Sunday, July 4, 2010

Idar Oberstein July 1, 2010

Idar Oberstein ~ Home of the "church in the rock"

We left by 9, and invited Father Mike to tag along. It's always nice to have a religious person with us...for a few and moral support, andan extra adult for myself to have some adult conversation, and to help watch the kiddos.

Idar Oberstein is only about 45 minutes away from home. As soon as you drive into the town, you can see the church in the mountain, so you know you are there. We parked in a parking garage across the street. Anyone who has parked in a parking garage in Europe will understand the hardship that I went through. This was the first time I parked in one...Thom always did the driving, or I parked on the street.

The kids counted the steps to the top of the was 220!! Most of which were outside, until you come to the mountain part, which was a lot cooler inside, and a welcome to the heat outside. Once inside we paid to look around, we were shocked to see the inside. From the outside it
looked much bigger. The picture was taken from the back of the church. They have services here (Evangelical) once a month from May to October b/c church goers have to climb the stairs to get there, and it is not safe or easy to doing the winter time. We only spent about 15 minutes there.

Some of us wanted to do some more exploring, and saw a sign for the Schloss and Burg (castle and castle ruins). Father stayed behind with Feliciti and Emilee. I think they got the better end of that deal...sitting in the cool shade. I had no idea what a trek we had in front of us!! The sign said 0.3 and 0.4 km to each of them. What the sign failed to mention was the steep and steady incline the entire way up. I had Matthew on one hip, and Dominick's hand with my other hand. At one point we were given a chose...left to the schloss (0.2 km) or the burg to the right (0.1 km). In our house we have a democracy..and the vote was 2 to 1, with Matthew and I not voting. So the decision was to go to the Schloss...another 0.2 km uphill!!! If I would have known that we were not allowed to explore in the Schloss, and they turned half of it into a restaurant we would have opted for the Burg!!! But on the positive side, we found a cute little souvenir shop and the kids all picked out a gem. Idar Oberstein is also known for the gem mines..woo-hoo!!

So once we met up with Father, Feliciti and Emilee (this time the walk was much easier, going down), we started for the bottom of the hill. I made a lunch, so we found some tables, ordered some cold drinks and ate our lunch there...yeh, I asked if we could sit there before we got too comfortable. Maybe she felt sorry for us, because we were all sweaty and I had 6 kids, so she let us eat our lunch there and just pay for the drinks we ordered. I found an info brochure from a small shop next to the cafe we ate it. The brochure gave us an address for the mines...or so we thought.

After lunch, we headed for the mines. Father stayed in the car with Matthew, b/c he fell asleep. I took the kids to the gem museum and asked them how to get to the mines. They said it was a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute drive up the mountain. I also asked them (from reading the brochure) where the activity for the kids is...gem hunting. They told me they do it there, but we needed an appointment. I must have looked disappointed b/c she then proceeded to see if they could "squeeze" us in. She probably also saw that I had 5 kids with me, and that is their typical group size...see it pays to have a lot of kids. So instead of going to the mines, we stayed there, and let the kids "dig" for their own gems. Good thing...b/c I might have found my own treasure in the mines..... hint-hint babe!! The kids had a great time digging for their own gemstones. Everything they found, they were able to keep. After about an hour of looking, we decided to finally call it quits. The kids ended up finding about 80 pieces!! At the end, the part of the fun was the kids were able to pick out a least thats what the kids thought it was. They thanks a lot (sarcastic)!! But then the man took their rocks they picked out, put it in a big "plier" looking tool, and cut it in half...and then they got some great looking crystals!!
I found a neat looking jar at the Homberg flea market yesterday so the kids can display their finds!!

We had a great time in Idar Oberstein. There are still a few things we would like to do...if we get the chance (mines). Till next time!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Luxembourg ~ our first solo trip

Luxembourg for Memorial Day

So this was my first solo trip without any other adults...just me and the kiddos!!! We decided to go to Luxembourg. We planned on leaving the house at 9, and actually left at 9:15...fantastic team cohesion!!! Lunches made, everyone dressed, potty breaks, activities to entertain them while in the car, and diaper bag!! It was 1 1/2 hour drive and it was easy!! (NO stau's)

Our first stop was the American Cemetary. We got there about 11 and looked around. We found General Patton's burial spot.

