Trip to Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia

For our 20th wedding anniversary, Suzanne and I decided to spent a week and half or so in Croatia. Suzanne suggested it while we were considering where to go. Neither of us had been before and it looked wonderful. We flew out Friday, 17-May, evening and came back Tues 28-May. We had a great time, seeing quite a lot including Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park, and several spots on the Adriatic coast (Split, Korčula, Dubrovnik). We also took day trips to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kotor in Montenegro. As an added bonus, we spent a few hours in Frankfurt during our long layover on the way back. If you’re wondering, Jack and Mary Lou we very kind to come up for a couple of weeks to watch Kyle.

Of course, there’s a (lengthy) Trip Report and several pages of photos:

The Old Port in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Germany Day 3 – A Visit with the Sotriffers

The alarm went off early at 7:30 as we had to catch a 9:12 train to Gernsheim to visit with Christoph Sotriffer, my office mate in Marburg, and his family. Kyle did not want to get up, but we had to get going as there is a train only every two hours. We made it to the station in plenty of time to get breakfast from a bakery, even getting a donut for Kyle. The 40 or so minute ride down was fine. Christoph met us at the station with Mathilde, who is seven months younger than Kyle, and Jonathon, who is two and a half. I probably could have found their apartment again as I had been there a couple of times before, but I wasn’t 100% sure.

We had a very nice visit. Kyle enjoyed playing with Mathilde and with Jonathon’s wooden trains. Edith made a delicious brunch. It was great to see them again (and to meet Jonathon and Teresa, who is eight months old). Kyle was unhappy that we had to leave (as we didn’t have such cool toys), but we made a brisk walk back to the station to catch the return train. (We didn’t make it with tons of time. Missing it would have been a pain since, as on the way down, there is a train only every two hours.)

Back in Frankfurt we took the streetcar to the R?merplatz as Kyle had been insisting on riding one. We’re going to be taking one quite a bit in Munich as our apartment is right next to a stop, but Kyle is not known for his patience. We spent a couple of hours walking around the market again. It was much busier today, which we expected, but was still enjoyable. We picked up another Gl?hwien and some sausage for us and a candy cane and popcorn for Kyle. (After eating a handful of popcorn, he decided he wanted cotton candy which we had offered.) We finished by walking up to Hauptwache (a central area on the main pedestrian shopping street) and checked out the decorated windows at Galleria Kaufhof, one of the two main German department stores. The windows at Macy’s in NYC are much nicer. A quick ride on the S-Bahn and bus and we were back at Joanna’s for a final dinner and visit. (Her cooking is very good as it’s somewhat exotic being African based and wonderfully delecious. I think I’m going to try and replicate the cabbage dish she made for us as some point.) Kyle really didn’t want to leave, and, in truth, neither did we, but we had to get back to the hotel to back up for our trip in the morning to N?rnberg (Nuremberg). It was a wonderful weekend in Frankfurt as we got to see several friends from our time in Marburg. The market in Frankfurt is also quite nice. I doubt we would have visited Frankfurt if it hadn’t been for our friends, but we did enjoy it. We’re really looking forward to our few days in N?rnberg, home of one of the largest and most famous Christmas markets.

Germany Day 1 – We Made It

Well, we made it to Germany without any problems. I managed to catch an early train home on Wednesday, so we were able to do most of our packing that night. The only major problem we had is that I managed to leave my camera battery charger in my office in Boston. After some frantic searching, I ended up ordering one from (at an exorbitant cost) and having it shipped to Joanna’s. Thursday wasn’t so hectic. We did have to do a final leaf raking as the last pickup is while we’re gone. It even started to very lightly snow, starting to get is the mood. Aside from the last minute rush, it was pretty calm. Our car arrived a bit early and the trip to the airport was very smooth as there was little traffic.

The airport itself wasn’t so busy. We expected this as we had flown to Florida in 2004 on Thanksgiving Day. Security was non-eventful. At Newark, they’re still using the old procedure and don’t have the new scanners yet, so we didn’t have to deal with them. After grabbing some dinner at the food court, we had a hour or so before boarding. As a Select Plus member of Amtrak’s frequent traveler program (akin to elite status on an airline), I get access to the Continental Presidential lounges. Let me tell you, if you have the ability to access these, do so. It was very nice. One of them in Newark’s terminal C (where we were) even has a small room for families, which we shared with a mother and her son awaiting their flight to India (after an 11 hour layover).

