As most know, Dan and I have birthdays one day apart-so we often like to take a weekend getaway to celebrate (we kind of peaked at our first joint birthday celebration in 2004 when he surprised me with a trip to Paris and proposed!) But I digress….
This year, we decided to “stay local” in which I mean we decided to spend the weekend a quick two hour drive to the Black Forest! We have a lot of upcoming trips so we knew a quick weekend in the off season would be economical.
After scouring the internet to find the perfect place, we found this gem:
We stayed in Cabin #4, a two bedroom fully modern but all log cabin for only 165 Euros for all three nights! The cabin is located on a family farm and has all the quaint touches of Bavarian life (including the agricultural fragrance if you open a window!!) When we arrived Gisela gave us a tour and sold us milk, eggs, jam and apple juice all made right at the farm! It was a perfect for breakfast the next morning. The only negative experience we had was the wifi. It literally only worked if you stood in the master bedroom and stuck your head out the window. I wouldn’t mind a weekend where I disconnect, but in this day and age-who wants to miss a Facebook birthday!? Of course I’m kidding (kind of).
The cabin came with lots of toys and Nathan had a blast taking them all out and destroying the pristine cleanliness of the cabin immediately. (Can you blame him-other people’s toys are way better than your old toys). But as dinner got closer, Nathan started acting tired and fatigued. He laid on the couch and didn’t move with his ears getting red. As this was happening I had a flashback of earlier that morning when I literally picked up the children’s advil and said to myself “it’s just a quick weekend, we won’t need it.” BOOM. I jinxed us just like that.
So Dan left the cabin (which was kind of out in a remote place on a single lane road) in the dark and drove into town for food, a thermometer and medicine. By the time Dan got back, Nathan was acting normal and his temperature was about 99 so we figured he was fine and maybe just tired. We gave him a dose of the medicine and he immediately threw up. Having nothing else to give him, he went to sleep and we hoped for the best the next day. He woke up in the middle of the night and I decided to give him more medicine, although he begged that I wouldn’t because he didn’t want to throw up again. I wasn’t convinced it was the medicine (it was ibuprofin). I was wrong. I forced him to take it and he threw up again. I felt pretty much like the worst mom ever. At that point, there was nothing to do but put him back to bed. He seemed ok and we hoped for the best.
The next day-my birthday-Nathan was totally fine. He had no fever and was acting 100% normal. Since it was my day, I got to decide our itinerary for the day. Back in 2006, Dan and I took a trip to the Black Forest and went to the big touristy Cuckoo Clock shop in the town of Triberg but we didn’t buy one and I had regretted it ever since. All I wanted for my birthday was a cuckoo clock. Additionally, Triberg is home to a famous waterfall, and back in 2006 we stopped here on the way to our next hotel and it was too late and dark to see the whole waterfall. So I had two missions: See the waterfall and buy a cuckoo clock. I completed 1.5 of this mission.
The Black Forest gets kind of cold in February and it was snowing. It makes for gorgeous photos for sure, but it does not make it easy to get to the waterfall. As soon as we arrived in Triberg we knew we were in trouble because the parking lot for the town was mostly covered in snow and not plowed. We parked on a small area that had been plowed. Nathan was immediately freezing (this is a kid who never wears a jacket-kind of exactly like me when I was a kid in the snowy tundra we call Chicago). But Nathan had never felt cold like this (the Rhine is much more mild in its winter). He wanted nothing to do with this cold.
The waterfall has three areas you can hike to so we initially tried accessing the high point of the but it was snowed in. This is as close as we got:
So after driving back to the snowed in parking lot, we walked to the lowest waterfall. This would be the exact same one we saw in 2006. I wanted to see the ones we missed in 2006. Well, at least it was light out and we could actually see it. It was actually quite beautiful in the snow.
Afterwards, we made our way to the cuckoo clock where I bought this beauty:
This area is known for its thermal baths so we though a perfect way to spend the late afternoon would be to take Nathan swimming. After lunch we started googling and discovered that all the thermal spas close to us didn’t allow children or were nude only (I am just not that brave). Germans LOVE to be naked in a thermal spa but I can’t get past my Americana culture and show off my bits to complete strangers. (Maybe “show off” is the wrong word, more like horrify the natives with my post pregnancy body). But I digress again….
So we decided to head back and relax in the cabin and hope Nathan wouldn’t come down with the same weird illness as the night before. Sure enough, around 6PM, Nathan started acting funny again. But since the night before he was fine after an hour, we decided to push it and go to the local town and have a birthday dinner. It wasn’t the best plan. Nathan actually spent the entire meal asleep on my lap (so it was kind of like having a a dinner date with the hubs) but I felt guilty the entire time I was scarfing down my birthday sundae (ok maybe I enjoyed it a little). Also dinner was in this local kind of adorable place where I basically had a ham and egg and hash brown skillet for dinner (yum!).
