5 Fun Facts for Family Fahren!
Tip #1: FLIGHT
Borrow (if you have a contact in Munich) or rent as much baby gear as possible so you don't have to carry it on the plane. We borrowed a pack 'n play and stroller, which worked out great! The one thing that didn't work to borrow was a car seat. We brought our own because Lyra just turned one and we wanted to keep her rear-facing. In Germany, it's not a law like it is in America. That freaked out our American sensibilities because, well, safety first!
We bought an amazing invention we found on Amazon called the Roll 'n Go Car Seat Transporter. You hook the wheels onto the carseat and wheel your baby through the airport. It was perfect since we didn't bring our stroller (again, we borrowed one when we arrived!)
Babies love to gnaw on pretzels! These are cheap and easy to find anywhere in Bavaria. Hand one to your baby in the stroller and keep them distracted for hours. Lyra was also obsessed with sausages and Leberkäse, which is like a hot dog smashed together. On a snack note, pouches are available in Europe too! Stop at DM or Rossmann (they're drugstores) and stock up if your baby is into pureed food. And while you're at it, grab some diapers and wipes. It's your one-stop shop for all your baby needs.
Germans are law-abiding folks. While riding the U-bahn, there are some escalators where you're allowed to take your strollers and some where you're not. I haven't figured out the magical formula of why that is, but your best bet is to look for the stroller symbol with a slash through it on the bottom side as you step on.
If you're like me, and you notice the sign as you're already alighting, prepare for a lot of disapproving stares. I never got thrown in jail though, so I figure it's okay. When in doubt, you can always follow the stroller-wielding German mothers. They know what's allowed and what isn't.
Also, good luck finding U-bahn elevators. They exist, but often you find yourself standing on the wrong corner of the street.
There also seems to be no discernible trick for trams, our preferred method of transportation. Strollers are supposed to ride in the very back of the car- there's a special place set aside just for you! If you're desperate, you can ride in the front where the wheelchairs go. But don't try to get on in the middle! You'll see the dreaded stroller sign. And just when you think you've figured out the pattern, a new tram appears with a totally different configuration with a slash-through symbol!
They say when you become a mother it changes everything. Well, one thing that seems to have changed for me is that I have less tolerance for grouchy Germans glaring at me!
As we were riding the train to Salzburg I may have snapped at one point, "oh, I'm sorry, was my child's existence bothering you?!" Whoops. Mama Lion alert. Max definitely shrunk down into his seat for that one. Luckily, in this case, I don't think the English translated.
Germans aren't too into babies. Apparently, the culture frowns upon interfering with one another's parenting methods. So if you want your baby to be admired and have their toes tickled, go to France, or even better, Italy. In those places it takes a whole village to raise a child. In Germany, you just get scolded. I had to curb my instincts to play peek-a-boo with random babies when I was out and about around town. Not that everyone's a total grump. I've caught the occasional shy smile directed Lyra's way, and she made best friends with a grandpa on a boat.
Tip #5: FUN
One thing Germany does really well is playgrounds. Probably because (again with those safety sensibilities!) they aren't afraid of being sued. There are amazing 2-story slides, rock climbing walls, and other structures (from which you could fall to your death), to name a few fun features. We went on a play date with Baby Sabine to Josephsplatz and there was even a baby play area behind the big kid park. It was huge! And amazing.
My favorite playground through was in the Augustiner Keller Biergarten because there are tables set up on the side of the playground where adults can eat, drink, and be lazy while keeping one eye on their children who are running amok and having a grand ol' time playing with each other, but also zig-zagging back to their parents to grab the occasional french fry and Apfelshorle for dinner.
don't fear international travel with a baby! The plane ride might be hellish, but you'll find that children adjust better to the time change than you do, and love being exposed to new sights and sounds (and especially tastes). Not to mention that the European baby clothes are so cute! Expect to drop a bundle...
As long as you stick to your nap schedule to the best of your ability (when in a pinch, recline your stroller all the way and cover it with a jacket), it'll be smooth sailing! And maybe their first word will be "Servus".