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I’m so sorry I missed Friday’s post! It slipped away from me without my notice. We had my brother and sister in law over for the weekend, a last visit before the big move, and spending time with them got priority over being in front of the computer.
This was also probably the last weekend of fun and relaxation we’ll have for a while. From here on out, it’s going to be paperwork, packing tape and suitcases.
We’ve had precious few sunshine days this past season, so whenever we had even half a chance of catching a ray or two, we were outside. Feeling bolstered by the cloudless day, we hiked to Duisburg Zoo.
We’ve been at the zoo twice before and this is my second blog about it (hence the 2.0). I just couldn’t resist sharing the experience again. There’s even a video this time! As far as zoos go, Duisburg is really worth the trip. We had a blast there, despite the crowds.
We’ve wanted to go to this place since we arrived in Europe, but every time we had the trip planned, something got in the way. We finally drove to the Netherlands on one sunny Sunday to feast our eyes upon the glory that is Castle De Haar.
The original castle suffered major damages in a fire and was rebuilt many years later. The outside was kept in the Neo-Gothic style, but the interior was modernised in places. The castle even sports a beauty salon. It was interesting to see this mesh of new and old pulled off so well. We’ve visited other castles that had been remodelled to the point where the interior spaces lost all resemblance to their original states – a sad thing if you ask me. This wasn’t the case with De Haar.
Would you believe we’d been living in Germany for almost two years before we went for a stroll in Duisburg (our neighbouring town)? I couldn’t either.
Duisburg is a quiet city with an abundance of fountains in the city centre. Colourful and weird, these fountains create a strange contrast to the ancient buildings in the area. Of course there are some modern buildings too, but the city centre hosts many older structures.
We’re not the biggest sports supporters in the world, but there’s something incredible about going to a live soccer game. To those of you who take this seriously, I know it’s called football in Europe. I’m South African, so to me it’s soccer. No offence meant.
Anyway, the last game we went to (which was also the first ever 😛 – I told you we’re not spots-people) was England vs Ukraine in 2012. Since we enjoyed that one so much, we simply had to see at least one game in Germany. Jan’s boss arranged a company event for the employees, which brought us to Essen stadium for this game.
Sunshine has been rare this summer – I don’t know what’s going on. Apart from three or so heat waves, we’ve had an excess of rain and gloom this season. Pretty depressing, if you ask me. Especially considering the fact that I had a tan last year this time.
So, when the sun is out, we are too.
Well, I’m sure some of the other runners still had their fun, but by the time we reached Düsseldorf, it was coming down in buckets. So much so that my water resistant jacket (and shirt underneath) were drenched and we had to stop to buy something dry and warm to wear.
Jan and Mario would have done one of the weekly parkruns in the city, but both decided they’d give it a skip in the heavy rain. We might give it a try again in a week or two, so you could still see running photos. 🙂
As we had nothing better to do, we went exploring. Indoors.
Life is full of little firsts. A while ago, one of these came up for Kayla, when we took her bowling for the first time.
Jan and I used to love bowling back in SA, but haven’t played in about 5 years. Thinking about it now, that puts the last time we played at before my pregnancy. Sad, but true. Anyway, we thought we’d turn a gloomy, rainy Saturday into one of those ‘remember the time when’ memories and headed out to the Rhein-Ruhr Zentrum to bowl.
Another weekend, another fair.
Let me tell you something about this one, though – it was huge. Everything is bigger and better in Düsseldorf, right? I almost felt bad for the Saarner Kirmes we’d visited the weekend before.
On a cloudy Sunday, we headed to the city to see the fair. Loud music, delicious food scents, bright colours and the screams of thrill-seekers – this is what the fair was all about.
In the post about those things I love about Germany, I mentioned random fairs popping up at every opportunity. This weekend, we found one of those. 🙂
The Saarner Kirmes set up in our hometown of Mülheim an der Ruhr, on the bank of the River Ruhr (Saarn is a suburb of Mülheim). We wouldn’t even have known of the fair’s existence, had we not went out to lunch. I was in the mood for currywurst, but we couldn’t find a nice place to have that. So, we went in the direction of the river.
By chance, Kayla spotted activity on the far bank. I say chance, but I really mean her fun-radar. That thing is accurate within half a centimetre. 🙂
I’d call it a Weekend in Pictures post, only I took too few photos for that. I don’t understand how the picture-drought happened, to be honest. We got up to SO MUCH, I just didn’t think to snap the events. Those moments I did shoot fall off the other side of the spectrum.
I have 32 photos of fish. THIRTY. TWO.
My… month in pictures? The monthly recap? As far as alternative titles go, these aren’t the best. Sorry. 🙂
Since I didn’t do a single post with photos from this month, I thought I’d give you an overview today (all my WIP posts were of adventures from past months). I’ve been toying with this recap post idea for a while, since so many of our photos taken in the week are share-worthy, but never get featured because they weren’t taken on weekends.
