Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Colmar Part Deux...

For those who missed the last post, we spent the weekend in Colmar, France. On Sunday, we awoke and beat a path for the "carriage stop". We were then treated to a 15 minute (or so), slow going tour of the city. For some reason, the kids didn't seem too impressed this time. Jaded at 3, 6 and 8. The teenage years are not going to be easy.We then had lunch at a decent place not too far from where the carriage dropped us off. When I took the girls inside to use the restroom, I spied an older couple chowing down on a pork knuckle. Although the name doesn't necessarily scream "great eats", this traditional German dish is excellent. I've never verified this, but my assumption is that cardiologists in Germany do land office business.
We then walked around to a few churches as I wanted to take some HDRs. Turns out cathedrals in Colmar take a siesta early in the afternoon. We soon decided that it was time to head back. We made excellent time, arriving in Heidelberg a couple of hours after we left Colmar.
Shortly before leaving, Emily gave the lady at the front desk a bouquet of the tulips she'd picked the day before. When we returned shortly before leaving, they'd been incorporated into a little display in the reception area. The good will Emily earned with this act softened the blow a bit when, about a half hour out of the city, B held up the garage door opener from the hotel! Covered parking at the hotel is about 300 meters away, beneath an apartment building. I had gone to the van with Robert to so the girls wouldn't have to walk from the hotel. Amidst the inevitable maelstrom that erupts whenever we try to get all five of us moving in the same direction, I had failed to return the clicker to the front desk. Guess that's why they have two. B dropped it in the mail first thing Monday morning so I think the chances of prosecution are slim.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ah, Colmar...

This weekend we decided we'd go to Colmar, a beautiful little city in the Alsace region of France, spend the night and then hoof it on to Basel, Switzerland. We never made it out of Colmar.
We headed out Saturday morning at 10:30 or so, early by our standards. On the way, we stopped to cut tulips just outside of Strasbourg, another Alsatian city we love. The girls were overjoyed so I got some really nice pictures.We arrived in Colmar at about 14:00, checked into the hotel and the hit the streets. By the way, we stayed at an Ibis there and were really pleased with it. It was cheap and really well located. I think the Spartan amenities would get old if you stayed more than a couple of days, but as we stayed only one, I can highly recommend this place.As soon as we got there, the kids wanted to rest a bit so I headed out for an hour or so to get the lay of the land and take some pictures. The weather was virtually perfect both days: in the mid 60s with plenty of sunshine. Colmar is known as "Little Venice"as it has canals with boats. This silly hyperbole aside, we really enjoyed the 15 minute boat ride, including going under bridges with our heads down about as far as they would go. I think it's safe to say that Colmar is one of the most photogenic cities on Earth. Everywhere you turn there's a quaint building, beautiful flowers or a lively café.
We then took the train tour to see the parts of the city we hadn't made it to on foot. The Southwest corner of the old part of the city had a huge park and plenty of beautiful buildings. We decided we'd head there the next day. On Saturday night, we had quick dinner at a restaurant on the main drag. I had an interesting Calzone with cheese on the outside and ham inside. I then planned to head out and take some long exposures, but Alas, I was wiped out. I'm not sure what time we went to bed but it was before 22:00.
On Sunday we got up and headed out in search of the horse drawn carriages we'd seen on Saturday. It didn't take us long to find one. Pictures forthcoming.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I Y Strasbourg...

B's aunt and Godmother (same person) has been in town for about a week. Since I saw very little outside the office last week (long, depressing story), I missed going to most of the usual haunts where we take the masses of folks who come to visit us, e.g., the castle, Baden-Baden. Today, we decided we would go to Strasbourg and then Colmar. A lot of people whose opinion I respect have lavished copious praise upon the latter, so there was no was I was going to miss it. Even though I've been to Strasbourg at least 5 times (probably more), I love it more every time I go.
We made good time on the way there, hitting the beach in time for lunch. We got off to a bit of a rocky start when we had to park the USS Voyager (a minivan that drives like an aircraft carrier) in a garage apparently designed for Hot Wheels. To make matters worse, soon after leaving the garage a street vendor got perturbed that I took a picture of his friend (who was looking the other way, wearing an EU umbrella hat). He started shouting at me in French. Having had way too much coffee (and probably having worked too much lately), I didn't hesitate to respond in kind in English (Texan really). Once he realized I was probably crazier than he (and twice as big), he backed off. Note to self: Take your meds!

Serenity now! Anyway, we had some good crêpes before Robert and I headed into the main cathedral to take some shots. We did alright, if I do say so myself. B took Dinda (aforementioned aunt/Godmother) and the kids on the train tour (which by now B could easily narrate from memory). I walked around snapping pictures like someone who needs to take his meds (as usual).
After joining forces again at around 16:00, we decided to head to Colmar, until Poposuda (navigation system) told us it was an hour away. We beat a hasty retreat back to the compound where we dined on some of the best stroganoff I have ever had. Three cheers for B and Dinda.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Heck on wheels...

This weekend marked the first time that (most of) the Prickril clan took our bike riding skills out of the garage and on to the streets of Kirchheim. We took a couple of laps around the block before Sophia gave out (her "bike" doesn't have pedals). After dropping her off back at the ranch, Robert, Emily and I had a blast touring our neighborhood on six wheels (collectively).
Although there were some close calls, no damage was done to the numerous cars that line both sides of the street here. By the way, in Germany it's common to buy an insurance policy that protects you against the financial devastation that can be wrought by kids with more energy than coordination or restraint. I bought such a policy with my car insurance and, luckily, haven't had to use it. Yet.

Saturday afternoon I bummed around the Altstadt taking pictures here and there (the usual suspects, as you can see below). I'm particularly fond of the fountain "spigot". It was a fairly nice day although it's already turned cold again. I hate to wax poetic, but cruel Spring, why hath thou forsaken us? Alright, so maybe I'm waxing biblical -- you get the point: it's mid-April and way too cold for my taste. On Sunday, we called a babysitter and headed to beautiful downtown Wiesloch to have a few drinks with friends. The "platz" there has a nice vibe and we were able to sit outside in the cold with a gas heater by our side. I've always loved this setup. Later, after church services were over (for the folks who went while we drank), I entered the little church there. Really impressive (that I could still take level pictures -- the church was nice too). I, as usual, had a disturbing number of hefes (as did Thomas {not that Thomas, another one)). B and her friend Andrea put away their share of Caipirinhas. Not a bad way to cap off a nice weekend.