Visitors #2 & #3 came to visit us here in Wiesbaden the last week of January.
We’re so glad my parents were able to make the trip overseas to spend some quality time with us, see where we’ve been living the past few months, explore a little bit of Europe together, and enjoy real German beer.
They arrived just in time before we got too homesick. We moved here back in October so three months had passed since we had seen them…the longest I’d ever gone without seeing my parents!
We kicked off their visit in downtown Wiesbaden.
Fun Fact: Wiesbaden is one of Europe’s oldest spa towns and the name ‘Wiesbaden’ translates to ‘meadow baths’ paying homage to its famous hot springs.
After some much needed coffee to help with the time change, we saw some of Wiesbaden’s main sights…the ‘world’s largest cuckoo clock’, Einheitsmännchen (green unity man statue symbolizing the unity of Germany), the magnificent Marktkirche (neo-Gothic Protestant church), and Kochbrunnen hot springs.
When Ryan got home from work, we celebrated my parent’s visit with a little pre-dinner bubbly and welcomed them the German way with traditional Bavarian cuisine at Weihenstephaner.
Our first day trip destination was Frankfurt. Ryan was at work so I got to show off my public transportation skills and successfully navigated us to and from Frankfurt via train. Who would have thought that I would become so comfortable with train travel?!
There just so happened to be a special Van Gogh exhibit at the Städel Museum. It was our lucky day because Van Gogh is one of my mom’s favorite artists!
While waiting for the exhibit, we tested out our artistic talents and had some fun with the iPhone camera special effects.
After admiring Van Gogh’s cherished artwork, we walked across Frankfurt’s famous love lock bridge and arrived in Römerberg. This medieval town square is lined with half-timbered houses and iconic buildings like Römer, which has been home to Frankfurt’s city hall since the 15th century.
When it came time for lunch, we explored Kleinmarkthalle, an indoor farmer’s market featuring local specailties and international cuisine… fresh produce, meats, cheeses, seafood, wines, sweet treats, anything you can think of. There was even a full pig’s head on display!
Back in Wiesbaden, we took my parents to dinner at one of our favorite Thai restaurants, tried our luck at Spielbank Wiesbaden (one of Germany’s oldest casinos), and ended the night with a glass of wine at another one of our frequented spots.
After a few fun-filled days in Germany, we ventured out of the country and spent the weekend in Brussels!
Ryan and I both have Belgian heritage so it was really cool exploring a part of our history. Even though Brussels is Belgium’s largest city, it was easy to navigate by foot and still felt relatively quaint.
Our first stop was the oh so popular Manneken Pis…a fountain sculpture of a little boy peeing. Still not sure why this is such a big tourist attraction!
We were starving after being on the train all morning, so we ventured into a nearby restaurant called Big Mama and enjoyed some of Belgium’s specialties: mussels, croquettes, frites, meatballs and beer. All were very delicious!
Next up was Grand Place, the main square in Brussels that’s home to beautiful buildings adorned with golden details. One of Brussels’ most popular chocolatiers, Mary, is also located here. We got to sample some chocolates and left with a few sweet treats to bring back home!
Another popular spot in Brussels is the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert shopping arcade, built in the 1940s and lined with luxury boutiques and cafés. Some even say it’s the oldest covered shopping arcade in Europe!
A trip to Brussels wouldn’t be complete without trying the real Belgian waffles. We learned that there are actually two different types…Brussels and Liege. We opted for the light and fluffy Brussels variety from Maison Dandoy. The locals recommend letting the waffle do the talking and not adding any toppings…but we did pass by several sugary covered waffles that looked very enticing.
We needed something to wash down our waffles with so it was time for more Belgian beer. Enter Delirium: an entire ‘village’ devoted to beer. There are actually 8 separate bars. The original, Delirium Café, offers over 2,000 international beers and earned the Guinness World Record in 2004 for the most beers offered!
We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Le Marmiton. I think Ryan ordered mussels at every meal!
Belgium’s capital is definitely one of our new favorite cities.
On our way home from Brussels, we stopped for a quick visit in Cologne. Always making the most efficient use of our time! We tried out the train station luggage storage for the first time. It was like a vending machine that collected your suitcases and spit them back out when you were done. We were all so astonished by this great example German engineering!
Unlike other cities where you have to walk miles before reaching town, Cologne’s main sights are conveniently located right near the train station. The Cologne Cathedral is the first to greet you with its beautiful architecture and design. We were there on a Sunday so we got to see the cathedral during mass.
On our way to the Rhine river, we stopped to smell the roses and snap a few photos with Tünnes and Schäl, bronze figures from Cologne’s puppet theater that are part of the city’s culture and humor.
The row of colored houses in Old Town Cologne might be one of my favorite photo spots in all of Germany. I just love the pastel-colored buildings lined up neatly in front of Great St. Martin Church.
We ate lunch like the locals and sampled a little bit of everything including schnitzel, sausage, goulash, and one of our new favorite beers…Kölsch. This local specialty is only brewed in Cologne and is served in traditional .2 liter glasses specifically for this type of beer. People were drinking it like water. Even though I am not much of a beer (or water) drinker, it was very refreshing!
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Wiesbaden after our action-packed weekend. My parent’s trip was coming to an end, but we had time for one more day trip.
We decided on Heidelberg.
This University town is filled with cobblestone streets and magnificent views. We spent the day exploring Old Town, walking along Old Bridge, and climbing to the top of Heidelberg Castle where we saw the world’s largest wine barrel and the Apothecary Museum.
The last day of my parent’s trip was spent exploring more of downtown Wiesbaden, enjoying cappuccinos at Café Maldaner (one of Wiesbaden’s oldest coffee shops), and walking to the top of Neroberg to see beautiful views of the city.
It was really special showing my parents around our home away from home. Can’t believe we’ll be back home to Michigan in just a few short weeks!