caves, Champagne Bucket trips

Beautiful Punkva Caves in Brno… part eight of our 2023 Czech tour!

As I mentioned in my earlier travel post today, I’m still getting over whatever sickness I picked up in Czechia. Consequently, I’m pretty fatigued and kind of want to go to bed. But I also want to move onward with my Czech series, because, pretty soon, we’ll be going to Armenia, and I’m going to have to switch gears. So I’m going to press on and write about our awesome visit to the Punkva Caves in the Moravian Karst near Brno.

Originally, we thought we might visit this cave on Saturday. I’m really glad we didn’t do that, though, because I feel pretty certain we might have missed out. In the summertime, guides recommend booking tickets for this cave and the others in its complex weeks or even months in advance. It gets very busy in the summer. Since we were there on a Friday, we were able to tag along on a tour with a bunch of Polish high school kids. But we got two of the last tickets for the day, as the cave closed at 2:00 PM on the day of our visit. By the time we walked the two kilometers to where the tour started, they were completely sold out for the day.

I’m really glad we managed to see this cave, as it’s very beautiful and different from the other two caves we’ve recently visited in Germany. It’s not only a gorgeous limestone cave to walk through, but it’s also unique because the only way out is by boat. And on your way out, you stop by a room that is the prettiest of all you’ll see on your tour.

If you don’t want to walk to the cave entrance, you can pay for a tram ride. That’s how all the Polish kids arrived. I had a good laugh, because almost all of them made a beeline for the free toilets in the building. I only mention they’re free because there’s a pay toilet by the information center by the parking lot (which you also have to pay to use). The pay toilet is the one I used. ūüėČ

The walk to the cave is very pleasant and not too difficult. I was glad we did it, because I got some beautiful photos, as well as some much needed extra exercise. I also got a stink eye from a fellow American, probably because he heard me complain about how loud Americans are. I guess that made me a hypocrite. ūüėÄ

Anyway, there’s not much I can tell you about the tour, since it was done in Polish (mostly via recording). There were Czech guides who, I assume, spoke Polish. The younger one also spoke English and halfway through the tour realized we weren’t with the Polish group. It was when I decided to hang back and let the younger set get ahead of us. I’m not dead yet, but I can’t keep up with teens anymore. It wasn’t a really hard cave to explore. There was just one area that required a steep climb and was a little challenging. Once that was done, we were doing great!

Below are some photos from our trip through Punkva Cave– just one of several at this complex. I noticed there was a hotel there, so you can book a stay and spend several days exploring. I might be persuaded to do that sometime. I’d like to see the other natural wonders at this complex, but there are only so many spoons, right?

This first set is from our walk… and a goofy shot of us while we were still smiling. I’m kidding, of course. This cave isn’t a bad one for the mediocrely fit of us…

Next are some cave shots… It was such a beautiful place! Well worth a visit! We weren’t allowed to take photos during the boat portion of the tour. My guess is because everyone is packed on the boats and they don’t want people trying to use selfie sticks. It might also have to do with light in the cave altering the ecosystem. Anyway, I followed the rules.

These next few were taken with my digital camera, both on the dry part of the cave, and in the really pretty room at the end of the tour. We reached the pretty room by boat.

We decided to walk back to the car, which added another two kilometers to our day’s exercise. As I sit here feeling kind of worn out and fatigued, I wish I still had the energy that I had just eight days ago. Little did I know, by Saturday evening a week ago, I was going to feel pretty yucky. At the end of our walk, we rewarded ourselves by having lunch at the hotel restaurant. Smoked saibling for Bill and grilled trout for me… and lots of potatoes and beer.

After we were finished visiting the cave, we decided to stop by Holedna Obora, a nature preserve in Brno. We read that it’s a huge fenced area where deer are left to roam and there’s a fenced in area for wild boars. It’s free of charge to visit and there’s a small free parking lot. We only saw one deer, but it was a big stag who had a big rack of antlers. He seemed to be napping in the late afternoon sun.

By the time we were done walking around the forest, I was pretty exhausted. So we went back to our hotel and watched some TV while we drank wine from Moravia. I saw a movie with a German actress who looked like the spitting image of Lori Loughlin. Alas… although my German friend gave me her name, I no longer remember it. But see for yourself…

Well, that about does it for part eight. See you when I write part nine… probably tomorrow.

aquariums, art, booze tourism

Sea lions, snakes, and ice bars…

After our first night in Bergen, we decided to take a walk. We went to the other side of the harbor and found ourselves at Bergen’s small and very kid friendly aquarium. I like aquariums, so even though the one in Bergen got mixed reviews, we decided to spend some time there. I’m glad we did. It was a lot of fun, and it was educational. I especially enjoyed the sea lions and the penguins. It looked like they had sea otters at one point, too, but that exhibit was kind of abandoned looking.

There was a Burmese python snake, several crocodiles, lots of fish and lobsters, and an anaconda, among other things. Throughout the small park, there was the message of not polluting the Earth and embracing sustainability.

To be honest, I was a little ambivalent about the sea lion show, although the three California sea lions seemed happy and healthy performing for the small crowd, consisting mostly of children. I enjoyed learning more about them and watching them interact with the trainers.

After the aquarium, we headed back toward town and wound up stopping at the Magic Ice Bar, which is a bar that features really interesting ice sculptures. The bar is kept at -5 Celsius degrees. They also have a literal bar, where real cocktails are served. I was wondering if I should have worn shorts earlier, but after visiting that bar, I was glad I put on pants! Everything in there is covered in ice. The Magic Ice Bar is also kid friendly, to the extent that they are allowed.

I met another birthday girl in the ice bar, too. I overheard her saying that tomorrow is her birthday, so I said, “It’s mine, too!” I think she was from Scotland, or thereabouts, and we spent a moment thinking of famous people born on June 20th… Lionel Ritchie, John Taylor from Duran Duran, and of course, Dan Tyminski. ūüėČ Geminis born on the cusp, unite!

After we visited the bar, we walked back into town, searching for lunch. All of the eateries in the harbor were teeming with people, so we went up a couple of streets and stumbled on a Chinese restaurant that had a very reasonably priced (for Norway) lunch menu. We were the only ones in the restaurant. It was great!

Now, we’re enjoying a short rest. It’s nice to be at a leisurely pace, waiting until Friday, when we get on our cruise. I’d actually like to do a fjord cruise, but next week, we’ll be on a cruise ship. So maybe it’s better to focus on the land when we’re here…

Here are some photos from today.


