Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Early in the morning on Saturday the 12th of April, I took a day trip to scenic Rothenburg ob der Tauber with Cliff and Sarah of Regensblog.   Cliff already posted his write-up of the trip, and he included a ton of great pictures.

Rothenburg is incredibly popular with tourists, and it’s often featured in package tours.  The town is compact, but we walked past an astonishing number of hotels on the outer edges of town.  We had good weather and a very light level of tourist crowding, but I shudder to think what this town would be like in June or July.

One of my favorite things about Rothenburg is the wall.  Many towns in Germany still have intact sections of their original outer walls, but this is the first time I’ve seen one with the entire wall up.  It’s been rebuilt over the years, so it’s not all original, but it’s still quite amazing.

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I mentioned it was scenic, right?  It gets used in film quite often.  In fact, sections of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows were filmed here.  Not on this specific street, but here in town.

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There were a couple of great fountains around town, but none of them were actually moving water around.   There was a lot of construction, so perhaps they were turned down during the other work.

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This is the town hall.  The tallest point is the Rathausturm, a tower that you can climb for the low, low cost of €2.

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This elderly tourist couple was just really adorable.

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Naturally, we climbed the tower.  You can actually see the outer walls, and the towers at intervals along the wall.

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The wall is especially clear in this picture.

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While we were walking around, we were all kind of amazed at this tree-  it had clearly been encouraged to grow almost as part of the building.  It was fascinating.

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While walking around, we found a small cloister garden containing a very pretty green space.

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I’ve lost track of which tower was which.  This one was on the western side of the city.

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…but this one is the actual western town gate.

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This face is set into the tower on the western gate.  It’s kind of interesting.

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Did I mention how picturesque the city is?

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This street is the Plönlein.  The tower to the left is the Siebersturm, built in 1385.  This is one of those views that people take pictures of quite a lot.   Seriously, just put “plonlein” into a Google image search and you’ll immediately see what I’m talking about.

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It was just before Easter, so these wreathy crown things are starting to show up all over Bavaria.   I’m not sure what they’re called, but they’re always draped with colored eggs.

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The design on the eggs is quite intricate.

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This kind of archway appears all over town.

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It is possible to walk along the wall.  There are stairs at regular intervals to go up to the walkway.

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Wooden railings keep you from walking off the edge.

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This house caught our eye because the seal over the door looks a great deal like Trogdor.

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Seriously, it’s an ancestor of Trodgor.  Ready to burninate the countryside.

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I think the wall may have been my favorite part of the city.  Right behind Trogdor, that is.

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We had fairly spectacular weather for the day, also.  Blue skies, whispy clouds.   I secretly believe that the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber employs weather wizards to keep it pretty like this.

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To break up these pictures of scenic Rothenburg, here’s a teddy bear blowing bubbles.  This is at a shop in town-  it took me a minute to figure out where the bubbles were coming from because it’s in an upstairs window and it’s not constant.

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One last shot of the wall on our way out-  this was close to where we parked for the day.

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Have you ever been to Rothenburg ob der Tauber?

A Hamburg Weekend.

I went to Hamburg last weekend.  Most of the pictures I took from Hamburg were in Miniatur Wunderland, which will be Monday’s post because it’s amazing and because I took a bazillion pictures that I haven’t sorted through yet.   There were a few other reasons to go to Hamburg besides the wonderment that is Miniatur Wunderland, though

1) I wanted a chance to visit with Sarah Stäbler and her husband Tobias before their baby is born.  I probably won’t get another chance to hang out with them before I leave Germany.

2) I wanted to find Beatles-Platz.  It’s a tiny section of the Reeperbahn adjacent to where the Beatles played.  I couldn’t find it last time I was in Hamburg, but I went this time armed with more information and more time to look for it.  More importantly, I had looked at pictures of it this time, so I knew what the heck I was looking for.

3) Another Category One station, the Hamburg-Altona station.  Then there were five…

I’d like to begin the show and tell portion of this post by commenting that I had forgotten just how strange the Hamburg main train station is.   It’s set up a little bit like an Oreo cookie-  the restaurants and shops are on the upper levels at either end, and the creamy center of train platforms is down a flight of stairs.  The two ends are connected on the inside of the building only by way of the train platforms.

