Monday, October 23, 2006

Castle Day 

Columbus Day weekend we decided to take a day trip and check out a couple castles we had not been to previously. The list of castles to visit in Germany is endless, but some are definitely better than others. Some you can't go in, some are only ruins to be explored. These two looked promising, since they both offered tours and were in close proximity to each other. We loaded up the car with snacks, DVD player and started out, pretty early on Saturday morning. It was almost a 3 hour drive to the first castle, Schloss Sigmaringen. This is definitely not on the main roads, we went through some beautiful countryside to get to it. This is one of the times that the GPS is invaluable, I think we would have been lost with just a map.

We arrived in the town of Sigmaringen to blue skies, which was amazing since it had been rainy and cloudy for most of our drive. We headed to the castle first, to see when the tours were offered. We had perfect timing, a tour was just beginning. Although the tour was in German, they provided us with an english translation of the tour in a book. The castle was really neat, one of the best ones we have seen. Jacob really enjoyed the hunting trophy room, as well as the armory full of knights' armor and swords. After finishing up the tour, we walked around the town for a short time, and had a really good italian lunch. Then it was time to head for the next castle!

The next stop, the Burg Hohenzollern, was about 1/2 hour away, this was a parking lot about 1/2 way up the hill. To actually get to the castle we had to take a shuttle bus up a really steep road full of switchbacks. But definitely better than hiking up! There were a few different things to see on the castle grounds, as well as a tour of the castle. Just to look at the view over the valley is worth the trip up, the inhabitants of the castle would never be surprised by visitors. They could see for miles and miles into the surrounding valleys. We went down in the casemates under the castle, and into a chapel that was open for viewing. Then it was time for the tour, which was also nice. This castle tour required us to wear slippers over our shoes, to protect the floors. This tour also was in German, but again there was a booklet with an english guide to follow along with.

After we finished our tour we began our trip home, arriving late in the evening. We decided that the second castle was better on the exterior, while the first castle was better on the interior. Both of them were great though, and it was a really fun day. We also enjoyed the scenery along the way, since we were off of the autobahn cruising on the smaller roads. We plan to try and find some more castles to visit in the spring, to add to our "castles visited list"!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mister Sippi 

About a week ago, we read a children's book about various sites in America. It was very basic, with lots of big pictures and not too many words. Today, driving home from Jacob's sports class he asks me... "So where is the Mister Sippi? I know about Mississippi, so if there is a Miss, there must be a Mister!" These are the kinds of questions Jacob comes up with - out of the blue. So I wonder if that thought has been tumbling around in his head the past week, only to pop out after an hour of speaking german! I can barely think after I've had to try to communicate in german for an hour!

Monday, October 09, 2006

School news 

Jacob went back to school at the end of August, to a new group (class). Normally everyone stays in the same group the whole time they are at the kindergarten, from age 3-6. There are always some older children and some younger children in each class, which I really like. Unfortunately, the enrollment was dropping at the kindergarten. More were leaving to go to first grade than were coming in as 3 year olds. So they had to rearrange the groups a bit and start some new programs. Jacob moved from the mouse group to the bird group, and has adjusted well. He is still a little sad but he can go visit his teachers from the other group whenever he would like. They are very easygoing about the children going to visit friends or teachers in the other groups which is a good thing. One of Jacob's teachers from last year (Ruth) lives in our neighborhood and we often see her when we are out for walks or bike rides. She always has Jacob come in her garden, and sometimes we have cake and coffee with her. She doesn't speak much english, but we manage to talk about some things in my broken german.

Jacob is also signed up for some "extra" classes that they now offer, and is enjoying them. He has music class for one hour on Mondays, and Art on Thursdays. Also on Thursdays he has started going to a "sports" program in our town. It is more like physical fitness, with running, jumping and some games. All the kids have a great time, it will be even better in the winter when they can't play outside as much. It is in the gym at the regular school in Wolframs-Eschenbach.

Right now they are replacing the roof on the kindergarten, it has been quite a process to watch. First they remove all the red tiles, then the old insulation. Now they are putting in new insulation and underboards, I imagine any day now they will start putting on the new tiles. I'm not sure how the tiles go on, if they lock together or are attached somehow. I know that the ones on my house can be removed one at a time when someone is working up on our roof. They take them off and use the blank spots as steps. It's very interesting to see. The children are enjoying the work, since they have a large crane in the play yard that is always doing something. It has limited their time outside to play, although today they all walked over to another playground a short distance from the kindergarten. Jacob thought that was a lot of fun, a little field trip I guess.

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