Thursday, June 5, 2008

In our "backyard"

I am about 95% certain that the birds nesting in the trees behind our apartment areEuropean Magpies. They are beautiful, but can be noisy! Just a few minutes ago, I was standing by my balcony window, and one perched on our railing and stared at me! They are bigger than you might expect, but even more beautiful up close. I'm glad that I've finally identified the mystery birds that share our backyard.
Photos courtesy of

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Trip to Triberg

I'll fill in a bit more of recent events by writing about my day trip to Triberg im Schwarzwald. Triberg boasts the tallest waterfall in Germany, as well as a Black Forest History Museum and tons of woodworking and cuckoo clock shops.

Shurrece and I drove for about 2.5 hours, through clouds and rain for most of the journey. Still, the region was beautiful. As I've stated before, Germany is very green this time of year, and all of the flowers are bright and lively. (Incidentally, this includes my own attempts at balcony gardening, both of which are flourishing!)

When we finally reached Triberg, we knew straight away. Cuckoo clock stores (House of 1,000 Clocks being popular) lined the roads for a few kilometers before the city itself became visible. It is situated in the small valley between several hills, with houses and hotels reaching up into the hillsides, and cleared cattle fields at the summits. We decided that the first order of business was finding food, and so began a walk down the main street. Across from the Rathaus, we found a little restaurant that was housed underground, called Pinnochio Pizzeria. It reminded me of going to CW's in Wooster, or maybe like Wags for those more familiar with Frederick. It was full of old paintings that seemed to be inspired by the Brothers Grimm. We ordered Italian specialties- tortollini and pizza. It was delicious! And of course, we ended our meal with some Schwarzwaelde Kirschtorte- Black Forest Cherry Cake! Also, magnificent.

A quick jaunt up and down main street revealed a combination of tourist-geared shops and everyday establishments, such as a photographer's gallery and a hardware store. We decided to tackle the waterfall path first, so we started up the hill. We took many photos because the trek up the hillside was perfectly picturesque.

It was tough work at some spots, but when we noticed a group of senior citizens coming down the path, we decided that we could absolutely handle the climb! :o) It was worth the effort, because the waterfall was breathtaking. They have bridges crossing the falls at different levels, and from those bridges you can see out across Triberg, and into the hills beyond the town.

We followed a hiking trail that took us along the hillsides, around a lake, and eventually back to the town church. The church is about 350 years old, and featured some magnificent painted woodwork- the front door, the alter, and the organ were all gorgeous. Interesting fact- this area was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so Austrian flags were painted on several surfaces in the church. (I have posted a few photos of this church so you can see the intricate detail in the woodwork.)

Next, we visited a few cuckoo clock stores and woodworking stores. We bought little carved wooden eggs, and mine is hanging from a cabinet handle. It is lovely. The cuckoo clocks are amazing and diverse, but also extraordinarily expensive! Perhaps one day Josh and I will purchase a cuckoo clock, but not any time soon.

Our last visit was to the Black Forest museum, where we saw traditional costumes, heard music played by one-man-bands and carnival crank organs, saw historical clocks and Fasching costumes, walked through a reconstructed "farmer's bedroom" and "clock maker's shop," and saw a large train layout of the region. The museum was quite interesting and I experienced things I did not expect.

We were fairly worn out at this point, so we decided it was time to head back to the Pfalz. Triberg was an excellent choice for a day trip, and thanks to my friend for planning everything so I could just ride along and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Christmas come early (and other things)

So, you're probably wondering why Christmas came early. Well, I got an XBox 360 last week! I love it. I can't do everything with it that it can do yet, but I hope that I'll be able to soon. I'm still really happy about it, though, because I've been wanting one so long. If you have an XBox 360, let me know what you're gamer tag is, and I'll send you a message when I get online.

In other news, Becky is leaving for the States soon. She's going to be there for a few weeks, so I'm pretty much going to be by myself for a little bit. I hope she has fun though! She leaves in the middle of my next set on, which kind of stinks, but I really think she needs to go back for a little bit, so she can see some people/relatives that she didn't get to see before she left. I would like to go too, but I can't.

I also have a story to tell. Becky, a couple friends of ours, and I went to downtown K-town to see the carnival. While we were there, I went on a ride that flipped upside down. A lot. And what should happen during the last set of flips, but, of course, my PHONE should fall out of my pocket, where I forgot it was! When it came out, the back came off, and the rest fell, mid-flip, to its DOOM! Fortunately, it wasn't quite the doom I had thought. I went up to the counter, and they went to look for the phone. They came back with it, sans the battery, which is kind of important. So I get home, and try to order another one online, but they don't ship to APO addresses (even though their web-site says they do!) So, I called my Dad, who I thought could get me a replacement battery for my phone. As it turns out, he can (thanks, Dad), when he gets back from Mexico in a week. So I had to hunt down an ├╝ber-old phone that I'm now happy I didn't get rid of. So, yeah, that's my story.

Last but not least, when Becky comes back from the States, she'll have the supplement check from the IRS. So, hopefully, with a little extra saving, we'll get a new TV when she comes back! Yea, HDTV!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, on to the travel portion of my post. Recently, we went to Stuttgart, which was cool, although, kind of an odyssey. We kept getting turned around, and semi-lost, which is fun. Especially with another car following you around (full of friends, not stalkers). But we eventually got everywhere we needed to go, and we ended up staying the night in a hotel there. We walked around downtown with our friends, and saw the castles there, along with the museum in one of them. The next day, Becky and I went to another castle there, which was away from the city proper, which was nice and calm. Before that though, we went to the Mercedes-Benz museum, which was sweet. I got a whole bunch of awesome pics, which are on our picture site, so you should all go see them. After the castle, we started home. And proceeded into yet another odyssey, through the smallest, curviest roads in all of Germany, Thankfully we ended up home all right.

Well I think that's all for now. I'll talk to you all later. Leave some comments.