The Day Elvis Helped Me Find Pluto

Back in October, Germany Ja! posted about a Planetenwanderweg (planet trail) in Bad Nauheim, and I just had to go see it myself. The Planet Walk is a two kilometer long trail with statues representing the planets of our solar system at a 1:2.8 billion scale and informational plaques next to the statues.

It’s a short hop outside of Frankfurt am Main, so I spent a morning over in Bad Nauheim the last time I was in Frankfurt.   There are apparently thermal baths in town- Bad is German for Bath, so this is pretty common for towns that have names starting with Bad.  I wasn’t there for the thermal baths, though.  I wanted to see the Planet Walk.

The first thing I noticed was that there’s lots of art everywhere.  For example, this was in the tunnel between the train platforms at the Bahnhof.


In order to do the Planet Walk, first I had to find it.  I knew that the center of this solar system was the sun, and that it’s in Goldstein Park, but Google Maps and Apple Maps weren’t terribly helpful in getting me to a starting point, and all the official town tourism site told me was that it started to the East of the city.  After a bit of walking around, I was able to find it though.

The Sun, with a representation of Apollo, the sun god:


The first five planets are relatively close together, so following the trail was very easy at this point.


First up for the planets is Mercury, winged messenger and all around swell planet.


Next, we have Venus on the half shell.


Earth was so interesting that I had to take two pictures, one from the side and one from the front.  I should have snapped the other side as well, since it had a representation of plant life.

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Following Earth is Mars, bringer of war.  I think it’s interesting that the coloration of the statue was made to reflect that of the Red Planet.


At the corner of this particular piece of greenery is Jupiter, hurler of jagged lightning.  Insert your own gas giant joke here, please.


From Jupiter, you have to leave the park, cross the street, go under the train tracks, and exit the Bahnhof through the front door.  There you will find the ringed planet Saturn, embedded in the cobblestone in front of the Bahnhof.


From Saturn, it gets much harder to find the planets.  Walk down that street until it ends, cross into the plaza behind the street, go past the very large fountain, and enter the Kurzpark.  In this big green space, the walkway continues, and eventually reaches Uranus, the lone Greek in our pantheon of Roman planets.


…and this is where I got lost.   From Uranus, I knew that it would be a while before I found the next planet, and I knew also that the trail ended up a hill, but I wasn’t to the hill yet.  I walked a very long distance through Kurzpark and wound up on entirely the wrong side of things.  I used my phone to point me back in the right direction and walked until I found a normal street again.

And that’s where I found Elvis.


No, Elvis isn’t buried here. That honor still goes to Graceland.  However, Elvis lived in Bad Nauheim for 18 months when he was stationed at the nearby American military base, and the town is still pretty jazzed about it.  They even renamed a street after him.


Running into Elvis made me realize that I had gone the wrong direction after Uranus, and it wasn’t long before I was back on track, easily finding sea god Neptune with the help of carefully re-reading Germany Ja’s post on my phone.


The last part of this walk was a real treat-  the Planetenwanderweg was obviously established before Mike Brown and Neil deGrasse Tyson demoted Pluto to the status of Dwarf Planet.  To reach Pluto, you have to go up the hill past Neptune, then jog left a bit, then up some stairs, then cross a street, then up some more stairs, then up an ascending path toward the Johannisberg Cafe and Hotel.

I was out of breath when I reached little Pluto, but the view was completely worth it.


Oh yeah, and there’s this:


After successfully exploring the solar system, I walked back down the hill to head back to Frankfurt.  On the way back, I discovered that Bad Nauheim is a pretty little town.  This amazing fountain was on my walk back.


They also have a tall and pointy church.  Standard issue in Germany, I believe.


Archways lead back toward the big fountain and the Kurzpark.


…and there was art everywhere.  These two are painted on the utility boxes in front of the Jade restaurant.


Have you ever been to Bad Nauheim?  Did you find Elvis?


Palmator 2014

Every year, on Palm Sunday, the Prösslbräu Brewery in Adlersberg has a one-day festival called Palmator, a celebration of their dark, strong bock beer of the same name.  On this day each year, the Palmator is first served from the brewery’s kegs.  On an unrelated note, any time I put anything about this brewery into Google Translate, I have to giggle.  Adlersberg is the name of the place where the brewery stands, but it literally translates to Eagle Mountain.  This amuses me greatly.

The first year I was here, I attended Palmator and was blown away by how strong the stuff is- and how delicious.  Last year I skipped it because we weren’t done with our seven months of winter and the temperatures were below freezing.  This year, the weather was perfect.   I went with some friends, and we walked up the hill.  It’s possible to get there without walking up this hill, but where’s the fun in that?


