Confuzzledom

Just a place for me to gather my thoughts


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Hiking in Taroko National Park

Our second to last day in Taiwan was spent hiking in Taroko National Park/Taroko Gorge. First, we stopped at the visitor centre to see which trails were open that day and (more importantly) which were most suitable for our very unfit selves. We decided to start with the Shakadang Trail, as it was right next to the visitor’s centre. Unfortunately, only 1.4 km of the trail was open on that day due to a rockfall further down. What we were able to see of the trail was beautiful though, and the shortish walk was a good introduction to the day.

Having finished the part of the Shakadang Trail that we were allowed on, we headed back to the car and drove on to Bulouwan Recreation Area, where we stopped for lunch. There were three different set menus, each being served with soup, rice, tofu and some other vegetables. Jan went for a beef stew with ginger while I chose the pork ribs (I had originally wanted another pork dish, but there was none left). I didn’t take any photos unfortunately, but the food was delicious. And I even managed to eat my ribs with chop sticks – not easy I can tell you! Once we’d eaten, we headed up to the upper terrace (the restaurant is on the lower terrace) where there’s a short walk called the Bamboo Trail. The walk itself is fairly boring to be honest, but there were tonnes of butterflies so that was nice.

Butterflies at Buluowan

Butterflies at Buluowan

Next, we decided to do the Swallow Grotto trail, as it’s supposed to be one of the most impressive in the National Park (the Nine Tunnels trail is even better according to the visitor information but was closed on that day). You’re supposed to wear a helmet on this trail in case of rockfalls, but we only figured out after we had walked the trail where you’re supposed to get them from! Lots of people were walking through bare-headed though – only the people from tour buses actually had helmets! I spent half the walk nervously staring at the cliffs towering above me praying nothing would fall down, but the views made it all worth it.

By the way, there are actually swallows in the grotto – it’s not just a name! They’re way too fast to photograph though, so I took one of this guy instead ;-)

Taiwan

We ended our day of hiking with a visit to the Changchun Shrine/Eternal Spring Shrine, which was on the way back to Hualien. This is the shrine:

Eternal Spring Shrine

Eternal Spring Shrine

And again from closer up:

Eternal Spring Shrine

Eternal Spring Shrine

There wasn’t all that much water when we were there, but it still looked beautiful. I can only imagine how impressive it must be after a lot of rain! Behind the shrine, there’s the start of a trail that leads from the shrine to the Changuang Temple. The entire loop takes 50 minutes to walk, but we only went as far as the bell tower (the highest point) then decided to come back down before it got dark. There are a lot of stairs to climb on this trail – it was certainly the most strenuous of all our walks that day! – but once again the views from the top are well worth it. The bell tower was built to comemorate all the people who died while building the highway through the gorge (it’s pretty dangerous down there – there are signs everywhere telling you to watch out for rock falls!)

Once we were done with our hike, we drove back to Hualien, stopping briefly another walk around the market where we each bought a cold drink made with fruit and milk. There were hundreds of varieties to choose from, but not being able to read Chinese we went with some of the fruits that were on display because we could simply point at those ;-) I chose Mango and Guava. Jan’s drink also contained mango and I don’t remember what his second fruit was. While we were there, I finally managed to get photographic evidence of the duck heads that were on sale everywhere ;-)

We were both tired after our long day of hiking in the sunshine, so after a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up we decided to be proper tourists and head to the Steakhouse immediately next door for dinner. I know… eating Western food in Asia. Terrible! We had tried a lot of Asian food by this point though. Jan had quite a lot of Taiwanese money to get rid of, so he said I could order anything I wanted. We each chose the set menu, which consisted of a salad (I had potato salad), a Taiwanese style soup, a bowl of what I am convinced was Heinz Cream of Chicken Soup, the steak itself and a desert. I think that’s everything – there were a lot of courses! Iced tea was also served throughout the meal with numerous refills and at the end we could choose another drink – I went for lavender tea because it sounded so interesting! Here’s my steak dish before I gave my fried egg to Jan:

Taiwan

We were absolutely stuffed after all that food! Luckily, as I mentioned, the hotel was right next door, so we didn’t have far to go before we could collapse on our bed, with full stomachs and aching legs!

