Regensburg Tourism

Earlier this month, I spent an afternoon checking out a bunch of the touristy things I can do without leaving Regensburg.  There’s a lot to see and do right here, and I didn’t want to leave it all unseen before I moved back to the US.  I started with a river cruise.

There are many great river cruises on the Donau (Danube) river, but I specifically wanted a short touristy river ride.   I found one that runs every hour or so during tourism season and runs about 45 minutes for the cost of eight and a half Euros.  At a touch after 11 in the morning, I set sail on the good ship Johannes Kepler.


It’s rather interesting to see the Stone Bridge from this perspective.  I’ve been all over the surface and around the temporary construction walkways, but this is the first time I was ever underneath the bridge.  By the way, pay attention to that tower with the clock faces on it.  We’ll climb that later!


Being on the tiny river cruise showed me things about Regensburg that I had never seen before.  For example, I didn’t realize that the villa of King Maximilian II was just walking distance down the river.


I don’t know who Klara is, but I really hope she had a nice birthday.


After we docked, I walked a short distance down the riverfront to the Schiffahrtsmuseum, or shipping museum.  Entrance was just three Euros.  The museum itself is contained inside two very old and beautifully restored ships.   The one pictured here is a paddle steamer.


What would a museum be without tiny models?


This is part of the engine room of the Ruthof, the paddle steamer which houses this part of the museum.  This stuff is absolutely huge.


Once back on land, I finally managed to get a photograph of the Boat Captain.  I don’t know this gentleman’s story, but I see him walking around town from time to time.  He’s usually wearing all white, and he’s always  got epaulets on his jacket.  I’ve always wanted a photograph of him, but he was always walking in the other direction.


I took a very brief detour at the Historic Wurstkuchl to grab some sustenance before I continued on my tourism day. So tasty!


Next, I went to the museum next to Regensburg’s famous Stone Bridge.  Most of this museum is free, but there’s a tower here which can be climbed for another two Euros.

“Historic stairs” means they’re really old and rickety and made of wood, I guess.


The top part of this tower used to be someone’s living quarters.  These are the rooms inside.


The benefit to living at the top of the historic stairs is the view-  this is looking East from the tower.


This is the view North from the tower.  When the bridge is not being renovated, this must be a fantastic people-watching view.


Here’s the Western view.  This picture was taken during HerbstDult, hence the ferris wheel visible in the distance.


One of the more interesting things about climbing the tower is seeing the mechanism that drives the clocks.  This tower has clock faces on three sides, and they’re all driven by a single mechanism.  This amazing little gearbox has long rods which connect to each clock face, and the electric motor beneath.    One motor for all three clocks.


After climbing down from the tower, I walked around the free part of this museum for a few more minutes.  I’ve always liked that the Wappen, or coat of arms, for Regensburg is a shield with two crossed keys in it.


Next on my tourism day was  walk up the street to the Kepler Memorial House.  Johannes Kepler lived in Regensburg at the end of his life, and he fell ill and died in this city.  His old house is a museum now, with an entrance price of two Euros and twenty cents.

J-Kep says science is cool!


They could probably stand to give his bust a good cleaning.


The entire museum was in German, so I didn’t get much out of the description cards, but I still liked seeing the old equipment in glass cases.


This globe is utterly fantastic.  Back in those days, they really took the whole “here be sea monsters” thing very seriously, I think.


After I was done at the Kepler House, I walked over to the Dreieinigkeitskirche, one of Regensburg’s many, many churches.


Here’s that key logo again.


…and again with the keys!


I’m always a little bit fascinated by the incredibly old glass you find in places like this.  These windows are not as crystal clear as modern glass, but the effect is kind of charming.


While the inside of this church is nice, that’s not why I was here.  I came to the church because for another two Euros, you can climb the tower.  I’ve been meaning to do this one for three years.  This is another place that wasn’t built for tourism-  they actually taped Styrofoam to one of the beams to prevent tourists from knocking their heads.


This is another historical stairway, I think.


