Thursday, August 11, 2011

Follow the White Wigs, or How to See Hohenzollern

On Friday Rob went into Stuttgart and picked up our rental car. It was a brand new 7-passenger Ford Galaxy. We wanted to take the kids somewhere close, so we decided that Burg Hohenzollern would be our warm-up. Rob, Joss and I had come in 2009 and we knew where it was and what to expect. The kids were not excited. They want to play war games on the computer, watch the KiKa channel on TV and talk to their friends on Buzz.
We got lost, found our way, parked our car, took the shuttle bus, and climbed through three rings of fortifications just like last time.
It was about to rain just like last time.
We finally got to the courtyard and there were two tours leaving immediately: an english tour or a kids' tour. We didn't have time to ask anything about them, we just stood in the back of the kids' tour line, figuring that the kids might complain less if it were geared toward them.
The whole tour was about finding Princess Sophie Charlotte on her 10th birthday. We had two guides, Countess Anna and Willibald, a butler who took us back 300 years and got their charges ready for the festivities.
"Finally someone understands me!"
Next we moved into another room where they gave all of the kids either a fan or a wooden sword. Let's just repeat that. They handed out wooden swords to children in the palace. Some kid was waving his in front of a priceless painting. Rob and I were agog.
Maddie has a new dream job. She wants to come play Countess Anna at Burg Hohenzollern.
We found Princess Sophie Charlotte's secret chocolate stash in a hidden drawer in her room. And then proceeded to eat chocolate in the palace. Unbelievable!
Here is a good picture of Countess Anna and her hair. She had an entire Mardi Gras parade going on in that wig, and the care and keeping of one's hairpiece was my favorite part of the tour. Your wig had a flea trap inside it, renewed each day from the kitchen with a tiny rag covered in blood and honey. And each night you would put it into a birdcage where the birds would eat the fleas and any other critters that had gotten into it during the day. Eeeww!
Every room was a new activity and the best part of it from Rob and MA's point of view was the we got to break all of the rules! We went backwards through the palace, taking pictures inside and eating and swinging swords and wearing our shoes. We kept running into the regular tour groups who were shuffling reverently along in their felt scuffs and we felt bad for them. They couldn't possibly have had as much fun as we did. Here they are learning to write in old gothic script.
The kids all plopped down on the built in seats and set to work in front of a stunning view.
Then they got their letter sealed with wax by Willibald.
Joss dropped out at this point for some Angry Birds, but I had to put it away because other kids were coming over to gawp at the screen and I didn't want to distract everyone. Only Joss-man during naptime.
Our hunt led us back into this great hall. We were following a golden thread that came from Sophie Charlotte's dress through several rooms. Again, I wondered what the other tours must have thought of the random boxes left sitting out for the kids.
We learned to dance here and then proceeded to dance our way out of the hall right through another tour group.
They took us down to the casemates (the castle foundations) where they fed us biersuppe made of nonalcoholic beer. Will and I were big fans. I was not so excited about being in enclosed spaces with four dozen people.
He looks like he could get used to this kind of thing.
Willibald says "Talk to the hand".
He helps Sebi get ready for a relay.
Keep the onion on the wooden spoon.
It is a measure of the success of the tour that the kids were engaged and entertained for two hours while Anna and Willibald talked to them about everything from etiquette to somersalts. Another measure came a few days later when one of them told me that only royalty got four tines on their forks, but you needed at least three to prove you didn't worship the devil. After a tour it is customary to tip your guide a euro or two for their trouble. Rob gave the Countess and Willibald a fiver.
I'd love to say that we were smart and knowledgeable and we got to do this because of my excellent planning skills, but this one happened by pure, dumb luck. Once at home, I found a 'kids' tours of Hohenzollern' pamphlet and looked at the schedule: they only did this three times this month. What incredible good fortune!
Here we are waiting for the shuttle bus. Rob was teaching the kids how to make duck calls with a blade of grass. This guy joined in.
And so did his Oma and Opa! My favorites!


jenlinmin said...

THAT is the way to tour a castle! Our kids were so bored at Versailles.

I haven't felt this jealous in a long time. That's it! We are taking the kids to Germany and we are going to do our homework first! Thanks for the inspiration :)

Altax said...

Lovely kids and nice pictures!!!
Classroom Activities

Megan said...

WOW!! With tours like that I might be interested in visiting a castle or two. Or anything for that matter! What an amazing experience your family is having.

peter said...

nice snaps:)i liked your blog too..

1st-grade Math Games Online