So on Saturday we made the 15 plus hour trip to Germany, and I can say that it was pretty tiring, but very exciting all the same, and the destination was worth it. I’m glad we chose the route we did as it allowed the kids maximum time out of the car, and wasn’t as boring as sitting in your seat for all that time. Before I forget all the small details I wanted to share the day with you, although I know I’ve forgotten some already, but simply haven’t had time to write up sooner. Sorry it’s a long one, but it was a long day!
Our alarm was set for 4:15am, we wanted to leave the house at 5:45 at the very, very latest, so were aiming to leave at 5:30. I’d had (another) unsettled night with Taya, but woke before the alarm along with Kiba. We both got up and sorted ourselves out and finish packing as much as possible before waking Logan. I’d made a list of what I needed to pack and do the night before so just worked on autopilot mainly. I also made myself a Klean Kanteen full of tea, an essential for such an early morning start. Once Logan was up and dressed he started to get quite excited, which helped us get a bit excited, although I think anxiety ruled the emotions of the day ahead. The last job once the car was packed was to get Taya up and in the car. She awoke, but didn’t take too long to drop back off, so, then began our 2 hour drive down to Harwich. It went smoothly, and we made good time. My tea helped a lot. As usual my guts played up a bit as they “woke up” but this time luckily it was just a bit of uncomfortable rumbling, darn IBS, could of been worse though. As we made it with time to spare we stopped off at Morrisons which was next to the International Docks. Taya had woken up and was eager to get out of her seat. There’s something very cute about a 2yr old wandering across a car park in her bees and ladybugs sleepsuit! We did a nappy change and toilet stop before Kiba grabbed some breakfast for the kids and himself. I really didn’t fancy anything, and if I did we had a coolbag full of snacks. Afterwards we headed to the ferry.
The ferry was huge, Logan was so excited, and I think even Kiba hadn’t realised it was going to be so big. We joined the queue to check in, of course we chose the slowest moving one, and Taya does not like being in a carseat and not moving. Thankfully it didn’t take too long, and after a quick check that everyone was who they said they were on the passports (honestly, Taya has grown so, so much since hers was done I’m not sure how they can say it’s valid!) we got given our boarding passes, and sent to lane number 5. We pulled up among the many, many cars, behind a car from Hannover, which if you don’t know, isn’t too far from our destination! (If you didn’t know, German cars all have an identification letter/s so you know where they’re from, for example H is Hannover, GÖ is Göttingen) Again we had a bit of a wait, so this time we let the kids come out to stand in front of the car. Taya kept shouting “cars!” as if she’d never seen any before. A pretty cool vehicle came in soon after us, I can only say it must have been some cross between a campervan/army reinforced vehicle, it was very big and loud! Soon the first queues started to move, so we popped the kids back in the car, or in Tayas case fighted to get a protesting small person restrained in her seat, which is not an easy task. It didn’t take us long to move though and the boys got very excited about entering the ferry. We followed the car in front and got directed in to a side space. I took a photo of the number area we were in to remind us, then started to unpack everything we’d need. My rucksack, bag each for the kids, and a coolbag. With those in hand and the kids, we followed the crowd and made our way up from deck 4, to deck 9, which would be our home for the next 7 or so hours.
If we do it again, I think we’d try and get a cabin. Mainly so we didn’t have to carry everything with us, and also so Kiba could nap in a bed with no distractions, ready for the drive ahead. But this time we didn’t. And it wasn’t too bad, a bit annoying carrying everything, and Kiba didn’t get to sleep, but it was a very enjoyable trip. First thing we did was find a baby change room to get Taya dressed and ready for the day, in her Maxomorra mermaids no less. Then we had a quick wander to orientate ourselves with where everything was, restaurant, children’s play area, lounge, cinema, shop, and sun deck. We stopped on the sun deck for a bit, which is where we spent most of our time. Fact, there was not enough indoor seating for the amount of people they had sailing with them. We never got to sit inside other than in the play area. People claimed their seats and never left, or left their belongings, so we never once got the comfort of a nice chair! But now we know what to expect next time. So most of the trip was spent on the sundeck, mainly as I wanted to look out for porpoises, and there was a large space for kids to run around in, which they certainly did! We wanted to keep them active as possible so that they’d hopefully sleep for the last leg of the journey. I’m not going to lie, there were moments of boredom, tiredness and generally grumpiness, but overall I think we managed to keep the kids happy. I’d planned it by seeing it as a day out, they both had a bag of goodies (magazines, activity and reading books, toys etc) but these were actually barely touched. Food went down well, and I’m glad we took our own as the ferry was very expensive. A couple of times Kiba tried to lay down and have a bit of a nap, but it didn’t really work out. We also ventured in to the play area a few times, a very small room with a couple of interactive screens, bead mazes, wall puzzle/toys, seesaw and a couple of soft play squishy things. Nothing special, and far too small for the amount of small children On-board. However they did have two large round windows, where you could sit in, and the lighting was just perfect for some gorgeous photos.
