Sunday, August 28, 2011

Burg Hohenzollern!

Hola Amigos! Today I am here to tell you about the awesome adventure we had yesterday.  We went here (!!!) :

Yep.  A castle on a hill! A reconstructed castle on a hill, rather--as we learned, this is the 3rd incarnation of the castle that's been here.  The first was built in the 1100s but destroyed in the 1400s, the second was rebuilt not long after but was allowed to go into ruins in the 1700s, and then it was rebuilt for the third time in the 1850s. Despite being more "recent," it was still pretty awesome though!

So we took a train from Tubingen to Hechingen, the town near this castle, then took a bus from the train station about 3/4 of the way up the mountain up there....and then we walked the rest of the way up.

It was a little bit steep...

And yes, we could have taken a shuttle bus the rest of the way, but it would have cost us like ten bucks! So, being the cheap person I am, I suggested we walk.

We approached it slowly but surely...

well, possibly more surely than slowly--I have this thing with hills, you see, where if you put one in front of me, I will nearly run up the whole thing, just to get it done quicker.  Also, because I know that if I try to take it slowly, my legs will likely give out underneath of me.  

(yeah, the path kept going!)

so I spent most of the way up (only maybe 15 minutes, for the record) walking really quickly and then taking breathers in which I looked like this:

...and tried to catch my breath and tell the baby to please stop doing somersaults inside of me while I'm trying to hike up a mountain! (seriously, that baby was freaking out! I think it was just surprised at having it's mother being so active--I mean I walk like 45 minutes in going to and from class every day, but that was nothing compared to this mountain!)

But when we got to the top, we cheered and high-fived and posed victoriously :)

And we enjoyed the view! 

yeah, this castle is a Romantic's dream.  I mean, it was rebuilt during the Romantic Era (after they had left it to be a "romantic ruin" for a while--no really, one of the plaques said that!) so pretty much everything in it just screams German romanticism!

(there was a gate at the top of this staircase, preventing you from going down it.  you have no idea how close I was to throwing all of my rule-abiding habits out the window and stepping over that fence to get some cooler shots though...)

I should also mention that the day we came it was probably 60 degrees in Tubingen, and being that we were on a mountain, it was a liiiiiiiiittle (read: a lot) cooler than that AND quite a bit misty.  No worries, that just added to the romanticism!

story: according to our awesome tour guide: that little white church there supposedly originally rested on the spot where they built this castle, but angels picked it up and moved it down there so that they could build the castle up here.  *snort* Because there's NO WAY the people that built the castle just said "hey we're going to build a fortress on this mountain, so move your church if you don't want us to tear it down with you inside of it," right?

Here's the inside of one of the 3 churches in the castle! This one is Catholic, the other one that I have pictured is Protestant (because half of the family line converted and the other half remained Catholic!) and unpictured is the Russian Orthodox church one of the Kings built for his Russian wife in the basement somewhere (interesting, because they usually made their spouses convert!).  It, however, was not open for viewing. 

Pardon the skewy camera angle--this was the only way I could fit this massive tower in my frame!

The outside of the Catholic church.

A view from one of the tower windows!

A little Romantic garden!
(seriously, I never understood Goethe as well as I do after having visited this Romantic castle on a misty's crazy!)

Lots of ivy, lots of Romanticism...and a Jesse!

Sweeping vistas, old castles...

A hiding Jesse!

Ok, at this point it had started to drizzle and gotten noticeably colder, so we went and hung out in the Protestant church and then bought some hot chocolate out of an espresso machine. Hot chocolate has never been more welcome! (our fingers were a liiiitle bit icy...)

The protestant church!

Check out that ceiling. Nutso. 

And this is where most of my pictures end, because we started our tour inside the castle, which is off limits for photography.  Our tour guide, however, was SUPER awesome, and because we came to an English tour on a rainy day, there were only like 10 people in our group, so it was cool :) Also, they make you wear these big grey slippers over your shoes while you're on the tour so that you don't damage the floors, and our tour guide was always going from room to room sliding in them instead of walking.  Yeah, she was cool :)

And in one of the rooms, she needed to kill time because the group in front of us hadn't moved on yet, so she looks around for a second, and then goes "This isn't allowed, but do you want to go out on the balcony?" So she just lets down the little off-limits rope and unlocks the door and lets us out to see the view.  And this friends, is Southern Germany!  

