Sorry folks, it took me a while finish my article about a German Castle. But I wanted to inform you that it is ready and up now! If you have read my article from last week, Toy on a Walk, you may want to get the indepth report here.
So stop by and visit the German castle today. I am certain the whole family will enjoy the virtual tour of this castle. It’s completely free of charge and will take only a few minutes. And maybe my photo tour will inspire you to save up some money for that one special real vacation…
Germany is my home and a wonderful place to visit. If you have any questions about traveling there just ask away!
Maybe I took this toy on a walk theme “a bit” to the extreme. I went ahead and took one of my dollhouse friends to Europe this summer. So really this article should be titled: Travels with a Toy rather than Walk.
Maybe you have been reading in the news about the Colorado Wildfires. It’s been so sad to watch. Don’t worry, our family does not live in the mountains! We are not in any danger luckily. Yet I couldn’t help but feel guilty leaving for Europe. The night before we left on our trip, the air smelled like a campfire, and it was hard to breathe.
There was a sense of guilt mixed with relief that we got out of here.
The lucky doll chosen to escape with me was a little purple dollhouse friend. She crossed the ocean with the family and made it safely to our first stop in Barcelona, Spain.
Barcelona is a wonderful city. In the picture you see the little purple dolly on top of the roof of Casa Batllo. This house, an up-cycled apartment building, was designed to serve as personal residence for a very wealthy family by the great Spanish Architect Antonio Gaudi in the style of Art Nouveau. Walking through this building, is like walking on the inside of a sculpture. Every little detail is a work of art: Stairs, windows, walls, and ceilings. There are no harsh corners or straight edges. Everything is round and smooth. Each room has natural light and fresh air flowing through windows and the smartly created air vents. It’s unbelievable, and you must see it with your own eyes to believe it.
I wonder what it must have felt like to live in such a house. A house that feels so organic and natural. Check out the ceiling that looks like the house of a snail. Or take a peek into an upstairs room that gives you the feel of being inside a ribcage. That’s why the house also got nicknamed “House of Bones”. Finally we made it to the top of the roof which has sculptures for chimneys. Every guide book has photos of the tiles of the roof that are made to look like the scales of a dragon.
Just when you think it can’t get any better you get to the roof. It’s the best part of the house. So make sure you get the whole tour.
I could go on forever about the beautiful sights we saw in Barcelona. The Batllo house is only one of many Art Nouveau buildings you can visit. There is so much more to see…
We spent 4 days in Spain before moving on to Germany. I had not been back to my country of birth in 7 years. Most of the time was spent visiting family. You can read about it on my personal blog.
The children insisted that we see one castle at least. So we went to see the Marksburg in Braubach, Germany. There are over 30 castles on the stretch of the river Rhine where I grew up. When I was a schoolkid we visited many of them on fieldtrips. Strangely enough I never saw the Marksburg. Maybe because it is located on the other side of the river. Getting to it from Bingen, the city where I went to school, is not easy. One can go by boat, which will take you about 4.5 hours one way with no way to get back, unless somebody picks you up or you take the train back.
We decided to take the car ferry. You drive your vehicle onto the Autofaehre. It costs 6.50 Euro car, kids and caboodle and all. Takes about 5 minutes to cross over from Bingen to the town of Rudesheim. From Rudesheim you drive along the riverbank all the way to Braubach. The last 10 miles is a windy narrow road, through green forests and up the back of a green hill. You must be careful. There is not much traffic but when you least expect it surely enough you will encounter a large tourbus or truck. The kids loved this exciting rollercoaster ride through the green forests and hillsides of Germany.
On the other side of the roller coaster ride lies the most beautiful fairytale castle. I will post the complete castle tour on my blog for those who would love to see what a dwelling that’s been lived in for 800-900 years looks like inside.
The little purple dolly was quite exhausted from the long trip. She decided that she loved Germany and begged me to stay behind. Her new mama is a little girl named Paulina. She looks just like her new friend. Don’t you think?
I hope you enjoyed my Travel with a Toy. Please, visit my blog if you want to see more photos from my trip. I took over 500 pictures, and it will take me a while to sort through them…
“Go West, Young Men!” Those were the words written by Horace Greeley, the man the town I live in was named after. Still true for the modern immigrant, though not a young man, I went to the West and discovered the great beauty of US landscapes. Please, come visit some time and see for yourself. Colorado is amazing and beautiful and did inspire the song America the Beautiful after all. I often forget though, since I don’t leave town as often as I should to visit the surrounding areas.
But recently, this old lady was forced to go on a field trip with her daughter’s 5th Grade class. A group of 39 children and 20 adults partook in this adventure. Some parents traveled by car rather than the big tour bus. Along the way we slept on the floors of school gymnasiums, offered generously as accommodations by various schools (Alamosa High School, Durango High School, Moab Middle School, Grand Junction High School). So I want to thank the kind principals, janitors, and lunch ladies who gave us shelter and nourishment (breakfast and packed lunches). Our trip spanned 1192 miles according to Google Maps. I hope you enjoy the photos I took along the way.
When people think of Colorado, they usually think of the Rocky Mountains. Celeste and I stopped in one of the many mountain valleys to take a photo for you. Celeste was so happy to get out of Greeley and smell the fresh mountain air. Much better than the smell of feedlots that people told me I would get used to after a while…
Our next stop was at the Great Sand Dunes. They are a truly amazing geographical feature unique to the US. Don’t miss them if you visit the State of Colorado. The largest dune towers 750 feet high. You need to bring lots of water and strong legs to hike to the top. When high winds kicked in, our group had to turn around. The sand got into our eyes, and it became hard to see where we were going.
Still the children enjoyed rolling around and playing in the biggest natural Sandbox of the US. The large, main dunefield covers approximately 30 square miles, but there are many more square miles of smaller dunes in the sand sheet surrounding the main dune field.
We all rolled down one hill and then hiked up another. Unfortunately Celeste lost a shoe in the process. So we decided to go barefoot for the rest of the trip.
Our next stop was Mesa Verde. If you love history, you must take a tour of the cliff dwellings. In order to get the full picture you need to have the courage to climb up to 32 feet tall ladders to see ancient houses built by the ancestral people who lived here over 800 years ago.
For our last stop we hopped across the state line to the Moab Desert, Utah. I can’t believe I have never visited there when it is practically around the corner from our house. For many folks in our group, getting to see this beautiful National Park was the highlight of the trip. We all know the images of the arches from commercials and iconic photographs. They are famous in Germany too. So for me getting to see them with my own eyes was a real treat.
Celeste even tried to climb Delicate Arch. She didn’t quite succeed but looked very cute trying.
Celeste says she had a lot of fun on this trip but she was glad when we arrived home again. Traveling is fun but takes a lot of energy. I hope you get a chance to visit beautiful Colorado and the West of the US some time. It’s much more beautiful than any photograph or painting can convey. You must see it with your own eyes!
Greetings from Nairobi, Kenya! We are bunting baby dolls from the ziezo label and we would like to take you around our garden and neighbourhood, now that we woke from our nap under the baby pawpaw tree.
This is the flame tree, with gorgeous red – orange flowers blooming now that we are reaching the end of the long rains.
When we lay under the pawpaw tree, these are the dark skies of the rainy season. . . the sun is hiding behind the clouds.
The two of us like to climb trees and bushes, and there are plenty of those around in our neighbourhood and garden. Here we are in a baby banana tree and a mango tree, unfortunately there are no fruits on them at the moment.
Here we are in a small acacia tree. It’s difficult to climb this one, because of the long thorns. Did you know that giraffes can eat the leaves from these trees despite the thorns? There is something in their saliva to soften the thorns and then they pluck the leaves off with their tongue.
Once in a while we visit the Waldorf Kindergarten in Kileleshwa, and we then like to hang out in this lovely shrub that smells so nice and is commonly called “yesterday, today & tomorrow” (Brunfelsia) because of the different colours the flowers turn.
If you go for a ride in Nairobi, you have to be ready to wait, traffic jams are the matter of the day because of the number of cars, the state of the roads, and ongoing construction for the “Vision 2030” plan. Here’s a view of the Nairobi Arboretum at the bottom of the hill, and some of the road construction around it.
And in some places the old road has been replaced by a new dirt road to allow for road improvements, while you also can see the rapid construction of new apartment buildings that are replacing the single standing houses.
However, after a bumper to bumper drive to Karen, reknown from Isak Dinesen’s (a.k.a. Karen Blixen) ‘Out of Africa’ it is also nice to be ending up in the lovely green environment of the Nairobi Waldorf School there.
Nairobi and its environs have lots of sunshine (even in the rainy season), but one thing that is always certain as you could see in most of the pictures, there is never a lack of some dreamy clouds in the sky with many imaginative creatures.
We liked taking you on a short tour and know that we soon join our friends in the ziezo Designs shop to find a new home and explore new places on this lovely earth. However, now it is time for a nap again. . .
Please let Albus and Victoria, our resident dolls, give you a tour of our little part of earth.
For this year we decided to rent the grand-parents house of Papa, which is located on the family land on the shore of the magnificent Saint-Laurent river, in the Province of Québec, Canada. There, my in-laws cultivate potatoes and all sorts of vegetables.
Here the land takes longer to wake up. When we took our walk, only green moss and some dandelions were at sight.
But there are lots of winged friends around!
Of course, the kings of nature here are the evergreens. Cedars, Pines, Firs are what’s green all year long.
Buds are just appearing. Roses, Maples, Birch are cautious here. They don’t want to get caught with frost!
We will plant potatoes soon, as now’s the time. But the lettuce, carrots, beans, squashes and broccoli will have to wait until the end of the month; they are much more fragile.
On the land, there are ponds to sit by and watch trouts. Sometimes a heron great us there too.
Fields waiting. Oh, the possibilities!
Back to the house is one of my favorite view. A swirly earth road borded with trees, looking at summer cottage transformed into all-year home, to the river so huge we people here call the sea.
In the sand we can find many treasures; seashells, urchins, crabs shells, special rocks and tons of drift wood.
Underwater lies more treasures, and all the activity of tiny things living in it!
With the sea and the forest so near, we feel very fortunate. It is a perfect setting for a slow-paced life and a wonderful theatre for us to witness the cycle of the seasons.
Hello from sunny New Mexico! Today my fairy friend, Fae and I would like to take you on a walk to show you some of our favorite New Mexico plants. In the coming weeks we will have many more Natural Kids’ toys take you on a walk of their little corner of the world. What a fun way to see the world, through the “eyes” of a toy!
Today we are walking around our neighborhood in the Land of Enchantment. We are blessed to live in this very sunny, warm, desert climate. This evening it’s still quite warm at 80 some degrees.
This first beautiful Spring bloom matches Fae quite well. It is the flower of a Cholla cactus.
Here is a larger view of it.
This is one of Fae’s most favorite desert succulents because of its beautiful red/ orange flowers. These plants are giants and tower above us at about 15 feet tall. She loves to watch the humming birds and bees weave in and out of the lovely flowers.
The Yucca, New Mexcio’s state flower, which is really a plant. Aren’t these flowers so unique & beautiful? The Yucca’s spiky leaves were used by Native Americans as fiber for ropes & baskets. The roots of certain varieties of Yucca were used for soap.
Fae thinks this Agave plant would be so much fun to slide down if it weren’t for those pointy spikes on the ends! The agave has many uses. Agave syrup for baking, Blue Agave is grown to make tequila. We see tiny little Agave plants and giant 6 foot Agaves in our neighborhood. They are fascinating plants and have an amazing and beautiful end to their lives. I wrote about that here.
Fae loves this plant, not so much for how it looks but for how it smells during and after a rain. In New Mexico it rarely just sprinkles, when it rains it pours. And when this evergreen shrub’s waxy leaves are disturbed they become very fragrant. They fill the air with a lovely fresh green smell. Some people don’t like the smell but fairies love it! The creosote shrub is fascinating. They can live for two years with no water and most will live to be about 100 years old. In the Mojave desert there is a creosote shrub that is known to be almost 12,000 years old!
I hope you have enjoyed our walk in beautiful New Mexico.
Becca Thornton is a stay at home Mama of two sweet little boys & wife to her high school sweetheart. They are Northeast transplants living in the sunny Southwest. A typical day finds them soaking up the sun playing, gardening, baking, crafting & homeschooling. Find her at her blog, Chocolate Eyes, & visit her shop, Mama West Wind, where she sells Waldorf inspired toys & decor.