Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Friday, June 6, 2008
But on to Trier, the oldest city in Germany. We went mainly to see the Roman ruins, including the Porta Nigra, which is the largest and best-preserved city gate from the Roman Empire.
We also saw some of the Roman baths - the most fun part of that were the tunnels under and around the old baths - and a Roman amphitheater. One of the museums has wonderful old mosaics and other relics of Rome, including this stone carving of a wine ship that adorned the tomb of a wine merchant who lived on the Mosel River around AD 220.
Trier also has a wonderful old market square, which has been in use since the 10th century.
Street performers are pretty common, but this one was particularly good - his costume actually included a working fountain.
Our vacuum cleaner broke a while back and we weren't going to replace it, but then one of our neighbors who was moving out put one on the curb and I snatched it up. Felt like manna from heaven. It sure will make the final cleaning easier.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
While we enjoyed cake and snacks, friends of the bride and groom asked guests to make up gift certificates for the happy couple and to write down their wishes for them. (The father of the bride wrote a gift certificate that he would still change her summer tires for winter ones.) That portion of the reception lasted until around 7, when they took a group photo of all the wedding guests and the bride tossed the bouquet. Want to guess who caught it? (We did persuade her to give it to the girlfriend of the brother of the bride!)Then it was inside for the formal dinner. The set up of the tables is different from most American weddings, with the tables in long rows. The table at the left was the head table and there were also a couple of smaller tables off to the side for the kids. The bride and groom welcomed all the guests and then introduced each (over 100 people) with some comment about their relationship to the bride and/or groom.
Between courses formal toasts, skits, songs, etc. were presented by the parents of the bride and the groom and by some of the guests. Unfortunately, we only made it to just past the main course (about 10:30), when Abby, who'd had a sleepover at school the previous night, was falling into her food. Wayne stayed until about midnight, when the dancing started and the last public bus for Wiesbaden left.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
So after 5 days in Poland I think I need to stop eating for another 5 days to make up for it! My language is hopelessly muddied today - I find myself substituting Polish words for German ones. I think a day or two of German will take care of that.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Also in Speyer is a large Technical Museum. The most fun part for us was the airplanes. This is the view from the crew area to the cargo hold of an old Antonov 22 - a Ukrainian cargo plane.
There's also an old 747, and you can explore it from the cargo hold to the first class cabin and cockpit up top! As you can see, you can also walk out onto the wing, which was fun, especially since the plane is displayed lifted high in the air. Then, to get down, there's an enormous twisty slide.
A little touch of home - in the automobile section there was a pevious winner of the Houston Art Car parade!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Although Wurzburg was mostly destroyed in 20 minutes one night in 1945, the city has done a remarkable job of preserving and rebuilding. The most famous building (and World Heritage Site) is the Residenz.
You are not allowed to take pictures in most of the building, but this picture from just inside the entrance gives a pretty good idea of what it's like.
Our favorite room was one with an inlaid wood floor that looks 3 dimensional. It's a little strange to walk on. The gardens are pretty, too. Abby took this shot in the gardens - you can see why it appealed to her!
We continued on to Nuremberg. Wayne had work to do, but Abby and I went to the zoo to see . . .Flocke, the baby polar bear. She's cute, but Abby was more impressed by the amazing playgrounds they have at that zoo! It's a big zoo, with lots of walking, but we highly recommend it. Lots of trees (and shade), great playgrounds, some interesting animal habitats, dolphin shows, decent food.
On the way home from Nuremberg we had to change trains in Wurzburg. Our train was running a few minutes late, which is not unusual for the local trains here (though the intercity trains are nearly always on time to the minute). As we arrived in Wurzburg, we could see that our connecting train was just across the platform and was still there. So the train stopped, we hopped out, and the other train immediately pulled out, leaving 100-150 people standing on the platform yelling and shaking their fists at the engineer! I have never seen them do that before - usually they'll hold a train for a couple of minutes. So we had an extra hour in Wurzburg! It got us home later than we'd intended, but luckily Monday was a holiday (Pentacost).
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
This is just a small fraction of the original castle complex.
One of the remaining parts of the castle is a series of mine tunnels. These were used on the western, more vulnerable side of the castle, and were intended to be filled with gunpowder and exploded if enemies got that close - a forerunner of the land mine, I suppose. Based on this experience, I have a new rule: I wil not go into any tunnel in which Abby has to bend over to walk. After this the tunnels actually got shorter, and of course they were pitch dark. We did have a flashlight, but navigating underground is a little tricky, as there were lots of cross tunnels and dead ends.
This time of year the hops fields are in bloom. They are spectacular.
We continued up to the Mosel River and went to Cochem. There we toured a palace built in the 19th century, so very different. Although this looks like a frog, it's actually a lion wearing armor. Or so the tour guide said! This tour was notable in that the tour guide spoke such clear and simple German that I could actually understand the tour! She did pass out cheat sheets (just to our group of maybe 20) in English, Dutch, Polish, Chinese, and Japanese.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
They tell drivers well in advance of what parking garages have spaces free, and how many. I should point out that I took this picture on a Sunday - on Saturdays the numbers are closer to 0.
I forgot to mention in my Barcelona post that we avoided 2 pickpocketing attempts in our first 15 minutes in the city. It can happen anywhere, but late at night in a subway station does seem to be about the worst.
Everything is closed here today for Labor Day, held on May 1 in Germany (and most other countries, I think).
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
This is the ceiling of the throne room, intended to look like the stars. As at the Generalife in Granada, the gardens were beautiful and had lots of water elements. Also in Seville is a huge cathedal with an amazing high altar including over 1,000 carved figures.
The architecture of the Alhambra is simply amazing. This is a view through several doorways - every square inch in carved with non-representational art and Arabic words. This is a closeup of one of the walls. Nearly all the walls are like this.
The ceilings are decorated, too. This is a beautiful wooden one.Next to the Alhambra is Generalife, another palace (not an insurance agency, which is what it sounds like to English ears!). It has beautiful gardens with lots of fountains and ponds thoughout. Water served a practical function in helping to keep the palace cool in the very hot summer months (it was already in the high 80s in April!), but also symbolized life and purity.