SJ on the Move

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Good-byes Again

After a fun couple of weeks with Grandma and Grandpa, it was time for them to head back to Ohio.

SJ understood that they were going back to Ohio on an airplane, because when she was at the park she pointed to the sky and said "Grandpa-Grandma! Come down!". It was quite sad.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Munich - Rothenburg - Day 4

Our last day in Munich was bitterly cold, just barely above freezing. Since I had only brought short sleeve shirts along with me, I made a quick stop at the C&A department store and purchased a black, turtle-neck sweater.

Those who remember the Sprockets sketches from Saturday night live will appreciate the irony of my clothing choice. 'Sprockets' was a mock-German talk show featuring Mike Myers in a black turtleneck.

On the way to the train station we came across a giant "O". There didn't seem to be any obvious reason for the giant "O", but SJ didn't care. After 2 weeks with her midwestern grandparents if you "O! - H!" to SJ responds with an automatic "I! - O!".

From Munich, we took a train to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which is an amazinglyl well-preserved medieval town, complete with an intact city walls and several towers. It was probably the most picturesque town we've seen in Germany.

We arrived in the early evening, after most of the crowds had already departed. SJ enjoyed running around the castle gardens and climbing all over what appeared to be some type of sculpture piece.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Friday Night's Party

We don't really know what is SJ's favorite food, but she does seem to have a particularly fondness for spaghetti. So, that's what we had for SJ's birthday dinner.

After dinner, we opened presents, which of course was a lot of fun. SJ got some fun puzzles, new clothes for her baby doll, knee high socks (which she seemed to enjoy much more than I expected), a new winter coat, a VW bug toy car, a BMW toy car, and a xylophone.

The xylophone was a real big hit - literally. Within a few minutes of unwrapping we were not 100% sure it was the best gift for our eardrums, but you can tell from SJ's face that she really loved it.

While the Cold Dog (see earlier post) would have been tempting for dessert, I picked up a variety of slices of cake from the cake shop across the street from our apartment on the way home from work.

Unfortunately, the woman working there didn't understand a word of English, nor did she even seem to understand English words that are almost exactly the same as their German equivalent.

I seem to run into the same problem quite frequently in Germany. For example, if I want to order 3 ice cream cones with different flavors, they always seem to think I want one ice cream cone with 3 scoops.

On this particular evening, I wanted 5 slices of cake, but I wanted a variety of different kinds. The woman seemed to think that I wanted 5 slices of cake stacked on top of each other and crammed into a one slice-size cake box. Why anyone would want such a thing, I have no idea.

After a few minutes of struggling, she went and fetched the person in the shop who "spoke" English. While no one would ever hire her as a linguist at the U.N., she was at least able to understand what I wanted.

Of course, after all that, SJ ignored the 5 different types of cake I brought home and just ate ice cream. Oh well, it's her birthday.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Afternoon Party

SJ spent the morning of her special day at the Waldau. A large playground and WildPark in Bonn. After getting her fill on the swings, she enjoyed feeding the animals in the Wildpark.

In the afternoon, SJ went to her friend Jonah's house to enjoy some traditional German birthday specialties. One of the items was Kalte Hund (literally cold dog). It's a bit of a strange treat, a mixture of unsweetened chocolate and lard is allowed to congeal between several layers of cookies. It actually tastes better than it sounds, although the marketing department should head back to the drawing board on the name. Who wants to eat something called 'Cold Dog'?

Friday Morning Birthday Party

October has been almost a monthlong birthday celebration for SJ. When Aunti Em visited earlier this month, she brought presents.

A short time after that, SJ received an Elmo coloring book in the mail from her friends Ethan and Isaac.

When SJ's Grandma and Grandpa arrived a few weeks ago, they also brought presents.

So, in order to keep up the pace, we had to have 3 birthday celebrations. I figure if Hobbits need 2 breakfasts then SJ needs 3 birthday parties.

Two years ago today...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Munich - Day 3

On our last full day in Munich we headed to the Deutsches Museum, which is sort of like all the Smithsonian Museums rolled into one. There's 3-4 huge floors on aeronautics, there's a wing on trains and automobiles, there's a couple of floors on sea travel - including one of the first U-boats, and much more.

SJ has been really into planes and helicopters recently, so she had a lot of fun at the museum. However, she might have had the most fun in the play area of the museum cafeteria.

After the Deutsches Museum, we finished up the day at the Residenz, which is where the family that ruled Bavaria for like a gazillion years lived. If you're ever in Munich and have the opportunity to go to the Residenz - don't.

It's not that it's an awful place, it is just room after room after room after room. They had several rooms in a row where they had displayed every piece of China from a particular set.

After you've seen one place setting, seeing another 200 of the exact same place setting has little marginal value - wouldn't you think? Evidently not to the curators of the Residenz.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Munich - Day 2 - Mike's Bike Tour

On Sunday we joined 'Mike's Bike Tours' for a bike tour that hits all of the key sites in Munich. The bike tours are all in English, thankfully, and ours was hosted by an Australian who bore a striking resemblance to Side Show Bob and definitely enjoyed poking fun at Germans.

We hit all the key sites, including some spectacular cathedrals, a nudist park, the site of Hitler's first attempt at seizing power, and a Biergarten large enough to hold 10,000 people.

