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Düsseldorf and Gehry: Views from above


I recently went up Düsseldorf’s Rhein Tower.  It’s a bargain at only 4 EUR per person. My son loved it. The elevator ride was long, but fast. Once the doors opened he ran right to the angled floor to ceiling windows and stared at the city below. Then he ate a bunch of cake. It was definitely a nice break in our day. I recommend travelers cap off trips to cities by finding out a way to view it from above. It’s the best way to see everything you did while you were there, and start pointing out locations you might want to do next time.

My favorite view from the Rhein Tower

Pictured above is the Medien Hafen. It is Düsseldorf’s media and design hub. It is also home to the city’s trendiest restaurants and bars. When this area was developed, seven different designers were given free reign to do what they want with their section without knowing what the other designers had planned. This led to seven very distinct sections. The most popular: the three buildings designed by Frank Gehry. They are known as the Neuer Zollhof. You can find it right away in the photo – it starts with the big white structure (plaster) at the middle on the bottom. Behind that is the mirrored building (stainless steel), and the last of the three is the brown building (brick).

Gehry’s buildings can be found in many cities around the world. Their unique shapes have made them tourist destinations in themselves. To get a sampling of other traveler’s experiences with Gehry’s architecture, go to Instagram and use the hashtag #Gehry.

Have you been to any of Gehry’s buildings? Do you have pictures in your Instagram account? Let me know!

This post is part of the new Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.



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Randoms on Wednesday

Typically speaking, I don’t think Wednesdays are a random day around the internet. But, what do I know?

I’ve been busy hanging out with my little ones and planning upcoming trips. During this process I’ve found some interesting things I want to share. Things that are too little in themselves to post separately and too much to want to post on twitter or facebook or google plus. (By the way, are you following me on any of those three? If not, now’s a good time. If yes, stop by and say hi!)

On to the random.

Dusseldorf, Germany

Starting top right, clockwise: 1. The famous Rhein Promenade is filled with outdoor restaurants during the summer. Across the river they’re sitting up for the big kirmes fair. 2. An art piece near the city’s history museum depicts important events and people. 3. My son off-roading near the history museum (with a glimpse of the apartment we almost moved into in the background.) 4. Düsseldorf city hall as seen from the Irish pub. On this day a band was behind the statue pictured playing theme songs. Someone walked by and said, “Ah, Star Wars.” They were wrong, it was Indiana Jones. A few minutes later, we heard the theme to Star Wars.

  • Part of my travel planning included booking flights for an upcoming trip to the US. Even though I live in Germany, this will be the first time I’ve flown on Lufthansa. I spent a lot of time on their website yesterday and I love how welcoming they are to families. They have things like: family check-in counters at their two major airports, family services to help at the airport, tips and pre-departure check-lists specifically for families, a logbook for young fliers to log their miles with Lufthansa, a 25% discount for kids for some routes, fun children’s meals, and activity sheets that can be downloaded pre-flight, as well activities for kids on the flight. For one mom’s experience on Lufthansa, check out my friend’s post at Thrifty Travel MamaIf you’ve flown on Lufthansa, tell me your GOOD experiences in the comments. 
  • The seating configuration on our flight is 2-4-2. Since there are four of us, I wanted to get other family travel blogger’s thoughts on the best configuration.
    • A: One parent and one kid in a row, the other parent and kid in the row behind them. Parent gets the aisle, kid gets the window.
    • B: All four in the middle of the row.
    • C: Keep one parent with both kids and let the other parent sit separately.
      For configuration A: the pros were that the kids could look out of the window and if the toddler kicks anyone’s seat, it will just be his baby sister. Plus, no one gets jealous of the toys or food the other is eating.
      For configuration B: the pros were that everyone can sit next to each other and just kind of lay all over each other and sleep.
      For configuration C: the pros were that one parent can rest while the other deals with both kids at a time and they can switch as needed.
      For our family and this particular trip, we went with configuration A. We will see how well that goes and adjust on the return if we need to. If you have a preference, I’d love to hear it in the comments. Keep in mind, at the time of this flight I will have an almost three-year old and a just-turned one-year old.
  • During the discussion on seat configuration, I asked for flying with kids tips. Fact: I’ve flown with my kids many times, but I still get nervous doing so. I will read blog post after blog post repeatedly up until the day we leave. I really liked Knocked Up Abroad’s flying with baby and toddler tips. Other than being great tips, her return to the topic several times reassures me that I’m not alone in my obsession of thinking about this. If you have any tips for flying with babies and toddlers, or a favorite resource, let me know in the comments.
  • A few weeks ago I downloaded the TripIt app. It came highly recommended by friends and I understand why. It’s so nice to get the travel confirmations automatically organized in an app. Give it a try.
  • My friend, Selena, over at Oh, the Places actually wrote a random post on Monday. I just read it about an hour ago. While there, I clicked around and ended up on her blog designer’s website (more on that in a second). Afterwards I thought it would be nice to write a random post and when I sat at my computer and started writing, I remembered that Oh, the Places just did this. And I just read it. So thank you, Selena, for the inspiration.
  • Selena’s site was designed by Ready to Blog. Other than making some fantastic sites (check it out), she also offers a variety of free downloads. I downloaded her Photoshop collages. They are the perfect way to make nice collages in Photoshop. The one I made from a recent trip to Düsseldorf is at the top of this post.
  • I don’t have a blog designer, but I did recently update my buttons on the right sidebar. What do you think?