Post pandemic trip number two– Eagles and wolves and goats, oh my!

Saturday morning, we decided that after breakfast, we would visit Gerolstein, the land of famous bubbly water that drew me to the Eifel in the first place. After taking the slow elevator to the reception area of the hotel, we walked into the hotel’s restaurant/bar area and found our assigned table, still with its personalized ceramic nameplate. I ripped off my mask, and Bill fetched some Br√∂tchen. A lady came around to take our preferred hot beverage order. We got a K√§nnchen of coffee, and I put the mask back on for a trip to the buffet. I was actually kind of surprised that they were doing a buffet breakfast, given that so many practices have been altered due to the virus. I did notice that the staff was rather strict about the mask use. One guy was kindly but firmly reminded as he approached the buffet. He dutifully put the mask on and went looking for his morning Wurst.

Besides the usual breads, cheeses, sausages, smoked salmon, and fruit offered for breakfast at a lot of German hotels, the Hotel Zur Post in Meerfeld also offers hard boiled eggs. Bill and I had them all three mornings and they were perfectly done. Bravo to them for that. When we were in Strasbourg, France back in February, I was served an almost raw egg at breakfast. I was pretty grossed out by it. But that place made up for the egg fiasco by also having really excellent brownies at breakfast.

We weren’t totally sure what we were going to end up doing after we visited Gerolstein, so Bill and I took along our bathing suits. I knew that I wanted to visit the Vulkaneifel Therme in Bad Bertrich at some point, and I wasn’t sure when we’d do that. The trip to Gerolstein took us in the opposite direction of where we’d need to go to get to the Therme, but you never know when you’ll run into a good swimming hole.

The drive to Gerolstein from Meerfeld was extremely pretty. We even pulled over so I could take a few pictures of the stunning countryside. I also played around a bit with the features on my digital camera, which doesn’t get used as often as my iPhone camera does.

As we were heading toward our destination, I read a news article about a German “Rambo” who was on the loose in Oppenau last week. I mentioned in a previous post that we were once in Oppenau and needed to call for help, but were unable to get a cell signal. We had just visited the Allerheiligen Wasserf√§lle (All Saints Waterfalls), which are located in the Black Forest near Oppenau, when we came upon a motorcycle accident. A group of bikers had come around a sharp corner too fast and one of them went over the side of the road. It must have happened literally minutes before we encountered it. One of the bikers asked if he could use my phone to call an ambulance. Unfortunately, there was absolutely no cell signal whatsoever.

I was reminded of that lack of cell coverage when we were in the Eifel, but I was reminded of Oppenau because my German friend told me about the German Rambo guy… a heavily armed reclusive man named Yves Rausch who was running amok near Oppenau after having held up four German police officers and stolen their weapons several days prior. As we were headed toward Gerolstein, I read about how he’d been “rolled up” by the police… Oppenau would not have been a bad place to visit over the weekend. It’s very beautiful there, too… but no longer so close to get to as it was when we lived near Stuttgart.

We found a public parking lot near Gerolstein’s Kyllpark, which is notably good for kids. We didn’t plan to visit this park; it’s just where we happened to land. I was kind of delighted by it and got some pictures on a walk Bill and I took. It’s been too long since we took a walk in nature, although if I were going to plan a nature walk, I probably wouldn’t necessarily start with the Kyllpark, unless I had children with me. Bill, of course, has a big kid with him at all times… ūüėČ Here are some photos.

After our walk, we headed into town and walked around a bit. I needed to pee and did see a sign for a WC, but never ended up finding it. It was close to lunchtime, so I thought maybe we’d have lunch in Gerolstein. But we ended up just walking around some more, taking in the sights. At one point, we stopped for a rest and social media break and I started talking to Bill… then got off on a ranting tangent. He gave me this face…

I finally said, “Let’s move along, so you can recover your dignity…” I am very lucky to have a husband who indulges me so much.

I got some more photos of Gerolstein, which is, in fact, a nice little town with plenty of things to do… but I’m kind of glad we stayed in Meerfeld, because it was a lot prettier and its location forced us to move around the area more. Staying in a town like Gerolstein would have been very convenient. Maybe too convenient… There’s a lot to do in and around Gerolstein, though, and we would come back for another visit.

I never did manage to find a toilet before we got back in the car. Luckily, we picked a direction that took us right past the Gerolsteiner water plant… and up the hill to the Eagle and Wolf Park at Kasselburg Castle. I was pretty glad to see it, since this was another place we’d hoped to encounter during our trip. We were lucky enough to run into it by chance, and wonder of wonders, it had a place for me to pee in private. An added bonus was the amazing castle, as well as seeing animals. I love going to animal parks, especially if I get to feed the animals, too. This particular park is very well kept and offers stunning views as well as fun animals!

The Eagle and Wolf park costs 9 euros per adult and 6,50 euros per child over age 4. However, they do offer family cards for 35,00 euros, as well as group rates and special admissions fees for people in certain categories, such as the disabled. Dogs are not allowed, and there is a snack bar in the park, as well as an adjacent restaurant that one can visit before or after visiting.

We weren’t allowed to go into the imposing tower on the grounds, which suited me fine, since I can guarantee many steps were involved. However, we did walk around the castle ruins and visit the birds of prey/raptors. Some of them were a little depressing to look at, if I’m honest. They were completely still in their cages with lanyards attached to their legs. I was prepared for that, having read reviews on TripAdvisor about a similar place in Kintzheim, France. Some reviewers commented on the birds being attached to lanyards and the people who run the French Eagle Park explained that after eating, raptors sit motionless on their perches for hours. I also know that the birds are trained and do flight shows almost every day, so they do get to fly… and some of the birds were a little more animated, too. I got a kick out of a pair of randy owls in the palais area who kept flirting and cleaning each other’s feathers. The owls were not attached to lanyards, as they don’t tolerate them. They were aviaries and were more active. They all looked healthy.

Although my stomach was growling a little, we ended up walking the long way through the park, visiting the wolves. This Kasselburg park has Timber wolves and a couple of Arctic wolves. I saw the Timber wolves napping and I caught sight of one of the Arctic wolves, who was on the move, so I didn’t get a good picture. They also had wild boars, who were clustered together rooting around and eating something…. probably worms.

