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A weekend spent in Cologne, Germany. |

A birthday weekend in Cologne, Germany.

Over the past few months living here in Belgium, I’ve come to love many things, one of them being the amount of national and public holidays Belgians observe. Belgians like their days off, something I can wholeheartedly get behind and support.

And last week, Michael and the kids had off from both school and work, which was super convenient timing because HELLO BIRTHDAY WEEKEND for Piper and me. No school, no work, another year in the books to be celebrated – yes a road trip was in order. This time, to Cologne Germany (just two and a half hours away from home). 

The really cool thing about living in Belgium is that it’s so incredibly centrally located to a ton of awesome places. Paris is only three hours away, Amsterdam is three hours away in the other direction, you can get to the North Sea in under two hours, and you can drive into Germany in less than one.


We left mid-morning on Saturday, stopped for lunch on the road at Burger King, (I know, but Michael had to get it out of his system) and headed into the heart of Cologne to do some sightseeing and window shopping.

One of my favorite things to try is street food that is specific to the region we’re visiting. I immediately spied people lining up at this cart to buy little paper cones filled with some sort of snack. I needed to know what was in the cone, and at only 2 euros a piece, I sent Piper shopping.

Maronen. Also know as Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Our little cone came with about eight or so chestnuts, perfect for everyone to have a taste.

No we do not like roasted chestnuts.

This little snack of chestnuts taught us a very valuable lesson:

1. know what you’re eating.

2. know how to eat it.

You guys, chestnuts do not taste very good if you just pop them in your mouth as-is. They need to be shelled like a proper nut (I know, whodathunk?). The first go-around, Piper and I did not shell ours – instead just popping the roasted little sucker right in our mouth. Also: gross. Also: any German watching us and our reaction probably got a pretty good laugh at our expense.

At this point the snack was lost on us, even after we figured out how to shell them properly. At least we tried and gave it a go, I guess.

Next up we walked around the beautiful Cologne Cathedral in all it’s Gothic glory. Having an interior design degree and given the amount of art history classes I took in college, it’s absolutely fascinating to finally be able to see what I had previously only read about in textbooks.

The DOM in Cologne, Germany.

After touring the cathedral, we walked across the famous Rhine river via a beautiful footbridge (no photos here folks, I was admittedly afraid of heights and fearful for my children’s well-being, even though they were perfectly safe) and did some shopping.

 Cologne, in Cologne.

The girls each picked out a small bottle of iconic 1411 cologne (because when in Cologne that’s what you do) and then we headed out to dinner. Dinner was at a super fun (and super huge, loud, inexpensive) beer hall called Frueh am Dom which serves their own house brew, Fruh Kolsch.  Again, me being always up for an adventure ordered something off the “chef specialty” list called Schlachtplatte.

I’ll spare you the plate photo (I’m no food blogger) but let me just mention that my dish was a combination platter of liver dumplings, pickled pork, boiled bacon and black pudding served on a bed of sour kraut and mashed potatoes. Basically a big ole’ pile of German. Also make note: I’m now adding “learn to read German” to my ever-growing assimilation to-do list.

After dinner we found the car and headed out of the city to our rental apartment (through Airbnb, which I highly recommend, it’s the only way our family of 6 travels affordability) where we tucked the kids in and got ready for day two.


Sunday we woke up (my 36th birthday, yes I had to do the math, secretly hoping I was turning only 35) and headed to an indoor water park called Aqualand. (exactly how a 36 year old female would want to spend her special day, right?).


 Watersides, whirlpools and lazy rivers. I didn’t take any interior shots, and that’s ok. We spent eight hours tiring out the kids before heading back to the apartment for a quick pizza dinner and OMG bed.


On Monday (Piper’s 10th birthday), the plan was to pack up and head to Bonn, about 25 minutes south-ish to the Haribo Factory Store.

 At the haribo factory outlet store!


We knew going in that they didn’t do tours of the actual factory given that it’s a food facility, but our research said the destination wasn’t to be missed regardless. Guys, I don’t even really like candy, but I have a soft (or shall I say sticky) spot for Haribo gummies.

I love them. Open a bag, finished it within the afternoon. Not sharing, hands of momma’s chewies.


We spent around 45 minutes and 30 euros at the store, walking out with an epic assortment. And yes, there’s a nice sized kids area which includes some gummy bear history and memorabilia to look at and kill a few some time (aka where I sent the family while I finished up shopping).
free kiddo ride at the haribo factory.

Clutching our bags of sweets, we headed back to Belgium by way of the autobahn (holy speed, batman!) to conclude the celebration weekend. Piper decided to forgo a traditional birthday cake and instead chose German “berliners” for her evening celebration.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 8.45.29 PM

Kid, it’s been a good 10 years. We had a great weekend, and I hope you always remember your 10th birthday spent in beautiful Germany. Cheers to many more crazy adventures…




  1. Yay! that you posted. Love reading about your family adventures. xoxo
    chrisgharmon recently her own time


  2. So did you break down and buy all the kids new coats or did you manage to snag those that were unintentionally packed away into USA storage? Happy birthday to you both!!


  3. Maybe you can shed some light on my problem.My ex baislalcy went out of town for 2 months for work. I had family visiting, my grandma had passed away a month before and I wasn’t too healthy. Anyways I baislalcy didn’t talk to her that much, there was maybe even a week where I didn’t contact her on msn or call as much. We texted quite a bit, then family visiting us leave and I talk to her on msn. She baislalcy says she doesn’t feel the same way and wants us to break up. She was staying in a house with 4-5 other people renting and one of the guys she didn’t like at all, she became close with as friends. But she then told me she needs space and what not and I as a common mistake panicked and texted non stop and cried and what not.I gave her 2-3 days of space at a time thinking I would lose her to this guy if I took away all contact. The week she was supposed to get back was the week of our anniversary, sadly I forgot the date that pissed her off even more. Next thing I know shes back and I text her the next day, where she says she wont meet me in person. I pressure her too and next thing I know she tells me shes with someone else now and how he treats her better than I ever did and all this stuff of how she will marry this guy next year, yet me and her have been going out for 3 yrs at this point. She did at the end say she was with no one and just wants me to move on. I’ve never seen her so angry or cold towards me ever. We have had fights, but mostly on MSN or text, but when we meet in person we always resolved them and just had fun in person. This is the first time shes avoiding me in person. It’s now been almost a month and we have not talked at all. I decided to go NC, and after the fight she did block me on facebook. She also fought with my sister on the phone and text, since she promised my sister she would always talk to her even if we broke up. But that didn’t happen, as well as I made a stupid comment about her cheating on me on FB and I think that made her block me. I recently saw her on MSN maybe 3-4 days ago, I was online she comes online for 1-2 mins. My heart was pumping I thought she would say something, but she didn’t and then went off. As far as I can tell from MSN’s options she has not deleted me off her msn contacts list. It’s possible she blocked me though on it, but I’m still on her list. I just found it odd, that she blocks me on FB, but after 3 weeks comes on msn? Was it to test me to see if I would message her? Or to put it in my face that shes around still?


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