OK, so we're home, but you've seen enough pictures of our place in Moscow, so I thought I'd put up one more blog post about our time in Germany. We had a great time there, though we're glad to be back home on the way to resolving all our paperwork issues (until next year, of course, when we have to do it all over again!). Anyway, this last week we left my family's place in Mundelsheim and went over to visit a friend of ours, so we'll catalog our last week in Germany in these pictures.
One of the things we enjoyed most about being in Germany for this time was actually getting a "fall" season. In Russia, it seems like it goes almost directly from summer to winter, with a brief transition period thrown in there, and we miss the gradual cooling and leaves changing that you get everywhere else. Of course, this threw B into a photo-taking frenzy of leaves, and I'll leave her to put up a post with all her "fall color" pictures. However, I liked these ones of the boys, so I thought I'd throw them in:
No socks and shoes! Our Russian friends will probably freak out, but it wasn't that cold. Then, she took advantage of Matthew starting to sit up to get this one:
Steven went through a brief phase after our journey where his favorite things were trains, but now he's all about tractors. He even tried to drive this one.
So, after staying for almost 4 weeks with my family in Mundelsheim, we received our visas and went for a long weekend with our friend Anne, who lives near the Czech border in Bavaria. She is hoping to come work with us after she completes her training, so it was really good to get to spend some time together.
Fortunately, she was on break from her classes, so we got to make a few day trips out to see the countryside. The first day, we drove down to visit this castle in the town of Kulmbach.
This is the view from the top up there, with B and Anne:
When I was little, my family traveled through Germany on our way back from Indonesia, where we'd been living. We have a picture of my little brother inside a cannon from a visit to a castle, with just his head sticking out. We couldn't find a big enough cannon to replicate the shot, so we put Steven on top of this cannon instead. He got so excited!
Inside the castle walls the ivy in this courtyard was changing color to a brilliant red.
We enjoyed the Bavarian food while we were there, as well. I took a picture of our feast from our trip to a local restaurant. On the left, there are pork chops and bread balls (impossible to explain, but excellent!) in a horseradish sauce, then the omnipresent wurst and sauerkraut, then on the right is a roasted pork leg and potato balls. All of it was delicious!
One of the other things we did there was just to tour the town of Hof. They have a landmark collection of street signs from all over the world. Here I'm pointing to a sign for a town called "Brasilien" (I was born in Brasil) and B's standing near "Amerika," which is also apparently a town somewhere in Germany. If I had more space, I could post a bunch more pictures of all the signs, including one from Rocky Mount, a town near where B's parents live.
We also enjoyed a trip to the zoo. Steven might have enjoyed the slide even better than the animals:
He did enjoy the animals, though. He's been learning all the animal noises lately, so he got to practice a bunch of them and learn some new ones. Here he's feeding the goats.
Matthew didn't get into it too much, but the monkeys that ran free inside the conservatory-thingy looked him over carefully. Finally, we realized that they were captivated by his rattle, so B offered it to one. He almost took her up on it, too.
Steven hadn't experienced a trampoline before, and even though he can't jump yet, he loved being held while we did. When do kids get big enough to jump (from a level surface), anyway? It seems odd to me that he can run around without problems but can't get it together to get both legs off the ground at the same time.
OK, so that's about it. I'll leave you with this picture of B and the boys and the answer to last week's question. No points for anyone; we only had one guess!
The sign in question was the "no speed limit" sign. They actually still have them on the German autobahn. We got to experience a little of this, as our friend's dad actually came to pick us up in his Audi Quattro. I had never been above 105 miles/hour (about 170 km/hr) in my life, but he quickly put that to shame. We averaged around 130 m/hr (200 km/hr), I'd say, though he briefly went up to 160 + mph (260 km/hr). It was unbelievable to me that you can drive that fast legally, but people seem to be very good drivers and we didn't see any major accidents ourselves. I just remember a friend in the US paying lots of money to have a "NASCAR experience" and not going over 150, so I had to laugh that we got to do it for free there.