Near the top, there’s a sign asking that you don’t touch the bell.


It’s quite tempting, though.  This is an amazing old church bell.


Why do I climb all these towers?  For the views, of course.    This is what the city’s main cathedral and the other clock tower look like from this church tower.


Panning a little bit to the left, you can see another very, very old tower.   This city’s full of ’em.


On my walk to the next touristy location in my day, I stumbled across some furries having a date.  At least I think that’s what was going on here.


For my last stop of the day, I went to the Regensburg Historisches Museum, for an admission price of five Euros.  The last time I was there was the first full day I was in this city, back on November 13, 2011.  At the time, I knew absolutely no German at all, so I was completely lost.  It turns out that even with some knowledge of the language under my belt, the museum didn’t seem all that different to me.

I didn’t remember seeing these stained glass windows last time, though.


I did remember seeing the Jewish headstones before.  There have been several Jewish settlements over the centuries in this city, and most of them have been forced out or simply eradicated.  Some of the old headstones survived and were brought to the museum.


A big medieval city demands big medieval swords.


I said before that museums love their models, and this is another fine example of that.


Here’s what I spent on my tourism day, not including food:

€8,50 – River Cruise
€3,00 – Schiffahrtsmuseum
€2,00 – Museum and tower next to the Stone Bridge.
€2,20 – Kepler Memorial House
€2,00 – Dreieinigkeitskirche Tower
€5,00 – Historisches Museum

Grand total:  €22,70.   Not bad for an entire day out, with sun, boats, stairway climbing, history, and culture.

Have you ever been a tourist in your own town?  What did you see?


Nordic Adventure, Part 1: Helsinki

I scheduled a bunch of time off for another trip that didn’t quite pan out, so I decided to use the time to visit Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, and Reykjavik.  I started my two week romp through the Nordics with a day in Berlin, where I checked off the last three Category One stations and attended a concert by Hayseed Dixie.  The next day, I flew from Berlin to Helsinki, Finland.

My pictures from Helsinki are in no particular order.

This is the statue of Alexander II and the Lutheran Cathedral, as seen from about a third of the way into Senate Square.    If you do a Google Image search just on the word Helsinki, the Cathedral is going to be the single most common image.  It’s pretty well known.


This is Esplanade Park, a short walk from the Harbor.  The statue is  J.L. Runeberg, the national poet of Finland.  This park is a meeting point for locals and tourists, and there are free concerts here during the summer.


A convergence of tram lines near the harbor.


Uspenski Cathedral, the  Russian Orthodox behemoth of a church on the hill in the background, is walking distance from the Harbor.


Helsinki City Hall, I think.   It’s possible that I made the wrong assumption here.


Uspenski Cathedral again, this time from a bit closer.  Uspenski is the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe.


I quite liked the feel of Helsinki.  Any city that puts out paired lounge chairs for its citizens can’t be all bad, you know?  I didn’t try out these chairs, but I should have.


The railway station.  I walked through this building to see the inside, but it wasn’t as impressive as the front.  This totally looks like it could be used for establishing shots in the upcoming Justice League movie, don’t you think?


Completed in 2012, the Kamppi Chapel of Silence in Narinkkatori square isn’t really a church.   It was designed by architects, and is built out of wood (Alder, spruce, and ash, according to the signs.)  It won the International Architecture Award 2010, and is part of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 program.

Inside, the sound of the city is blocked out, and it’s muted and quiet-  something you might expect from a place called the Chapel of Silence.    This is only a kilometer from Senate Square, so it’s easily reachable on foot or by tram.


I had never heard of Moomins before this trip.  This is yet another instance of the United States completely and utterly missing a swath of culture from other places.  The Moomins, created by Swedish speaking Finnish auther Tove Jansson, have been cartoons, comic strips, stage shows, movies, novels, and even a theme park.  They’ve had exposure in England, Russian, Japan, Austria, and Cuba… but until this trip, I’ve never seen a Moomin.  The Jansson family has turned down offers from the Walt Disney Company, so that explains some of my lack of exposure.


