I was trying to figure out where to kick off the blog. Do I start from the beginning, from the favorite places that we’ve been to in the US and in Japan? Or do I start here, in Europe while the memories are still fresh and then add in our favorite places? I’ve decided to opt for the latter. Mainly because it’s easier to remember what happened a few weeks ago, as opposed to months and years ago.
We arrived here in Germany back in mid-June. It was a complete whirlwind for the first six weeks. Husband’s job started basically the day after we arrived. We had to figure out where we were going to live, figure out where our stuff was and spring the cars from their respective places (the Vehicle Processing Center and the used car lot). Once we could finally breathe, we decided it was time to do a little bit of exploring. The USO and RTT Travel offer many guided or accompanied tours. For our first outing, we went with the USO tour to Speyer for the Brezelfest…or as we would call it…the Pretzel Fest.
We took a chartered bus from the Vogelweh Bowling Center over to Speyer. Speyer is a little over an hour from the Kaiserslautern area. It was a beautiful day; the clouds were light and wispy and the sun was nice and warm. They parked the bus at the Technik Museum and we proceeded to walk to the altstadt (old town) area. The first thing I noticed was the cobblestone. Obviously, I’ve seen cobblestone before. However, I’ve never really stopped to appreciate the history and the beauty of it. One of my friends made fun of me for taking a picture of it, but really…sometimes the beauty is in the smallest details that we wouldn’t even really think of.
As we walked into town, the gravity of realizing that I was actually in Europe kind of hit me like a brick. You know that you’re here, but sometimes it takes a moment to really hit that you’re someplace out of your comfort zone and someplace that you never really thought you’d ever be. We walked up to the Speyer Cathedral and marveled at its beauty and its history. It was originially built during the 1020s and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a crypt below that houses the tombs/remains of former German royalty. You can check out more about the cathedral here. We didn’t spend too much time inside, as we rolled up just a mass was getting ready to begin. Bless those pretzels, y’all!
After we visited the cathedral, we split off from the group and began walking around the town. The actual festival itself included a carnival area and a parade. We were told that the parade was a sight to see. We’ve been to about a gazillion and a half parades, so we kind of felt meh about going. We decided to hit up the festival for some eats, as we were starting to get a little hungry. The kids went on a couple of rides and had a blast. We ended up with a lot of time to spare so we hatched our plan of attack: Technik Museum, parade if there was time, maybe more festival fun on the way back to the bus.
The Technik Museum (make sure you translate the page if you don’t speak German…thank you Google Translate!) was pretty awesome. They had a ton of exhibits; including various German cars, ships and amazing airplane displays. The best part about the airplane displays is that they were very much hands on. The planes themselves are perched high above the ground. You can climb up the stairs and walk into the plane. They have the planes angled so when you are inside, you get a feel of what it would be like to be in the plane in the air. To get down, you either take the stairs or you take the more awesome option of going down a slide. The best (and most terrifying) was the Lufthansa 747 plane. It is waaaaaay up there and when you get inside, you can climb up into the upper level of the plane. The angle inside is steep, so you feel like you need to hold on to something. The wind had come up by the time we made it up, so it was shaking the plane a bit. Couple that with sweltering heat inside the cabin and it makes for a nice claustrophobic moment. Girl Child didn’t want to go down the slide, so Husband took the Boy Child down the slide while I took her down the stairs.
After that exhibit, there wasn’t really too much left to see at the museum (my kids run through museums ridiculously fast), so we decided to head back over to the altstadt for the start of the Pretzel Fest Parade. Remember when I mentioned that we were kind of meh about the whole thing? Yeah, just forget I said that. My kids were introduced to parades when we were in Louisiana. The parades there involve stuff being thrown at you; meaning you’re apt to get clobbered in the head with beads, toys, and anything else they feel like throwing at you. The Pretzel Parade was quite similar…they like to throw things. Only, they don’t throw beads. They throw pretzels. Yep, you read that right. They throw pretzels. And candy. And toys. And popcorn. And pretzels. And carrots. And pretzels. Did I mention they throw pretzels? We stayed and enjoyed getting smacked with all sorts of throws for about an hour. At that point in time, we started meandering back toward the bus. We hit up a few more rides for the kids and then made it back to the bus. Kiddos were tired and Girl Child was turning into her version of the krakken, so we were happy to be heading back.
Speyer is definitely a neat little town. I would highly recommend going for the festival, as that was a blast. The kiddos have already requested a return visit next July for the fest.