We’re almost at the end of my adventure now. All that’s left is to tell you about our drive up the East coast from Hualien back to Taipei (more stunningly gorgeous views!) and our final meal in Taiwan before returning to the airport for our 11 p.m. flight.

~ I am counting my week in Taiwan as my August 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge with Clare from Need Another Holiday. This trip also counts towards my 35 Before 35, item: Visit a continent I’ve never been to before ~


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Sun Moon Lake and driving through the mountains

I’m about halfway through the trip to Taiwan now. After this, there’ll be two more posts.
Thursday was another early start. The hotel we were staying at next to Sun-Moon Lake was the least westernised of the three hotels we stayed in. The staff spoke very little English and all the other guests were Asian. Understandably, the breakfast was also very Asian. I ate some kind of vegetable omelette, noodles with (I think) pickled vegetables and some slices of what we think was sweet potato. There was also toast and jam for the less adventurous tourist. The breakfast room was two floors above our room and gave a better view of the lake.

After breakfast, we checked out, picked up the car and were off for a drive around the lake. Our first stop was at the Wen Wu Temple, which was built after two other temples had to be torn down due to rising water caused by the building of a dam. I said the temple we visited in Taipei was beautiful, but it was nothing compared to this one. Everywhere you looked something screamed out to have its photo taken, and when you tired of looking at the temple, you could turn around and see a stunning view of the lake. Here are just a few of the photos I took. Sadly, my crappy little camera couldn’t do it anywhere near the justice it deserves.

It was another boiling hot day, so before leaving the temple we treated ourselves to an iced tea, then we drove on around the lake. We stopped again at a pier that I don’t remember the name of (if anyone recognises the view please let me know!). It was incredibly crowded there and, as I’ve mentioned, another boiling hot day. Also, we had a long drive ahead of us, so after taking a few photos we moved on.

Once we’d driven all the way round the lake and almost back to where we’d started, we switched the sat nav back on and set off towards Hualien. Now, as the crow flies, Hualien and Sun Moon Lake aren’t actually that far apart, but the only way to get from one to the other is via the cross-country highway, which leads through the mountains. Basically, to drive from Sun Moon Lake to Taroko National Park (or vice versa), you need to plan in an entire day. Which is why, not long after we started going up into the mountains, we decided to stop and buy some food. At the rest stop, we came across the tiniest little kitty.

Taiwan

We purchased chocolate cake, milk and chocolate mini cookies and some bizarre jam sandwich type things – two slices of white bread without crusts that had been filled with strawberry jam and somehow sealed around the edges. Then we were on our way again, occasionally stopping to admire the view. Here are a few photos I took during our drive – sometimes we were in the clouds, other times we had an amazing view of the mountains below us.

At some point on our drive, we noticed that there was some red tape across the road and a bunch of cars had stopped. We stopped too and Jan got out to find out what was going on. It turned out some workers were securing part of the mountain that had become unsafe due to a rock fall. The section of road was closed, apart from for 10 minutes on every hour when cars would be allowed to pass. We had arrived in between two hours, so we only had to wait about 20 minutes. Then, at 4 p.m., the workers stopped what they were doing (which mostly seemed to involve throwing huge boulders down on to the road!) and the queue of cars was allowed to make its way slowly through the dangerous section of road. Nature at its terrible best! That was the only incident we encountered along the way, and a couple of hours later we were driving through the Taroko Gorge then finally in to Hualien. Having checked in, got rid of the car and dumped our bags, it was time to go in search of food. A piece of paper in our room told us how to get to Hualien night market, so that’s where we headed. We bought one of each of the three types of dumplings pictured below.

Taiwan

The left one is pork and spring onion (my favourite!), the middle is some kind of green vegetable – not sure what, and the right one contained mainly cabbage and (I think) mushroom. I didn’t really like that one. We then found a kind of bar/grill place, so we decided to sit there for a while. They had all kinds of beer from all over the world, but of course we chose ones from Taiwan.

