Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Köln Chocolate Museum

Everyone said we couldn't go to Cologne without seeing the Chocolate Museum.  It has its own Christmas Market as well- with an Ocean/Pirate theme, since it is right on the river.

This was a glühwein stand in the market.

Brilliant idea!  A children's play tent!

There were a few of these little pirate ships around for the kids.

This was a nativity made from chocolate!

Marshall immediately recognized these African beer bottle caps.

 There are really cool displays from the records of the cocoa farms.

This shows each ingredient that goes in the different types of chocolate.

The effect of chocolate on your body!

You can get free chocolate wafers from this fountain!

Next we headed into the production area.

You can see how the chocolates get wrapped.

 The robots take them off the assembly line.

HUGE chocolate molds hanging from the ceiling!

The old molds used to be metal.

This train set mold is cool.

We HAD to design our own chocolate bar, of course!  Here is the lady making it.  We ordered marshmellows, rice crispies, and smarties.

There was a game area on the top floor for kids.

It's a great museum!  Give yourself at least 2 hours to check it out!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Köln Dom Weinachtsmarkt

Cologne has at least 5 major Christmas markets, and even more little ones spread out along the city.  We decided to visit the biggest ones, since there was a little train that we could take to each one.  It saved us miles of walking, and with the rain, it helped us stay dry!

I couldn't believe this little train navigated the narrow streets!

Best of all, it picked us up right across from the Dom!

The kids sat in the back, and got a bouncy ride.

Each market has a theme.  The one next to the Dom is a star theme.

Always ride the carousel!!

Little booths selling hats, scarves, cookies, candy, Glühwein, Christmas ornaments, etc!

From the Köln Dom we headed towards the Chocolate Museum....Mmmmmm.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Köln Thanksgiving!

We can't let a 4 day weekend pass without traveling somewhere!  For Thanksgiving, we decided to go to Cologne (Köln).  It was about 2.5 hours away, and a very easy drive.  I found an affordable hotel with a public parking deck close by, walking distance from the Dom.  We stayed here: Hotel CityInn

We have to get a Quad Room, because hotels in Europe make you pay for the number of people in your room, even children.  Our Quad room was all the way on the top floor, and actually ended up being a big room with a double bed, and a smaller attached room with twin beds.  It was great!

The big room.

The attached room.

We walked about 5 minutes, and found the Dom.  It was so foggy we couldn't see the top!

They started building this church in 1248, and it has the second tallest spires in Europe!

It wasn't finished until the 18th C!

They are doing some cleaning and repairs.

The pictures don't do it justice.  This place is cavernous!

There is so much detail in every window!

There's the organ!

This is a new window, installed in 2007.

Every part of this Cathedral is art!

That gold box is the shrine of the Three Kings, and they say it holds the bones of the Three Wise Men, who visited Baby Jesus.

This part of the floor shows the footprint of the Dom.

This was a beautiful little corner for prayer.

It was hard to get them to stand still long enough for a photo!

Saturday, January 25, 2014


There is a holiday here at the beginning of November, called St. Martin's Day.  Each village celebrates with a procession of children carrying lanterns, singing songs, and following St. Martin through the streets, and ending at the church where there is a fire and food.  Our school has 4 German immersion classes, and the teachers arranged a celebration at the school for the kids.

I got the kids some lanterns from Kaufland.  They came with battery operated stars that lit up.

Ready for it to start!

Herbst means Autumn.  The Germans use kites (drachen) as decorations for Fall.

"Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne"
(Lantern, Lantern, Sun, Moon and Stars)

The kids walked in while the parents watched

Each class got to sing a special song in German.

It's so great to have Host Nation events like this!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

EMEA conference

When I got the job at the beginning of this year, I decided that I should renew my membership in MENC- that is, the Music Educator's National Conference.  At the time, I had no idea that they had changed their name to NAfME (National Association for Music Education).  Regardless, one of the great benefits of being on the professional organization is getting to attend professional conferences in your local region, for new ideas, meeting other teachers, and fun!  So- I found out when the European Music Educator's conference was going to be, and signed right up!

After attending North Carolina's Music Educator's conference, and Virginia's as well, I was not prepared for how small Europe's conference was. There were only 2 sessions going on at one time, so the decision of which one to attend was much easier than in the past.  However, at this conference there wouldn't be anyone that I knew- so I was going to have to make some friends pretty quickly!

The first session that I attended talked about using literature in the music classroom.  These are just some of the books that were brought for us to discuss and look through.

I have some of these already (many of the John Lithgow ones), but I made a wish list of many more that I'd like to get over time.

This is another session where we were getting some fresh ideas for the general music classroom- as you can see, we mostly sat in chairs in a big room, and looked at projected presentations.

There was a band music reading session where they tried out a new method book- Sound Innovations.  Here you can see Peter Boonshaft, who was a presenter for the conference.  I really like Sound Innovations, and how you can customize your method book, changing the order of new skill introductions, and even deleting certain exercises if you don't want them in your class's book.

There was a vocal warm up session, that I enjoyed.

On the second day we traveled into Bad Kissingen, which is a city known for its wellness clinics and spas that offer healing waters. 

This is in the Regentenbau, which is a beautiful old concert hall.

The walkway along the side of the building.

Want to come here to recover from your next ailment?

Not a bad view at all.

There are many different rooms where concerts can be held.

This was my favorite room!  Every summer there is a classical music festival here.

This Green room is very cool!

In the lobby is a beautiful mural on the ceiling.

This decorative pattern is also found in the Aycock Auditorium at UNCG.  I recognized it immediately.

Outside there are walking paths and gazebos to rest.

Here you can see the healing waters bubbling up from two different springs.

This is another area where they hold concerts.  That stage rotates to face the lawn outside in the summer, and they hold outdoor concerts.

What an amazing concert venue!


We didn't see much else from the town, besides this park.

After the town they took us to this restaurant and brewery for lunch.

It is known for this large tower next to it.

It was a lively lunch, with a few tables singing drinking songs!  I like the tree coat hangers.

I'm really glad that I attended this conference, and made lots of new contacts here in Europe.