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All we need is love… locks

If you want to declare your love to the world, or at least the people of Cologne, Germany, go to the Hohenzollern Bridge. It’s easy enough to find, it’s right next to the main train station. You can’t miss it. Locks line the railing, from the very beginning to the very end.

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The Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne

What’s a love lock?

It’s just a lock that a couple will attach, usually, to a bridge. Sometimes the locks are inscribed with the couples names and an important date; sometimes it’s just the lock. Once locked, the couple throw the key away. In Cologne they throw it right into the Rhein River. Without the key, the locks stayed love forever and the couple’s love is guaranteed forever.

I first heard of this tradition when I went to the Great Wall in China. So, I thought the tradition started there. I was wrong. This tradition started in Italy, but has spread throughout the world. I’ve noticed them on major bridges in popular cities. I’ve also seen them in lesser known places, like my local park. (Which, by the way, might have the record for fewest number of love locks at three.) Once you know about them, you’ll start seeing them everywhere.

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Innovative love lockers.

Cologne’s Love Locks

But, the love locks in Cologne are quite a site. The bridge is over 1300 feet long. Coming from the train station side, the locks are very dense, no space uncovered. I liked crossing opposite the train station first. On that side of the river the locks are more sparse. As you walk, there are more and more locks until you are left wondering how people were able to fit all the locks in that small of an area at all.

This tradition is fairly new to Cologne. The city started to take notice less than 5 years ago. Now there are so many locks that they are estimated to weigh over 4,000 pounds. They aren’t without controversy, though. Several years ago Deutsche Bahn, the bridge’s operator, threatened to saw off the locks. The public stood by their locks (and their love) and they remain today.

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He’s too busy looking at the trains and boats to want to pose for a picture.

Hey, what about the kids?

The pedestrian pathway is wide enough for everyone who want to look at the locks, photographers to set up their camera to take pictures of the locks, and families with big strollers to enjoy without getting in each others way. As most bridges in big cities, it’s a nice stroll. I also saw many bike riders crossing the bridge. As you know, my son loves all forms of transportation. This makes the Hohenzollern Bridge even more fun. There are plenty of trains going into and out of Cologne’s main train station (around 1200 a day), so my son was in awe. Look down and a variety of boats pass under the bridge. Not to mention that big cathedral in the distance.

You’ll want to leave plenty of time for your visit because lock-spotting is truly mesmerizing.

I think I’m going to add love lock sightings to my traveling scavenger hunt. Do you know of any other places (big or small) with love locks? tenue sexy erotiquehow to find your google rankingdoorbell buyuseful site

Mozart, Mint, and Vanilla: Ice Cream Connecting the Generations

I’m going to break the fourth wall here for a moment.

I was thinking of this blog and I wanted to write about ice cream. It’s National Ice Cream month, you know? And though I enjoy ice cream, especially living in Europe, there’s not much I normally have to say about it. Believe me, I thought about it a lot the past few days:

  • Ice cream’s great in Europe because… they serve small scoops at small prices. €0.70 if you’re in my town, up to €0.90 if you’re somewhere fancy. (BORING!)
  • People eat it all the time in the summer here. (OBVIOUS!)
  • A pint of Ben and Jerry’s at my local grocery store is almost €6.00 and I indulge in it more than I should because, even though European ice cream is good, it’s hit or miss at ice cream shops and mostly miss at grocery stores. (PATHETIC!)

So, when we passed an ice cream/gelato shop right next to Cologne’s big cathedral, I was excited. We can sit outside, enjoy our ice cream while enjoying our views and I would have a slight ice cream story that was probably going to be more about the cathedral. Except then my husband said it’s way too expensive to sit down and have ice cream, we should just get a scoop of ice cream to go. And so we did.

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I went in to order (no line, yay!); he stayed outside with the kids.

He wanted pistachio, but they were out of it. I stepped outside, “they don’t have pistachio, is mint ok?”

“Yes”

And then, in typical my-luck-would-have it fashion, a line had formed. Two older couples were checking out the options, but of them, only one woman was really interested in the ice cream. She wore a black hat and kept pointing to the different options while chatting to the server. I wondered if she was ever going to order and wanted to just skip in front of her so I could.