One of the bar workers offered us some shrimps (?) on sticks, so we decided to give them a try. They were coated in some kind of curry powder and tasted quite nice. I wasn’t brave enough to eat the head and tail, but after being told it was ok Jan did eat one whole. Later, Jan ordered some of a larger variety. I only ate one of those – I found it tasted bitter and not very nice, but Jan liked them. And we also decided to try a local craft beer that the bar had on offer. That was very nice! (And washed away the horrid taste of whatever that seafood on a stick was!)

Tasty beer and interesting food was the perfect way to round off our day of driving through the mountains.

~ Taiwan was my August 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge with Clare at Need Another Holiday and also counts towards my 35 before 35; item: Visit a continent I’ve never been to before ~


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921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan and Sun Moon Lake by night

On Wednesday, 27 August 2014, we left Taipei and set off down the West coast of Taiwan. It’s not a very interesting drive by the way – the motorway goes nowhere near the water and all the towns are industrial with very little to see – which is why every single guide book tells you to drive along the East coast (don’t worry, we did that on the way back… and it was spectacular!). Our destination was Sun-Moon Lake, but on the way we decided to stop at the 921 Earthquake Museum of Taiwan (formerly called the Earthquake Memorial Museum). The museum is a memorial to an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale that hit central Taiwan on 21 September 1999 and is located at the site of the former Guangfu Junior High School (some sources say elementary school), which was destroyed in the earthquake. The buildings have all basically been left as they were (with some propping up for safety!) so visitors can see the entire extent of the destruction. After paying for your entrance ticket, the first area of the museum you enter is the Chelungpu Fault Gallery, which crosses the actual fault line along which the earthquake struck. In there, you can see various photos of the aftermath of the earthquake – fallen bridges, destroyed railway tracks, collapsed buildings and people in emergency accommodation. After the gallery, the route takes you outside where you can see the school buildings. Luckily the earthquake struck at about 1 a.m. so nobody was in school at the time! Here are some of the photos I took:

(Click on the photos to see larger versions and read my captions)

There was also an Earthquake Engineering Hall in one of the former school buildings. In the hall, there was lots of information about how to build earthquake-proof buildings and secure items within your home against earthquakes. There were also various “hands-on” exhibits, where you could, for example, build various types of houses then simulate an earthquake and see which one collapsed first. The information board in the photos above is from the Earthquake Engineering Hall. Next, we headed into a newer building where there was a 3D film showing a story about the earthquake. The film was obviously aimed at children, but there were a few interesting bits. Then we moved on to another room. There, we were told to choose a cushion to sit on and not to move once the show had started. On one side of the room were objects that were just randomly placed on shelves, while on the other there were items that had been properly secured. First we were shown images of an ordinary school day (supposedly the day before the earthquake), then came a simulation of the 1999 earthquake. The lights went out – because it happened at 1 a.m. when it was dark – and the room shook. There was a brief pause, then came the aftershock. Once the quake was over, the screen continued to show images from the actual rescue effort that followed the earthquake. Then the lights came back on and we could see which how well the objects on each side of the room had survived the earthquake. All in all, the museum was a real eye-opener, especially coming from a country where an earthquake means a tiny tremor that may or may not even be noticeable. Seeing the devastation that the quake caused was sobering and certainly made you think about the power of nature! There is also a geological museum at the site which looked to have a lot of information, but unfortunately we were in a bit of a hurry by that point. Entrance to the earthquake museum is inexpensive and I would certainly recommend it! It’s a bit out of the way and I’m not sure how you’d get to it without a car, but I imagine there’d be bus trips from somewhere in the area.

Once we left the museum, we headed straight for our hotel beside Sun-Moon Lake. By the time we got there, it was clouding over and a few drops of rain had started to fall. Here’s the view from our hotel room window just before the heavens properly opened:

We had a “lake view” room, but mostly we saw the ticket office for the boats ;-) After dropping off our suitcases, we decided to head out despite the fact that it was now raining quite heavily. Food was needed as all we’d had all day was breakfast and a bag of M&Ms from a service station we stopped at on the road! First we headed down to the lake, of course.

