Leaving Prague we first had to change money to get the van out of the train station parking lot. I don’t remember exactly how much it was for three days but it seems like it was several thousand Czech Crowns. There was a little excitement when we had to step over several drunks sleeping in the stairwell of the parking garage…
Top of the train station. Built in 1871 and originally called Franz Josef Station, it was renamed Wilson Station from 1945 to 1953 and had a statue of Woodrow Wilson in the nearby park. Germans tore down the statue in 1941 when US entered the war… Station is now named Praha Hlavni Nadrazi
Leaving the city we headed southwest out of the Czech Republic and back into Germany and on to Passau, in Bavaria. Shot this photo through the window as we traveled past one of many “solar farm” installations. The contryside scenery is beautiful, far more scenic than Indiana flat farm fields, but I never found myself wishing the solar panels or wind mills weren’t there. If they don’t “spoil” this scenery they certainly won’t spoil Indiana’s…
We stopped first to check in at our next hotel for the night. There was a little bakery across the street from our room. I liked the simplicity of the lines and color.
Another cool manhole cover. This one is in Passau but was made in Kaiserslautern (the town Jennie lives in).
An extravagant sign
St. Stephan’s Cathedral (Dom St. Stephan) – Baroque, around 1668.
It has “the largest organ outside the United States and the largest of any Cathedral in the world” with 17,774 pipes.
Tower of St. Stephen’s
Ornamental metal work above the entry doors.
Then walk inside and say “wow”. Next photo is a merging of 4 photos into one.
Someones bones (relics) encased in a glass altar. Kinda creepy, actually lotta creepy. I have a closeup but I’ll spare you. The label says “SANQVIS SII CASTVLI MARTURIS”. Anyone know what that means?
Leaving the church to enter a side courtyard we passed a wood door with beautiful carving and awesome door pulls.
A Bear door pull
This sundial on the wall was accurately displaying 3:30.
There was a hand, with a finger pointing…
…from this door…
…to this dude just inside the doorway
Then wandering back through town for some shopping and sight seeing.
And more sightseeing
A stroll along the “Blue” Danube River with nice reflections
A cool entrance
More awesome wood carving on doors
And some final streetscape and signs before it got dark and we went back to the church for an organ recital
Why the “there and back again” hobbit reference? Because I was reading “The Hobbit” (again) on the plane to Frankfurt and then as we traveled in Europe found myself thinking often of Bilbo’s adventures in Middle Earth. The little towns in Germany, nestled quaintly between misty forested hills just seemed so Shire-like. Old castle ruins and other reminders of Medieval life, knights on horseback, swords, and cobblestones. It’s a short hop from bizzare Gargoyles to Orcs, Elves and other things Hobbitish.
Your Comments: are always appreciated. If you like something please leave a hint about why so I can keep doing it, and if you have constructive criticism I’d appreciate that too so I can improve.
My References: historical descriptions with the photos are primarily from travel brochures picked up along the way or Wikipedia. If I have wrongly included anything copywrited by others, please contact me and I’ll remove it.
Actually day one and two were two days collapsed into one. We left Thursday morning, flew about 10 hours and arrived in Frankfurt on Friday morning.
There was some drama getting out of Indianapolis. Seems American Airlines had broken down planes or pilots that didn’t want to fly to Dallas where we were to meet up with Becky’s sister Deanne for the flight to Frankfurt. Eventually we were switched to Delta and a flight to Detroit then on to Frankfurt. We got there, but our luggage didn’t.
Jennie met us at Frankfort airport and helped us through the luggage issues. Amazingly Deannes AA flight from Dallas arrived at the same time our rearranged flight from Detroit! Our luggage was delivered the next morning at Jennie’s house in Niedermohr so it all worked out fine.
A satellite photo ‘snip’ of Niedermohr and surrounding lands. Absolutely ‘Shire-hobbitish’. Undoubtably some Longbottom Leaf, the finest pipe-weed in the South Farthing, growing in some of those fields…
Our wonderful temporary home-away-from-home and the rental minivan we traveled in. Photos start here, nothing of our travels to Frankfurt or from there to Niedermohr-too jet lagged to care.
Views of houses near Jennie’s. Rooftop solar panels were scattered on houses and barns everywhere we went. Rooftops were always clay tile or slate. An occasional standing seam metal roof but no asphalt shingles.
