Friday, July 25, 2008

Nurnberg, Germany

So... after a physically and emotionally exhausting day at Auschwitz we stopped at a grocery store for "to go" food as we "just wanted to go back to the Elim Center and rest." Although it was highly recommended that we visit the "beautiful city of Krakow" just a short distance from Auschwitz, we didn't have it in us. The four-hour drive back was very quiet as the children slept the entire way. As soon as we arrived back at Elim, we ate sandwiches for dinner, and then the children played on the grounds for a couple of hours while LeRoy and I visited with the staff that live there. Like I said before, I wish you all could meet these people; inspiring! In fact, if you ever want to do a missions trip to Poland...
The next day we got up early, ate pastries that the staff had put out for us, and loaded up our bags.
***Warning: This next blog is verrrry looooong. Take the opportunity now to go get a warm-up on your coffee.
May 28, 2008 ~
Now, I have to tell you, people come from all over the world to shop for Polish Pottery. Evidently, this pottery is unique and highly valued and, well, if you have the opportunity to drive over to the store to peruse and pick out your favorite pieces, then the opportunity must be taken! Evidently. So, although shopping is never one of the activities at the top of my "Must Do and See" list, we figured that since we had come all this way, we may as well check out what all the fuss is about. (Seriously, Polish Pottery weekend shopping trips are all the rage amongst the Americans working on the Bases.) And... my sweet husband enjoys shopping. So, off to Boleslawiec we went! (Pronounced Bowl-uh-slaw-vik, I think.)
As we drove into this small city, famous for it's pottery, we passed a flea market. How fun to visit a flea market in Poland! We stopped and walked around for a good bit, the children negotiated for a couple of treasures, and I bought my favorite kind of dishes: metal enamel. We walked to the van with our loot, me chuckling at myself people come all this way to purchase coveted pottery and I buy metal dishes at a flea market?? Ah, well. The children found a sort of "aquarium" for the frogs they've been catching down at the creek. So cute!
We drove in the direction of the signs, attempting to follow the directions in the "Panther Paws" book and finally came to Ceramika Keramik Cer-Far. Although I couldn't find a website for this particular store/factory, I found a few others:
and a more "local" one in Seattle, WA
Don't you feel more cultured now? smile.
So we entered this store filled with shelves and shelves of valuable stoneware... with my three boys and tomboy girl... and the term "bull in a china shop" took on new meaning. We walked all through the store "looking with our eyes, not our hands" and then LeRoy, (I love this man!), suggested we purchase some pottery for people back home. Well, that sounded fun, so we instructed the children to stay in one spot while we picked out a few pieces. They promptly made up a game with ceramic bottle stops in which they spun them like tops... While slightly skeptical, I decided that the chances of them breaking one of these was a lot less likely than if they were wandering aimlessly around the store.
So we took forever long to pick out a few items, but then finally finished, when LeRoy said, "What about us?" What about us? "Don't we need at least one piece for our family?" I smiled at his choice of words. Yes, I suppose that since we've come all this way, we really do "need" at least one item for our family. smile. So we chose a serving bowl. Pretty fun! I'll post a picture of it on the blog sometime.
Next stop: Nurnberg. Well, that is, after we stopped for gas before the German border! (The zlotsky to euro rate is great in our favor right now!)
Upon leaving Berlin we had begun listening to "To Kill A Mockingbird" and now the story was really starting to pique our interest as the rising action in the story depicted Scout, Jim, and Dill scheming a way to get a look at Boo Radley. (This was such an amazing story to listen to considering the events of the last several days!)
We left Elim in the late afternoon and though we only stopped a couple of times and Nurnberg isn't too far... we ended up driving into Nurnberg around 10:30 or 11 PM. We had not reserved a room in Nurnberg so we proceeded to stop at three different hotels... which were all full.
By this time we were feeling pretty worn out... and getting more curious as to where we were going to sleep. I opened up the Rick Steve's Guide and called two different places. Ah! The second place gave us an excellent deal on a room and didn't even mind when I told him there was six of us!! "Be here by one o'clock because we close then."
We got directions off the GPS, loaded our arms with backpacks, blankets, and pillows, and turned west. We walked four blocks down a narrow cobblestone alley, came into an opening, and asked the four men sitting in front of the Lucas Restaurant if they knew anything about the rooms to stay in. Rooms? Oh! They were all laughing and then all of them pointed south. A tall man stood up and moved closer. He explained that there was a different Lucas Restaurant with a hotel... that way... "Is it very far?" we asked.
The typical gutteral, "Pfnngah!" along with a cheerful, "About one kilometer is all!"
We turned down the street, looking for all the world like a bunch of ragamuffins, homeless, our blanket rolls tucked up under our arms. By this time we were 'melting' and as we turned the corner and made our way across the city square, we found the moment hilarious.
Poor Israel, "Can't we just sleep on our pillows and blankets right here?!" she said pointing at a small grassy spot in front of the cathedral. "Just a little further," we said trying to muffle our giggles.
About half way there we were all laughing at ourselves so hard that we stopped noticing how exhausted we felt. Then the clock tower rang the top of the hour -- twelve times. So there we were, walking through the nearly deserted square in Nurnberg, at midnight, backpacks on our backs, arms full of blankets and pillows, looking for an address in a vague direction. And this family soooo Rocks! With Isaiah's natural wit and sarcasm, Eli's hilarious teenage take on situations, Ezekiel's Eeyore-ish drama with his literal perspective on everything, and Israel's seven-year old cut and dry simplicity, we all laughed so hard. I wish I could have recorded the comedy as we made our way toward the hotel... we hoped.
Finally, we came around the corner and saw the Lucas Restaurant and Hotel. smile. Following our strategy of one versus six of us checking in, I entered the restaurant and found the receptionist. She told me to follow her. Which I did. And as we passed by the five ragamuffins sitting on the bench just outside the doorway, they all got up and followed.
Sometimes I wish I could climb into someone else's head, get behind their eyes, and really see things how they see it.
She freaked out. No, maybe that's too harsh. She panicked. Well, whatever. Let me just tell you that she stopped in her tracks, gave us all a quick once-over, and in her thick accent said, "It is a small room!" Emphasis on 'small.' "It has only one bed!" Emphasis on 'one.' "There is six of you!" Was this a statement of clarification or a question?
I smiled. "Yes." And then I leaned in, "Do we have our own bathroom... with a shower?"
"Yes," she said sounding confused as to what this had to do with anything.
"Great! That's just what we need! Thank you!" She shrugged and we followed her up the narrow staircase to the office.
She checked us in, handed us the keys, and we followed her up to the 5th floor. "No elevator," she said apologetically. Again, I smiled.
"It is no problem," I said. We entered our room and everyone called dibs on the shower. This room had a TV and though it was all in German, for some reason we clicked through the channels... and about three-quarters of the way through came upon a channel that caused several seconds of severe panic as I tried to cover the view until I could click it off. Yikes! Alrighty, then!
Each person took their turn in the shower -- coming out all clean and fluffy -- laid down on their respective "beds," and immediately passed out. I don't think just anyone could handle traveling with this rough and tumble crew. Most of you who know me know that I love intensity. Is it any wonder that I'm enamored with this family?
May 29, 2008 ~
Bright and early the next morning, we went down for our breakfast -- included in the price of the room! Gotta' love that! Here's Isaiah all "fluffy" after a hot shower and a good night's sleep.


