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Arrival and First Full Day.

July 2017

We flew to Frankfurt Airport on the very day I stopped school for summer holidays, thus I was totally exhausted on the flight. I always hate to travel on a day I have been working. For a start, I feel anxious all day about missing the flight and then there are always so many last minute things to do. However, I had to go through with this plan in order to enjoy a good price on our flight from Frankfurt to New York via Heathrow Airport, London.

As my husband knew I would be exhausted on arrival in Frankfurt, he booked a hotel near the airport with an early check-in. So we just caught the hotel's shuttle bus and went straight to the Ibis Hotel in Kelsterbach and went to sleep. When we woke up we discovered there is not much to do in Kelsterbach, but it does have several supermarkets. We bought some supplies, ate in our room and went to the hotel bar for a drink. It was not a bad day to stay in and sleep as shortly after we arrived the heavens opened and it poured down.

Our Room in The Ibis Frankfurt Airport.

Our Room in The Ibis Frankfurt Airport.

The Ibis served a pretty good breakfast.

The Ibis served a pretty good breakfast.

Next day was a bit more exciting. We took the hotel's shuttle back to the airport then took a train to Wiesbaden. This is the capital of the federal state of Hesse. Wiesbaden is a spa town and its name literally means meadow baths. At one point the town had around twenty-six hot springs; now it has around fourteen. Its spas were known to the Ancient Romans and there are some Ancient Roman remains in the town.

In addition to its spas, Wiesbaden is famous for gambling and has a very ornate casino in its kurhaus. Famous visitors to Wiesbaden over the years include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Richard Wagner and Johannes Brahms. Fyodor Dostoevsky is thought to have based his famous book 'The Gambler' on his own experiences of the casino in Wiesbaden. There is a statue of him just outside it.

We wandered from Wiesbaden Train Station through the Warmer Damm Park which has a large pond, a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm, a statue of two frolicking horses and a statue of Schiller outside the State Theatre. The kurhaus itself is a very impressive building with very beautiful classical frescoes on its walls. There is a park in front of it and behind it.

Wiesbaden Train Station.

Wiesbaden Train Station.

Pond and statue we passed on the way.

Pond and statue we passed on the way.

The State Theatre.

The State Theatre.

Horses statue.

Horses statue.

Inside the kurhaus.

Inside the kurhaus.

Diana in the kurhaus.

Diana in the kurhaus.

Venus in the kurhaus.

Venus in the kurhaus.

Me with Dostoevesky.

Me with Dostoevesky.

Peter in front of the kurhaus.

Peter in front of the kurhaus.

After a look around the Kurhaus, we headed for one of the springs. It was roasting hot. I suffer badly from eczema so I put my eczemaed hands under it and in time it eased the discomfort. I was quite impressed.

Peter at a hot spring.

Peter at a hot spring.

Next we headed for the historic centre of Wiesbaden around Schlossplatz and Marktplatz. We liked the very impressive Market Church. This is the main Protestant church in Wiesbaden. It was designed by Carl Boos and built between 1853 and 1862. Outside the church stands a statue of William of Orange. We also had a wander around the church's lovely interior. Wiesbaden's town halls, both old and new, are in this area, too.

The old Town Hall.

The old Town Hall.

Market Church with William of Orange.

Market Church with William of Orange.

Market Church.

Market Church.

Schlossplatz.

Schlossplatz.

On our way back to the station we took a quick detour to look at St. Boniface Church. This is the main Catholic church in Wiesbaden. The present building was designed by architect Philipp Hoffmann and built between 1844 and 1849. The church has two very high steeples each 68 metres in height.

St. Boniface Church.

St. Boniface Church.

Luisenplatz and St Boniface Church.

Luisenplatz and St Boniface Church.

We took the train from Wiesbaden to Mainz where we had booked a hotel for the night. When we arrived we first went to the B&B Hotel Mainz-Hbf and checked in. Then we were straight out for a quick look around the city. We did not see much of our hotel room as to catch a train to Frankfurt Airport from where we would fly to New York next day, we had to get up at half past two in the morning.

Our Room.

Our Room.

Mainz is situated on the confluence of the Rhine and Main Rivers. It has a long history and was once home to an Ancient Roman settlement. Johannes Gutenberg who invented mechanical movable type printing was born here. There is a statue of him and a museum about him in the centre of town. Mainz is a university town and has a huge cathedral.

