Day Out with Thomas the Train

A few weeks we ventured up to Baltimore’s B&O Railroad Museum for their “Day Out with Thomas” event. This was our first visit to the museum, and if you have a train lover in your family, this place would be a must do in the area!

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There were so many different train cars to see and explore. Many of them were set up to let kids go inside, climb around, push buttons, and see what real train cars are really like. Other cars had model train displays set up in them. The Thomas event set up different stamping stations all over the museum where the kids could stamp their paper passports they were given.

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Miniature train display even had Thomas!

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Once it was time for our train ride we got in line and walked up onto the platform to board. It was all open seating and the train had been decorated with little flags. The train ride itself was a little…meh. The train wasn’t in the best condition with some seats being covered by some dingy looking cloth covers. Our window had a big crack in it where it looked like it either was hit by a rock or a bb gun pellet. They played Thomas music which was fun for the kids who knew it and also passed out certificates to all the kids riding. The scenery was bleak at best. The area around the B&O museum was littered with trash and graffiti. I think the ride would’ve been more fun in a more scenic area. It was rather quick at just 25 minutes. I am also comparing this in my mind to the steam train ride we did at Roaring Camp Railroad in California. That train ride was much more enjoyable for me.

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After the train ride, we had a chance to wait in line for one of two photo ops with Thomas, either from the side or right in front of him. We chose the side view. It was nice they had two lines going at once to get as many people photos in a timely manner. Then we had plenty more time for a carousel ride, some bouncy houses, and playing on a playground. It didn’t take long for the kids to spot the ice cream truck so we got a couple cups of soft serve and sat down near the magic show to eat.

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All in all I think this is a great event for kids who are super into Thomas and/or trains. My son was excited to see Thomas, but he’s not *that* into it. We didn’t know the songs, and he didn’t recognize Sir Toppham Hat who was also there for photos. My daughter’s favorite thing about the day was the bouncy houses, lol. So for that reason, if your kids are not die-hard Thomas fans, I might consider skipping this one. At $100 for our family of 4, I found it to be a little much for kids who were probably just as happy to go to the bouncy house as they were to see Thomas. I will say that we went with friends of ours whose kids LOVE Thomas and I think they had a really great time. There were a good variety of other things going on besides just the train ride to keep the kids entertained. We spent about 4 hours total at the event. Have you been to see Thomas before? How was your experience?

Day Out With Thomas

Crazy Train to Berlin

It was time for another four day getaway, this time with our good friends R, K, and Baby E.  This was our first trip together since Morocco and our first one all together with the babies!  We bought our train tickets 90 days in advance, getting us a great deal on prices.  We thought the train would be a much more relaxing way to travel vs. driving two cars.  For the most part it was, but we ran into some hiccups along the way.

We had taken a regional train to Mannheim where we switched to an ICE train (fast train) to Berlin.  We had reserved a cabin so that we could all sit together and have our own little contained space.  It was a circus getting on and seated because we were four adults, two babies, two big strollers, lots of suitcases, bags of food, diaper bags…you get the idea.  Traveling light is much more difficult now.  So once we finally got the bags stored, the strollers broken down, babies situated, it was time for mimosas!

R popping the champagne in the hallway.
Hubby mixing the celebratory mimosas.

We had just toasted to our trip and taken our first sips when over the intercom we noticed an announcement in German talking about Berlin and the next station.  Not getting a good feeling, we also notice that the hallway has filled with people in line to get off the train.  Since we weren’t supposed to stop until Berlin, this was a little odd.  Next thing we know they repeat the announcement in English telling all passengers for Berlin to get off the train at the next station-the train was terminating.  Great.  So we start rushing around to gather bags, put strollers back together, put coats on, and juggle red cups of mimosas.  We hurriedly made our way off the train onto the platform asking a Deutsche Bahn employee what we were supposed to do.  They told us to go a couple tracks over and get on that train to Berlin.  So we rush over there, and make it on the train with only a few minutes to spare.  The only problem was, now there were people in our “reserved” cabin who were insisting it was their reserved cabin.  Meanwhile, the train is moving, K and I are stuck in the hallway with our strollers blocking anyone from passing through. The guys are separated from us trying to ask another employee what’s going on.  We didn’t realize we had been told to get on another train for Berlin that was already full.  So everyone from our train has now double packed this already full train.  Great.  So now people are not only staring at us for blocking the aisle (from which we didn’t have room to move forward or backward), they have decided to try and push past us to get to the restroom.  One lady even had the nerve to tell us we shouldn’t be standing there when clearly there was no way to go anywhere else…geez!  Hubby had found another conductor who said we could take our chances looking for an empty cabin in another car, or get off at the next station and get on the next train which was our original train resuming it’s course.  We opted to get off and wait for the sure thing where our seats were guaranteed.  After this whole ordeal we got settled again and enjoyed the rest of the ride, but it got off to a crazy start.

