Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Fireworks at the Bernkastel-Krues Castle

We headed over to another festival on Saturday afternoon, September 1st. This one took place about 25 minutes east of the base in the Village of Bernkastel-Krues, along the vineyard covered slopes of the Mosel River. (I'm still confused about the name of these two villages... I'll let you know when I get it sorted out.) The house you see above is beautiful, yes, but I included it because it is the typical architecture along the Mosel.

"Wait! Turn around... just real quick! Hey! Smile! This one has the castle in the background!" My family is still getting used to the constant interruption of their adventures as I ask them to pause for a moment and smile for the camera... again!

Castles, fortresses, quaint villages, and swans on the river? We've been plopped into the middle of a fairytale!!
This entire area is known for their wine. Sure, there's still the beer... "but the wine!" say the locals! In fact, you know the cupholder on the modern infant strollers? Yes, back home, they hold a Starbuck's cup of Java. Here, they hold a wine glass. Aha! So this explains the general attitude of almost all the locals we've met in Europe! Anytime I've told my children to mind their manners, calm down, stand still... The adults nearby are adamant, "It is no problem!" They smile. They think my children's obnoxiousness is cute... It is no problem. So that's the secret! A couple of glasses of wine and It is no problem. Perhaps the parents at home ought to switch out their Venti... (Incidentally, for the record, I don't care how many glasses of wine -- which I have yet to taste -- I've had, I still don't find out-of-control children cute!)
Looking up at the castle from the other side of the river.
We decided to cross the bridge and trek up to the castle. Yes, that's the castle, again, in the background. No space is too narrow for another structure... That's Israel standing in front of this building.
As we entered the Village Square, this line of drummers made their way toward us.
Ornate balconies, overflowing flower boxes, and half-timber architecture seem to fill the spaces on every cobblestoned street only to meet in the Village Square as if collaborating on the themes of charm and whimsy.

"Wouldn't it be awkward to put a building right there?"
The town counsel looked at one another, sipped their wine, "No, Pascal."
Pascal was from France and how he got elected to fill a chair on the counsel gave the locals something to gossip about as they tended the vineyards late into the evenings. Pascal leaned back in his chair and sipped his Perrier.
"Who says the base of a structure has to be bigger than it's top?"
Pascal just raised his Perrier, tipping it slightly at the top. He nodded his head, his crooked smile lightening the mood. And thus the locals proved that not only are they not vertically challenged with their cliff-hanger vineyards, but their construction skills defeat any vertical challenges, too. To the castle by way of the vineyards!
Why stay on the path when you can climb on a wall?
Fair Lady Israel on the steps leading from the path to the vineyard.

Israel, Eli, and Isaiah standing in front of vineyards reaching to the base of the castle! View of the vineyards, Mosel River, the Bernkastel Village, and then more slopes of vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see.
Ezekiel standing at the gate of the Castle vineyard.
Looking down on Krues Village from the castle. Headed back down, we could see the Village Square from the path.
As the afternoon wore on, the atmosphere grew more festive. This is the Village Square as we passed through again on our way back across the river. Time for Italian icecream cones! Mmmmm...
The children's laughter carried perfect melody... ...with the high spirits of the thickening crowd.
The castle, like a child's bedroom nightlight, glowed orange against the shadows that moved across the backdrop.
The fireworks that followed were truly the most magnificent fireworks we've ever seen. Synchronized perfectly to Beethoven's 5th, slow-bursting red streamers floated as glittery effervescent bursts sizzled in the background. These were shot from on the river straight across from where we sat. Then, just as we ooohed and aaahed and said how lovely it all was, they cranked up the bass on the stereo. Van Halen sang about love as cannon-like shots echoed across the valley and the sky lit up with colors that spanned from the castle where they shot to right above our heads. The show lasted for a good twenty minutes before ending with colored smoke billowing in front of the castle above. Nobody moved. People sat while the smoke illuminated the castle first in reds, then blues, then oranges. Majestic. Royal. And what were they celebrating? Life. No other reason. They celebrate here because they can -- and they want to.
We walked the long mile and a half back to our van. It is no problem. (Humiliating when we can't keep up with the local senior citizens... but still no problem.)
The next day we took our first big road trip... be continued.

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