If you are like me, when you think of traveling around Europe, the last thing you think of is traveling…with toddlers. Tantrums, naps, and picky eaters don’t tend to make for smooth sailing. But, here we are living in Germany smack dab in the middle of Europe with so many great and historic sites around us, many just a short drive away. To not travel, or travel while a babysitter sits home with our young kids seems silly to us. So my husband and I made a vow to drag the kids with us on our travels. We’ll have to manage our expectations, of course, and maybe alternate museums and playgrounds, but I’d like to think we are educating them on how to behave in a variety of scenarios, at the very least. Our first overnight adventure was to Nürnberg, Germany.
The trip was kind of last minute; I booked our hotel the day before we left. I chose Hotel Keiml, a small hotel run by Frau Keiml since the 1970′s. The reviews were phenominal, although very clear that the hotel is situated between sex shops, casinos, and a night club, AND up two long flights of stairs, no elevator. The former apartment building has a website and you can email them to book a room but of course we didn’t have time for that so I had to call. Frau Keiml spoke just enough English to ask me questions and with my notes I could speak just enough German that she understood the answer.
Old…kids? Drei (3) and Eins (1)
Baby bed? Nein baby bed
She ended our conversation (no credit card exchange) with – Ok. Fine. We’ll see you tomorrow and day after tomorrow!
I emailed my husband and said ‘I think‘ we have a hotel reservation! The next day we hit the road for a 3 hour drive. After 2 potty breaks (in Europe you have to pay to use the Toilet, by the way) and a few circles around the parking garage we made it to the hotel. The moment we entered the owner gushed over our kids just like any Grandma would, except we couldn’t understand her. She grimaced her face and showed us her available room asking if it was ok because the 2 beds were small and said she would have a bigger room tomorrow night. We didn’t fuss about it because we booked last minute, weren’t planning to spend a lot of time there anyways, and well…we’re just easy going people like that. We freshened up and left the hotel to explore and grab some dinner. The pedestrian roads are perfect for toddlers who need to stretch their legs, especially when they aren’t too crowded.
The next morning we woke up and sat down in our hotel for quite a spread of traditional German breakfast.
Yes, all of that food was just for my little family of four. Once you arrive for breakfast you are quickly asked how you would like your eggs and served coffee or tea. Then come the plates of meats, cheeses, smoked salmon, rolls, jellys, and more. There was also a side table with fruit, pastries, cereal, & yogurt.
The reviews of this breakfast were a big part of my decision in choosing this hotel. When in Rome…
After breakfast we were off to walk down König Straße (King Street) where most of the main sights are, leading to the Imperial Castle.
This is St Lawrence church
A few shots from Imperial Castle
A panoramic view of Nürnberg from Imperial Castle.
The Castle was fairly crowded but we just followed the masses and took in some great views of the city. You could pay to go in the tower, see the deep well, and for guided tours but we opted out. This is where managing your expectations with toddlers comes in. Running freely around a castle? Tons of fun! Standing still while adults listen to a guided tour? Not so fun. Plus we were headed to the Nazi Rally Grounds which is not exactly kid friendly so we tried to get out their energy early. Next we searched for a bus that would take us to the Rally Grounds. My advice? Figure this out ahead of time. We wasted a good 20 minutes trying to figure out how to buy a ticket. For €5 each we could have pre-purchased a day pass. Doh! Oh, and toddlers (at least mine) LOVE public transportation! A bus and train ride were probably the most exciting part of their day.
We made it to the Nazi Rally Grounds at lunch time and sat down for a quick bite at the cafe on site. We ordered the Nürnberger – a local specialty of mini bratwursts. The kids loved them!
The first 5 minutes of touring the museum I REALLY thought it wasn’t going to happen. E wanted out of the stroller and L wanted to run around. We explained to L that we needed to be quiet and respectful then after we could go outside and run. After a few reminders (and pulling out the IPad) we were able to make it through 3/4 of the museum with quiet children. I highly recommend visiting the Nazi Document Center if you ever have the chance. Rather than a memorial, it strives to answer the questions ‘How could this happen?’ and ‘How do we prevent it from ever happening again.’ And when your toddlers have had enough of being quiet? You go outside and let them run around the path by the lake.
We finished the day with a train (really a tram but 3 year old boys are happier when you call it a train) back to the hotel for a little bit of rest before back out for dinner. Sitting at a restaurant can be hard when you are little so while we finished our dinners we let the kids play on steps nearby with bubbles the waitress gave them.
When we arrived back at the hotel Frau Keiml showered the kids with chocolate and candy. No really, she stuffed L’s shirt pocket full!
Overall we had a wonderful first big family trip in Europe and we look forward to more adventures! One last note, don’t take too much time getting settled in your car after paying in a parking garage. The gate wouldn’t let us through until we parked and paid for the additional 10 minutes it took our family to get loaded in the car.