The rest of our tour was really cool--we learned a lot about the royal family that had originally lived there (no one does now, even though there is technically still a prince!) and a lot about the history of the region in general thereby--and by the way, saw a LOT of super awesome interior rooms  (note: we're also going to live there one day when we're rich and famous).

Anyways, that's our trip! It only took the afternoon and a little bit of public transportation navigation to see some REALLY awesome stuff, so we're really glad we went!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tidbits of our stay

Dear friends, 

Today, I'm posting some randomness.  The theme, loosely, is "stuff we do/notice here in Germany."  

Please allow me to introduce you to a Döner kebab.  A Döner is a Turkish sandwich (although it also comes in other forms) defined primarily by it containing meat (usually chicken or lamb) that's cooked in a huuuuge chunk on this gigantic spit, then put inside some bread with lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, a delightful garlic sauce, and some spices.  


And OH MY GOODNESS, it is divine.  We've eaten it probably 4 times since we've been here, and plan to at least once more before we leave!   Seriously, there is something really incredible about it.  I'm really going to miss them when we leave!  Oh, and by the way, you can't tell from that picture, but this thing is HUGE--about the size of a salad plate.  Delicious!

And then, completely unrelated, I'd like to introduce you to the rabbit that lives in our yard. 

His name is Fritz. 

We think Fritz probably used to be someone's pet but has since been released into "the wild," in part because he's not very flighty...he usually just chills out there in the middle of the yard, eating grass at his leisure and not really looking around paranoid like most rabbits do/should.  

Prime example: the other day, it was really hot, and we saw him chillin' in the shade under the picnic table! 

Alas, one of the pre-teen girls that lives nearby has chased him around and tried to catch him a few times, and we haven't seen Fritz since :( We think he's been traumatized and found some other little patch of grass to live off of.  Darn it!

And lastly, completely off topic: 

Proof that I'm still pregnant! This is me, 17 weeks and 3-ish days pregnant.  

For the record, I'm 19 weeks today (so this picture is a little old) and I already feel waaay bigger than that! So perhaps I'll have to take another picture soon for comparison purposes. 

And that, friends, is all! Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In which I walk to class in Tübingen

It's 8:30 (well, ideally--usually it's more like 8:35, if I'm being honest) when I head out the door to go to class. 

First off, I am greeted by our street (Katharinenstraße!) and some bikes, naturally. 

I walk down a little street,

pass some cool houses,

check out some pretty flowers,

pass another sweet house, 

and arrive at the little river/brook/creek.

I walk along the river for a nice long while.

Mmm, pretty!

Pass bridge number one,

check out my belly (yep, still there! and only that big because of the perspective, have no fear!)

pass bridge number two,

say hello to some ducks,

and arrive at my bridge!

Cross the bridge, 

turn right, and head down into the tunnel under the road.  Be careful to stay on the left though--the right side is for bikes!

Come out of the tunnel, and be greeted by a graffiti Kirby! Hi Kirby!

Cross some streets at the light, but be careful to stay out of the bike lane portion of the sidewalk. 

Say hello to the cheeky mannequin in the department store window, 

and head up the bridge crossing the Neckar river. 

Mmmm. River.

And a glimpse of the old city!

Pass another Kirby! (He's quite popular here, apparently?)

And then up a little hill between some ancient retaining walls.


When you reach the Deutsche Bank, you're almost there!

Pass a bakery, 

bookstore number one,

bookstore number two,

bookstore number three,

and another bakery, and then we're almost there! (Can you see why we like this town?) 

(Random: this bakery is apparently represented by a little goblin-creature?  I tried to look up what a "Keimling" is but it just says "seedling" or something, which sounds odd.  Any ideas?  It's strange, anyways!)

And we made it! Yaaaaay! 

(A brief note: this walk actually only takes 20-25 minutes, even though it took me 31 pictures to show you...)

So that's it folks! I sure enjoy my walk to and from school every day, and I hope you did too :)