I was pretty grateful when we finally encountered the deer, which visitors are welcome to feed. You can buy a box of food from the machines at just one euro each. It’s worth it to interact with the very friendly and adorable goats, deer, ponies, and geese. Here are some photos of our visit to the park… which took us on a six mile hike. Been awhile since I last did that, and I must admit, it wore me out.

Just after we left the woods, we heard what sounded a little like donkeys braying… but I knew they weren’t donkeys. It wasn;t until we rounded the corner that I saw the source of the hubbub. A small group of deer were standing in the shade. I’m not sure if they were fighting or fucking, but they were sure making some noise! I think it might have been the first time I have ever heard deer making animal noises. I didn’t have much time to think about that, though, because I was soon met by my first beggar of many…

By the time we were finished feeding the animals, we were definitely ready for refreshment. So we went next door to the Restaurant Forsthaus Kasselburg, which offers traditional German food and beautiful views. It was a good place to stop for refueling. In fact, we were so well fed that we managed to skip dinner on Saturday night…

The restaurant offered reasonable prices, as well as a fun “sprinkler show” in the dining room, complete with cheesy Muzak. That’s really the only way I can describe it. It looked like the indoor dining room had a stage, and there were sprinklers in front of it, along with lights. I’m sure when the weather is less beautiful, the inside is nice to dine in. No one was eating inside, though… better for virus protection. I noticed that besides contact tracing (leaving your name, address, and phone number) and wearing masks, this restaurant also routed access to the bathrooms so you go in and out through different doors, thereby lessening the chance of exposure to the virus or other people.

By the time we were finished with lunch, it was mid afternoon, and we were pretty tired. I wanted to go swimming in the hotel’s awesome spa pool and visit the Meerfelder Maar close up. More on that in the next post.


Wiesbaden’s fabulous Fasanerie…

I really needed to have some fun today, so Bill decided we’d visit the F√∂rderverein¬†Fasanerie, which is a lovely animal park in a wooded area near downtown Wiesbaden. ¬†This park reminds me a lot of the Wildpark Pforzheim in the Stuttgart area, only you don’t have to pay for parking. ¬†Entry is free, unless you want to pay two euros for animal feed. ¬†The park isn’t quite as large as the one in Pforzheim, but it’s a good size and you will definitely get your exercise strolling around the gentle hills.

Here are some photos I got from today.  We saw all kinds of animals, from goats to wildcats, with plenty of bears, deer, and wolves in between.

Right at the entrance…


Plenty of fun learning activities for children…

A very insistent goat who wanted all the food.

I used to catch these in my yard in Virginia.

A tunnel where all of the nocturnal creatures live.

A fox.  I had to zoom in for him.

Wolves… we did see one who appeared to be on a mission.


This bear was very chilled out.  The water hole was full of golden fish.

I really enjoyed the deer.  They were very friendly and hungry.

I miss these views.



¬†A wildcat…¬†






So many majestic deer with antlers!  They were very tame and hungry for food.

I loved the nutria.  They were so busy looking.

This poor dude kept getting edged out of handouts by the female. ¬†I guess that’s just how it goes.

He posed for me anyway.

We had to go back to the goats and unload our food. ¬†We still had a lot left. ¬†I wish I’d given more to the deer.

A lot of people brought picnic lunches and we heard one group singing “Happy Birthday” in English. We decided to stop by the Biergarten for a snack, where a very kind waitress ¬†took care of us.

Bill had pommes with ketchup. ¬†They were better than usual… nice and hot.

I went with Spundek√§s and a pretzel, a treat I only recently discovered. ¬†It comes from Mainz and it’s delicious… a nice rich quark cheese spread with paprika and garlic. ¬†I had forgotten how good this is… ¬†I don’t usually do cheese, but this is an exception. ¬†I’m definitely a fan. ¬†

For the children…. actually, there is a very nice playground for kids at this park.

I had never seen one of these before…

A swing for people in wheelchairs! ¬†I didn’t see anyone in a wheelchair today, but how cool is it that they have a special swing for them?

I’m not sure what to make of this… looks like some kind of naked creature who needs to pee.

Hessian lion…

¬†I really needed a fun day today, and I got it. ¬†After we were finished at the Tierpark, we bought some fresh cherries from an adorable old lady selling fruit out of the back of her car. ¬†She threw in a few plums for us after letting us try her cherries (perfectly ripe and very sweet). ¬†I got to ride in the new car, too. ¬†I’d say today was a resounding success.¬†

Tonight we’re going to try a new restaurant, which I’ll probably review tomorrow.


Places near Stuttgart to get your animal fix…

I usually update my blog on the weekends, but we are going to Italy for the Labor Day holiday and I may be indisposed.  Aside from that, my husband is on his way back to Germany today and I’m trying to keep busy.  With that in mind, I thought I’d write a post for those looking for local places to visit animals.  A few of my suggestions may be well-known or even obvious, but I hope to surprise a few people with something unexpected.  I don’t have children, but I think it’s safe to say that all of these places are kid friendly.

I’m going to list these in no particular order.  We visited each place at least once and you can search the blog for my reviews.  Here goes…

Wilhelma Zoological and Botanical Park- Stuttgart

I might as well start with the obvious, Wilhelma Zoo, which is located in the Bad Canstatt area of Stuttgart.  I went there for the second time a couple of weeks ago and had a pretty good time visiting the animals.  Some people seem to think this zoo is outdated and poorly maintained.  Although I know there are better zoos out there, I had a good time visiting the one in Stuttgart.  It does get crowded and, at 16 euros per adult, is probably the most expensive choice on my list.  But I have to include it because obviously, you’d go to a zoo to see animals, right?  And this zoo includes plants, an aquarium, a petting area, and access to a public park, as well as a pretty cool insect exhibit.  You can spend a few hours at the zoo and still not see it all.  It does get crowded on nice days, but I think it’s worth a visit, if only to make you appreciate some of the other choices.  Public transportation is a snap, since there’s a station right outside the main gate.  Also, the sea lions are fun to watch!

I think s/he stole the show!

Tierpark NymphaeaEsslingen

Germany has what they call “Tierparks” (animal parks).  They’re basically like small zoos that are more kid focused.  So far, we’ve visited two of them and at both parks, it was easy to pet and feed some of the animals.  We visited Tierpark Nymphaea a couple of weeks ago, mainly because I’d repeatedly heard it was a nice place to take kids.  Although the animals at the park were not particularly exotic, it was a lot of fun to feed and pet the donkeys and goats.  And you can also feed the ducks and deer and look at all of the other animals who live at the park.  Tierpark Nymphaea offers a nice, stroller friendly trail around a large, attractive lake and a number of interesting exhibits. Afterwards, your kids can play while you enjoy a beer in the Biergarten.

