Thursday, May 31, 2012

Luisenpark "Mannheim, Germany"

Ferien is the word for vacation here in Germany, and the boys have a two week break from school. Not all kids in Germany have a break right now, but the state we live in has vacation time right now. Did you know that Germany has 16 states?  Just like the United States each state has a different school calender with some schools starting sooner or later than others and some common holidays like Christmas and Easter. On Monday we headed to the swimming pool, the weather was just too good to pass up. On Tuesday, we headed to Luisenpark located in Mannheim, Germany. The park is gorgeous. Built in 1892, Luisenpark is Germany's equivalent to Central Park in New York City. It is a perfect place to take the children. The park is filled with many playgrounds. The boys loved the gondola like boats. We saw plenty of turtles sunning themselves on rocks and Koi fish wanting to be feed. At one point my oldest son stated that the fish kind of creeped him out because there were so many of them coming up to the boat. The scene from the old "Willy Wonka" film flashed in my mind where they get on the boat that takes them along the chocolate river. One minute they are all enjoying themselves the next it is kind of a nightmare. After the boat ride the children ate their ice creams while looking at the different animals on display.   The park even takes into consideration the older generations who might visit by including plenty of lawn chairs and recliners throughout the park and also a special sanctuary area where you can sit and listen to quiet music played over a speaker.  Mannheim may not be a major tourist destination, but this park is well worth the visit.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Prague Food edition "Corner view Fire"

The first thing you should know about Prague is that food is expensive.  I think it has to be one of the most expensive places in terms of food we have ever been too.  Now I don't mind paying for a good meal, but if you do a sit down dinner in Prague you will find a lot of filler on your plate such as potato dumpling, bread dumpling, and cabbage and very little meat (as shown in the last photo).  I liked my meat, but the rest I could pass on.  The second thing is that they have a fee for just sitting down that is about 10 euros or $13 American dollars.  We didn't know this until it was too late.  What we should have noticed was that no one was eating and just drinking beer.  Actually, I don't know how the restaurants are staying open because we never saw anyone eating at them.  Your best bet for food is to eat a great breakfast in your hotel.  If you have a mini bar or fridge take some of your breakfast back to your room for later.  Pick something up at the store (Billa).  The other options are street food which is more reasonable like the Prague sausage that my husband is eating or fast food which there are plenty of but not cheap.  A meal at McDonald's will run you about 8 euros.  Just so you know they don't use euros in Prague, but the Cech crowner; however, I am using that as a point of reference.  My favorite of the street food was the Trdelnik a pastry wrapped around a wooden stick that is cooked over hot coals then dipped into vanilla sugar.  The second would be the Langose which is Hungarian fried dough topped with Nutella.  I think if we were ever to go back, we might try going outside the city for a good meal.  I am sure the prices might be cheaper.  Definitely a tourist trap or as my husband calls it a TT. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Prague Day 2

Ok, I am not going to hold back with the photos.  I know it is a lot, but Prague is such a gorgeous city I didn't want you to miss out!  What do you think, isn't it gorgeous???  Day 2 we set off on foot and explored the city.  First visiting the Dancing Houses by Frank Gehry otherwise known as the Fred and Ginger houses.  Then we walked over the Charles Bridge which totally reminded me of the Bridge of Angels in Rome and then on to the Lennin Wall (a graffti wall that is a tribute to John Lennin).  After that it was a gruelling walk not for the week in heart up to the castle. The castle is pretty modern in comparison to others such as Neuschwanstein or the Heidelberg castle.  Then on to the church which reminded me of the one in Koln which was also made in the Baroque era.  You can take a bus or tram, but I found it easier to get around on foot because they don't announce the stop and nothing is in English. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Prague Day One

 Wenceslas Square
 really cool old street cars

 really cool architechture
 Astronomical Clock
 St. Nicholas Church
 Frank and I
 Frank and Addy infront of the Our Church of the Lady before Tyn
 Side view of the Astronomical clock tower.

Hi!  How are you?  Hope you had a great weekend!  We just got back from Prague and I am having a hard time coming up with the words to describe this city.  Some call it the Venice of the North though I have heard that term used for St. Petersburg, Russia, and others call it the Paris of the East.   I don't think there is any other place like Prague.  Next to Venice Prague is one of my favorite cities  Seriously!  Going to Prague attacks your senses in a good way, and at times can be a little disorientating.  The architecture is amazing and spans a thousand years.  You will see buildings from: the Romanesque era, the Gothic era, the Renaissance, the Baroque era, 19th century neo-classical, the Functionalist era, with a splash of Frank Gehry mixed in with just about every American, German, and British store you can think of.  At one time I felt like I was inside a 1960's postcard or the movie Torn Curtain with Julie Andrews and Paul Newman.  Another time I turned to my husband and said, "this place can't be real.  I feel like I am at Disneyland sitting outside of Cinderella's castle."

