MonthFebruary 2011

The Historic City of Nuremberg and the Story of the Nazi Party

Day 45

Since I am kind of a 20th century history nerd, some of the sites that I wanted to see involve the Second World War, which led me to this trip to Nuremberg, the former stronghold of the NSDAP (The Nazi Party). It was also a change from what I was usually seeing: castles and churches, or in Deutsch, schloesser und kirchen.

I would have gone to Nuremberg with the friends I’ve met here, but none of them were as excited about it as I was, so I went alone. Going on trips alone as its advantages. The main one being that I can decide on where I want to go, rather than have to compromise with the group.

Before I left the house this morning, I made sure to check the weather. If it rained, or it was too cold, I wouldn’t go. Luckily for me, Google Weather told me that the temperature in Nuremberg would be 0 to 6 degrees. That’s warm enough for me.

Along the way, the train stopped at a few stations and when I saw the people outside, I had a suspicion that it was colder than what Google told me. Seeing the people all bundled up in toques, scarves, and big jackets, it had to be cold. Every time they exhaled, I’d see a thick fog. Later on, I even saw a lake that was completely frozen over. Hopefully the weather warms up this afternoon. In the meantime, I’ll be on the train, where it’s heated.

Looking outside the window, I got a really good view of the German countryside. In some parts, all I saw were farmlands and a few small houses. The grass sparkled as light passed through the morning dew. I guess it was warming up after all. I also saw some wind turbines and forests in the distance. I didn’t even see any paved roads until I got closer to the town. The view was made especially better with the bright blue sky and the light of the early morning. Some people took advantage of such a good day by going horseback riding on the dirt roads by the farmlands.


The German Countryside

The usual routine for visiting a new city for me involves going to the main station (Hauptbahnhof) and then following the signs there to the tourist information center to get a free city map. Usually the step that follows is going to the old town (Altstadt). However, in this city, there was one place I had to visit. It was the National Socialist party rally grounds (Reichsparteitagsgelandes). On the site was a documentation center that recorded the history of the origin of the Nazi Party and their story up until the Nuremberg Trials. Also on the site was the area which the rally itself was held (Zeppelinfeld) and the incomplete Kongresshalle.

My first destination was the documentation center. Since all the descriptions in the museum were in German, I got an English audio guide. The documentation center also had little to offer in terms of material items to display, but they did offer a large amount of information through text.

The exhibits began with the Treaty of Versailles and the Great Depression. At the time,many Germans were used to being governed by the German Empire and did not approve of the Weimar Republic that replaced it after the end of World War I. The exhibits moved on chronologically and discussed the origins of Hitler’s paramilitary groups such as the SA (Sturmabteilung) and the SS (Schutzstaffel). There was even information about the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend) and how the educational system at the time taught children about the Nazi’s anti-Semitic values.


The Beginnings of the Nazi Party and A Pile of German Marks

An item I saw on display was an original copy of Mein Kampf, a book Hitler wrote during his time in prison because of the Beer Hall Putsch. Others were a bronze sculpture of Hitler’s head, propaganda posters and a broken helmet of a German soldier.


Mein Kampf and Hitler Figureheads

While walking around the museum, there was an old man taking his grandson (assuming their relationship) to this place. I don’t think the kid knew just how serious it all was, but the grandfather looked like he was tearing up a little bit.  He looked old enough to been around during the Nazi State.

Other exhibits showed the history of the party rally site itself such as the architect, Albert Speer. There was also information about how Hitler came to power, the anti-Semitism that he instilled in the minds of the people and the terrible deeds against the Jews that he was responsible for.


Locations of Concentration Camps

The history of the war itself was brief, and focused more on the events before and after. There were clips of Nazi propaganda films, such as “Triumph of the Will” and of documentary films such as footage from the Nuremberg Trials. One of the clips spoke of a song that many Germans sang. The sole purpose of the song was to spread anti-Semitic ideals. The lyrics in the song spoke of Moses parting the Red Sea. But the lyrics involved the sea flooding Moses and the Jews while they crossed to enact the “Final Solution“.

