Thursday, April 26, 2012

Burg Eltz

Although Spring Break is actually over, I have to say my Spring Break just  arrived when my sister in laws and my niece arrived into town last week.  Robin, Elaina and Rachel graced our household for about a week and it gave me a chance to relax and enjoy my life a little bit.  The week before they came was Giuliana's Spring break but we really didn't do much and I felt kind of sad that Paul wasn't here to do something with us.  We did manage to make it to the museum in Speyer but that was about it.  When Rachel, Robin and Elaina arrived, I tried to think of something fun to do everyday.  The weather was pretty uncooperative but when living in Germany, you can't stop from doing something because of the weather!  The trip I'm highlighting today is our trip to Burg Eltz.  What is Burg Eltz you may ask?  Well basically it is one of the best preserved castles in Europe.  We jumped in the car and drove about 2 hours before finally arriving to the location.  I had seen pictures online of this castle and when we arrived I kept looking around for it.  From the pictures I thought it was perched up on a hill but actually it's just the opposite-it's perched down in a valley.  We had the choice of either taking a shuttle down to the castle of walking.  I'm pretty cheap and since I hadn't exercised that morning I voted to walk.  The shuttle was a little pricey for me and since the weather had cleared up it was a beautiful walk.  The walk was all downhill but we got some good pictures.
Here's a picture of Elaina and Rachel walking down the long path toward the castle.
 Here is the first view we had from an overlook.  It's pretty stately looking.
Elaina, Robin and I--proving that we were really here.
We continued walking down the path and then had to stop again for some good photo ops.
Beautiful Giuliana!
Here's the shuttle that was going to take us down.  Hahahaha, just kidding but we did have to watch out or the tractor might have run us down.
I don't know how many times we had to take this picture until we got a good one of both Giuilana and Rachel up in the air.  Nice boots Giuliana has on.
Rapunzel's Rapunzel's, let down your hair!
Inside the courtyard of the castle.  We signed up for an English tour and stood around this courtyard waiting for it to begin.  Unfortuately they did not let us take any picture of the inside of the castle but it was pretty neat had had some furnishings that were interesting to look at.  This castle is still owned by the Eltz family and has been for 35 generations.
Giuliana took this picture in the castle museum.  She thought it was hilarious of this fat dude being pushed in a wheel barrow  and is being pushed by some horned goat man.
Here I am standing in front of some freshly planted flowers in the courtyard.  We enjoyed our time at Burg Eltz!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Zippity Do Dah!

This week has been full of excitement and I have been forced to get out of my comfort zone by driving to places I have never been to, and doing things that totally make me nervous. Usually when we get company Paul is the designated driver as we ferry our guests around seeing all the sights and sounds.  I'm free to look out the windows and relax while Paul navigates the narrow German streets and figure out how to park a van in a spot that's barely big enough for a smart car.  Well, now the tables have turned and since Paul is not here it's up to me to ferry the guests around, navigate the narrow German streets and figure out where to even park.
Rachel, my niece showed up at our doorstep on Friday afternoon and it's been a party ever since.  Of course we have tried to entertain her a little bit which included me figuring out how to get places. Saturday we decided our fun activity would be the ropes course that is not too far from Kaiserslautern.  I was thinking I would just watch the girls do the ropes course because I have done a ropes course before and also because I was nervous about learning how to do it again.  Then I decided I shouldn't let my anxiety get the best of me because the last time I tried a ropes course, I loved it.  So it was decided-I would do the ropes course too.  We paid for our ticket and got outfitted. 
Rachel and Giuliana look pretty cute with their helmets and harness on.
I on the other hand...look ridiculous! I had the hardest time keeping my helmet on as it kept slipping to the back of my head. Giuliana told me I needed a child's helmet, but after about an hour of fussing with my hat I finally got it so it felt good on my head.
Here is Giuliana and Rachel starting their climb on one of the courses.  This was a medium level course.  I was following right behind them.
 This is Rachel making her way across the wooden squares.
Zippity do dah!  The ziplines were everyone's favorite!
I did everything the girls did but since I was the only one taking pictures there are really not any pictures of me.  There was only one of the courses That I couldn't complete and that was the "gray" course.  Rachel couldn't do it either but Giuliana could!  The gray course entailed climbing up this two story high cargo net and I couldn't even make it 5 feet off the ground without my back sagging to the ground. It was so hard!  Giuliana must have some amazing upper body strength.  In the end, however I felt like I faced my fears and had a great time.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Break