We had pretty spectacularly nice weather.  This is the view from the top of that same hill.


They changed the layout since the first year I went to Palmator.  There was much more tent coverage before, whereas now they’ve done away with the tent and left more beer garden style seating out in the open.  This is much nicer, actually, particularly if the weather is rocking like this.


This is the beer in question-  the Palmator.  It is absolutely delicious, and extremely deadly.  This glass is a Maß, or one full liter of the stuff.  By the end of the glass, I was quite buzzed.  The giant pretzel was soft and fresh and delicious.


When the tables got full, blankets became the next best way to enjoy the day.  Our group brought blankets because my friends are smart like that.


Another popular thing is to sit on the wall.  At certain points, the wall is well above my head, but people still clamber up onto it to sit and enjoy their Palmator in the sun.


Have you ever been to Palmator?  Have you been to any Starkbierfest?

An Afternoon In Heidelberg

This weekend, a one-day meetup of bloggers descended on Heidelberg for some tourism and a light lunch.   The bloggers who came along for the fun are (in no particular order,)  Nina of Indie Rock Kid, Charlotte of Sherbert and Sparkles, Frau Dietz of Eating Wiesbaden, Kathleen of Lehrer Werkstatt, Jordan of Beer Time with Wagner, and Bev of Confuzzledom.  I had lots of fun with this group.  This is really a great bunch of people, and I highly recommend their blogs for your perusal.

Charlotte, Kathleen, and I started in Frankfurt, and we picked up Nina in Mannheim.  From there, we took the S-Bahn into Heidelberg where we were met by Bev and Frau Dietz (with an attached Mini-Dietz accessory.)  Heidelberg local Jordan also met us there.  She’s a student in Heidelberg, so she served as our tour guide.  Once everyone was present, we set out for the castle.

Heidelberg’s castle is on a hillside overlooking the Neckar river.  There’s a funicular to get up to the top, but the climb is doable on foot.  Steep, but doable.  The view from the top is fairly spectacular.


Visible from the top is the Karl-Theodore-Brücke over the Neckar river.


Inside the castle, one of the first things we saw was a giant wine barrel.


This was nothing compared to the other wine barrel around a corner. Behold the Heidelberg Tun (Großes Fass),  the world’s largest wine barrel.  My good and dear friend Wikipedia says that this was built in 1751 from one hundred and thirty oak trees.  Wikipedia goes on to say that at the time of its construction, it “had a capacity of 221,726 litres (58,573.8125 U.S. gallons). Due to the drying of the wood its current capacity is 219,000 litres (57,853.6795 U.S. gallons).”    Here’s the Heidelberg Tun:


After leaving the giant wine barrel, we saw some of the exterior of the castle, even passing by a wedding that was going on there.


Through the Elisabethentor, there were more nice views to be had.


From here, we picked out our path to the city center, to have lunch.  First, we had to get down there.  Luckily, there were stairs nearby.


Walking into the Marktplatz…


We ate lunch at Café Knösel, because it was close, the menu looked pretty decent, and Tripadvisor rated it well.  I didn’t know at the time that it’s the oldest cafe in Heidelberg, open since 1863.  I had a pricey but delicious plate of salmon, spinach, and potatoes.

After lunch, we hopped over to the Karl-Theodore-Brücke.  There’s a rather nifty statue of a monkey at the end of the bridge which has space enough to put your head inside, cheerfully demonstrated here by Bev.


On the low wall next to the monkey sculupture are these little metal mice.  I quite liked these little guys.


This is the view of the castle, Schloss Heidelberg, looking back from the Karl-Theodore-Brücke.


…and back at the archway leading onto the bridge.


After we visited the bridge, we wandered toward the Studentenkarzer.   On the way there, we found another tourist…


Heidelberg is a University town.  Founded in 1386, the Heidelberg University is the oldest university in Germany and the third to be established in the Holy Roman Empire.  The Studentenkarzer, or student jail, was in service from 1823 to 1914.  Students would be sent there for drunken misconduct, messing about with the police, throwing rocks at churches, or dueling.  The perpetrators would be sent to the jail for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the offense.

Students were still allowed to attend classes, and over the years a tradition formed of marking the walls with graffiti to note the person, their offense, and logos from their fraternity houses.  The Heidelberg Studentenkarzer has been preserved in its original state, with the original furniture left in place, as well as the marks of the incarcerated from years gone by.    120 year old graffiti is rather interesting.