We looked at lot of headstones, but not all 5,076 of them. There are 2 Medal of Honor headstones, and the kids found them. I am thankful we didn't have to search through all the headstones, but rather just about half of them before we "stumbled" upon them.

We also got a lesson from a PFC and SGT on how the cannons worked. The kids even asked a few questions, but couldn't get passed the "rotten egg" sulfur smell from the practice rounds.

Emilee and Dominick tried playing in the fountains before I stopped them. We saw some of the girl scouts and boy scouts cleaning the headstones. Feliciti and Gabi could have helped, since they are girl scouts, but since they didn't camp out the night before, they weren't "allowed." Everyone was preparing for the ceremony that was going to start at 4pm. Instead of hanging around for 4 more hours, we decided to go to Luxembourg City and then come back. It was only a 10 minute drive!!

I forgot our Europe "guide" book at home, so I had to wing it and depend on our GPS to get us into the city by picking an address!! ha-ha!! We got there, and once we entered, we knew we had made it to the city!! We were surrounded by huge buildings, traffic, taxis, and tour buses..not something we have seen very much of since living here in Germany. Parking was interesting (another city "issue") I circled around 2-3 times before I found a spot, but we could only park for 2 1/2 hours. I knew I wanted to see the cathedral. And a friend told us about the Viaducts and a huge park.

Our first stop was the Cathedral of Notre Dame. You would think that once you see one Catholic church, you've seen them all....NOT! This one was just as beautiful, and I could never get enough of
seeing the architecture, paintings, tapestries and just the pure "awe" of any church. The pictures say it all!!! (see facebook profile for more pics)

We had about an hour before our parking expired, so we went exploring. We never found the Viaducts. We never really found any other "touristy" sites, so we went window shopping. The kids wanted icee's and shared 2 of them. We then had to go bacvk to the car before they were going to tow it. There were "rent-a-cops" literally watching their watches and walking around the parking lot. We got there just in time. As the kids loaded themselves in the car, I nursed Matthew and then we were off.

We had 2 hours before the cermony started, so we went on a mission to find the park. We drove around for a little while, and found it!! But the silly part of this part of the story is, the park was literally across the street from where we parked. Just behind some trees and down a path..nto something we could see from the parking area. I luckily found another parking spot, bought our parking ticket, which gave us 1 1/2 hours, just enough time to let the kids burn some energy off. This park is awesome!!! The kids loved it. I even let down my guard and let them play in the water ~ but not too much since we didn't have a change of clothes and a ceremony still to go to. And anyone who knows me well enough, knows this is a huge step for me to let the kids play in water ~ UNPREPARED!! After the kids went down the huge slide, played pirates on the ship adn play in the water it was time to go.

We, again, raced to the car in hopes it wouldn't get towed away. We only had a 10 minute drive back to the cemetary Once we got there, the parkig lot was filled, and the street was lined up with cars on both sides of the street, for probably a mile. We parked the car, and ran up the hill (thank goodness for the double stroller) to the ceremony. We were about 10 minutes late, but didn't miss much. Some distinguished guests were speaking ~ the Prince of Luxembourg, an Air Force 3 star General (sorry, didn't catch his name), General (R) Chenseky, Luxembourg's mayor and others. They laid wreaths of flowers. And then other guests and the Girl and Boy Scouts laid smaller bouquets on the first row of headstones. It was very nice. The kids started getting fussy, so we started heading back. While the kids were in the bathroom, they did the 21 gun salute with the was very loud, and the first boom scared the kiddos, but then by #3 they were use to it. I thought they were going to do 21 rounds between the 3 Howitzers (therefore only sounding like it would be 7 shots), but they did all 21 separately. They also played Taps, and then Luxembourg's anthem and then our anthem. I held it together till our anthem, and then started crying because I missed Thom so much!!! Overall the ceremony was beautiful, and the kids appreciated it as well. It was definitely worth it despite being 10 minutes late, and having to run a mile to get there!!!

