Bucketlist2Life

Our favorite travels with our parents-in-law and parents as adults

Author Carina Klein
Carina
· 8 min read · 10 comments

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TL;DR

Explore northern Germany with my family and experience Denmark with Philipp's family.

With German Mother's Day (9th of May) and Father's Day (13th of May) approaching, I want to use this blogpost to honor our vacations with our respective parents and parents-in-law. When you google "travel with family in law" you'll get plenty of "how to survive" guides. This blogpost is a different genre: This is solely an account of our great holidays with our beloved parents and parents-in-law.

Neuharlingersiel, Germany

Our family has been exploring our home state of Lower Saxony for generations. My favorite family holiday took us to Neuharlingersiel at the North Sea, where we revisited places from my grandparents' holidays, my parents' holidays, and my childhood holidays with three generations of the family. My family is very much into sightseeing so here are some of our favorite spots. Come to East Frisia with us, the northwesternmost part of Germany right on the North Sea coast.

Explore Neuharlingersiel

We based ourselves in the quaint little town of Neuherlingersiel, which is the perfect base to explore the surrounding North Sea coast. There's a cute little harbour with loads of fishing boats (don't miss the statue of the old and young fisherman when you're here), a beach, a typical northern German dike, and a Buddelschiff museum (literally a "ship in a bottle" museum – miniature ships, which are constructed inside a bottle with loads of craftsmanship and delicacy). Additionally, it's close to the East Frisian Islands which are definitely worth a visit. The ferry to Spiekeroog runs directly from Neuharlingersiel!

Picture of shadows on a dike in East Frisia
My family on a dike in Neuharlingersiel

Try northern German cuisine

We indulged ourselves in the northern German cuisine. Many people only think about the southern German cuisine with its Schnitzel, sausages, roast meats, and other heavy meaty dishes. But there's another side to German cuisine. Close to the sea, you get loads of fish and seafood dishes like shrimps, fish rolls, and marinated herring – and Labskaus, a dish made from corned beef, potatoes, onion, beetroot, and pickled gherkin.

A real highlight is the Ostfriesentee or East Frisian tea ceremony. You might think about places like Japan when you hear tea ceremony but we in Germany do have our very own version! The tea is a black tea that is mixed from more than 20 types of black tea, with mostly Assam tea. First, you put a Kluntje (a giant – and I mean giant – piece of rock candy) in your cup – listen to the crackling of the sugar when you pour the hot tea over it. Second, add rich cream – but don't ever stir tea! Every sip of tea tastes different whether you're closer to the creamy top or the sugary bottom.

Picture of fish roll at Neuharlingersiel harbour
Fish roll

Go on a hike through the Wadden Sea

The Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park has an area of about 345,800 hectares (1,335 sq mi). It is a large area of tidal flats in the North Sea which dry out twice a day during the low tide period (ebb) and are flooded during the high tide period. It is the second most productive ecosystem of the world after the tropical rainforest. Watch out for the typical lugworm, which lives in a U-shaped tube under the surface of the mud.

Every visit our family puts on their rubber boots and explores the areas close to the coast. If you want to go deeper into the Wadden Sea, you can take a guided tour. There are many tidal creeks, channels in which the water runs from low tide to high tide, which form rapidly and can get deep and dangerous quickly. You can even do a guided hike all the way to the East Frisian islands like Spiekeroog – an 8 km (5 miles) hike. If you prefer a boat tour to a hike, you can spot many seals on the sandbanks of the Wadden Sea.

Picture of rubber boots on mudflat
Hiking the Wadden Sea

Check out some of our family's favorite holiday destinations

Carolinensiel: This town is only 8 km (5 miles) away from Neuharlingersiel. I have very fond memories of my holidays there. The historical museum harbour is super cool. Don't forget to check out Christian Janssen's shop. In this historic little grocery store, you'll find East Frisian goods in an original 50s interior with personal service only – just like your grandma shopped. You can walk or bike 2 kilometers (1.3 miles) along the Harle river to Harlesiel, where you'll find the local beach.

Emden: This is the biggest town in East Frisia. With 1200 years of history, this port city has loads to offer. You can hire a boat and explore the various canals, visit the East Frisian museum, or explore the city center with its typical red brick houses. A special highlight is the Otto Huus – a museum dedicated to one of Germany's most famous comedians – Otto Waalkes. Additionally, you can find Germany's walk of fame – the Hands of Fame – here. It was great fun to compare our hands to soccer player Uwe Seeler, Schlager (a distinctly german version of pop music – love it or hate it) singer Andrea Berg, or – you guessed it – comedian Otto.

Picture of Germany's 'Hands of Fame'
Germany's Walk of Fame

Visit East Frisia's many windmills

Not only the Netherlands has windmills. East Frisia, which borders the Netherlands, does have around 80 windmills itself. One of my favorites is the Seriem windmill. You can visit the mill for free and learn more about the former operation of the windmill. Additionally, there's a Cafe, where you can have an excellent East Frisian tea ceremony.

Picture of Seriem windmill
Seriem windmill

Lemvig, Denmark

Denmark has been Philipp's family's go-to holiday destination for decades. Philipp is the second oldest of five siblings, so a lot of family vacations to Denmark still took place after we moved out - so why not go with them? This year, the first trip to Denmark with the youngest member of our family, our nephew, is going to take place!

These trips are rarely about sightseeing but rather about experiencing the rough Danish weather, the beautiful nature, the delicious foods, and the overall togetherness. Many rituals have formed over the years:

Lemvig town center and harbour

At least once every trip we would walk along the Fjord to the town center of Lemvig. We would stroll through the quaint little streets, have a little snack, and do a little shopping – at least one scarf comes home with us on every trip. On the way, we would walk by the cute little harbour with its picturesque fishing boats. This is also the perfect spot to buy some freshly caught fish for dinner!