Unfortunately it doesn’t quite unfold it’s true beaty in torrential rain ;-) Also, I’ve no idea what happened with the last photo… I’ve only just seen how blurry it is! After looking at the lake we went into a little souvenir shop where I bought postcards and we sampled then bought some rice wine. After wandering around for a bit and getting very wet, we finally decided where to go for food. It was a little road-side stand, but behind it was what looked like a converted garage with a few tables and chairs in! We chose one of each of the things in offer, all deep fried parcels. In the left-hand photo below you can see at the back a long, thin parcel which contained pork, cheese and onions, on the right a round one filled with cabbage and mushrooms and on the left a sort of flatish one that was filled with seaweed. We both loved the pork and cheese one so much that we ordered a second (that would be the terrible photo on the right ;-) ).

I wasn’t overly keen on the cabbage/mushroom one (I’m not a massive fan of cabbage and hate mushrooms!), but thought the seaweed one was tasty enough. I’ve already told you what we thought of the other one ;-) To go with our food, we were given a large cup of sweet iced tea. All Taiwanese cold drinks are sweet! Even the bottles of fruit juice had added sugar.

By the time we’d eaten, it was dark and late, so back to the hotel we went for a good night’s sleep before a full day of driving over mountains the following day! Before bed, I attempted to take a photo of the lake in the dark…

Taiwan

Yeah, the less said about it the better ;-) In my next post, you can look forward to some better photos of Sun-Moon Lake. I can promise you it is stunningly beautiful! Until next time, folks.

~ Taiwan was my August 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge with Clare from Need Another Holiday. It also counts towards my 35 Before 35, item: Visit a continent I’ve never been to before ~


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Taipei, Taiwan

Our first stop in Taiwan was Taipei, partly because it’s the capital city so it seemed like a good idea but also partly for the fairly obvious reason that it’s where we had to fly to! Jan had already been in Taiwan a week at that stage, but in a place just outside Taipei where the conference he was attending was being held. He moved to our hotel the day before I arrived and came to pick me up from the airport when I landed. We then picked up the rental car that Jan had booked for the week and drove to Taipei. I landed at around 4:30 p.m. so by the time I’d picked up my suitcase and we’d driven back to Taipei it was fairly late. I had a quick shower then there was only one thing to do… head out for food! We decided to head to the Shilin Night Market, which is among the most famous night markets. We ate spicy meat on sticks (like kebabs) and then steamed bread dumplings – one filled with meat and spices and one filled with either spring onion or chives. Both were delicious. Here are a few impressions from the market:

The next morning, we headed out bright and early after breakfast. It was already over 30°C and very humid, but since this was our only day in Taipei, out we had to go! Our first stop was Lungshan Temple (or Longshan… there are different spellings) because it had been recommended to Jan. It was certainly beautiful, but extremely crowded. A little boy burnt me with an incense stick! My favourite part was all the brightly coloured dragons adorning various parts of the roof. I took quite a few photos of them because I loved the way they looked against the bright blue sky.

Next, we headed towards the Dadaocheng district. Jan said there weren’t any useful Metro stops along the way, so we decided to walk. It was boiling hot and while we were walking we didn’t see a single place to buy a cold drink! Where we were staying, there were iced tea places on every corner, but not on the way to Dadaocheng! By the time we got there, I was so hot and thirsty I thought I might faint! We bought some what we thought was water at a tiny, dusty shop. Actually, it turned out to be something called “No Sweat”, a horridly sweet, vaguely medicinal tasting drink that I assume is supposed to be consumed after sports. I drank half of it anyway just because it was cold. The Dadaocheng District is one of the oldest parts of Taiwan. We walked down a street that seemed to consist solely of shops selling dried fruits and medicinal herbs. Seriously, every shop had the same selection of dried fruits! I wonder how any of them stay in business! At the top of the street was a little park with a statue of the Taiwanese songwriter Lee Lin-Chiu. An information board said that he used to live in the district and wrote many of his songs there.

