Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


14 Comments

A day in the Black Forest

After a day in Strasbourg and a day in Basel, on the Friday of my brother’s visit, we decided to just relax. After a lie in, we made crumpets for brunch, went out for a round of mini golf then, in the evening, my friend came over and we watched How to Train Your Dragon as I hadn’t seen it before and said friend had asked me to go to the cinema with her the following week to see the second one. Saturday was back to day trips! Having been to two different countries, I thought it was about time to see some of the local(ish) area, so we headed off into the Schwarzwald. Our first stop was Neuenbürg, or rather the castle above the town.

Black Forest

Looking down from Neunbürg castle

When we arrived, the castle museum in the main building wasn’t open yet, so we went and had a look at the ruins of the “Hinterburg” (literally “back or behind castle), an older building that was presumably used before the present-day castle was built. My photos of it are terrible! Sorry about that…

Once we’d finished exploring the ruins, we decided to head for the restaurant for a coffee while we waited for the museum to open. Once we were brought menus, we decided that, actually, we might as well have lunch since it was already after 12. We each chose to have a Pfanno – a speciality of the restaurant that’s somewhere between a pancake, a pizza and an omlette. It has too much egg to really be a pancake, and it tastes a lot like an omlette, but itthe savoury ones looked kind of like a pizza with the toppings. I went for the tuna version while my brother went for a sweet version with apple and cinnamon. Jan had the Elsass style one (not pictured), which basically had traditional Flammkuchen style topping – bacon, onions and creme fraiche. They were tasty, but very filling! I couldn’t actually finish mine.

By the time we’d finished eating the museum was open and it was also starting to rain (the only time we had bad weather throughout my brother’s stay!), so inside was a good place to be! The museum begins with a retelling of a fairycalled “Das kalte Herz” (The Cold Heart). To go with the stories, there are wood carvings and light sillhouettes of the various characters. My brother was given a set of headphones so he could listen to the story in English. It was kind of a weird thing to find in a castle museum, but somehow cute.

The remainder of the museum had general stuff about the castle and local area. At the end was an exhibition of architects collected from people living in the town, including old games. I took the following picture because the sign amused me:

Schloss Neunbürg

All the things in that particular display case had to do with the railway. For those who don’t read German, the sign says “No smoking and no spitting on the floor.” Hahaha.

By the time we left the castle, it was raining pretty heavily, so our original plan of a possible work in the woods was out. Instead, we headed to Hirsau in the Calw region because I had read there was an Abbey museum there. Museum = indoors! Unfortunately, there was no English information in the museum so I ended up translating things for my brother! The first 2 floors were about the church that the museum is located in and the abbey/life of the monks, then there was a floor with information about Hirsau and the surrounding area, including an album of old photos. Once we’d finished with the museum, it had stopped raining and we were able to head over to the ruins of the abbey itself.

Outside the little chapel (the Lady Chapel), there was a tonne of rose petals on the ground. Since there was no rose bush to be seen, I can only assume somebody had married in the chapel that day and had rose petals strewn on them. What a gorgeous setting to get married! Shame about the awful weather.

I had seen on Facebook that The Seán Treacy Band, who have been mentioned on this blog before, were playing in a village called Schömberg, also not far from Calw, so we decided to finish our day by going to see them perform. The village was having its Glückswoche (happiness/luck week) and there was a mini festival going on. We ate spiralled potatoes on sticks, sausages (my brother) and pork steaks (me), had a few drinks and watched the first half of the band’s performance before heading back to Karlsruhe for the night.


16 Comments

The loveliness of Mainz

Mainz

Mainz Marktplatz

On Friday, I had to go to Mainz for a two-day seminar on the world of banks. I was worried that it would be boring, but the presenter did an excellent job of explaining things in an interesting and understandable manner. Always a bonus!

So, it turns out Google Map directions are crap! I took the train to Mainz Römisches Theater, which the seminar holder had said was the nearest train station, and followed a mixture of instructions from Google Maps and the website of the place to get into town. It was all fine to start with, but then Google Maps tried to make me go in a massive circle around the building to approach it from the other side while the website instructions simply said “walk straight down the street until you see the destination on the other side”. Needless to state, I went straight ahead. Silly Google…

After the first day’s seminar, I hung around for a bit with the others who were staying in Mainz and didn’t have plans so that we could arrange to meet up for dinner, then I headed off to find my hotel. The Google maps directions were fine up to a point, then they suddenly stopped making sense. I then bumped into another girl from the seminar who it turned out was looking for the same hotel. We compared maps and found that Google wanted both of us to “take the steps”… except there were no steps on that street! We eventually asked somebody, who said he’d never heard of that hotel or the street it was on, but the streets surrounding it were definitely on the other side of the train tracks. We were standing next to a bridge at the time, so we went under that then started comparing our maps to the street names again. At that point, a woman came up and asked whether we needed any help. She did know the hotel and was able to give us directions (basically follow this hill allll the way round until you get to a REWE. The hotel is next door). Lovely Mainz person number one :-)

