Monday, October 6, 2014

Annweiler Chestnut Festival

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..... Jack Frost nipping at your nose...." all together now!!  Just kidding... it's just that I can't say "chestnut" without wanting to sing 'The Christmas Song.'  Anywho... I signed me and my kiddo up for a day-trip to a Chestnut Festival in Annweiler... mainly because I had no clue what a chestnut festival was, but also because we didn't have anything else going on, and hey, I don't need a better reason than that to go somewhere!

The day started with mom-lesson #54210894.956 learned the hard way: never leave home without Dramamine and a barf bag!  My kiddo gets motion sick very easily and usually has a rough time on bus trips.  I figured since we were only going to be on the bus for about 45 minutes that she'd be okay... I was wrong.  Thankfully, though, Isabelle held her cookies long enough for the bus to park, and then ran into the bushes wheeeerrre sheeee...put those cookies.  After she got sick I had her rinse out her mouth with mouthwash (always on hand when you're a Dental Hygienist), and a nice lady on the tour with us gave her a peppermint to suck on to help alleviate her nausea.  And then she was all set for the first part of our trip- a hike up to Trifels Castle with a guided tour!

The tour guide was an hour and a half late for our tour, so our group couldn't do anything but wander around the outside of the castle and wait.  I don't even know why, but there was this man there that must've worked at the castle who had an owl and a falcon.  I don't know if these birds were part of a show?  If they lived there?  I have no idea.  I was running all over the place taking pictures so I can't really start this story off in any way that would make sense because I missed a giant part of it, but it's important because this was Isabelle's most favorite part of the entire day....

God gave my daughter a tender heart for ALL animals.  In her heart, lighting ant holes on fire should result in a prison sentence, a fly with a broken wing needs to be rushed to the ER, and if she sees Eric step on a bug she will burst into tears and he'll get the silent treatment for the rest of the day.  Her philosophy is that if a creature has fur, it has to be petted, never mind that the furry monster has eight legs that makes her mother squeal and start throwing inanimate objects at it, she'll pet it.  She won't let a dog sit outside by itself waiting for it's owner to come back because she's pretty sure there is a law somewhere stating that it is mandatory that she wait with it so that it doesn't worry or get scared.  And the other day a lady was looking for her cat all over our neighborhood and Isabelle just had to help her, even though this lady was a perfect stranger- all Isabelle cared about was that there was a missing kitty.  She is drawn to animals, and them to her- it's like they know all of that about her and love her for it.  

After a few minutes of looking at and watching the falcon and the owl, we all went up to the top balcony to wait for the very late tour guide.  I didn't want Isabelle too far away from me in case the lady showed up and our group hurried into the castle.  I didn't want to get lost trying to find them if that happened and Isabelle was still on the lower balcony, so I made her come up to the second balcony to wait in line with the rest of us.

But she couldn't bear being that far away from those birds.....  And I noticed that she was slowly drifting away from my side, so I just sat back and watched her precious heart lead her.....

.... step by step, back down to the birds, so that they wouldn't be lonely....

.... I didn't try to stop her.  I could still see her from where I was with the rest of the group, and I am very aware that there is no point in trying to take her attention off of any sort of animal.  I didn't want to was special to watch. 
The nice man that owned these gorgeous birds saw my girl and was so gracious to let her hold the falcon (he said the owl was too big for her arm to hold), and made. her. day!  He told her that a falcon is actually pretty domestic until it hunts for the first time- after it hunts it will no longer be domestic or be capable of being domesticated, so his falcon has never hunted.  I'm not sure if this is true or not, I didn't research falcons before putting this little "fact" on here, but I did ask Isabelle to research it, so if you ever get a chance, ask her about it!

Isabelle was a happy gal and it was at this time that the tour guide had finally showed up and it was time to go into the castle (but if you asked Isabelle she would have told you she saw all that she wanted and would rather have just stay outside with the birds).  
I know there are a lot of neat and interesting details about the Trifels Castle, but I wasn't listening.  Once you've seen Highclere Castle, Neuschwanstein, and Burg Eltz you don't really need to see another castle (except that I'm really hoping to see Dracula's Castle!), and I was over waiting so long and really just wanting to get to the Chestnut Festival already.  My kiddo had puked and held a falcon... like seriously.... let's just get this show on the road here.

That's me over there! 

A princess!

Next, we went to Annweiler for their Chestnut Festival!  Until yesterday I couldn't tell you what a chestnut looked like or what you do with one- my daughter could, I couldn't (she reminds me at least once every day that she is way smarter than I am).  And did you know that there is an American Chestnut Foundation?!  And that there are festivals celebrating this little guy all over the world?!  There is even a chestnut emoji!

More birdies!

Isabelle and I went on the hunt for a chestnut bratwurst for her, and a chestnut beer for me, and mainly stayed around the perimeter of Annweiler because the crowds were too much for me to handle.  The town was adorable and the weather was great, so we decided to enjoy both, and sat outside and had spaghetti ice cream.

Yep, that's ice cream that looks exactly like spaghetti, and yep "spaghetti ice cream" is the name of it!  You can get all kinds of flavors- vanilla spaghetti with strawberry sauce that makes it look like you really are eating a bowl of spaghetti is the most popular flavor, but my girl chose vanilla with vanilla sauce.

If I could give an award for the cutest porch that looks like a porch but it isn't an actual porch because if it was you'd fall into the water and your pants would get really wet- this is who I'd give that award to!

Since the tour guide at Trifels Castle was so late we didn't have a whole lot of time at the festival- just enough to try a couple of chestnut foods, buy some chestnut liquor, and take pictures.  But our day wasn't over yet, they had planned another castle tour for the afternoon.

The tour guide for Burg Berwartstein was right on time and we didn't have to wait to get in.  The guide was a younger gentleman who spoke broken English.  His English was lightyears better than my German, and for him to stand in front of a crowd of Americans and attempt our language was inspiring!  Every country I have visited in Europe (8 foreign speaking, 1 English speaking) have accommodated "my" language and have never expected me to speak theirs.  I know the dynamics between America and Europe are different, but I wish we had the same mentality about accepting other languages as Europe does.  I sincerely regret not paying more attention in high school Spanish.

A few pictures of Burg Berwartstein's kitchen was all I really took.  Both castles were pretty, but like I said, once you've seen some of the world's greatest, you don't really need to see anymore.

Us girls had a great chestnut- and castle-filled girls day... puking aside!  I still don't have a real great idea of what a chestnut tastes like, but I was happy to have celebrated the funny looking thing.  I'm not sure that these two castles were very high on my list of must-see's, but seeing Isabelle with those birdies made for a special experience!  She's an exceptional girl, that kid! 

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