Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Highly derivative...

But the best I could do in what little time I have left before I head to the States. Same song, same unbelievably beautiful city, different pics. I'm particularly proud of the first pic, an incredible panorama taken after rough seas a few days before ("ressaca") had carved out a "lagomar", or "sea lake" on Ipanema.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mo' Worms...

Guess I've had Worms on my noggin since we left there on Sunday. A couple of things I was too lazy to mention then: one end of the church contained one of the most beautiful nativity scenes I've ever laid eyes on. It was full of fresh pine bows, which gave it a great appearance and smell. I also failed to mention that the weathering on some of the statuary was impressive. The cathedral in its present form has been around since the 12th century. For a little perspective, the time between the cathedral's being built and Martin Luther's trek to Worms exceeds the current age of the United States! By the way, Martin Luther was born 9 years before Columbus stumbled upon India (make that America, the "Other India").The ravaged statues/carvings below demonstrate that the concept of "built to last" is relative. They both seem to have been victimized by a multi-century chemical peel.Finally, how lucky are our kids to be experiencing some of these things, even if in small doses? Some day they'll be languishing in a history lecture on the Protestant Reformation when they'll hear about some "old dude's" trip to Worms. Maybe by then they'll have read these posts and remember that they had pizza in a town where history was made. Not as remarkable in their young minds as say, Disney Land Paris,
but remarkable nonetheless.
Radical gear shifting...

During a conversation with my German teacher today, I remembered a video I once put together with pictures I took in Rio. My good friend Luciano put it on youtube. Not sure if it's technically the opposite of Worms (see post below), but it's probably close.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Diet of Worms revisited...

Today we made it to a city I've wanted to visit since we came to Germany: Worms. While not well known by many, it is a city of huge historic importance as it was there that Martin Luther traveled to stand his ground against the greatest imaginable power (of his time anyway). Just showing up to address this infamously hostile crowd, known as the Diet of Worms, took huevos of steel. For this, he'll always be a hero of mine (a slew of his other, more repugnant views notwithstanding). As we are wont to do, we avoided complicating the trip with any kind of preparation. We parked near St. Peter's cathedral, a gorgeous, majestic structure that gently dominates the skyline (as it has since the 12th century). The kids played on its grounds for a while, until they started complaining they were hungry. Quite close to the church we found a pizzeria (Pepe e Sale) that was really good. The decore was quaint and quite intersting: mugs hanging from the ceiling and lamp shades made from clay roof tiles.
Before having a late lunch, we wondered around inside the cathedral a bit. It might be the most beautiful church I've seen in Germany. When Spring roles around, I'd love to go back and do a tour to see more of the city. I have a feeling we saw a tiny percentage of what Worms has to offer and I got a really good vibe from this city. Finally, although these majestic monuments are impressive, I've never taken a picture of one that approaches the beauty below.
I got a wall around me...

On Saturday we headed back to Rothenburg, a walled medieval city in Bavaria, an hour and half or so from Heidelberg. We poked around all morning debating whether we'd go or not, so didn't head out until 11:30 or so. We made good time on the way and upon arriving found the city almost empty, a welcome relief given that last time it was overflowing with tourists. A tip to those that go this time of season: there's ample parking inside the wall of the city. We only found this out after parking in one of the massive parking lots outside of it. After walking around for a while looking at tons of Christmas stuff (much to my chagrin), we decided to take a carriage tour. It was nice to see other parts of the city and hear about its history. The kids really enjoyed it, especially Emily. After the slow trip around the city, we had lunch at Zum Swan -- decent, typical German food at a pretty reasonable price. I had a couple of Hefes (go figure). Finally, one of the kids yesterday (Robert, I think) said that the city reminded him of the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. While perusing the Wikipedia article above, I saw in the trivia section that they filmed the "Vulgarian" village scenes right there in Rothenburg. Who knew?

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Not sure what's gotten into our kids, but getting them to go anywhere on the weekends lately makes me feel like a bouncer in a biker bar. Yesterday, after much ado, we managed to get them to go to the mall in Viernheim. The girls love the kiddie detention center there, where you can outsource your duties as guardian for a few hours while you shop (for only one Euro per child, per hour). Robert hung out with us as we stimulated the local economy. I'm looking forward to getting back to the States in a couple of weeks to hit a real mall.

At Toys 'R' Us, Emily bought her Carnaval (Fasching in German) costume: Elizabeth Swann from Pirates of the Caribbean. She works it quite well in my not-so-humble opinion.

On another note, the kids are slowly transitioning from communal baths to individual showers. Emily seems to already have the spa routine down. I'm bracing myself for our water bill.
Today, we convinced them to go to the park, where a good time was had by all. It's been a very mild Winter so far. Today, it got up to the low 50's -- jacket weather for non-Brazilians. B thought it was freezing. Upon arriving, we discoverd that for some reason, the city seems to have decommissioned the huge swingset. Although the kids are no doubt safer without it as an option, I'll miss their squeals of terror-filled joy.Finally, I've never seen a cuter take on the Annie Hall look, have you?

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Today we went to see a movie at Kinopolis in Viernheim. Actually, everyone but me went to see a movie. While B and the kids saw Enchanted (Verwünscht) in German (a landmark in our slow assimilation), I played on an (unreliable) internet kiosk, took some pictures and had a couple of cold Hefes. Kinopolis is a really modern, cool theater. It has a reasonably nice restaurant that serves decent food and drinks and is a stone's throw from the mall (Rhein-Neckar-Zentrum). Without a doubt, we'll go back. The light fog made for some mildly interesting effects in the pictures, but I'm still not sure it was worth freezing my backside off for. By the way, we had dinner at KFC -- my blood still feels like a suspension of Jello and Crisco. I think dinner there once a year is plenty (and my arteries would agree heartily {weak pun intended}, I'm sure).
Happy Birthday Bobber!!!

Or, as everyone except Sophia calls him, Robert. Robert had three birthday celebrations this week: one at his school, a simple one here at the compound on Monday with hot dogs (Brazilian style) and cake and another one Saturday at
JumpInn, where 15 kids helped him celebrate the anniversary of his eighth year on planet Earth. Somehow, we spent about 6 hours there. After the guests left, Thomas, ever the bad influence, tried to keep my beer glass full. I, of course, tried to keep it empty. I can't speak for Thomas, but by the time we left I was still feeling quite festive (does that mean I "won" the battle of the beer glass?).
As far as I could tell (by the their sweat-drenched clothing and hair), the kids had an absolute blast. Some of the younger ones could not grasp that some people, especially adults, don't speak German (even though, by now, we should). Their confusion at ours was quite amusing. With enough improvised sign language and help from our kids, not too much was lost in translation.
That night, we got a babysitter and had dinner in Schwetzingen at Zum Ritter. Not the most romantic place we could think of, but their food is good and their Hefeweizen is better. Most of the time, the service there is really good too. Last night, the waiter recommended Camembert cheese with (some kind of) berries as an appetizer. It was outstanding.

We sat and talked until a little after 10 when we decided to head back to the ranch. The kids were still awake and stayed that way until after 11:00. Would have to chalk that one up as a great day.