A very persistent goat begs for popcorn.


Der Kleine Tierpark G√∂ppingen- G√∂ppingen


Speaking of Tierparks, we visited one last year in the town of G√∂ppingen, a city east of Stuttgart, kind of on the way to Ulm.  To be honest, I’m not sure where I first heard about this park.  I do have a German friend from G√∂ppingen, but although she is an animal lover, she’s not a mom and she currently lives in North Carolina.  This park, compared to Tierpark Nymphaea, is a bit smaller.  However, there is a wider variety of animals at this park, including camels and monkeys.  I’m not sure I’d necessarily advise a road trip there unless you’re already in the neighborhood, but I did enjoy meeting their friendly camels and goats, who are pros at scoring food.

What, me worry?

Wildpark Pforzheim- Pforzheim

Of all of the animal friendly places I’m going to list today, Wildpark Pforzheim is probably my favorite.  This is a huge park in the Black Forest where you only pay to park and buy some food.  Then, you and your little ones can scurry around the park mingling with deer, elk, Highland cows, mini horses, owls, donkeys, and many other friendly animals looking for a handout.  Seriously… this is a great park.  Not only is there a huge array of animals to be visited, there’s also a ropes course and playground equipment.  You could easily spend several hours here, enjoying the many exhibits and burning energy.  Highly recommended!

A wild cat on the prowl!  This is one of the animals you aren’t allowed to feed!


Alternativer Wolf und Bärenpark Schwarzwald- Bad Rippoldsau-Sheppach


This small park in the Black Forest hamlet of Bad Rippoldsau-Sheppach is home to bears, wolves, and lynxes.  Many of the animals at this sanctuary were once circus performers or zoo animals.  This isn’t really like a Tierpark or a zoo; it’s really more of a place where these animals can live out their lives in peace.  In 1996, I visited Bulgaria and, in those days, many Roma people were making money with “dancing bears”.  These bears had been trained to “dance” via cruel methods involving pain and heat.  Since I had actually witnessed cruelty toward bears in Bulgaria, I was very glad to see that the animals at this park in Germany have such a nice home out in the forest.  Although this is a small park and doesn’t take long to visit, it can be combined with a number of other activities in the area.

One of the more social wolves at the park.

Monkey Hill-Affenberg Salem  

If you prefer feeding monkeys, you can venture to Monkey Hill, a really cool park near Lake Constance, maybe 90 minutes or so south of Stuttgart.  Those who have been to Monkey Mountain in Kintzheim, France, may already be familiar with the concept.  That’s because both parks, as well as another one in France and one in Great Britain, are owned by the same people.  At this park, you walk around a loop and offer popcorn to docile monkeys who gently take it from you.  Although you aren’t allowed to pet the monkeys, it is fun to feed them.  Some will practically mug for the camera as they take popcorn from you.  This is probably my second favorite animal activity on the list.

Sweet family portrait… not of my family, mind you.

Fischzucht Zordel- Neuenb√ľrg/Eyachtal

And finally, here’s a place where you can feed fish… and they can feed you.  This fish farm near Pforzheim appears to be a very kid friendly activity.  You or your kids can feed the fish, then have a nice lunch of fresh or smoked trout.  I’ll leave it up to parents to decide if they want to tell their children what will happen to the fish they feed.  Still, it’s a lot of fun and, if you like fish, you can get some very fresh trout here.

Fish waiting to be fed and harvested.


I know I’m probably leaving off some places, but these are the places I have been to and can evaluate based on personal experience.  I figure this list will give people a good start for the time being.  Frankly, for my money, the Wildpark Pforzheim is the best of the lot, offering the most fun for the euro.  I hope you’ll visit and let me know if you agree!


Sometimes Stuttgart can be a real zoo!

Today, Bill and I decided to visit Wilhelma Zoological and Botanical Park, the only state owned zoo in Germany and second only to the Berlin Zoo in its collection of animals and plant species.  This zoo is Europe’s only large combined zoo and botanical park.  It’s been in operation since 1846 and features some really cool Moorish architecture that brings Morocco and southern Spain to mind.

Today wasn’t our first time visiting Wilhelma.  When we lived in Stuttgart the first time (2007-09), we visited.  I want to say it was in the spring of 2008, not long after a polar bear cub was born at the zoo in Stuttgart.  I remember there was quite a line to see the cub.  I believe it was around the time Knut the orphaned polar bear was very popular at the Berlin Zoo, so the polar bear exhibit was very popular in Stuttgart.  About a year later, a depressed woman visiting the Berlin Zoo decided she wanted to be one with the polar bears and climbed over the barriers to swim with them, where she was promptly mauled.  Fortunately, everyone, including the polar bear that attacked her, survived the incident.

Sigh… I love the flowers.

Today, I saw neither hide nor hair of bears of any kind, but I did see a lion, a tiger, zebras, gorillas, camels, and huge cockroaches, the same kinds people used to be forced to eat on Fear Factor.  I saw a crocodile, Burmese pythons, donkeys, ostriches, and adorable ponies.  I also saw an enormous Schw√§bisch-H√§llisches Landschwein.  We spent about four hours at the zoo and could have stayed longer, had we not been worn out by the heat, the crowds, and walking.  The zoo is adjacent to a public park, which can be accessed from an entrance near the petting zoo.  Keep your ticket if you want to venture into the park and come back into the zoo.

We got an earlier start this morning, arriving at the zoo at about noon.  Bill parked at the garage adjacent to the zoo, although we could have also taken the train, which has a stop directly outside of the zoo’s entrance.  He paid 32 euros for two adult day passes and off we went.  Below are some pictures of today’s fun.  Bear with me… there are a lot of them!

Today’s line at noon.  Not too bad.  There are lockers right next to the box office, as well as toilets.  I think you’re supposed to start in the botanical part, but it was kind of warm and I was enjoying the fresh air…

So we visited the flamingoes, first.  Then we went into the greenhouse.

They had a lot of chili plants on display.  I couldn’t help but laugh, remembering my original German neighbors from our first time here gifting us with hot peppers because they were too much for them!  

I kind of wanted to take one of these home.  My German friend Susanne says there are days during the year when Wilhelma sells some of its plants and/or cuttings.  They have a booth at the Slow Food Festival in April and they also sell plants on Wilhelma Day, which this year is on September 30th.  

