7/31/2013

Wednesday Hodgepodge


1. Share one way you think the world has changed for the better since you were a kid?
Internet.  And cell phones.  What did we do without these 2 things?

2. How 'bout one way it's changed for the worse?
Internet.  And cell phones.  Kids would know how to act like kids if they didn't have these things!

3. Starlight, starfish, starling, Starbucks...your favorite 'star'?
Is there any reason to ask?  Starbucks, of course!  BUT, if we're camping, there's nothing like looking up and seeing the stars on a clear night.  (Especially if you're in The Keys!)

4. Name a song that's overplayed, but you love it anyway.
Call Me Maybe.  Maybe I don't "love" it, but it does get me (& CH) singing.

5. When did you last have home made ice cream? Your latest favorite flavor?
When we went camping 3 weeks ago, one of the ladies in our camping group made it....Vanilla...it was amazing!

6. What do you think is the best way to inspire or motivate people?
Positive words and pats on the back.

7. When was the last time you were without power?
You know, I don't even remember.  When the power goes out at school, we're hoping and praying that it stays out so we can go home.  But, that never happens; it's never out for long.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
~ CH & I saw "Red 2" Saturday.  I thought it was just as good as the first one, if not better.  Mary-Louise Parker's character reminds me so much of MS' girlfriend: sweet, but a little devious, and always up for adventure!  I even think she looks a bit like her.
~ I'm almost through with my Germany recap:  Thursday & Friday are the posts that were really difficult to get through because of their content.  Monday will be the recap of the recap!  I'll probably just do one (or maybe a couple more) post for Copenhagen.
~  I saw this clip in an inservice the other day.  Pretty cute! (and it goes pretty well with the whole "motivational" theme that Joyce seems to have used this week!)


7/30/2013

List auf Sylt

Don't forget to click on the pictures to make them bigger, and scroll through!
After almost a full day of train rides, we made it to List auf Sylt.

We saw the scenery go through quite a drastic change.

This met us as we stepped off of the train:
We thought the sculptures were pretty cool, and funny.  Until we had been there for a while.  It was incredibly windy there.
The view on the bus ride from the train station to the hostel:
After we ate and got settled,  some of us took a walk and walked up on this:
A closer view:
I've never seen so many sheep!  Most of them appeared to be contained in a pasture, but this mama and her babies seemed to be roaming free. 
(The white dots in the picture are sheep.)
Some more views on our walk, just because it was really pretty...and different.



 Yes, we walked up all of those steps!
It was worth it...the view from the top was really pretty.
List from the top of the dune.


The boys got a little silly on the walk home:
The sunset was beautiful as we got back to the hostel...around 9:30 p.m.
The next morning, we took a bike ride to the beach.  Which meant we had to do a little more climbing to get to the top of a dune.
But once again, it was worth it.



We rode our bikes to the Harbor, which was a small area (compared to the touristy-beachy places we have in the USA) with shops and restaurants.


Outside of the restaurants, they have these chairs that you can sit in and get out of the wind.  They also have just the chairs on the beach:
And...you can buy one for as little as €1,400.  That would be around $1856.  Or, you can just rent one; but you need a reservation.
Or, you can buy a wall decal from Amazon starting at $29.99.  Then you can put stick it on a wall and pretend you're in Sylt.
There are over 11,000 of these on the island.

Our next adventure was a boat ride to see the seals.  
As we were on the ride, the boat people dropped the net to see what they could catch.  To pass the time, one of the boat people put the sealife in a bucket and did a "show and tell" with the passengers.
The women were not impressed.
We got to the seals.  Well, kind of.  If only we had binoculars!
When we got back to shore, it was time to eat.  


We ate at this restaurant a couple of times. It was kind of like a fast food restaurant:  you went to the counter and ordered, got your food after a couple of minutes, then went to the "bar" and ordered your drink.  Then you took your stuff outside to eat.  There were wait staff there to pick up your plates and trash.


We took a walk down the beach.
We saw some sunbathers (even though it wasn't even 65 degrees),
And some beautiful plants.
Our last day, we went for a walk in the Mudflats.  We had a National Park Ranger explain the sea life there.  The appropriate footware was a must, and the kids (and Ken) were stylin'!
 Notice how everybody has on jackets?  Yeah, it was pretty cold!  And, did I mention how windy it was?
The kids were very interested in what the Ranger (and his intern) had to say.
After some instruction, they went out into the mudflat on their own to see what they could find.

The view from the mudflat:
The buildings were a bit different here as well:
 Cool, huh?
I'm pretty sure I saw my vacation home on the bike ride into town!
The island of Sylt is in danger of being washed away into the North Sea.  To prevent this, they are "taking back the land".  In this picture, you can see the grids that have been put into the sea:
I'm not real sure how it works, but eventually the water diminishes and the grass grows, so it looks like this:
If you enlarge the picture (by left-clicking), you can see the grids.  The sheep are grazing on what used to be water.  
~  Sylt is called "The German Hamptons".  It is a resort town where the wealthy spend vacations.  
~  Its latitude is the same as the southern-most tip of Alaska.
~  It became separated from the mainland 8000 years ago
~  It has 2 shifting sand dunes
~  Sylt is 33% sand dunes  
~  There are around 3000 free range sheep on the island
~  The wind blows on Sylt for about 99% of the days (that and the latitude explains the crappy weather!)
~  Sylt is pronounced "Zoolt"

I'm on the "homestretch" of the Germany part of my trip.  Tomorrow is The Hodgepodge hosted by Joyce.  Thursday & Friday will be the toughest posts I've written...the ones I've been putting off because of its content.  Looks like I'll be wrapping up Germany on Monday...or Tuesday!


