No, not the Akropolis in Greece, the one in Aachen! it is on the Lousberg, a big hill in the middle of the city. Apparently the columns known as the Akropolis used to be part of a restaurant which was destroyed in WWII, and they decided to leave the columns as ruins. It was really beautiful and peaceful there. You can not tell that you are in the middle of a city at all.
Meg’s scout troop celebrated its 5 year anniversary recently, and I was fortunate enough to be able to join in on the festivities, and even stay the night, which was a treat, since usually the parents are not invited on campouts with the scouts in Germany. The last time I was camping with the scouts in Germany was about 20 years ago, with my guest brother Emmi. Not much has changed it seems. They still have great big tents called Kohte (from native american “Dakota”), and Jurte ( English Yurt). The tents are canvas and built in modular sections which you button together. This design means you can button several together to form a really big tent. They had Jurte together for the main gathering tent, which included a stage for the kids to perform skits and songs, and a firepit, around which we sang songs until 3 in the morning (well, Meg and I went to bed around 11, but many stayed up later).
I am really proud of Meg for being such a great scout, and thankful I got to share the experience with her.
I introduced the family to Leberkäse (liver cheese) some time ago. Sometimes it is also known as Fleischkäse (meat cheese). I think there are some variants which actually contain some liver, but most don’t. There is also a variant called Pizzaleberkäse which contains little bits of cheese, but the standard doesn’t contain cheese. I think it is called cheese because of the texture. It has sort of a bologna like texture, as it is ground up very fine, and then pressed together. At any rate, it is tasty. Spencer’s favorite mid-morning snack at school is now a Fleischkäsebrötchen (roll with liver cheese).
On the 29th we will have been in Germany for exactly one year. We decided to celebrate with a few of our friends today. It was our first party in Germany, and it went quite well. The kids were very helpful in preparing. Clare got a whole flat of strawberries at the local farm stand. They were a big hit.
The kids both made projects for mother’s day at school. Spencer’s project, a heart made from buttons, says “moms are like buttons. They hold everything together.” I agree. Happy 10th mother’s day Clare!
Sunday Meg helped me make hot cross buns, one of my favorite Easter traditions that I learned from my mom. I realized I was missing a few tools I normally have, like a candy thermometer and a pastry brush, but I made do, and they turned out quite good
Our second day of touristing for Easter break was in Trier. The word to describe Trier best is old. It was a Roman settlement, and there are many remnants of the Romans still there. We saw the Kaiserthermen from the 3-5th century, the city library with the first copy of the Gutenberg bible, plus many handwritten manuscripts dating back to the 700s, the oldest Cathedral in Germany, which was started in the 3rd century, and the Porta Nigra city gate from 170. We also saw the Benediktinerabtei which holds the bones of St. Matthew.
It is Easter break in Germany, and we are taking the opportunity to do a bit more exploring. Saturday we spent the day in Luxembourg city. It was surprisingly quiet, in my opinion. It felt much more like a Sunday than a Saturday. Perhaps this was partly due to the shoddy weather, which alternated between wind, snow, rain, and graupel
We managed to have a good time anyways. We got to experience a glass elevator which connects one part of the city to another. We explored the casements, a system of tunnels built several hundred years ago to connect the various military towers protecting the city. That was about all we had in us for the day, given the weather, so we then headed to Trier to find our apartment for 2 nights. We stopped at the grocery store on the way to grab a few things to eat. We made the kids some noodles, and then Clare and I went out to a very nice restaurant featuring local wines.
In the fourth grade in Germany, students have to take a bike test. This includes both a theoretical and practical test. They had about 6 days where they practiced on the road. I was fortunate enough to be able to go into work late one day and help out once. I was very impressed by how well behaved all the kids were and how serious they took the training. And indeed, there was quite a bit of traffic on the road that day, even in our little town of Würselen. There was a police officer there to help teach the kids, as well as the teacher and several parents. They had to practice how to enter traffic from the side of the road using UHU – Umsehen (look around), Handzeichen (hand signal), and another Umsehen. Also note that UHU is the sound of an owl, which of course can see very well.
The theoretical portion included learning many different road signs, and analyzing lots of different situations to see who has the right of way.
Spencer did a great job with it all, and was very proud to show off his license
Today was the big parade in Aachen. We learned our lesson from yesterday’s parade in Würselen that it might take awhile for the parade to get to the center of town. Clare did some research on the parade route, and it kicked off near the East cemetery at 11:11, so we figured if we got downtown near Elisenbrunnen around noon that should be okay. We got on the bus around 11:30, and it was already very full when we got on. We managed to squeeze a few more people in along the way, but not many. We got to the central bus station a little after noon, and the parade still hadn’t gotten that far yet.
While the floats mostly hand out candy, some also handed out other stuff like coupons, small bottles of liquor, or perfume and cologne samples. Spencer got a Puma cologne sample and liked it so much that he wanted to go to the drug store today to buy some. We decided to do that while waiting for the parade. It turns out they were closed for Karneval. Then it started to rain, so we ended up going to the Curry Palast for some lunch. By the time we were finishing lunch, the parade was finally getting to us, and the rain was letting up. So we were able to enjoy the parade for an hour or two. We got back on the bus around 2:30, which was not nearly as crowded as on the way there.
At dinner I asked the kids what they liked better – Halloween or Karneval – both said Karneval – lasts longer, more candy. I think you can consider us all Karneval Jecken now.