Easter break

I don´t know why I´m not posting more often. I think I´m too busy with facebook. But now I´m here!

The kids´ Easter break started  Monday. We are not going on vacation. The boys are taking the train to Köln (Cologne) on Saturday, are spending 4 days with 2 friends there and after that the 4 of them are coming to our house for another 4 days.

Yesterday was the only day in this 2 weeks without any appointment (orthodontist- Marlon is nearly done!!!, handball practice, Good Friday family day, sleep-over at some people´s house….) and we drove to the Völklinger Hütte, the Völklingen Ironworks, the most popular industrial monument in Germany, a World Cultural Heritage Site. It´s one of 37 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Germany. Following the great success of the internationally regarded exhibition “Urban Art – Graffiti 21” from 2013 the World Cultural Heritage Site at the Völklingen Ironworks is to provide a regular platform for Urban Art: the “Urban Art Biennial”. It took us 1.5 hours to get there and it´s really impressive! Just a little chilly!

IMG_5087IMG_5078IMG_5050IMG_5056IMG_5040After climbing around we were hungry and drove to Saarbrücken, the next bigger town. We had lunch at an Australian restaurant Wongar. Yummy! Steffen and Jake got some new shoes, we had ice cream and cappuccino and liked the city a lot! We came home at 5:30pm but were not done for the day! At 7:30pm we went to the Pfalzbau, the theater in Ludwigshafen and watched the musical “The Scientist” performed by 42 kids at the age of 14 to 19 from our town. And after that we were hungry again and had pizza at La Torre da Angelo a restaurant in a former church.








I´m back. This blog does still exist. I just took a break.

We spent the first week of October in London. Our former neighbors from Westfield, NJ do  have a nice flat there and let us stay for those days. Great!

This is our first evening, dinner in the Holly Bush. Marlon and Trixi are having Scotch eggs.

On our first morning (Saturday) on the way to the underground. We lived just round the corner of The Wells.

Our underground station.

Visiting Camden Market in the morning

London Eye and Thames River sightseeing cruise

London Eye
The London Eye is one of the world’s tallest observation wheels, with views over London from more than 442 feet (135 meters) in the air. Situated on the banks of the River Thames, it offers unrivalled panoramic vistas over London.

Since opening at the turn of the century, the London Eye has become an iconic landmark, up there with Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and the Tower of London. It has been used as a backdrop in countless films and is loved by Britons and visitors alike.

Thames River Sightseeing Cruise
The best way to see the sights and splendor of this great city is from the deck of a boat. Aboard the sightseeing cruise, you’ll travel in comfort and style past London’s world-famous landmarks. The boats have open upper decks for great sightseeing and comfortable lower saloons. Relax and enjoy the views, onboard commentary, light refreshments and full bar service as London’s famous sights glide by.

The cruise departed from Waterloo Pier, but it’s a 40 minutes round tour only, with a guide giving a full (and amusing) explanation about London attractions and its river. The departure time can be defined when retrieving the tickets in the London Eye ticket desk.

After that Steffen and the boys went to a soccer game. Arsenal (with Podolski!) vs. West Ham 3:1

On Sunday we took the train to Cambridge and met an old friend of Steffen and her family.

Rain on Monday. We spent the morning in the Science Museum, the afternoon at Harrods and the evening at Heston Blumenthal (without kids!)

Tuesday. We were so lucky to have this awesome park, Hampstead Heath behind our flat. We always saw the people walking their dogs and/or running and taking their kids to the park. We thought about a little walk and then we stayed there for half of the day and walked about 5km (3mi). This allee started just behind our building. Love it!

This guy walked 14 dogs of all sizes!

We are NOT somewhere in the countryside. From here it takes you 25 minutes with the underground to downtown London.

Unfortunately Steffen forgot his bathing suit….

The ladies pond is near by but Trixi and I decided NOT to go swimming.

Kenwood was totally wrapped and they want to open it after the renovation in autumn 2013. Probably we will be back then and I can show you pictures?!

But the little restaurant next to it was opened and we had delicious lemonade of white grape and elderflower (in German: Hollunder)

In the afternoon we went to the Barbican Center. The art center doesn´t look that (next picture) nice but it is huge! We wanted to visit the rain room but the lines were much too long!

Random International invites you to experience what it’s like to control the rain. Visitors can choose to simply watch the spectacle or find their way carefully through the rain, putting their trust in the work to the test.

