Wednesday, April 13, 2011

On the Bahn with two Kids

For the phenomenal rate of 29 euros (about $45) up to 5 adults can travel the 5 ½ hour train trip between Aschaffenburg and Munich on a Bayern Ticket. Traveling trains in Europe is not really as cheap as American chitchat would lead you to believe. But if you watch the specials, take regional trains (which stop at every dog house), and travel during nonpeak hours, it can be affordable. Navigating all DeutscheBahn information is not easy, and sometimes you end up with surprises even if you plan carefully. For example, on our way back from Munich, we picked up a traveling companion - adult number 3, who happened to be a famous glass artist. He came in handy for all the transfers, as you'll see.

Traveling assistants with piccolini are always a question: umbrella stroller or kinderwagen? Child backpack? Duffle bags? Rolling luggage? Traveling glass artist?

Noah guards the suitcase at top of the steps, while we carry up the BBC. 
There’s no right answer. This time, we squeezed all our clothes and gifts into one rolling suitcase. Fritz was responsible for the suitcase and Noah. I was in charge of Mattias (in the BBC) as well as the baby backpack. We changed trains twice both trips. Sometimes we hauled the BBC up and down flights of steps (Wuerzburg!), sometimes Mattias crawled around the train floor (yuck), sometimes Noah refused to use the train bathroom (when we KNEW he needed to use it), and sometimes we shoved the BBC into really precarious positions. We are a small family, but it still felt like a logistical feat had been accomplished when we finished our train travels.

The kinderwagen (BBC) balanced dangerously on a passenger seat.
There are lots of advantages to the train, however. If you've ever driven on a road without a speed limit - like the autobahn - it requires a lot of attention. I think my german-drivers-training-classes actually recommended that the driver not engage in interesting conversation when driving(!). Even if you, the driver, choose not to drive as fast as your car will go, you need to be constantly aware of the Mercedes, with integrated right-of-way, that appear quite suddenly out of nowhere and will illegally and incessantly blink their lights at you to GET OUT OF THE WAY NOW. Fun! Some Swiss, I hear, take their weekend leisure drives on the autobahns in Germany. But, I digress.

What was my point?  Oh yeah, the train is good for interesting conversations. And relaxing. And when you are taking the really slow trains, they're like airplanes in the States in the 1990s.  In other words, you can spread out and relax, and (being the year 2011) watch something on the iPad.

Five and a half hours of train travel was more difficult for the 1 year old than it was for the 4 year old. Mattias still isn’t walking, but it doesn’t seem to impact his mobility – or his motivation to use his mobility! If only we could have harnessed that mobility to use at the right time and in the right way.

Mattias. The little sign in the upper right corner? No throwing bottles from moving trains.

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