Colorful fish… just a few of many I saw today.

We went into the first part of the greenhouse, which featured cacti.

Our first German landlord was a cactus fan and we had a few in our house.  I was reminded of him as we checked out the exhibit.

More beautiful flowers.  The first time we visited, those flowers were tulips and were just as lovely.

We saw a few kids riding these things… I see it’s 2 euros for a 10 minute ride on these big stuffed animals.

A few more beautiful flowers…  Germans are so good with plants.

 Just before lunch, we went into the insect house.  There, we saw some pretty awesome bugs…

I never saw roaches like these in Texas.

Horseshoe crab, which I used to see a lot of in Virginia.

One photo of one butterfly.  The others weren’t quite as cooperative.


The biggest millipede I’ve ever seen.

A tarantula.  Yikes!

You could get pretty close to the pelicans.

Some equipment for other “wildlife”…

Last time we visited Wilhelma, we didn’t eat there.  Today, we did opt to have lunch at the cafeteria style restaurant closest to the entrance.  We stopped for a drink at the one closest to the petting zoo area, on the other side of the park.  I noticed a marked difference in the two places.  The restaurant closer to the entrance seemed cleaner, calmer, and had more shady areas.  It’s run by Marche, the same people who bring us nice rest stops in Switzerland and France.  I was somewhat impressed by what they had.

Salads with fresh looking produce that smelled great.

Vegetarian cuisine.



They even had fresh squeezed juices.  In the inside dining room, there’s also a play area for kids.

I went with a currywurst and pommes, which ordinarily wouldn’t have been my first choice… but I didn’t want a schnitzel and we’re having salmon for dinner tonight.  The pommes were awesome!  They weren’t all dried out and tasteless.  I could have just eaten a plate of those and been done with it.

A man and his hefeweizen… and penne pasta with pesto.  It was really good.

Just after I took this photo, a man pushed a trolley full of dishes by.  A beer glass fell off, shattered, and sent shards everywhere, including my shin.  Fortunately, it was a pinprick sized flesh wound.  No harm done.

After lunch, we found our way to the sea lions, who were a lot of fun to watch.  I got a bunch of photos and some video footage.  Here are a few of the best pictures, starring one sea lion with particularly good showmanship.

I was kind of jealous of their pool, too.  It looked refreshing.

Next, we went into the aquarium/terrarium… we saw lots of creatures there.

The snakes were cooperative at the zoo…

There were so many fish… and just as many people, so I just got a few shots of the more colorful ones.

Alpacas and Schweine…

I told Bill this fancy bird reminded me of Diana Ross… complete with feathers and long legs.

A gorilla who was outside… the others were inside.

I loved the zebras.  They were very chill.

And the giraffes, too…  

This ostrich had an attitude.  S/he came over and gave a guy with a camera what for…

I got several shots of the ostrich snapping at some guy with a camera.  It was kind of funny to watch. The other ostrich wasn’t as interested.


At this point, we decided to stop for a drink.  We were at the other restaurant, which appeared to be smaller, much more crowded, and offered less seating than the other restaurant, particularly in the shade.  Although it looked like they had a lot of the same kind of food, the first location near the main entrance was a lot more pleasant.  I noticed it was also less crowded and shadier on our way out of the zoo.


Look closely for camel butts.  They were of the two humped variety.

This Shetland pony was in the petting zoo area.  I remember the last time we visited, there were machines where you could buy food and feed some of the animals.  This time, both machines had signs on them that said they were broken.  Kids were putting some of the goats, though, and this pony let me pet him for a minute.  I could have hung out with him all day.

This pony was having a good laugh…  no, actually, I think he was yawning.  Lucky catch with the iPhone.


And an enormous Schw√§bisch-H√§llisches Landschwein!  He was huge!

These two were sharing a moment…

The elephants were putting on a show.  Up the hill, we noticed another World Wildlife Fund tent, like the one we encountered yesterday.  Bill was determined to avoid it.

A majestic Asian lion, who was proudly posing for photos…

It was dinnertime for the tiger, so I wasn’t able to get a really good shot.

These two were friendly!

I got some great video footage of these monkeys!  I’m going to see if my old computer will cooperate, so I can put it up on YouTube.  

Peacocks minus plumage!


And more monkeys!

Some rather chilled out kangaroos who weren’t very social.

And penguins!

Wilhelma Zoo is worth a stop if you love animals.  Both times we’ve visited, it has been crowded and some people seem to think the enclosures are too small and outdated.  That may be true, although I can’t deny that we had a nice time yesterday and that is my focus as I’m writing my post.  Are there bigger, nicer, and snazzier zoos?  Probably…  but the animals we saw yesterday appeared to be well cared for and basically happy, and we did enjoy seeing them.  I was especially impressed by the insect exhibit, which was more interesting than I was expecting it to be.

I think to do a proper visit, you should come somewhat early, wear comfortable shoes, be prepared for climbing hills and big crowds on nice days, and plan to stay awhile.  We were there for four hours today and I don’t think we saw everything.  There were some enclosures that appeared to be empty.  I noticed a few animals I saw in 2008 were missing this time.  I would have liked to have gone back to the sea lions, but was too tired by the time we’d done the loop.  The explanations on the exhibits are pretty much all in German, although I understood a lot of what I was reading.  I noticed it was fairly stroller friendly, too, although there are some hills.  The animal houses that had steps in them did have ramps, though, which was nice.

All in all, we had a really nice day.  I love visiting animals, although I tend to like zoos less than Tierparks.  I don’t like crowds and the zoo on a day like today is bound to have lots of crowds.  But Wilhelma is open almost every day–  It might be worth visiting when the temperatures are a little cooler.  On the other hand, the flowers are so pretty this time of year!  If you enjoy zoos, Stuttgart’s isn’t a bad one.  And with the train stop right outside the gate, it couldn’t be easier to get there.  In fact, the parking ticket machine is apparently broken right now, so taking the train might be better, anyway.


Ten places to beat the heat in and around Stuttgart…

I’m in the mood to write another one of my top ten posts.  If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, some of what I write will be repeated information.  I am writing this, more or less, for the new people who will be moving to the area this summer.  It can be a real shock to move from the United States, or even Italy, and not have air conditioning.  Today’s post is about some places I’ve found where a person can cool off, most of which involve a little bit of hiking outside.

