Monday, February 18, 2019

Tropical Islands, Germany

In the cold month of February we headed off for a warm get away to Germanys Tropical Island.  Yes you heard me right, Germany has a Tropical Island!  Read up and check it out, because you'll want to go!
Tropical Island Resort is a tropical theme park in the former Brand-Briesen Airfield, built inside a former airship hanger.  Check this out...yep inside this big hanger!
This place is a beach lover's year-round dream come true: white sandy beaches, hot air balloon rides, tropical rainforests, kids play zones, waterslides, spa, sauna and so much more all under one large dome!  To get an idea of how HUGE this place is, it is as long as the Eiffel Tower is high, and taller than the statue of liberty. 
When we got there we went from our winter jackets to bathing suits and Bode solely in a diaper within minutes.  Inside the dome the air temperature was a nice 78°F, and the air humidity was around 60%.  There was so much fun to be had, and so many places to explore!  Bode was studying the map to help guide us through the park.
Bode also got a kick out of looking at all the tropical animals.  He really liked the flamingos:)
Our favorite swim spot at the resort was the Lagoon.  The water was warm, some cool waterfalls, and Bode was able to stand and splash around in the shallow end. 
Kick Kick Kick
 Look Bode! A hot air balloon!
Check out this video of my boys having fun!
They had a really nice outside area called Amazonia.  We enjoyed floating in the lazy river, and going down the rapids slides.  In the summer more of the outdoor park is open to explore, but the cool breeze with the warm water was nice and refreshing on our faces.
They also have a beach area with a water jungle gym that we explored. We really liked the slides, even Bode enjoyed them.  We snuck Bode up an intertube slide that he went down with Jordan.  The look on his face as I gave them a push down was priceless.  They also have slides for younger kids, but who doesn't want to do the fun big kid slides?!?  At the beach Bode was able to climb around, get wet, and splash around in ankle high water, and play in the sand (with other kid's sand toys... note to travelers, bring sand toys and water toys). 
When we were done spending time in the water for the day (although it is 24 hours, so you can swim to your hearts content) there was still so much to be done.  For adults and kids alike!  Jordan and I took turns in the spa/sauna which was included in our reservation.  They had really nice sauna rooms and each hour they would have a steam treatment in one of the rooms where they would infuse a nice smell into the steam and you could sweat out all your toxins.  In true German fashion the sauna and spas are a naked event.  The dress code is a towel or bathrobe only and they have changing areas for you to get into your birthday suits.  
For Bode, and all kids, the fun is never over in the kids zone.  They have a huge indoor play area that includes climbing areas, bumper cars, electric scooters, remote control swimming boats, the BIGGEST ball pit I've ever seen and a baby play area.   They have shows, face painting, miniature golf and so much more!
One of the really nice things about Tropical Island is that you don't have to worry about carrying your valuables with you all the time.  They give you a watchband that gives you access to your locker, hotel room door, and is hooked up to your credit card so there is no need to carry cash or cards with on the beach.  Just swipe away and bill all your purchases easily!  For lunch and dinner they have a handful of restaurants and they also have a foodcourt with easy grab and go foods like pizza, burgers, brats, ice cream and frozen yogurt.  We thought it was really reasonable- sharing a pizza a bratwurst and soda came out to roughly 14 euro.  The breakfast buffet was included in our stay which was totally worth it.  Traditional German breakfasts are meats and cheeses, but this buffet had everything from fried eggs, waffles, pancakes, donuts and NUTELLA! as well as lox, cream cheese and fresh veggies! This dude was carb loadin~. Travelers will be happy to know that we were able to bring in food and drinks for our little one, and I would recommend bringing in extra water for all.  They also had a microwave available in the food court to microwave "baby food".  
Our hotel room was really nice.  While there are options to stay inside the dome in tents, huts, and rooms, we stayed in a connected building that had air conditioning. It was also really nice that they had mini fridges in the room, because traveling with a toddler you have to bring snacks, and cold milk! You may think you don't need AC in February, but if you are staying inside the dome it gets hot!  We booked over 6 weeks in advanced and got a deal for 99 euro per person... That got us a one night in a family sized room connected to the dome (we opted to bring our own pack n play) included 24 hour passes for two days (50euro/day each) and breakfast buffet (15 euro each).  For a total of 215 euro! It was totally worth!  Especially to be close to the room so we could go back and relax when we needed, and once Bode was asleep we could take turns going back into the park to spa/sauna and waterslide!
Bode had so much fun in the room we couldn't control his excitement!
Wakey Wakey time for day 2 of pure fun before we head home!
We had so much fun at Tropical Island and I would HIGHLY recommend it to others with kids, or no kids.  We got what we came for, and it met all of our expectations.  I only wish we could have been there longer so that we could have more memories together here!  

