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.

Strasbourg, France to Karlsruhe, Germany: Cycling Day 7

Same as it ever was, we got up, had some breakfast, and loaded up our bikes. ☺️ R’s cough was sounding particularly bad this morning, so she took the first shift in the chariot.

We rode out of Strasbourg and into the countryside. It was a pretty uneventful but long day on the bikes. Over 50 some miles of riding.

See all the white stuff on the trail. The cotton trees are shedding. It’s a mess when it gets in your eyes and sticks to a sweaty face.

We did have our first and hopefully last tip over today. R took the tumble like a champ! The issue was a small side trail to that went around a barrier. It was too narrow for the chariot.

Then Ty got a bit too bold on this one. But thankfully it was just his bike that tumbled this time. I think Ty forgot how much weight he was pulling. 😄

Beautiful flat trails today.

Crossing from France into Germany.

Immediately stopping at the strawberry stand because they’re so yummy here!

Lunch today was Chinese food, and I hit up the dollar store (I think). I bought R a new shirt and some shorts. I had messed up and only packed her one t shirt. But hey we’ve made it work for over a week now!

Back on the road. L managed to take a nap this afternoon. I have no idea how kids sleep like this!

Dinner was the food court of the nearby mall. Followed by grocery shopping for breakfast and gelato, of course! It looked too good to pass up.

The kids are in bed but no one is sleeping. 🙄 Ty and I are wiped after today though and we get to do it again tomorrow. So we’re happy to go to bed early.

Rust, Germany to Strasbourg, France: Cycling Day 6

Such a lazy day for us today! Only have to ride 25 miles 😆 Our apartment check out wasn’t until 10am so we had a slow morning, reading books, playing games, and puzzles. We grabbed some bakery goodies and stopped at a local playground to kill another hour in the glorious sunshine.

R did her own hair today. Can you tell?! 😳

We headed out of Rust about 11 and soon after had trail issues. The signs weren’t great and we ended up crossing this rickety bridge to ride on this super rocky trail.

No photo evidence of the trail. We needed two hands to steer the bikes and not lose control. We did some more riding on the road after we crossed into France. Not our favorite but it shaved some time off the ride.

See not everything is beautiful fields and villages. 😉

But after a bit we did get back on track. Also back to a beautiful trail!

These trees along the canal were incredible!

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We started getting nearer to Strasbourg.

Bikers everywhere in this city!

We got to our apartment. Dropped our stuff off and went to walk around the neighborhood. We found an amazing church, a playground, and a grocery store. Like always!

There was a wedding just getting started at the church and they were ringing the bells. It was beautiful.

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Found this at the grocery store and it made me chuckle.

We had tried to get an early dinner out but everything was closed! It was 4:30/5 and nothing was open or they were just starting to open. It’s a very European issue.

We ended up back at the apartment and then went out for dinner after 6. The best option we found was an Irish pub.

Sitting outside to help cut the cigarette smoke. 🤦🏻‍♀️ I also made the kids promise to eat at least one vegetable tomorrow.

Tomorrow we get to fully explore Strasbourg!