2023.04 Amsterdam and Berlin (Part 3)

The Easter weekend started well, however, not everything worked out as planned.

Rental Car

On the day of our arrival I picked up our rental car because the rental location at the hotel wasn’t open on Good Friday.  Given there were three of us, I elected for an SUV on the expectation of greater comfort and sufficient storage space for the 3 of us. We must have packed a lot, as everything, including us just fit.

This model was a plug-in hybrid, and during our rental we never tried to charge it, but the regenerative braking would deliver enough of a charge to drive for a minute or two exiting parking garages, or neighbourhood streets, before the engine would kick in and power the vehicle.

I enjoy when we rent different vehicles, to get an idea of some luxuries and options available in newer vehicles.  For this vehicle, the massive clear roof was a nice touch, and the funniest part was that it took Little Miss until a sunny day to notice it.  As well, the branding of the shifter by Orrefors was something I didn’t think a crystal manufacturer would partner with a vehicle manufacturer.

The downside about the SUV is it’s limited to 180km/h, so many times on German Autobahns it was going all out.  I would have liked to be able to go faster.  The hardship of driving in the free and clear sections when weather and traffic cooperate. 😀

It took a few hours for us to get to family in Germany.  My cousin was hosting everybody, with her sister, spouse and mother.  It was great to see everybody, as this was the first time in 10 years that my mom had seen them!  With a full house we stayed at a nearby campground that had a few small buildings for rent.  The building we selected was a two bedroom, two bathroom setup, complete with kitchen, living room, and, even laundry.  We opted for this over the hotel in town as it gave us the option to make meals if needed, however our cousin took care of us all too well.

On Saturday, we were all in better spirits tackling the jet lag for the most part.  We joined the family for a late breakfast, and then most of us headed out in separate directions.  Little Miss and I headed out for part of the day.  One cousin and her spouse drove over to the Netherlands, and the kids went to hang out with their friends.  This gave an excellent opportunity for my mom to catch up with her sister-in-law.


First up for us, we returned to the Haribo factory outlet again.

Want some puzzles of candy to go with your candy?

After Haribo we grabbed lunch, and stopped at a grocery store.  It’s impressive that you can purchase wine for less than $5 CAD a bottle.

Even though we aren’t going to buy most things, both of us like to explore the things available in grocery stores.  Like the Kinder branded ice cream novelties:

And since we were visiting during Easter, the sheer variety of seasonal items available for sale!  Lindt definitely doesn’t sell hen, bee, hedgehog (?) or ladybug shaped chocolates in Canada.  After Eight bunnies were also spotted while we scanned the many displays of Easter items.

We did purchase some items and returned to my cousin’s.  Dinner was almost ready, when *CRASH*!


Plain and simple, make sure you have emergency travel insurance when you travel.  We’ve been lucky in which on prior trips each of us had to visit a doctor.  Fortunately for both of us, they were straightforward ailments.  This time around though, my mom fell.  On tiled floor.  My first concern was if she had hit her head on the floor.  Nope.

Then the concern immediately moved to how she landed.  An ambulance was called and soon enough she was on the way to the hospital in Borken.

I’m accustomed to urban hospitals.  Ones that have their ERs constantly filled, if not overflowing with people. Instead this was the opposite.  I didn’t see any other ER patients during our time.  Nobody in the waiting area either.  More impressive was that we arrived just as my mom had returned from receiving an X-ray.  What followed was a quick succession of additional tests (blood, COVID-19, and either MRI or ultrasound).  In fairness we arrived at the hospital about an hour after she left by ambulance as we collected a few items for my mom that she might need while in hospital.

Good news.  She didn’t fracture her hip. 

Bad news, she broke her leg and needed surgery.

As quickly as you’re reading this, another doctor arrived and performed the pre-op screening.  My cousin did translation through this all.  Surgery was planned for sometime Easter Sunday.  An orderly appeared and she was then taken up to her room.  That’s it!  Including the 20-30 minute ambulance ride, this all occurred in less than 4 hours!  My cousin remarked “This is typical.”  Not to us in Canada.

Now this threw a gigantic wrench in our travel plans.  My brother was able to switch his train travel to arrive late in the day on Easter Sunday.

