Sunday, March 30, 2008

We're on a mission!

Saturday afternoon was so nice that we decided to venture out again to find castle ruins! We left home and first headed to our Parsberg castle. The castle itself is very pretty, with a cobblestone "street" inside the entryway. However, the castle was all closed up and the castle museum is only open for a couple hours daily. The museum gives you an idea of life in Parsberg from over 100 years ago - the different types of textiles made, furniture produced, their "handiwerk" and their religion. Someday we'll check out the history of Parsberg. We couldn't figure out how to get to the top of the castle where the ruins of an old tower are. So we moved on...

Off to Prunn to discover the castle ruins that were listed in our "An Hour or Less Away from Hohenfels" booklet. Apparently our little booklet is outdated because when we arrived the Prunn castle ruins were in the middle of further restoration! Anyway, on our way to Prunn we drove through (actually above) a beautiful city called Riedenburg. There was a lookout that Brian pulled off into and I snapped a couple of pictures. We'll go back to the area someday to check out their market square and see if there are any restaurants over looking the city and the river.

As I mentioned above, the Schloss Prunn was undergoing a makeover. However, you can enter the castle for 4 Euros and tour the museum and see historical pieces throughout. There is also a restaurant on one of the castle floors. We didn't stay - we were close to the castle closing time and besides, we were there for ruins! We'll go back another day. From Prunn, we headed to Essing and low and behold, we found castle ruins! Below is a picture of the ruins from the street below and a few up close. The castle looks amazing up close, you can see how old each and every brick is and feel the history. Unfortunately, this castle ruins has operating hours (who knew?) and we arrived too late. So here is are pictures from the outside and of the front door (original front door I might add).

What is this you ask? Well, it is the castle moat (bottom of picture) and the castle wall (middle) and the view of the river from way up high.

While we were in Essing we kept seeing people walking by us, all headed in 1 direction. Turns out everyone was going to the local restaurant up by the castle. So we decided to join them. We ate cordon bleu - made with pork instead of chicken - and schnitzel. The food was very good and the view from the restaurant was beautiful. I snapped a picture of the sun setting.

By the time we left the restaurant it was almost dark so ended our ruin finding mission. Next time we'll have to research operating hours - ha! Today we headed to Kelheim, land of the Hall of Liberation (remember that?) for a Trol and Floh Markt - which is an antique and flea market. It was at a huge lot along the river and there were many, many stalls. Once again, it was fun to walk the aisles and see all the wares people had for sale. We ended up with a German soup tureen and cups (made in West Germany! circa 1910-1940) and an oil painting. Both were a steal and we left pretty pleased.

The weather today was amazing, even better than yesterday. It was in the mid 60s and when we got home we all went to the backyard to play. Luke had a great time running around with all the neighborhood kids and there is an enclosed trampoline in the community backyard and Luke climbed right on up and in and bounced around with the other kids. Another great day in Germany.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

50 degrees and sunny

Finally, a nice enough day to get out of the house and find something new to explore.
There are beautiful forests all over Germany with walking paths, ponds and wildlife. We found the WildPark about 25 minutes away from us, in a beautiful forest setting right outside of the small town of Teublitz. The WildPark has all the aforementioned features AND a great children's playground (which we, of course, spent some time at) AND the wildlife is enclosed (in their natural habitats) in large fences so we had a chance to see deer, sheep, rams and birds galore. We spent about an hour and a half walking around and playing. This time of year is the off season so the small food pavilion was closed as well as some other little kiosks that look like they might be shops during the summer. There were other people roaming around the park, young and old alike, an everyone was enjoying the break in the weather. Luke loved hearing all the animals - HONK! BAAA! MAAA! (he actually was pretty concerned when the goose started honking - he couldn't see the goose and he asked with a concerned face "what's that?"). He had a great time at the park and figured out how to hold onto the traditional swings (instead of baby swings) and had a great time chasing the ducks. It was so nice to get out again. Germany rocks.

Enjoy the pictures!

This sheep would not stop BAA-ing at us. Sheep are loud.

The Kinder (children) Park

Look at how high this slide tower is! Luke loved it.

Okay, not too exciting, a squirrel. But look at the freaky long ears he has!! All the squirrels had those things. Hmm, cross between a squirrel and a rabbit perhaps?

Luke chasing ducks. They just quacked and ran away - so he followed!
Awwww...who knew goats started out so stinking cute?
My cute hubby.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter weekend

Happy Easter everyone! Well, a day late. We hope you all had a wonderful and very happy Easter weekend. I bet you thought I would have tens of thousands of pictures to bestow upon you from this weekend, thinking surely we did something fabulous and saw more amazing things. I am sad to report to you, we did nothing. We had plans. Big, amazing plans. We decided at the 11th hour that we were going to drive to Rome for Easter weekend! We would leave Friday morning and drive a little over 8 hours, stay at Camp Darby along the Italian Coast near Florence (military camp - great rates), wake up Saturday morning and drive the 4 remaining hours to Rome. We wanted to spend Saturday night in Rome and Easter Sunday at the Vatican. We would head up to Vicenza, Italy on Sunday night (military base) and return home on Monday. We made last minute phone calls and got hotel reservations (amazingly) and had the trip all planned out, right down to all the bottled water and diet Coke I loaded into the car (people were telling us they charge 3 to 4 euro for a can of Coke or bottle of water in Rome). We were a little concerned about the weather - it was supposed to be a rainy weekend and we wondered if we would be soggy and soaked the entire time. But we thought Easter at the Vatican?? What's a rain shower or two? But alas, when we woke on Friday morning, Germany was covered in snow and road alerts were red (dangerous driving conditions). We were wondering how much of the trip would be snow-covered and as it turns out, most of southern Germany was covered and my car does not have snow tires on it. (Besides, what fun is driving through and exploring new countries when you are trying not to die in a snowstorm?) We reluctantly decided to cancel our trip. When Luke woke up an hour later, it was apparent we made the right decision. He came downstairs with a fever and a horribly runny nose and cough. Our Easter weekend was spent hanging out inside our house. And you know what? It was wonderful. We weren't rushing anywhere, running anywhere and we had not one plan. Unfortunately due to the amount of snot Luke was producing, we decided that it was best if he did not participate in the neighborhood Easter egg hunt (which took place in snow and the bitter, bitter cold) and on Sunday not only was he sick, but Brian was sick as well. The Easter bunny came and delivered some toys and candy to Luke and we had our own little Easter egg hunt for Luke in the house (sad) because yet again, it was cold and wet and now I had 2 sicky-poos. I did, however, get to catch part of Mass from the Vatican on TV and did you notice the torrential downpour there? Somehow I don't think that would have been much fun to have a toddler stuck in a stroller in a horrible downpour during Easter Mass. I guess there is always next year.