While I waited for her, I looked for something for myself. I found it quickly. Off to the corner, hardly touched. The Mozart. I knew right away that this scoop of ice cream was going to make it on the blog. See, as soon as I saw it, this is the monologue I had in my head:

“Oh, Mozart, what’s that… oh, I bet it’s that Mozart Kugel from Salzburg… oh, I can talk about Mozart Kugels and Salzburg how it was our first real trip with our son and how cool it is to see something called “Mozart” and know almost immediately that it’s chocolate, pistachio, and marzipan and it’s ice cream and it’s perfect… the circle of life via travel food…”

And I was excited about this little twist to my story, but still… it’s not TOO exciting. (For those that are paying close attention, the Mozart ice cream option wouldn’t have been a good one for my pistachio-loving husband because he hates chocolate ice cream.)

With all this internalizing, I looked up to see that the two couples in front of me had left already. Except for the lady with the black hat. She continued to point and comment and smile and I couldn’t hear her, but I don’t think she was saying anything of substance. She left without getting anything and then it was my turn.

After placing my order for a cup of vanilla for my son, a cup of Mozart for myself, and a cone of mint for my husband, I paid my whooping €3.30 for all 3 (that’s €1.10 for one scoop of ice cream for those not mathematically gifted.) I walked out to my family to see my husband pointing in my direction and then the two older couples that were in front of me in line, black hat lady included, turning and waving. Then they looked at my son and said, “Mama’s here with your ice cream!”

Then things got a little weird.

I handed the mint cone to my husband and somehow, I’ve replayed this in my head and really don’t know how this is possible since my son was in the stroller and my husband was standing, my son grabbed the mint cone. In the midst of grabbing and claiming ownership of it by taking a huge bite out of it, some spilled on to his shirt. The two couples went into grandparent mode. The men were saying things to my husband, that I didn’t catch. The black hat lady looked at me and said she’ll run inside to get some napkins. I told her it was ok, I already have napkins and then our worlds stopped for a moment.

She smiled back at me in acknowledgement. It’s that look that only moms know. That recognition that I’m in the part of my life with my children where I carry everything they need at all times, and that she once did the same. When I looked over to smile at her again, I noticed that her friend, the other female in the group had grabbed a bunch of napkins from the ice cream shop. As she waved them towards us, life sped up again and chaos ensued.

Helping my son get cleaned.

Helping my son get cleaned.

Black hat lady grabbed the napkins and starts cleaning up my son. One napkin blew away in the wind. I ran to catch it. The women were making sure their temporary grandchild was cleaned up from the ice cream, with a makeshift bib on his shirt in the process. The men were all continuing their conversation. When I got back, with everything as it should be, they wished us good luck and said their good-byes.

Where are we now.

After saying good-bye to the, we lost track of the two couples. Their kindness will always be on our minds.

We went across the street and sat on the steps next to Cologne’s Cathedral. My husband had to settle for vanilla ice cream in a cup. I decided that the Mozart was better in theory than in taste.

My son jumped out of the stroller to enjoy his cone. As we walked back to the car, passing in front of the cathedral, he noticed it for the first time. Awestruck at this HUGE building, he wanted to follow everyone else going inside. Since no food was allowed, my husband offered to hold the cone. While my son and I enjoyed the interior of the structure that has been mentioned as early as the 4th century, my husband got to finish his mint ice cream cone.

Enjoying his stolen cone, then later, walking and noticing this big cathedral for the first time.

Enjoying his stolen cone, then later, walking and noticing this big cathedral for the first time.

 

This post is part of the Blog Carnival hosted by The Mother of All Trips, Walking On Travels, and WanderMom. Click on the link for more ice cream stories, then go out and get a scoop for yourself!best sun shade for car babySony Memory Stick Pro Duo 4GbBinary Options Brokers

Summer Festivals in Germany: The Official Start of Summer

My favorite thing about living in Germany is the ease of travel. My second favorite thing are the festivals. Ok, it’s a tie between the festivals and the bakeries, but I’m going with festivals for now. Anywhere you travel, almost any time of the year, you are likely to run into some local celebration. There’s casual ones as well as themed ones. Some interesting ones I’ve found include festivals celebrating the Brothers Grimm, other countries, the marriage between Martin Luther and Katharina von Bora, and even cities in north Germany celebrating southern regions.

