On Sunday, we packed up our car and headed northwest to the Eifel region of Germany. The area is an ancient volcanic mountain range with moors and lakes (Maar) formed in the craters. I am always impressed with just how much stuff the trunk of a Volvo sedan can hold!
We met friends coming from England there, and a few days later, their friends from another part of Germany. We settled in at the well equiped campsite. The bikes proved popular not only with our kids, but with the many Dutch families in our area as well. Katja spent most of the time taking turns with a cute little blond boy about three years old.
On Monday we walked into the nearby town of Manderscheid and to it’s two castle ruins. I was really impressed with the kids enthusiasm for a long walk. Half was in town, and half was up and down the forested park in which the two castles sat. Zavi followed the signs and kept us on the right path.
Up in the tower of the Oberburg, Katja looks a bit like Rapunzel. The kids really loved running around the ruins, climbing the towers, and finding all the nooks and crannies.
In the valley between the castles was a meadow and little river. We picniked there and the kids entertained themselves for at least an hour trying to scoop up tiny fish. Friend M actually caught a little crab creature on one of his tries.
Up the next little hill, the second castle, Niederburg, remained a little more intact.
I thought the grate in the floor of this tower was just for drainage, but the kids looked closer and found a more macabre function. We’re guessing that this had been the dungeon.
Back at the campsite, I did my best to repair the American image abroad by sharing the S’more love. Our friend M thought these were pretty darn amazing.
We fed some of the other kids as well. The first evening, they were cautious, but the second night they immediately swarmed around me clammoring for me to make them a S’more, or bringing me roasted marshmallows to squish with the chocolate between the crackers. One Dutch mom wondered where she could get graham crackers in the Netherlands. We decided that a suitable, and very European, alternative would be roasted marshmallows and LU Petit Ecolier cookies, which already have a pat of chocolate on them. Later, the “Marshmallow Kids” brought me thank you pictures!
Tuesday we spent the morning at the Maarmuseum learning about volcanic rock and how lakes and moors are created in ancient volcanic craters, and checking out prehistoric fossils. In the afternoon, we awaited the arival of L and his parents and shared some more S’mores.
On Wednesday the three families piled in two cars and went to a Sommerrodelbahn. On their first go, the boys went with an adult (here’s Zavi zooming away with L’s dad). Then they were able to go twice more alone. Zavi thought that this was the coolest thing ever and looks forward to a day when we can own our own house and build a Sommerrodelbahn in our back yard (yea, right!).
I went twice with Katja and once by myself. It IS really fun!
The real attraction, however was the safari park Wildpark Daun. M absolutely loves animals and this place did not disapoint. We saw Berber monkeys, as well as falcons, deer, llamas, donkeys, Prezwalski horses, yaks, mountain goats, and wild boar all out in the open and most close enough to touch (not the monkeys or yaks).
The moms impressed me. This monkey mom was so patient with her baby and teenager, and wild boar babies are sooooo cute.
Zavi and L tried feeding the llamas.
But Katja had better luck with a donkey.
On the ride back we stopped in Wallenborn to see a naturally carbonated geyser. This one shoots up every 30 minutes or so due to the build up of carbon dioxide under the ground. It bubbles up, then erupts about 10 feet tall and then continues bubbling closer to the ground for anothr five to ten minutes. Our tired kids thought this was going to be dumb, but when the geyser shot up, they were all suitably impressed.
On Thursday, we piled back in our respective vehicles and headed home, tired, dirty, and happy.