We got in the car and had an easy drive back home. The 3 little ones fell asleep. We stopped for some Doner's and ate them at home. Overall it was a good day. I proved to myself that I could handle small trips, and the kids proved to themselves (and me) that they could behave. They earned another trip :o)

Till next time!!

P.S. Sorry I couldn't get more pics on here, like I usually do. I am still learning how to use our month old Mac...I don't know how to adjust the picture sizes or move them around easily on the blog page...hopefully by the next entry I'll have it down!! See my facebook profile if you would like to see more pictures!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rottenberg Germany April 13-14, 2010

It has truly been a while since we have taken any trips anywhere. As most of you know, Thom is deployed. We found out before Christmas. Between the cold, rainy and yucky weather, and Thom's preparing for his year deployment, the trips have come to a screeching halt. I have decided that I can either sit around and wait for the year to be done, or I can venture out some and make the time pass quicker with taking small little trips with the kids. Even though after this first trip, I realized it is not as much fun without Thom, it made this week go by very fast. I have some more day trips planned for us for the summer. I don't think I am brave enough to do anything extravagent...and besides we need to save those trips for's only fair...and it's not as much fun without him.

So this first "solo" trip was to Rottenberg. Many of our friends have raved about this is a Medieval town with a lot of shopping. It was 2 1/2 hours away. I have a friend, Kitty who's husband is also deployed and she has 2 boys. We decided that we would go together (she was a huge help). We also invited Father Mike on this adventure. Because it was 2 1/2 hours away, and we thought there was going to be a lot to do, we ended up making hotel reservations at Gasthof Butz (highly recommended by us). Here are pictures from our hotel...Matthew was rather impressed~ can't you tell?

Our Gasthaus was on the inside of the town. Rottenberg is surrounded by a wall, and we were lucky enough to have our hotel inside...saving time and money on parking. Here are some pictures of the town and wall.

Our first stop (after eatting a packed lunch of brotchen and pretzel sticks) was Saint Jacob's church. It is a protestant church, and very big. It is one of the biggest and oldest in Rottenberg. We were suprised that we had to pay in order to come in and take a look. As a matter of fact we had to pay for every church that we we only visited one. At Saint Jacob's there is a relic of the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We were told that Rottenberg use to be a big pilgrimage site. I was amazed that a protestant chuch actually had the blood of Christ displayed...I thought only us Catholics who displayed relics. Correct me if I am wrong..and this is not intended to put any of my protestant friends down.

After we left the church, we headed for the Rathaus (court house) and checked on the times and price of the Nightwatchman tour. It was going to be at 8pm, and we were told that we definitely had to go and check it out. So we decided to walk around the town some and see what other touristy sites we could find. We stopped by a shop and I got some Rottenberg pottery coffee cups that say Mama and Papa on it...pretty cute. We also got our magnet and postcards. There were 3 Kathie Wolfhart Christmas stores in this small town...right across the street from each funny!! We didn't even go inside, b/c it is not a kid friendly store, and neither Kitty or I really needed anything in there. There wasn't much else to shop for, so we continued on looking around. We roamed the streets and browsed. We came to the town gardens, and it was big and beautiful..and had a great view.

We were told that while in Rottenberg you have to try a Schneeball. Some of our friends said it was good, others said it was bad...but either way you have to try one. A Schneeball is a fried ball covered in powdered sugar...sounds good enough. But boy oh is not that good at all. But that is a checkmark on our list of tourist things to do!!

We found in the tour guide that there was a criminal museum...we thought we would check it out. It was starting to rain, so it was perfect timing to get inside. It was interesting, and the kids had a lot of questions. We went to the criminal museum in Amsterdam, so the kids knew about some of the "devices" already..but it is still interesting to see how intrigued the kids were.

After that adventure, we thought it would be a good idea to go back to the hotel, and try to rest a bit, since we were going to be out "late" on the tour...late for the kids!! But yeh, that nap didn't happen...what was I thinking??
This is a picture of Saint George's fountain!!

Here are some random pictures of Father Mike and Kitty and the kids!! Emilee really enjoyed holding Father Mike's hand...probably since I was busy pushing the stroller most of the time. Even though I have a picture of Father Mike pushing the stroller one time, since I was feeding Matthew!! What a great man..and such a big help. Thanks Kitty for all your help too!!

