A Travellerspoint blog

26: Nutcracker Soldiers

sunny 26 °C
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A nice early start today so that I could drive to Munich via Rothenburg ob der Tauber (RodT). RodT is another medieval town that is ringed by a large wall. It was great to be able to park the car after an hour of driving and just get out and go for a wander (in the sun!!).

Started by going for a walk along the ramparts of the town wall. Unlike any other town wall I’ve seen or walked on, the one in RodT is complete meaning you can walk your entire way around the town! I walked down to the bottom of the town and then trekked back up the hill through the town. RodT is pretty much picture perfect.. Around every corner is another vista just waiting for my camera lens! I’ve got to say that Germany just gets better and better! This part of the country is really beautiful and has so much history.

RodT is also famous for its Christmas Shop, so after having a coffee and a pastry (I’m still a big fan of European pastries) I went looking for the Xmas shop. The entry way is flanked by two huge nutcracker soldiers and once you enter the store you enter a big xmas wonderland.. It is like entering a department store dedicated to xmas decorations! I have fallen in love with German deckies particularly the Nutcracker soldiers and the balsa wood and candle “windmill” decorations.. I would have spent a fortune in the store if I was coming home in a week or two but knowing I’m going to be travelling for much longer meant that my money stayed in its wallet!

From RodT I moved on towards to Munich. Very uneventful drive to the city where I easily found my hotel for the next few days. Once dropping off my stuff I decided to walk down to the train station to get my bearings and find something to eat for dinner. The main train station is a good 30min walk from my hotel so I need to find an alternative! Unfortunately the tourist office was not open this late in the day so it will need to be my first stop tomorrow morning. Had some tasty chinese for dinner before returning to my hotel to have a well deserved snooze!

Posted by weary_feet 12:27 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

25: Colosseum

rain 21 °C
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Got going nice and early this morning so that I could get a good day’s site seeing in here in Nuremberg. I had a pretty loose plan today based on my guidebooks recommendation; see the Kaisersburg, The Germanisches Museum and the Nazi rally grounds.

To be able to fit in all three in one day I did have to do a couple of them a bit half heartedly.. to really do the three items justice you should probably allow two days.. I didn’t have two days so……..

Started at the Kaisersburg. The Kaisersburg was the Imperial home of the Bavarian Kings til about 1600 AD. To get to the Kaisersburg (which sits up on the hill of Nuremberg) I had to walk through the whole Old Town. I have to say that Nuremburg has more than surprised me for it’s looks! For some reason I had it in my head that Nuremberg would be another concrete block town and I’ll tell you that it doesn’t even come close. Nuremberg is one of the oldest towns in Germany so nearly every building is an old style Bavarian looking building. Therefore the wander through the town was really pleasant (apart from the incessant rain.. Christ I wish it would stop raining!) The Kaisersburg is today used as a museum (it seems that most of the castles have been converted into some sort of museum!) and is what I would dub as an a-typical looking medieaval castle.. its got a moat (without water!), you can see where the draw bridge was (even though it is now stones), plenty of turrets and towers and lots of chrenellation around the ramparts.. Just awesome! It really ticks the mediavel box because on top of a really cool castle there was some sort of mediavel festival occuing in the grounds, so plenty of people swaggering around in chain mail and riding horses.. I just loved it!

From the Kaisersburg I wandered down to the Germanisches Museum. This museum is housed in an old cloister so it was quite interesting to see quite a bit of religious iconography inside a cloister! I was expecting this museum to cover off on a lot of middle ages history of Germany and was a bit disappointed.. There were some really good exhibitions of weapons, armour and costumes from the middle ages but it also had stuff like musical instrument collections, heaps of religious paintings and sculptures, and weird stuff like random household items from the 1920s???? I struggled a bit with the purpose of the museum.. they’ve tried to fit 3000+ years of history into a small space.. and failed (in my opinion).

