|The town hall-Bonn city Central.|
|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.|
|Music and dancing in the city center.|
|The wine festival.|
|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.