We had dinner in our hotel. I had Sauerbraten (German pot roast) and the kids all had bratwurst and french fries. We also all had dessert, since everyone behaved fairly well.

It was finally time to do the tour. I was able to get a picture with the tour guide before I had to leave. Unfortunately it started raining harder, and the 3 little ones were getting really fussy. Kitty graciously volunteered to go on the tour with the 3 older ones, and her kiddos. I took the 3 little ones back to the hotel and put them to bed. I was told that the tour was "cute" and gave some good info about life during medieval times. I head a little bit of the tour before I left, and it definitely seemed to be geared toward kids (for some reason).

The next day was not too filled with things to do. After a typical german breakfast, we checked out of the hotel. We ended up walking the perimeter of the wall. Initially I took the double stroller up the windy steep stairs, but had to end that adventure and come back down because the walkway was too narrow. BUt Kitty took the older kids up top, while I walked along the wall below them with Father Mike.

After eatting lunch, we thought it was time to start heading home. It was my turn to drive with Father Mike...and we had a great conversation...I learned a lot about predertermination, prevenial grace, actual grace and supernatural grace...if anyone want to know!!! It was a nice time...we were able to get out and see more of Germany. We are thankful to be able to go out and travel.
I'll try and post our next trip as soon as I can. This is rather time consuming..and putting pictures on here takes forever!! Thanks again Kitty and Father Mike for "chaperoning"!!!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Garmisch on Thanksgiving I know I'm almost a holiday behind...I don't know how you blogger friends can update your blogs every day???? This Thanksgiving we thought we would try something new....well not completly new. We still wanted to eat a yummy Thanksgiving dinner, but wanted to do something different for the weekend. We heard about these rustic cabins for rent in Garmisch, Germany (Bavaria...which is in the Alps...for anyone who doesn't know). I called about 2 weeks before we were to leave to get a reservation..hopefully. When I called, they said we would be taking the last one...and lucky we did, because one of Thom's co-workers called a few hours after I did, and they did not have anything left. So we were a bit nervous about rustic cabins...they have heat, microwave, fridge, TV and enough beds for everyone to have their own (well, except Matthew), BUT NO water!!! We would have to go to the "wash closet" across the street to use the bathroom...but Thom said.."let's give it a shot!!"
We were just about ready to leave on our 5 hour drive. We were making last minute potty breaks, turning lights off, and double checking everything when Emilee came skipping through the living room, tripped on the carpet, and hit her head on the coffee table...and wouldn't you know it...she ended up having to go to the ER and getting 3 stitches....never a dull moment in our household!!! The trip there was very construction, no traffic jams, and we only had to stop once to use the bathroom, eat, and feed Matthew!! We got there about 11pm. And finally made it to bed at midnight, after unloading the car, and finding the bathroom in the dark...we didn't want to have to get up in the middle of the night to go potty (and luckily every night we were there, we didn't have to...woo-hoo!!)
The kids loved the cabin. It was quite cozy. Thom and I felt like we were living "Little House on the Prairie" style with the loft!!! But it was very nice. And Emilee was thrilled to be a big girl and sleep on the top bunk.

