

We managed to stay about an hour and a half which is probably one of our longest breakfasts with kids. We also walked out with several yogurts, muffins, and croissants in our hands for later. 😂

The kids and Ty went swimming for a while after breakfast. I decided to just enjoy the show.

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L freaked me out with his first backflip. I restricted him to just forward jumps after that. I think this kid needs to be on a dive team.

After swimming we went back up to the room and got packed up. Our ride to Köln was only 24 miles so it felt wonderfully easy.

We also included a playground stop, as expected.

We then went through this industrial area for a while. Definitely not the picturesque fields and towns we’re used to.

Then this guy came down the road in some sort of electric, enclosed, rascal car-thing. It was hilariously tiny and slow! I just had to take a video but didn’t want to talk too loudly since he had his window open.

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Yep we ended up passing him and leaving him in our dust! 😄

Köln is a big city! It was fun to ride through till right before our apartment. It was rush hour and on a narrow road with bikes and cars everywhere. It got a bit crazy.

We were so happy to get to our apartment. It has a grocery store right around the corner. But the internet wasn’t working. We just kept getting an error message. Ty finally contacted the host and they knew it wasn’t working but didn’t tell us. 😠 That in addition to a few other irritants made this our least favorite stay.

But we were able to walk a few blocks to a yummy pasta dinner. The kids were over the moon since they got toys with their meals.

Then back to the apartment for everyone to pass out!

Mainz to Bonn, Germany: Cycling Day 10

Well we knew today was going to be a doozy! The route was estimated to be 60+ miles again. 😬 Try to accomplish that after a night of sleeping in a tent on top of flat sleeping pads.

We left the camp ground thinking when we see a bakery open, we will grab some breakfast and keep on our way. However, after seeing every grocery store, fast food, cafe, everything was closed, we realized it must be some type of holiday. The town was dead quiet!

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We finally found a little coffee shop that was open. They said it was “party day/fathers day”. Not totally sure why those two go together but that’s pretty much what we saw all day. Dad’s with kids or guys drinking together. 🤷🏻‍♀️ But we’re happy to celebrate this guy twice!

Waiting on a train.

Then we tried to just put in the miles.

I caught R mid-cough. 😆

Ty tried to get awesome photos of the kids with the red poppies. But the flowers were crawling with bees so the kids weren’t too keen on this idea. Can you tell? 😉

Amazing old structures like this are everywhere!

These huge shipping barges on the Rhine.

We weren’t totally Scrooge-like today and allowed the kids ten minutes on a playground for lunch.

After that it was nothing but incredible scenery and more pedaling!

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I rode in front for the briefest of moments!

This is where is started to go all downhill for me. My knees started to ache from pushing in such a hard gear. I couldn’t stay in Ty’s draft. I just couldn’t keep up speed. The wind seemed to be in my face and slowing me down.

I finally threw in the towel sometime after mile 40. Ty thank goodness, found us the nearest train station, and was totally supportive. 🥰 The train arrived within ten minutes of us pulling up. We hopped on with help and Ty’s quick research began.

Do we go to the town as planned and hope for a campsite, on this very busy holiday? Or do we ride the train a bit further and make tomorrows 60 miles day easier?

We hopped off the train in Koblenz to suss out our options. A quick phone call and Ty had found us an awesome hotel in Bonn! That would leave us with a 20 mile ride the next day and my aching body was so happy to hear this! Even better the train was leaving within 15 minutes.

Everybody was happy!

The train was older and the doors narrower. This made getting the chariot on a bit tricky. But thankfully we were the only ones with bikes.

Also we got a private compartment, which thrilled the kids to no end! “Just like Harry Potter!”

Getting off the train shenanigans.

Bonn is apparently the home of Beethoven.

Also it appears to be a beautiful city!

We were all thrilled to find out our hotel had a pool. So we refreshed ourselves there before waking to a super yummy Indian food dinner.

Where we saw a blimp and a beautiful church on our walk.

Looking forward to a wonderful nights sleep in a real bed. Breakfast at the hotel tomorrow and no real rush to get on the bikes. Sounds heavenly!

Mannheim to Mainz, Germany: Cycling Day 9

So we had to ride 6 miles from our hotel just to get to the center of Mannheim and then make our way out of town. It was so huge it took us about an hour and half to do this.

We got stopped by a train but please note the different colored sidewalk. Red is for cyclists and grey is for walkers. It’s so simple and yet brilliant! My only real cycling comparison is Hawaii and so far Europe has been blowing my mind with how cycle friendly it is.

This tower is called Friedrichsplatz. We couldn’t quite figure out what or why it was such a big deal but it’s a key thing to see in Mannheim apparently.

More scenes from the city.

Ty rode up those stairs to that point! 😳 I used the bike rail on the side. Again so simple yet brilliant!

We found a strawberry and fargel stand just outside of town. So yummy!

Into the fields.

These red poppies are in bloom everywhere right now. They make road sides so beautiful and bright.

We randomly came across a swamp.

We ended up on cobblestones for a while today. It was my least favorite so far.

I’ve learned anything past 50 miles and it just feels miserable. My body starts to ache, knees are hurting, bum is screaming at me.

We got turned around at some point and we switched from the city to the country route. These added about ten miles to our route today. It was just a slog by the end.

But we made it to this beautiful campground. Showered and walked to dinner.

These are all things that can make a miserable day better. Ty and I ate all the food we could order. According to my Fitbit I ‘walked’ 37k steps and burned over 3k calories today. 🤪

Ty’s putting the kids down in the tent while I sit in the ‘beir garten’ and write the past few days down.

The scary thing is we have close to 60 miles to ride tomorrow. I’m crossing everything that we don’t add any extra mileage tomorrow!

Karlsruhe, Germany to Mannheim, Germany: Cycling Day 8

Here’s the view from our apartment last night. The sunsets have been so beautiful.

We started off the day by riding past the old royal palace. It was massive!! The grounds were so beautiful to ride through as well.

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We decided today would be our playground day. To see how many we could get in one day! Conveniently there was one on the palace grounds.

The trail took us through the woods for a while. It was a bit chilly.

Till we came across another playground!

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This one was incredible! So many areas and abilities could play in this one space. We snacked and played for a bit before moving on.

Lots of riding through little towns today.

A bakery and playground stop for lunch. Their pastries are so dang good!

Asparagus fields! Also known as Fargel in German.

We rode past the Mercedes Benz factory today. Then this train passed us full of brand new cars. 🤑

The days final playground. Again it was completely amazing!

We finally made it to our hotel and it was in an industrial part of town. About 6 miles from the center of Mannheim. The hotel was clean but also weird. It was part of another hotel and had basically a vending machine to get your room key from after you entered your confirmation code.

We were just happy to be done riding and walking to dinner.

Pizza!!

Also Europe sells these personal sized bottles of wine. This one was 1€!

We got the kids asleep. We had no internet so we chatted future biking adventures and crashed. Tomorrow is a long day, 50+ miles so we’re trying to get up and out the door early.