Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hotel Foltice - Wrapping up the Winter Travel Season

It seems really quiet around here after an eventful week with Robyn and Dan. Here are the highlights:

I spent weeks teaching Dylan how to say "Aunt Robyn" and "Uncle Dan" leading up to their arrival.  He calls Dan "Uncle Deeeeen" and Robyn is "Bus."  We have no idea where "Bus" came from.  I swear he can say "Robyn" quite clearly, but only when she is not around.  Whenever she was near we would ask Dylan "Can you say Robyn?" And he would smile and say "Yea ... Bus."  And thus, a new nickname is born.

The above photo is Bryan, Dylan and Uncle "Deeeeen" playing Angry Birds on the iPad.  Side note: if you have an iPad, or electronic device that has the Angry Birds app on it, don't let Bryan near it.  He was completely obsessed - obsessed to the point that they actually won the game before Dan and Robyn left.  One day I yelled at him for playing it too much and not being social and he called me an "angry bird" under his breath.  

On their first full day here, Dylan face-planted teeth first into our glass coffee table.  We're lucky he didn't lose any teeth, but it was pretty ugly and bloody and he was not his usual self for the rest of the day (but, who would be after that?).  We still went into Munster in the afternoon for some walking/shopping and we introduced Robyn and Dan to döners, our favorite Turkish food.  They are very similar to gyros, but better.
Robyn and I had a girls night out at one of our local restaurants, Kaffee Klatsch.  There is a waitress there who speaks excellent English, so we were pleased to be seated in her section.  My German, although it is better that it was a few months ago, is still barely passable. The class I'm taking is good, but my brain is really slow.  I seem to know a lot of individual vocabulary words but can't put any of them together to make a comprehensible sentence to a native German.

Bryan took Robyn and Dan to Winterswijk, Netherlands on Saturday.  I stayed home with Dylan because we didn't have his car seat (long story; totally my fault). See the previous post about Sergeant Peabody to learn how the car ride there went.  Turns out Winterswijk has a really good specialty beer store with lots of special Belgian brews.  This is where we learned that Dan and Robyn are total beer snobs, so don't even try to serve them run-of-the-mill American style beers.  If you do, Dan will give you this line:
American beers are like sex in a canoe.  F#$%ing close to water!" 
On Sunday afternoon we left for Karneval in Cologne.  It was our first ever full night away from Dylan, but I was really more worried for our babysitter (read: worried for us that she'd never come back after dealing with Dylan for 24-hours straight), than I was about being separated from him for a night.  Actually, I was really looking forward to it since he has been in a major clingy phase for the past few weeks and it's starting to get under my skin.  According to Dylan, here are just a few of the things that only "Mommy" is allowed to do for him:
Feed him, bath him change his diaper, read to him, hold him, put him down for a nap, wake him up, kiss him goodnight, and play with him.  He follows me into the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and closet; if I'm out of his line of vision even for a second he screams my name; if I have the computer on my lap, he straddles my lap and sits facing me blocking the computer; if I'm talking to someone on Skype, he climbs behind me on the couch and flicks my ears to distract me (Did Bryan teach him to do this?  It sounds like a 'Bryan' tactic for getting attention.); and he generally has to be touching me at all waking moments of his day (again, sounds like Bryan). 
Anyways, back to the trip... we made it to Cologne around 5:30 p.m. and promptly changed into our costumes and headed for downtown.  I am a glass of beer, Robyn is a cowgirl on a horse, Dan is a sleazy wizard, our friends Kurt and Claudia are Elvis and Pippy-Longstocking, and Bryan is a lion.

It's really easy to get in the spirit of Karneval in Cologne.  Almost everyone is dressed up, but the costumes are happy and in good fun (not scary like Halloween).  There is German Karneval music playing everywhere and impromptu street dancing and singing can break out at a moment's notice.  We got back to the hotel around 1:00 a.m. and crashed.  We had another big day of parade watching and festivities that we needed to rest up for. 

Thankfully our hotel had a nice, big continental breakfast in the morning with extended "Karneval hours" for those of us who needed to sleep in a little extra on Monday morning.  It is difficult to get used to the German breakfast of cold cuts and cheese and Robyn had to send Dan back to the buffet when he showed up at the table with only a half a kiwi and a mini croissant.

We made it into town around 11:30 and found a spot on the parade route.  The parade had already started, but it lasts for more than 4 hours.  The coolest thing about the parade is they throw candy from the floats (way cooler than beads), so you don't really even need to take a break for food since it is provided for free, as long as you're quick enough to snatch it mid-air from the people around you. The man next to me took his candy-snatching very seriously and was dubbed "The Human Vacuum."  He gave me evil-eyes every time I snagged one from his grasp.

The floats are also huge and come dangerously close to the edge of the crowd.  It doesn't help that the parade route is along ancient cobblestone streets. In the picture above the big pink float is about to round the corner and come our way. 

We headed home around 2pm and had a special treat of European Union trivia and Karneval trivia games courtesy of Bryan (also the driver, drinking alcohol-free beer in the photo above for those of you wondering...) for the ride home.  We were all pretty exhausted once we got home - all of us sat around quietly reading. The above picture was also the last photo that I took while Robyn and Dan were here.

Wednesday morning came quickly and we saw them to the train station so they could continue on their trip to Brussels and then Amsterdam before heading home. 

This wraps up our winter tourist season at Hotel Foltice.  We're looking forward to the spring and summer travel season to begin ... who is going to be our next guest???

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