We’d taken so long to get to the hotel that I only had time to quickly wash my face and renew my deodorant before heading back out. Part way down the hill I actually spotted some steps. As I was hesitating at the top wondering whether that was what Google had meant, a voice behind me asked whether I needed any help. I said I was just trying to get back to the cathedral area and was wondering whether these steps led anywhere useful. The guy replied that this was the shortcut and that he could tell me where to go. We then went down the stairs and I found myself ona platform at the Römisches Theater train station! So if those were indeed the stairs Google meant, it would probably have helped to be told to go through the station! Helpful Mainz guy then pointed out the ruins of the actual Römisches Theater (Roman Theatre) beside us… I had been wondering! I knew where I was now, so my “saviour” and I parted at the front of the station and I headed off on my way. Thanks to the shortcut, I ended up being early to meet the others and had some time to take photos of the old town. It was a gorgeous day, and the blue skies made the pretty buildings look even better!

I recognised these buildings from when I was in Mainz for the Christmas market If you look closely at the top right-hand corner, you can just about spot where the weird concrete/glass shopping area starts. Soooo not in keeping with its gorgeous old town surroundings!

Mainz

This is where we had the seminar. It’s a weird place, with many twists and turns. We had to go through the cafeteria to get to our seminar room, and finding the toilets was an adventure in itself!

Mainz

After we’d eaten, I headed back to my hotel. It was easy to find now I knew the way! I took the shortcut through the station again, and since it was still light I grabbed a few snaps of the old theatre. The next day, with some time to spare before my train left, I climbed the stairs again and took some photos from above. This is a combination of the photos from both days:

Back at the hotel, my first act was to fling open the window. Outside, things had actually cooled down for the first time in days (actually, as far as I know Mainz had been cooler in the evening all along…) but inside the room it was still hot. I lay on the bed savouring the breeze and following the BBC live stream of the Netherlands match (my TV appeared to be broken). Mainz is on the flight path for Frankfurt Airport so I also got to see some planes coming in.

Can you see it?

Can you see it?

After breakfast the next morning I checked out and headed off for day two of the seminar. We started earlier on Saturday, but were also finished earlier than planned, meaning I was able to get a train home at  5 p.m. instead of the 6:15 that I had originally planned! The seminar was interesting and this time Mainz had showed me its lovely side (the old town, of course, but especially the people – who I would literally have been lost without!).


26 Comments

A meeting with some expats in Heidelberg

A while ago, Charlotte from Sherbet and Sparkles suggested that the English-speaking bloggers in Germany should arrange a meet up (that’s a long-winded way of saying expat bloggers purely so that I can avoid referring to myself as such ;-)). The meetup location was Heidelberg – which I was happy about because it’s incredibly easy for me to get to – and the chosen date was Saturday 26 April.

Before I left, I was both excited and nervous. What if I couldn’t find everyone? And what if nobody liked me when I did? Luckily, my fellow bloggers were all just as lovely in person as online and I managed not to make a fool of myself or accidently say anything weird or offensive… at least I don’t think I did. And if I did, then I apologise!
Despite the weather forecast’s claims that it would be cold and cloudy, it actually turned out to be a lovely day. My raincoat was quickly relegated to my handbag as we enjoyed a lovely walk up to the castle and then around its grounds.

Having seen all the castle had to offer (including the giant wine barrel, which claims to be the world’s largest… as does the one in Bad Dürkheim. I shall refrain from hazarding a guess as to which one’s lying, but will say that the one in Bad Dürkheim has never actually contained wine…), it was time to head into town for lunch. We ended up going to Café Knösel, mostly because we happened to be near it at the time and it had a decent choice of food (including a few vegetarian items). Also, those with access to TripAdvisor were able to find out that it had good reviews. Steven has since discovered that it’s actually the oldest café in Heidelberg, so it seems we accidently picked something traditional ;-) I had the Flammkuchen with spinach and goat’s cheese, which was delicious. I loooove goat’s cheese! No photo for you because I’d eaten it all before the thought even occurred to me…

After lunch, we headed down to the bridge – the Karl-Theodor-Brücke (also known as the Alte Brücke, Old Bridge) – which was just around the corner. Steven discovered these cute little metal mice that I had never noticed before in all my visits to Heidelberg. Thanks Steven!