We walked from our hotel into the historical centre of Mainz. We soon found the statue of Johannes Gutenburg. Gutenburg lived from around 1400 to 1468. In 1439 Gutenburg invented a printing press with movable type. His invention allowed the mass production of printed books and sparked a revolution in the printing world.

Johanes Gutenburg.

Johanes Gutenburg.

Not far from the statue of Gutenburg stands Mainz's very impressive cathedral - St. Martin's Cathedral. It is a thousand year-old Roman Catholic cathedral built mainly in Romanesque style. The original Cathedral dates from around 975 AD but this building was frequently rebuilt reaching its current form in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 1188, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I took up the cross in the Third Crusade from this building. During World War II, around eighty per cent of Mainz was destroyed in allied bombings, but the cathedral was left almost completely unscathed. We had a look inside the cathedral building and a walk around its statue filled courtyard.

Mainz Cathedral.

Mainz Cathedral.

Mainz Cathedral.

Mainz Cathedral.

Across the courtyard of Mainz Cathedral.

Across the courtyard of Mainz Cathedral.

After looking at the cathedral, we strolled down to the banks of the River Main. This is a pleasant place for a walk.

On the banks of the Main.

On the banks of the Main.

On the banks of the Main.

On the banks of the Main.

Family of swans on the Main.

Family of swans on the Main.

We walked back past the cathedral and Mainz's old town to the Church of St Stephen. A church has stood here on top of the highest hill in Mainz since 990, but the current building dates from the late medieval era, This church is famous for its beautiful stain glass windows. These were created by Russian Jewish artist Marc Chagall between 1978 and his death in 1985. The windows depict scenes from the Old Testament, and show the shared beliefs of the Christian and Jewish traditions. Chagall made these windows as an act of reconciliation between Christians and Jews following the horrors of the second world war. Chagall himself had had to flee France to escape the Nazis during World War II. Unfortunately, the church was closed and we could not get inside to see the famous windows.

Cathedral Square.

Cathedral Square.

St. Stephen's Church.

St. Stephen's Church.

It was time to find somewhere for dinner. We noticed a great statue of a drummer on our search. We finally settled on Sixties a pub and restaurant at Grosse Langgasse 11. We had intended on having an early night, but my husband got well into trying this pub's amazing selection of draft beer. We both had schnitzels and lots to drink. Service was friendly and prices were good value. It was hard to get my husband to leave even though we had to get up at two thirty in the morning!

Guard Drummer Statue.

Guard Drummer Statue.

Dinner in Sixties.

Dinner in Sixties.

Posted by irenevt 06:24 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Return to Germany, A trip to Heidelberg

Beautiful Town on the Neckar River.

After flying back from our visit to the U.S.A. we stayed in Karlsruhe for four nights and used this as a base from which to explore Karlsruhe itself, Heidelberg and Basel in Switzerland. We stayed in the Hotel Greif in Karlsruhe which means Griffin Hotel. It was very conveniently located for the train station. On our arrival night we enjoyed a lovely Turkish meal at a kebab stand located between the station and the hotel.

Hotel Greif.

Hotel Greif.

Dinner in a Turkish kebab house.

Dinner in a Turkish kebab house.

Next day we got up early and headed off to Heidelberg, a town that has been on my to visit list for a very long time. Heidelberg is located on the banks of the River Neckar. It is the fifth-largest city in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. Heidelberg University, which was founded in 1386, is the oldest university in Germany. The town of Heidelberg is dominated by its huge castle set on a hill-top overlooking the town. Heidelberg also has a beautiful old town with a lovely old bridge, many churches and lots of very nice places to eat.

We began our day with a stroll from the train station to the old town. On the way we were attracted by the large Buddha statue outside the Ethnographical Museum, on Hauptstrasse. The Ethnographical or, to give it its German name, völkerkundemuseum has been located in the Weimar Palace since 1921, when the museum's founder Victor Goldschmidt, purchased this building from Prince Wilhelm von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach.

Peter outside the Ethnographical Museum.

Peter outside the Ethnographical Museum.

