Jason took a few weeks of leave in April. We did a lot of housework and prep for the move but we managed to have a little fun too. We planned and managed to take two trips during our little family vacation time. It was beyond spectacular to spend all that time together. We had so much fun!
Our first trip took us all the way down to where Germany butts up against Switzerland and Austria. In that small area there is a very big lake. Here in Europe it is frequently referred to as "Bodensee"; however, Americans generally know it as "Lake Constance." We didn't have time to see the entire area so we decide to make a one day trip to the island of Mainau. It was gorgeous! (This trip also managed to mark off one of the travel goals I have set in my 101 Project.)
This first picture was taken just as we crossed the bridge onto the island. The water was so crystal clear. I don't think I've ever seen such clean water.
Here's Jason with the welcoming flower which greets you at the park opening. I'm guessing that this display changes from time to time. It was so funny to come around the corner and see this cheerful flower and its smiling face. The kids really enjoyed it.
The island is home to a huge variety of flowers, bushes, and trees. They even have a few sequoias. Here are Izzy and I with one of them. I guess we'll be seeing some more of these in the nearish future.
Sam spotted this tree and instantly just had to have his picture with it. About 30 seconds after I shot this picture he realized there were bees in the tree. Sam has had a rather intense fear of bees since getting stung last summer. Needless to say, we didn't get any more pictures after that.
Jake really loved this trip. He's very cooperative about getting his picture taken (for the most part) but we usually get this funny little closed-mouth smile when he knows the camera is pointing in his general direction. It was nice to get a big old grin for once!
Zander has been to several parks and whatnot where there were flowers growing, but never quite this many and never without being in a stroller. We spent a lot of the day swooping down on him as he attempted to pick every flower in the park. It was an interesting experience! Here he is with a beautiful bed of daffodils near the front of the park.
One of the neatest things about Mainau is the butterfly house that is in the middle of the park. It is supposed to be the biggest butterfly house in Germany and it has a TON of butterflies! Just for fair warning, it is hot in there. If you go to Mainau in the summer I'm not sure that you'll have as enjoyable experience in there as we did, but it was great the day we went. You shouldn't have any trouble spotting the butterflies, but there are several of these "feeding stations" scattered throughout the place. It sure does make it easier to snap a few pictures!
The whole place is set up like a little tropical forest, with all sorts of plants and flowers. There is a stream that runs across the path at one point (just a small amount of water) and a waterfall too. Here are the three older boys in a small "cave" in the butterfly house, underneath the waterfall. If you look through the water you can make out a bridge across the way. The platform in the water is covered in turtles.
In the kids' section of the park there is a small pond where ducks and fish live. I thought I would throw this picture in just to show how very clear the water was. No murk, whatsoever. And one really, really big fish! That thing was nearly the length of my entire arm.
The park was very family friendly, although it didn't appear that we were allowed to take our own food in for a picnic. That is pretty unusual for Germany. We took our backpack carrier that day because we weren't sure the place was stroller-friendly or not; it was! (The butterfly house isn't, but the rest of the park definitely is. You could leave your stroller outside the butterfly house if you took your valuables with you.) A backpack carrier works pretty well, though! Izzy spent most of the day in his and he was pretty happy. See?