DSCN9622

On the bridge, a group photo was taken and we all admired the view of the castle. We also spotted some ducklings down on the riverbank, but my zoom didn’t stretch far enough to get a photo of them. Never mind, here are some shots of the castle and bridge:

Sadly, Frau Dietz and her gorgeous baby son had to leave us after the bridge, but the rest of us continued on to the Studentnkarzer – student prison. This was another thing that I did not know was in Heidelberg! How do I miss these things? The prison is unique to the University of Heidelberg and was in use from 1823–1914. Students could be sent to prison for offences such as being drunk and disorderly, messing with the police or fighting. Many o the prisoners documented their “crime” on the walls… for example, one rhyme told of how a student being “concerned about the police getting their rest” snuck into the guard room at the poolice station and switched off the gas lamp. You could be sent to prison for anything from a few days to several weeks – the writing on the wall in one room told of how a student had been sentenced to four weeks! There was no mention of what he had done though. (All the prisoners were male by the way – the first females were admitted to Heidelberg University in 1900, but apparantly they managed to behave themselves for the next four years until the prison closed). The prison has been preserved in pretty much its original state, with all the old graffiti on the walls and the original furniture – although the straw mattresses that would probably have been on the beds are no more.

The ticket for the student jail also includes the University Museum and the Große Aula (Great Hall). There were no halls at my university that looked like this, I can tell you!

Heidelberg

With the sun now firmly out, our final stop of the day was for frozen yoghurt… or FroYo. I had never tried it before and I must say I’m grateful to everyone for introducing me to this delicious treat!

Frozen yoghurt

Yoghurt eaten, the group slowly strolled down Hauptstraße (the main street) to Bismarckplatz (Bismarck Square) where we caught a tram back to the main station then carried on back to our final destinations. I can’t speak for the others, but I certainly thought the day was a success, and I hope we can do it again some time.

The other bloggers I met up with were (in no particular order):
Charlotte from Sherbet and Sparkles
Frau Dietz from Eating Wiesbaden
Kathleen from Leher Werkstatt
Steven from Doin’ Time on the Donau
Jordan from Beer time with Wagner
Nina from Indie Rock Kid

Go check out their blogs and say hi to them… they’re a fantastic bunch.


18 Comments

Gutenbergplatz Weekly Market, Karlsruhe

tea stallThe market on Gutenbergplatz is Karlsruhe’s oldest weekly market… and, according to all the people who told me to go there, also the nicest. It’s probably the largest, too, along with the one on Stephansplatz, which it alternates days with. I’ve been meaning to go ever since I first heard about it two years ago, but until now I’d never made it. Everybody I spoke to recommended getting there early and, let’s face it, I’m far too lazy to get up early on a Saturday, especially since Gutenbergplatz isn’t exactly around the corner from where I live! But the Take 12 Trips challenge gave me just the kick up the backside I needed to actually drag myself out of bed and head on over there.

According to the Karlsruhe city website (view it here, in German only), the Wochenmarkt Gutenbergplatz ( Weekly Market on Gutenberg Square) takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. Both Tuesday and Thursday are out for me – I’m already on my way to work by that time – and there was absolutely no was I was going to be anywhere near Gutenbergplatz that early on a Saturday, but I did manage to get myself there for 5 to 10, which is still pretty early – especially considering I walked there, which took me half an hour! Yep… I definitely think this can be counted as a trip. I even took a couple of photos for you on the way there, almost like a real tourist ;-).

As well as the usual fruit & vegetable and flower stalls, this market has stands with spices, fresh herbs, tea, cheese and various international specialities – I saw a stand selling Asian goods, a van with Italian goods (lots of parmesan!) and a stall selling “südländische Spezialitäten” – literally Mediterranean specialities, but what I saw there mainly looked Turkish and Greek. And, being Germany, there of course had to be bread! I spotted two vans selling various different kinds, both with huge queues in front of them. Here are a few photos. I apologise for the terrible quality of some… in such situations, I’m always paranoid that the stall owner might tell me off for taking photos of their wares instead of buying them!