After leaving the airport we headed straight for Wenceslas Square named after the patron Saint Wenceslas of Bohemia more recently the sight where in 1989 where thousands gathered to protest against the Soviet Union bringing communism to an end.  There you will find not only the National Museum at one end, but a variety of restaurants, fast food, and retail shops.  If you are lucky, you will even be lucky to see a free performance of some local bands or groups.  The performers were actually pretty amazing.

Later after checking in we headed to see the Astronomical clock built in 1410 located in Old Town Square.  My personal favorite spot!!!  On the hour you will be treated to a little show as figurines of the 12 apostles along with vanity, greed, death, and pleasure are set into motion.  The show is less than a minute, so make sure you are there a little early or you will miss it.  In the square you will find some food booths selling Trdelnik, Langos, or roasted pig cooked over hot coals then cut and sold by 100 gram increments.  Seriously yummy!  The smell was devine.  While we were there we had the opportunity to see a dance and song performance showcasing dances of that region. You will also see The Church of Our Lady before Tyn and St. Nicholas church. 

It was getting late, so we headed back to our hotel.  Stay tuned for Day 2.  Thank you Oma for watching the boys making it possible for us to go on this trip.  We had a fantastic time!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Double Digits, 11 months, and a Sunny Day

This week has been a busy week.  At Winston's school they have been making all things American Indian and ended the theme with a day of playing games and breakfast.  Winston turned 10 on the day we got back from London.  Currently, he wants to be a national team soccer player.  He loves spiking his hair up and goes to great links to make sure he smells good.  He celebrated the day with brothers, Oma, and a giant Erdbeeren Kuchen.  His favorite!  We will go a later in the summer to Europa Park to celebrate the day. Addy also turned 11 months.  No new tricks for her, but she is really starting to pull herself up on the furniture.  I can't believe she is almost a year old.  Yesterday, it was so hot here that we had to break out the swim suits and go to the swimmbad.  The swimming pools here are so much fun.  We had a blast watching all the  kids come down the slides.  The were doing a ton of tricks which I know for sure would have been forbidden in the states because of legal reasons.  We ended the day with ice cream.  Roman picked one called Power Krystals.  It has pop rocks in it that crackle in your mouth.  He was pleased as all can be.  He even made me take a picture of the ice cream poster, so we wouldn't forget the names of the ice cream.  Well, we are off to Prague in the morning.  Hope you have a great weekend.

Monday, May 21, 2012

London Wrap-Up (Cornerview up in the Sky)

The view was amazing!
Everytime we would go around and I would see St. Paul's Cathedral
the song from Mary Poppins played in my head.
Feed the birds "Tuppins for the birds"

On our last day in London the sun finally came out to greet us, though it did not bring the heat we so craved (as you can see by our layers), but who is complaining.  London is great in the sun or in the rain.  There is just so much to see and do!  So much history!  If you want to go on the London Eye, you should purchase your tickets in advance and get a scheduled appointment.  This will save you time and can save you money if you do one of their combo tickets with other attractions around the city.  Take time to see the 4 minute 3D movie.  It is a great little introduction to London.  If you are like me, then you are a planner.  I like to plan my vacations out so I can get the most of my vacation; however, word of advice be flexible.  We ended up scrapping our plans to see the Royal Observatory and The Greenwich Meridian because we just would not have had enough time to get out there and back since we had to be at the airport by 5 p.m.  It takes an hour from the city to get to the airport.  You can take an express train for 24 pounds, but you still have to calculate getting to Paddington Station.  I think we would have been extremely stressed had we gone out there.  In the end, our day turned out to be just as fantastic.  After going on the eye we walked over to Trafalgar Square where we had a very healthy yummy lunch at Pret A Manger.  England has come a long way since my last visit 20 years ago.  Yes, you can still get fish and chips or kidney pies, but it seems like the Brits have a love affair with France even though they might call them frogs.  I think we can also thank Jamie, Nigella, and Gordon for bringing the Brits out of the bad food category.  Just a five minute walk from Trafalgar we were at the Queen's gate.  We turned out to be pretty lucky because just as we arrived the changing of the guards ceremony began.  The Queen was home, but I guess too busy to come out and say hello to us.  She is probably getting ready for the big celebration on the 5th of June (Queen's Jubilee 60 years).  The city is totally decked out for the celebration with flags, swags, cakes, and china to commemorate the occasion which really was fun to see.  I bought a cupcake which turned out to be more pretty than tasty.  Of course we had to make a visit to Harrods because the food hall is simply amazing and who wouldn't want to see the ring that may or may not have gone on Princess Diana's finger had she lived (located at the bottom of the Egyptian staircase).  Couldn't miss the photo opportunity either at King's Cross station at Platform 9 and 3/4 (actually not located any more between 9 and 10 platforms, but just inside the station on a side wall). The boys got a kick out of the thought of us going to Hogwarts.  Sadly, it was time to go home.  I could have used another day to go out to the Royal Observatory, Abbey Road, Portobello Road, Tate Britain Museum (home of John Sargent Singer collection) and Notting Hill.  Actually, that sounds more like 2 more days. Have you been to London?  What was your favorite attraction or sight?