Saturday, September 29, 2012

Play Day

Today was already Nanny and Pops' last day of their stay with us. ☹
They decided to spend all day with Sophie. 
 They went for a trip to the forest playground and continued with their role play even though it started raining. 
Sophie rode her bicycle there and back. Once she got on, there was no stopping her. 
Afterwards at home, Sophie still needed to take Nanny and Pops on a (pretend) flight to Hawaii. Everyone had first class seats. 
It has been a fun two weeks with our visitors. We hope they will be back soon. In the meantime we are looking forward to returning the visit in February.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Night Out

Berit and Dennis came over to babysit Sophie tonight. Sophie seems to quite enjoy it when we go out at night. Maybe because Berit will buy her kinder surprise eggs for dessert or read her a goodnight story three times the length of what I would read to her. 
 Anyway, we had the evening to go out and enjoy Duesseldorf after sundown (not that it was sunny today).
The Altstadt was busy as it was Friday night and a football match with the local team.
We went to the Schluessel brewery for a real German dinner.
 We were not disappointed. While we kept the Altbier flowing, we had pork ragout cooked in Altbier gravy,
 marinated beef with potato dumplings and red cabbage, 
 and the classic pork knuckle.
It was delicious, although heavier than what we are all used to.
So, of course we had to have a Killepitsch (or what Auntie Sandra calls "like red wine") to wash down the food. 
Back on a low-meat diet in a couple of days. 

Big Help

The kids were collecting conkers by the playground today. They were very grateful for some big people help by Pops who was throwing sticks into the tree to help.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How About a Rhinefahrt?

After a fun evening of BBQing and playing card games with Berit and Oma, we all headed just south of Bonn this morning to meet with aunt Helga and uncle Ralph (our frequent visitors to California). We had a real German breakfast (I thought I had taken a picture of it). Then we headed over to Koenigswinter to board a ferry up the Rhine to the old medieval town of Linz.
 Here comes the boat.
 We all started out by cuddling up in the beach baskets outside, but most of us soon headed one deck down to the sheltered panorama restaurant.
 These are the Drachenfels ruins, which we visited two years ago. 

At this point I will be inserting a picture of what is left of the bridge at Remagen at a later time. Andrew took this picture and it is still on his camera. 
One of the remaining pillars now houses a peace museum. 

 We had a about two hours to walk around Linz. Fortunately it was staying dry so we were able to stretch our legs without getting soaked. 
This was a fountain created by an artist who is famous for building similar fountains in the city of Aachen. All the figurines had bendable joints to the amusement of not only Sophie. 
In one shop window we discovered these juke box puppets. Upon paying 1 Euro you could choose a song from a long list of tunes and they started playing away. The mimics were excellent including eyebrows raising to the swing of the beat. Oh, and Andrew chose Stars and Stripes Forever. 
Even the local street musician from a couple of blocks down came to join us watching the performance.

 Sophie was enthralled. 
Back on the ferry downriver Sophie received her hot chocolate with cream as promised. She has been such a trooper with all these day trips. 

Monday, September 24, 2012


We are taking a break from sightseeing today. Sophie is even taking a break from her swimming lessons today, as she is very tired from the weekend.

Instead, Sophie and Nanny are baking pizzas. Quite tasty.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

To Complete Our Tour of Southern Germany

It happened to be on our way home.
 We actually hiked up this hill, even Sophie. That was before we found out that the train rides up and down the hill were included in the admission ticket to the castle courtyard. On the plus-side, we burned off some of last night's dinner that way.
 While Nanny and Pops took a guided tour of the castle, we played prince and princess in the courtyard.
 My funny parents.
 Castle shots
 a lot of it in ruins, but still very impressive
 Sophie also spotted this dragonfly in the castle courtyard. 
Needless to say when we were done, we took the train back downtown.
View of the castle and Princess Sophie from the old bridge.
Then off to find a place for dinner. All that walking made us hungry.

