Wednesday, April 15, 2009

3rd time is a charm....

Today was the day- three years ago a beautiful princess was born. She didn't have any hair nor could she eat solid food but it was love at first sight for all of those who saw her.

After time, she learned how to walk and talk and demand. She grew some hair and and attitude- and today you no longer see a princess... but a little diva queen. Here's the story of her third birthday...

W. awoke this morning only to rushed off to kindergarten in a new skirt and her 'fancy' sandals. When we arrived, every one knew it was her Geburtstag (birthday) and a special birthday hat was made for her. Several songs were sung in her honor and birthday cupcakes were shared all around. She was in the spotlight and loving it. The whole class was invited to play out of doors for 45 minutes; sand digging was commenced as well as teeter tottering and running at top speed screaming. Fun for all...

Lunchtime provided a quick snack followed by visiting and presents from friends- and then this thread was continued after siesta. We spent the afternoon planting seeds in the garden, digging the dirt and reading books.

After a super quick dinner we rushed off to the ice cream parlor to meet some friends and enjoy some treats. Again it was play, play, play then bite of melty ice cream then play some more. By the time the diva queen was taken to the tub for her daily bath, she was brown from head to toe- but how else would you want to end your 3rd birthday day?

Thank you to all that sent packages and phoned- W. had a wonderful day because of you!

Here's the link for todays photos:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mosel Valley

Last Easter we took a little trip to the Rhine Valley to see the infamous vineyards and view the considerable amount of castles left in ruin and restore by the locals. THIS year for Easter we visited the Rhine’s little sister the Mosel.
Being granted time for good behavior J. and I were able to take a trip alone for the first time in over three years. This being the case, we were able to stop at any place we fancied, and stay out as late as we wished.
First stop: Deutsche Eck (German Corner) a place in Germany where the Rhine River meets the Mosel; located in Koblenz it is considered the “Alamo” of Germany. Wilhelm I united Germany, and this is a monument to him and of what he accomplished. Not only is this a historic site, but it’s also home to a beer garden or two… lunch in Koblenz was very good!
Recommended by our favorite guide book author Rick Steves’, Burg Eltz is one of the most beautifully preserved castles in Germany today. Untouched by war due to careful planning and smart marriages, Burg Eltz was never attacked and so it remains in excellent condition. Located a few miles off the Mosel, Burg Eltz (Stream Castle) is still owned by the Eltz family. Tours are given in both German and English, so it is a very worthwhile castle to visit… if you’re in the area.
For the evening we found accommodations in the town of Beilstein at Hotel Haus Lipmann: Our room overlooked the Mosel and to the left and right we could see as far as the scenery would allow. The Mosel is also known for its capacity to produce wines, and being that we were settled for the night, it was time to sample! Most German wine is not expensive, which is good when there are several varieties to choose from. Our hotel was accompanied by their own restaurant and meals were of the traditional German fare. The breakfast that was included the next morning and taken in the knights’ hall did nothing but leave us with views of outstanding service and hospitality as a reward for our stay.
The next morning we headed off to Cochem; a town whose foremost sight is the large Reichsburg castle. Originally built in the 11th century, it was later destroyed by Napoleons’ army. The castle then was rebuilt in the romantic style and furnished in the 19th century. The town of Cochem has a wonderful green way along the river that locals and tourists both indulge in. The town has many cobbled streets and narrow passageways that entice shoppers to peek into the shops that inhabit them. This is a very child- friendly town and with parks on every corner and ice cream on every street, we almost regretted that we were alone…

Keukenhof Gardens

Holland is a beautiful country- not only are the Dutch known for their wooden shoes, excellent cheese and windmills, but they are famous for their flowers. Being the curious sort that we are, we needed to find out for ourselves what the big deal was about over some tulips….
Situated near Lisse, Netherlands is one of the largest flower parks in the world- Keukenhof Park. Tulips of every shape and size make their d├ębut here, and I can see why. In one of the largest and most beautifully manicured gardens I have ever been in, there is a feast for the senses. Not only are there tulips around every bend, but all sorts of daffodils and hyacinths are there to please the eyes as well as the nose. If there’s a beautiful flowering tree or shrub that also smells nice, it’s there too. Thousands of varieties of flowers are planted on the grounds; with thousands more in the many ‘greenhouse’ park buildings.
Being a gardener myself, I am sometimes critical of others gardens. I was awed at this one- maybe it was because we lucked out and the crowds were minimalized, or maybe I had a slight case of spring fever and this trip quenched it, but what ever the reason, I was totally impressed. We did visit a bit prematurely- arriving at the end of March when not all of the flowers have made their way out of the soil makes for a less colorful park, but no less inspiring.
The best time to visit the park is mid-April, however the park is open from mid March though the end of April. There’s a terrific website if you’re interested in seeing more of the park and gardens:
Enjoying such lovely day away from home warranted us a night at a hotel- and for this night we chose to stay in Den Haag which was a short 30 minute drive away. Known as the city of peace and justice, you may have heard of it hosting famous war crime trials. The city its self is located on the Dutch seashore and is home to Queen Beatirx of the Netherlands. The next morning we were able to walk around a bit, see The Peace Palace, and experience why we’d like to come back and lounge on the beach one sunny afternoon. Den Haag is an interesting city (third largest in NL) and it’s worth stopping in and taking a look around.
Finally, we’re on our way home, and we see a sign for the town of Gouda… who amongst you can resist the call of cheese? Not a one of us, so a slight detour was executed and lunch was to be had where some of the most delicious cheese in the world is made. Not all the luck was with us though… being Sunday and also being we are in a part of the world where days off are considered not to be messed with, there was no cheese to be bought… unless you wanted it on your sandwich. So we settled. Cheese on our meal it was to be, and tasty drinks all around. We were disappointed we weren’t able to bring home cheese from Gouda, but we were entertained by the tourists and locals enjoying their Sunday out. Here’s a little more about Gouda: