Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hiking the Walberla

Last weekend boasted one of the first beautiful spring days here in Germany, so we packed up the kids and went hiking. The Walberla is a small mountain named after St. Walburga.

Halfway up, we munched on cucumber and apple slices while enjoying the view.

The Walberla has two peaks with a wide, flat saddle in the middle. Once at the top, the trees are suddenly gone and the view opens up. The wind teases your hair, and it feels like Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery should walk out brandishing swords.
The tall, beribboned tree is for a festival.
In the middle of the saddle, there's a small chapel and a statue of St. Walburga herself.

Legends of the mountain abound, including an accursed castle which once stood where the chapel is now, witches, a hidden treasure and an evil woman turned to stone.
Evil woman on the left
Proven is that the mountaintop was settled in approximately 4000 BC. Later, it was the site of human sacrifice, including cannibalism. I'll spare you details of the skeletal remains found, but if you're interested, Wikipedia has a lovely description. 

One of the big differences between Germany and the US is the strong German sense of personal responsibility. Being on a mountaintop means danger. There are no fences to keep you from slipping over the edge.

Proof I'm a woman on the edge?
All pictures by me or my husband, except this one of a cool carved stone my six-year-old took.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy Carnival and Helau!

You might connect Carnival with Brazil or Venice, or of course, Mardi Gras in New Orleans. But a lot of countries celebrate it, and Germany is one of them.

In the region where I live, Carnival is called Fasching. The traditional food is Krapfen – a type of donut filled with rosehip purree (it's yummy). The traditional greeting is helau!

On Sunday, my family and I watched the Carnival parade in Ochsenfurt. Maybe these pictures will help show why Carnival is also called die närrische Zeit: the fool's time.

In Germany, Carnival parades have bands.

And dancers.
And free beer.

And dignified costumes, like this...

and this.

And free beer.

Yes, you pour the beer out of the fire truck's water tank through that black hose.

And tractors. 
And the parade goes down the street and back – simultaneously. So there are bands and floats playing different songs, passing each other.

And in case you missed it, free beer!

Happy Carnival, everyone, and helau!

All pictures taken by me.