Sunday, July 10, 2016

First trip to the Netherlands

I finally managed to convince Bobby to take us to the Netherlands.  I've been wanting to visit some friends that live there now.  Can you believe it... another flight delay!  Some guy checked in but didn't show up at the gate so the airline had to find his luggage.  Anyhow, as usual - it's another red-eye flight so the boys are fast asleep even before the flight takes off!
Graham looks very comfortable like this somehow:
We actually flew into Brussels and rented a car to drive into Maastrich.  Who knew there would be traffic on a Saturday! Unfortunately, it was actually a delivery truck that ended up in the ditch on the other side of the road.
Well, nothing too much else going on so I might as well go back to sleep!
Thankfully no troubles from Graham either.  By the way, we rented a minivan. Check out the tray that opens up from the back of the front-seat, just like an airplane!
Still raining! There are lots of modern windmills along the way:
It takes us over an hour to get to the town of Eijsden, just south of Maastrich.  Look! Cows! These seem like such happy cows with all this land to roam around on:
We finally arrive at Jorge and Ceci's place and after some lunch, we head into town to find a rain jacket for Graham.  The boys are so excited about using the umbrella, even when it's not raining! It's almost quite dangerous because these umbrellas have such pointy ends:
10 later (including rain pants!) we take a little drive and stroll around the city of Maastricht.  Charlie is obviously still very distracted with the umbrella!
Here we are, posing in front of Helpoort which literally translates to Hell's Gate. It's the oldest gate in the Netherlands, built in 1229.  Amazing how it's still standing!
We have dinner at an Italian restaurant and of course, gelato after.  The boys are in their own little world when it comes to eating ice-cream... as the rest of the world carries on:
A quick peak at the river that runs through Maastricht.  Seems like there's always a river running through or along a European city :-)
The next day, we start out our morning with some domino toppling:
Our latest Domino Shifu/Master.  Too funny!
Today, we drive to Bonn, Germany for a river cruise.  We are in the car for a little bit and again, nap time. Once the boys wake up in an hour or so, we will be in a whole new country, speaking a whole different language!
I really don't know how Graham can be comfortable in this position!
We have some time for a quick lunch of bratswurst and potato salad before the boat ride.  My water comes in a pretty bottle which the boys filled up with lots of little white daisies:
Here comes our boat - the Moby Dick. How cute! And Charlie has taken the bottle with him.  The deli/cafe is suppose to return the glass bottles back to the supplier.  Run away, Charlie! Run away!
45 minutes or so down the Rhine and here's our stop - a town called Koenigswinter.  At the very top of the hill are ruins of a castle built in the early 12th century. We didn't get to see that up close, but we did take a tram up to a castle called Schloss Drachenburg or Dragon Castle.  You can sort of see it to the top left of the hill.  Actually, I just found out that this castle is really a private villa built in a castle style, in the 19th century.  It took 2 years to build it and the Baron that built it intended to live there but never did. What a shame!
Anyhow, the boys were more excited about the aquarium at the bottom of the hill but we obviously said no to that:
Hmmm.... where are we???
Waiting for our tram at the Drachenfels Railway:
 Quite the view from up here!
Graham and Charlie love these coin-stamping machines:
Here is what remains of the old castle.  And supposedly there's a cave somewhere in these hills that sheltered a dragon.  Now that would have been exciting to discover!
Instead of taking the tram down to the Dragon castle, we take a little stroll down the hill:
And there it is!  Almost like Cinderella's castle:
Here's the castle up close.  Check out those golden elk statues!
The boys and I decide to climb up to the highest point of the castle.  Steps and lots of steps!
What a view!
And then, of course we have to go all the way down.  The boys did most of it on their bums :-)
Quick dinner before having to catch our boat ride back.  And I mean quick!
Amazing how quickly Bobby finished his lasagna in under 20 minutes and it was piping HOT! He now says that there is a "strategy" involved in the art of eating cheesy-bubbling lasagna. HA!
Here's our boat, a different one from the Moby Dick.  Enter to the right, exit on the left:
The boat ride was a lot quicker going back as we were going downstream.  Anything to keep the boys occupied!
Thank you again Jorge and Ceci for a wonderful time and lovely hospitality!  Hope it won't be another 15 years before we see each other again. Saludos!

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