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This past Saturday was our local street fest. For me, it’s our marker that the summer has officially started. As a Floridian who has lived in mostly tropical climates all my life, I always took the sun for granted. After three years here, though, I see what the celebration is all about. People of all ages come out, freed from the constraints of their jackets, scarves, and long pants and enjoy summer.

For 1-2 miles, traffic was diverted. Our main street was lined with food stalls, shops, mini-beer gardens, and several stages with live performances. We packed up the family and took off looking for a late lunch. The crowds were heavy, but the lines weren’t long. Most people were doing what we were doing, enjoying the sun and scooping out the options. We made it all the way to the end to figure out what we wanted to eat. We only stopped to grab a balloon (or three) for my son.

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The typical German festival foods were there: waffles, crepes, bratwurst, french fries, garlic mushrooms, fish. We opted for something different. We ate spring rolls, and an Egyptian appetizer platter with bread and dip, plus grilled Chicken, couscous and salad. Then on to crepes before heading home.

Tips for Festival Attendees in Germany

  • Get your kids a balloon as soon as possible, it’s the easiest way to spot them!
  • Feel free to sit at a table or bench that other people are sitting at, Germans share tables with strangers all the time and it’s a fun way to make friends.
  • Drinks are usually sold in separate stalls than food. So, send one person to get drinks and the other to get lunch.
  • Drinks are also usually sold in glasses. You pay a small deposit when you get a drink in a glass, so you can either keep the glass as a souvenir or do what most people do and return them to get your deposit back.

Now that our local festival is done, I’m ready to check out other festivals this summer. Here’s a list of some interesting festivals:

Other Summer Festivals in Germany

  • Cathedral Steps Theater Festival, Erfurt: A theater festival probably doesn’t sound so fun, but with the Erfurt Cathedral in the background and plays specifically for children, it’s worth a visit. This year the festival will be held July 4-21.
  • Rhine In Flames: For one day each month a different section of cities along the Rhine River host a spectacular display of fireworks known as the “Rhine in Flames”. I’ve watched this in the city of Koblenz in the past. With Koblenz being the intersection of the Rhine and Mosel Rivers, and the city’s Castle Ehrenbreitstein being more wide than tall, it is unlike any firework show I’ve experienced. This year the show will be on August 10. Koblenz will also have the Koblenz Summer Festival at the same time, August 9-11.
  • The best festival of all: the one you stumble upon when you’re walking around and notice a large gathering happening in one area. These occur not only in cities as I mentioned above, but even in local sites and attractions. I don’t think it’s possible to spend more than 3 days in Germany during the summer and not pass at least one festival.

Have you been to one of the summer festivals in Germany, or is there one that you’ve heard of that you want to go to? 

This post is part of Friday Daydreaming at RWeThereYetMom.commander les lubrifiants en ligne pas cherST6030Street Storm STR-9970 Twin

Rare Weekend Blogging Flashback: Alphabet Meme

We just got back from a quick day trip to Cologne and I saw that Farrah tagged me to complete an Alphabet Meme. Seeing that it’s a Sunday and I’ve reserved my weekend blogging for more random topics, I thought why not. Here’s a rare chance to get to know the Ann behind Travel Turtle.

Attached or Single: Attached and happy!

Best Friend: Definitely my husband. Being an expat, I actually don’t have too many girl friends locally, so I can’t really think of any girls specifically. Though, in my past I’ve had great friends who have proved themselves reliable time and again.

Cake or Pie: Both, I usually have cake, though. Pumpkin pie over everything else.

Day of Choice: I would enjoy Sundays more if stores were open. Or I’d enjoy Saturdays more if I knew I could save the shopping for Sunday.

Essential Item: I hate to say it, but it’s my phone. I take pictures all the time, video some of the time, and have recently started playing Tetris Blitz.

Favorite Color: Red and blue

Gummy Bears or Worms: Bears, but only haribo.

Hometown: I’m a military brat, so I either consider it to be Miami or Orlando.

Favorite Indulgence: Sleep. What I would do to sleep for 5 hours uninterrupted. Or to wake up past 5:00 am.

January or July: January! It’s also my birth month.

Kids: Two cute ones who keep me up all the time.

Life isn’t complete without: The other members of my clan. Even if I complain about sleep, the other members of my family complete me.

Marriage Date: My husband and I are both math geeks. It only makes sense that we married on 02-04-06.

Number of Siblings: None. And because I’m an only it was hard for me to accept that we were having a second. Now that I see them together, I think it’s the best thing.

