Thursday, October 19, 2017

Go Outside!!!!

This past Saturday I think we might have hit 70 degrees!  And with such gorgeous weather we just could NOT stay inside!  We drove about 45 to Pottenstein -- home of the Devil's Cave and some great steep hikes and beautiful scenery!

We stopped first at the cave and bought tickets for the tour.  No flash was allowed and this was Megan's favorite picture of herself in the cave!

We got a few better ones with the lights in the cave though.

Over 400 steps later we emerged at the top of the mountain and walked back down.

 We're practicing for our Christmas card photos.  We have a loooooong way to go!

Then the kids decided I needed to take a "snail-fie."

Germany is beautiful in the fall! 

The town of Pottenstein itself is pretty small and lots of half-timbered houses.  There was a mineral and fossil shop that we actually spent quite a bit of time in and each of the kids got to pick out a rock.  They had some beautiful big pieces of amethyst and lots of snail fossils!

The town is surrounded by high hills with lots of rock (felsen) and we could see people rock climbing and others at the top looking down so we wandered around until we found a path that went up into the hills.

It wasn't a hard climb but he got hot from the effort and it was pretty steep!

But the views were spectacular -- especially with the clear weather.

 At the top of one of the hills they had a cross so we posed for pictures to say we've been there!  Apparently that's a common thing in Germany - to have crosses at the top and to hike up and take pictures with them.  I'm sure there's more explanation and history about that somewhere.

Trying to get the whole family AND the cross in the picture!

Abby being cute

I think that this was my favorite half-timbered house so far!  It's the old mill with the waterwheel on the right but I love the design of the timbers -- they're patterned differently!

 It was a great afternoon in the sunshine!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Finally Bamberg

We haven't been up to much lately.  School, work, life keep us busy.  Plus the weather hasn't been great.  In fact, I was starting to wonder if we were done with nice weather until NEXT summer!  Fortunately, the past two weeks we've had sunshine and slightly warmer temperatures so on Columbus day we drove up to Bamberg, a city that has been on our radar for a while.  Lots of people just love Bamberg!  For some reason, it was bigger than I expected and more modern.  I think because a lot of people seem to equate it with Rothenburg and then to me it wasn't anything like that.  But it is a beautiful city!

I will never tire of window boxes, climbing vines, and beautiful houses.  Although I've been pulling out a ton of ivy at home and I don't think I ever want it on my house!

The first church we happened upon was St. Martin and I didn't realize it was a church at first.  Why does this remind me of Indiana Jones??

I'm starting to be able to tell if something is Baroque or Rococco or whatever. But it does make me wish that I had taken an art history class in college.  I'd love to know more details about what we see.  It's all beautiful. 

In one of the main squares there was a statue of Poseidon and his trident. The square was also filled with flower and vegetable stands and because it was lunch time, we stopped and got some crepes from a cart.  I make the kids crepes at home but food always tastes better from a cart!  Why is that?  Probably because I didn't make it.

They were really excited about the edible waffle cookies plates too.

We then walked down by the Rathaus.  It sits right in the middle of the Regnitz river.  In the middle ages, one side of the city on river was the ecclesiastical side and one the civic side.  The rathaus had to administrate both sides and so it's placement was literal and symbolic.

Then once you get over the bridge and look around, you have the attached half-timbered house that is the main postcard scene for Bamberg.  Because it was a Monday, the museums inside were closed but the outside was fantastic!

We then walked over the the courtyard of the Geyersw├Ârth Castle that was built in 1585 as a residence for a prince-bishop.  Today it seemed to house administrative offices and had a bathroom for the kids to use!

Fall is so spectacular!

The kids pick up leaves, nuts, acorns, pinecones, rocks, etc. They love being outside and collecting whatever catches their eye.  This is a buckeye but of course that's not what it is, I just can't remember what it really is!

Hi mom!

Bamberg is on and among seven hills so we were up and down all day.  After our bathroom break we headed up to the Cathedral (Dom).  Built originally in the 1000's and rebuilt after 2 fires in the 13th century, it is the only cathedral in Germany to house a dead pope and unfortunately, we couldn't really see his tomb much because of the restrictive ropes but he is in an actual tomb and not a dressed up skeleton (which we have seen elsewhere).

The stone masons for this cathedral must have enjoyed their job.  This one is headless.

This is the famous Bamberger rider -- a king carved by an unknown carver.  I feel bad for the guy who thought he would live in infamy through his art and now is completely unknown!

The girls LOVE candles in the churches. I don't entirely understand the significance although I believe it has something to do with remembered your deceased love ones.  I think they are more entranced by the atmosphere of a quiet, beautiful church lit by candlelight, but on occasion I let them light one and count it a donation to the upkeep of the building.  

On one side of the door, the statues are being led to Hell.  On the other side, they're entering Heaven.  I thought their faces were great!

Then on the Domplatz you have the Old Imperial Court around the old Diet (deet) hall that was the seat of government for about 500 years starting in 1085.

And next door is the New Residence that was begun in 1697 and I didn't take any pictures of the exterior because it wasn't cool enough!  But we did go inside for the tour.  Apparently, the building was built for some of the prince-bishops (I really need to learn my history) but they never came so it only ever housed royal guests and wasn't permanently lived in.  The main hall is still used today for concerts and things and they have an art gallery on the second floor that had a variety of interesting European art.

Have I mentioned before that my children are amazing?  They don't love the museums and castle tours and churches but they don't mind it either and are usually very very good.  I'm not sure how that happened!

Ok so this is William REALLY picking his nose.  And then when I got on his case about it, he decided that he needed to pretend to pick his nose for every. stinking. picture. Little booger.  Literally.


 Hey whatever keeps them entertained I guess!

No pictures on the castle tour of course.  Outside there is a wonderful rose garden that still had quite a few blooms and amazing views over the city.

 Megan's favorite!

We walked up to another church called St. Michaels that is supposed to be fabulous but it was closed for renovation due to the risk of falling rock. SO then it was back down over the river and a look downstream at Little Venice.  Which I haven't seen big Venice yet so couldn't compare!

After a late Italian lunch (Chopper isn't a fan of German food so we actually don't eat it that often!), we bought some baby pumpkins for the kids and headed for home.

Chopper and I had a long conversation on the way home.  He's sad because exploring Europe doesn't feel like it once did.  We liked Bamberg a lot and had a great day but we didn't LOVE it.  But how much of that is because of all the amazing things that we've seen?  It's kind've like the difference between new love when you're dating/engaged/first married and then when you're 15 years end. It's awesome, but it doesn't necessarily have that spark of romance.

On the flip side of that, I love that we're in a position to lose that spark!  And I adore pretty much everything I see from the great cathedrals to the hike in the forest I went on today with friends.  It's such an amazing place!  Chopper loves it too, don't get me wrong, but he wants that spark back of new and exciting discoveries!  But we're not done yet! There are plans in the works for new and exciting discoveries.

Just a quick pic of eating lunch at school with William.  He seems to be doing pretty well.  I've had a conference with his teacher (stemming from his speech therapy) and she says for the most part he's good.  He has stopped asking to stay home and already his writing has improved significantly.  I think we're going to make it through kindergarten!!