Before I get started… I’m not going to post about Schwimmbads or Freibads or anything like that.  Of course you can cool off in any one of the area’s fabulous public pools, which put our American ones to shame.  I’m not going to write about the pools, though, because it’s been my experience that most people find out about those right away in any of the local Facebook groups.  Besides, I myself didn’t actually visit a Freibad until last year.  I wrote about the experience and, to date, have scored only 90 hits.  I’m just gonna say that if you want to go to a pool, chances are good your community has an awesome one.  Seek it out.

Okay… enough about pools.  On to my list of cool summer stops in Stuttgart, not ranked in any particular order of awesomeness.

10.  Laichinger Tiefenh√∂hle

Germany’s deepest show cave.  Hope your heart is strong!

Bill and I discovered the Laichinger Tiefenh√∂hle last summer, when an American who is married to a local suggested it.  The word “tief” means “deep” in German.  That should give you a clue!  The Laichinger Tiefenh√∂hle is Germany’s only vertical cave open to the public.  It’s located in the little town of Laichingen, which is east of Stuttgart, kind of on the way to Ulm.  If you want to cool off, this is sure a great place to do it.  I remember visiting last June as temperatures soared and wishing I had worn longer pants while I was climbing up and down the ladders in the deep hole.  This vertical cave is a lot of fun to visit, but it’s not for anyone with mobility problems.  In fact, you have to be kind of fit to be able to visit this cave because it requires a lot of climbing up and down steep ladders. Frankly, I found it rather exhausting, yet exhilarating.  I would not bring small children to this cave, but older ones will be able to blow off plenty of summer steam here.  Afterwards, they can play on the nearby ropes course or perhaps visit nearby Blautopf, which is where the cave system ends!

9.  Triberg Wasserfall   

One segment of the huge falls.  Stand here and enjoy the very refreshing spray, which you’ll probably be sharing with other visitors.

The Triberg waterfall system is Germany’s highest and it’s a very heavily touristed place.  Nevertheless, if you want to cool off, Triberg is not a bad place to be.  It costs a few euros to climb up the falls or you can take a tram to the top.  Afterwards, go cuckoo clock shopping or have lunch in one of the town’s many restaurants.  Triberg is also a great place to score a piece of Black Forest cake.

8.  Seewald

Seewald… lovely lake in the Black Forest!


Bill and I discovered Seewald a couple of years ago, when we visited a Biergarten a friend of his had recommended.  When we made the trip, we didn’t know that there was a lake there where swimming is permissible.  If we had, I would have brought a bathing suit!  Seewald is located near Freudenstadt.   There is free parking in the area, but it gets full.  If you want a spot close to the action on a sunny day, get there early!  This link includes links to other lakes in the area where one might enjoy a dip.

7.  B√§renh√∂hle and Nebelh√∂hle




These are two caves located very close to each other near the town of Sonnenb√ľhl.  Sonnenb√ľhl is also very close to Lichtenstein Castle and Abendteuer Park (a ropes course).  Although visiting the caves might entail a long drive, you could really pack your day in this area.  There’s a lot to do here.  My personal favorite of the caves I’ve visited so far is Nebelh√∂hle.  It’s not as exhausting as the Laichinger Tiefenh√∂hle, but it’s more challenging and interesting than the B√§renh√∂hle, which is a much smaller cave very suitable for young kids.  After you’re finished at the B√§renh√∂hle, if you have little ones, you can visit Traumland, which is a little amusement park that seems especially suited for children.  Or you can visit the Easter egg museum, which is located at the same complex.

6.  Burgbach Wasserfall

Bill and I recently visited this beautiful waterfall, located in Bad Rippoldsau…


If you’re up for a short, uphill hike, you can visit Burgbach Wasserfall.  It takes a little bit of work to get to the waterfall, but it’s worth the trip, much of which is under a canopy of trees.  It costs nothing to visit Burgbach, just a little bit of sweat.  But once you get there, you can stand next to the spray and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  Afterwards, you can stop at one of the local restaurants for lunch or visit the Wolf and Bear Alternative Park, which is only a couple of miles away.  Parking at Burgbach is free of charge.

5. Glaswaldsee

Glaswaldsee… also a cool place, although you’ll work up a sweat getting there.

Glaswaldseee is also located in Bad Rippoldsau, very close to the Burgbach Wasserfall.  Once you park in the lot, you’ll walk a couple of kilometers to reach this wild mountain lake.  The walk to the lake is mostly uphill, but once you’re there, you can enjoy the shady trees or stick your feet in the water.  Technically, swimming is not allowed, but I did see a couple of people wading when I visited and there was no one there enforcing the rules.  Like Burgbach Wasserfall, Glaswaldsee costs nothing to visit, except for a nominal fee for parking.

4.  Bad Urach

Bad Urach, east of Reutlingen.


Bad Urach is a very popular stop for people wishing to beat the heat in these parts.  I’ll be honest.  It’s not my favorite waterfall.  However, you can walk along a cool brook and climb to the top of the falls.  I hear there’s a nice Biergarten up there.  We did climb to the top on our first visit, but a thunderstorm was threatening, so we had to come down before we could find the beer stop.  The fall is near a beautiful meadow as well as castle ruins that, if you’re up for a climb, you can visit.  It costs nothing to visit the waterfall, except for parking.  However, if you come on a sunny weekend day, be prepared for crowds and tricky parking!  There is a train station near the falls, as well.

3.  Neubulach Silver Mine

Don your safety hat and cape and come in out of the sun to see where silver was mined.

If you don’t mind taking a tour in German, you can visit the awesome silver mine in the little hamlet of Neubulach.  From May to October, you can explore this mine or even get an alternative treatment in a special room dedicated to people with asthma.  We visited last July, when the asthma treatment was not being offered.  I was pretty curious about it, since I have a touch of asthma myself.  After you take your tour, you can visit the little museum and have a snack or take a creekside walk on the “bat trail“, also at the complex.  Parking there is free of charge.  The town of Neubulach is really cute and there’s also a Brauhaus there with a Biergarten.

2.  Allerheiligen Wasserf√§lle

One of the seven cascading waterfalls at Allerheiligen Wasserfälle.