Enough medieval towns for a couple of days.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

An Old Storybook Town And an Astonishingly Lot of Modern Cars

While Pops was out doing his car thing, the rest of us took off to step back in time and explore Rothenburg. Be ready for a picture overload.
 Probably the most famous shot of Rothenburg.
 Walking through the White Tower with the old Jewish dance hall to the right of it. 
 This is where the castle once stood.
 Who are these funny-looking creatures?
 So glad the weather was on our side.
 The council hall, site of the not so impressive reenactment of an old legend in which a citizen allegedly drank 3.25 liters (4 bottles) of wine in one go (took him ten minutes) to spare his city from destruction during the Thirty Year War. 
 At some point we had to try this pastry called snowball, unique to Rothenburg. A bit dry, the next day we reverted to apple strudel and ice cream.
 We climbed up the town hall tower, the highest point in Rothenburg. Sophie and I lost Nanny and Daddy on the last bit due to vertigo. 
 This is the church which would have charged money for people to enter and have a look. 

 Up along the old city wall.
 After all that walking, a visit to the year-round Christmas store, a run in with a grumpy and mean old Bavarian sales clerk (Did Andrew tell her where to stick it!), we managed to snatch a table on the old market square. Even dolly was thirsty (picture by Sophie).
 As we were enjoying the late afternoon sun and tranquility of the town, there was a sudden futuristic noise that sounded very much like a certain American sports car. 
 A sheer never-ending convoy of Shelbys (or is it Shelbies?) paraded into the medieval market square.
Suddenly we spotted a familiar face in this Shelby.
 Even though the square was full, the cars kept coming with a roar.
Both the American and Japanese tourists and the German locals were in awe of the free spectacle.
And one person was in his happy place.

How about spätzle for dinner?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Important First Words: Bonjour and Croissant

This morning it was time to explore this picturesque little medieval town of Wissembourg by daylight and to find a cafe that was serving a proper French breakfast with baguettes, croissants and chocolat chaud for Sophie.
 Sophie by the old mill
 There were flowers everywhere - we were wondering how much work went into their upkeep.
 We were thinking that this town could serve as our little getaway from Germany every once in a while. I am glad we discovered it.
 After a delicious petit déjeuner just like I remember them, we stocked up on some more baguettes (you just can't beat the original!) for a lunchtime picnic on the road.
In front of the town hall

 This is one of the oldest buildings in town the salt house dating back to 1448.
There was also a giant church, but I just realized I had not taken any pictures of it. 
 On our way back to Germany we stopped at the nearby Schoenenbourg fortification which formed part of the Maginot Line (the French underground defense fortification against the Germans along the entire border). It was quite eerie all hidden in the forest.

Then it was time to leave France and head east towards another medieval town - Rothenburg ob der Tauber. 
 Part of the reason we chose to visit Rothenburg this weekend was because the German (Czech and Swiss) Shelby group was holding a gathering here and Pops had been invited to join. 
This was the view from our balcony. 
 A funny sign we spotted as we were walking towards the old city gate. It was like stepping into some type of medieval amusement park. I am sure that Sophie kept her eyes peeled for a princess sighting the entire time. 
Dinner ran a bit late tonight, but it was still good in a tavern called "Zur Hoell" (To Hell) in one of the oldest buildings in town. 
Truly a history-filled day. 
Sophie took this picture of Daddy enjoying his spare ribs. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Corner of Germany and One of France

With our visitors here and a rental car at hand, we thought we would go and see a bit of Germany and hop across the border to France just because it is right there. So we headed south along the Rhine towards Koblenz. Andrew had been here before, so he served as the guide.

We strolled through the old town to the giant Kaiser Wilhelm I (the grandfather) statue at the Deutsches Eck (German corner), where the Moselle and the Rhine meet. Having been bombed and destroyed during the War, the controversial statue was re-erected in the early 90s and now serves as a memorial to German reunification. 
 The view from the monument: Mother Moselle on the left and Father Rhine on the right.
 Fortress Ehrenbreitstein on the opposite shore of the Rhine - the second largest fortress in Europe still standing.
 What a place for a picnic! We felt some envious looks around us. 
 With our tummies filled, we strolled along the shore to the electoral palace. It housed no doubt some of the finest public bathrooms in the world. 
 Then it was time to climb back into the car to head further south through the Palatinate (wine everywhere) across the border to Wissembourg, France. A little medieval town only one kilometer into the Alsace, but what a difference. 
 After much research, we picked this restaurant for our big French meal out. We had been daydreaming about these dishes for weeks. It turned out that it was a good choice.
Enjoying a wonderful meal!
How about that for dessert? Crème brûlée, calvados, profiteroles and armagnac. 
Somebody was slowly getting tired though. Sophie has been so good and is clearly enjoying the company.
Nanny and Pops in France.