Therefore I only spent a couple of hours in the museum before I decided to go find something a bit more interesting and headed out to the Nazi Rally Grounds. On the outskirts of Nuremberg over 20 hectares was put aside by the Nazi party to be used to hold their yearly NSDP rallies. To help hold the rallies, some huge colleseum style buildings were built (and they are the ones that you might recognise from rally party photos). Inside one of the half finished coloseums is a museum to the rise and fall of the Nazi party. I would say it is probably the best Nazi museum I’ve been in since arriving in Germany.. It really outlines the rise of the party as well as some of the aspects of its demise and covers off on the Nuremberg trials.

The Nazi party chose to hold its rallies in Nuremberg because of the symbolisim of the city in relation to Germany. Because Nuremberg was the ancestral home of the imperial family and had hundreds of year’s of tradition it was deemed that the tradition of this city would give some validity to the NSDP.

The museum showed many of the rallies that occurred in Nuremberg and I have to say that I had forgotten what sort of pagentary occurred at these rallies. There was a whole department within the NSDP whose whole job was to organise the yearly rallies! They occurred for one week every year and thousands of party supporters would flock to the city to participate in the week of rallies. Most of the rallies were in some way military based and of course involved lots of parades and plenty of banners! What I didn’t realise is what the plans were for the rally gournds. The NSDP had full plans to build a sports stadium, a zeppelin landing ground (the only part of the complex to be fully completed), a 5km long parade ground as well as the coloseum for the summation of the rally. This whole complex was planned to be built only for the yearly rallies!

Today most of the old rally grounds have been converted into parklands and a business district. They are also home to one of the sports stadiums where some sort of Bundesliga Game was being held (just as I was trying to leave the museum so were the sports fans!) The museum itself is held in the half completed coloseum (there is no plan to ever complete the building but to leave it in its half finished state as a reminder of the rallies) and the parade grounds are now a huge parking lot that is used for the sports’ stadium and the parklands.

Definitely was well worth spending my afternoon walking around the old rally grounds! Had some dinner before heading to bed as tomorrow is my drive down to Munich via Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Posted by weary_feet 10:15 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

24: Charlemagne

semi-overcast 22 °C
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Driving day today- Prague to Nuremberg via Regensberg. Driving day meant early start so got going and headed out of the city. Drive to Regensberg was fairly uneventful with me spending a good hour of that time doing more “German in 8 easy steps!” So far my language lessons aren’t going to badly but considering I haven’t made it passed lesson 10 (and there are about 80) you can imagine that my vocab hasn’t progressed much yet!!!!

I’ve decided that if the Auto-bahn roads that I have been on so far are a good cross section of the Auto-bahn roads here in Germany then I’m heavily disappointed.. So far I’ve yet to see anyone really really motoring! Most of the Auto-bahn roads I’ve been on so far have all been two lane duel carriage way roads that are clogged with trucks.. this means that most of the time I’m lucky to get above 120! There is also a heavy amount of road works so it isn’t uncommon to drop back down to 80 on the motorway! Damn disappointing!!! I would also comment that the calibre of road isn’t that crash hot.. the ones I went on today are almost exactly the same as the Pacific Hwy.. so should give you an idea that the Auto-bahn isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!! Maybe I’ve been on some of the slower/ smaller parts so far.. (but I have been driving on the main road that links Berlin and Munich, so………….)

Ok off my hobby horse and back onto the story…….. Regensberg is a real fairy tale town. The town as we see it today had construction beginning around 1000 AD. Regensberg is home to the first stone bridge to cross the Danube and was built in the 1100s.. Amazing! The road no longer caters for traffic but you can still cross the bridge with your feet or on a bike!!!!

The town itself is full of twisting, winding streets and is of course full of more beautiful old buildings… I gotta say there aren’t many towns in this part of the world that aren’t story book beautiful though… Regenseberg was one of the main medieval towns of Europe as it was situated right on the Danube and was half way to everywhere! It was one of the seats of Charlemagne after he invaded southern Germany and therefor became part of the Holy Roman Empire.. (The history of this area is just awesome!) As the empire slowly dissolved many different kings and rulers used Regensberg as their home until the mid 1500s. Today it is UNESCO listed and is a pretty nice town for a stop over.