A short walk further on into the old town and we were already enjoying great views of Heidelberg Castle. This castle was originally started by Prince Elector Ruprecht III who lived from 1398 to 1410 as a royal residence. Later Prince Elector Philipp, who lived from 1476 to 1508, added another royal building, opposite the Ruprecht Building, called the Fountain Hall. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Prince Electors added two additional palace buildings and turned the fortress into a castle. Heidelberg Castle and its beautiful gardens were destroyed many times during the Thirty Years' War and the Palatine War of Succession. In 1800 Count Charles de Graimberg, began the process of preserving the castle which had by that time fallen into ruins.

Heidelberg Castle.

Heidelberg Castle.

There is a good view of the castle from Karlsplatz. This old square is named after the Duke Karl Friedrich von Baden. It has a fountain dedicated to thirteenth century cartographer and cosmographer, Sebastian Munster. A bit further on Kornmarkt also has views of the castle and a statue of the Madonna and Child.

Fountain on Karlsplatz.

Fountain on Karlsplatz.

The Madonna and Child, Kornmarkt.

The Madonna and Child, Kornmarkt.

Next we came to the Market Place with its Town Hall, Fountain of Hercules and Church of the Holy Ghost. The Fountain of Hercules was built between 1706 and 1709 in memory of the enormous efforts undertaken to rebuild Heidelbrg after its destruction in the Thirty Years War. The Church of the Holy Ghost was started in 1398, but took until 1544 to complete. Over the years the church has been both a Catholic and Protestant church. It has a high tower which can be climbed for views over Heidelberg.

Peter with the Town Hall and Hercules Fountain.

Peter with the Town Hall and Hercules Fountain.

The Church of the Holy Ghost

The Church of the Holy Ghost

Next we had a look at Heidelberg University. Heidelberg University was established in 1386 and is Germany’s oldest university. Famous students and teachers here include - Robert Bunsen - who among many other things invented the Bunsen burner. There is a statue of him in the centre of town. Hermann Helmholtz, a physicist and philosopher, who is famous for his theories of vision, perception of sound and conservation of energy taught here. Gustav Kirchhoff who contributed to the understanding of electrical circuits, spectroscopy, and the emission of black-body radiation by heated objects worked here along with Robert Bunsen. Max Weber, author of 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism', studied law here.

Old Heidelberg University.

Old Heidelberg University.

Statue of Robert Bunsen outside Heidelberg University.

Statue of Robert Bunsen outside Heidelberg University.

We had not eaten any breakfast or lunch so we purchased food and drink from a supermarket and strolled down to the river to eat it. Peter bought himself some of the local Heidelberg beer to try. It was very good. There are boat trips available on the river. If we had had more time we would have tried one.

Peter with his Heidelberg beer.

Peter with his Heidelberg beer.

On the Neckar River.

On the Neckar River.

We then took a walk along the river towards the Old Bridge. On the way we passed the Marstall. This was originally an arsenal of Heidelberg Castle which was used for storing different goods. It was built during the first half of the sixteenth century. There are four defence towers at the building's corners. Since 1971 the Marstall has housed lecture halls and canteens of Heidelberg University.

The Marstall.

The Marstall.

The Old Bridge is actually called the Karl Theodor Bridge. It connects Heidelberg's old town with the Neuenheim district on the opposite bank of the Neckar. The current stone bridge was constructed in 1788 by Elector Charles Theodore. It is the ninth bridge to have been built at this site. Many of the others were wooden bridges and were destroyed by ice floes.

Near the bridge gate there is a statue of a monkey holding a mirror. This bronze sculpture was created by Professor Gernot Rumpf and was placed here in 1979. The monkey is supposed to symbolize the fact that neither the people who lived in the old town, nor the people who lived outside it were any better than each other.

There are also two sculpture groups by Konrad Linck on the Old Bridge. One is a monument to Prince Elector Carl Theodor. He was responsible for building the bridge. The other is devoted to the Roman goddess Minerva.

There are wonderful views of Heidelberg from the Old Bridge.

The monkey and the mirror.

The monkey and the mirror.

Heidelberg Castle from the Old Bridge.

Heidelberg Castle from the Old Bridge.

Peter on the Old Bridge.

Peter on the Old Bridge.

Heidelberg from the Old Bridge.

Heidelberg from the Old Bridge.

