Sunday, October 28, 2007

Burg Eltz

We took a trip to Burg Eltz today. This is the most beautiful place in Germany that we've seen so far -- absolutely breathtaking. Burg Eltz is a medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier, Germany. It is still owned by a branch of the same family that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago. The RĂ¼benach and Rodendorf families' homes in the castle are open to the public, while the Kempenich branch of the family uses the other third of the castle.

It's an 800 meter walk from the parking lot down a steep, curving hill to the castle. For the first half of the walk, you can't even see the castle. Just about when you think your knees are about to give out, you turn a bend and see the castle. We happened to be there on a crisp fall day and the castle against the backdrop of red and yellow trees was just breathtaking (or was that from the hiking?).

I quickly learned that a castle is not the best place for an active 2 year old. I spent the whole tour chasing after Carter and trying to keep him from touching anything. [I had visions of a suit of armor crashing down on us!] At the end of the tour, I knew nothing more about the castle but was quite exhausted. I had carried him up and down all the stairs as they were spiral staircases and rather treacherous. Fortunately for us, there was only one other couple (besides my parents) on the tour and they were American and very understanding.

The walk up the hill back to the carpark nearly killed me. My parents were smart and paid the 1.50 euro for shuttle back to the top. Not me, I thought it would be good exercise. Ben and I took turns pushing Carter in his stroller. I huffed and puffed my way all the way up...and in typical German fashion, a 75 year old man smoking a cigarette passed me along the way.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pumpkin Patch & Halloween

Autumn is our favorite time of year. We like to spend time outdoors and visit pumpkin patches and cider mills with The Fromans. Unfortunately, Halloween is just starting to catch on here in Germany and so there aren't many pumpkin patches or Halloween themed activities. We did find one place, though. Here's Carter with his "shades" on, ready for a ride in the wagon.

The pumpkin patch was really more of a working farm that had a huge produce store and fun and games for the kids. They did have a giant pumpkin pyramid, as you can see in this picture.

Some of the American families got together for an early Halloween celebration. Carter was the youngest of all the children there and so struggled to keep with the bigger kids and was scared of some of their costumes. It took us forever to get him into his own costume...but when we finally did, he was a cute little lion. We nicknamed him the "Cowardly Lion" (from the Wizard of Oz) since he was afraid of everyone else.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Playing "Doctor"

When Ben and I went to Carter's school to pick him up this afternoon, he was not on the playground with the rest of the kids. We found him in his classroom with a partner in crime. Ava (his "girlfriend") was half undressed and was in the process of taking Carter's pants off when we entered the room. Isn't 2 a little early for this?? I swear, kids are starting younger and younger these days!

The school teacher was mortified and so apologetic. Ben and I were nearly crying from laughing so hard.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Carter is learning to count and it goes something like this:

one, two, three, four, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve-teen, twelve-teen, twelve-teen

It's hilarious and if I could actually capture it on audio, I would post the sound clip here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Tag der Deutschen Einheit / Legoland

October 3 happens to be a holiday in Germany. If you are like me, you have no idea what this holiday might be. It happens to be The Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) which commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990. Pretty awesome day to celebrate. I'm old enough to remember an East and West Germany. I remember when "the wall came down" in November 1989. I'm sure I've even watched a bad movie on Lifetime Television about a someone trying to sneak across the border from East to West Germany. Now that we live in Germany, we figured we should celebrate reunification, too. So The Gale Family did what any good German would do: we went to Legoland!

We actually had grand plans for travel. With Wednesday being a holiday, we decided to take Thursday and Friday off as well to make a really long weekend. We were to go to Legoland on Wednesday, Zurich on Thursday, Lucern on Friday, Strasbourg on Saturday, and then home on Sunday. Unfortunately, Carter became sick and we ended up canceling the trip and so we came home on Thursday.

We did, however, make it to Legoland for about 2 hrs on Wednesday and even became members (free to go back!!!). Despite being under the weather, Carter was a trooper. He had a blast. I can only imagine how much fun he'll have when we go back and he's feeling 100%. I spent the first 30 minutes at the park in "Miniland" snapping pictures of the mini city replicas. The detail was just fascinating. Many cities were represented (Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Venice), Munich Airport, and even Neuschwanstein Castle.

Coolest thing, by far, at Legoland was Allianz Arena. It's a scale replica of the Munich football stadium and it took over 1 million Legos and 2 years to build. The pics here are hard to see as I didn't want to make them huge and take up too much space. For better resolution pictures (and the rest of our Legoland photos) click here.

** On a side note, I'm not sure there was much celebrating by the Germans for the actual Tag der Deutschen Einheit. As far as I can tell there were no fireworks, no backyard BBQs, no patriotic inspired outfits, no German flag waving. Perhaps the "growing pains" are still being felt and it puts on damper on celebration. Estimates put the cost of reunification at roughly EUR 1.3 trillion. The areas that were formerly part of East Germany are still trying to recover economically...unemployment can be as high as 25% in some industrial ghost towns.