Sunday, June 30, 2013

Taking on a 12 Day German Vacation Pregnant

Our bags are unpacked and our dog is happy again.  Our Germany vacation is over.   This trip was a unique trip for a few reasons.  One it was our first “group tour” experience, two it was the longest trip we’ve ever taken, and finally, I was 7 months pregnant.
Posing for the 28 week bump picture in Frankfurt, Germany after a full day of traveling.
Before leaving for the trip I was confident that I was still going to attend the trip and enjoy it as much as possible.  I wasn’t going to let my pregnancy stop me from traveling, and experiencing this country.  Luckily my body, and the baby, cooperated with my determination and I felt pretty good the entire trip despite the large amount of time spent traveling (on air and on bus) and walking through cobblestone streets and up 18th century castle stairways; however there were a few factors that helped me maintain my health and also contributed to the few physical stresses of traveling while pregnant.
1.) A  4 hour bus ride, 3 hour airport wait, 8 hour plane ride and another hour on a bus = my first experience of swollen feet and ankles.  Throw in some 90 degree weather and it was the icing on the cake to turn my feet and ankles into cantaloupe size body parts.  The extremely warm temperature apparently is very rare for Germany, and thankfully we only had to endure this heat for about four days of the trip.  During that time though, I experienced the stiffness, and discomfort that comes along with having your feet swell up like a blowfish.  The other people on the group were great and allowed me to occupy the very back of the bus for the majority of the trip so I could prop my feet up, preventing them from swelling due to the heat and constant walking.
Surviving the heat wave ... taking in the sights at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, Germany.
2.)  6:15 wake-up call every day (remember we were 7 hours ahead of Central Time in Germany so it was really more like a 11:15 p.m. wake-up call) and traveling, exploring and eating dinner as a group until about eight o’clock every evening made for an exhausting vacation.  Our tour group leader was a wealth of knowledge about the history of Germany and country in general, but with the schedule we were on and the baby sucking all my energy I usually spent the hours on the bus traveling to the different stops asleep.  I think the other group members got used to my snores pretty quickly; however if we would not have had the travel time on the bus I would have been a walking zombie with a majorly bad attitude.
3.) German, and European for that matter, air conditioning is not what it is in the states!  The first day we arrived in our extremely warm hotel room, turned on the “air conditioning” and waited for the wonderful invention to do its magic.  That never happened.  Although it did cool the room down a little bit, I spent the majority of the trip sleeping on top of the covers and took a few cold showers during the first portion of the trip when the heat was at its worst.  I learned a new appreciation for American air conditioning standards on this trip!
4.) Another thing I learned to appreciate on this trip: soft, comfortable mattresses and fluffy pillows.  During one of our stops we spent two nights in a family run hotel in a small village.  The village and hotel were adorable and a great experience.  What wasn’t a great experience?  Sleeping (or trying to sleep) on the beds in our rooms and an extremely flat pillow.  The beds were actually two twin beds pushed together.  They were positioned extremely low to the ground, which made it difficult to pull myself off the bed to get up.  The comfort on a scale of one to ten was probably a one.  It was like sleeping on the ground.  I woke up those two mornings with a major backache.  My complaint wasn’t just from being pregnant either.  JC thought the beds were extremely uncomfortable along with the majority of the people on the tour.  Thankfully we only stayed two nights in this hotel.
5.) A few times I had to suck in my pride and determination to experience everything at all of our stops and let JC tackle certain sites on his own while I waited.  I missed out on a few towers and picturesque views because I knew that I should stay behind for my physical wellbeing along with the baby's.  I don’t feel I missed out on much though; JC was good about taking lots of pictures and filling me in on the few things that I opted out of.
29 weeks pregnant at Neuschwanstein Castle.
Even though I had a few factors that made traveling more difficult than it normally is for me, I still had a wonderful time and am glad I didn’t listen to those people who said was I “brave” for traveling, hinting that I shouldn’t go or were concerned about me going in “my condition.”  I knew my limitations and made sure that I tried to stay within those limitations so that I could keep myself and the baby healthy and still enjoy the long 12 days of travel.  I am extremely thankful that JC and I have been walking just about every evening throughout my pregnancy.  If I hadn’t been doing this it would have made the trip even more difficult.  The trip was by far the most intensive trip we’ve taken due to the amount of travel and sightseeing we took part in.
The group we went with was great about asking how I was feeling and doing anything they could to make me feel comfortable and taken care of.  The tour group participants were so thoughtful and caring.  I’m thankful they were always looking out for me – and my husband did an okay job at that as well!
I’ll be posting more about Germany and it’s food, historical sites, and the trip in general over the next few weeks!

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