After crossing the old bridge, we decided to climb up to Heidelberg Castle. It is possible to walk there or go there by funicular. We opted to walk. It was quite steep, but not unmanageable. We did not actually go in to the castle itself, but had a wander around its garden and went to a viewing point with spectacular views back towards the castle and over the whole town of Heidelberg. There were some lovely old statues in the castle gardens.

Close up of the ruins of Heidelberg Castle.

Close up of the ruins of Heidelberg Castle.

View over Heidelberg from the castle gardens.

View over Heidelberg from the castle gardens.

View back towards Heidelberg Castle.

View back towards Heidelberg Castle.

Classical statues in the castle gardens.

Classical statues in the castle gardens.

As we came down the hill from the castle, the skies opened and the rain that had been threatening all day poured down. We had intended to eat in one of Heidelberg's many lovely restaurants, but we had spent much longer in the castle grounds than we had intended so did not have time. Instead when we changed trains at Heidelberg's main station we grabbed sandwiches and beers from the Yorma and had a feast on the train.

Posted by irenevt 00:50 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Karlsruhe.

A day spent wandering Karlsruhe.

There are many places to visit around Karlsruhe, but I thought it would be a great shame to stay there for four nights without investigating the city itself. Our day in Karlsruhe was mixed. It started with every sight being overshadowed with construction works or road works and I could almost have kicked myself for not just visiting somewhere else, but fortunately it improved and several of our later sights were very pleasant and enjoyable.

Karlsruhe is the second-largest city in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Its most famous historical sight is Karlsruhe Palace, dating from 1715. This palace was built for Margrave Karl-Wilhelm. According to his wishes for the city, thirty-two streets and avenues radiate outwards from the palace like a fan.

We had had a quick glance around the city on our arrival day looking for somewhere to eat and we had noted a big park to explore opposite the station. However, this is not a park, it is a zoo and we had no real wish to visit it, so we by-passed it and headed towards the city centre. Our way was lined with road works everywhere. It was not pretty. The first sight we stumbled upon was Therme Vierordtbad, a public bath and sauna complex located at Ettlinger Str. 4. Had we known of its existence in advance, we may well have gone in as we both love to swim, but we knew nothing about it and reached it by chance. I liked the fountain outside it, though it was difficult to photograph without getting a construction site in the background.

This bronze fountain is called "Hygeia" and was built by John of Hirta in 1909. In its centre stands the Greek goddess of health, Hygieia, she is surrounded by a group of young people.

Hygeia Fountain.

Hygeia Fountain.

Peter in front of the fountain.

Peter in front of the fountain.

Next we wandered around the nearby Convention Centre area. This area includes a concert hall built in classical style, a multi-functional City Hall, and two multi-purpose halls: the Black Forest Hall and the Garden Hall. Around the halls there are gardens filled with flowers and statues.

Karlsruhe Concert Hall.

Karlsruhe Concert Hall.

Phoenix statue, Karlsruhe.

Phoenix statue, Karlsruhe.

Then we walked to Friedrichplatz home to the state museum of natural history, gardens, a fountain and Saint Stephen's Parish Church. There is a life size model of a hatzegoptery, flying dinosaur, on display outside the natural history museum.

Peter outside the state museum of natural history.

Peter outside the state museum of natural history.

Peter with a hatzegoptery.

Peter with a hatzegoptery.

St Stephen's Church.

St Stephen's Church.

After that we wandered over to the market square. This is home to the police station, the town hall and the evangelical church as well as the market. It should have been picturesque but it was filled with cranes and bulldozers. It was an impossible task to take a photo without them. I almost managed it, but my photos are deceptive the whole place was a mess.

Evangelical Church.

Evangelical Church.

The Market.

The Market.

The Town Hall.

The Town Hall.

We then headed towards Karlsruhe Palace and on the way we passed the Square of Consti­tu­tio­nal Rights. This square celebrates the fact that Karlsruhe is Ger­ma­ny's judicial capital. It was opened on the 2nd of October 2005 and is filled with sign posts answering the question what do rights and justice mean to the in­di­vi­dual and what do they mean for our democracy? This square was de­si­gned by Jochen Gerz.

The Square of Consti­tu­tio­nal Rights.

The Square of Consti­tu­tio­nal Rights.