Continued on to Nuremberg where I arrived fairly late in the evening so I decided to have an early one with a plan to spend the whole day out and about in Nuremberg checking out the sites…

Posted by weary_feet 11:42 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

23: Mmmm TGIs

sunny 25 °C
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Didn’t start early this morning as my main plan was to take a good look through the Czech national museum. It wasn't too a far walk from my digs so went for a wander down to see what the museum had to offer.

Arrived to discover that it is closed for renovation! Well that put a real dampener on my day! I had spent most of the previous day really exploring the town so I wasn’t too sure how I was going to fill in my day! I knew that having a free day would be good to allow me time to do some internet-ing but I still wanted to fill in most of the day with site seeing not hanging out on my ‘puter!

Decided to just do a meander through the old town and try and focus on the areas I hadn’t walked through yet! Found another little market square so pulled myself up a seat and got myself a nice cup of coffee and decided to chill for half an hour or so and just soak up the atmosphere! It’s pretty tough that I felt I had nothing better to do but have a cup of coffee in the sunshine (because it had finally come out again!)

After my cuppa I just wandered the old town and did some souvenir shopping (Prague must be the capital for souvenirs) before heading for my usual late lunch early dinner in which I splurged and had TGIs—shrimp, chips and veges!! Damn sweet!

That was the highlight of my day before I headed back to the digs to do more planning for my Teutonic trip and started working on my Middle Eastern adventure!

Posted by weary_feet 11:35 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

22: Royal Vino

semi-overcast 24 °C
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Got going early-ish today as I was booked to do a walking tour of the Old Town and the Palace this morning.

Started the tour at the Astronomical clock. Similar to Krakow, every hour a bugler toots his horn to recognise the hour. Unlike Krakow, there is actually no reason for the bugling except for the fact that the clock tower is privately owned and charges people to climb the tower... its just done for a bit of publicity!! From the clock we started wandering down through the Old Town and across the river to the Praha Castle.

The castle sits on the other side of the river high on the hill (so has great views of the city itself). I was surprised to discover that it still has its own vineyard! (you can spend over 10 E a glass if you want to check out the palace vino!) The palace was the home to the Bohemian Kings and Queens but today houses the president and his staff. Yep the palace is not a museum (like so many others in Europe) but is actually still a working palace for the President.

The castle was first built back in the 9th Century and the Vitus Cathedral was first built in the 10th Century. Vitus Cathedral supposedly houses some of St Vitus’ relics as well as the crown jewels of Bohemia. Both of these things are not on display to the public so I can’t validate the truth of these statements. Whether the cathedral is home to relics or jewels though is probably secondary to its architectural beauty! After first being built in the 10th C it has slowly been added to over the years (as recently as early 20th C) to what we see today... Just incredible.

From the castle hill we descended back down towards the Old Town via the Lesser Town! The Lesser Town is almost as old as the castle and is originally where many of the castle’s staff once lived. It has the small twisty, streets similar to the Old Town and is just a great spot to stop for a cuppa (which is just what we did).

We then crossed over the Charles Bridge. The bridge was built by King Charles after the wooden bridge that linked the Castle to the Old Town burnt down. He replaced the wooden bridge with a very beautiful stone bridge in the 1300s and it still well and truly stands today!

I think that’s the thing that surprises me so much about Europe... many of the buildings, roads, bridges are all hundreds of years old yet still function just as they would have when they were first built!

Finished our walk in the Jewish Quarter which today really is only two synagogues and the old town hall. The synagogue is pretty amazing... it is the oldest in the world that is still in active use and was first built in the 13th C. It’s quite intimate and quaint inside and really feels like a place of worship.

Finished the day by enjoying a Czech Goulash on the main market square with a few of the other walkers from our tour. Great way to end a really long walk!

Posted by weary_feet 11:23 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (0)

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