Looking a little worn after finally getting settled…for the 2nd time.

We got into Berlin later than expected and basically only had time to check into our hotels and freshen up before meeting up again for our visit to the Reichstag building, home of the German Bundestag (Parliament).  This requires a reservation, so make sure you schedule it in advance!

We didn’t tour the whole building but just went up into the glass dome.

Starting up the spiral walkway.

We got audio-guides that would have you stop and look out over the city, explaining different landmarks and history of the city.  All the while you walk up you can see the giant mirror covered cone in the center of the dome.  At the bottom you can see down into the room where the government officials sit and do business.

The dome was really an interesting way to start the trip.  We got to see the whole city all lit up and got a brief overview of some history.  Not bad for a free entry!  After this tour we were ready to eat!  The Reichstag building is very close to the Brandenburg Gate, so we walked that direction to see it all lit up and then found a restaurant nearby.  Berlin is known for adding flavored syrups to their weissbier, so when we saw it on the menu, we had to try it.  I tried grapefruit, and Hubby tried white peach.

Yum, fruity beer!

Hubby decided one fruity beer was enough and then opted for the much more manly “meter of beer.”

A good start to our weekend in Berlin!

After our biers we were ready for some rest. It was a quick U-bahn ride back to our hotel where we turned in for the night to get ready for our next big day in Berlin!

Roaring Camp Railroads

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If you live within an hour of Felton, CA and have little ones that like trains, this is the place for you! Just about 45 min-1 hour away from where we live is Roaring Camp Railroads. It is a popular place to go for a steam train ride. We’ve heard about it since we arrived in Monterey, but just recently made it up there. We hemmed and hawed about whether to do it or not (the tickets aren’t exactly cheap) and we weren’t sure if our daughter would get much out of it. Recently we had a group of friends that wanted to do it, so we jumped on the bandwagon and decided to do it too.

There are different options of train rides. The one we did was a 90 minute round trip ride through the redwood forest. There is also an option that takes you out to the Santa Cruz boardwalk and back. They do various other special rides throughout the year too like holiday rides and Thomas the Train rides.

When we arrived at the station, I was surprised to see how many buildings were there. There was a ticket booth, a general store, and several little play houses and photo cut outs for kids to play with. Plenty to entertain the littles while you wait for the train.

The train itself was open air, meaning no roof over your head. It makes for a great view, but a chilly ride, so bundle up! We boarded the train and off we went! We chose the first car, right behind the engine. The kids were all very excited and loved riding the train and hearing the whistle. We rode 45 minutes through the woods up to a little stop where we got off with just enough time for a potty break and some pictures before heading back down to the main station. There was also some entertaining narration, giving us the history of the area and pointing out special things along the ride.

Everyone really had a fun time and we were glad we forked out the money to do it (about $75 for 3 tickets). The kids all loved it and talked about it for days afterward. After our ride was over, we hung out near the station. Our friend bought some duck food and we went over to the pond to feed the ducks. Some kids like ducks, and then there are kids like my daughter who think it’s normal to try to pick the ducks up to hold them, as if they were her pets. Yikes, don’t forget the hand sanitizer!

After we had exhausted our duck feed supplies, we stopped into the nearby town of Felton for lunch. We ate at The Cremer House. I would happily eat there again anytime! The food was great, and they also brew their own beers and artisanal sodas. The one I had was Grapefruit Mint-yum! We sat on the patio and munched on burgers, sandwiches, pretzels and fries.

Check out the website for Roaring Camp Railroads HERE. And if you’re looking for a good place to eat when you’re up there, stop by The Cremer House.