The documentation center was constructed inside the incomplete Kongresshalle, where its purpose was to be a congress center for the Nazi party. However, due to the war, the building was never completed. If completed, the area would have been larger than the coliseum in Rome.


The Incomplete Kongresshalle

After exiting the documentation center, I walked around the rally grounds and found that it had been converted into a park. An artificial lake that was created as a water reservoir in the 1900’s still existed there. I walked around it and saw the Grosse Strasse (Great Road). The 40 m wide street pointed in the direction of the old town and represented the relationship between the role of Nuremberg within Third Reich and its role during the medieval times. Walking further I reached the rally grounds, known as Zeppelin Field. I recognized it immediately when I saw it. It is the site of where the iconic video of American soldiers destroying the swastika at the top of the building was filmed. I walked up the steps and took a picture of the entire area near the spot that Hitler once stood to make his speech. I walked on to the platform where he made his speeches and tried to visualize what it would have been like at the time. At the rally there would be a million people listening, watching the military demonstration by the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe and the cheering of “Heil Hitler”.


Zeppelinfeld: The Location of the Rally

Since the war, there was little use for the area and since then, the spectator stands have grown grass. The field itself was converted to a football field and a bike track. Part of site is even used for motor sport events.


A Comparison

Since the entire area was converted into a park, there were lots of cyclists, and joggers. I saw people walking their dogs too. One dog got started shaking all of a sudden and I joked to myself that maybe the dog was afraid of Hitler. But really, the dog just got excited when another dog came by. I also saw swans on the shore of the lake and tried to take as close up of a shot as I could. If the lake wasn’t frozen, there’d be kayakers too. I hoped the ice was hard enough for me to walk on but unfortunately, the ice cracked when I stepped in it. It would have been cool to walk around on a frozen lake.


Looking Across the Lake Toward the Kongresshalle

Further from the rally grounds was an old SS Barracks. It is now a government office that manages immigration. These buildings are a few of the last remaining structures that followed the Nazi style architecture.


The SS Barracks

After visiting the rally grounds, I moved on to seeing the historical European monuments, AKA schloesser und kirchen. There is no shortage of them in Germany. Out of the three churches in the old town, I only managed to get to two of them. The third one, St. Sebaldus Church, was closed when I got there. The Kaiserburg Imperial Castle was also closed, so I only managed to visit the lower levels of the castle and couldn’t make my way to the top. At the bottom of the castle was a church, and as I walked past it while heading back to the main station, I could hear a church choir singing. I would have stayed to listen to it, but I had a train to catch.


The Kaiserburg Imperial Castle

Despite the fact that there are so many churches in Gemany, the fact is that each one has a unique design. The two churches I visited were called the St. Lorenz Church and The Church of Our Lady


The St. Lorenz Church, Church of Our Lady, and St. Sebaldus Church

One thing I always enjoy when I visit the old parts of town is that there are always street performers. The music they play always sounds like it’s vintage and retro and really gives the city a historic ambience.

In addition to these attractions, Nuremberg also has the Germany National Museum, a toy museum and a Deutsche Bahn Museum. Since I only took a day trip, I didn’t have enough time to visit them all. One of the points of interests that I am quite disappointed in missing is Courtroom 600, the courtroom that the Nuremberg Trials were held.

At the moment, I’m riding the train back to Stuttgart and writing this. I look out the window and see only the reflection of the inside of the train due to the darkness of the night.

My Picasa Album for Nuremberg


Nuremberg (Nurnberg)

愛不疚 – 林峰: “疚” 的雙重意思

這篇文章是我第一次全部用中文寫的.  我很小已經移民了去加拿大所以我的中文只有小學的程度 (可能小學都沒有). 請見諒.