The Three Smiths statue, unveiled in 1932, is another popular meeting place for locals.  Also, it’s directly in front of the Hard Rock Cafe, if you’re into that sort of thing.  I actually ate at Kaarna, another restaurant nearby.   I had a delicious reindeer burger patty with braised onion and salad wrapped in Laplandish flatbread.


This sculpture still bears damage from being shot during World War 2.


The Church in the Rock, or Temppeliaukion kirkko, was blasted out of granite bedrock.


The outer walls still show exposed granite.


The ceiling is entirely made of copper.


The Jean Sibelius Monument in Sibelius Park.  This was created in 1967 by Eila Hiltunen.  The intension was for visitors to interact with the design by creating sounds and echoes in the pipes.


Artsy shot!


This statue is called “A Mother’s Love.”  I thought it was nice.


Harborside Market, in Katajanokka.  Here you can buy crafts and local foods.


The Helsinki Pool and Ferris Wheel isn’t open yet-  It was slated for Spring of this year, but the 40 meter tall ferris wheel wasn’t open when I was there.


Suomenlinna could easily be separated into a separate blog post, because it’s an on a different island.  Suomenlinna is a sea fortress built off the coast of Helsinki in the mid-1700s in order to defend the city. The fortress is well preserved and is a frequent attraction for tourists, but the island is also home to around 800 residents. There are tour boats that go to Suomenlinna, but you can just easily reach the island using the HSL ferry-  if you’ve already purchased a day-ticket good for all the buses and trams, you’re covered for the ferry to Sueomenlinna as well. I purchased a multi-day ticket at the airport, and it covered me for the entire trip.


On the walk in the direction of the King’s Gate.


Kustaanmiekka is part of the original bastion fortress with guns constructed by the Russians at the end of the 19th century for coastal defense.


Plus it looks a tiny bit like the Shire.


I didn’t manage to see the Vesikko while I was there  Vesikko is a Finnish submarine built in the 1930 for World War 2.  It has been restored and set up as a museum.  Regrettably, I didn’t find the Vesikko, but I did spend quite a while on the defensive wall of the fortress.


The original structures from 1748 still stand and can be explored.


There are people in period costumes all over the Fortress museum area.


The Suomenlinna Church was a Russian Orthodox garrison church in 1854.  In the early days of Finnish independence in the 1920s, it was converted into an Evangelical-Lutheran church.   The steeple still operates as a lighthouse for air and sea traffic.


Katajanokka as seen from the ferry back from Suomenlinna.


Have you ever been to Helsinki or Suomenlinna?

In Bruges

I’ll be breaking up my Belgium and Luxembourg posts into smaller chunks and posting them out of sequence, because I took almost a thousand photographs in four days.  I’m not going to post more than 20-30 pictures for any one post, but I still want to space it out a bit so that it’s not too overloading.  So, onward!

My first Belgium post was the city of Bruges in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium.  I haven’t seen the movie by the same name yet, but I’m pretty sure that referencing the movie’s title in a blog post about Bruges is a requirement in the Expat Blogger Bylaws.  Bruges is the capital of West Flanders, where Ghent is the capital of East Flanders.  For a country with relatively small geographic boundaries, there are an awful lot of subsections of Belgium.   There are also a great many languages, since Belgium is officially bi-lingual.  The northern parts speak Flemish, which is a bit like Dutch, and the southern parts speak French.  There’s also a small German-speaking community on the eastern side of Belgium, and English is prevalent as well.

The main export of Bruges seems to be pretty photographs from tourists.  If you arrive on a bus from Brussels, as I did, you might start out near Minnewater, or “Lake of Love.”  The story goes that you will experience eternal love if you walk over the lake bridge with your partner. There’s a legend attached, and it’s explained in great detail on this site.  Regardless of its efficacy as an aphrodisiac, I can’t argue that it’s a really pretty lake.


Also seen in Bruges: A very large swan and duck community.  I took other pictures of large quantities of lounging swans, but this picture just looked nicer.