Drive a bit west of Freudenstadt, over Kniebis Mountain, and you can find the All Saints Waterfalls.  Bill and I visited there last weekend and had a great time hiking along the beautiful waterfall system. This is another free activity.  You don’t even have to pay for parking.  Once you’ve seen the falls, you can have lunch at the kid friendly restaurant and look at the abbey ruins right next to it.  I was not expecting much when we arrived at these falls, but I was pretty blown away by how beautiful they are… and how strenuous all the stairs were!  This is not a stroller friendly place.  There are signs posted prohibiting wading or crossing the creek, but I saw many people ignoring the signs.  Do so at your own risk.

1.  Barfuss Park…  or the Baumwipfelpfad (aka: Tree Walk)

A frigid pool at the Barfuss Park… afterwards, you can hop across a trampoline.

The Tree Walk is in the mountains and surrounded by plenty of shady trees!

Okay… so these are actually two very kid friendly activities and they’re not near each other.  I had originally only intended to recommend the Barfuss Park in Dornstetten, since there is some water involved in this activity that encourages visitors to walk barefoot through it.  But then I remembered our visit to the so-called Tree Walk up in Bad Wildbad and realized that it belongs on this list, too.  Personally, I’m kind of partial to the Barefoot Park, although if you do visit, you might want to consider bringing a change of clothes.  Bill fell in the mud when we went and had to drive home in dirty drawers!  There is a two euro admission fee to enter the park, which you pay on your honor.  You must also pay for parking.

A lot of people love the Tree Walk, though, and if you’re wanting to enjoy a cool stroll in a fun place, it’s well worth a trip.  Walk up to the top of the structure, then pay a small fee to slide back down on a spiral slide.  Or, if you’re chicken like Bill is, walk down.  After you go to the Tree Walk, you can visit one of the local spas (although keep in mind that Palais Thermal is textile free!).  The Tree Walk does charge an admissions fee.  At this writing, it’s ten euros per adult, although family tickets are available for 21 euros.  That’s for two adults and their own children between the ages of 6 and 14.  Kids under 6 can visit for free, although they are not allowed to use the slide.

All of the activities on this list are doable on Sundays.  Happy cooling off!


Some kid friendly stuff to do in and around Stuttgart…

Stuttgart is a great place for donkeying around with your kids…

First thing’s first.  I am not a parent nor do I play one on TV.  I am, however, a bit of a big kid.  I usually update this blog on weekends because that’s when my husband, Bill, indulges my big kid proclivities.

I often see people in our local Facebook groups wanting to know where they can take their kids on weekends and holidays.  While I am sure there are many other people in the community who are even more in the know than I am about kid friendly activities, it’s a rainy Saturday and we’re stuck at home because my dog just had surgery and I don’t want to leave him alone.  I figure a blog post about the kid friendly stuff I’ve found offers some one stop shopping for those who are looking for a convenient list.  This is not intended to be an “end all be all” list.  I’m just offering a few ideas for those who need inspiration.

Here’s my list of what we’ve found so far.  I’m not ranking them in any particular order and I’m generally only going to include places I’ve actually tried myself.  For that reason, I’m not going to list attractions like Europa Park, Legoland, or Sensapolis because I haven’t yet had occasion to try those places (I’m trying to convince Bill to go to Europa Park, though).  With a few exceptions, most of these places are close to the Black Forest because that’s where we happen to live right now.


The Stuttgart area happens to be blessed with a number of museums, many of which would be fun for young people.  Bill and I have visited a few places that we thought were interesting to kids and adults alike.  Here are just a few.

Schweine Museum– The pig museum in Stuttgart is a fun place to kill a couple of hours and learn about all things swine related.  The museum’s owners have created a bizarre and fun little tourist attraction that includes many kid friendly areas within it.  Parents should be advised that there is a room that has exhibits that are definitely more adult related and include sex toys.  The room is easy to spot because it’s red.  Each room has explanations in English.  An added bonus is that the museum has a really nice biergarten out back that offers good food.

Experimenta– Experimenta in Freudenstadt (and Heilbronn, though we haven’t been to that one) is a hands on science museum intended for kids.  I have heard the Heilbronn location is pretty extensive.  The one in Freudenstadt is fairly small and offers old school, no frills science fun for youngsters.  The  activities include German explanations, but are not hard to figure out.  I’d say it’s good for a couple of hours of activities, after which you can find a restaurant or take a walk around Freudenstadt’s pretty center.

Welt der Kristalle– This is a small, but cool, museum in Ditzingen (south on A81) that features fossils, rocks, gems, and petrified wood.  I was delighted by the enormous amethysts they had as well as the different fossils from places around the world.  Again, it won’t take all day, but it’s an interesting place to spend an hour or so.  Afterwards, you can get the staff to open an amethyst for you.

Ritter Sport– Aside from offering a great little cafe for breakfast treats, the Ritter Sport factory in Waldenbuch also has a museum and a “Schokowerkstatt” for kids.  If you visit the Berlin location, you can also have your own chocolate bar custom made.  This is not the same thing as the “chocolate workshop”, which is just for kids.

Fernsehturm– Stuttgart’s awesome TV tower is well worth a visit.  You take an elevator up to the top, where you can see splendid views of Stuttgart.  Then you can enjoy refreshments at the Panorama Cafe!  I have heard Stuttgart’s TV tower was the inspiration for Seattle’s Space Needle.  Having seen them both, I will say I like Stuttgart’s tower better because no one forces you to pose for a picture.

Other possibilities include any of the car museums in Stuttgart.  Bill and I have only been to the Porsche museum to eat dinner at Christophorus, but we have visited the Mercedes museum.  I have not blogged about it because we went during our first tour here, before my blogs existed.  I would like to visit the Mercedes museum again, if only so I can see the Popemobile one more time!

Outdoor fun

It’s not hard to find outdoor fun in the Stuttgart area.  This place is chock full of gardens and parks where you can work off all the beer, broetchens, and brats.  Some of the stuff around here is pretty cool, too… You wouldn’t find it back home.

Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald– I might as well start with everyone’s favorite tree walk.  This very cool and solidly built structure is located in Bad Wildbad.  It’s fairly new, having been constructed as of September 2014.  On a really pretty day, you can spend a few hours enjoying nature and the kid friendly activities on the tree walk.  Be advised, dogs are not allowed on the tree walk, but there are kennels where they can stay until you’re done sliding down the spiral slide!  Just a heads up– the city of Herrenberg is currently building a structure that appears to be somewhat similar.