7/29/2013

Weimar

Don't forget to click on a picture so you can scroll through them!
Next stop:  Weimar.  I had no idea there was so much history in Weimar, or that it was such an artsy place.  Since the kids were on their homestays, MN & I were able to leisurely take in the town, without having to hurry or worry about getting somewhere on time.  I already told you about the Town Palace and Belvedere Palace during the 2nd part of Castles and Palaces.
Our original plan was to travel to Prague, but when we priced it, we decided it was a little more than we wanted to spend.  Then, we decided to go to Dresden, but a few days before the homestay, there was a little thing that is being called the most costly natural disaster in Germany (flooding), and the flood was expected to reach Dresden right when we were suppose to arrive.  So, we decided to just stay in Weimar, which really was a good decision.  It gave us time to recharge our batteries.
Just as in the other places we had visited, the architecture was fabulous.  The 3 pictures below are from Goethe Gymnasium.  When I got to Weimar, I had no idea who Goethe was.  He was a writer, artist, and politician who was born in Frankfurt in 1749 and died in Weimar in 1832.



There are a lot of monuments, fountains, and plaques in this town.  There's the Statue of Grand Duke Carl August who did a lot to lay the foundation for Weimar to be considered as a cultural center of Germany:
The building behind the monument is the  Hocheschule für Musik Franz Liszt.
The plaza in front of the monument and the school is called "Platz der Demokratie".  The plaque below indicates that this is the place where demonstrations took place beginning on 24 October, 1989.   (Weimar is also the place where the "new" democracy of Germany-now called the Federal Republic of Germany-was born.  The official documents weren't signed in Berlin; they were signed in Weimar.)

Plaque commemorating the 80th anniversary of the free state of Thuringia, which was founded in the same building as the Franz Liszt Music School.
They love their plaques in Weimar.  There is a plaque that indicates where Bach lived and where 2 of his sons were born:
A plaque to let you know that Hans Christian Andersen lived here:
A plaque in memory of Hans W. Schmidt, who was an artist:
A house where Heinrich Jäde (who was an author...possibly a children's author-from what I could figure out by googling his name- and freedom fighter in 1848) and Friedrich Schiller (playwright and historian) lived.
There was a monument to Bach:
Alexander  Pushkin (Russian poet & founder of modern Russian literature):  the monument was erected in 1949 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth:

Schiller & Goethe in front of the National Theater:
Another fountain, which is in the Market Square, is Neptune.  It is located where the first known "draw-well" was, which dates back to 1540. Neptune replaced a lion.
The Goethe Fountain is in another square.  It is a cast-iron fountain that the students take a dip in after graduation.
MN & I ate dinner in this square on our last night in Weimar.  It was really nice to sit and enjoy our dinner, and do some people-watching.  Just behind the fountain is this site:

There were some street musicians that were very good:

Strolls down cozy streets:





A walk to the "mall":


And an after-dinner stroll through Park An der Ilm.  We came upon a Russian Military Cemetery, which, as Americans, was quite creepy.


There is a cave in the park where they were having a play.  But, we didn't have tickets, so we didn't get to go.
There are ruins of a building that was bombed during the war:


Goethe's Gartenhaus:



And beautiful scenery:


There's even a statue of Shakespeare along the way:
The Market Square holds the Town Hall:

While we were there, they cut down a tree (which apparently they do every year) that is in the center of the square (although I couldn't find out why):




There was a band from a local school playing (and they were really good!):

That morning, there was a market in the square.  I bought some trivets from this booth for the boys' girlfriends.  He made all of the baskets and other goods himself.

We even saw a wedding party just after their ceremony.  They were leaving the Town Hall.
They held up a sheet with a huge heart, then cut out the heart.  Next, the groom picked up his wife and carried her through the heart.
Some of the buildings had quotes on them:

And we saw this one that paid tribute to Richard Wagner:
Wagner was only in Weimar for 3 days, since he was running from the law.  He left Dresden and headed to Paris.  Liszt debuted Wagner's opera "Lohengrin" in Weimar.

We saw so much in Weimar, especially for "taking it easy"!  MN & I had lunch last week.  I asked her what her favorite part of the trip was, and she said that she really enjoyed our time in Weimar because we weren't rushed.
Here's a picture of a house we saw on our way to the bus stop to meet the group at the train station:
And, a building across the street from the station:
The homestay came at a very good time:  MN & I had a chance to relax, and I think the kids had a nice little break away from each other.  Most of them had a very good weekend; there were 2 students who said it was "awkward", but both of them are very quiet anyway.  
After we met the group, it was time to board yet another train.  Come back tomorrow to find out where we went!

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