We also saw this portion of the Munich's version of 'Central Park' where the water flows so quickly that people can actually surf.

SJ really had a lot of fun on the bike tour, but she eventually tired and fell asleep. Unfortunately, her bike seat was not set up as a recliner.

We ended the day as any day in Bavaria should, with a hearty plate of sausages and sauerkraut.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Munich - Day 1

This past Saturday, we all boarded a plane and headed down to the heart of Bavaria, Munich.

Our hotel was nice and conveniently located near the main train station as well as the main pedestrian shopping area.

If we had been interested in hitting a strip club, our hotel was also conveniently flanked by two of those establishments.

The lion is the symbol of Bavaria, and as seems to be very popular these days, there were statues throughout the city that were painted in a variety of patterns and styles. However, Munich really went all out. While some cities might have a few statues around town, Munich has somewhere around 500 lions.

This was great fun for SJ, who really enjoyed looking at the lions. We usually only had to walk about 30-40 feet before we would run into another lion, with another opportunity to sit on top for a photo op.

We ended our first day in Munich with a viewing of the famous Glockenspiel. It's hard to really pin down what is the most overrated tourist attraction in Europe, but Munich's Glockenspiel would be a serious contender.

It features a "jousting match" between two knights on horses (one from Bavaria and one from Austria), that hurtle towards each other at the speed of about 0.1 miles per hour. Just when you think your heart can no longer stand the excitment, they actually miss each other.

They then circle around, and go at it again. This time the knight from Bavaria knocks over the knight from Austria. At least that is what happened the couple times we saw it. Personally, I think the match might be rigged.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A new friend

SJ has proven to be very resilient in her time here in Bonn. We dragged her a few thousand miles away from the only home she ever knew, but she adjusted.

We took her away from her friends at school and her extended family, but she adjusted.

When her family has come to visit, she has rejoiced in their arrival, and cried at their departure, but she adjusted.

She made her first 'best friend', in Tomas, but then he went back to Boston. It was sad, but SJ adjusted.

Now SJ has made a new friend, Jonah. Jonah is a bit younger than SJ, but he has still been a good friend at the park for SJ.

On a recent day in the park, SJ taught Jonah how to play "Ring Around the Rosy".

The many faces of SJ

For those of you who have been suffering without pictures of SJ for the past two weeks, I apologize, and offer up this montage to ease your pain.

Grandma and Grandpa Arrive in Bonn

On the heels of Auntie Em's visit to Bonn, SJ got another pair of welcome visitors - her Grandma and Grandpa from Ohio.

They arrived mid-week, and SJ took them around to all her usual haunts - the river, the bratwurst stand, and of course, the swings.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

RolandsEcke - the WildPark

Sunday was a beautiful day in Bonn. So, we decided to take the advice of one of the moms in SJ's English language playgroup and take the train to RolandsEcke to the WildPark there.

We were told the WildPark was like a petting zoo, but it was actually quite different. It is basically a really large nature preserve, with about a 2 mile hiking path over fairly hilly and pretty rugged terrain. Not exactly the easiest of adventures with a stroller.

But, it was still a lot of fun. Much to SJ's delight, they had a playground with a giant slide that she could go down with her Mom.

SJ was definitely very interested in the animals, but got a little spooked by the prospect of actually feeding them. She would put some food out for the animals, but then recoil when they actually got near.

The most humorous event of the day, however, came after visiting the pony pen. After seeing the ponies bending over and eating grass, SJ decided that she wanted to pretend she was a pony.

So, she did what ponies do. She walked along on all fours and ate grass. We tried to stop her, but she was having a great time doing it. Sometimes I guess you have to let kids be kids.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Berlin - Zoo Station

Our last day in Berlin, we took a more leisurely route and spent the day at the zoo. The Berlin zoo is located right next to one of the largest transit hubs in the city - Zoo Station. At least that's what everyone refers to it as.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a nice sign that says "Zoo Station", they all said "Zoologischer Garten". Well, at least the Ipod in my mind was playing the U2 hit.

SJ enjoyed giving a statue of an orangutan a hug, as well as the aquarium.

Berlin - Brandenburg Gate

The weather on our second day in Berlin was considerably less cooperative.

Nonetheless, we headed out to see the sights. Long a symbol of the East-West divide, the Brandenburg Gate is one of the most famous landmarks in Berlin (the Berlin wall crossed right in front of the gate).

After visiting the gate, we ducked into the nearby Dunkin Donuts for a snack and some warm coffee.

Berlin - Charlottenburg Schloss

We headed out to Charlottenburg Palace in the western part of Berlin. It was okay, but we wouldn't classify it as a "must see".

Unfortunately, we mentioned to SJ that we were going to walk through the park by the castle. To SJ "park" is synonymous with "playground". So, she was continually looking for the playground.

Very fortunately, there was what appeared to be a rather neglected old playground right next to the palace. It looked like something out of East Berlin, but it at least had a slide - so a potential disaster was averted.

The Berliner Dom

SJ and her mom pose for a picture in front of the cathedral in Berlin, next to the river Spree.

Our first day in Berlin had great weather, fortunately. The other days were pretty gloomy.