Oranges or Apples: Oranges! I’m a Floridian at heart.

Phobias: Flying, squirrels, and putting too much about myself on the internet.

Quotes: ‘‘Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild, With a faery, hand in hand, For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.” -W.B. Yeats. This was in my English teacher’s classroom and I always liked it.

Reasons to smile: Three and four day weekends, my kids smiles, a good dinner, a clean living room… not in this order.

Season of Choice: I like spring and fall.

Tag 5 People: I’m going to keep this open to whoever would like to respond.

Unknown fact about me: Stand By Me is my favorite movie. The first time I watched it, I watched it several times a day for a week. Then once a day. Then once a week. Then it was a movie I watched every five or so years. I’m watching it right now.

Vegetable: I’m a huge fan of green beans.

Worst habit: Not putting things away right away.

X-Ray or Ultrasound: Ultrasounds!

Your favorite food: Chicken, rice and beans from Puerto Rico.

Zodiac Sign: Capricorn

This post was part of OLD SCHOOL BLOGGING.

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Families and Business Trips Can Mix, Sometimes

A few weeks ago I went to a blogging conference. My whole family joined me. I sat in sessions, they explored Rotterdam. It was a switch from the typical working trip we take. It’s always been my husband who goes, and we follow. We go with him when he’s visiting a city I want to see myself, or when he’s heading back to the US and we tack on a trip to see our extended families, or when we just really want to go with him. We’ve done it many times, and we will do it again. It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely not hard. If you are going to bring the family on one parent’s business trips, here are some tips to help you along the way.

We recently joined my husband on a business trip to Erfurt, Germany. There were lots of things to do to keep us busy.

We recently joined my husband on a business trip to Erfurt, Germany. There were lots of things to do to keep us busy.

  1. Know when to go and when to stay home. Most of the time, it’s easy for us to go with him. The other times it’s just not possible. He may be traveling with other coworkers in a rental car and there’s no space for all of us. Or his schedule is too hectic and it makes planning the logistics for three more people not worth it. Sometimes there are things that have to be done at home, so I need to stay here. We don’t go, or expect to go, on every business trip. Just the ones that work with all of our schedules. If it’s a trip that is more low stress for him, we go. Otherwise, we stay home.
  2. Know what to expect. Each business trip is different, each company is different. For us, I know that when my husband goes on a business trip he is expected to go out to dinner at least once or twice in a week. We don’t join him during these meals, but we eat together when we can. If there are social or networking events in the evening, the working spouse may not be available to help with bed time. If this is a problem for the trailing spouse, it’s better to just stay home.
  3. Know how to contact each other. It’s usually easy when we’re traveling within Germany. However, in another country using cell phones without the right plan can get expensive. I like to have a local phone number for his office that I can contact in an emergency.
  4. Know how you want to spend your days. Don’t go on a business trip and spend the whole time at the hotel. I suppose there might be exceptions to this idea, a business meeting at an all-inclusive resort with a kid’s club for one. (Oh, how I wish my husband’s business trips were in the Caribbean…) But, more often than not, the point of joining the working spouse on the business trip to is so that you can get out there and take the kids to see some new sites.
  5. Ask the hotel for early check-ins and late check-outs. Most business trips don’t start and end in alignment with hotel check-in/out policies. It’s hard, especially when you have younger kids, to check out at noon and spend the rest of the time waiting for the work day to end. Most hotels are understanding and give you a few more hours than regular guests. Even if you don’t spend those extra hours in the room, it’s nice to know you can.
  6. Be honest with money. Again, this is something different with different companies (and countries). In Europe many hotels charge higher rates for double occupancy than single. Don’t let the company pay for the trailing spouse. Ask the hotel to split the bill. One bill for the single stay, one for the remainder. Pay the difference out of your own pocket. Many people are tempted to let the company pay the entire bill, but it’s just not honest and not worth the possibility of losing a job.

The last tip I have is about packing for a business trip when the family comes along. And that tip is at Suitcases and Sippycups as part of their “What’s in my suitcase” series. Go ahead and take a look, and bookmark the site so you can see future installments of the series. But, before you go, let me know if you have other tips for families traveling together on business trips.Accessoires sexytranslate english to finnishcar cover 5 layeracheter les vicromasseurs onlineApple iPod nano 7 16Gb Purple