最近我看了 TVB 的溏心風暴之家好月圓.  林峰唱的 "愛不疚" 是這部電視劇的插曲 (歌詞在下面).  雖然首歌很舊 (2008), 我覺得首歌仍然很好聽, 很有意義.  之前我以為這首歌的名字很普通.  只有說歌裡有人愛不 "夠".  但是看深一層, 我發現這個字是個雙關語.  一個意思是"愛得不夠", 但是第二個意思是 "愛都沒有內疚".  首歌的第二句說他可以在愉快的時候都能夠犧牲自己的幸福來給她人. 在家好月圓裡, 于素秋 (鍾嘉欣) 失戀的時候, 管家仔 (林峰) 一次有一次將他的時間借給她.  雖然于素秋仍然沒有放棄凌至信 (黃宗澤), 管家仔依然很對她很好.  除了家人之外, 他都沒有對其他人怎樣好.  管家仔全心全意對她好; 沒有內疚.  只要于素秋 "開心就夠".  比著其他人, 如果他們知道他們喜歡的女人已經有男朋友, 他們會覺得很傷心.  他們可能會放棄她.  有些人可能甚至嘗試撬走別人的女朋友.  很少人好像管家仔一樣.  他很有義氣.  管家仔當時十幾歲的時候有很多同于素秋一起的美好回憶, 但是因為于素秋去了英國讀書所以他們分手. 他們長大後,于素秋認識了凌至信, 差不多跟他結婚.  于素秋曾經確實喜歡過管家仔, 但是管家仔走慢了一步. 素秋的心被至信帶走了.  就是因為這樣, 管家仔失去了一世的幸福. 這件事可以形容管家仔不可以擁有的愛.  管家仔和于素秋的感情很多年前曾經很親厚, 但是管家仔只可以 "衷心祝福然後, 就放手".  這個情況可以說是他愛得不 "夠".  于素秋沒可能永遠等管家仔跟他說 "我愛你" 的三個字.  近首歌的最尾, 歌詞說, "期望你幸福甚麼都有".  他仍然想對她好.  犧牲自己的幸福不重要.  最重要是她的幸福.  疚心和愛心都不重要.

林峰 – 愛不疚 [ 家好月圓 片尾曲/插曲 ]

收藏在眼眸 常徘徊左右 愛猜到沒有
愉快玩笑後 能全然退後 你開心就夠

這種感覺太親厚 講一千句也不夠
假使講了你聽到後 或會走
這種戀愛太罕有 不須真正擁有
成全 衷心祝福然後 就放手

放手 放開所有 彼此更自由
放手 其實我絕非愛得不夠
放手 豁出所有 還有這個好友
已經 已經足夠

遙遠是宇宙 靜靜在背後 去看守就夠

這種感覺太親厚 講一千句也不夠
即使一剎有過衝動 挽你手
這種戀愛太罕有 不須真正擁有
成全 多捨不得仍然 是放手

放手 放開所有 彼此更自由
放手 其實我絕非愛得不夠
放手 豁出所有 還有這個好友
已經 已經足夠

放手 我的牽掛 找不到盡頭
放手 期望你幸福甚麼都有
也許 愛很深厚 然而我早看得透
放手 至可擁有

My Potato Peeling Plunge

Day 42

Seeing that I come from a family where my mom does almost all the cooking, I never learned how to cook all that well.  Yes, I currently live on my own in Germany, but I don’t need to cook that well.  The reason is that for breakfast, I cook the easy breakfast food like eggs, bacon, and sausages.  For lunch, I eat at the cafeteria at work.  All interns get a discount there.  Lastly, for dinner, I usually just eat a sandwich.  I keep my dinners light since I sleep quite early and it wouldn’t make sense for me to go to sleep right after I eat a huge meal.  Although I got every meal covered, I need a little variety.  In a way, I started to learn how to cook.  For starters, I figure cooking potatoes is a nice way to start.  I guess I took quite the plunge when I decided to live on my own without knowing how to cook.

All I had to do was peel the potatoes, cut them up into little blocks and throw them on a frying pan.  I know some people use onions, but I’m not a fan of them.  Sounds straightforward, except I had never peeled a potato in my life.  However, I’m not that clueless in cooking and I knew that I needed to use a peeler.  I took the peeler out and got started.  Either the peeler had a dull blade or I just lacked peeling skill, but for the life of me I could not peel the potato.  I quickly gave up on the peeler and looked for a knife.  I remembered that’s how I peeled apples in my childhood, when I was curious about those things.  Unfortunately, the only knife I could find was a giant steak knife.  Better than nothing I guess.  I got started peeling the potato skin, while carefully ensuring that the skin stayed together as one long strip during the peeling. Peeling with a giant steak knife just didn’t really cut it (lame pun I know).  I took out my Swiss Army Knife instead.  Holding the knife with my right hand and the potato with my left, I began to peel the potato.

