Sunday, November 28, 2010

Burg Lichtenberg's Medieval Christmas Market

Like I said in my last post - more Christmas markets are in our future! We made the short trip to our castle (yup, it's ours now) for the medieval Weihnachtsmarkt. I've written before about how loads of folks that attend these really get dressed up for the occasion. Well, this was no different. It was smaller than the summer medieval festival held here, but still nice.

We went just in time for some lunch. Red brats, white brats, and pork steak over a wood-fired grill = delicious. And finally some gluwein for me. Catherine and I agree it is an acquired taste. And I've acquired it.

The kids each got to pick something special out for themselves. Ian chose a sword, and got his name burnt into the hilt. I don't think he's put it down except to climb into bed. Leah chose a princess hat - in pink, of course!

We discovered a new favorite treat to look out for: baumkuchen. Basically it is a dough that is rolled over a wooden roller that is then suspended over a wood-fired grill and then spun to give it an even toast. The get-up would be awesome for s'mores, but I digress.

My parting shot is of the very tail end of the castle-ruin grounds, where many small tents with vendors were set-up. Just to kind of get the feel for the place. We have had snow, but not much. Mud was the larger obstacle today.

Have a wonderful day out there. We head to England here in a couple of days for our (early) Christmas trip. Wish us luck!


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Market season is here!!

The official Christmas Market season is upon us! Christkindlmarkts, Weihnachtsmarkts - whatever you want to call it, it is here. We kicked off this year at Valkenburg in The Netherlands. It is held in the "world famous caves" below the city.

We've been wanting to check this one out for over a year now. We just didn't have time last year (part of our Christmas season was spent in France, Spain, and Andorra), so we decided last night to make it there today.

While the setting was very unusual, it was really quite a letdown. No Gluwein (THE HORROR!!!), and a huge lack of food vendors in the caverns made for a less than optimal Weihnachtmarkt. You can see that we still had a good time, we're just looking forward to some of the others even more.

And for some random photos - we had our first snow of the year too - on Thanksgiving day. The view below is from one of our upstairs windows, facing away from our village. There was quite the snow line just a few meters up in elevation.

This last photo is a panorama of five or six photos stitched together in photoshop. I then made it a black and white in Lightroom (also a Photoshop family product). You can see our house, as well as a bit of our castle through the snow storm brewing. This one was from Thanksgiving day, and was literally the first day of snow.

Have a wonderful day everyone. We are headed to the castle for the medieval Weihnachtsmarkt tomorrow - much less of a drive ; )



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Random Photo from Switzerland

I recently downloaded a bunch of photos from Catherine's camera to my hard drive. They went back a long ways. One of my favorites was from our trip home from Italy. We had spent the night on the Swiss-Italian border and woke up the next morning to a glorious early summer day.

I'm pretty sure this photo is one that Catherine took while I was still driving, from very near the Bernard Pass - of St. Bernard fame (the tunnel was open, unfortunately the road over the pass still was not).

I've changed the color of the leaves from bright early summer green to that of more like fall. Appropriate for the time of year, I hope.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful day!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

President Ian

Some of you may have heard that Ian is the "President" of his 1st grade class. They have a pet iguana named Guido, hence they are in Guidoland. Their teacher gives out Guidoland money if they behave well, which can be used in their little store for simple toys and treats.

Catherine had brought home an example of the money they used, and I decided to spruce it up a bit. Below is what I came up with. Ian has been moved to the ten dollar bill, so don't lose these collector 1 bills!

His class has been learning about Native Americans, and they had a big production today. Ian got to introduce the ceremony, lead the 1st graders and parents in the Pledge of Allegiance, and some other stuff. Little (not really) Chief Ian . . .

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

More from Sunday in Thallichtenberg

These are just more photos of Ian and Leah from our Sunday trip to the castle.

Ian at the rocks:

Just a different one of Leah:

And then my favorites of the kids are the ones where they are together:

. . . or especially when they hug!! This is going to be great ammo in several (lets hope many) years:

Have a wonderful day everybody. Tschau!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finally, some decent weather

After a solid week of cold, wind, and rain, we finally caught a (brief) break in the bad weather. Since Catherine was in Paris for a bread baking class, that left me and the kids. So I loaded them up in the Mini and we headed to the castle.