So this week is Spring Break!  Normally if Paul were here we would be off on some cool adventure here in Europe but not this time.  Since Paul is deployed I didn't want to venture too far away from home.  There were several people who invited me places but they weren't really inviting me, they were really just being polite. It's okay though I'm sure I'll hear all about everyone's cool trips through Facebook which I've decided should be called bragbook.  I realized this one day about 2 years ago when I went to update my status on Facebook.  As I wrote my status I realized that I was bragging not only about how low I've gotten my heart-rate through exercise but also how incredibly in shape I was.  As I looked back on other status's I wrote I realized they were all about something wonderful that I had done or experienced or my family had experienced.  I'm not against Facebook.   I think it's a good way to keep up with freinds but I rarely write status's anymore.  That's why I like my blog.  It's really just me journaling a little bit and telling my story of my life here in Europe. It might come across as braggy but it's my blog so I guess I can do that.  Anyway, so yesterday I had to get up at a normal time as Mrs. Hauck our maid comes pretty early.  Since I was up I decided to look and see if Giuliana and I could take a day trip somewhere cool.  I had heard about a museum in the city of Speyer and so looked up how to get there.  I thought it would be way more fun if we rode the train and so I enlisted Giuliana's help to check the train schedule for me.  It appeared it would be a little further than Heidleberg but not much further.  We got off to a late start but walked down to the train station in our village and bought and all day ticket for ourselves.  It would have been even cheaper if we had invited 3 other people with us but since no one was really around we just went ourselves.

So we started off at our village train station in Glan-Munchweiler.  The train came on time and we were off.  We caught the train at 11:40 and according to our calculations should arrive in Speyer at 1:30.
Here we are enjoying our train ride.  We didn't get very far, in fact I think it was the next village over and the train stopped.  It was a scheduled stop and some people got on and then we just sat there and sat there and sat there.  A good 15 minutes went by and I thought, "I could have walked to this village in this amount of time.  Some train worker came by and tried to explain to us what the problem was and it had something to do with a train in Landstuhl which is further up the track.  Finally the train started again but we had lost some time so I knew we wouldn't make our connections in Kaiserslautern.  We kept stopping for long amounts of time at other villages and by the time we got to Kaiserslautern 50 minutes had past.  I told Giuliana we were in it for the adventure so we shouldn't worry about the time so much.  It only takes about 20-25 minutes to get to K-town by car but I kept reminding myself we had lots of time because what else were we going to do with our day.  We looked at the train chart and found our next train and miraculously there was one leaving withing 10 minutes so that worked out really well.
Look at the town we passed.  That would be fun to be in a Halloween costume and get your picture taken with that sign.  I loved looking at the countryside and villages that we passed by.  We had to make one more train switch which turned out to work out perfectly because we only had to wait a few minutes until our train came.
Okay, this is not the train we hopped on!  We finally made it to town of Speyer which is an old town.  We were able to find the bus we needed to take to the museum and it only took a few minutes and since we had an all day train pass it was good for the buses too.  Instead of arriving at 1:30 we arrived at 2:20.  Oh well, the German's usually don't have big delays but on this day they did.  We went into the museum and it was all about Trains, Planes and Automobiles.  Oh yea and Boats and submarines.  Here Giuliana is standing in front of a train that was used in the early 1900's.  The wheels were gigantic and we climbed up and looked inside.  The first part of the train looked like a big flatbed car that housed the coal.  Opposite this car was the place you would throw the coal into the furnace.  It was pretty neat.
This was a different train I believe used in the 1930's.
There were lots of planes but I really didn't know what any of them were.  This was some Canadian plane.  I bet Paul could tell me what they are!  I'll just post some of the plane pictures and Paul can try and guess what they are.  Of course I can't tell him if he's right or wrong, but he'll probably know.
Shiny red aiplane-
Some German airplane-
Another German airplane, a fighter I suppose.
  Some kind of pink airplane.  Giuliana liked this one because it was pink.

 Who knows what this plane is but it looked cool.
   I think the airplanes were wasted on us because we really didn't know much about them.  They did have this one Luftansa 747? outside that we got to climb up into and it was absolutely gigantic.  They had this static display propped up at an angle way up in the air and we had to climb up all these stairs to get to it.  When we went inside we could walk the whole length of the airplane, go down to the luggage hold go upstairs to 1st class and see where the pilot sits.  It was pretty cool and incredible.
We saw lots of cars from all different eras.  Giuliana wanted to pose in front of what she called, "The first smart car!"  This was actually made by BMW as I believe they started off making motorcycles but were trying to cross over into automobiles.  I think this car used a motorcycle engine to power it.  The cars were all so beautiful but I don't know much about cars either.  We just liked the way they looked.
This was a suicide sub that the Germans used during WWll.  I had never heard of such a thing but I guess the guy was in the sub that was attached to the torpedo below.  Apparently their chance of survival was slim but I think a few did survive.
Here I am on the inside of a German U-boat from the 1960's.  We walked through this sub and it just made me think how horrible being a bubble head must be.

