Our European vacation was a little different this time around: we moved places 4 times in 2 weeks: first visiting Fellbach, a town just outside of Stuttgart, then we drove 3 hours east to Mittenwald, and after that we flew to Split, Croatia. The fourth place doesn’t really count, as it was an airport hotel at Heathrow in London.
What we learned / confirmed: traveling with a 13 month old is hard. Alistair, at 4, is a really calm and enthusiastic traveler – he needs his down time a couple times a day, but as long we factor that in he’s generally up for anything and surprised us with how well he adjusted to the time difference (+8 hours from Denver). Jurgen did great, for a 13 month old. It’s just kids between 9 and 18 months are really hard to travel with. We knew this going in and were prepared for it and even with the added challenge of a squirmy, wiggly baby-toddler, it was totally worth it. (More on traveling with kids in the 9-18 month age bracket another time.)
Here were a few of our favorite things from our 5 days in Fellbach, my dad’s hometown:
We stayed, and ate, a lot, at Hotel Alte Kelter. It’s a smaller hotel (15-20ish rooms), right on the edge of the vineyards at Kappelberg. We ate dinner most nights at their restaurant since it was not only the easiest thing to do, but also very delicious. My favorite was the maultaschen, which is similar to meat-filled ravioli, but in a clear broth.
Aside from eating amazing food, during our time in Fellbach I had 2 goals:
1. Hoof it through the town with my dad’s hometown with him as a tour guide.
2. Hike to the tower in the middle of the forest and eat a bratwurst at the snackstand there.
We thought five days in Fellbach would be plenty, but as the days ticked by I found myself frantically trying to squeeze in the two things most important to me. It seems to be the nature of travel, especially with little kids battling a time change, that time just sort of goes by. Every morning in Fellbach we struggled to get out of bed before 11, missing the hotel breakfast all but 2 mornings. For a family that generally wakes up on the earlier side, this threw us off bigtime. It meant shorter days to do all the things, hunger pangs striking at bizarre times, and strategizing optimal times to get the kids to sleep at night – early enough so they’d adjust to the time, but not so early their bodies would mistake it for a nap.
In sum: I wish I had more time. Which is pretty much the status quo for everyone with two little kids, whether they are traveling or not. I always wish I had more time. I’m pretty sure that the meaning of life is entwined with time and that it pretty much all boils down to how we elect to spend our most valuable commodity. But, that’s for another post.
I did accomplish both my goals, though of course wish I could have lingered a bit more during both as those were, easily, my favorite parts of the trip. To amble up and down the same streets that my dad, aunt, and grandparents walked daily in the 40s and 50s, with my dad and his cousin by my side was the highlight of the trip. To walk through the woods where my grandfather wandered on Sunday mornings more than half a century ago (and where I got hopelessly lost in 2002), was divine. And of course, I wanted more of each, so we left Fellbach with my thoughts churning, “I’ll come back someday. We’ll do this again, someday.” I hope we do.
If you ask Alistair what his favorite part of visiting Fellbach was, it would be riding the Strassenbahn. One day, while Jordan and my dad were out driving around a brand new 911, on rental from the Porsche Museum, my mom, the boys, and me hopped on a streetcar with no destination in mind. We got off at a nice-looking park, and spent the better part of the afternoon wandering around parks and neighborhoods, while Alistair scootered around and played with local kids.
Since Alistair is all about trains these days, we also took a proper train ride to Crailsheim, where my college friend Theresa, lives. Crailsheim is one of my favorite places to visit and Jordan and I jump on any chance we get to visit Theresa in her hometown. This was our 4th time visiting her, and her and her family truly offer up a herzlich willkommen. While only 90 minutes, navigating a foreign train system was an adventure that I’m looking forward to repeating for a bigger journey when the boys are older.
Since we were short on time, and Theresa was in the middle of helping at her family’s cafe during their busiest weekend of the year — Volksfest — we only spent an afternoon with her and her family. So we left Crailsheim with that same, “I’ll come back again.” sentiment. And, I guess that is why we keep going back to southern Germany. It feels good to be there – to run on those trails, to eat the food, to engage with the people (even if my heart races every time I try to conjugate my German verbs correctly). So yea, we’ll be back.
- Hotel Alte Kelter – credit cards OK / kid-friendly / European breakfast included
- Mercedes Museum
- Porsche Museum (and test drive)
- Crailsheim Volksfest
Next week’s post: Climbing the Zugspitze! (Going to try publishing 1 post per week on Sunday or Monday…we’ll see how long I can keep it up!)
Thanks for reading,