What random things are going on in your life right now?Replay SK77

Instagram and Food: Travel Inspiration

Photos inspire travel.

Follow enough people on instagram and you’ll soon discover the “everyday” all over the world. Whether at home or on vacation instagram does exactly what it promises; it provides an instant image easily shared to anyone with an account (privacy settings aside).

Before instagram, I could “control” my inspiration. I could look at books or websites specific to places I knew I wanted to visit. Since I started using instagram a few months ago, I’ve noticed a shift in my own travel desires. I want to go everywhere. Yes, I’ve always wanted to do that, I know. But, now I REALLY want to go everywhere. Some places I never even knew existed have jumped on to my want to-do list.  I’ve reaffirmed the reasons many places were already on the list. And, oddly enough, I’m growing nostalgic for places I’ve already been.

By the way, these photos are also pretty educational. Because it’s so easy to share images people upload a lot. And you can’t help but learn more about a place after viewing a lot of everyday photos taken there.

Food inspires travel.

A common theme in instagram is definitely food. I’ve learned a lot about food all over the world by watching what the people I follow eat and instagram. And I’m not to0 embarrassed to admit that it’s because of these food photos that my “to see” list has shifted so much. (Really, it should be called a “to eat” list.)

When I was looking through my own photos, I noticed that I also take a lot of photos of food. Here are instagram food photos I’ve taken in Germany. In just these few photos I feel that I’ve already started to give a good representation of food in Germany – and that’s just one instagrammer!

(You will find the originals on my instagram account.)

Instagram Food

This typical German festival food: french fries with mayo! Would I have taken this photo if I didn’t have my phone on me? Probably not.

Instagram Food

Anywhere in Germany, you will find Currywurst (sliced sausage covered in a curry ketchup) with french fries. There’s even a currywurst museum in Berlin! Pizza is also a popular meal (of course), so why not combine the two? I wouldn’t have taken this picture without my phone because I was in such a hurry. And I had to upload it to IG because the box is a square. (By the way, I didn’t really like the pizza.)

Instagram Food

In high school our family went out for ice cream a lot. One of our favorites, spaghetti ice. It’s vanilla ice cream “spaghetti” and strawberry sauce with white chocolate “cheese”. In high school this was the only variety I ever saw, but these days you can get any combination of ice cream and topping for Spaghetti Eis.

And the reason I do it all. My favorite thing about using instagram is that it's so easy to capture my kids. As I mentioned when I uploaded this photo, I took this picture because in this moment my son looked so grown up to me. He sat there patiently with this cake in front of him. Before I had a chance to really think about it, I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and snapped a photo. My thought was that I would talk about the popular cake and coffee culture in Germany. However, within about 10 seconds of this photo, my son grabbed a fistful of cake and shoved it in his mouth.

And the reason I do it all. My favorite thing about using instagram is that it’s so easy to capture my kids. As I mentioned when I uploaded it, I took this picture because in this moment my son looked so grown up to me. He sat there patiently with this cake in front of him. I thought that he’s really embraced the coffee and cake culture in Germany. I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and snapped a photo. However, within about 10 seconds of this photo, my son grabbed a fistful of cake and shoved it in his mouth.

Popular Food Hashtags

If you want to find food photos on instagram, check out Food Hashtags Explained

This post is part of the new Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.car cover 1999 mustangbest car cover for porsche boxstertenue coquine pas cherinfant car seat visor

Fun for the Whole Family – Organic Farms in Germany

“We went to a farm.”

“Hmm… that sounds… fun?”