However, due to a pure lack of skill, the knife plunged into the tip of my left index finger.  The knife probably went in about a few millimeters before I was able to react.  With blood gushing out nonstop, I went and looked for some tissue to soak up the blood and stop the bleeding.  While this happened, I refused to lose to this tiny potato.  I continued to peel the potato while trying to stop the bleeding at the same time.  A minute later, I finished peeling the potato and began to fashion a tourniquet using the tissue, cloth for eyeglasses, and a rubber band.  I wrapped the tissue around the wound, then tied the cloth into a knot around it.  Fearing that the cloth wouldn’t be tight enough, I put a rubber band around it.  Fifteen minutes later, I managed to stop the bleeding. 

Undeterred by the injury, I continued to peel the rest of the potatoes and continued with my plan.  I cut up the peeled potatoes into little chunks and threw them on a frying pan with some butter.  A while later, I finished cooking the potatoes and began to enjoy them.  I guess if life gives me potatoes, I should cut them up and throw them on a frying pan without injuring myself.

The Stammtisch AKA Weekly Drinking Day

Day 41

In an effort for the company to promote socializing with other interns working at Bosch, they organized what’s called a “Stammtisch”.  Literally translated it means, “regular’s table”.  It is a weekly gathering at a restaurant, cocktail bar, or club.  Together we drink beer and socialize, hence why I call it the weekly drinking day.  I met most of the interns at Bosch through this and I’ve even gone to Tubingen, Hohenzollern Castle, and Freiburg im Breisgau with them.  Soon we’ll be going to Köln (Cologne) and Paris.

At the first Stammtisch back in January, I didn’t know anybody except for the friend from Canada that I went with.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  When we got there, we found the Bosch table and introduced ourselves to the people already there.  I didn’t really know what to expect at the time.  Stereotypes of Germans told me that we’d probably end up drinking while we were there.  Sure enough, we did.  As someone who doesn’t drink a lot of beer, or alcohol in general for that matter, I was at a loss as to what drink to pick.  And so one of the interns recommended a beer called hefeweizen.  Hefeweizen is a kind of beer brewed with a large amount of wheat and malted barley.  I didn’t know that at the time, and all I knew was that it tasted damn good.  Definitely than the bitter North American beers.  A friend of mine described it as “drinking alcoholic, liquid bread”.  I am also told that it’s also got a lot of calories.  That’s okay with me, since I probably need to gain a few pounds, or kilograms as people use instead here.  I was also able to try a pale lager called helles.  This beer wasn’t as good as the hefeweizen, but that’s just personal preference.


Delicious Beer

Apart from just drinking, I also learned a bit about the drinking culture in Germany.  Like other cultures, Germans too will clink their glasses together before they drink, but one thing they must do is look at each person at the table in the eye while doing the clinking the glasses.  Otherwise, the person will be destined seven years of bad sex.  I don’t think I would have known that if I wasn’t told.

The location of the Stammtisch varies each week.  The first week I went, we went to a restaurant that had their own brewery, known as a “brauhaus” (how cool is that?).  Another time it was at a Spanish cocktail bar, that had cocktails at a discount if the party was large enough.  The most recent Stammtisch took place at a “disco”, which I think is German for club.  When I first heard the word, I immediately thought of The Bee Gees in the 70’s with their Saturday Night Fever.  I’m not a fan of clubbing, so I opted out of that one.

While drinking and socializing, I met a people from many different countries.  The group was a lot more multicultural than I thought.  There were people from Germany, France, Canada, America, China, Hong Kong, Iran, and even Mexico.  The only common language between all of us was English.  We all pretty much talked for at least 3 hours.  There were so many people that I ended up moving seats to get a chance to talk to other people sitting further away.  We went in there knowing nobody, but at the end we all weren’t strangers anymore.  Kind of like what Forrest Gump said, “Well I guess we ain’t strangers anymore!”

