Monday, April 26, 2010

A park worth living in Germany for...

Saturday my family went to Luisenpark, a really cool park in Mannheim.  The previous week was my first time to go and I took my son.  When I came home I told my husband about the park, it made him want to go too.  What can I say except that this park is amazing?!  It is the biggest park I have ever been to and once you are inside you forget about the big city around you. 

When I first went it made me feel a lot better about living in Germany.  Is that strange for a park to make you feel that way?  I liked it so much that many of the problems I have had while living in this country seem to not matter as much. Just knowing that I have this beautiful place to visit so close to my home adds to the quality of my life here.

The park costs 5 Euros to get in or you can buy a season pass for 35 Euros.  We ended up buying season passes Saturday.  Children 6 and under are free.  You can bring your own food and drinks in the park or eat at their many snack bars and restaurants.  They accept cash only so make sure and bring your Euros.

At the park there are a lot of different birds including penguins.  There is a mini farm with different farm animals for kids to see and learn about life on the farm.  There are many "gondaoetta" boats that float around a river and a mini train that will shuttle you around the park if you just want to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.

The flowers in the gardens are beautiful and they change seasonally.  There are many gardens to see including a rose garden, Chinese garden, arboretum, and greenhouses. 

The first time I went I spent 5 hours and still didn't see everything.  Saturday we spent 3 hours.  Plan to spend a good bit of time there if you go and consider bringing a blanket or lawn chairs.  Or you can rent one of the many metal lawn chairs at the park for a Euro. 

There are a lot of things for kids to do there.  There are several playgrounds, tire swings, green grass to run and play on, bumper cars, and more.  They also have concerts, operas, and plays on an open-air stage that seats approximately 1,000 people.

I have not been to Mannheim that many times but every time I go I become more impressed with the diversity and amenities the city offers.  Where are some of your favorite cities and places to visit?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not quite a hostel - our time in Prague

This past weekend we went to Prague.  Shamefully I am somewhat of a hotel snob.  I like comfortable beds and clean rooms when I travel.  But I'm also a budget traveler and really like to travel so I'm constantly looking for the best deal possible.  

Some friends of ours who are currently living in the Ukraine went to Prague last week for a vacation.  We decided to drive and meet them there this weekend.  Being a last minute trip I decided to try and find a bed and breakfast.  I've heard there are some really nice ones that are very cheap.  Thus I found Ota's House.  It was literally a house.  Our bathroom was shared with another room in which thankfully nobody had booked.  The rooms were clean and it was non-smoking.  The price was great, 770 Czh per night (around $40) and that included breakfast.  What was not okay was this...

...our bathroom.  Notice, no shower curtain and the shower head is hanging on a little green seahorse thingy upside down.  Needless to say the floor was soaked when I was done with it.  At least we had hot water!

The breakfast was typical European style: bread, cheese, and yogurt.

A plus of this B&B was the rooms.  They were bigger than typical hotel rooms in Europe.  We also were blessed with two rooms.  This was the room connected to ours in which we set up our baby's crib and left our suitcase.

Here's our room.  It's a toss up on whether or not the floor or our bed would be more comfortable to sleep on.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but it was a very old springy mattress.  Usually our baby wants to sleep with us on vacation, but not this time.  He stayed in his crib all night long.  I guess after laying him on our bed for a few minutes he had had enough too.  If felt like there was a sharp object poking up through the mattress.  It was a rough night's sleep.

But Prague was a very cool city and the B&B was cheap so that was nice.  We ended up taking our vacation for around $350 and that included gas.

Public transportation is very good there.  You can leave your car parked once you arrive in Prague.

We left our car in the backyard of our B&B.

Apparently not too many people drive to Prague.  We were the only ones at this B&B who drove.

We are so glad we went and got to see our friends, even if our B&B was a little old and shabby.

If you decide to stay in Prague on the cheap and don't mind a lumpy bed and a funky shower, I'd recommend Ota's House.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

European Blogger Website

I just discovered a really neat European blogger website called This Side of the Pond.  If you are a blogger living in Europe you may want to join it.  It looks like a great place to meet and network with other bloggers.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A few good sites to check out

Last month I started writing for the Imperfect Parent as the Family Vacations Tipster.  If you would like to read my travel tips, please visit my site and leave a comment if you'd like.

Another site I just started and am super excited about is called Musings by Marisa.  I will be writing reviews for books here.  If you are interested, please follow me.  Thanks and have a great day!  

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Morning

Today was great.  Our church service was wonderful and we are enjoying the sunshine.  

Der Osterhase (the Easter Bunny) came and left my son some nice goodies.  He left some colorful eggs in the nest we made him out of shredded paper.  My baby's Easter basket was filled with a stuffed bunny, baby carrots, baby treats, and three books: Little Bunny, Little Duck, and a German Easter board book.  We also had a little Easter egg hunt for him to go on in our living room.  He enjoyed the day.

Here are a few pictures.

Der Osterhase's nest and basket

 After my son went through everything

Our neighbor's Easter tree

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Der Osterhase, the original Easter Bunny

Easter is such a wonderful and important Christian holiday as we remember the resurrection of Christ.  Along with the resurrection many people celebrate in other ways too.  Because this is my son's first Easter, I decided to do some research to see how Germans celebrate this day, particularly in regards to their children.  In the States children line up at the mall to talk to the Easter Bunny much like they do Santa Claus.  They also have Easter egg hunts and parades.  In Deutschland you will find neither the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus at the mall.  However, many children decorate eggs and have Easter egg hunts.

Interestingly, the tradition of the Easter Bunny or Easter Hare originated in Germany.  Der Osterhase or Oschter Haws was the first white Easter Hare and was first recorded in Germany in the 1500s.  Der Osterhase didn't come to the United States until the 1700s.  It wasn't until the 20th century that the Easter Hare became known as the Easter Rabbit and then later the Easter Bunny.

Children traditionally designed nests the night before Easter for der Osterhase from their caps and bonnets and would leave them outside in a safe place, often close to the barn for Osterhase to find.  Der Osterhase would leave colorful eggs inside their nests while the children were sleeping.

Since we are living in Germany, we decided that tonight we will follow the German tradition and make der Osterhase a nest. We will find out in the morning what he leaves us.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Drei Tage Fieber

I wanted to pass this along to my expat friends and followers who have young children.  A few weeks ago, my 9-month old son had a high temperature (102.9 degrees Fahrenheit, 39.4 degrees Celsius).   He was cranky and not his normal happy self.  I took him to the doctor because he wasn't eating well and started throwing up.  I felt like the doctor had him get a lot of unnecessary tests.  He has two doctors, one American and one German.  We should have gone to the German doctor because the German doctor most likely would have known what it was without having to have my child get his blood drawn, a catheter, x-rays, etc.  It ended up that my baby had Drei Tage Fieber (Three Day Fever).  I found out that this is a very common childhood illness in Germany.   95% of children in Germany get this illness. The age children who get it are typically 6 months - 3 years old.  The symptoms are a high fever for three days followed by a rash that lasts for one day.  The rash does not itch. Once a child gets this disease he/she is immune for life.
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