I, of course, also brought my camera and flash. Unfortunately, the battery on my wireless died and I'm still waiting for the replacement to get here in the mail. My other method of triggering my flash wirelessly doesn't work so great in direct sunlight, which is what we had today.

The kids had a nice time playing at the playground at the castle.

While I took advantage of snapping away at them mostly while they played. Below they are taking a quick break before we head out into the rest of the castle grounds.

They also had a nice time climbing on some rocks . . .

. . . which you can see them here below in action prior to taking their photo, above.

All in all, a very nice day. Hopefully yours is as nice. Tschuss!


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ian and his Stomp Rocket

We brought out Ian's Stomp Rocket toy this past weekend and took it outside, even though it was raining, for a little fun. It gave me a chance to play around with my flash, which is always fun for me. Anyways, just a couple shots of Ian having fun.

Too close to the flash on this one, but still a good looking kid!

Have a great day everybody!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

More from Garmisch-Partenkirchen

So I've finally made some time to put together some of my photos from our recent trip to Garmisch. As many of you know, we don't really "plan" our vacations. We go to places where we have ideas of what we want to see and do, and then get there and change up where we go based on a variety of factors.

Well, Garmisch was no different. The only thing I really wanted to see was the Partenachklamm. Apparently "klamm" is "gorge", so we went to the Partenach Gorge. It is a 20-30 minute walk from the parking area to the entrance, and a mostly pretty walk, but nothing amazing. The gorge itself is pretty cool - I just love that shade of green water. Ice cold at this time of year, and probably just as cold in the summer, but I'm guessing much more refreshing.

Anyways, at the far end of the gorge the trail divides. We took the wrong turn (blame me, my German is nicht sehr guht). Funny thing is, after a long climb from the valley floor, this is where we came out:

Not bad for a wrong turn! I don't think that "village" even has a name. There were hotels there and a nice restaurant with this amazing view.

The shot below here is from inside the Partenachklamm. It is a very narrow gorge, and the water isn't all that deep, but it does move pretty quickly. There are all these overhangs and tunnels that have been cut into the rock, and from one end to the other is only about 1/2 mile.

This is at the "top" end, where we exited. The sun was finally able to make it to the bottom of the gorge, and really helped to warm things up.

And at the very end people had made these rock cairns in a bizarre sort of zen-garden kind of thing. Ian and Leah had a great time deconstructing one of them while I was occupied trying to get a nice photo. There were plenty to choose from, so no real harm was done.

And a parting shot from some of the fields just behind the Edelweiss hotel, where we stayed. I'm not entirely sure what all those buildings were for, but some were packed to the gills with wood, others hay. But this is generally what we were waking up to every morning outside the hotel.

Have a wonderful day everybody!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Good Morning from Garmisch!

I woke up early this morning to go grab this photo. It was a beautiful morning to admire a sunrise here in Germany. It is hard to tell from this photo, but if you zoom in on the mountain peaks, you'll see they are being kissed by the sun. I have a couple of nicer ones that will get some photoshopping done on a larger monitor, so look for those sometime soon.

Have a wonderful day everybody. We will here!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Edelweiss - in the German Alps

This past week we've (me, Catherine, and the the kids) have been in Edelweiss, a hotel in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps. I have been here for work, continuing education really. Pretty awesome place for continuing education, but too bad they fill our days - literally - with programming. We got here Sunday and we've been go, go, go until this afternoon.

Thankfully the weather has cooperated and given us crappy weather while I've been in conference, with good weather the past couple of days. Today we headed into the foothills and made our way to Riesersee (Lake Rieser) where I discovered this little gem while on a run a day or two earlier.

The water is crystal clear, it is too easy to watch some of the fish swimming. I didn't dip a toe into the water, as there is snow higher up and I'm sure this water is part snow-melt. It used to feed the bobsled run that was used in the Munich Winter Olympics (pretty cool to see the old school grass, wood, dirt embankments for the turns).

Catherine found the kids some Bavarian-type clothes prior to our Oktoberfest trip, but we didn't have any luck finding ourselves dirndl's or lederhosen. So we saved the outfits for this trip and broke them out today.

This shot above was technically difficult, technically the least pleasing shot of the group. But I just love those Alps!

Finally, on the way out we saw this little chapel that I hadn't noticed before on the two previous trips past. This gave me a good chance to play around with the flash. All in all, this has been a nice little get away. We have a couple more days here, with no definite plans. Typical Skinner vacation . . .