From there we walked to Karlsruhe Palace which was built in 1715 by Margrave Charles William the Third of Baden-Durlach. Karlsruhe takes its name from him as he was the city's founder. The first of his palace buildings was constructed by Jakob Friedrich von Batzendorf. Later thirty-two streets were built radiating out from it like a fan which earned Karlsruhe the name fan city.The palace was bombed in September 1944 and while its exterior was rebuilt authentically, its interior was rebuilt as a museum. The palace also has extensive grounds which are very pleasant for a stroll. We spent a lot of time wandering them, enjoying their flowers, trees, statues and ponds.

Peter in front of the palace.

Peter in front of the palace.

Statue on the way to the palace.

Statue on the way to the palace.

Karlsruhe Palace.

Karlsruhe Palace.

Peter at the palace.

Peter at the palace.

Palace Grounds.

Palace Grounds.

Palace Grounds.

Palace Grounds.

Palace Grounds.

Palace Grounds.

Peter in front of the palace.

Peter in front of the palace.

We spent a lot of time traipsing around the palace grounds and then we boarded tram number one and headed for Turmberg, the highest mountain in Karlsruhe which can be ascended on foot or by funicular. We took the easy option - the funicular. When we got off, we had lovely views over the town and the Rhine River Valley. There was also a tower to climb for 360 degree views around the area. Sadly while we were exploring, I noticed a free WiFi sign and connected my phone to send photos to some friends, only to discover a message telling me my best friend's mum had just died. I had spent a lot of my childhood with her and was deeply saddened by the news, even though I knew she had been ill for some time. Now when I think of this lovely hill, I do still associate it with bad news.

Turmberger Funicular.

Turmberger Funicular.

View from Turmberg.

View from Turmberg.

View from Turmberg.

View from Turmberg.

The Turmberg Tower.

The Turmberg Tower.

View from the tower.

View from the tower.

We came back down on the funicular and began to explore Karlsruhe's oldest district - Durlach which is located at the foot of the Turmberg. Durlach was the residence of the margraves of Baden-Durlach until in 1715 Karl Wilhelm moved his court to Karlsruhe. Durlach was separate from Karlsruhe until 1938.

The first sight we encountered was the remaining parts of Karlsburg Castle. Karlsburg Castle was once the residence of Margrave Charles II. He moved to the medieval Karlsburg Castle in Durlach in 1563 and decided to extend it into a palace. His successors also lived there and extended the castle further. However, in 1689 Durlach was occupied by French troops who burned down the city and the castle. In 1698, Margrave Frederick Magnus returned after being in exile in Basel and started trying to rebuild the castle, but he was desperately short of funds. In 1715 Margrave Charles III William, decided to abandon the castle in Durlach and relocate his residence. He was the founder of the city of Karlsruhe which centres around his new palace. Nowadays Karlsburg Castle is home to the Pfinzgau museum, a library and a music school. Near Karlsburg Castle stands a war memorial commemorating the citizens of Durlach who died in the war.

Wandering on further we came to Durlach's Market Square. This square is home to Durlach's town hall, a beautiful evangelical church and a rather odd fountain. There is a statue of Margrave Charles II holding a flag on the balcony of Durlach's town hall. The fountain in this square is known as Liebesbrunnen, or fountain of love. It has a centrepiece of a naked man and woman in a passionate embrace and they are surrounded by various mating animals.

We had a beer in a lovely, little cafe hidden away behind the church. We had hoped to eat there, but it was about to close, so we walked on and found a very popular restaurant called Galerie which served huge plates of food and ice cold beer. We were impressed by how low the prices were here, very good value, perhaps catering to Karlsruhe's student crowds.

Karlsburg Castle.

Karlsburg Castle.

Typical old Durlach street.

Typical old Durlach street.

Market Square, Church and Town Hall.

Market Square, Church and Town Hall.

The fountain of love.

The fountain of love.

The fountain of love.

The fountain of love.

Excellent dinner in Gallerie.

Excellent dinner in Gallerie.

On our return to Karlsruhe I noticed this fountain of a small boy, but I cannot find any information about it. I thought it was rather sweet.

Fountain in Karlsruhe.

Fountain in Karlsruhe.

Posted by irenevt 06:12 Archived in Germany Comments (4)

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