Last weekend we took a trip up the Donau to the Castle Aggstein. It's way up on top of a rocky mountain overlooking the Donau river. You can see everything from the castle. If an army was attempting an attack on the castle you could spot them hours before they got anywhere close. It was also a gorgeous day, with a sunny blue sky. Anika got the picture of the day pretending she was scared of the attacking bear! The room with Anika and the bear was in the castle and can be rented out for events. It was so cool! Big wooden tables, a huge fireplace, big elk heads mounted on the walls, a knight's armor standing in a corner. You could really pretend you were one of King Arthur's knights attending a fest in that room. It was so real you could taste it.
Below the castle was a fantastic diorama depicting the stories from the 'Nibelung'. You know the story Wagner turned into an opera. Apparently the Nibelung is an age old Southern German tale from the minstrel days (i.e. before a real tradition of written literature). It concerns a hero 'Siegfried' who is exceptionally smart and strong. But he meets a tragic fate. Each story of the Nibelung was represented by little barbie-doll sized figures. In the room were probably twenty depicted stories. We actually read almost all of them to Ani and Pascal. The coolest story was how Siegfried killed a dragon with his magically strong sword. As the dragon dies it lights the forest on fire. The fat of the dragon drips on the forest floor and Siegfried smears the fat over his body, giving Siegfried an invisible armor as tough as a dragon's skin. Unfortunately little leaves mixed in the fat essentially cover small areas of Siegfried's skin so that these spots are not covered by the dragon's fat. At one of these spots Siegfried is later killed (because he is betrayed by a close confederate who knows about the location of the spots). Cool story! Cool castle!