Taya did enjoy the playroom, especially the beads. In the afternoon we happened to be in there when a magic show started! The man, Abraca-David, was one of these really over the top (slightly embarrassing) people, but also very good. He kept all the children engaged, remember plenty of them weren’t English, and got plenty of kids to help him, one of them being Logan! He didn’t get a choice, he just got asked to pop a ball in a box, which he was very pleased about! Whereas Taya was terrified, she did not like David, and she did not like his possum puppet that he got out! We sat and boobed in the back corner instead, where it got very hot from stuffing so many people in such a small space. A tin of sardines comes to mind. I had worries beforehand if they had sealegs, I 2as the only one of us 4 that’d been on a ferry before. It did get quite choppy, and Logan did say he felt seasick at times but it never really bothered him. Kiba did feel quite unwell at one point too, so it was a shame he didn’t have a nice comfy seat to relax in. There were times on board that time felt so, so slow, but other times it seemed to go quite quick, but eventually Holland came in to sight. As we came in to port, we stayed on deck as long as possible before the rain started and we wanted to be ready to go back to the car. We had a bit of an oops moment as we couldn’t remember which stairs we came up, but after a bit of walking between them we settled on the right one and were soon back at the car.
Taya fell asleep before we’d even left the ferry, which took a while so we were thankful we’d worn her out. As we exited the ferry it was peeing it down! We joined a queue, again, the slowest moving one, to head towards passport control. We spotted a car from Göttingen and wondered if we could follow them, or if we’d even see them again (we didn’t, but I’m keeping an eye out!). We finally made it to passport control where they needed to open the windows to check we had the right children. Unfortunately it was Tayas window, and we weren’t under a cover, so the rain woke her up! We were soon on our way, it was Kibas first time driving in Europe so we took it slowly. Hollands roads are confusing! We had the sat nav (not updated in 6yrs though…) and Google maps on Kibas phone going and yet we still had to work it out ourselves! It also smells a lot. I’m guessing from all their waterways, which may look very pretty, but I couldn’t put up with that stink! As we hit the motorway the heaven’s decided we needed more rain and it was like a tsunami, haven’t seen that much rain in a long while. As we went round Rotterdam it slowly stopped, and as we journeyed on it cleared up and got warmer. By the time we were in Germany the temperature peaked at 26 degrees. It was a 5 hour journey from Holland to Göttingen and it seemed to take forever. The kids mainly slept, Logan did ask a few times if we were nearly there and was most disheartened when I’d say it was a couple more hours. Bums, legs and backs became rather sore, but we kept pressing on. As the light started to fade the sat nav took us the wrong way and Kiba made the executive decision to go with the directions his Dad had told him. I’d printed a map for Logan to show him the route, and we ended up using that as a rough idea of where we were headed! I started to struggle to keep awake as the hours dragged on, but was determined to stay awake for Kiba. I normally fall asleep quite quickly, my tablets I take for my Fibromyalgia make me dozy, so it was a surprise and a big achievement that I stayed awake! We neared Göttingen at close to 11pm, and we reached familiar territory, although Kiba had never driven here before, and a fair bit has changed in the 3 years since we’ve been here. Taya woke and was quite upset, but a quick head rub and she was off again, so we found an open kebab shop in one of the villages Kiba used to live in. Since he moved to the UK, Kiba has always yearned for a proper German kebab, and he most definitely deserved one! He grabbed 3, one for himself, myself and his Dad, then we headed towards his Dad’s house. Unfortunately in the dark on a hill, we were met with a closed road. A quick call later and confirmation of the route Kiba thought he should take we were off, and eventually, after midnight we arrived. After saying hello to everyone, and Taya getting quite excited by the horse in the yard, and the dogs, we sat down to eat our kebabs and have a good catch up. I say we, but my German is basically very simple, I can understand a fair bit, and can speak some, but am most definitely not very confident in my ability. Being tired my brain couldn’t even process their chatting especially at the speed they were talking! We then had to sort beds out before collapsing in to them, one camp bed (for Logan) and two mattresses for the rest of us with sleeping bags as quilts. It was half 1 by the time we all fell in to bed, a whole 21 hours after Kiba and I woke up. To say I was shattered would be an understatement. To say that I was so incredibly achey and sore would be an understatement. Bed was very, very welcoming, I was happy to stay there forever. Sleep was good. Until the kids woke at 7:30am. And that’s when the real fun and adventures began.
So yea, we’re here, and better prepared for the trip home on Sunday. But for now we’re having a great time. I hope to do a post for each day, perhaps a couple days, we shall see. I’m taking a ton of photos, and shall add some to this post when I get them on my laptop. If anyone is put off by roadtripping with small children, don’t be, it is a great adventure! 😀