More than the technical virtuosity necessary for its success, the piece relies on a sculptural rigour, with the entire Curve transformed by the monumental proportions of this carefully choreographed downpour and the sound of water.

Random International are known for their distinctive approach to digital-based contemporary art. Their experimental artworks come alive through audience interaction and staged performance.

Random International are represented by Carpenters Workshop Gallery, London and Paris.

In order for visitors to enjoy the sensory experience of Rain Room, there is a limited capacity of 5 people at a time in the rain.

Please be aware that due to the popularity of Rain Room, the queue time currently stands at around two hours, at peak times including evenings and weekends up to three hours.

We advise visitors to arrive as early in the day as possible, a minimum of two hours before closing time. Entry to the queue is subject to the number of visitors already waiting. Anyone arriving later may not be allowed to join the queue as we are unable to admit visitors after the gallery closes. Thank you for your patience.

From there we walked to St. Paul´s Cathedrale. We just had a look from the outside because we were too miserly (adult 15£,18€, $24, child 6£, 7,5€, $9,6).

Next stop was the Tate Modern

And we were still not done for this day! We took the train to Greenwich and visited the Prime Meridian-longitude zero.


I saw this sign somewhere in Greenwich








Cutty Sark is the last surviving tea clipper and the fastest and greatest of her time. Venture aboard and beneath one of the world’s most famous ships; walk along the decks in the footsteps of the merchant seamen who sailed her over a century ago, then marvel as you balance a 963-tonne national treasure on just one hand.

Back in  Hampstead we got some delicious crepe from “La Creperie de Hampstead”

Wednesday. I met two friends in the morning for breakfast/coffee. First I met Rob from the master gardener class in Westfield, NJ which I visited in the winter 2009/2010. He lived in London since then. And then I met Nicky who was an au-pair girl in my home town Deidesheim in 1986.

Steffen and the kids went to the Buckingham Palace to watch the changing the guards. Impressive!

We met again at the tower bridge and learned everything about it´s history

Jake needed new shoes but Trixi was much more successful!

One of the old buses








Dog and Duck. We stopped here at 5:00pm for lunch and had hand ale battered fish and chips and  award winning Gloucester Old spot sausage and mash.


Thursday. Breakfast at the Coffee Cup (Will and Maddy´s favorite place for breakfast!)

This was hard to understand for my family. This is 2 Willow Road in Hampstead. It´s a unique and influential Modernist home from 1939 designed by architect Ernö Goldfinger for himself and his family. With surprising design details that were ground-breaking at the time and still feel fresh today, the house also contains the Goldfingers’ impressive collection of modern art, intriguing personal possessions and innovative furniture. The tour takes a whole hour and I did understand that that would be too boring. Next time I´ll be here by myself!


Piccadilly Circus. Most of the time in this area we stayed in this huge sports store. Jake found shoes and a vest, Trixi a winter coat and Steffen a rugby shirt.


Then we visited the Imperial War Museum





And finally we made it to have dinner at the great The Wells on our last night!

Friday. We had to leave early. Walk to the underground. Ride to Liverpool Street Station. Walk to the bus. Take the bus to the Stansted airport. Get through security. Walk to the plane. Fly. Arrive in Frankfurt-Hahn. Walk to our car. Drive home. That took us in total 7 hours. The flight is just 50 minutes. Crazy!

But it was a wonderful week in London!

summer vacation 2012, part 6 and the last one! (again New Jersey, New York)

7/21 This is Jagger. We were dog sitting him for some days as his owners spend a few days in Paris.

7/22 Again at Asbury Park. Jack, Marlon, Jake, Trixi

the whole crowd


Metal detector

different types of bodies….

dancing on the beach

7/28 we were invited to BBQ at the Butera´s. Yummy salmon.

7/29 – 7/30 Trip to Hershey´s Park with all those kids. We arrived at 2pm on Sunday, checked into the Hershey lodge and went sightseeing in Hershey. We visited the museum, Butterfly garden at Hershey gardens  and the huge Chocolate world store. There was only one problem: we (just us Germans!) don´t like THAT Chocolate! We are so spoiled by Milka, Rittersport, Lindt, kinderschokolade…..