Enough about the cabin now!! One of our goals was to make it to Newschwanstein castle. This was one of Ludwig II's castles. This is also the one that inspired Walt Disney to design his "princess" castle. It was quite maginificent. We had the choice to take a 45 minute walk up hill to the castle, or take a bus ride we chose the bus...are you kidding me...with 2 toddlers and a baby...that 45 minutes would have turned into 3 hours!!! Once we arrived to the top we had about 1 1/2 hours before our tour was to start. We decided to walk to a bridge to get a beautiful view. This bridge was built before the castle...and boy did it show....every other step was wobbly and the boards buckled some. It was a bit intense...especially with 2 little ones. But the view was amazing!!! Once we left the "deadly" bridge we started to head for our tour. We had a hill to walk up after all...and it took about 45 minutes to walk up it. We still had 30minutes before our tour started, so I took that time to nurse Matthew. While we were waiting, we became celebrities. A group of Japanese tourists were amazed that all 6 kids were ours, and they started taking our pictures. At one point we were surrounded by 6 of them taking our pictures. We thought it was funny.
We were unable to take any pictures inside the castle. The tour was short. It was elegant and huge inside. There are 120 rooms, but only 16 were completed, and what we were able to see. King Ludwig was in the castle for 2 days before he was taken to the insane asylum. After the tour we caught our bus down the hill. It was starting to get dark already. There was actually another castle across the street, but it was already closed. We walked around the perimeter of it. This castle was around when Ludwig was a child. He loved it and wanted to make a castle bigger and better...hence he built Neuschwanstein on the hill in front of it. Here's a picture of that castle ( the gold one in the back on top of the hill)
We found a cute little restaurant to eat it for dinner. The kids had schnitzel and fried potatoes. I had some german meatloaf (reminded me of spam, but better tasting) and Thom had a potatoe and beef hash. The food was all good.
The next day everyone was up and ready to go again around 7...amazing that these kids aren't wore out.We were going to go sledding, but the only place to go was on Zugspitze (highest mountain peak in Germany) and that was going cost to $170.It was also extra cold (high of 38...and that wasn't even on the mountain). So too cold. So instead, we went to Reisse See. We walked around the lake and took some family pictures. We relized we haven't taken a family picture yet with Matthew. So we got the tripod out and started shooting. This was also the site of the bobsled track and lake used for hockey for the 1936 winter Olympics.The actual track was still there ~made from built up dirt mounds which was neat to see. It was really extra cold by the lake.

Lunchtime!! We found Biete Cafe Max.When we walked in, there was a bar (but other seatting areas too) and a bunch of men drinking beer and they all stared at us. Our waiter (also the bartender) had a handlebar mustache which the kids got a kick out of. The kids all had white hot chocolate (they all loved),Thom had a Frankinskaner hell beer and I had a Pina Collada.The kids then had noodles w/cream sauce,and then Thom and I had locally made white brawtwarst with their own mustard and a fresh pretzel. The kids also got some ice cream. And Thom and I were treated to a blood orange vodka shot...we were told it was to fight off the swine was yummy. Haven't had a shot of anything since college!!

Our next stop was the Eibsee. This lake is at the foot of the Zugspitze. This was a very huge lake. Our intent was to walk the perimeter of it, but that didn't happen. We probably walked a mile out (and took almost an hour) when we decided it was still s long way to go and it was really cold. So we let the kids throw rocks into the lake. Thom was trying to teach the kids how to skip the rocks on the water, but they couldn't do it. It is actually challenging...I tried it too....and couldn't do it. After about 5 minutes of that fun, we started heading back. It took us only 30 minutes to get back ~ probably b/c I carried Dominick most of the way. Thom had Matthew.

After getting our "winter gear"off, we started heading back to the cabin. We made one pit-stop at a was my birthday and we needed some cake. We got a variety of cakes. We went back to the cabin, and everyone sang Happy Birthday to me. While eatting our cake we watched Twilight...for the first time...I know, I know...we're behind...especially since New Moon just came out. But was a great birthday.
The next day was check-out....and our long drive back home....which was uneventful. We were
told that Garmisch ended up getting a "dump-load" of snow on Monday!!! Oh well, there's a reason we missed it. But we are planning a week long ski trip in Feb/March in Austria!!!
Next event in the Christkindlemarket in Nurnberg...December 17th...see you then.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bitche, France November 14, 2009

So it's been a while since we have taken any trips anywhere. In the time since our last trip (Belgium August 7-8) Matthew Isaac was born (Sept 21), Thom was in the field for 2 weeks (Oct 9-23) and I had surgery for 2 lacerated tendons in my ring finger(Nov 6). So as you can see, taking trips was not a priority for us. We did attend some fests locally (Medieval fest, potatoe fest and a pumpkin fest). They were a lot of fun, and very yummy to experience the local food.

