Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Today the kids and I set out on yet another local adventure. First we took the streetcar to a part of Mannheim we'd never seen before. We were looking for a particular toystore (that supposedly carries a brand of puzzles we really like), but we got a little bit lost and never did find the store.

Instead, we returned to Mannheim's main shopping district and went to a HUGE bookstore that was recommended to me by one of my internet friends. Sure enough, we found just the book we need: Kind an Rhein & Neckar: Mit Mannheim, Heidelberg und Ludwigshafen (English title: "Things to Do with Your Kids When You're Tired of Beating Them"). It has ideas for all sorts of activities--from zoos to museums to art and music lessons. I hope that this will help me in my quest to find some German friends for Mike and Annabelle.

After browsing in the bookstore, we sat for a while at an outdoor cafe. Annabelle ordered her usual, an Erdbeerbecher, which is usually a HUGE strawberry sundae. Unfortunately, this particular cafe was all out of strawberries. Instead they brought her a sundae of mixed fruit (apples, kiwi, and banana), which was quite the hit. They decorate their icecream here like it will be attending the Oscars. This sundae came equipped with three little cookies sticking out of it as well as a large slice of kiwi and some sparkly stuff on a stick. Very pretty indeed.

After our snack, we set out for the Atlantis theater, which shows a children's movie every afternoon at four. I have been dying for us to go to the Kinderkino, as I think it's a wonderful opportunity for the kids (and me!) to listen to some German and work on improving our comprehension. The kids, however, have responded to this idea with repeated choruses of "Ugh! Do we HAVE to?!" Today (finally) my answer was: "Yes, you have to! I sat through at least 2 different Pokemon movies as well as the Digimon movie, not to mention the fact that I gave birth to you people. You owe me! Case closed."

Mike and Annabelle were very impressed with the theater itself. First of all, it was a very dignified, traditional theater--no stadium seating or drinkholders in the armrests. There was a balcony (we didn't sit in it) and a velvet curtain across the screen. They played music before the film, but there were no shots of cola-drinking polar bears and no cutesy tests of movie trivia. Just before the film began, an usher ran around distributing super-thick squares of foam-rubber for the kids to sit on. To Annabelle's great delight, there were no previews at all and the sound level was just perfect!

Today's flick was Pippi in Taka-Tuka-Land. That's the one where Pippi rescues her father, who is being held captive by pirates. A few random thoughts about the movie:

(1) Mike was concerned that the actors would be naked, as it supposedly takes place in the south seas (where people are, I suppose, naked) and he is aware of how much more accepting the Germans are of nudity in general. We see lots of magazine covers and even the occasional poster featuring bare breasts, and both kids were horrified at Legoland when kids their age started stripping down to their undies to play in the fountain. The only skin in this particular film was a shot of Annika peeling of her shirt to do the laundry on the pirate ship. Naturally, I had to elbow Mike and whisper: "I guess that's the naked people!"

(2) Tommy and Annika wear socks with sandals throughout the film. Mike commented: "You can really tell this is a German movie. Look at their feet!" Actually though I believe it was a Swedish movie, but I could be wrong.

(3) Captain Longstocking has a parrot. Both Mike and Annabelle were amazed that the parrot spoke German. "Wow, how did they get that bird to speak German?" they both asked me at different times. For some reason, this totally cracks me up.

Unfortunately, our sunny afternoon ended on somewhat of a down note when we returned to our streetcar stop and discovered that somebody had taken Mike's helmet off of his bike. Our only hope is that perhaps Mike was coming down with a case of head lice and the thief will suffer accordingly.

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