Next we hopped on the train for Nürnberg to visit with my host parents. For those who don't know, I student taught at an international school in Erlangen for part of my student teaching semester. I actually almost stayed on and worked at the school, since my cooperating teacher was going to be leaving for maternity leave. They were my second set of host parents after the first set didn't work out. They are wonderful people, extremely generous and kind, witty and clever. It was so fun to get to see them again and share my little family with them!
Even though it's been more than six years, it was very comfortable to fall back in to spending time together. I have very fond memories of dinners in their living room, going to watch a rugby game at the local pub, and exploring the Christmas markets with them in Erlangen.
They welcomed us with such loving arms the second go-around, too. Jim, Ian, and I all felt so welcome and relaxed in their company. Both Mark and Meg spent loads of time reading and playing with Ian. It was really fun to see.
Almost as soon as we arrived, we went outside for a walk with their puppy, Emma. Meg brought bread crumbs to feed the ducks. It was Ian's first time doing this and he dropped them from the bridge, allowing them to float downstream to the ducks.
Our first night there we had a Swiss raclette. It was absolutely delicious!! Meg and Mark are British, but have lived in Switzerland and Germany most recently. Their children are fluent in German and Rachel is even studying medicine in German!! Meg and Mark can speak German well, too.
Ian enjoyed having strawberries almost every night as his dessert. Here he is reaching into the bowl for another slice.
He particularly enjoyed the doll below named "Buddy." He pushed him around in a stroller, put him in the high chair, and carried him almost everywhere. Apparently this boy needs a baby doll at home, too! He was fascinated by the thing.
Anyway, the woods were really beautiful and pleasant. There was a spiderweb of trails that they knew really well and we never went the same way twice. It was really nice.
|Ian "walking" Emma.|
The following picture is actually from Easter morning. I love the light in this room. A beautiful place to start Easter morning. Even though I struggle with getting up in the morning, I do actually really enjoy morning time. A fresh start. Ian's normally rearing to go, content and babbling as he eats his breakfast and plays with his toys. These are mornings I can never get back; just me and my dude.
One day we went with Mark for a walk around Erlangen. It was incredible how many sights looked familiar and brought back vivid memories of my time there six and a half years ago.
First we went to the botanical garden, but it closed minutes after we entered, so we only got to see a small portion. It was really well done, dividing the garden into different types of landscapes. It was kind of neat to be there right as all of the flowers were starting to bloom and sprout. I'm sure it is spectacular now, a couple of weeks later.
Some sights in downtown...
|Rum Cake & a Latte Macchiato|
This is exactly how I'll remember him from his European adventure. Constantly in motion, contentedly exploring, and actively interacting with the environment around him.
As a mama, I couldn't be more thrilled with how well he did over the course of our trip. We stayed many different places, with many different people, and he did a phenomenal job. Eighteen months is an active, busy, and testing age and he rolled with his crazy parents across Europe.
Just look at that smile.
Oh, how I love that kid.
I'm so grateful to each of our hosts for loving Ian and us so well, as we traveled as a family. We were incredibly blessed and fortunate to spend time with each of you.
In Germany, community gardens are very popular. People who live in apartments or places that don't have yards or green places to grow things have the option of renting or owning a small lot. Some of these garden plots are decked out with small sheds that look like small cottages, hammocks, tree houses, and the like. We thought this was a particularly nice place to have one, hidden within the castle walls.
We stopped to have lunch at this beautiful little restaurant, spending almost the entire time adoring the beautiful beams inside. We ordered Nürnberger sausages with sauerkraut and schnitzel and, of course, some German beer. Oh, so good.
The sausages were cooked over this open stove right next to us. Ian enjoyed watching from behind the safety glass. But, let's be honest, we surely enjoyed watching the cook, too!
Next we headed back to the car and Mark and Meg dropped us off in front of the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände Museum. They then took Ian home with them while we learned about how Hitler came to power. It's an incredibly well-done, powerful museum and located where the Nazi party had their rally grounds.
As we approached the center of town, we saw this very tall, very thin tree. Meg told us that every village in the area has one every year. On a certain day, the tree has to be protected by the villagers, otherwise a neighboring village may come and steal it or cut it down. Jim was very into this! What a fun tradition.
Can you imagine trying to bring this into the center of town? I'd love to be there for the search for the perfect tree, the removal of it from the forest, and then the resurrection within the town.
It looks so silly at first, but once you hear the story it's quite marvelous.
The tree in the following pictures is over eight hundred years old. It's a lime tree that they've kept standing and alive by many desperate measures. Every bolting and propping system they could imagine was used to keep this tree standing. It's right in the center of town and obviously a prized specimen.
Here's a table full of many different kinds of eggs with labels. Our favorite was the turquoise emu egg on the far side of the table. Jim may never forgive me for discouraging him from buying one, since they were for sale. How could an egg have made the trek to Switzerland and back to the States without squishing??
I love the combination of stone, beams and windows in this building. The different angles and shapes are so unique and interesting.
Thank you so much for having us. We truly loved spending time with you and your family!! Love to you both.
On the first leg of our trip to Switzerland we didn't have a seat for Jim, it was so busy. But eventually the train thinned out and we were able to find a room all to ourselves. That's the best. We were able to throw a ball around and sing songs unencumbered.
On to Switzerland!!!