Germany! Düsseldorf: Days Five to Eight.

On Tuesday we took off for Düsseldorf to spend some days with my sister and her family. She has three daughters, age 6, 4 and 6 months. Look at this chubby little pumpkin! This is Philippa. She is the happiest baby you’ll ever meet.

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This is Chef Arthur on a pony. The cousins had some amazing toys.

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Julian and Emilia hit it off right away. They were so cute together. And now that we’re home, the boys say several times a day how much they miss her.

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Did I mention that Düsseldorf has streetcars? The boys were in awe and studied all the different styles, colors, and whatnot. Seriously, I don’t even understand half of what they tell me when it comes to vehicles of any kind. Here are four of the five cousins waiting for the streetcar:

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And, you know, riding the streetcar:

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We spent our first day riding streetcars and playing at a cool playground (wooden structures! rocks! sand!). We had dinner at a German restaurant and slept like kings in our double suite at the Hyatt Regency. Did I mention that our brother-in-law is a hotshot at the Hyatt? We were so thankful he hooked us up with such amazing rooms with the best view of the city.

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The next day, Wednesday, we did the ultimate German thing: we went swimming at an indoor pool. Growing up this is something we did all the time. There’s a total “swimming culture” in Germany, where kids learn how to swim at a very young age and receive new badges based on their progress and level. It was so much fun. The water was warm, and there were several different pools to splash in. No guards to tell you what to do and what not to do. Only one time when two teenagers were fist-fighting in the water did I hear anyone reprimand the swimmers. The highlight was the water slide. Julian, Emilia and I must have gone down it dozens of times. Julian was not afraid one bit and went on his own (he almost drowned only once). Arthur also loved it. And Emilia, a very proficient swimmer, jumped off the 3 meter tall diving board all by herself. Right after Uncle Jeff.

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Meanwhile, while we were splashing around in the pool, my sister’s middle daughter, Carlotta, went to kindergarten – where she broke her foot. When we saw her for dinner that night – my parents had driven up to join us all – Carlotta was limping. The next day my sister spent hours in the hospital until they learned that yes, it was broken. So that definitely put a damper on things, and we all felt terrible for Carlotta. It also meant we didn’t get to spend as much time with the family as we had hoped.

So on Thursday we were on our own and did some shopping and eating and resting. We had our obligatory daily dose of Spaghetti Eis.

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We went for a long walk after a long nap and had a late dinner.

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On Friday my sister had to be back at the hospital with Carlotta, so we offered to take Emilia with us to a park and petting zoo. The boys were elated to have their cousin with them!

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Later on we met my sister and the other girls at a mall to run a few more errands. The kids rode the mall horses. What? Yes. They have these crazy horses that kids (and adults?) can ride back and forth in the mall. They come in all sizes – and they blew our minds.

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We had an early dinner together, and Jeff and I took the boys to another playground. And that was pretty much it!

On Saturday our alarm went off at 3am, and we checked out with our sleepy babes by 4am. We had to drive to Frankfurt to catch our 8:40am flight. Julian never fell asleep again until nap time in Brooklyn, which was around 7pm German time. He never complained, either. Arthur slept for an hour or two on the plane, so we did lots of entertaining and playing and movie watching. Did I mention that playdoh is the best invention ever? I’m never leaving my house without it. Also a big hit: pen and paper. And puzzles. Oh, and cars, trains, and lollipops.

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To sum things up a bit, these are the highlights:

  • Family.
  • Spaghetti Eis.
  • Trains of all kind.
  • Indoor pools.
  • Beer.
  • Super clean toilets.
  • People are so nice to kids. All the time, everywhere. More on that some other time.

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