Easter Break, Part 1: 2-3-5
It has been quite a long time since my last blog post, but that it because I have been on my three week Easter break (I will take that over my one week American spring break any time!). But to make up for my lack of blogs, I have decided to split my Easter Break recap into three different sections. There is simply too much to try and cram into one so I figured I would split them up so I could go more in depth into each of the topics I want to talk about.
This first part entitled 2-3-5 is symbolic for many reasons. In the most basic terms, it means “two weeks with three Kadolphs in five countries.” The first two weeks of my break were spent with my parents traveling through Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, the UK, and Ireland. I also uploaded almost exactly 235 photos to Facebook over the course of those two weeks. And lastly, by the time I go home in June, I will have been in Ireland for approximately 235 days. The last two may be a coincidence, but there is something to say about the significance of it all.
My journey began on Saturday the 5th when I flew to Germany to meet my parents in Dusseldorf. Unfortunately, my first flight was delayed an hour so I ended up missing my connection flight in London. But I eventually got it all sorted and was only put back a few hours.
For the first couple of days, we stayed in the old town we used to live in called Haaren which is located on the west side of Germany close to the Netherlands and Belgium. It was so neat going through the town because I got to see our old house and all the other local landmarks that I kind of grew up with! Our hotel was above this restaurant that we always used to eat at when we lived there. Our first full day there was spent in the Netherlands where my dad and I got to go indoor skiing. It was a really cool experience but I do not think I would ski there again in the future. There were multiple runs closed off because of a youth competition that was going on and the run that we were on was not as challenging as I would have liked. But it is something I can cross off my bucket list! We also went to the town of Maastricht while we were in the Netherlands. It was a nice little town with plenty of shops and cafés to check out.
After Haaren, we made our way down to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Before we went to the walled town, we stopped in Würzburg to see Festung (Fortress) Marienberg. It was quite a cool castle to walk around but we were unable to go inside. We walked around the town center for a bit to see what it was like. There were some interesting cathedrals that we got to go through which was nice. The town of Rothenburg that we were staying in was a walled town from the 13th century. Like the other places we had visited, there many shops and cafés to explore. It is also a Christmas town so many of the shops there sell Christmas decorations year round.
We then went down to the town(s) of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We got to stay in the Olympiahaus which was a hotel created for the 1936 Winter Olympics. The ski jumps outside are still used in the winter months when there is snow. While there, we got to visit Neuschwanstein Castle which is probably one of the most recognized castles in the world. I had been there two or three times before but remember nothing of it. It was really cool to walk through and see all the original artwork and craftsmanship that has been preserved. My dad and I also took the opportunity to go skiing up in the Alps but the weather was awful. The snow was much better than in the Netherlands though so that was a plus! And the bad weather is not such a bad thing; it just means I have to go back again sometime so I can properly ski in the Alps!
Our final destination in Germany was Munich. On our way there, we stopped to visit the Dachau concentration camp. As you can imagine it was one of the most depressing places we could have gone to see. It compares to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC. It was strange to see that right outside the camp walls were residential neighborhoods. People live right next to the camp. I am not sure if those houses have been there since before the war or if they just do not think it is at all creepy. But either way, it was still strange to see. The city of Munich was quite hectic. Traffic was a nightmare and parking was a hassle. The city is very big and can be really confusing with all the different roundabouts and one ways (especially when all of the signs are in a different language!). We walked around Marienplatz for a while which is a large shopping area in the city center. As nice of a city as Munich is, I do not really see myself going back there any time soon.
We only spent a week going around west and south Germany but we saw so much in that short amount of time. We easily could have spent another week there but my parents wanted to see where I have been living for six months and the rest of Ireland so we decided to fly to Belfast. Luckily this time, none of us missed our connection flight (although my parents were running through the airport trying to make it to the gate before it closed).
We spent the first couple of days in Northern Ireland so my parents could see what Belfast had to offer. We went through the Titanic Museum and up to the Antrim Coast to see Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. We took a more “rural” route back so we could stop by the Dark Hedges (I just wanted to see where the King’s Road in Game of Thrones was filmed!). I got to walk them around Elms Village and Queen’s University so they could see my accommodation and pick up some school apparel.
Because neither of my parents had been to Northern Ireland or the Republic before, they wanted to experience as much as they could. We went down to Dublin for a couple days after Belfast to see that other major city. Our hotel in Dublin was probably one of the nicest hotels I have every stayed in; it used to be a castle! The lobby was decorated like a castle, complete with banners, thrones, and old paintings. We could not have done Dublin properly without seeing the Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Storehouse. It was a tad unusual because neither of my parents drink so in retrospect, those were probably not the best places to go see. But they were still enthusiastic about the tours. They really enjoyed checking out Trinity College and the Old Library.
To get away from the city life for a while, we made an excursion out to Killarney (in southwest Ireland). I had visited Killarney in 2010 and wanted my parents to see what it was like. While there, we went to the Muckross House and Gardens and Ross Castle. We spent a day taking a boat tour around the three lakes that Killarney is situated by and took a trap ride (a horse with a miniature carriage) up through the Gap of Dunloe. Fortunately the weather held out for us and we were able to get some really good views of the Irish countryside. It was all just as I had remembered.
The final day was spent driving back up to Belfast. That night, we went out for a good dinner to reminisce about our two weeks and share stories of our time apart from each other. The next morning, they were on a plane back to Washington.
My two weeks with them were unforgettable. I will not deny the fact that we did get frustrated with one another every once in a while, but that was expected seeing as it was only the three of us together for such a long time. It was one of the best vacations of my life though and I would not take any of it back. I love my parents so much and am so thankful that they can provide for such amazing trips like this. They truly are the two greatest people in the world.