Not all of my pictures have important captions or details.  Some were chosen just because it shows how nice the city is, and how nice a day we were having.


This is a “House of God” where a bunch of nuns used to live.  This is a fairly common thing in Bruges.  There was a lot of detail about this from the tour guide which I missed.


This is the courtyard inside the House of God.


…and this is why I missed what the tour guide was saying.  I was too busy stalking a bee with my camera, because that’s how I roll.  I quite like bees.


We took a boat tour later in the day, because it covers three or four kilometers of city canal and it’s quite pretty.  This was not the boat I was on, but it’s a good shot of the type of boat-  they really pack people onto these things.  They offer life vests, but most of the canals are only a meter or two deep, so if you fell in you would probably survive quite easily.


I don’t really know why there’s a random Bogey statue here, but I thought it was kinda neat.


Picturesque street, walking in the direction of the Markt, the main market square.


One side of the Markt.


The opposite side of the Markt.  This is the Stadthuis, or City Hall.   In Germany, they’d call this a Rathaus.


Flag time!  The one in the center is the flag of Belgium.  It has the same colors as the German flag, but vertically and in a different sequence than Germany’s horizontally barred flag.  The flag on the left is the flag of Flanders, and the one on the right, not really clearly visible in this picture, is the flag of the city.


Ever seen a hang drum?  They’re kind of amazing if played well.  This dude was set up in the courtyard behind the Belfry, the Markt’s big tower visible a few pictures further down.


This video is not the same hang drum player as the one in Bruges, but you can get a sense of what the instrument sounds like.

This is also in the Markt.


Throughout the day, I kept seeing people on tandem bicycles.  I’ve never seen so many two-person bikes as I did in Belgium.


This is a picture from across the Markt.  It’s the only shot where I managed to get the entire Belfry tower into the picture because most of my other photographs were taken from the base of the Belfry.  I did not get to climb this one-  the line to get in was longer than the amount of time I had.


I did some wandering from square to square.  The pointy buildings in the center of this shot are typical of Bruges architecture.


Many of the cities have these metal relief maps, with braille on them.  It’s rather ingenious, even though I can’t even imagine how a blind person would find their way through the maze of the city to find the braille map without assistance.

In other news, the facial expression on the blonde girl eating in the background is hilarious.  I didn’t realize she was making that face until I was sorting my photos.


City squares always seem to have “floating” dudes trying to make some cash.  This one was a little different though- normally they’re seated.  They all have the giant weighted base and the staff going up to the left arm- I’m positive that’s what’s supporting his weight.  This one was different in that he kept swinging his legs back and forth.  He may have had stirrups or something.  In any case, it’s a pretty striking illusion.  If I hadn’t seen this five different ways in five different cities, I might not have spent so much time thinking about how it’s done.


This dog was so very happy.  They kept feeding him!


There were displays of lace all over the city and I didn’t make the connection to Brussels Lace until I saw this woman actually sitting in her doorway making lace in real time.


In hindsight, I should have gotten some video- she was moving her hands incredibly fast.


Of all the pictures I took from the canal boat cruise part of the day, this is the very best one.  This dog was snoozing in a window that was canal adjacent.  It looked like the perfect place to have a nap.


On the walk back to the bus, we passed through a sculpture garden containing sculptures of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by sculptor Rik Poot.

I’ll give you a moment to stop giggling about the man’s name.

So the one in the upper right is obviously Death, but I’m not certain of which is which on the others.  Clockwise from Death, I believe it’s War, Famine, and Pestilence.  I could easily be wrong though, and I didn’t think to photograph their labels while I was there.


Have you ever been to Bruges?


Back in June, I went to Hamburg for a concert.  I decided to be adventurous, and get a hotel on the Reeperbahn.  The Reeperbahn, sometimes referred to as “The Sinful Mile,” is Hamburg’s red light district.  It’s also jam packed with bars, clubs, restaurants, and touristy things.  It’s sort of like a distillation of Las Vegas, but with legal prostitution.  All of my Reeperbahn pics are from the daytime, because I didn’t want to be that guy taking pictures there at night.  And there’s a good chance I would have gotten my camera smashed if I had.