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Beatles-Platz is right at the intersection of Große Freiheit and the Reeperbahn.  The “statues” aren’t really anything of the sort, they’re actually just metal outlines of the Beatles.  The three in front are John, Paul, and George, and the drummer is supposed to look a little like Ringo and a little like Pete Best.

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Standing a little way off to the right is one more guitarist.  The Internet says the fifth Beatle is supposed to represent Stuart Sutcliffe, the original Bass player for the band.   You can’t see it clearly in these photos, but the Beatles-Platz is circular, and is paved black to look like a vinyl record.    It’s fairly striking.

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On Saturday morning, I had brunch with Sarah and Tobias.  As is my custom, I completely misjudged my travel time and arrived ridiculously early.  This gave me some time to look at the artwork on the buildings nearby.

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This was a giant door leading into a tattoo and piercing shop.

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An apartment building.  The bird was striking.  The graffiti over top of the artwork was really unfortunate.

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I’m not sure what to make of this one.  It reminds me of someone I know, though…

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People in this town make art with biiiiig ladders.

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This one was totally my favorite.  The girl on the purple scooter is awesome.  It also reminds me of someone I know.

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Brunch with Sarah and Tobi was pretty great- good food, and good company.  It’s not completely visible in this picture, but Sarah is wearing a How I Met Your Mother maternity shirt.  It says “I’m going to be Legen…wait for it…”

After brunch, we walked around the neighborhood a tiny bit until we reached the U-Bahn station I needed to move on to the next part of the day.  Next up, Miniatur Wunderland!

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It took me two visits to find Beatles-Platz.  Are there any sights that you haven’t been able to find on the first try?

Karlsruhe

In the weekend leading up to Rose Monday,  I went to Karlsruhe.  My reasons were selecting Karlsruhe were twofold:

First, Alex of ifs ands & butts and  Bev of Confuzzledom both live there, and they’ve been posting nifty things about the city for as long as I’ve known each of them, so meeting them and seeing their city was definitely something I wanted to do.

Secondly, Karlsruhe, is a category one train station, and I’m trying to see every category one train station before I leave Germany for good in October.  For those keeping score, this trip allowed me to see the Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Köln Messe/Deutz, Dortmund, and Duisburg stations.  Only six to go!

I did get to have dinner with Bev and her boyfriend Jan in the local Irish pub.  The food was delicious and the company was fabulous.  Alex was working, so she wasn’t able to hang out very much, but we did get to chat a little bit.  I very much enjoyed meeting Bev and Jan though; they’re both really neat.

All of the pictures I took in Karlsruhe were taken during my visit to the Badisches Landesmuseum, nestled in the Karlsruhe Palace.  The walk up to the palace is a big open space with some sculptures.  People were out enjoying the sunshine.  These gentlemen were playing a game in which they threw hand-sized metal balls at other metal balls, then picked them up with a magnet on a cord in order to throw them again.   I’m pretty sure it was Bocce, but I’m not certain since my only exposure to Bocce prior to this is that clip from Splash where the tour guide uses it as an exclamation.

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There are also a great many sculptures surrounding the palace, like this statue which is supposed to represent Hercules slaying Cerberus, but it looks more like a dragon than a hellhound to me.

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The Palace itself is beautiful, or at least it is in the photographs I’ve seen other people post.  For me, though, it was construction time.  Karlsruhe itself was under construction.  In fact, there’s a sandstone pyramid in the city that I was not able to find at all, even though I apparently walked within about ten meters of it:  Because of all the construction, it was completely wrapped and obscured.  (Google Maps claimed to know where the pyramid was, but following the map only led me to the Pyramide Shisha Bar.  In hind-sight, I should have taken a picture of their sign for posterity.)

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The museum is currently holding an exhibit called “Imperium der Götter,” or “Empire of the Gods.”  There were some really neat sculptures inside.  This one is one of my favorites- there’s so much going on here!

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The museum also holds lots of paintings of the royals from the region.  This is Princess Marie from Baden.

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Who doesn’t love a little statue of Sleeping Eros?

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Stained glass can be very pretty.  These panes were quite nice.

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A very, very old bicycle.  Note the pedals attached to the front wheel, just like a penny farthing.  The earliest bike builders didn’t figure out right away that using a chain to drive the wheel is more efficient.