The next eight photographs are all from inside the Studentenkarzer.

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Next to the Studentenkarzer is a small University Museum documenting the history of Heidelberg University.  There was a great deal of fascinating old technology, but it’s really best summed up by this Pneumothorax treatment device from 1950.  Heidelberg is a research university, and it’s really fantastic to think about the innovations made here over the years.


Upstairs from the museum is the Great Hall, which is, well, a great hall.

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After the great hall, the group stopped for frozen yogurt, before heading down the main shopping street to pick up the bus back to the Bahnhof.


Have you ever been to Heidelberg?


I went to Leipzig on my way back from Dresden.  I didn’t stay overnight in Leipzig, I just took a few hours in between trains on the way back so I could see a bit of the city.

My first order of business was taking the number 15 tram to the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, known in English as the Monument to the Battle of the Nations.  This is a monument to commemorate Napoleon’s defeat at the 1813 Battle of Leipzig.

I only wish I’d had better conditions for photography.  The sun was behind the monument, which made getting a clear shot very difficult.  There are some really beautiful pictures of the Völkerschlachtdenkmal on the Internet.  Mine isn’t one of them.


Coming back into the center of town on the tram, I stopped by the Panorama Tower, seen on the left.  It’s the tallest point in Leipzig, and for three Euros, you can go to the observation level at the top.


I was there on a really hazy day, but I still got a few nice shots from the top.


The tall church visible in this photo is the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church).


The Leipzig Hauptbahnhof is absolutely enormous.  I noticed the size of it when I arrived, and thought that perhaps it was the largest I had seen.  It turns out that I was correct-  according to Wikipedia, the Leipzig main station is the world’s largest railway station measured by floor area.  Here’s the outside, as seen from the Panorama Tower.


Here’s my attempt to capture the inside of the Leipzig station.  It was simply too big for even a single photograph to capture.


In every city I’ve ever visited, someone has been playing music for money.   Leipzig was no exception.


These next two photos are of statues inside the Auersbachs Keller Leipzig which were interesting to me.  The statues face each other.  The first depicts students bewitched by Mephisto.


The second depicts Mephisto and Faust.


Walking through the city, here’s Nikolaikirche up close.


On the side of the Nikolaikirche, opposite the Bach museum, is a nice statue to Bach.  Between Bach, Mozart, and Goethe, I’m collecting the whole set.


I think this is the New Town Hall.


Even if it isn’t, I liked the clock in this tower.


Have you ever been to Leipzig? 

Der Kleine Horrorladen in Erding

In the first week of April, I took a relatively brief trip to Erding to see Der Kleine Horrorladen, which is one of my favorite musicals – the Little Shop of Horrors – completely in German.

Erding is a small-ish town a little to the north of Munich.  By car, it would probably have taken me about 90 minutes to get there, but using public transport it was an 80 minute train ride to Munich, and then a 51 minute S-Bahn ride out to Erding.   I debated whether to stay overnight for this, but I’m really glad I did-  trying to make it back to Munich after the show would have been rushed, and I would have been on a late train that gets back to Regensburg at around 1:30 in the morning.  Sleeping in Erding and having a more relaxed trip back to Regensburg in the morning was definitely the way to go.

Erding is a nice little town.  When I arrived, I walked from the Bahnhof to my hotel, a little under a kilometer.  The center of Erding is very compact.  I like towns that have this kind of “gateway” in their architecture.


Sunny weather means the sidewalk cafes are full, even on a Wednesday.  Lunchtime is serious business in Bavaria.


In the evening, I want to Stadthalle Erding for the show.  The auditorium isn’t a full time theater- the seats are really just numbered stackable chairs.  They have a decent stage though, and the acoustics weren’t as bad as I expected them to be for a room that is entirely done in wood paneling.  My seat was literally the furthest seat you could possibly get from the stage.


As for the show, this is a small touring company.  The picture and video below are promotional material for this particular cast.  I’ve seen nicer stage versions of the plant, but I still enjoyed the show quite a lot.  I’m always fascinated when I see musicals here to see how they change the lyrics, which were originally English, to German.  When I saw West Side Story, they actually kept the songs in English and only translated the spoken dialogue.

Here, the entire thing was auf Deutsch, end to end.  Just as with Starlight Express, some of the lyrics had entirely different meanings in order to have a rhyme scheme that would fit with the music.  I was pretty impressed with how much of the original meaning could be kept without losing rhyme or rhythm though.


Have you ever seen a musical auf Deutsch?  Was it The Little Shop Of Horrors?