Jet lagged but enjoying an afternoon visit to ruins of Burg Lichtenberg (Castle). Jennie, Roni, Becky, Deanne (and Christie Dog)
View from the room at the top of the Castle Tower. Below is the town of
Hobbiton on the Shire. If you look closely you may see the gaffer tending gardens, oops, I mean Lichtenberg. According to Wikipedia this is the largest castle ruin in Germany.
Photo below is not mine. Got this from Wiki because I couldn’t get an overall shot of the whole ruins…
There was a timeline sign at the entry noting that in 1529 “Ulrich Zwingli stayed here on his way to Marburg”. Reformation history is interesting to me so I’ll expand on that, skip this if you are not interested… Zwingli was a contemporary of Martin Luther and both were strong leaders and writers of the Protestant Reformation in Germany (Luther) and Switzerland (Zwingli). They attended the “Marburg Colloquy” held in 1529 in Castle Marburg at the request of Philipp I of Hesson. Philipp wanted to unite the protestant states for political reasons and hoped to bring Luther and Zwingli together (with other protestant leaders) to reconcile their theological differences, spiritual unity enabling political unity. They agreed together on most reformation points but disagreed on the Eucharist (communion). Luther believing the Eucharist represented much more than a symbol of the body and blood of Christ and Zwingli believing it didn’t. Unfortunately, they did not reconcile differences, which is a fundamental reason that even though Martin Luther was incredibly important to the Reformation, the Lutheran church is not considered a “protestant reformed” church today. Later reformers, particularly John Calvin, held more closely (though not exactly) to Zwingli’s theological position. But getting back to Lichtenberg, Zwingli stayed HERE on his way to Marburg – history is so cool, especially history where there is still a physical (in this case and this is often the case) remnant of Architecture to walk through and image people being in the same place centuries before.
Up to a castle turret and view out of the arrow slits.
Another view from the tower showing the entry into the courtyard, the well in the courtyard and the remains of the fireplace and floor supports on the walls inside the castle.
Steeples and Door Knobs… You’ll begin to see a theme if you keep following this.
Seeing cool old lever handles makes me wonder how is it that it took an act of Congress (literally, ADA Act of 1990) to force us away from knobs and back to levers that were in common use a thousand years ago?
Architectural Oddity: inside the castle ruins there is this modern Dinosaur Museum! I thought the entry with glass walls, doors and roof was nice.
Another Architectural Oddity: Unusual to see a steel beam running from interior to exterior, especially through glass… those wacky Germans.
The first full day in Germany. Our lost luggage was delivered to Jennie’s house in the morning so we loaded up the van and headed out to be tourists. Saturday mornings in Kaiserslautern is City Market time. Jennie parked the van in a parking garage (that’s it on the right) at this sign. The spots reserved for women are for safety, being adjacent to the entry where you pay for parking. Still, you have… to chuckle…
Roni and Deanne look at flowers
Roni (who speaks German very well) about to split a gut laughing at Deanne (who knows NO German) trying to act like she knows what the nice German lady who started talking to her was saying…
Kaiserslautern is home to Ramstein Air Force Base. Note the giant jet flying over the church.
I think the colored eggs are hard boiled? Not sure, maybe they just sell better with colors?
We bought some of this colorful salad and had it for lunch. The flower petals tasted fine but some of the other leafs and stems had ‘fuzzy/prickly’ bits that were a little weird
American fast food seems to be everywhere in Europe. I don’t know why that surprised me but it did…
After lunch (including the colorful ‘fairy salad’ as Roni called it) we headed over to Ramstein to board a USO tour bus to Rudesheim. This was a treat from Roni who arranged and paid for the whole thing! Thank You Roni!
Rudesheim is a ‘wine town’ and one of the most visited tourist destinations in Germany. We had something like an hour to visit the town before we needed to head for the Rhine River and our boat “Vater Rhine” (father Rhine).
This scene greeted us as we stepped off the bus. Even in jet-lagged condition the hillsides of grape vines coming right down to the town was cool.
