June turned out to be the month of castles and other great adventures!
Warwick (pronounced War-ick) Castle – Bubba’s birthday wish. This is just part of it. This is the fourth or fifth castle that we visited and by far the most “commercialized.” There were characters playing their parts as the lady of the house and knight, a falconer showing off his birds, a HUGE trebuchet from which they launched firey things a few times a day, a class for knight-wanna-be’s (see below), a maze, a very well preserved castle, and so much more. We were busy from open until close! Kind of like a medieval Disney.
Mid-June we took off on a cheap flight for a week in Germany. We stayed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a lovely (albeit a bit touristy) town in Bavaria. Our first night there we stuffed ourselves silly-full of German food – oh, schnitzel, how we love you! The rest of the trip was amazing and punctuated with trips to local bakeries where we made sure to try real strudel and everything else amazing! Germans know how to do pastry. It’s a good thing that our budget airline was not weighing US on the trip home!
Side note: travel in Europe is not what it was when I backpacked here as a student. Budget airlines have made flying the new way around. But, ironically, it all comes at a cost: everything gets weighed and charged. The drinks are not free, and snacks are not free. Checked luggage is not free. Picking your seat is not free. Even carry-ons are not all free. It all makes for some great opportunities and some great comedy.
Above, the view from Neuschwanstein Castle. Bavaria is stunning!
A view of Neuschwanstein Castle.
A day later: We rode the ski lift UP the mountain – in summer. Was fun to see the waterfalls & such on the ground. But the main attraction was not the ride up . . .
It was most definitely the ride DOWN! We strapped ourselves into one of these babies and roller-coaster-ed down! Not our video, but someone posted what the ride is like!
And the next day: We went to Partnach Gorge – Wow! We have tons of pictures and none of them do it justice. River below & waterfalls above! Sounds of rushing, roaring water and dripping rocks. The change in temperature was remarkable; it was probably above 90 degrees outside of the gorge and in the low 50’s in the gorge. Below, you can see our children being dragons!
The picture below is taken looking up from the path in the gorge. It was so dark and cool in the gorge, but the sun shone so bright up above!
We had a day or two of resting/relaxing, then off we went again. Do we have the right to say we visited Austria, if it was only for 30 minutes or so? Here is picture proof:
We visited Austria on our way to Italy, where we toured this small castle. . .
and visited this most picturesque town where we had lunch and scored big on some amazing gelato. After living in temperate England, the mid-80’s felt incredibly hot, so eating gelato in the shade was a great “win” for the day!
We ended the month back at home, where all the kids took up their regular activities. School here goes from September until mid-July. There are three terms with two week breaks between terms, at Christmas and Easter. They also take a break in the middle of each term, aptly called the mid-term break! So when we went on our holiday in June, everyone else in England was still working away, and activities were continuing without us! It is nice to be able to go on vacation when everyone else is in school – hello, cheaper airfare! BUT I will admit that we all really like the English schedule and have adopted a bit of it. There are always fun activities at museums and historic places during the mid-term breaks. While we don’t take a whole week off, we have been able to participate in some of these fun activities, workshops, and one day camps. It is also nice to get a bit of a break; I think we all feel more energized, though it did mean that our school year went later. We didn’t finish until mid-June this year.
Above: Bubba riding one of her favorite horses here, Rocko! (Ironically, riding English saddle is different in England than it is in America!)