On our way back down the street, we bought ice creams made using bean curd. They were interesting! Not as sweet as the icecream I’m used to. Them, since the main train station wasn’t too far away, we decided to go there because Jan wanted to show it to me and we could take the Metro from there. The main hall is huge, but feels surprisingly uncrowded! We spotted a bubble tea stand and decided to grab a drink. I wasn’t too impressed! You can see my reaction here. Then we hopped on a Metro, quickly stopped off at the hotel to pick up some more money and have a wash then headed to the 101 tower – probably Taipei’s most famous landmark. We got there just as the sun was setting, which made for a nice view. It then got dark very quickly!

Once we’d finished at the top of the tower, we headed back down to the bottom where there was a food court. We each took a set menu consisting of a soup, noodle dish and something else. Mine was supposed to come with pig’s blood soup but I was given the fish/meat soup from all the other menus. Not being able to speak Chinese, I’m not sure whether there was no pig’s blood soup or she assumed that as a Westerner I wouldn’t really want it. My shrimp sticks were delicious. In the picture below, on the plate behind the soup bowl furthest from me is oyster omelette… the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth! Even caviar (which I hate) is nothing compared to oyster slime! The meaty bits of oyster themselves were surprisingly okay, but the slime… ugh! Nothing could have prepared me for that!

Food, glorious(?) food!

Food, glorious(?) food!

Once we were back outside, we spent quite some time trying to take photos of the lit up tower (not easy without a tripod!), then it was time to head back to the hotel and repack our suitcases ready to leave for our next destination the following morning.

~ Taiwan was my August trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge with Claire at Need Another Holiday. It also counts towards my 35 before 35 as the destination for “Visit a continent I’ve never been to before~


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“Mainhattan”

For the final day of my brother’s visit, Jan, my brother, my friend K and I headed to Frankfurt am Main, or – as the Germans jokingly like to call it – Mainhattan (because it’s on the River Main and has “skyscrapers” – although nothing compared to the ones in the actual Manhattan, I’m sure!) Our first stop was the German Film Museum. My brother is a Film Studies graduate, so I thought he might enjoy this museum – and I was correct. He told me afterwards that it was nice to see all the equipment in “real life” rather than just as pictures in a text book! The first floor of the museum is all about the history of film and moving pictures, and there are various replica items that you can look through, try out, etc. Upstairs, there’s a bit about actual films with information about various techniques, music, etc. and some computers where you can edit a film sequence yourself or play with music. Finally, on the thrid floor, is a special exhibition, which was about surrealism when we were there. The entire museum was very interesting and we ended up actually having to rush the last floor because we’d booked somewhere else and were going to be late!

After the film museum, we had a booking for an English tour at the Frankfurt version of Dialog im Dunkeln (Dialogue in the Dark). Some of you might remember me writing about my experience with the one in Vienna (if not, you can read it here.) It seems Frankfurt is the original. Here’s a photo my brother took showing the various Dialogues around the world:

Dialog im Dunkeln

If there is one near you I can highly recommend it! I preferred our guide in Vienna, but the experience in Frankfurt was still interesting. Most of the obstacles, etc. were the same (there was even a “boat” at both), but one thing I found interesting in this one was the café at the end. In Vienna, it was just a bar, which we stood at and were served by our guide. Here, there were other people working behind the bar and once we’d purchased our drinks, we went and sat at a table, which meant finding our way over there in the dark and sitting down without spilling anything. We had hoped that with four of us booked on the tour we could go in alone, but alas a group of three had also booked an English tour, so we were seven. Not that that’s a problem, but with fewer people I think there might have been more opportunites to actually use our sticks without banging into someone!

By the time we were finished with Dialogue, we were hungry! We’d spotted a Vapianos near where we parked the car, so we decided to go there. For those who don’t know, Vapianos is a chain of Italian restaurants where the food is prepared fresh. Pasta is made in front of your eyes, while if you order pizza you receive a buzzer that goes off once your meal is ready. I chose a white pizza with courgetteand goat’s cheese, which was very nice. Then it was off to town to show my brother around a bit. We parked near the river, so that was our first stop.