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Here’s another statue I liked.  This one is tiny and bronze, no more than a foot tall.  I should have written down the name of it.

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There was a section of the museum dedicated to the Holocaust.  They even had a set of the famous striped pajamas behind glass.

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In their “1980s” section of the museum, they had a Commodore 64 with the original monitor and an old 1541 floppy disk drive.  Considering this computer was introduced when I was nine years old, there’s no reason at all for seeing this in a museum to make me feel old.

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Another of the sculptures that I liked was this tiny metal cat.  This sculpture was only a few inches tall, and it reminds me of the kinds of tiny sculptures that my grandmother used to have around the house. Hers weren’t museum pieces, though.

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The museum has a nice little gift shop attached, and I very nearly purchased one of these little fellows.  The originals were on display across the hall, but the gift shop versions were neat looking.  (And reasonably priced, too.)

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Have you ever been to Karlsruhe?

Another Weekend In Berlin

On the second weekend in September, a group of people who live in Germany and blog in English descended on Berlin for WEBMU 2012.

WEBMU is the “Whiny Expatriate Bloggers MeetUp,” and it’s basically an excuse for a group of really fun people to get together, do a little sightseeing, and eat at a bunch of amazing restaurants.  Snooker in Berlin and No Apathy Allowed were the organizers and hosts, and they did a fantastic job.  I don’t want to do a lengthy recap of the entire weekend, but I took a some pretty neat pictures while I was in town, so here we go.

I didn’t join all of the tours that the group took part in, but I did go to the Friday morning tour of the Stasi Museum.  The original headquarters of East Germany’s Ministerium für Staatssicherheit have been converted into a museum and it’s pretty fascinating.

The picture below is a propaganda photograph of Katarina Witt, the German Olympic figure skater.  I didn’t fully understand the impact of this photograph until after I’d gotten back home and started doing my traditional pre-blog-post research, when I found this detail:

Following the dissolution of East Germany, Stasi files were found to show that the secret police had worked hard to keep Witt from defecting by giving her cars, accommodations, and permitted travel. Witt found 3,000 pages on her life from the age of eight.

A lot of the original furnishings are still present in the museum, including this cabinet reel to reel system and the rather large conference room table in the next two photographs.

One of the more interesting sections of the museum were all the examples of spy cameras-  buttonhole cameras, necktie cameras, bird-feeder cameras.  This one was large and obvious by comparison.

One of the display cases contained a selection of period music and pop culture that had been reviewed by the Stasi.  This section was fascinating to me.

While walking around Berlin all weekend, I saw a huge variety of street art.  This sort of thing rarely happens in Regensburg, but in the big city of Berlin, this stuff was kind of everywhere.

I’d like to take a moment to state that the Berlin Hauptbahnhof is just amazing-  the upper levels are S-Bahn trains that go around the city, the mid levels and there are a bunch of levels of other trains.  The Berlin Central Station is different than most of the Bahnhofs I’ve been to in that it the trains moving through it are East-West on one level and North-South on a different level- most train stations only have tracks running in one direction, not crisscrossed.

The Berlin HBF also maintains a healthy online and social media presence, as I learned when I asked friends on Twitter for a route and I got answered by @HBF_Berlin.

Most importantly for a nerd like me, though, is that the Berlin HBF is just cool to see.  The various levels are somewhat open to each other, and you can see many of the trains criss-crossing the station.

I’m not sure if this counts as street art, but it was at the top of the steps to the U-Bahn closest to the Stasi Museum, so it caught my attention.

One of the most common foods in Berlin is Currywurst.  I learned on this trip that Currywurst means an instant migraine for me.  Neat, eh?

One of our tours was walking around an urban area and we stumbled across a Saturday morning street market. Interesting stuff.

Walking around on that same tour, the tour guide pointed out that there’s a bar in this building.  Can you spot it?

The neighborhood also had its share of what we’ll consider ‘eccentric’ residence.  For example, the owner of this charming van.

And sometimes, you just have to ask your neighbors to trim their building.

These signs were all over the city in green spaces.  The literal translation is Green Investment Scheme, which makes sense in the marked green areas.   There’s a Green Investment Scheme aspect of the Kytoto Protocol for environmental benefits, but I’m not sure if this GIS and that GIS are directly related.

During our walk, I kept getting distracted by little tiny things.  For example, this little guy: