Friday, July 18, 2008


Continuing with the trip recap: After a week in England we flew to Frankfurt. Anthony's Uncle Volker picked us up at the airport with a picnic lunch packed in the back of the rented van. He pulled over at a picnic table in a beautiful field. It was a clear sunny day and we ate one of the best picnic lunches ever - cheese and salami sandwiches on amazing dark bread, cold tea, sliced cucumber and radish, and small local apples that were so good and appley-appley-appley that Colin ate two.

The Rhine river is an ancient transportation route, still used today. Long ago, castle forts were built every few miles along the river to charge fees for going up or downstream with goods. There is still a steady stream of barges on the river - you can always see at least 2 at any given time. There are 2 train tracks on each side of the river also, moving cargo and people.

We stayed in a castle a steep hike above the town of Bacharach. It has been converted to a family hostel.

These were the views from our room:

The other thing the Rhine is known for is wine - notice all the vineyards in the background?

The hostel had a lovely terrace where people gathered to drink in the local wine and the views.

There was a school group of 13 year olds staying there. Their teacher was so pleased because, although they were too shy to speak English most of the time, they were happy to talk to Colin. "Hey, Colin!" they would all call to him. "How are you, Colin? How old are you? What do you like to do?" Colin was their little celebrity, and he was happy to run after the big boys on the massive stone steps.

Every day we'd take a train to meet Volker, then tour villages along the Rhine. Once we took a ferry across.

Literally every 5 minutes or so we'd see a train (sometimes two), and every time this was rail fan Colin's expression:

One day we hiked 45 minutes in the forest to arrive at the majestic Burg Eltz. We even managed to eat some miniscule but intensely flavored wild strawberries and raspberries on the way.

We also toured a lot of beautiful churches. In medieval times when the population was illiterate, the beautiful art served as a way to teach the bible stories. Anna and Colin demanded to have the stories told to them again and again. They both can see the imagery much better than I can as an adult.

Colin was fascinated by the thought of all the people buried in the church. Here we look at a gravestone under our feet.

Who is buried here, Mommy? What was their name? Why did they die? How many people are buried under that stone? Is that where Jesus is buried? I think its a king and a queen. Why did they bury them in the church? Is there someone buried in that statue? I think there is. No, Mommy, you're wrong, there has to be a man buried in that statue. If I crack this stone, I can look inside and see the bones. (over and over, in every church we visited for the next 2 weeks)

In addition to seeing dead people in churches, we saw lots of playgrounds. Sometimes I felt we were on a tour of European playgrounds. When traveling with kids, the playground is a place for them to be crazy and loud after being so restrained in the churches and castles. Plus, they have different stuff. "WHAT is THAT?" my kids asked.

Since they have been deemed unsafe, my children did not recognize the ubiquitous see-saw of my childhood. This one had a nice cushioning tire at the bottom. The park also had this cool swing that was like a bird's nest hammock.

I was sad to leave England, but I was so glad we went to Germany. The weather is glorious in the summer, the land is beautiful, everything is tidy and efficient, transportation is easy, and most of all it was good visiting with Volker. The only thing I didn't like was the lack of public bathrooms - you have to pay 50 cents to a dollar everytime you want to pee - in train stations, castles, town squares, etc. And those are few and hard to find. "How do people who are potty training their children do it?" I asked Volker. "They pay," he said.

If you missed pictures of Uncle Ken's birthday party, visit my dad's blog. Also, Anthony has a site with literally over a thousand pictures of our trip. Visit Uncle Ken's Party Pictures for the pictumentary of the event. More pictures of the beautiful Country of Germany (mainly the Rhine and Mosel Valleys) can be found here.

Next up: Italia.


mr man said...


There is so much drool on my keyboard. Sorry Lisa.

Great post and photos.

G in Berlin said...

Atually.they don't pay. They teac their children to pee and to poop in the public space. For Americans, it's sometimes quite awful to see a well dressed woman holding her toddler to poo over the grass by a tree on the side of the street. I say, pay the 50 cents!

mainlyclearskies said...

Oh it sounds so amazing! Maybe Germany should be next on my list. Loved the pictures. Can't wait to see more.

jamie said...

Hi Jennifer,

Would you be interested in writing up that family hostal for my web site? Check it out here:

Sounds like a great trip,

Anonymous said...

Breathtaking,Jennifer..I loved reading and looking at those fab pictures..looks like a Fairytale part of Germany..glad you all had a nice round trip. A.Norma.x

peevish said...

Wonderful post and photos! The countryside and the castle are so beautiful, but that pay toilet situation would seriously get on my nerves.

I'm glad you all had such a great time there.

get2eric said...

Nice post. Good pics.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely Fabulous Post!! Germany looks wonderful. I see that Colin was still wearing the Captain's hat - that pleases us.
Love you, M

Emily said...

Great pics, but where's Voelker?

ColeBugsmommy said...

I love Germany too and would love to go back and visit again. I LOL at your recap of Colin's running list of questions....boy can I ever relate!

EdamameMommy said...

G is doing the same thing -- same obsession with the dead here on Nantucket. Everytime we go by the graveyard, the litany begins. Q after morbid q...must be a 5 yr-old boy thing!

Krispy said...

(or, the kids just pee outside next to a tree....)