Japan day took place on the 20th of May, in Düsseldorf. This yearly event sees thousands of cosplayers in the city, all to see the firework shows, sumo wrestling, samurai artefacts, talks hosted by the Japanese Embassy and so much more.
Most people come to dress up, though. Some come in full costume, so detailed and realistic that they could have stepped out of the fantasy world they’re representing. It’s insane. Others come with no more than a Pikachu hat and a sign around their necks offering free hugs.
Towards the end of April, we visited Grugapark one day. We found ourselves suddenly alone after our fabulous vacation, and needed some TLC. Hence, the visit to the park. We’ve been to Gruga a few times before, but we’d never seen it covered in tulips. Being nature-folk, you can imagine how much we enjoyed this trip!
This is the end. We had a blast, saw amazing things and bonded with our tribe. We miss them terribly. The house is still quiet. Going through all of these photos somehow amplifies that.
But, before I get too soppy, let’s get on with the post.
While I shared all the main events with you, I have hundreds of photos taken on the in-between days. You know, those ones that didn’t involve buying tickets to enter tourist hot-spots. That’s what I’m sharing today.
Oh, Amsterdam. Still one of my favourite places on earth. The sweet smell in the air (no, not the weed, the pastries :P), the buzz in the streets and the beauty of the city will always draw me to return. Add the fact that we can be understood when speaking Afrikaans and it becomes all the more alluring to visit the Netherlands.
We love these two cities so much, we’ve visited both before. This was our second time in Maastricht, Netherlands, and also our second visit to Aachen, which is a small German border-town. I can highly recommend both.
This was a lazy Sunday trip and would also be the last warm, sunny day we had while the Groenewalds were here.
After the excitement from the night before, we returned to the Pantheon first thing on the third morning.
Well, first thing is relative. The Groenewalds are early risers. An admirable trait, I tell you. Kayla and I, though, *are not* early risers. In fact, we’re some of the grumpiest morning people you’ll ever meet. Nobody wants that. 🙂 Luckily, we walk fast.
In an unfortunate turn of events, we seem to have lost some of the vacation photos. Don’t hyperventilate yet, though. All my photos are still intact. We’ll get the rest at some point in time, but you probably won’t get to see them. Meh.
Our second day in Rome (day one here) was sunny and generally lovely. We hit all the tourist spots, but didn’t actually go into these places. Let’s call what we did the anti-tourist tour of Rome. With three kids under 6, we weren’t going to attempt the snaking lines into the Colosseum or onto Palatine Hill, for example. Still, we found ourselves drooling over the Roman Forum, Altare della Patria and the Colosseum.
There’s a feeling that fills your chest when you round that corner, or take that step out of the train station in Cologne. The first and most undeniable structure in the heart of the city is the Cologne Cathedral – majestic, impossible and awe-inspiring. It claims your every thought and emotion with its sheer size, then slams its hooks into your heart with its gothic spires, stained-glass windows and grotesque gargoyles. You’ll always kind of shiver when you recall this place, never fully capable of wording what it is you felt in the cathedral’s shadow. And an enormous shadow it is.
Well, I’m back.
This vacation was one for the record books. Having friends over was seriously special, and more so because we experienced so many new things together. It was an honour to have them fly half-way around the globe to visit us. All the warm and fuzzies were felt. Having said that, I’ll try to keep the emotions contained while I write this. You know me, a big old softie. 😛 I cry at McDonald’s commercials.
Last week, I mentioned the rain being late. Yeah. Not long after I posted that, it came down in buckets. The rain didn’t stop until Friday afternoon, when the weather jerked into spring mode. As in, it went from cool indoors and winter-jacket-cold outside to ‘hey, we’re in short sleeves, please turn off the heating’. I don’t know how long this about-face will last, but for now, the sunshine is great.
For some reason, the weather situation affected me too. I finished the short story edit on Friday, but didn’t write another word for the rest of the weekend. (Total procrastination and zombie-mindset on my behalf.) This weekend was for the family and catching up on some zees. In fact, Jan was the one working for a change. 🙂
Last year this time, we had maybe an afternoon of sunshine every two weeks. The drizzle was constant, predictable like the beat of my heart. Depressing too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of rain. I come from a place where the thunderstorms are legendary, with rushes of rain like waterfalls and crashing thunder like battles in the sky. Hard rain – I love that. This misty, more-like-wet-wind-than-actual-rain? Hate it.
Still, it left its mark. Last year this time, everything was green. Some trees had already started to blossom and the air smelled sweet and earthy. Spring showers (showers, ha) transformed our surroundings to something magical – something Johannesburgers aren’t used too. I mean, Jozi is awesome, but doesn’t have the same amount of trees and forested areas as we do here in Germany.