The flight itself took off on time as was maybe 50% full. They actually told people after boarding was done that they could spread out. I don’t think any row was full and most sections (it was a 3-seat–3–3 configuration) had only 1-2 people. I watched Toy Story 3 while Kyle watched some Handy Manny and insisted on watching some of my Toy Story 3 (using one of my headphone pieces to do it). We did learn that we should have brought over the ear headphones for Kyle. At home he tried a set of ear bud ones and they seemed okay (and they pack much smaller), but they kept falling out. We’re hoping to pick up a pair somewhere before we head back. The rest of the flight was fine, though we didn’t sleep. While I don’t normally sleep on a plane, we were shocked that Kyle didn’t either. Both of us were dreading Friday. Other than this, Kyle was quite well behaved on the plane. The lady behind us even complimented us. (At least I think she did. She said something in German that included nice/good.)

Arrival in Frankfurt was uneventful. It was very foggy as we came in. Once we landed I could swear the grass was snow covered, but it was hard to tell as we didn’t have window seats. Turns out I was right. They had they’re first snow Thursday night. We did manage to neglect to get Kyle’s gate checked stroller as we got off the plane. (We boarded a bus and it was raining/snowing at the time.) They ended up delivering it (slightly damp) to baggage claim, so the crisis of a lost stroller was avoided. Immigration and baggage claim was uneventful. One bag was on the carousel when we made it there and the other popped up within a few minutes.

Other than having to wait for a bit for the S-Bahn into town (we just missed the previous one), we had no problems getting to the hotel. (Of course, we know our way around reasonably well as Marburg is an hour northeast of here.) Our hotel (the Best Western Scala) is a few minute walk from one end of the main shopping street and from one of the main S-Bahn stations, so is very convenient. The hotel itself it nice and feels fairly new. We did have to wait 20 or so minutes for our room, but as official check-in isn’t until 3, we didn’t mind if it meant we could get to our room then. (It was about 11 at this point.)

After moving some stuff around, we headed back out. Our first stop was McD’s to get Kyle lunch. The line was quite long and by the time I managed to actually get it, Kyle was nearly asleep. He managed to eat a french fry and a half before falling asleep with the second half in his hand. We figured (and hoped) this would happen, but would have liked him to eat something since he hadn’t eaten much Thursday. While Kyle slept, Suzanne and I headed down the Ziel (the main shopping street) and over to the R?merplatz, site of the Christmas Market. It seems the market has expanded since we were over here. Being back in the atmosphere was great. It wasn’t so busy, despite it being the first day it was open, as it was only mid-afternoon at this point. We toured the whole market, stopping for a Gl?hwein (hot mulled wine — a staple of any Christmas market) and a bratwurst. We then headed back towards the Ziel, stopping in a couple of department stores to (a) pick up a few grocery items (most department stores here have a grocery store in the basement) and (b) (at one) to “preview” the toy department with a sleeping Kyle.

Back at the hotel, we switched a few things and headed back out to meet our friend Katrin (from our time in Marburg) at a cafe about 10 mins from the hotel. We were running a few minutes late, but so was she, so it worked out very well. Kyle woke up just before we arrived, though he was still a bit grumpy. We had a nice conversation over coffee and then wandered around the market for a bit. The lightly falling snow really added to the festive mood. Kyle took a ride on one of the carousels, of course insisting on the one with the bright orange hook-and-ladder firetruck. We then all walked back to the hotel.

After saying our goodbyes to Katrin, we headed back upstairs to grab the stuff to take to Joanna and Job’s. The trip there was also fine aside from my forgetting to take the nice printed transit directions. Luckily I remembered them well enough and had a map to their flat. We had a wonderful visit with them including Joanna’s delicious steak and pepper (?) stew. (She made this for me when I visited on a previous visit.) About 7:30 we were all starting to feel the effects of a night without sleep, so we packed up and headed back to the hotel (about 30 minutes) after making plans to meet at the main train station in the morning and head out to Heidelberg for the day (about 90 minutes from Frankfurt). All in all, it was a pretty good trip over and a first day.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for the latest update.