Picture of Lemvig town center
Lemvig town center

Sauna and Akvavit

The family often rents a big house with a sauna and a whirlpool close to the fjord so you can warm up after a day in the Danish rough weather before you jump in the ice-cold water of the fjord to cool down again - interrupted by shots of Akvavit schnaps for the adults.

Picture of Limfjord view
View from our balcony

Thyborøn Bunkers and the North Sea

Lemvig itself is located at the Limfjord, but it's also super close to the North Sea. A highlight on the coastline is a series of World War II bunkers in Thyborøn. They were constructed by the German occupiers to protect the entrance of the Limfjord. This place offers a great combination of history to touch with an endlessly long beach. Somehow every time the family visits some members end up frolicking in the cold and rough North Sea waves.

Picture of Thyboron bunkers
Thyborøn beach

Candles and candleholders

Every year, the whole family visits the same candle manufacture to hand draw their candles for the coming year. It's always great fun and a perfect souvenir to remember the holiday by. But the candles also need a candle holder. For that purpose, the family pays a visit to a beach with a lot of course rocks. Some of the flintstones there already have holes in them and hence serve as the perfect natural candleholder.

Picture of rocks and oysters at the beach
Candleholder rock beach

Sweets and pastries

My personal highlight of each trip are the sweets and pastries. We would have heaps of Danish rolls every breakfast and other Danish pastries like Kanelsnegl, Småkager, or Pandekager for every afternoon tea. On every trip to the grocery store, we would visit their candy bar and load up on huge amounts of licorice and wine gums. And of course, we take several bags of Skolekridt, Snöre, and Salmiak home with us.

Picture of licorice and caramel Snöre
Danish licorice

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10 Comments

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Peggy Zipperer

16.05.2021, 23:50

I never associate a coastal town with Germany so this was eye-opening. I love that there is a fishing & seafood industry. Plus, that tea sounds wonderful. Very cool trip! And Denmark, what a lovely family tradition!

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

18.05.2021, 16:57

Keep your eyes open! New article about coastal Germany and all it's delicious goodness coming soon!

John Quinn

16.05.2021, 20:43

You are great Carina, travelling with your in laws. Most people want to run away from them. You’ve shown us some more interesting German gems again. I didn’t know about Frisia and it’s windmills. Would happily take a road trip around there.

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

18.05.2021, 17:00

I think I'm quite blessed with my in laws. They are quite the opposite from the cliche. It's a great place for a road trip for sure ;)

Sue

16.05.2021, 01:39

Family vacations are the best. Great to read about the vacations you take with your families!

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

16.05.2021, 11:31

Thank you! We hope to be able to repeat it soon!

Smalltownplussize Tom

15.05.2021, 12:46

Hi Carina. I can only imagine how your whole family has a nice time together on holiday. I have good memories of of vacations with the in-laws too. A good time for all! I’d love to try Labskaus and other northern German dishes too.

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

15.05.2021, 16:03

I really start to think northern German cuisine needs more representation. New blogpost in the making ;)

Becky Exploring

12.05.2021, 07:48

It's wonderful that you're able to travel with your parents and parents-in-law so well! We do this also and it's so fun to experience a new place with family. I enjoyed hearing about the German tea ceremony. I never would have guessed you don't stir the tea - does the sugar mix in on its own or is it a very sugary last sip? The Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park tidal flats interest me. I've never explored this type of area before and think it would be fun.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

12.05.2021, 10:00

I think the Wadden Sea National Park needs more highlighting! It's such a unique place. And yes, the last sip of the tea is incredibly sugary.

Chalk and cheese travels

11.05.2021, 22:10

What a great post, we did a lot of travelling around Australia with my parents was a lot of fun.
I never realised the mothers day and fathers day were so close together

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Killala Bay a beautiful village in County Mayo Island a great spot for a wander and short stop off. Also a great spot for a spot of fishing.

Carina | Bucketlist2Life

12.05.2021, 09:44

Australia must be a great country to explore with your parents! I think especially father's day is on a different date in most countries...

Lannie

11.05.2021, 15:56

what a lovely family trip. and perfect activities for both you and your parents/in-laws! loved hearing the description of the East Frisian tea ceremony. i can almost hear it crackling!

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

12.05.2021, 09:50

This blogpost made me long for an East Frisian tea ceremony so much that we bought the ingredients and had one at home!

Stefan (BerkeleySqB)

11.05.2021, 14:51

I think it's great to go on trips with your parents and parents-in-law. Ellie and I do the same. Learned more about Germany and German food reading this post, even though I grew up in Munich and lived in various parts of Germany for years, including the North. That Labskaus thingy... looks delicious. I think the Wadden Sea would be absolutely amazing to experience.

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

12.05.2021, 10:24

I think the Wadden Sea needs more online representation! And yes, Labskaus is super delicious although many people are rather reluctant to try it...

Hannah

11.05.2021, 14:47

What a lovely idea for a post ahead of Mother's and Father's day. I love the stories of these small places that are close to your hearts. Thanks for sharing :)

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

12.05.2021, 10:16

Thank you, they are indeed very close to our hearts :)

Gabby Rainville

11.05.2021, 03:53

I want to try that tea with rock candy! Also, that ship in a bottle museum sounds weirdly entertaining.

I still enjoy going on trips with my parents when possible. Living across the country all those years it was fun to meet up and go on trips together instead of just visiting each others homes. My parents' favorite travel spots are London and the Caribbean. I'll happily join them once we feel safe to travel again!

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Carina | Bucketlist2Life

12.05.2021, 10:40

My parents are actually planning to travel our home state Lower Saxony again in June as they will be fully vaccinated but I won't be so I can't join them...