Freiburg im Breisgau

Day 40

Now that I’m not occupied by episode after episode of TV shows, I can finally catch up on my blog rather than keeping a queue of all the things I want to blog about. In my attempt to go somewhere new every weekend, I chose to go to Freiburg im Breisgau last Saturday.

I woke up early in the morning at around 5 and got ready to leave the house at 6:30.  I probably woke up my landlord’s family downstairs from the running water while I showered, but I unfortunately, I can’t really do anything about that.  I figured leaving an hour early to meet up with my friend at a train station that only takes half an hour to get to should give me quite a bit of flex time. Half an hour seemed like a lot to me, until I saw how long I had to wait for my train.  I waited a whole twenty minutes for it.  The worst part about the wait was that I never charged my iPod.  I stood around and silently waited.  Kind of like watching grass grow.  Although in retrospect, I could have left the house a little later, but at least I wouldn’t miss my train.

After meeting up with my friend, I we patiently waited for the train.  From the corner of my eye, I saw something tiny moving around on the tracks.  An animal?  It was a mouse, or a rat.  I don’t know the difference.  I tried my best to catch a picture of it while it zipped around and underneath the train tracks.  It kind of felt like playing that old N64 game, Pokemon Snap.  If this was Pokemon Snap, I would have gotten a low score for that picture.


Can you spot it?

The train arrived at around 7:30 and it would stop at Karlsruhe.  On the ride there, my friend and I just talked while looking looking out the window.  After we arrived in Karlsruhe, we had to wait a half hour for our connecting train.  The moment I looked out onto the station platforms after stepping out of the train, the sight instantly reminded me of the City 17 train station in Half-Life 2 (everything reminds me of games doesn’t it?)


Maybe not so much after looking at the picture a little more…

While walking around the train station trying to kill time, we found a place that sold 5 Berliners for 2 euro.  Although called a Berliner, it clearly has nothing to do with someone from Berlin.  Despite the misleading name, Berliners are a pastry that is like a European version of a doughnut (never ever call it that).  It’s got sugar on top and jam filling on the inside.


"Ich bin ein Berliner" – John F. Kennedy

After boarding the connecting train, I talked to my friend about how long train rides were.  I don’t know if it’s because English attracts attention, but a random stranger sitting across from us started talking saying how it is perfectly normal for train rides to take a long time.  Since he was German and probably didn’t get a lot of practice with English, he spoke to us with a heavy accent.  He started talking about how sometimes people will commit suicide by train, which causes trains to stop in the middle of nowhere and everyone on board is forbidden to get out.  The weirdest part of it was that train suicides were seasonal.  According to him, more people commit suicide by train in the summer.  After speaking to him a little more, I found that even some Germans read manga.  I didn’t know that manga was that popular.  I even saw Dragon Ball manga translated in German in a bookstore.


Ich bin ein Super Saiyan?

Two train transfers and three and a half hours later, we arrived in Freiburg im Breisgau.  According to Wikipedia, it’s the warmest place in Germany.  As usual, the first thing we do upon arriving at a new place is to look for a map to find the tourist information center to get a map.  I had already looked up what sights to see the night before, so all I needed was a map to tell me how to get there.  Even without the map, we could both see the tower of the Freiburger Munster standing tall above every building in its vicinity.  All we needed to do was head in that direction.


The Cathedral


Munsterplatz

Thus far, the Freiburger Munster is the most amazing work of church architecture I have seen, inside and outside (The only place that I think could be better is the Sistine Chapel, but I haven’t been there yet). I would describe it, but I’m terrible at descriptive writing.  Good thing is that a picture is worth a thousand words!


The Cathedral Entrance



The Interior


Although a bit blurry, here’s my obligatory picture from the entrance (Left)
I always enjoyed seeing candles lit up like that (right)

After walking around inside for a little bit, I came across a set of statues in front of a window set up in a way that a group of statues were all looking at the body of Jesus Christ.  When I was looking at these statues, it happened to be around noon, and the sunlight shined through the window and I could see the glare.  It seems as if the scene was designed this way: to have the Light of God shine down.


