Unconventional Europe Trip — Days 3 – 5 Copenhagen To Hamburg To The Netherlands and Belgium

Our trip to Europe is continued from this link. So the rest of the day was spent traveling from Copenhagen to Hamburg.  It was about 5 hours on the trains, if I remember correctly.  We left the beautiful park and first headed to the metro to get on there to go to the train station.

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The train station was awesome.  There were several restaurants and convenience stores and even a grocery store with plenty of fruit and veggies and bread and cheese!  It was fantastic and a very cool station.  At each station and pretty much before we got on each train, my husband would go try to communicate with the station workers and figure out which train we could and should get on while I waited with the kids and looked for food.

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We figured it out and got out to the platform.  This particular train would actually go on a ferry.  It was confusing knowing which seat was ours, but everyone was confused so it didn’t really matter.

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When we got to the ocean, the train actually boarded the ship and all the passengers were required to get out. We found a good spot on top of the ship, it was gorgeous and then I spent most of the rest of the time looking at our food options.  It was pretty crowded.  The expensive buffet looked good, but not the kind of stuff we normally eat, plus it was a sit down place and looked like it would be too hard with our group.  The other eating place just had hot dogs, and some other stuff- also looked a bit overwhelming- couldn’t really carry it up, so we settled on some quick pizzas.  Definitely not the healthiest, but it sure made the kids happy.  They also had a few sandwiches with decent bread.  It was enough to keep everyone happy.

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The boat ride was only about 45 min. and we reloaded the train.  We were now officially in Germany and instead of the instructions being in Danish, they were now in German.  Not that we could understand either one– although they both are closish to English.  Here is a pic from the train after we boarded.  We were actually able to see quite a bit just on the train.

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The train station in Hamburg!! Pretty overwhelming.  While we waited for my husband to figure where we should go next, we did find a stand that sold freshly juiced fruits and veggies, and I found an adapter so I would be able to charge my camera battery.

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This is outside the train station where we waited while my husband figured out where we should go to catch the bus to get to our hotel.  We fortunately found it available with 5 beds in each room, 2 rooms, way better than the hostel!

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This is where the bust stop was, as you can see Hamburg was much bigger and busier than Copenhagen.  It had its own feel.  The people were different too- not as smiley and not dressed real well- kind of drab and even scraggly- holes in jeans and such.  But the architecture was still pretty cool, and a guy from Hampton Beach, New Hampshire came and talked to us- he was a Mormon too- just working in Hamburg.  Small world.

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Here we are on the bus- we did all transportation methods this trip– quite exciting for little ones!  I’m glad my husband is so good at directions, I’m glad I just had to keep track of people and take pictures.

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This is near where we got off and walked to the hotel.

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Our hotel was right down this street- looking at this picture I can see why it was so cheap, but we did not feel unsafe or worried the whole time we were in Hamburg– there is a bunch of grafitti but no weird people.  It was also still light out, perhaps it would be different after dark.

5 beds in each room, one small bathroom with a shower.  It was great, it felt like a palace after the hostel!! Each room was around $110/night.  I did not know we could close the windows and we were kept up a bit between the combination of jetlag and the partying for the World Cup outside.

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My husband in the other room got up at a decent hour, I was still out at 9:00.  He went around to find breakfast and get some bearings. There was no healthy food to be found nearby, but we did find some delicious croissants with melted cheese and tomatoes, it was quite good.  Then we headed out to sight see.  We did not have much time as our plan was to go to Amsterdam and stay there that night.

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So I then looked online to see where we should go, we hopped on a bus and got off at this church.  We though it was a cathedral because it looks similar and is very ornate, but it was actually a Lutheran church.  We were in the land of the Protestants.  It was interesting to see and notice the difference between this and the cathedrals in Quebec we had seen.  That is one of the cool things about traveling!

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This is what it looked like on the outside:

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This is the tower from far away:

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This is what we saw when we got out of the church.  I am still not exactly sure what it was, but it looked cool, so that’s where we headed!:

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Here is the area in front, nice and open, there was even a bride:

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Here are the pictures of the building outside, inside and in the courtyard.  It was magnificent.  Hamburg was a pretty cool place, we would all like to go back.   We know we just skimmed the surface here!

 

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We then headed back to the train station for Amsterdam.  But we saw a street vendor selling crepes with Nutella, so we each got one of those– yummy!  I took some photos while we waited and the little boys explored the fountain.  There had been lots of bikes- but no one wears a helmet!

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We had to take a train to a station a stop before Hamburg so that we could get on the fast train because we did not have a reservation.