White wine grapes: probably Riesling. Riesling is the most important grape on the Rhine (and throughout Germany). “Riesling owes its taste to a soil of heat-storing and mineral rich slate”. The Rhine and Danube formed roughly the northern border of the Roman Empire from 50 BC to 300 AD. The Romans realized wine from this area was particularly light and delicate so cultivated it widely. Until 1803, when Napoleon conquered the left (west) bank of the Rhine, virtually all vineyards were owned by the church. With privatization came pride in quality and exporting of German wines. (from tourist map I picked up)
Narrow streets run ‘up the hill’ and were used to roll the wine barrels down to the boats on the river. Today they are used for happy soccer fans making merry…
German ice cream shops have beautiful displays. Makes american ‘Baskin-Robbins’ style buckets of ice cream seem primative
Roni, our friend and generous german unofficial tour guide
Rüdesheim Coffee. This is a local treat that starts with special coffee mugs (surprise, you can buy them), 3 sugar cubes, Asbach Uralt brandy, and a match. lite it and stir for a minute, then add coffee and a huge dollap of whipped cream. Sprinkle chocolate on top. Awesome. The Asbach brandy has a local Rüdesheim history beginning in 1892 when Hugo Asbach began distilling.
Deanne and her Nut Cracker friend in front of the Kathe Wohlfahrt store. Right before we were both told to leave because she was eating ice creme and I was taking pictures…
Wonderfully landscaped and manicured narrow streets packed with tourists, restaurants, and every overpriced thing for sale…
“Rhine” = Celtic origin and roughly means “to flow” and is one of the largest rivers in Europe. The short section we cruised (Rüdesheim to St. Goar) is a portion of the “Middle Rhine” full of old towns and hillside castles and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Looking back at Rüdesheim from the top deck of the boat. Niederwalddenkmal memorial is on hill above town “to commemorate the foundation of the German Empire after the end of Franco-Prussian War” (Wikipedia). Not sure what that is all about but it’s really big, old (1870′s), and NIEDERWALDDENKMAL is a cool word and would be handy for Scrabble… This was the starting point for our “Rhein in Flammen” (Rhine in Flames) cruise and fireworks tour.
The “Mouse Tower” – a small tower on an island near the town of Bingen am Rhein (across the river from Rudesheim). Romans first built a structure here. It was rebuilt many times including in 968 when Hatto II, the Archbishop of Mainz rebuilt it as a platform for crossbowmen demanding tribute from passing boats or shooting the crew. His despicable ways grew into a folk story where he tells his famine stricken peasants to wait in a barn where he will bring them grain. Instead he burned the barn down, commenting as they cried out they were squealing like rats. Going back to his castle he finds it full of mice. Retreating to his island tower to escape them he finds it too is full of mice who eat him alive… A poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called “The Children’s Hour” is describing his children but alludes to the tale.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
The setting sun peeking out from the clouds highlighting areas of the hillsides.
This area is called “the Rhine Gorge”. Not a gorge in the Grand Canyon style of vertical cliff walls but a beautiful evening cruising down (up) river of history. Again, couldn’t help thinking Hobbits would be proud these vine manicured hillsides (but they would not have approved of the town name of Assmannhauser Hollenberg).
Here’s a view (from wiki I think) of ‘the gorge’ at the narrowest/deepest point where the Rhine turns around “The Loreley”
Don’t know these folks but like the photo… The top deck was a little chilly and breezy so most stayed inside below but we bundled up and enjoyed the views. Very relaxing. Because we went in mid-September, there were few crowds and few kids, just us middle-age tourists…
Top Deck. The crew relaxing.
Dinner on-board. Interesting that the beer bottle and the beer glass ALWAYS matched when we were served anywhere in Europe. Even bottled water came accompanied with a glass by the same manufacturer. Nice touch. We were told it is a requirement by the beverage manufacturers.
Same castle as previous photo, zoomed in, and underexposed to silhouette.
Katz Castle (Cat Castle) and Maus Castle (Mouse Castle) were both visible from our boat as we watched the fire works. Photo below is Katz, photos further down silhouetted with fireworks are of Maus. They were built around the same time in 1360′s and had different names but because they were on adjacent hilltops and seemed to be spying on one another. Most castles on the Rhine were originally built to control traffic and collect tolls.
We arrived here at St. Goar (west bank) and St. Goarshausen (east bank) at dusk and waited as the 60 some boats jockeyed around one another drifting together and then apart attempting to hold a steady position in the strong flow of the river. Photo below is of St. Goarshausen. The town was packed with people waiting for the fireworks to start.
View from our boat toward St. Goar and Burg Rheinfels (burg=castle). Rheinfels (built in 1245 with many expansions in following years) is the largest castle on the Rhine today and was once as much as five times larger. Much of it has been dismantled, the stone carried off for other uses after the french blew it up in …