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Ludwigsburg & The Black Forest

We're pretty lucky to be living close to the largest pumpkin festival in the world here in Germany. Only about an hour and a half away in Ludwigsburg.   It's a perfect place for a fall visit if you've started lighting your vanilla pumpkin candles and are sipping on your favorite pumpkin spice beverage (and maybe eating a pumpkin scone...or two?). I'm so happy we got to go to the festival!  This year it was a woodland theme, and we were ready to explore all things pumpkin.
 Pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin yippie!
 ~Seriously, how cute is MY little pumpkin~
We started off with a snack...because we're Hatch's and we love food!  A pumpkin roll with pumpkin seed brats.  Yum for the win!
Over 450,000 pumpkins on display; so if you've imagined them, they have them: smooth, pimpled, skinny, chubby, edible and decorative!
Hold up, I love this warty Cinderella pumpkin 
They had some of the fattest pumpkins I've ever seen! This one was roughly 926 pounds!  I remember as a kid a contest at our local grocery store where if you could guess the weight of the pumpkin you could have it...I wouldn't know what to do with this one!  What does anyone do with it?!? Pumpkin soup for a lifetime if you ask me. 
This may be the most legit pumpkin patch I've laid my eyes on!
Bode had a blast climbing in!
Jordan snapped a great picture of me if I may say so myself!
We tried some really good organic pumpkin ice cream.  It was nice and creamy with pumpkin seeds inside too.  We both liked it!
I love this feeling of fall 
They had quite a display of woodland pumpkin animals all around the fest
There are also events going on every weekend (so check the calendar of things you don't want to miss) like: giant pumpkin carving, pumpkin weigh-offs, pumpkin regatta, smashing pumpkins etc. Here were some of our favorites from the pumpkin carving.
How can you go to a festival and fully enjoy it if you can't taste your way through it with some of your favorite pumpkin dishes? Pumpkin strudel, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin burgers, pumpkin everything! And yesssss, pumpkin soup!  As I write this I am currently chowing down on chocolate toasted pumpkin seeds that I bought at the fest... Anyways back to festival food, to taste it means to fill your tummy with goodness.
Pumpkin Beef Ravioli

Pumpkin Kasespatzel (which is like a pumpkin Mac n cheese) So good!
We had a great rest of the afternoon walking around the Grimm's Fairytale land before heading into the Black Forest.  We saw little Red Riding Hood's house, Repunzels hair, and the Seven dwarves!
Hello look at this hair!
We headed to the town of Triberg famous for waterfalls, clocks and cakes.  We strapped Bode into a hiking backpack  and started off with a hike! 

The Triberger Wasserfalle is one of the highest in Germany, plunging water down from 163 meters.   This may be the "longest" waterfall in reality because it isn't as high as the waterfalls in the mountains.  Nevertheless, it is still very scenic and worth exploring. You can hike all the way up and make a loop, walking back down into the cute little town.
The hike is not challenging and can be done with young kids, older friends and family members, dogs and strollers, although I don't think I would take a stroller. 
We checked out the clocks and had some cake.  The House of 1000 clocks is WILD! My head was going bonkers when I got out of there from all the cuckoo-cuckoo clocks ticking away.  They are detailed in their artistry and can be very expensive.  Cool to look at, but getting a clock magnet was all we needed to satisfy our clock craving.  For Black Forest Cake check out Cafe Schaefer.  The cake is good...well if you like Black Forest Cake; moist and fluffy it is, but too much kirschwasser for our liking.
After a good nights rest we made it to one more town before heading back home.  The cute little Black Forest town of Schiltach was where we ended up, and they were having a town festival which was super fun.  I think we were the only Americans there... definitely the only English speaking people. 

A charming town with two ridiculously good lookin guys
We couldn't find Bode's mittens, and I'll never admit that I forgot them **cough cough** so we did make-shift mittens out of socks, which worked pretty well!
I'm not entirely sure what these are called, but these ladies were making dough balls (very similar to a garlic knot minus the garlic) stuffed with bacon and cheese... We waited in a line that was well worth it for them to come out of the firewood oven piping hot!

We walked the main street looking at all the vendors selling local goods.

What really caught our eye were the people making fresh pressed apple juice. Take a look at all the apple rinds!

Couldn't say no to a nice fresh glass.  And Bode LoVeD it!!

His first time trying juice...sweet sweet nectar

If you're interested in the whole process check it out!
With all the people enjoying the food we tried their local sausages.  They were good!  The sausage men kept trying to talk to me in German, to which I responded with a lot of head shaking :)

We finished off our trip with some delicious fluffy cake!  We had such a great time in the Black Forest.  We felt like we were in traditional towns and enjoyed ever minute of the sunshine and cool air!
 Onto the next adventure!

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