So in Germany, there are no 24 hour Walgreens pharmacies. Nathan definitely had a fever now and it was well past the hours that the apotheke was open. I texted my local friend who has been an encyclopedia of information for me since moving here and as always-she kind of saved the day. I learned that there are 24 hour apotheke’s but you just have to find them. There is a website in which you can locate the one nearest you. This was brilliant.
We showed up and the lights were out and it looked pretty closed to me. I texted my friend again and she told me you have to ring the bell. So I stood outside this apotheke, rang the bell and a woman appears. She wouldn’t let me in, we spoke in between a gate that was up. It was freezing and she didn’t speak english. I was desperately trying to convey that the medicine we had was making my son sick-so she was trying to give me anti-nausea medicine when all I wanted was a different form of tylenol. At one point she handed me an ibuprofin suppository. If you have met my four year old, you pretty much know that wasn’t happening. (I mean I don’t really know what 4 year old would approve of a suppository but I sure as hell wasn’t giving him one). The conversation wasn’t going well because of my limited german and she left for a few minutes and came back with a translator (hurray!). Turns out they didn’t have any other brand except the one making Nathan sick, but she honestly would not let me leave without the suppository for nausea. I didn’t even want the suppository to break the fever but somehow I left with an anti nausea suppository!? What!? So if anyone needs any, I have an unopened box…I promise not to judge (maybe).
So we basically left with nothing. Not so brilliant after all. Nathan had a high fever at this point but was asleep. (103). My local friend came to the rescue again and told me about a home remedy called calf wrapping. I’ve learned since living here that home remedies combined with modern medicine are the norm so I decided to give it a try and if it didn’t break his fever, we would take him to the hospital.
Calf wrapping is exactly what it sounds like. You take a cold wet rag and wrap his calves and then a dry wool towel (we used Dan’s scarf and a dry towel) and put it over the cold rag. This is intended to draw out the fever. We did it twice and took his temperature both times and it was down from 103 to 100 in 20 minutes. Nathan mostly slept through it (except he didn’t like the cold rags). We decided we would wake him every three hours and do the calf wrapping again if needed. He never needed it. His fever stayed down and he was totally fine for the rest of the trip! Calf wrapping=a miracle. Happy Birthday to me.
Dan’s birthday had a different kind of excitement. We decided to try to find a thermal spa that allowed kids and wasn’t naked. We found one about an hour away and as is typical with us, we took the quickest google maps route. It was through twisty mountain roads in the snow. So that was awesome. It did actually have beautiful views though. It also had an early fasching parade happening to half the town had road closures. We finally found the spa and it had a big slide and a kiddie pool. Nathan was pretty much in heaven. He loves swimming and I’ve been taking him to lessons so he is getting pretty good. We didn’t want to push it too much because we weren’t sure if he was still sick, so it was the only thing we did all day. We also raced the sunset to get out of the twisty mountain road-and Dan the amazing driving-literally drove out of the mountains as the last speck of sunlight left the building.
Dan’s birthday dinner was across the courtyard from where we had my birthday dinner and Nathan was awake and happy for it. It was a fancier place and was pretty delicious. I had what was basically a mushroom peirogi and Dan had goulash. Dessert was divine-hello chocolate lava cake and apfel strudel. It was a great dinner with a happy, healthy kid.
The next day, we packed up to leave and decided to check out the small town of Gengenbach (where we had dinner the last two nights), because we hadn’t seen it during the day and it had a most adorable town square. The highlight of my morning came when we decided to hit the bakery before driving home to order some sandwiches for the road. Nathan doesn’t speak a lot of german in front of us because we don’t speak it and he is smart enough to know the difference. So when I told him to order his food in german I did not expect him to be able to actually do it. He looked at the lady behind the counter and told her Ich mochte eine Brezel und ein keks bitte. (I would like a pretzel and a cookie please). My mind was blown. Nathan is bilingual. Since then his german has really exploded. He now likes to play a game in which he pretends to be his friends so he can speak to me in german. It’s surreal. It was an awesome way to end a mostly awesome weekend (you know, minus the vomit and fever).
Oh and we decided to try Black Forest cake since we were in the Black Forest…it’s still disgusting. Even from the native land.
Side note: True story. Dan took Nathan sledding in front of the farm while I was in the cabin. Nathan went careening down a little hill and was thisclose to sliding right into a river over a cliff that Dan didn’t notice. So that was fun for them. But they got to see some pigs and sheep down there too, so it wasn’t all a fail.
Next time: Journey back to Italy-this time a week in Umbria!