We climbed up to all the static displays that had something to offer.. Giuliana and I climbed up this one that had a big metal tubular slide attached to it.  She had to bring up a blanket to sit on when she slid down.  She said it was the fastest slide she has ever been on in her life.Finally we went into the last building and saw a few cool things.
Here is the Russian version of the Space Shuttle.  It's called the Buran and this shuttle was used for atmospheric approach and landing tests.  We got to look inside of it and the thing is massive.  By the way, it looks to me to be identical to the US Space shuttle.
Jet engine.  I told Giulana to climb inside as it's probably the only time she would be able to do that. So you can see there was a lot to see at this museum.  We walked a little bit through the shopping district of Speyer afterwards, bought ourselves some dinner to go and then headed back to the train station.  We had an uneventful trip home and although there was another delay on the train it was short lived and we made it home in about 2 hours.  A good day out on Spring Break!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

That's so German!

Last Monday I went to the open air textile market.
 It's kind of an interesting market and is only open the 1st Monday of every month.  I have been there before so I pretty much knew what to expect.  I really wasn't looking for anything in particular I just wanted to get out of the house and be outside for a little while.  The textile market sells things like fabric, clothes, cookware, gadgets, tablecloths, curtains, etc...As I walked around I looked at the things for sale and some some really pretty Upolstry fabric that would be good for the dining room chairs I have in my house.  Of course I really don't know how much fabric even to buy so I just admired it and moved on. Then I noticed a stand that sold nothing but underwear.  Mens and women's underwear.  I started thinking who comes to the open market for underwear?  Are they just waiting for that first Monday of the month and say to themselves, "I better get to the open market to buy my underwear." It seems kind of like a personal item to be buying at the outside market but I suppose they have good prices.    I passed several tables that sold just underwear and yet there was never anyone browsing around the table.  I'm sure people must come and buy it otherwise there would not be multiple stands of underwear.  Strange.

 The other stand I found humorous was the house coats for sale.  These are not robes but house coats that women sometimes wore in the 50's to clean their house in.  I didn't even think these things existed anymore and yet, here were some racks of them.  Who in the world is wearing these things?  Someone is, otherwise they would not be selling them.
 In the end I ended up with only one thing from the textile market and that was a rubber sink stopper.  I think I accidentally threw mine away and so wanted to replace it.  The problem was I wasn't sure what size to get as they came in all sorts of sizes.  I finally just had to estimate and bought one I thought would fit.  It didn't.  Oh well it was only 50 Euro cents.  It does keep the water in the sink for a few mintues but eventually it all drains out.  Oh yea, I did buy was a vintage tablecloth--but I didn't buy it at the open air market.  On our way walking to the market we stopped off at an antique store and poked around a little bit.  I found some cute little square tablecloths that had been hand embroidered and I bought one.  It was only 5 Euro and I think it will look cute on my table. This whole experience was just so German.
     I always find it interesting the way German's do things and I find myself saying, "That's so German!"
  They love their open air markets so they can buy their underwear and other household items.  (Germany has to be the worst place for open air markets because the weather stinks most of the time)  Here are a few, That's so German things I've noticed.
      They love to open their windows even when they are having an Arctic freeze.  Often I see their comforters and blankets hanging out the window to air out.  Today we had a cold front come in and it's pretty cold outside.  I wondered if I could find any windows open so I walked outside and both my neighbors had their windows open.

 They love to paint pictures on their homes.  Here is a picture of the house up the street from our house.  I think if someone painted this on their house in the states  there would be someone complaining how it offends them in some way or another.  I'm not sure who this crowned person is but maybe it represents the fact that whoever lives there is King of his castle!
The Germans also love to get their homes blessed.  You can tell the homes that have been blessed by the cryptic white chalk writing on the top of their doors.
The German's made a law, at least that's what I was told,  that you can't park your car up on the curb or sidewalk and yet everyone has to do it or your car will be totaled because of the narrow streets.  Here is a street around the corner from my house where the people have resorted to parking completely on the sidewalk because as you can see if they parked in the street it would totally block off the street because of the car that is parked on the street.


There are so many things that I could say, That's so German but perhaps it's more European than anything.  Whatever it is, I like it as it entertains me on a daily basis.