I chose my hotel based on ratings and reviews on TripAdvisor, and I wound up with the Pyjama Park Hotel und Hostel. It was affordable, and it was pretty decent considering the location.  My only caveat:  Don’t choose this hotel if you can’t sleep with a little bit of street noise.  People who live in New York City will be fine here.

This picture is not the hotel, it’s just a place on the Reeperban that drew my attention enough to snap a picture.  I think it’s a bar.  They must really like their pigs.


After I dropped my bags off at the hotel, fellow blogger Scott met me there and we set out for lunch.  On the walk between the hotel and the closest U-Bahn station, we passed this building.  I immediately made the “Go home, building, you’re drunk!” joke because it’s all tilty.


For lunch, we went down to the Port of Hamburg.  The harbor is the largest port in Germany, and the third busiest port in Europe, after Rotterdam and Antwerp. (Note to self:  I need to get to Rotterdam next year. I really want to see it.)  In addition to being a massively busy shipping port, it’s also a nice place to go for lunch.  The Landungsbrücken area is kind of touristy, but full of restaurants.  The boat on the left in this picture is in front of a nice restaurant.  Naturally, I had the fish.


Many of the boats that stop here, like the two level blue boat above, and the two level red and blue one below, are ferries that you can ride between established docks in much the same way that you would use a bus inside the heart of a city.  Based on the recommendation of the Internets, I took the number 62 Ferry from there to Finkenwerder and back.  The journey takes about an hour and a half to get there and back, but it’s a very affordable way to get a nice mini-tour of the Elbe river in this area.


These crane things were busily moving containers around.  It was neat to watch.


I was a little taken aback to find the Louisiana Star paddle-boat in Hamburg, Germany.


Directly across the harbor from Landungsbrücken is the auditorium where they show Der König Der Löwen (The Lion King.)  Some of the ferry boats advertised this.  Note to self:  I’ve gotta see this musical!  I’ve managed so far to miss it every time I’m anywhere near it.


Before the concert that evening, I went to another nice area in Hamburg to meet Sarah after she got out of work.  We walked over to a Balzac Coffee and caught up for a bit.  I’d just like to say for the record that Balzac Coffee is kind of awesome.  I’ve been in Balzac shops several times before, and I wish we had them in Regensburg.

The concert was in an open area auditorium called the Freilichtbühne on one side of the city’s amazing Stadtpark.  I got to see the entire Stadtpark, because Scott gave me bad advice on which public transportation stop to use to get there, and I wound up on the opposite side of the park.  This is ok, though, because it was a nice walk through the park and I got there in plenty of time to catch the main act, Lindsey Stirling.


The following morning, I did a small amount of touristing on my way back to the train station to head back to Regensburg.    On the walk back out of the Reeperbahn, I spotted this place where you can get cheap sex right next to a place where you can get a cheap hamburger.  (Ok, in reality I had spotted it the night before, because I grabbed some chicken nuggets after the concert.  Despite being on the Reeperbahn, this is the quietest McDonald’s I’ve ever been inside.  Amazing!)


Walking into the city center before leaving town, I found this pillar in the courtyard in front of the Rathaus, in front of the canal.  I haven’t been able to find any information on what this is called, but it was neat looking.


Finally, there’s Hamburg’s iconic Rathaus, the Hamburg town hall.  I didn’t go inside, but I’ve found that for many cities, the Rathaus is just as interesting inside as it is outside.  This pretty much wrapped up my short hop into Hamburg.  I arrived on Tuesday morning and left on Wednesday morning, for a total time in the city of less than 24 hours.  I’ll have to go back sometime- I quite liked Hamburg.


Have you ever been to Hamburg?  Have you partied on the Reeperbahn or taken a ferry on the Elbe?  What’s your favorite harbor?