So today we decided to go to Bitche (pronounced Bee-shay) France. It is only 45 minutes from the house. The day started off with an overcast and held up for a few hours. We went to Citadel de Bitche first. This use to be a huge fortress built in the 17th century that has underground kitchens, dormitories and even a hospital. Unfortunately it was closed (not sure why), so we couldn't tour the inside. We walked the perimeter and got some pretty good pictures. It took us about an hour to walk around it...but take into consideration we have Emilee and Dominick with their small legs.

As you can see, it was very, very windy. This was near the end of our walk, and by this time Dominick was not wanting to walk anymore, so it was a good time to head for the car. Oh, before we were able to get into the car we had to clean off the dog poop from Gabi's shoes. Let me tell you...that is not only gross, but disrespectful. I can't stand it when people leave their dogs excrements "out" for others to find!!! And that is a smell that I do not want "stuck" in my brand new car carpets.

After we left the fortress, it was time to try some of the French cuisine. We drove around "downtown" and found a cute little restaurant on a lake named Auberge du Lac. We, unfortunately, forgot our French phrase book at home, so we had to wing it. We knew we were in trouble when we walked in, and they greeted us in French, and sat us. They told us the specials in French, and the only word we were able to decipher was PIZZA. So we knew that was a safe bet for the kids. Thom and I were going to be brave and explore the menu, and hope for the best. Thom ordered Grillee maitre de hotel, which was a very good and tender steak. He had mixed vegetables sauteed in butter and spices, and french fries. I ordered La Bouchee a la Reine riz-frites. This too was very good. It looked like a Hungry Jack biscuit, filled with mushrooms, chicken and gravy. It reminded me of a pot-pie. I also had french fries. The kids enjoyed there pizzas....but it takes a lot to mess up pizza. They did say that they liked the pizza in Rome funny...our little food critiques!!! This picture was taken outside the restaurant.

It was cold outside and it started raining. We were told to go visit St Catherines church, because it has a really big organ inside. After finding the church I ran inside to check it out and see if it was worth pulling the kids out of the car in the rain. It was a nice church, and the organ was big (not huge), but it looked like mass was going to start, so we didn't pull everyone out of the car.

We wanted to see if there was anything else we could do since it was early afternoon, and had less than an hour to get home. We did a search on our GPS for attractions, and randomly chose a park and museum. Unfortunately the park was an archaelogical excavation site...hhmm who knew that is what the name of the park was on the GPS. So off to the museum....but that was closed. The weather was getting worse, so we decided to head home. It was an interesting day. Oh I forgot to mention, we brought our passports just in case....well Matthew doesn't have his yet, and they took Thom's and my passports to process Matthew's, so we were technically in France illegally....but no one has to know...and its not like there was a checkpoint!!! So that is the story for our first trip to France. We will be returning, because Thom is running a marathon in Paris in stay tuned.

Our next adventure is over the Thanksgiving break....renting a cabin in the Alps in Garmisch Germany....doing some sledding, and going to visit Neuschwanstein castle (the "princess" castle where Walt Disney got the idea for his castle at Disney World). Should be a good time!!!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brussels Belgium, August 7-8, 2009

This was a kind of "spur of the moment" trip. We knew we wanted to go to Brussles (to say that we have been), but couldn't really plan too much. For some reason, Thom's schedule has been like a revolving door..constantly changing this month!!! It was a 3 1/2 hour drive, we had no real plans, and no hotel we'll see!!! Boy did we have an "adventure."

We missed our hotel exit and ended up seeing "down~town" Brussels. When we finally got to the hotel, we were discriminated against..not once but twice!! We were told at one place they had room for us, but as soon as I said we had 5 kids..."oh, I'm sorry we are completly booked tonight." The other one just said "forget it." We finally found a Holiday Inn (which you don't find very much here in Europe), and they allowed us to all stay. Once we checked in, we decided we would try and do some sightseeing. We got a map, put Emi and Dominick into the strollers and started walking. Our intention was to go to the "Grand Place", which was suppose to be 1 1/2-2 miles away (a 30 min walk). After walking 45+ minutes and didn't see anything that resembled the Grand Place we turned around and started looking for something to eat. We discovered a few things on this walk:

*the French and Dutch language barrier sucks ~ it was hard to read the street signs and restaurant menus.

