I promise I can tie this blog post to cloth diapers but you’ll have to wait for the very end.
The great news about life marching forward and your children being out of diapers (and then some) is that taking a real (and very long) family vacation is possible. This year now that we have our feet firmly planted at our new home in NC we decided to leap and planned a 2.5 week vacation for the entire family to Germany. The destination was an easy choice because my husband has a family member and many family friends who live there.
My husband did the bulk of the planning, we set it up that we would fly to NYC for 2 days and then from there take Singapore Airlines to Frankfurt Germany. We spent 2.5 days in Heidelberg, a week in Neuss with his aunt (we used that as our base and drove to various cities like Cologne and Dusseldorf), a week in Hamburg, and 2 days in Berlin.
The overnight flight to Germany went amazing for the kids, they didn’t sleep for the full 8 hours but did sleep for most of it. I did not because I can’t sleep on planes. I could bore you all with the recap of what we did but that’s no fun. Most people enjoy asking “what was the biggest culture shock?” We were pretty prepared on the differences between Germany and the US but it was hard living in a country lacking air conditioning during a week long heat wave. We missed the unlimited refills on water (you have to pay for glass bottles of water everywhere you go, no free tap water!), and our boys saw a lot of nudity that we expected but there’s no way to prep 8 and 6 year olds for this who enjoyed counting “weiners” they saw. I most enjoyed the eco-consciouness that all of Germany had towards packaging and consumption. The cities rely on public transport, as did we, and glass or ceramic were always the norm for dining. Take out coffee cups were available but the coffee shops were so amazing why would you want to leave them? It was wonderful to sit and enjoy the company and coffee. Plastic bags were available in a few places but most didn’t offer bags or offered them for sale. I was inspired by how every facet of life was meant to consume less.
We flew in the largest plane in the world, sadly, not in the top floor with full suites that have private showers in them and beds. Even in economy it was very nice and the children were treated amazing by the flight attendants. It was a pleasant experience for that alone.
Our trips were mostly centered on visiting the cities and experiencing the architecture, history, and culture. Having lived my entire life in the US, a baby of a country in the grand scheme of history, seeing buildings that pre-date my country’s formation is amazing.
The most impressive place we visited was the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, right outside of Berlin.
The same palace.
We visited one wildlife park that was situated in an old growth forest. It was magical and the animals that had to be in enclosures had more space than I’ve ever seen at any zoo or park. Even the guinea pigs had a custom enclosure with hobbit doors. The boys loves getting to feed the deer and pet them on the heads.
It isn’t a visit to Germany without going to Berlin for the history.
How can I tie this all back to diapers?!
On one of our last days in Germany I was walking and noticed this window display in a pharmacy (Apotheke, pronounces ah-po-tay-kuh) and was delighted to see old photos of a baby in cloth diapers.
We had several advantages that most families won’t have when they visit a foreign country- friends who spoke English and German who played tour guide for us, my husband speaks and understands enough German when we need it, and we had the homes of friends and family to stay in most of the trip which saved us a lot of money on lodging. Virtually everyone in Germany does speak at least some English so shopping, dining, and traveling isn’t that hard even if you don’t speak the language. Most restaurants have an english menu if you ask or they are in both languages. Only in smaller towns were the menus only in German.
We packed in more than I can even fathom and I now understand my Germany loves their Birkenstocks- they’re the best shoe for walking on cobblestones thanks to their thick soles. Thin flats and sandals won’t cut it. Now that we have tested the children and they passed I’m hopeful we can find more opportunities for travel next summer.
You can see a few more photos of our trip on my Instagram feed: Kim_Rosas