"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Weekend with Grandpa

Last weekend we had a very special visitor stop in. Grandpa came to visit us in Heidelberg on his way to meet his newly born granddaughter in the States. Even though our time together was short, we managed to pack in lots of Penelope-Grandpa time. Penelope was ecstatic to have another person to laugh at her antics and read books with.
Yes, these books are in Finnish (left behind by our friend Nina), of which we don't understand a word. We like to think of reading them as an exercise in creativity. Make up any story that you want from the pictures and Penelope never knows the difference.
"OH!" (Penelope's current favorite exclamation.) Grandpa's version must have been exceptionally interesting.
Before Grandpa arrived, I kept telling him how he would love the nice weather. Unfortunately, it was the hottest it has been this year the whole time he was here. Highs in the mid-80's probably don't seem too hot to you back in the States, but when you're outside most of the day and there isn't any air conditioning here and ice in your drinks is unheard of--that's really hot!
Fortunately there is a place on the Neckar where you can strip down and play in the freezing spring water.
A few minutes in the cold water and you basically lose all feeling in your toes.
The perfect antidote to a hot, summer day.
The next day we took a boat ride down the Neckar valley.
Penelope stayed entertained on the boat by sitting like a little lady in a big-girl chair.
We got off at the little town of Neckarsteinach.
It's known for its four castles perched on the hills above the town.
Back in October Penelope and I went on a trip with the University Guesthouse to Neckarsteinach where we hiked up to all of them. This time my travel companions weren't quite up to that task, but I did manage to convince Grandpa and the Father to hike up to two of the castles.
On our way up somebody thought it was a good idea to give Penelope two sticks to play with.
After nearly poking out both of our eyes, the sticks magically disappeared.
Castle in ruins
The joy of finally reaching the second castle.

What's a castle wall without a photo op?
At the castle gate.

Exploring the ruins.
Inside the castle courtyard.
View from the tower.
Quick snack.
After our hike we made a beeline for an ice cream cafe. We introduced Grandpa to the extravagant ice cream creations that Germans are so fond of. Penelope, however, was fascinated with the tingle of the mineral water in her mouth. She kept holding the water in her mouth, spitting it out, and then going back for more.
The next, and last, day of Grandpa's visit we took the Heidelberg funicular up to Königstuhl at the top of the mountain. Penelope got a front row seat.
Penelope is clearly not afraid of heights.

But she was a bit concerned by Grandpa's lack of hair.
After a bit of exploring and a picnic lunch up top, I had the brilliant idea of walking down the mountain. I mean hiking up would have been hard, but how hard could walking down be?
Hard. Especially when most of it were these steep, uneven stone steps. My calves are still aching from it.
Here is Grandpa afterwards. He's trying to smile, but really he's about to collapse from exhaustion. Penelope, on the other hand, is ready for the next adventure.
Our next adventure was hobbling to the closest Biergarten to watch the Germany/England World Cup soccer game. While we staved off dehydration with a few beers and cheered on the players, Penelope was content to play in the gravel.  
And when that got boring, there was always Grandpa's lap.
Thanks for a great weekend Grandpa! You did a great job putting up with my and mommy's shenanigans!
Love, Penelope

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