Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Day in Idar-Oberstein

With the kids on Spring Break, I've been looking for short day trips to take and Tuesday we ended up in Idar-Oberstein. The town is well known for it's gem mine and being a center for jewelry, gems, and crystals but it also has an interesting legend. The ruins of two castles can be seen at the top of the gorge above the city and were once owned by two brothers. According to the legend, the two brothers fell in love with the same woman and in a jealous rage, one brother was killed. As penance exacted by the church, the surviving brother was told to build a church for the town. The Felsenkirche, pictured above, is the church from the legend and is actually built right in to the rock of the gorge. We didn't have enough time to actually go in to the church but seeing it inset into the rock is a stunning sight.
Our first stop of the day was the Steinkaulenberg, or Idar-Oberstein gem mine. All tours going in to the mine are required to wear these attractive yellow hardhats. Jordan's friend, Drake, accompanied us for the day and as you can see, they were having a miserable time (not!). Jordan collects fossils and crystals so the tour in the mine was fascinating for him.

Photography isn't allowed inside the mine so this is about as exciting as my photos of the mine get! The area around the mine has extensive hiking trails and many spots for picnicking, plus a digging "camp" where you can look for different kinds of rocks to take home (for a fee, of course!). With the weather being exceptionally nice, we took a short hike and then ate a late lunch at a picnic area near our car.

Our last stop of the day was the Kinder-Sternenland, a huge family-oriented indoor playplace located in an industrial area on the outskirts of Idar-Oberstein. Inside was a small go-kart track, indoor soccer room, a small bounce-house, kinder playground for little people, a large inflated climbing mountain, air hockey and ping pong tables, small bicycles to ride, and this huge maze with slides. We were there for about two hours and it was a blast! I'd love to take the kids back when we have more time because they weren't even remotely ready to leave at the end of two hours. It was a terrific way for them to get exercise and just have fun.

The kids were "dying of thirst" which meant we HAD to get slushies (smile). Jordan's favorite flavor is blueberry and they just happened to have blueberry slushies. Don't you love his blue teeth and tongue?! I hope you enjoyed the photos of our little day trip!

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