Mark, Jack, Ethan, Jake, Trixi, William, Marlon

Kim in the butterfly garden

The chocolate world is a huge store with the sweetest gifts and souvenirs, including toys, apparel, collectibles, colorful chocolate tins and homemade gift ideas. Stock up on your favorite HERSHEY’S brand confections and candies, or try our decadent fudge and freshly baked cookies. You can even add a personalized message to HERSHEY’S solid milk chocolate novelties or greeting cards.

Hershey´s great American chocolate tour ride. Nothing compared to the rides in the park!

can you imagine: 5,718,862 new Kisses each day!!!

isn´t that cute?!

We had booked the package at the lodge. The advantages may be summarized as follows: free breakfast, complimentary seasonal shuttle bus service to Hersheypark, early access (one hour earlier!) to select rides and attractions, complimentary admission to Hershey Gardens and the museum. Besides the early access in the morning we were allowed to get in on the night before from 7pm till they close at 10pm. That was great. Most of the people are done by 7pm and our kids had nearly no waiting time in the lines.

Jake and Mark waiting for take off….

Hershey´s is not only a amusement park. There is also a water park. That was perfect because it was hot and muggy. Here you can see Marlon, William, Ethan in front of the lazy river. They also have a wave pool, huge water slides and a water playground.

7/31 Back to New York City. Steffen and I went to Eleven Madison Park. Soooo good! They invited us into the kitchen.

Such strong contrasts. The City on one day and…

….Asbury Park on the next day  8/1

8/1 I went down the shore with Tom and his kids and some of mine kids and William and Sam. Unfortunately the beach was closed because there was a thunder storm in the area….Here we had to leave.

We were allowed to sit on the boardwalk and have lunch. At the Mexican place as usual!

8/2 Back to the City again on the next day. Bryant Park with Alexandra. She is a friend of Trixi and we met her and her mother and brother for lunch.

It was hot!

After our picnic we took a bus to Central park. The bus was air-conditioned.

Ladurée brings to New York its highly popular Macarons, displayed in the most beautiful gift boxes, along with its collection of chocolates, ice cream macarons, candies, teas, perfumed candles and fragrances. All which are delicacies that are perfect as a gift or to self-indulge in, every care is given to Ladurée’s packaging to reflect perfectly on the brand and make every item that comes out of the house a perfect gift.

We firmly believe that a weakness for sweets is a noble approach to everyday living.

For over 135 years, model sailboats have been racing in Central Park’s Conservatory Water. Using the remote, you control the trim of the sail and the direction of the rudder.
Bordered by the popular statues of Alice in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen,
Conservatory Water is located among some of the most beautiful landscape that Central Park has to offer.

A photo model on the statue of Alice in Wonderland.

Alexandra and Trixi on the statue of Alice in Wonderland. Nearly no difference!

8/3 Our last night. Casey´s pool party. Look at Casey´s feet! Trixi is 1 year younger than Casey and Ellie!

Ellie and Trixi

8/3 BBQ at the Manning´s house. They were only the hosts. We invited them and 2 other families.

8/4 Business class flight back to Frankfurt with William

summer vacation 2012, part 5 (New Jersey, New York)

Part 5. I don´t know how many parts I still have to do. 4.5 weeks mean a lot of pictures….I hope nobody gets impatient!

Trixi had spent the week in camp as we traveled through Colorado. Now we picked up Trixi and dropped off the boys. It´s too complicated to explain why we didn´t send them together in one week….

Here is Trixi in her cabin next to her bed. It looks so tidy because everything is already packed into the car!

That´s the lake where they do all the water activities.

Of course they have to follow a lot of rules!

The boys in camp, Steffen at work, Trixi staying with me….that means a lot of girl´s fun stuff like shopping, beach, playdates with friends, nail studio….


I didn´t feel overwhelmed during our stay in the US but sometimes in everyday life….

Annual sandcastle contest in Belmar, NJ

A Pennsylvania family won this year’s New Jersey Sandcastle Contest with a massive sand sculpture of a shark fighting an octopus — aptly named “Shark vs. Octopus. “Hundreds of amateur sand sculptors from across the state and elsewhere braved the oppressive heat, which reached the upper 90s, Wednesday in Belmar for the 26th annual sandcastle competition on 18th Avenue beach. The air was hot and the sand was dry, but that didn’t stop the Holliday family from crossing the Delaware river for their 8 a.m. arrival on the sands of Belmar and working straight through until the judging began at noon.

Back in Westfield. Deer in the neighbor´s backyard.