The Light of God

Walking around some more, I came across a statue that looked suspiciously like Chancellor Palpatine of Star Wars (there’s my nerdiness popping up again).  Who knows, maybe George Lucas got inspiration from this and found an actor that looks like the guy in this statue.

 
Chancellor Palpatine?

On our way out, we learned that we could visit the church tower.  Despite the popularity of the church tower, there was no elevator (makes sense, since the church is quite old) and had a set of the narrowest spiral staircases ever seen.  Two people could barely pass through each other.  One wrong step would cause one to tumble around and around down to the bottom and bring other people along in a human snowball.  Luckily for me, that did not happen, but it sure was tiring walking up all those steps.  At the top, we had a semi decent view of the town.  I say semi-decent because of the maintenance that was going on.  For three weeks in a row, every main attraction in each city I went to was under maintenance.  There was the Heidelberg Castle, Bebenhausen Abbey, and now this.  In addition to being able to look around town, I also saw the mechanism for the church bells.


Munsterplatz from the Tower


Church Bells

On our way out of the cathedral, we smelled a strong scent of bratwurst and because of that, I decided that’s what i was going to have for lunch.  I guess my lunch was like a European hotdog (I have no idea what they call it).  They took a bread roll, cut it in half and put bratwurst and onions inside.  Like everyone else, I added ketchup and mustard.  I don’t think I can go back to eating regular North American sausages again after eating bratwurst.


This picture is from Wiki, but this was essentially what it was

A unique feature of the city is that water canals run through the town.  Upon first sight, one would think they were some sort of sewage system.  Known as Bachle, they were once used to provide water for firefighting and feed farm animals.  It is said that whoever steps in one must marry a Freiburger.  Around the town are a set of gates.  One of them, the Martinstor, has now been desecrated by McDonald’s.  How they managed to put their brand on such a historic structure is beyond me.


The Bachle (left)
The Martinstor (right)

In the city is also a trail that leads up to the mountain, Schlossberg, for a view of the town.  I believe there was also public transportation that took the lazy folks up there.  As if the stairs at the church bell tower wasn’t even enough, we were now faced with yet another seemingly endless set of stairs.  We’d look up the mountain seeing how much further we needed to go every now and then.  Once we reached the top, we realized that it wasn’t really the top.  There was yet another set of staircases leading up.  It’s just that we couldn’t see it before we got all the way up.


Layers and Layers (left)
The View from Schlossberg (right)

On our way home, I came across a vandalized billboard on the side of the street.  The vandals had drawn a Hitler mustache on the peoples faces.  I found it kind of amusing since that doesn’t really happen in North America.  Not Hitler mustaches, anyway.

 
Mini Hitlers and an Old Man Hitler?

On the train ride home yet another random stranger talked to us.  Except that the stranger this time wasn’t German.  He was an American who had just arrived in Stuttgart to work.  Like us, he spent his weekend traveling.  My friend and I were talking about gun control at the time when the guy started talking to us.  Apparently in his state of Virginia, one has the right to shoot someone in self defense to take someone’s life when their own is in danger.  He even told us a story about how someone he knew shot at a guy sneaking around suspiciously in their yard and how a friend of his has a license to carry a concealed weapon around.  It felt kind of nice to hear North American English again.

At the train station, while waiting for a connecting train, a third random stranger started talking to me.  Three in one day.  That has to be a record.  This time it wasn’t because I was speaking English.  This time it was because I’m Chinese.  A Turkish looking fellow looked at me as he walked by pushing a cart of luggage.  He looked at me and said “ni hao”, which is hello in Mandarin.  I was so surprised that I didn’t know how to reply, all I did was smile back in appreciation.  I guess Chinese people are a rare sight around here. 

For some reason, on the train ride home, the train stopped suddenly in the middle of nowhere.  I was reminded by the German fellow I talked to earlier about train suicides and I hoped that it didn’t happen.  Fortunately, it wasn’t anything serious and the train continued on its way after a few minutes.  After a nice day of sightseeing and hiking around, I got home and rested for the next day, which I spent uploading photos, blogging, and random household chores.  Sounds like quite the opposite in excitement compared to the day before.