You can totally see why it's "Mainhattan", right? ;-)

You can totally see why it’s “Mainhattan”, right? ;-)

After a looot of walking, we eventually ended up at the Römer (a mediaeval building that’s now City Hall) – probably the most photographed building in Frankfurt! Of course, I took more photos of it (and the square – Römerplatz), despite the fact that I’ve been there before. And why not? It’s the only part of Frankfurt city centre I actually really like ;-) By the way, the balcony on the Römer is usually where the German football team presents tmeselves when they come back from a competition, except this year they didn’t because the decision was made to have the “welcome back world champions!” celebration in Berlin instead. Random fact for you!

The Römer

The Römer

Römerplatz

Römerplatz

With the Römer done and all of us feeling pretty tired of walking (remember, we’d walked all around the musseum, too!) it was time to head back to the car and home. My brother needed to pack and I had work the next day, so we didn’t want to stay out too late!

And that concludes my series of posts about my brother’s visit. Next stop on my travels: Taiwan!


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A photo an hour: 13 September 2014

On Saturday, Janey from Is That You Darling? hosted the September edition of her monthly A Photo an Hour linkup. I was quite excited to take part this time as I had actual plans for the day. For once a photo an hour post that wouldn’t consist solely of me drinking endless cups of tea and maybe going food shopping! Naturally, I was in ;-) So here’s my day at the Wurstmarkt wine festival recorded in one photo per hour.

9 a.m. (I actually got up at 8:30 but forgot it was photo an hour day until after I’d showered). Deciding what to wear is difficult in the current changeable weather conditions!

clothing

10 a.m. Breakfast time! Tea is definitely needed.

Tea and toast

11 a.m. On the train with our tickets (actually, I have a Bahncard 100 so this isn’t my ticket)

Ticket

12 noon. Waiting for our second train to leave. Here’s a terrible picture of Neustadt train station.

Neustadt Weinstraße

1 p.m. Made it! Now to have a walk around and see what food’s on offer.

Wurstmarkt

2 p.m. Food eaten (wild boar Bratwurst and wild boar Saumagen with potato salad – yum!), now for my first glass of wine. Mindful of the long day of wine drinking ahead of us, I went for Schorle (spritzer).

Weinschorle

3 p.m. Selecting my next wine – in the Weindorf area, they have proper menus (and table decorations – notice the plant under the menu)

Wine list

4 p.m. Still drinking Weinschorle in the same tent, so to avoid taking the same photo again (it was a different wine, but it looked the same!) I went with a a selfie in my friend’s sock monkey hat.

Sock monkey selfie

5 p.m. Time to try some different wines in the slightly less posh area – no cushions on the seats here!

Wurstmarkt 2014

6 p.m. Entertainment! A mini “marching band” was playing next to the wine hut thingy we were in.

Wurstmarkt

7 p.m. On to another hut for some different wines. Hmm, what to choose?

Wine list

8 p.m. Moooore wine! Going down nicely ;-)

Wine

9 p.m. Off back to the train station. We came across this fountain on the way.

Fountain

10 p.m. We had to change trains twice on the way home, this photo was taken on train number 2.

Train

10:20 p.m. Bonus photo! We changed trains for the second time in Winden, where we were reunited with the model geese we discovered there last year. Here I am getting reacquainted with my goosey friend ;-)

Goose

11 p.m. We arrived back in Karlsruhe to find this going on at the train station. I have no idea what it was all about! (I’ve blurred out some faces because German privacy laws are strict and I’m paranoid about being punished.)

dancers

And that’s my final photo. By midnight, Jan and I were already tucked up in bed with our glasses of water, a fun day having been had by all. The Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim is the world’s largest wine festival. In 2014, it’s on for one final weekend – from 18-21 September. If you’re in the area, get yourself down there. You won’t regret it!

You can see what the other participants in the linkup got up to on this day by going to Jane’s blog post.


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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.

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