*the cobblestone walkways are torture on the stroller (to include Emi and Dominick) and on our ankles.

*the restaurant selection is limited ~ instead we saw a lot of beauty salons, fitness centers and stores and chocolate and lace stores. AND the restaurants didn't open till 6:30 for dinner.

*cars don't care about other cars (they will make a one lane road into a 2 lane) or about pedestrians ~ so watch very carefully when crossing. We were told that it wasn't until about 15 years ago that it was required to have a licence here...and most of the drivers were grand-fathered in, without being required to take a test...yikes!!!!
So we finally settled on a restaurant that spoke universally ~ PIZZA!!!! It was ok...but it was going to be hard to top the authentic Italian pizza we had just 2 weeks ago. We passed some chocolate and torte bakeries, and we were going to pick one up for Thom's birthday, but they were closed by the time we finished dinner. As a matter of fact, most things that were family oriented were closing, so we went back to the hotel, and called it a night (at 8pm).

The next morning we checked out, and were on a mission to find Belgian waffles for breakfast...something we thought should be easy enough to do...NOT!! We left the hotel around 8:30, but none of the vendors or bakeries opened till 10. We finally found this little "hole-in-the-wall" place back at the Grand Place area. OH, by the way we were completly lost the day before when we were walking and trying to find this area.

The waiter didn't understand us well, and that made for interesting process to order our food (since the menu was in French too). We wanted basic waffles (with one topping on them)...well, the kids lucked out b/c of our "great" French speaking abilities....they ended up getting waffles that had strawberries, chocolate and whip cream on them. Thom and I ended up getting our one topping (I had chocolate..yum) and Thom had powdered sugar, though he wanted whip cream. We also had Latte Machiattos (3 layered coffee)....this breakfast was VERY, VERY good!!!!

Because none of the things we wanted to do were quite open yet, Thom pulled out our tourist book, and gave us a history lesson of the Grand Place. It use to be a market place and where the dukes and king use to live. They had all kinds of shops....carpenters, seamstresses, breweries, and order for the marketplace to function for the town. Each building had a different animal "symbol" to name the building. It was very breezy, and we were all in shorts, and just about froze. When we looked around, we were just about the only people wearing shorts..who would have thought in August that this would be an issue????

After figuring out the correct opening times and correct locations for the museums, we finally were able to visit them (the book was wrong). We first went to the brewery museum, where we learned how they made beer in the 1800's and also today. With the entrance fee, there was also a sample of beer...Thom got to drink his and mine, and said it was very good. Some of our friends actually gave Thom some Belgian beer for his birthday...thanks Alicia and Nick!!

We also went to the chocolate museum...once again we saw how chocolate is made, and we even saw a demonstration. But the best part were the samples that were given to us. They made the mistake of leaving samples of chocolate chips (4 different kinds) out...and Emilee and Dominick found them, and definitely got their fair share of them.

If you visit Brussels, you are "suppose" to visit the Manneken~Pis. There are a couple of different stories on the origin of the statue..I won't bore you with the details. The only reason why we found the statue, was because we saw a huge group of tourists standing by it. The statue is hidden in a corner in between 3 chocolate stores, and is a whopping 3 feet tall (maybe). So we got our picture, and then headed over to a chocolate store for some more free samples, and then we actually bought some too!!! The chocolate is good, but very, very sweet.
Our day was starting to wrap up, but we promised the kids we would take them to Autoworld. This was another museum that had over 400 cars ranging from the 1900's until today. They even had some bikes (motorized and not) from the 1890's and even some stagecoaches. The kids (esp the boys) were in awe over all the cars there. We told the kids to pick out their favorite ones, and we'll take a picture of them in front of it.

Overall Brussles is a place that we can say we have seen. It is not very family friendly though. We thought it was just us because of the 5 kids and me waddleing around...but we talked to some friends and co-workers, and they said they got the same treatment. We have concluded that Brussels is for single people or those without is definitely a night-atmosphere kind of town. But we were also told that Bruge' Belgium (about an 1 1/2 hrs north of Brussels) is a lot friendlier and nicer to we are going to give Bruge a try later on.