My Picasa Album for Freiburg im Breisgau


Freiburg im Breisgau

Tübingen and Hohenzollern Castle

Day 39

I really should have posted this week ago when it happened, time did not work in my favor.?After having worked for a while, I met a few interns, and I went on this trip with them.?We met up in the morning to take the regional express train to Tubingen.?Upon arriving, we made our way to the old town.?While walking, we saw a river separating the town similar to Heidelberg.?The streets also looked similar to many historic German cities.?There are probably some distinct differences between each city, but I’m not knowledgeable enough about the architecture of the period.?We then took a bus to the main attraction of the town, the Bebenhausen Abbey.

Walking around the monastery kept reminding me about Diablo II (the nerd in me talking).?It was quite reminiscent of the Rogue Monastery, but we obviously were not being chased by sword-wielding skeletons.?Located in the outer cloister is the tourist information center, church, cemetery, and various historic buildings.

The Monastery Grounds

Walking further into the monastery, we came arrived at the inner cloister.?A large hallway enclosed the area on all sides, with doors in the hallway leading to rooms for public display.?Along the wall were stone plaques dedicated to the history of the place.?In the center is a fountain that has been dried up and I don’t know if it is used in the summer.?It kind of reminded me of an exhausted health/mana fountain.

The Inner Cloister

The rooms inside the monastery contained information and artifacts displayed for people to see.?In one of the rooms, there was a entrance to the catacombs.?Maybe if I went down there I’d find Andariel.

The next day, we went to visit Hohenzollern Castle, the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family.?Two castles had previously been constructed there before, but were destroyed during war or due to lack of care.?The castle that remains today was constructed for Frederick William IV of Prussia.?The sole purpose of the castle’s construction was as a memorial to the Hohenzollern family and not as an actual residence for anyone.

Faraway View – the castle is 855 m above sea level

Along the battlements of the castle stood statues of Prussian royalty.?They probably didn’t fight in many battles and since they didn’t look very physically fit to me.?They probably just ate a lot.?/p>

Statues of Some of the Kaisers

The castle possesses a lot of defensive structures, but since this castle was built only as a memorial, it was all just for show.

The Castle Turrets and Walls

The top level of the castle was the central courtyard.?Along the battlements was a view from 855 m above sea level.

The Central Courtyard

The View Down the Mountain

We took a tour inside the castle, but unfortunately, they did not allow photography on the premises. The ballroom of castle contained pillars of pure marble even though nobody ever used it.?Nowadays, the castle is open for tourists and private functions such as weddings.

Inside one of the rooms were paintings on the wall dedicated to remembering each member of the House of Hohenzollern. In the hallways were paintings of various people and of the two previous castles that were built. One of the paintings was of Baron von Steuben. He assisted the Americans during the Revolutionary War and received a thank you letter from George Washington for his service. Since monarchies dominated at the time, there was talk of choosing a king to govern the United States, but obviously that never happened. At the time, their choice was one of the members of the Prussian royal family.?/p>

Some rooms displayed some personal items of the Prussian Kaisers. Apparently, a lot of them liked tobacco and even had a really fancy looking box for tobacco snuff. Despite how unhealthy that sounds, one of those boxes took a bullet for one of the Kaisers and saved his life.

The most significant item was the Crown of Wilhelm II.?It contained so much and so many different kinds of gems that it was worth millions.?It sat inside clear glass display, but looking closely at it, there was a whole slew of motion detection devices around it for security.?Unfortunately, because of my terrible memory, I can’t really remember much more.?I thought the castle was Heidelberg was amazing, but this one completely beats it.

My Picasa Photo Albums:

The Heidelberg Trek

Day 25

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to travel to Heidelberg to see many of the historic monuments and architecture that the city had to offer. To get there, my friend and I took the Regionalbahn and the Regional Express. When I got on the train, I happen to see a group of Asian tourists and they kind of gave me a strange look. The only reason I can think of to explain that is that they probably don’t see a lot of Asians around here. In fact, seeing Asians other than myself surprised me too. While taking the train, I realized how much more I enjoy train rides over car and airplane rides. Probably my biggest pet peeve is the lack of leg room. The train I took was quite spacious and didn’t have a lot of people riding it so I was able to extend my legs as far as I wanted without disturbing anybody.

