Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Last of the Vacation Recap-Bonn and Back to Paris

The town hall-Bonn city Central.

This is a really long post but I feel I've dragged the recap of our vacation for far too long, so this will be my final recap. Wednesday, August 22nd-off we went on the 10:30 train to Bonn, Germany.. The train was uneventful, and by early afternoon we were there, but unfortunately no Uber to hire and no cabs for five people. We walked again guided by  GPS, much farther than what Google maps alluded, finding our way to our hotel, not an apartment. Teh kids had one room and DH had another on the floor above-very basic hotel, but it met our needs. I was pretty spent again because it was still hot. Once we cooled down, we walked back into the city center area and had a late lunch. DH, DS, and DD2 wanted traditional German food and ordered schnitzel, which I still do not know what it is other than a sort of sausage patty, with potatoes and vegetables. DS was in food heaven, loving the beers and the meat! We explored a bit more, then later found the beer garden called Alterzollen. It was right on the Rhine and had rows and rows of picnic table. We scored the last three large pretzels they had to soak up some really delicious beer. 

The beer garden Alterzollen.

Someone was enjoying Germany.

After a delicious breakfast on Thursday, which was included in our rooms, of eggs, breads, cheese meats, and all the lattes we wanted, we planned to head to the countryside and see some castles. We almost had a rental car fiasco, saved by the kind Iranian-German cab driver. He thought the address we had to pick up the car was odd, so helped us call the rental company only to learn the address given was closed and the rental was in an entirely different part of Bonn. He was a gem, and a wealth of informtion for the area. DH and I got the car, then came back and picked up the kids, setting out for Braebach and Marksburg castle.  The castle may have dated back to 1231, or at least the beginnings of the castle. We explored the grounds and took a tour in English of the 800 year old fortress.  We passed several other castles, but didn't stop to explore. DH was still skiddish driving in Europe, but no parking tickets to report, though he still wanted to get the car back early.

The Rhine River Valley.

The beginning of the tour of Marksburg Castle.

Entering the castle walls.

 After dropping the car off, we took the light rail back to the city center and had a beer before going back to the hotel to clean up. We passed on route the setting up of  some sort of festival, learning later it was a wine fest. After a bit of rest, we went back a slightly different way and stumbled upon Beethoven's house, and a whole additional square that somehow we managed to miss on our earlier wanderings. We enjoyed some of the wine fest, the guys getting a chorizo bratwurst for a snack. We were all getting hungry and thirsty and after more food, portions big enough for an army, we enjoyed the beautiful night, as it had finally cooled down a bit. I can't say we saw much of Germany, but what we did, we liked. 
Music and dancing in the city center. 

The wine festival.

Beethoven's home.

This stayed in the shop window-but fun to see. 

After another big breakfast, on route to the train, we bought a few souvenirs and hit the Haribo outlet store, buying tons of gummy bears and other treats to bring back. The trains back to Paris though were not as smooth as the prior trips. Besides wrong notices of platforms, the trains were over crowded with people getting on the wrong trains, and no one checking tickets. This happened both on the leg from Cologne to Brussels and Brussels to Paris. We then arrived at Gare du Nord in rush hour and couldn't get an Uber even a few blocks away. We ended up walking back and were fortunate to get a cab that could take five, taking us to our Hotel, sort of a Band B type, for our final two nights. An hour of decompression after the stressful journey back, the hotel was an oasis of calm in a cute neighborhood not too far from the south bank of the Seine. 

Needing some down time, we ended up booking tickets to an English, with French subtitles, screening of The Meg, at the Grande Rex theater, where we had taken the backstage tour the week before. The movie was awful, but being in a screening in the incredible theater, where all the Paris premiers are shown, was an experience for all of us. Before the movie,we grabbed dinner at a middle eastern cafe, wraps and pita's with fries and beverages. The night was what we needed, loving the city vibe outside of the major tourist areas, on a cool night as the heat wave broke and unseasonably cooler weather took its place. 

Breakfast was croissants, baguettes, cheese, juice, jam, and coffee, tea, or hot chocolate-just the right start provided by the hotel. The Hotel Marginan was not fancy, but the people super friendly and it felt homey. The kids went on a tour of the catacombs, not waiting in line at all since we reserved tickets the week before online. DH and I just took a long walk, again soaking up neighborhoods that were less congested. When we met up with the kids, their response to the catacombs was that they were very overwhelming, particularly to DD2. I don't know if she really thought prior to the tour that the remains of six million people were there. The late morning and early afternoon of our final day was spent exploring book and comic stores, street vendors. We stopped at a cafe for drinks, and shared a vegetable  tartine and a cheese plate. The French know their cheese and breads and this did not disappoint. 
A great find on  our walk.

We are truly book people.

We explored some more, not in a hurry, trying to soak up the perfection of the weather eventually making our way to the Champs Elysee, for "shopping", though all we bought was a button up shirt for DD2 at the H&M, but the bag has the famous shopping street address. We had drinks and a snack at an Irish bar, and dinner at a pretty restaurant before final pictures at the Arc de Triomphe, and watching the sunset and the monument light up. A last crepe for DD2, a last look at Notre Dame on our way back to the hotel, and final street sandwiches for the guys, and our last night in Paris was done. 

Arc de Triomphe

A final family picture.

We were a mix of ready to go home, and sad the trip was over. A final traditional French breakfast, and we were off to the airport. Hugs goodbye to DS as he had a different flight to LA, concluded the family vacation of a lifetime. 


  1. What a wonderful trip and I'm glad you have no regrets or ever will - you can't put a price on memories with loved ones :) It's funny but while we were in Scotland I hardly ate anything that could be called Scottish cuisine! But then their cuisine consists of deep-fried everything with a side of chips - ugh! I did cave and had haddock and chips at a train station after riding on The Jacobite (Harry Potter train) and they were the best I've ever had, go figure. I notice you having varied meals and I bet there was so much to choose from! Have you thought about another location for a future family adventure?

    1. Unless the kids want to take us along with them on their dime, I don't see any more family vacations-perhaps just with the youngest before she is fully launched. Some day, I hope to host them and future families somewhere, but suspect more a beach cottage or mountain retreat in the US, not over sees. For DH and I, I have loads of plans in my head and travel destinations! Scotland is up there!

  2. Your trip sounds wonderful (if exhausting). It's weird because our organization very nearly moved from Geneva to Bonn in 1995. I would have had to make the choice between taking redundancy and staying in Geneva or moving to Bonn. That would have been a tough choice but I think I would have stayed - who knows. Anyway it didn't come to that in the end. When we were in Germany with my in-laws many moons ago I deliberately chose to eat "German" (although I'm not a great fan) - but my how wonderful the food was!

    1. In hindsight, we maybe would have done the trip differently for number of days in different places, but overall, we got to see a flavor of both Belgium and Germany.

  3. Germany looks fabulous! My friend is German and she says they have the best food there, she has cooked some of their food for us and I have to say if it is anything like that I can see we will end up in Germany at some point!

    1. Some day we would like a more extensive trip-more countryside and to see Berlin.

  4. That was a nice wrap-up of your trip. How wonderful it must have been to see Beethoven's home!

    1. We looked for it the day before and made wrong turns and then all of a sudden-it was there!

  5. It looks like you had an amazing time and I'm sure you family will look back on the trip with very fond memories. My son still talks about when we took him to Canada in 2008 and he's 20 now.


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