Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Weekend Roundup but for Reals

We had an awesome but very energy-consuming weekend!

Friday we had a playdate with our friend N and her son J, who are from our birth group oh so long ago. We met at a cafe but got fooled into braving the elements for a walk to the park when we saw bits of blue sky through the window. Yes it was sunny out, but then it would hail, and it was throughout very cold. The kids however had a great time and cold certainly takes it out of them. Munchkin slept well then we had to get up a little early to get to a midwife appointment. Basically from 20 weeks on all they do is make sure things are normal so these visits can be quite dull. Fortunately Munchkin livens things up by playing with the toys and generally being super cute.

There ends our normal Friday. We went home, made sandwiches, then hopped on the tram en route to Centraal station and our international train to Germany for a Christmas market Saturday. As it happens we got on the same tram as OH! We picked up something warm for dinner at the station - I made sandwiches for Munchkin but it was just so cold I had to get something to warm us up. We paid extra for assigned seats which ended up to be a good decision as the train was quite full. A pleasant and uneventful 2 hours later (this is basically the very ultimate best you can hope for with travel with small children) we arrived in Oberhausen where we stayed at a really decent hotel almost within spitting distance of one of the X-mas markets.

Yes, that's right, one, as in multiple: we chose Oberhausen because it boasts two X-mas markets, one in the middle of town and one outside the mega-shopping area called CentrO. We were planning to meet our friends A and V and their two kiddos, who were driving. Meeting up is my new favorite thing when it comes to travel with friends + kids. A and V were able to accommodate their kiddos' needs and their owning a car by staying somewhere for two nights. We having still only one kid to manage can still squeeze everyone in one hotel room (randomly a smoking room that made me feel I was sleeping in a room of my hair after a night out) and park ourselves within walking distance of the train station.

We met up at CentrO after a small delay. German X-mas markets basically cater to Dutchies, the Dutch people you will never meet because they never go to the US and they don't speak English. In fact there are so many Dutch people who go over the border to X-mas markets they send Dutch police officers over to patrol with the local German force. I so wish I had gotten a picture of that, seeing the two police officers of the different countries walking amidst literally a sea of Dutch people streaming into the X-mas market. The traffic is incredible both from the train but even more from cars. We'd had a friend report back from his visit to Dusseldorf on how crowded these markets can be: "it was like Queen's Day". To the point where you could barely move forward. Oberhausen didn't get that bad in my opinion but it was insanely busy. We were there to soak in the atmosphere, drink warm alcoholic bevvies, and potentially buy chatchkis. I am sad to say the only thing that made it home was a loaf of bread from some ye olde bakery stand. We mostly ate: sausages, OH tried ox (chewy, tastes like gyro), and of course bretzels. The kids had a great time in general though Munchy was put off by the crowds. The market outside the shopping center was busy, but then we went inside - total consumer insanity! Rare to see such crowds in Europe.

We even managed to get a nap in for Munchkin, we found an oasis from the crazy in the form of a cafe in one of the mega department stores. After the nap we made our way back to the center of town to the second X-mas market. To our surprise it was much less crowded, very cozy, and even a little pleasant. There was a stage as well, where Munchkin enjoyed dancing until the music stilled and out of the corner popped singing Santa Claus.

Right. Turns out Munchkin is terrified of Santa Claus. She started to cry immediately and we had to leave the area, which actually timed well with a nappy change need. When we came back, Munchkin refused to even go near the area where the infamous Claus had been sighted! Fortunately this market also had rides in the form of little cars on a merry-go-round and a wee train. After a very long time contemplating, Munchkin decided she did want to ride both the train and the merry-go-round thing. In fact we had a melt-down trying to get her off the ride. I guess we hadn't explained that a ride is a single event to her very clearly.

We managed to enjoy a warm rhum punch before we had to go. I think it would have been nice to hang out longer in the evening, but our train was due. The second market was much more relaxing, which was a good thing as it turns out the ride home took three hours instead of two, due to a detour around works on the tracks. Munchkin lost it right at the end, as she simply cannot sleep on trains and planes it seems. She was so exhausted she was crying when we got home, poor Moo.

Sunday however, she slept in until an unprecedented 9/9:30. I found I was completely exhausted after our quick leap over the border. We did very little. A long walk with Munchy. I baked cookies in the afternoon and we got to chat with friends and family. A good weekend!


Mom said...

The Christmas markets sound fun. I can't wait until we can do it.

alexis said...

you've got to brave Europe around November/December. Christmas in Amsterdam one year?

Lauren said...

So glad you went to DE for some Weihnachtsmarkten action! I love our market here (I've only made it once this year), but it's not the same! Ah, Gluhwein. I had no idea that the Dutchies flocked to the German markets, time is a marvelous eraser. I find it amazing that there aren't Germans setting up markets in the NL, wasted opportunity. Next year, take the train to Berlin, I think there are 5 markets just in Mitte.

alexis said...

lauren, there are totally xmas markets in NL! But the DE ones are just way better. I know the Berlin markets are awesome - we went to a couple together, in another, pre-child lifetime. :) But it's a little further than we wanted to travel with a Munchkin this year.