Great new store in Westfield.Yapple Yogurt I love the lamps on the ceiling AND their frozen yogurt!

Trixi and her friend Casey

That was a strange play date. We had planned spending the day at the pool but the weather was bad. It rained! Normally things like that don´t happen in Jersey!!! We went to the Trailside Center. The girls spend about 10 minutes on the playground but then it started pouring!!! The tiny museum was ok for 20 minutes and then we got frozen yogurt and spend some time in the library!

After 1 week we picked up the boys in Pennsylvania. Here is Marlon with some of his friends.

And this are the guys from Jake´s cabin

Jake with his favorite counselor

As always we stopped for lunch at the Chatter Box. (Can you say “as always” when you do something for the second time?)

Another trip down the shore. Again our favorite beach: Asbury Park.

It´s great to watch the people here!

Jack joined us because his parents spend some days in Paris. Yes, the real one in France! Lunch at pop`s garage.

Art on the boardwalk

also art????

This day we were on our way into THE City but it started pouring. We decided to spend some time in the Liberty Science Center.

You can´t read it but it says BASF on top of this high rise. That´s the one in our lovely home town Ludwigshafen!

It stopped raining in the afternoon and we continued our trip into THE City. First we had lunch at the Chelsea Market

Dessert was shaved ice from people´s pops on the highline

After the rain it was muggy but we walked for a while on the high line. I love it!

Jake got some sunglasses

A few days later at grounds for sculpture

I took this picture in 2012 and….

Ethan, Marlon, Jack, Trixi

…already in 2010.

Anthony, Trixi, Jack, Marlon, Jake



give me a hug

Nelumbo nucifera, Indische Lotosblume, Indian Lotus

wet and cool

Marlon´s new favorite pet

“They” are renovating “our” house. I´m glad they didn´t tear it down. It was in a very bad shape. No AC, old water pipes, old bathrooms, old electrical wiring, old heating system, old kitchen and the oldest windows ever. And the kitchen was freezing cold in winter time because it was an addition and NOT insulated. I mean the whole house wasn´t insulated but the kitchen was the worst! But we loved the house. And we loved the time we lived in it.

Blue Man Group is one of New York’s longest-running shows and one of the most complicated to describe! At the simplest level, three performers in black with bald, blue heads splatter paint and use every imaginable prop in this totally fun and unique production.

Rice to Riches


The Kerth family somewhere in the BEST City!

Who knows where I took this picture? It´s in the Holland tunnel, under the Hudson river, the border between the states of New Jersey and New York. And you can´t stop here. I was lucky to release the shutter in the very best second!

summer vacation 2012, part 4 (Colorado)

Colorado Springs is the neighbor town of Manitou Springs. After getting down from that hill we needed some fresh town air and drove to Colorado Springs.

The Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center (OTC) was the first of three to be built, and has been the home of the U.S. Olympic Committee since 1978. Its location on the former Ent Air Force Base was selected for its relatively high elevation, which is often thought to improve training effectiveness. Its facilities include an Olympic-size swimming pool, an indoor shooting range, a velodrome, two sports centers housing numerous gymnasiums and weight rooms, and a sports science laboratory, in addition to an athlete center and dining hall, several dormitories, a visitors’ center, and the offices of both the USOC and U.S. Paralympics.

The Aquatics Center contains a pool with a capacity of 1 million gallons of water! The pool is equipped with a multitude of cameras which allow the coaches to view each individual swimmer or groups of swimmers. Along one side of the pool is a tow rope which is used to pull swimmers along in the water at the rate they would need to be swimming to be in gold medal form. For most of us that would be like lying flat on the water while being pulled along by a speedboat.

We read about some huge sculptures in Colorado Springs and drove to the address and saw this:

We took some pictures and then a guy showed up and introduced himself as the artist´s son Michael. Starr Gideon Kempf was his father.

Those sculptures are really impressive!

Coors. Great website, nice label, no taste. But we were in Golden, CO on our way to Denver and stopped at the brewery. In 1873, German immigrants Adolph Coors (from Wuppertal-Oberbarmen) and Jacob Schueler established a brewery here.  I think nowadays they use too much fresh water from the Rockies….

What´s on tap? Some sound good. But do you need orange peel, coriander or clover honey in your beer?

I tried my best. Always keep smiling! I learnt to think positive in the US!