Barfuss Park– Ever been to a park where you’re expected to walk barefoot?  Here’s your chance!  You can visit Dornstetten and take your shoes off, then walk the trails where your feet will encounter everything from pine cones to glass shards.  You can walk through mud, wade in icy water, and bounce on a trampoline.  Bill was surprisingly enchanted with our visit to the Barfuss Park and wants to go again, probably even more than I do.  This activity would make a great accompaniment to a trip to Experimenta in Freudenstadt, since the route to Freudenstadt can take you past Dornstetten.

Ropes Courses– I haven’t actually tried any of the ropes courses in this area, but there are a number of them and they tend to be located within or next to other activities.  For instance, there is a ropes course near Lichtenstein Castle.  There’s one at the Wildpark Pforzheim.  There’s also one right next to the Tiefenh√∂hle.  After you check out the main attractions, you can burn off some steam before heading home for the night.

B√§renschl√∂ssle– This is a huge park in Stuttgart with many miles of trails and a castle dedicated to bears.  It’s also within walking distance of Schloss Solitude, but you may not want to try walking there with very young children.  There’s a serene lake, a nice biergarten, and plenty of opportunities to people watch and stretch your legs.

Monbachtal– Lovely park in Bad Liebenzell that offers tranquil walking trails and a chance to glimpse nature.  Just the drive there is pretty.  Then you can take a walk along a flowing river and maybe spot a heron or two.

Hohenzollern– This is another place Bill and I visited the first time we lived here and haven’t been back to yet.  You can hike up the steep hill to see the castle and its grounds or take a bus.  We walked up and it was quite a workout.  The beautiful views are well worth the effort.

You might also want to check what the cities in your area offer.  We are near Nagold, which happens to have an excellent Freibad park, as well as a fabulous playground for kids, mini golf, and proximity to Hohennagold.  I know Esslingen also has nice play areas for children.

Waterfalls, mines, and caves

If you feel like chasing waterfalls or exploring caves, you’re in luck.  This part of Germany offers a number of great places to visit.

Triberg– Triberg is home to Germany’s tallest waterfall, delicious Black Forest cake, and cuckoo clocks galore.  It’s a very touristy town and tends to be crowded.  However, I think it’s worth a visit to see the waterfall, try the cake, and maybe visit the world’s biggest cuckoo clock.

Silver Mine–  Near the cute little town of Neubulach, there’s an old silver mine where you and your young ones can see where azurite, malachite, and silver come from.  Although the tour is in German, the mine itself is pretty interesting.  Afterwards, you can visit the small museum, check out the outdoor exhibits, or take a walk on the Fledermaus trail.  Or you can venture into the town for a round or two of mini golf and lunch.

Bad Urach– Bad Urach is a really nice area where visitors can climb up a waterfall or visit castle ruins.  Besides being kid friendly, Bad Urach is also very dog friendly.  It also happens to be convenient to a couple of other attractions on this list…

Blautopf– Want to see really blue water that’s not in your toilet?  You might want to check out Blautopf, which you can visit after you see Bad Urach or save for another day.  Blautopf is the end of a cave system– indeed, Germany’s only publicly accessible vertical cave, Tiefenh√∂hle, which is also in the area.  I would also recommend a visit to the Hammerschmiede Museum, which is directly adjacent to Blautopf.  Your kids can see how an old fashioned blacksmith works!

Tiefenh√∂hle– Really cool vertical cave near Blautopf.  Be advised that visiting this cave is pretty strenuous.  I would not recommend it for very young kids or those who don’t listen to directions.  To negotiate the cave, you must climb up and down steep ladders.  I recommend good shoes, long pants, and plenty of stamina.

B√§renh√∂hle– This is what I’d call a “kid friendly” cave (technically it’s called the Charles and Bear Cave), especially for little kids.  Located in Sonnenb√ľhl near Schloss Lichtenstein, it’s rather small and easy to walk through, with no steep stairs or ladders.  One can see this cave system in about twenty minutes or so via guided tour (in German) or on your own.  Be advised that if you go on your own, you will probably end up in a tour group by default because you’ll eventually run into them and probably won’t be able to pass.  Printed English explanations of the caves are available on request.  When you’re finished in the cave, you can have lunch at the biergarten on site and stop by Traumland, which is a kiddie amusement park.  Or you can visit the Easter egg museum.

Nebelh√∂hle– is another cave system, a bit more challenging to navigate, located very close to the Bear Cave.  It’s my favorite of the three caves we’ve been to so far because I think it offers a good combination of things to see and ease of navigation.  It’s a bit more interesting than the Bear Cave, but not nearly as physically demanding as the Tiefenh√∂hle.  There are also playgrounds on site for after your visit, as well as a biergarten.


I could probably write a very extensive section on animal related activities, but in the interest of keeping this blog post from getting too long, I will offer just a few ideas.

Naturally, you can visit Stuttgart’s awesome zoo, Wilhelma, which Bill and I saw the first time we lived here.  I have not been back to the zoo in the eight years since our first visit, but I do remember really being impressed by the animals there.  I would love to go back and spend a day.  Maybe we’ll even do it next weekend, if Zane is recuperated enough to be left home alone.

Wildpark Pforzheim– If you have kids who love animals, you should take them to the Wildpark Pforzheim.  Besides having a whole lot of “wild” animals that kids can feed and observe, this park also has a whole lot of play areas for kids.  I kind of wished I was under twelve so I could play on some of the imaginative structures there.  The park is large enough to wear your little ones out, guaranteed!

Affenberg-Salem (Monkey Hill)– This is a super cool park where you can feed popcorn to monkeys and view other wildlife.  The monkeys are super gentle and sometimes they play!  After you’re finished visiting the monkeys, you can have a beer and a bite to eat at the biergarten.

Tierparks– I have linked to my blog post on our trip to Der Kleine Tierpark G√∂ppingen, which was the small zoo we visited last Sunday.  However, I think it’s fair to mention that this area is home to a number of Tierparks, some of which are probably closer and move convenient than G√∂ppingen is.  If you look around, you can find places where kids can learn about animals and interact with them.

Fischzucht Zordel–  This is a fish farm where kids can feed trout caught in the brook running past the property.  Afterwards, they can enjoy some fishy delectables.  I’ll leave it up to parents to decide if they want to teach their kids that the trout they feed will eventually be consumed.

Okay… this is a pretty good list of kid friendly stuff to do.  If you read this blog regularly, you have probably already been exposed to these ideas.  Sorry for the rerun!  I am mostly intending this list for newcomers who are looking for ways to combat cabin fever.  If people enjoy this post, I may write a sequel or two on the next rainy day.  Stay tuned!