The square itself is actually really pretty as well, although it’s difficult to notice it. Here’s a photo that might give you some idea of how nice the old buildings are:

Gutenbergplatz

The trees also look much nicer when they’re in bloom or completely covered in leaves. There are two fountains on the North side of square – the Krautkopfbrunnen and the Pelikanbrunnen – but neither has been switched on yet. It went cold again last week though, so they’re probably waiting to be sure that the spring is going to stay!
And now for tourist information part…

What: Weekly market
Where: Gutenbergplatz, between Gutenbergstraße and Nelkenstraße, Karlsruhe Weststadt
When: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays starting at 7 a.m.
Nearest tram stop: Yorckstraße or Sophienstraße (more lines serve Yorckstraße)

The market is quite nice and certainly offers more choice than my own local market (which I think has about 6 stalls!). I wouldn’t say it’s something all visitors to Karlsruhe must see, but if you’re into markets and stuck for something to do on a Saturday give it a go! It’s a produce market though, so don’t expect to find clothes, books or anything of that sort! Saturday is probably the best day to go to that particular market as may of the stalls aren’t there on Tuesdays/Thursdays. Alternatively, if you’re around on a Friday, check out the market on Stephansplatz instead. It has many of the same stalls that go to Gutenbergplatz on a Saturday and is much more central (I believe Stephansplatz is considered to be “Innenstadtwest”, with the actual “centre” of town being the castle).

Do you like to get up early and go to the market? Or do you prefer sleeping in on a Saturday, like I normally do? Let me know in the comments.


14 Comments

Look Up, Look Down – Signs

This morning, my train was full of people dressed as monsters and snake charmers and ladybirds, all drinking beer and wine at 7:30 a.m. I assume they were all on their way to Cologne for schmutziger Donnerstag (Wikipedia tells me it’s actually schmotziger Donnerstag, but in my region it’s schmutzig!), aka Fat Thursday – not to be confused with Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras). It’s the last Thursday before lent and part of the Fastnacht/Fasching/Carnival season. I’m not actually sure what schmutziger Donnerstag is for… apart from yet another excuse to wear costumes and get drunk. I would have tried to get some sneaky photos for you, but I fed to the quiet carriage with all the other commuters. The Fasching celebraters all had beer, wine and – most annoyingly – bells! Not what you want to put up with on the way to work. So instead, here’s my entry for the weekly Look Up – Look Down photo challenge with Travel With Intent.

When out and about, I often take photos of interesting signs and random features that I spot high up on the walls of buildings. All of the photos below were taken in Weil der Stadt.

Do you ever find yourself taking photos of random interesting signs? Which of the above is your favourite?


17 Comments

A spontaneous trip to Bruchsal

I woke up early on Saturday and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to take a spontaneous trip somewhere. I arrived at Karlsruhe train station with no real plan in mind, checked the board and decided to jump on a train to Bruchsal that was about to leave. Technically, I’ve been to Bruchsal before, but only to the castle so I had no idea what the town itself was like. I knew it wasn’t that big though, so I thought it would be the perfect place for wandering around by myself. In a proper city, I would only go and get myself lost! At Bruchsal train station, I had a quick look at a map, made a note of the general direction of the town centre then was on my way. Here are a few photos:

After about 45 minutes of walking around, I found myself at the castle. As I said earlier, I’ve been there before, so I didn’t go inside. There are some pretty interesting exhibits in there though – including the Deutsches Musikautomaten-Museum (German Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments) and an exhibition showing the history of Bruchsal from the Stone Age until now . I had a quick wander around the grounds, took some photos, then headed back to the station where a train was conveniently waiting for me to jump straight on!

In terms of tourism, Bruchsal isn’t actually all that interesting. There are some nice looking streets and a few parks, but the main attraction really is the castle. Once you’ve seen that, there isn’t actually a great deal to do. I definitely wouldn’t come from further afield specifically to visit Bruchsal! It was good enough for my purposes though – not too far from Karlsruhe and it got me out of the house for a few hours. I didn’t want to stay out for too long in case there was any word from England, so this gave me the perfect opportunity to explore a place that I didn’t really know without going too far away from home. If you’re ever in the area with an hour or so to spare, I would certainly recommend visiting the castle.


19 Comments

Travel Theme: Yellow

It’s been a while since I took part in one of Ailsa’s travel themes, so I thought it was about time I did another one. This time, the theme is yellow, so I thought I would start with some cheerful daffodils – one of my favourite flowers (along with poppies, but they’re not yellow).

daffodils

ObviouslyI had to get a lantern picture in somehow. ;-) This one was taken in Berlin.

Berlin lantern

I spotted this hot air balloon hovering over Karlsruhe a few years ago, and I just had to take a photo. Smile, everyone! (Coincidentally, the building it’s next to looks pretty yellow as well!)

balloon

Finally, a photo I’m particularly proud of… a night shot of Salzburg. I love the yellow (and red and blue and green) reflections of the lights in the water!

Salzburg by night

You only have today to get your entries in for the yellow theme – a new travel theme will be up tomorrow (Friday). But you should check out Ailsa’s yellow post anyway, if only for her seriously amazing photo of a goldfinch. And, of course, stop by her blog tomorrow to find out what the next travel theme is.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 501 other followers