Monday, February 21

Tropical Islands, Berlin

Ya know how we had to cancel that family Disney cruise this summer? Well, we tried to make it up to the kids by planning a kid vacation. Outside of Berlin, there’s a huge air hangar that has been turned into a tropical island experience. We figured the kids would love it and we could also show the kids the sights of Berlin since Easton’s class studied Germany’s reunification this past fall.

This will go down as a trip of infamy in some respects as you'll soon see. First off though, Ryan was notified last Monday that he needed to be in San Diego for meetings beginning on Tuesday, Feb 22. We weren’t returning until Monday afternoon from Berlin which meant he’d have to leave our vacation early and I’d be on my own with the kids in Berlin for a day and the return flight. Not a huge deal since Ryan and I feel pretty familiar with Berlin from our trip in 2009.

But Ryan’s passport went through the wash. Luckily he was able to get processed Wednesday for a temporary on base but still had to miss our flight to Berlin on Thursday morning so he could drive two hours up to Frankfurt and get the temporary issued. Poor guy, this was such a stressful experience! Meanwhile, I flew alone with the kids and luggage for the hour flight . . . and we had to leave the house at 4:30am. That was fun! The kids absolutely loved the flight and McKay's face was one of pure joy the entire ride! I heard a few chuckles from passengers who understood his exclamations now and then. Morgan was his echo because she must always have the last word.

After getting his temporary issued in Frankfurt, Ryan drove the remaining five hours to Berlin to join us at Tropical Islands. While Ryan was driving, I wasn’t able to check into our Novasol vacation rental until a later hour so the kids and I headed to the Islands on our own. The kids had a heyday, I was wiped out! The kids spent four hours straight in just the kiddy pool.

Morgan loved the slide while McKay and Easton loved this huge inverted cone that would fill with water until it tipped and soaked everyone below. There were also lots of different fountains and the water was nice and warm until you got out and got chilled – not my favorite!

Four hours later, we met up with Ryan at the rental and did our grocery/stock apt with necessities run, made dinner, and played some fun games of UNO with the kids. I think UNO was the highlight of the trip for me! Realizing Easton has a full grasp of the game and loves to be silly and stick it to us; seeing Ryan melt as he dealt Morgan in and her sweetly say “take-you” for each card; and having McKay just want to snuggle up to his daddy but still be a part of the banter. We all then collapsed into our beds at 8:30 happy to be all together again.

On Friday, we enjoyed a full day at the water park. The kids absolutely loved it and were so easily entertained they would never have left if we’d been up for it. The park is open 24/7 and when we left at 8:30pm there were all sorts of young people just arriving.

We stayed in one of the vacation homes just across the street from the park and were very pleased with our choice. The converted hangar is quite isolated in its location for a good 10 miles or so and so we loved the convenience of these adjacent homes. We found the price pretty reasonable as well since our overnight stay also included park admission. Inside the park, everything is charged to bracelets you wear and you settle the bill at checkout. I can imagine settling the bill can be a bit scary for those who don’t keep track of all their fun! Because our kids were perfectly content to swim and play, we saved a lot by hitting the grocery store and packing our food into the park. The one meal Ryan and I did eat there was not very impressive while the kids were thrilled with their gelato. There’s plenty of other activities and costs inside the park if you’re up for it such as a hot air balloon ride, spa services, water slides, lockers, and such.

With Ryan there, the kids wanted to swim with dad so that’s what we did!

Ryan tossed the boys around in the water, we did many rounds of Morgan’s favorite motorboat game, and we tried all the different pool areas. Easton’s favorite was the base of a waterslide. He’d watch carefully for someone coming down and then position himself to be pushed back by their wave and the current. He especially loved including McKay in his fun and it was so fun to watch them enjoy it together!

After the pools, we took the kids to the playground area. Trampolines, paddle boats, jungle gyms of different sizes, go karts, and air hockey were the favorites.

I seriously don’t know how they were still standing by the end of the day! When it was time to go home, we had two mishaps. Easton had lost his bracelet and while his bracelet couldn’t accrue charges, we still needed to find it. Ryan and Easton went off to look for it and they tell me that Easton wanted to say a prayer. After the prayer, they asked for help from a staffmember and as it happens, someone had turned his bracelet in to the lost and found! Each person’s bracelet has a number so it’s pretty easy to track in their computer system.

However, back in the lockers we had a bigger problem. Our stuff was missing – our coats, boots, clothes, my wallet, our key to the rental home and car. I was on the verge of tears more than once between imagining worst case scenarios like someone breaking into the house and taking our laptops and passports, thereby stranding us and jeopardizing Ryan’s work trip, to just feeling like an exhausted baby who needed to go to bed! Once again our prayers were answered and our things had been taken to the lost and found because our locker hadn’t locked securely. We sure were blessed beyond measure!!!

For those interested in the vacation homes at Tropical Island:

There are two hiccups we encounter with vacation rental homes. For instance, you never know what necessities will be on site and which to bring. This one had linens available to rent per day including a bed sheet, duvet cover, pillow case, bath towel and a face towel. But there was no toilet paper, hand soap, dish soap or kitchen towels or rags. This Novasol also had the added feature of having to note your water, gas, and electricity usage for invoicing afterwards. Upon arrival and departure, you note the meter readings. It made me feel like the utility Nazi! I began noticing all the lights we kept on, how long and hard the water ran when the kids washed hands or brushed their teeth, and the heating settings in each room. Too bad I’m not as vigilant with this at home! The guys that run the front office for Novasol were really fun and tried to keep things light, which must be a gift as people settle their utility and park bracelet bills on departure with them! They were so amazed at our measely 48 euro bracelet total and just had to know my secret which was simply that our youngin’s don’t like to eat out much and were perfectly content with the offerings covered by our admission!