Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Trial Trip: Hamburg and Kiel

Towards the end of my pregnancy, we were getting the travel bug and were itching to plan our first post-baby trip.  Since neither of really knew what to expect when it came to traveling with a baby, we figured we should do a "trial trip" before we took on anything too ambitious.  

There were a few things that were taken into account when planning this trip.  First, I wanted to wait six weeks after giving birth. Second, we didn't want to fly. We figured our first trip should be in the car where we could pack (almost) as much as we wanted and stop when we needed. In the end, we probably could have flown, but I think it was a good decision to drive and get our bearings.  

We got a little bit of a rough start to the trip.  Our plan was to leave once Mike got back from class around two, so when I left for the store around 12:30, I figured I'd get back around 1:00 with an hour to get things together.  When I returned, though, I was locked out of our house.  This wouldn't be the end of the world because I would just go walk around with Finn and wait for Mike to come back.  The bigger issue was that I was locked out of the house AND it had started pouring outside.   As if that wasn't enough, Finn began to meltdown as I was standing in the hallway trying to figure out what to do. I frantically texted Mike and he ended up coming home an hour early. As if getting locked out wasn't enough of a hiccup, we walked in to our apartment to realize that the windows were open and there was water all over the floor. We quickly mopped the water up, grabbed our stuff and hit the road, hoping that this was not foreshadowing for how the weekend was going to go. 

Our first stop was Hamburg, Germany which is about three hours from Berlin.  Finn ended up screaming for the first twenty minutes of the trip and  I'm pretty sure there were a few moments at the where I wondered if we should turn around, but we persevered and he eventually fell asleep. We knew other Navy people stationed in Hamburg and had tentative plans for dinner with them.  By the time we arrived, it was after six, Finn had another meltdown the last twenty minutes of the car ride and our plans had fallen through, so Mike, Finn and I walked around Hamburg before settling on dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe (judge away, but we figured after almost two years abroad, we deserved some good American food and I think we both wanted a strong drink).   We actually enjoyed Hamburg, which neither of us were expecting. It's a port and a big business city, so there wasn't a ton to see like in a lot of other major cities, but it was a good stopping point for the night.

Finn ended up having a meltdown as we settled in for a drink at the hotel bar and Mike ended up doing laps around the hotel room with him the Ergo before he finally fell asleep. We were grateful that, despite the meltdown, he had a successful night of sleep and the next morning, we got on the road and headed towards Kiel, Germany.  The trip was only an hour or so and Finn did a lot better this time around.  Can you tell we're celebrating any and all successes?

We actually stopped in Laboe, which is near Kiel, around 11:00.  There is an old WWII U-boat there, so knew we had to check it out.  It was actually really cool, even for those of us who don't work on a submarine. Mike wore Finn in the Ergo carrier and it was perfect for being able to maneuver around the U-Boat and for giving Finn a tour of his first submarine.  

So much to look at!

Finn's first look through a periscope!

How appropriate is it that the radio room is the funk room?

Gotta get a picture with the torpedo

Baby's first submarine!

After checking out the submarine, we grabbed lunch and walked around Laboe before heading to Kiel.  We were amazed at how many wind surfers there were, but it made sense because the wind was out in full force. 

Can you see all of the wind surfers?

That night, we met up with Ryan and Ashley Stevens, who live in Kiel.  Ryan is an Olmsted Scholar in Mike's class and they have been in Kiel since the summer of 2015.   The Stevens definitely put our travel to shame, so they had tons of stories to tell about their travels.  They took us to their local Mexican restaurant where we enjoyed delicious Mexican food and margaritas (nomz) before ending the night at a wine bar.  My kind of night.  Finn had a meltdown while we were at dinner and Ashley and Ryan got a look It's always great to catch up with fellow scholars and their families and hear about their experiences.

We ended the first half of our trial trip the next morning when we headed to Copenhagen.  While we were driving, Mike and I were reflecting on Finn's behavior and travel thus far and gave him letter grades for each day. 

Day One: D.  Sorry buddy, but three major meltdowns leads to an almost failing grade.  The only reason you didn't fail was because you slept through dinner instead of screaming. 

Day Two: B-. So much better!  After a successful car ride and sight seeing tour, the only major meltdown we had was the routine dinner time meltdown at the Mexican restaurant.  

I would say it was a semi-successful first half of the trip.  We learned that Finn doesn't do well in the car seat for extended periods of time and definitely does better when we drive in the morning.   He had a meltdown both nights around 7:30, maybe from just exhaustion and overstimulation. It was a trend that continued for the rest of the trip.  Luckily, he was able to calm down (eventually) and we continued on with our night.  Other than that, he was great.  He slept well in our two different hotels and was happy as a clam to be cruising around in his stroller. 

We have a lot of travel in the next few weeks before we head home to the United States, so hopefully Finn will get better in the car seat and we'll figure out how to avoid the 7:30 meltdown as the summer progresses. Inshallah (God willing) as the Turks say....

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