After so much beer -cold as the Rockies- we needed some heat in Denver. This was already at 6:06pm. 114°F = 45,5°C!

We decided to have a look at the Botanical garden. Very nice. Much too hot….

common name: Miss Willmott´s Ghost, Elfenbeindistel

garlic flower, Knoblauchblüte

My favorite summer flower: Verbena bonariensis, Tall Verbena, Patagonisches Eisenkraut (I mean the tall purple ones!)

Sightseeing was really hard in the heat. We escaped to the Confluence park which is located at the confluence of the Platte river and Cherry Creek. In the water people do tubing and kind of swimming. I heard the water is not really clean but during that heat nobody cared….Next to the river is REI, a huge (I never saw a bigger one!) outdoor store. And the best thing: it was cool in there!

After the Coors beer brewery, the botanical garden and the heat in Denver we were ready for dinner: Mizuna. Steffen reserved a table already months ago. Just after booking the flight! Or did he even reserve the table first….? It was great. The best we could have done before we had to get to the airport and leave Denver at 11:31 pm.


YUMMY! Stawberry and basil. Yes, that green stuff is basil!

We arrived in Jersey at 5:05am. Brrrr! Then we got the next rental car and arrived at our friends´ house at 6:30am. Unusual time to arrive but grandma Rose was up already.

summer vacation 2012, part 3 (Colorado)

After the boring time (about 29 minutes) in the wide-open space of central Colorado (look at the last picture from part 2!) we arrived in Manitou Springs and couldn´t believe how RED those rocks were. WOW!

I do have such a passionate hubby!

This is the bed and breakfast “Two sisters Inn” we stayed for 2 nights. They are super friendly and the breakfast is wonderful BUT the beds are much too soft and small and it was hot. Normally it is not hot at all in Manitou Springs but when we arrived it was 87°F=31°C warm. And it does cool down at night time (51°F=11°C!, elevation 6,412ft=1.938m!) but we couldn´t open the windows….They had just installed common one room air conditioners in the windows because there were the really bad wildfires and the air was so bad outside that they had to close all the windows. AC gave them some fresh air. The fires are blown out but the AC are still there…..

We took the Pikes Peak Cog Railway onto The Pikes Peak: 14,110 ft (4300 m) high. At the peak, the partial pressure of oxygen is only 60% of that at sea level, so a faster rate of respiration is required by those not regularly at high altitudes. Those familiar with altitude training know that prolonged exposure to the reduced pressures of high altitudes will produce more red blood cells to offset the lower oxygen availability. For the unacclimated, altitude sickness  may develop in those who are sensitive or who over-exert themselves. I am sensitive!!! And I felt the huge amount of new red blood cells. Not true. I felt bad. It took us 1.5 hours in the train to get up the hill. And then we stayed there for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes I felt dizzy and on the way back down I wanted to lay down and sleeeeep. After 30 minutes going down hill I was fine again!

Here is the train station.

We could see the train in front of us.

Can you believe this: There is a marathon going up here! The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon is a racing event that begins at the base of Pikes Peak, in Manitou Springs, and climbs over 7,700ft (2347 m) to the top of the 14,115 ft (4300 m) peak. Since 1966, the event takes place each year in late summer, with the Ascent taking place on Saturday (slightly longer than a half-marathon, at 13.3 miles), and the round-trip marathon on Sunday. Because of the nature of the run (dirt trails, rock, and other natural obstacles) and the high altitude, the race is much more difficult than standard 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) marathons. Winning times for the marathon are typically just under four hours (compared to elite “flatland” marathon times of just over two hours). Although the average  grade of the slope is 11%, some sections are much steeper because the central portion of the race is relatively flat. The initial three miles (5 km) are very steep. The central 7 miles (11 km) start as rolling terrain, but become progressively steeper toward the end. The top 3 miles (4.8 km) are above timberline and require some rock scrambling to reach the summit.Oxygen levels drop progressively as altitude rises, further compounding the uphill ordeal. The race attracts hundreds of runners for both the ascent and for the round-trip. The USDA Forest Service limits the number of runners to 1,800 for the ascent and 800 for the marathon, and the race registration typically fills in one or two days.

I told you about the wildfires in the area. Manitou Springs was lucky. They just had to be evacuated for 16 hours and nothing happened to the town. But the next town wasn´t that lucky! And also the Flying W Ranch was destroyed on June, 26th 2012 by the Waldo Canyon Fire…..