We did enjoy parts of Easter Sunday.  The weather had switched into an almost cloudless beautiful spring day.  We spent the late morning with family watching the children (who are teenagers, if not older) do an Easter egg hunt for candy outside, followed by being entertained by our cousin’s dog who would run routes and routines that were setup for him.

We returned to the hospital after her surgery had finished and was returned to her room.  She was in much better spirits, probably because the medications from the surgery were still in effect.

On Easter Monday we discussed our plans and options, as she wouldn’t be going to Berlin!  The four of us talked and my mom directed us that it wouldn’t be of any use for us to hang around her.  My brother stated he’ll stay to help sort out her care, and recovery plan.  Being fluent certainly helped, as during her stay he got to know her medical professionals as well as the billing department.  This was also the first time since 2019 that they had seen each other.

With that, we were given the okay to continue onward to Berlin.

Now fast forward for most of the week.  We left Berlin a day early to return to Borken and visit.  Over the course of the short workweek, we found out that she wouldn’t be discharged to join us for the 3 days in Amsterdam, and wouldn’t be flying onward to England.  

To summarize everything here:  Her original return date to Toronto was maintained, and she ended up staying in hospital for almost 4 weeks.  During this time she had rehab and physio.  Even though staff had her up and moving within 24 hours of surgery, the biggest component to recovery is keeping active, but in the proper way with medical supervision.  Also, my brother stepped up.  He arranged to be able to work remotely that allowed him to visit her daily during her time in the hospital.  Every day while we were in Berlin the two of us would text or call each other to find out next options for her recovery and to keep the travel insurance aware of the activities.  It felt like vacation as Little Miss & I weren’t at work, but not really a vacation as we were concerned about her recovery and progress.  Again my brother was instrumental in helping determine what recovery options were best for her.

Now, when we left Berlin a day early we needed a place to stay for one night before we continued to Amsterdam.  We stayed in the same hotel that my brother selected, and given it was a small town, we opted for the largest room, a suite, in the hotel for our stay.

Stadthotel Borken

Being in a small town, the hotel’s front desk is not occupied 24/7, however once you’ve checked in, your hotel card provides access to the building.  On the evening of my brother’s arrival, they had provided him with a code to access a lockbox that contained his hotel room keys.


The room I selected was listed as a suite with a separate living room.  What was missing from the description (or more likely I didn’t read it) was that it had a large balcony, and overall was quite spacious!

Our balcony had a view of the driveway to additional parking behind the building, as well overlooked the Fire and EMS station.

Now once you enter the room there is a decent sized living room.  This was useful as it gave us space to sit and visit with my brother and not be at the hospital, nor sitting in a cafe or anything similar.  Through the next door was the bedroom that had a seating area and access to the balcony.

Here’s a slideshow of the living and bedroom spaces:

Then the bathroom was down a hall off the bedroom.  A toilet and sink was at the far end, and then the larger space was a shower and double sinks.

(Another slideshow to go through the pictures!)


This hotel didn’t disappoint with breakfast options.  There was a massive amount of selection.  The memorable item for me was the Twix branded spread.  The flavouring was perfect as it was like my toast was turned into a chocolate bar for my breakfast.

Even though we arrived near the end of breakfast there was plenty of hot items to select from.  Here’s a slideshow of pictures:

Being in a smaller town, the hotel didn’t appear to have any air conditioning, however the weather cooperated with a cool morning, and we had left the windows open.  I was woken up around 5:30am by the birds chirping away.  Ear plugs were successful in dialing down the volume so that I could sleep in.

We visited with my mom and then cousin before we headed to Amsterdam to complete our trip.

Explore other parts of this trip:

Part 1 – KLM Lounge and Flight Toronto to Amsterdam

Part 2 – Rotterdam Hilton

Part 3 – Easter Weekend (this post!)

Part 4 – Hilton Berlin

Part 5 – Pergamon Museum

Part 6 – Berlin, not sightseeing

Part 7 – Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Part 8 – Vermeer at Rijksmuseum

Part 9 – KLM Crown Lounge and Flight Amsterdam to Toronto

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