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The kids loved it because we had compartments, and there were beds that could be pulled down and curtains on the windows.  It was quite fun!!

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My husband had booked a place about 45 min outside of Amsterdam on a milk farm.  The Amsterdam train station was awesome.  There was a really good cheese store, with some really good waffle cookie snack things and good cheese, also a health food store where we got a few snacks.  We had some snacks and bread left from Copenhagen, but I really didn’t know that that was going to be it for dinner.  Everybody was happy though, so it worked out.  I will definitely think ahead for food next time- we just didn’t have a lot of time to find places to eat with making sure we got on the right trains and stuff.

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On the bus, before we found the right bus, we were a little worried because there was no one around, it was like 8 pm, still plenty light, but the little town looked pretty deserted.

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We had to walk a ways when we got off the bus, it was a really cool neighborhood and some locals helped get us pointed in the right direction.  These house’s roof’s were made out of dirt and plants.  I loved that!

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It was a really cool walk!

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A couple of houses along the way– so cute, so Dutch!!

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These are the little cabins we stayed in– about $105 per night each. Each sleeping 5 people through airbnb.  We reserved them the day before and it was Saturday night.  The lady was super nice.  The dairy farm was really cool, it was awesome.  The only downside is that it would have been nice to have some more food, but we were OK.  And the lady gave us a bunch of free milk which tasted really good and healthy.

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This is her prize cow, like 20 yrs. old and still producing wonderful milk.

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The little calves:

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In the barn, but they do get to go out and eat grass during the day.

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They also eat hay and the roots of the endive plant, which is bitter to humans but apparently the cows love it!

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This is the pile of the endive root.  The farm was really nice, I did not even hardly notice a smell.  It was just so picture perfect out there, and so nice of the lady to give us a tour.

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The milking area:

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Her horse, she said that they don’t travel, they can never leave the farm more than a day or two, but they do enjoy their horses.  It looked like a lovely lifestyle to me!

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This was the area in the morning.  Since by now all our food was gone except for fresh milk, I took a couple kids with me in search of a market.  No luck, but we did get some fresh fruit juice at another farm down the road.

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There were also little go cart type bikes the kids could and did ride all over.

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It’s a good thing it was so fun, because it turned out that the soonest bus didn’t come until noon, because it was the Saturday schedule!!  So we did not have time to go see any Dutch cities. Our next stop was to meet up with some of my old friends in Belgium.  They have 5 kids, and they were happy to have us come stay with them.  Once we finally got on the bus, we found that we had to take the slow trains and a later train because of some problem with the tracks somewhere.  That was a real bummer.  And the train station was tiny, but we did find a little bakery and got some good bread to eat.  My husband found some treats somewhere too.  I was disappointed that it took so long to get to Belgium.  But I don’t think anybody else cared that much.  The kids really enjoyed all the public transportation, and just being in a new place, and that farm was really cool.  I had checked on visiting the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam and all the reservations were full, so we will have to go back there some other time anyway.

We took several different trains and hardly had time to buy food, but we managed.  The Antwerp station was pretty big, we got to our friends’ town about 7 or 8 pm.  They had a wonderful meal ready for us. They had a beautiful house and yard with plenty of room.  All our kids got along great.  We adults got along great too.  It was a really nice break for all of us.  We went to church with them on Sunday.  It was a tiny congregation/ward – maybe 50 people at the most.  It was really, really nice though.  There was a lot of love there, and there were plenty of translators.

Then in the afternoon, we went and met some of my other friends in Belgium, the lady I lived with when I was there 20 years ago and her son who I worked with at the greenhouse to learn all about it on my internship.  It was really, really good to see them again.  We even got to tour the greenhouses where I worked!  They are beautiful, I love the horticultural advances of Europe.  They love their flowers and their gardens and their food.

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This is the house I lived in, right next door, and the roads I used to bike on:

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This is my friend’s garden, so beautiful– lots of bonsai:

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Our friends– at the house where we stayed– babysit kittens that have no homes ’til they are adopted; they were so cute.  We had such a great time in Flanders, Belgium.  It really is one of my favorite places!!

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Our friends were amazing hosts, they fed us every meal, and then as if that wasn’t enough, they packed a whole bunch of yummy food for us to take on the trip to Paris.  We ended up having to take slow trains again– what would normally take 2 1/2 hours on the fast train, took us about 5 or 6 hours and we had to change trains multiple times, and there just really was hardly time to even buy food- it was crazy. So we were really glad we had all that food from them.  And most importantly we renewed our friendship and made new friends.  We are hoping they will come visit us here in France so we can return the favor!!

 

 

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