My gorgeous ragamuffin daughter!

Can I just tell you, I LOVE having Eli for my teenager!! He's an absolute riot!

Ezekiel, bright-eyed and ready for adventure! But first, some bröchen smothered in Nutella! mmm!
LeRoy. Showered, rested, fed = HAPPY!

Bröchen, croissant with Nutella, coffee, hot chocolate, juice... Man! Are we ever spoiled!


Aaargh! Lovin' it!!

Mmm, fruit & yogurt! (Not your yoplait, folks! So thankful for the sweet fruit with every bite!!)

Meat, cheese, and fruit!

Hotel and Restaurant Lucas -- in the pedestrian zone around the corner from the Square!

Israel with two of her big brothers...

After breakfast we went on the Rick Steve's Guidebook Tour through the Square and up to the castle.





Looking out over Nurnberg

When we got up to the castle courtyard we saw this adorable children's group on a tour...

I noticed the three knights standing in the back of the group...

My boys are forever wrestling, provoking, teasing!

(I just happened to catch them in a photo this time.)

On the way back to our van we stopped for bottled waters and a chocolate frappucino. Sometimes the advertising picture is just so tantalizing!

Ahhh! So good!

Thank you for the book, Dan & Jo! It's getting used!!

We know that there is much to see and do in Nurnberg... that it's the place where Hitler held his rallies, it's where the Nurnberg War Trials took place, and more. But, honestly, we were all done with World War II history and we didn't want to hear anymore about Hitler or the Nazis. We really felt finished with the whole ordeal and meant to be purposeful about taking a break from it all!

Next stop, Playmobil FunPark!

Ezekiel. Even the "statues" move!

First stop, a slide that went down a mountainside...

There was two ways to climb back up to the slide: the way I climbed up by the stairs or the way the children and LeRoy climbed up by the rope bridge, rolling logs, etc.

This was our favorite "ride." We spent most of our time playing on these rafts near the ship.

I kept waiting for someone to fall in the water... and was surprised when no one did!

Eli and Zeke in the crow's nest.

Eli, LeRoy, and Israel in the hold.

This FunPark brought out the kid in all of us!

Watching Zae through the port hole.

My four children on the rafts...

Oh, the joy of being captain of your own ship! ...or raft...

"Water Closet"

Kids at play.

Jungle Princess... with an attitude.

We really need one of these walls in our living or family room!

House of Mirrors.

You know what LeRoy said when he saw the boys in here!

Noah Whitworth... you were thought of! (Actually, we thought of all of you!)

That's Zeke waving from the top!

It was a very hot day and eventually all our children were soaking wet! So fun!!

Inside the cafeteria we played with a zillion more Playmobil toys and ate some dinner.

A massive jungle set that went over the top of a "jungle" below; But the coolest thing was the tunnel that went underground from one side to the other.

We were ready to go but the children requested one more time on the mountainside slide and more time on the rafts. Of course!

Well, the children... and one big kid... requested more time!

The FunPark was GREAT!! We all loved it. It was such a perfect way to finish this particular road trip. We settled into the van, turned on the book on tape, and began the three and a half hour journey west toward home.

Another great trip! More amazing memories! Excellent bonding with these cool people I live with!!


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