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Monday, December 15, 2014

Nuremberg

After our car finally arrived in Germany in September we attempted to get it registered, but it was deemed unsafe to drive when we sent it to emissions, so we braved public transit and took the train to nearby Nuremberg rather than risk taking the car anywhere.  The train ride was great minus my usual motion sickness.  We spent the night in a hotel in old town and spent the weekend just walking around and exploring the city.  

Crossing the Pegnitz River that runs along the middle of the city.

The Ehekarussel Brunnen, a fountain depicting six interpretations of marriage based on a verse by the medieval poet, Hans Sachs.  I haven't read the poem, but I get the feeling that he has a very varied take on marriage. 
 
The Schoner Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain).  According to tourist legend, if you spin the gold ring on the outer gate of the fountain three times you will be blessed with good luck.
A view of the grounds of the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle).  The Imperial Castle played an important role in Holy Roman History.  In 1356 the castle in Nuremberg was deemed the location where every newly elected ruler was to hold his first Imperial Diet, thus solidifying its importance in the empire during that time. Over time the castle lost its importance as rulers began to break with tradition and the Imperial Diet was eventually permanently relocated to Regensburg.

Inside the Kaiserburg.

The Imperial Chapel inside the Kaiserburg.

A replica of the crown jewels.

Some pieces of medieval armor.

After our tour of the Kaiserburg we intended to tour the Nazi Rally Grounds, which is located in a different area of town.  Because we were confined to public transit, we took the train, but we just couldn't seem to find the rally grounds. As it would have it, a Volkfest was going on that same weekend near the rally grounds, so we cut our losses and toured the Volkfest instead!

Our first exposure to German festival food.
Just about anything pickled in a barrel.

Smoked fish.  I'm not sure how you eat this?  

Some strange candy ropes.  I have yet to try this, but it looks fascinating.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

So, I (Whitney) used to have some old friends (aka Nate Dowdle and his wife Erin) who lived in Germany up until a few weeks ago.  Since we now reside in Germany we thought it would be fun to get together!  We were both able to meet up over labor day weekend, so September 1st was the day!  Since they were living in Weisbaden, which is about three hours away from us we planned to meet up in the little tourist town of Rothenberg ob der Tauber and I am so glad we did.  Not only was the town just a little piece of fairytale cuteness heaven, it was so fun to catch up with Nate and Erin.

Rothenberg lies along Germany's Romantic Road, a 350 km stretch of highway in middle Franconia that connects picturesque old medieval towns that lie along the route.  Today, Rothenberg remains one of Germany's best preserved medieval walled towns.

Entering the city center fortification.

With Nate and Erin in front of the town hall in the center of town.


Jake getting his schneeballen (snow ball) on.  For those who don't know, a schneeballen is a ball of deep-fried layers of pastry dough that is covered in powdered sugar.  Apparently it's a Rothenberg delicacy.  I say, I've tried it once. 


One stop we made was to the criminal museum, which featured various medieval devices of torture.  It was... interesting.  There are many reasons that I am glad that I didn't live during the medieval ages, various methods of torture is one of them.

Just walking around the city.  We had to make a stop at the very spot that is on the cover of our Germany Lonely Planet travel book. 

Some cuteness.

 One of the highlights of touring the city was walking along the city wall.  We had a great view of the red roofs that define the city. 



Some more views of the wall.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Munich

Our weekend continued with a overnight in Munich.  It was nice to get out of the countryside and be in a big city for a little bit.  According to the Lonely Planet travel book,  Munich was settled by Benedictine monks, and the city derives its name from the medieval word Munichen meaning Monks.  While visiting Munich we stayed at the Hotel Uhland and used the cities subway and tram system to get around; it was fun to figure out were we were going and what exit to get off at.  Although it probably added a little bit more stress to getting where we wanted to go.

We Visited the Residenzmuseum.  A Residenz is a suitably grand palace that reflects the splendor and power of the ruling families of the area.  There are residenz in many of the cities here in Germany, just as there are castles pretty much everywhere.    The Munich Residenz was home to the Wittelsbach family, who lived here from 1385-1918.

Bikes are everywhere in Europe.  

 Outside the Residenz



 Inside the Residenz. This is the dining hall.  The family was obsessed with collecting Greek busts and used this room to display their collection.

 In of the wings in the Palace.  My iso on the camera was off so sorry about the blurry pic.

 German food: it is so good (according to Jake).  This is lunch: Nurmberg brawts, sauerkraut and a pretzel!!! 

 St. Peterskirche (church). Here you can pay 2 euro and climb up the bell tower.  It was awesome.  It had a super skinny staircase and narrow halls to get to a 1.5 foot platform that rewards you with a 360 degree view of the city.  I recommend doing this if you go to Munich.

The View of Marienplatz Square, (old town square) with Altes Rathaus (old town hall).  the Glockenspiel is on the front of this building.  It is in the spire and is part of the clock and at certain times of the day 43 bells and 32 figures preform two historic events.  The top half tells the story of the marriage of the Duke Wilhelm V to Renata of Lorraine. In honour of the happy couple there is a joust with life-sized knights on horseback representing Bavaria (in white and blue) and Lothringen (in red and white). Of course it is the Bavarian knight that wins.  The bottom half tells the second story of Schäfflertanz (the coopers' dance).  The myth is that the coopers danced in the streets to "bring vitality to fearful dispositions" during the plague which devastated Munich in 1517.  Unfortunately we were not in the square at the right times.  So here is a link to a video on youtube. the tour guide is pretty funny but the video is good. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dachau Concentration Camp

This was our first concentration camp experience and it was humbling to see the poor conditions that the prisoners had to live in.  Built in 1933, Dachau was the Nazis' first concentration camp.  It was built to house political prisoners.  By it's end there were more then 200,000 inmates and between 30,000 - 43,000 were killed here.  Words can not express the emotions that were felt here.  It is so hard to understand the systematic killing that took place here.



 International Monument designed by Nandor Glid, May 2007

 The role call grounds and the barracks for the prisoners


The crematorium 

Garden of Ashes: made from the ashes from the crematorium


If you would like to see the visitor website for more information here is the link.

This is also an excellent link to get the full tour of the camp.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Germany Adventure Begins!!

So on August 14, 2014 our charter bus arrived at the Grafenwoehr, US Army Post.  It is a lot smaller then our previous assignment at Ft. Sill, OK, but, with all the downsizing of army posts Graf is growing and there is a lot of building going on.  The hotel where we are going to be spending about a month is new and nice.  The gym is new and nice and the area is surrounded by amazing forests.

Regensburg

Our first weekend here we decided to rent a car and get off post.  We braved the Autobohn (yes people do drive fast) and drove south about an hour and a half to a city called Regensburg. This was a great place to start this adventure with.  It was fun because you could really see the Christian influence on the city.  While we were there we went to The Dom St. Peter, one of Bavaria's grandest gothic cathedrals.



Regensburg got its name on the map because it has the first stone bridge to cross the Danube river.  It was being renovated when we were there, but we were able to walk across the bridge and take some photos.

 Drendle and Lederhosen


 Schottenkirche St. Jakob: is a church that was build in the 12th-century is considered a supreme example of romanesque architecture.  It is Preserved behind a glass wall in order to protect it against environmental decay.

 Walking the streets of Regenesburg.