As the weather begins to turn colder here in Germany, we've begun revisiting some of our summer hikes. This hike takes you to Bismarkturm providing you with a commanding view of the city of Landstuhl. When our family members arrive, we try to help them adjust to the time change by keeping them moving during the daytime. A favorite destination for a first time visitor is to Burg Nanstein (our local castle) and Bismarkturm. They each have a lovely hike through fairy filled forest with lovely mossy stones in the shadow of the huge fir trees. The kids race ahead giving the adults some time to just chat and catch up on the family news.
After the hike, we treat our jet lagged visitors to some local fare at the castle's resturant!
This week the boys have a swim meet in Heidelberg so we decide to do a little exploring around the city. Heidelberg Castle sits atop the hill overlooking the city below. There is a very nice walk from the streets below up to the castle, but after the sauna of a swim meet, we all opted for driving up to the top and walking down to the castle. This all sounds so easy, but navigating a Honda minivan through narrow passage ways of ancient towns is quite a feat. I starting the drive towards the top of the castle, but nearing the top I had to move over for Joe to finish the climb. I just don't have the guts to attempt the small entrances, sharp turns, and low overhangs...not to mention, I don't want to be the ONE who does jack the car up! I'll leave that stuff to Joe.... Night is falling as we walk towards the castle, so we'll have to settle for a shorten tour. It's just as well, because after a long day, Colin has had it. It through a royal tantrum in the courtyard of the castle. We all try patiently to calm him, but sometimes nothing works! He's very upset about missing an exhibit because it was closed. The unfortunate part is that his brothers and I made it in before the doors shut. He is so crazy made that he didn't get to do something his brothers got to do. Colin proclaims (in a very loud voice) that all Germans are stupid, and he hates this stupid place. Ahhh I am so proud. Before it gets much more outta hand, we exit the castle and drive home. Sometimes traveling with kids is a bit more of a hassle than an adventure.
The weekend finds us free to travel to another close by city, Speyer. Speyer's Dom (cathedral) is lovely. Inside the boys are impressed with the crypt and alcoves, many of which have wonderful ornate sculptures. This leads to our next unnecessary comment from Colin. Let me give you some background first. Colin and I watch a movie describing the events of the protestant reformation in German. During this time, some defiant prodies disfigured many Catholic Church sumptuary and relics. They did this by axing off the heads of main saints. Colin is completely outraged!! So when he sees this disfigured sculpture (see below) he announces that "those stupid Germans" did it again, referring to the beheaded sculptures. Of course, voices carry inside church crypts, so many onlookers look to see who has made such a statement. First many eyes look at Colin (who doesn't much look like a 6 year old, but more like 10) and then his awful mother. We leave quickly after this (thank God there we're any anger protestant villagers here today).
After the Dom, we eat lunch a at nice little restaurant in Dom Square and then head to the History Museum. As many of the areas in the Rhineland Pflatz, Speyer has a mixed ancient past. First the Celts lived here and then the Romans. The area museum therefore, has a large array of artifacts from both cultures. So in homage to the Romans, here are my angry little Roman Gladiators. Can't you just hear Colin giving the thumbs down to any German Christian? Oh of course, I am only kidding, but he really likes the sword in the costume. After that we head to the "Hex" exhibit. It is a cool nod to many Harry Potter fans. Full of mystic and magic, just like the Celtic culture I mentioned earlier. The rotating exhibits are very well done. This museum gets often over looked because Speyer houses, a transportation museum and an aquarium to boot. We'll see those on another visit.To accommodate our two families comfortably, we decide to stay outside Paris in the Marriot Villages. This lets us take the train in to the city each day we tour.