Take my Heidelberg walking tour

Take my Heidelberg walking tour

When we first moved to London, my husband and I devoured every book we could about our neighbourhood. We lived in Spitalfields in East London, which has a long and fascinating history. Unswervingly keen about our knowledge, every family member that came to visit us were treated to mandatory walking tours.

Each successive neighbourhood was awarded the same treatment of intensive research… and the habit stuck when we returned to Vancouver. So much so that I’m working on a mystery novel set in the West End in 1911, amid the fresh stumps and real estate fever that overtook that new west coast centre.

The gate on the Alte Brücke in Heidelberg's Altstadt

The gate on the Alte Brücke in Heidelberg’s Altstadt

So when we moved to Heidelberg last year, the pattern was no different – though a bit more challenging as not as much pre-Second World War history is published in English.

Heidelberg’s recorded history stretches back even further than London’s, with the discovery of a man’s jawbone dated to between 60,000 and 200,000 years ago. It’s been a noted settlement from as far back as 5000 BCE, and the Romans also made it a stopping point and small town as well. When you stand on the banks of the river Neckar and look up at the entrance to the valley, you can see why people have always chosen to live here. The land approaching the area is all flat plains, then suddenly the river bends and winds into these densely wooded hills. It’s fertile, and protected.

The inside of the Student Prison in Heidelberg.

The inside of the Student Prison in Heidelberg.

By the 11th century, there are the first mentions of monasteries in the area, and the first castle structure halfway up the Königstuhl. Not long after, Heidelberg University was founded in 1386, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. It suffered badly in the Thirty Years War, being nearly razed to the ground by the French army in the 1690s.

The famous castle has been built, renovated, added to, and hit by lightning many times over its thousand year lifetime. Now it is a picturesque ruin that millions of people visit every day. As my son and I cycle to school every morning across one of Heidelberg’s bridges, I look up at the Schloss in all its red Neckar Valley sandstone glory and can’t help but smile at my good fortune to live below it. I’ve written a whole post about the history of this castle, if you’re looking for more.

View over the Altstadt from the Heidelberg Castle

View over the Altstadt from the Heidelberg Castle

And while I would love to take each and every one of you around my beloved home, that wouldn’t quite work out – I do need to go grocery shopping and clean the flat eventually. So how thrilled was I when VoiceMap approached me about writing and recording a GPS-enabled audio tour for Heidelberg. This was so much fun to work on, and I learned loads. Guys, I translated reams of local German history for this, and now I know some very interesting German verbs like ‘to inherit’ and ‘to bestow (position)’. I use them all the time at the bakery (kidding).

So please, download my 40-minute audio tour that takes you around the Altstadt in Heidelberg from VoiceMap, and listen while I tell you how many bridges were built before the stone Alte Brücke, what the sister-in-law of the Sun King had to say about growing up at the castle, how Mark Twain got into the student prison, and where my favourite photography spots are.

PS – Looking for more things to do in Heidelberg? Check out my list of kid-friendly spots where all the locals go, or our short film on top of the Holy Mountain.

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What to do in Vancouver with kids

What to do in Vancouver with kids

earnest e

I write for VancouverMom.ca and the new app Jelly Been about places to visit in Vancouver with kids. Recently I’ve been doing these fun lists of my favourite places grouped by theme. Here are a few of my favourites…

Brain Freeze Ice cream, gelato, popsicles – cold things that make my son grab the sides of his head and wail for a minute. And then demand we go back the next day.

Toasted Grilled cheese sandwiches are a child-pleaser. My own son somehow missed that gene, but I’m happy to make up for his disinterest.

SLUUUURP Best soup places to visit with kids. Pho, ramen, hand-cut Chinese noodles… I’m not going to pick a winner here.

Climbing the Walls It’s raining and your living room is being slowly destroyed by bored children. Take them to one of our city’s many climbing gyms to burn off some energy.

 

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Whistler Children’s Festival + Giveaway

Whistler Children’s Festival + Giveaway

Whistler is probably not top of mind for a summer holiday destination, but I can tell you from experience, it should be.

Stunningly beautiful lake beaches, paved bike paths, and a great playground surrounded by pedestrianized paths and many coffee shops. And on the 12th and 13th of July, there’s also the Whistler Children’s Festival.

The Children’s Festival is returning to the Whistler Olympic Plaza, right in the heart of Whistler Village, with performances by Will Stroet, Charlotte Diamond, Fresh Groove, and the Vancouver Circus School to name a few. There’s face-painting, a toddler free play tent, Vancouver Aquarium touch tanks, and balloon creatures. Keep an eye out for giveaways from Lovechild Organics and Yumm Brownies, as well popsicles and fruit leathers.

One of my favourite aspects of this festival are their creative workshops. Register online ahead of time, and your little one can make soap-stone carvings, bear-paw t-shirts, birdhouses, cereal box jet-packs, or learn circus skills. The creative workshops are all under $20 each, and many less than $10 – that’s impressive, as supplies are included.

And because I’d love for you to get a chance to go, enter the giveaway below to win this incredible package:

– 2 nights’ stay (nights of July 11 & 12) at Whistler Hilton hotel
– VIP family entrance pass to Whistler Children’s Festival
– $200 gift certificate to The Keg restaurant in Whistler
– Family trip for 4 on the River of Golden Dreams
– 4 hours of babysitting in Whistler for 1 to 2 kids
– $50 gift certificate to 21 Steps restaurant
– Pizza delivered to the Hilton for one meal

Now that would be fun, wouldn’t it?

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On Treehouse: Rice cooker apple oatmeal

On Treehouse: Rice cooker apple oatmeal

rice cooker apple oatmeal titled

I love oatmeal from the rice cooker. It is so easy, and doesn’t involve soaking the pot where I burnt a third of the porridge either. The other week I had the brainwave to dump apple chunks in with the oats and the water while it’s cooking. Even more brilliant!

The full instructions are over on Treehouse Parents.

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On Treehouse: Handprint holiday wreath

On Treehouse: Handprint holiday wreath

handprintwreath

You know I’m not one for complicated children’s crafts. For one thing, my son is only likely to be interested in making something for about 20 minutes, so if it takes longer than that to set up I’m likely to get very irritated. We made this wreath, and then I pulled out another sheet of paper for him to go crazy on. When his wreath dried, we tacked it up on his bedroom door and he was thrilled.

Pop on over to Treehouse Parents to get the instructions.

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