Upon arrival, we found the nearest tourist information center and got a map of the area. We knew which sites we wanted to see, but didn’t know how to get there. A short walk later, we reached the Neckar River, the river that separates the two sides of Heidelberg. Walking a bit further, we reached the Old Bridge (middle and right photo), situated in the Old Town (Altstadt), the historic city center.


The Old Bridge and the Neckar River

Walking through the historic city center exposed us to a lot of the baroque style architecture left over from the past (left photo). Instead of asphalt, the ground was made of cobblestone. Walking through the town made me feel like I was an anachronism. The only things that made the area feel modern was the addition of signage for cars, plumbing on the sides of buildings and the street lamps. In addition to the architecture, there was a German man that ran a souvenir store at the side of a church on Marktplatz speaking to group of Taiwanese tourists in Mandarin. That totally surprised me. He knew enough Chinese to have an actual conversation with the tourists.


The Baroque Style Architecture and the Marktplatz

The church that the man stood near selling souvenirs is called the Church of the Holy Spirit (Heiliggeistkirche), one of the three major churches in the city. The other two is The Church of the Jesuits (Jesuitenkirche) and St. Peter’s Church. The atmosphere in the Jesuitenkirche was so silent that when I put my backpack down and placed it on the pew a little too hard, a loud echo could be heard. It seemed almost disrespectful to make such a noise. I sat there for at least fifteen minutes just looking around before getting up. The paintings themselves seem to be the originals since upon close inspection, the cracks in the paint could be seen.


The Heiliggeistkirche, Jesuitenkirche, and Peterskirche

Each of these churches are located near the main street (Hauptstrasse), where a large number of tourists frequent. Along the street are mainly souvenir stores, cafes, restaurants, and ice cream places. The picture I took of the main street doesn’t look like there was a lot of people there, but later on the street became packed with people. I also saw a some modern franchises such as H&M. Every time I saw a store like that, it felt like these large businesses were slowly taking over the town.


The Hauptstrasse

However, the main attraction here has to be the Heidelberger Schloss. Anybody that doesn’t visit this castle when visiting the town is definitely missing out. Situated on the hillside, the castle could be seen from the ground. It looks quite high up, but the walk up there isn’t daunting at all. It’s probably the fact that there was so much to see along the way up so people don’t remember that they’re getting tired. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good enough angle to take a huge picture of the entire front side of the castle.


Heidelberger Schloss

Through many of the wars in the middle ages that this castle has been through, lots of damage could be seen on the castle walls. The main one is the destroyed turret. Due to an explosion, a section of the wall fell down in one gigantic chunk.


Destroyed Castle Turret

At the top of the castle, one can almost see the entire city of Heidelberg. The old bridge, the churches and the market square can be seen from above. I managed to capture this gorgeous view.


Heidelberg

After reaching the top of the castle, we decided to hike up to Konigstuhl, the very top of the hill. We learned that the hike would take an hour and that the destination was 350 m above where the castle was situated. We had already walked around for a great deal of time, but for some reason, I agreed to do the hike. Much of the hike was on muddy or icy paths that went uphill. One wrong step would mean falling at least ten meters down the slope. I dubbed it the “Stairway to Heaven”. If I fell, I’d die and end up in Heaven. It was already tough enough going up the slope, but I saw a mountain biker who dared to bike down the mountain despite a sign clearly stating not to bike down the hill. We were literally on a slippery slope. Somehow, we managed to get lost along the way, but one of the park rangers (I’m not sure if they’re even called that here) gave us a map and showed us the direction to go. As I walked up, I could feel my leg muscles burning with every step. But our timing couldn’t have been better. We made it up as the sun was setting and I managed to get a picture of the sun’s rays shining through the layer of clouds.


It’s Nice to be at the Top

After spending some time walking around the peak, we took a bus back down. It was a nice break. It had been a long day of hiking around, but it was very rewarding, to be able to finish the hike up to Konigstuhl. In the evening, we took the train back home. By the end of the day, I had taken 112 pictures of the historic place.


Heidelberg

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