After 3 days of resting, relaxing and doing absolutely nothing (okay, okay, I cleaned and organized and nagged Brian to clean and organize and then I did a little shopping at the local stores in Parsberg...Brian, on the other hand, did in fact do nothing) we decided to go to a little Flea Market in a tiny little town down the road from us. In Germany they celebrate Easter Monday as well so everything is closed down the day after Easter, except town flea markets. So we drove through an abandoned Parsberg and on to Dietfurt. And a flea market it was....lots of trash with a few treasures. We left with nothing but a few soft pretzels and sausages but it was an experience and I'm sure we'll go to a lot more of them. Although there wasn't a lot of amazing stuff, the items they did have were neat - rosaries and crucifixes, copper kettles and old fashioned cameras - and shoot, after experiencing Hawaii's "crap" fairs, this was high class! :) (I really don't mean to rip on Hawaii, I love Hawaii, I just don't love all the flipping seat covers and Care Bear burp pads that every single person tries to sell at a "craft" fair.) Upon loading up in the car to drive back home I threw out the suggesting to head to Nuremburg - it was the last day of the 3 week long Easter Market up there and I was dying to see what it was like. My adventuresome hubby agreed and he plugged it into the GPS and we headed off.

Nuremburg is AMAZING. Holy cow, I had no idea. Just absolutely beautiful. We drove into the Haupmarkt which is the old historical part of town and is strictly pedestrian, except for buses. The churches are AMAZING, the clock tower is AMAZING, the market square is AMAZING. And did I have camera with me to capture every single thing that I saw? No. I didn't. I know, that is sad. :(
We didn't know where we were going and Brian herded us towards the center of town. We found a group of tousits being poked and proded along and Brian exclaims "Follow them!" Lo and behold, we walked towards the crowd and stumbled upon an amazing fountain, a gorgeous church and clock tower and found the Easter Market in the, well, market square - go figure! It was great - vendors from Germany, Russia and Poland, different types of wares - wooden children's toys, Polish pottery, Russian nesting dolls. There were wurst stands and small bakeries and candy booths, booths filled with baskets and shopping bags and booths overflowing with window sheers and drapery fabrics. It was so much fun to walk around the square, up and down the aisles. We stopped in the McDonalds on the square (yes, a McDonalds right in historical Nuremburg, but if it makes you feel better, it is not very obvious, just another door on the facade- no red, no yellow, no golden arches, just McDonalds above the door) and Luke had a cheeseburger for lunch and then we headed to Starbucks (I know, I know, but I haven't had Starbucks since we've been in Germany!) for a latte and back out into the square for more browsing. Luke loved the clock tower and every time the bells chimed he exclaimed "bells! and craned his neck to find the tower. At 12 noon the wooden characters on the tower played their drums, danced, tooted their horns and then the bell master rang the bell for about 5 minutes. It was neat to see and it definitely kept Luke occupied. We headed out of Nuremburg after a couple hours in the city. We'll return again soon to properly check out all the amazing historical monuments and buildings and hopefully we'll be able to make a trip or two to the zoo up there. It was a great day and even the sicky-poos had a good time (although one of them kept mentioning how cold he was and the other would not keep his mittens on - you can figure out who is who). And so I leave you now, not with pictures of the amazing beauty of Nuremburg under the bright shining sun in the crispness of a cold, yet gorgeous day, but with pictures from our sad little Easter in the land of snow, sicky-poos and chocolate eggs.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A lotta snow!

Our little bit of snow from yesterday melted away by the afternoon. I received a weather update from post that said it was supposed to snow 2 inches over night. When Brian got up this morning to get ready to go to Rothenburg for more flight training there was some snow on the ground and covering the cars but nothing impressive and no flurries were falling. So imagine Luke's and my delight when we opened his bedroom shutters at 10 this morning and snow was everywhere and huge chunks were floating through the sky! We broke out Luke's winter gear and headed out to the backyard to play. We stayed out there for about an hour - just enough time for Luke's cheeks to be bright red and my pants to be soaking wet from all the snow. Of course I captured it all on camera because that is what I do, but also because daddy missed our first big snow and I want to show him we took advantage of the fun weather.

I'm ready to go outside now

Holy cow! It is everywhere! Close up
The view to the right
and to the left

Playing on the community play equipment

I'm going to zoom down this slide!
Sitting at the top of the "hill"
Wheeee!! He caught on quick.
Luke in our backyard.
Mommy is so funny!! (I just went down the little hill in Luke's sled)
Careful mom, you almost ran me over!
Loading up the sled
Snow day fun Hauling the balls around the yard.
Luke and Mom - had to get a self portrait in there!
Peering in the screen door - I think he is ready to come in.
Back inside where it is nice and warm.