This was a common conversation with my friends Monday mornings. It seemed that at least one of my friends would visit a farm with their family over the weekend. And while they seemed to flock to farms, I was doing everything I could to avoid them.

Farms, they just aren’t my thing. When our friends would bring that option up to us, we would suggest anything and everything else. Then one day, we were tricked. And the plans we had settled on, well, they changed at the last-minute. Instead of the beautiful park walking distance from our apartment, we were going to go to a farm.

The whole drive there, I was nervous. I’m not an animal hater, but I’m not an animal lover. I didn’t want to pet anything, feed anything, milk anything, and I definitely didn’t want to clean up after anything. Our drive took us out of our city, past several cute german towns, on and off the autobahn, more cute smaller towns, and finally into a large area where we could scream as loud as we wanted, and no one would hear us.

We found the farm and walked in and I was immediately happy that we were there.

Yes, there were animals. Cows, goats, donkeys, probably other things to; I wasn’t even paying attention. The farm was filled with families! There were kids from my son’s age (2) and up!

Immediately we all noticed that there were plenty of riding toys for the kids. There was actually enough for each kid to have more than one! (And so my son and his friend immediately grabbed two each. One to ride, and one to drag.)


There was a field filled with playground equipment (a see-saw, a trampoline, swings, slide, climbing toys).


They kids could play on big tractors.


And while the kids ran, jumped, slid and played, the adults could sit outside with a cup of coffee and a slice of organic cake sold at the cafe on property. The cafe even had a small area of handmade goods on sale.


The best thing about all of this? It’s free! The snacks were typical cafe prices, but all the activities at this farm were free of charge. The crowd is definitely more local, but the staff speak great English. I highly recommend a farm visit for any family looking for a relaxing day for themselves away from a city, and some fun activities for their children.

Oh, and I didn’t have to milk any animals!

For more information on this farm:

We visited the Hof Zur Hellen, located less than hour from the city of Dusseldorf, Germany. For a small price, you can arrange a tour with the farm to learn more about organic farming. The website is in German, but translates nicely with Google Translate.

I never knew that a visit to the farm could be so fun. So tell me, is this how farms are everywhere? Have you visited a farm, what was your experience?

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Five Tips for Using the German Rail with Babies and Toddlers


rail updateFor the first two years of my son’s life, we relied solely on public transport to get from one place to another. We learned a lot using the German rail system both locally and nationally. Here are 5 cost-savings and/or sanity-savings tips for conquering the trains in Germany.

german rail with kids

Here we are using the Kinderabteil room for the first time. It was nice to be able to keep W safely buckled in his stroller while on the train.

1. Kids under 6 travel free. So do their strollers. The German Rail website sells a pass for 4-11 year olds, but if the child is under 6, they are free when traveling with an adult.

2. Some trains allow reservations. On those trains, try to book a “Kinderabteil”. This is a kid room. Instead of the typical 6-seat configuration, there are 4 regular seats and two-fold down seats. Strollers go where the seats fold down. On some trains and in first class the Kinderabteil is even larger than the regular 6-seat configuration areas, giving kids some space to move around without bothering others. If the Kinderabteil is not available for reservation, then it is first-come, first-served.

german rail with kids

On this train we noticed (see where the arrow is pointing) that the seats lift up to make space for things like strollers. Be on the lookout for that sign if you need the space. It’s usually at the end of the car.

3. Many tips for flying with kids are applicable for riding the train with kids. There are three things to consider about train travel that differs from plane travel: train seats don’t have seat belts, there are no liquid restrictions, and the train often stops. For children who are easily distracted, try to schedule train trips to avoid their nap times. I know anytime I thought my son was going to fall asleep, the upcoming stop was announced. If that didn’t wake him up the group of people exiting and entering the train sure did.

german rail with kids

This time we weren’t able to secure a Kinderabteil. Even though kids under 6 travel free, they can still get a seat reservation. We put our suitcase in the area in front of him for added protection.

4.  Kids love to snack. Unlike airports, train stations sell food and drinks for prices similar to what they are at regular stores. No need to shop at the grocery store to save prices before going to the train station! Snacks are also available on a lot of trains. They are sold by an employee walking the aisle and/or at the restaurant car. These snacks are a little pricier, but still reasonable.

5. In almost all cities in Germany shops are closed on Sundays and holidays . Main train stations (Hauptbahnhof) and airports are the exception. If diapers are running low on a Sunday, head to the Hauptbahnhof to replenish stock.

This post is part of Travel Tip Tuesday. Click the link to read more great tips.

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