A Sunday stroll

The sun actually came out today and I felt the need to get some fresh air, so I decided to go out for a walk.
First, I headed towards the train station. On the way there I spotted some daffodils dancing in the breeze.

daffodil

I walked along the front of the zoo, stopping to see whether I could spy the red pandas. On the photo below, you can see a red ball of fur curled up in the tree. The other panda was in a higher tree further along. Most of him was hidden behind a branch though, so I didn’t take a photo.

red panda

After calling in at the train station to see whether they still had my cross stitch magazine (they didn’t – I knew I should have bought all three last week!), I headed towards Beiertheimer Allee (a street leading towards the part of Karlsruhe called Beiertheim… although I actually walked down it away from Beiertheim). In the middle of the street, there’s a large area of green with paths leading through it and a play area part way down. When the sun comes out, the green area (it’s not a park or garden, really) is incredibly popular with parents pushing buggies, joggers and dogwalkers. I spotted more signs of spring in the grass.

flowers

Continuing my walk, I passed the Karlsruhe minigolf course… still closed for its winter break until 1st April.

mini golf

The play area that you can just about see beside the minigolf is actually inside the Stadtgarten bit of the zoo.
Leaving the minigolf course, I turned a corner and came to Festplatz, a square that houses the buildings belonging to the Karlsruhe Kongresszentrum (congress centre), where many conferences and trade fairs are held. The one pictured below is the Stadthalle (City Hall… not to confused with the Rathaus, which confusingly also means Town Hall or City Hall…).

Crossing over Festplatz, I made my way back to the Südstadt and home for lunch after a lovely walk in the Spring sunshine. If only we could have weather like this every weekend!

Durlach Mediaeval Christmas market

Last night, some friends and I went to Durlach to check out the Christmas market. Durlach is the largest district of Karlsruhe and its residents like to say that they are the “real” Karlsruhe because Durlach was there first! (Karlsruhe is a relatively new city, having only been founded in 1715). Like some of the other more remote districts of Karlsruhe, Durlach has its own Christmas market – a Mediaeval one! And what, you ask, makes a Mediaeval Christmas market different to an ordinary one? Well, along with the usual Glühwein, alcohol-free hot punch and hot chocolate with added spirits, Durlach Christmas market sells hot mead – which I actually find a lot nicer than the cold variety – and provides lots of wood fires for people to huddle around. (Apologies in advance for the quality of photos in this post – my camera doesn’t do too well with darkness!)

Fire

It’s also held in a square in front of a former castle, the Karlsburg, which now houses a museum and a school, among other things.

Karlsburg Durlach

There are stands selling all the usual Christmas market foods – Bratwurst, steaks, crepes and more – but something you don’t find at just any Christmas market is a pig on a spit! I didn’t try any of it this year, but I have in previous years and can assure you it’s delicious!

Pig on a spit

There are also stalls selling interesting things, like these bottle containing various types of alcohol:

Interesting bottles

We ate, drank and chatted while huddling around one of the various fires – my hair still smells of smoke! It’s a nice smokey smell though, nothing like the scent of cigarettes! Later, we headed to the stage to check out some of the entertainment.

Mediaeval entertainment

It’s not every day you see people in Mediaeval costumes dancing!

Mediaeval dancers

Later, there was a fire show, which was very cool to watch!

If you’re in the area, I would certainly recommend paying a visit to this Christmas market. It’s smaller than the main one in Karlsruhe proper, but it tends to be less crowded and I find it makes a nice contrast to all the other Christmas markets that are basically the same concept. Be warned though… if you go anywhere near the fire, you will end up smoked!

If you would like to see the fire show, they’re back on Wednesday 11 December and Friday 13 December 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

**I’m counting this as my December trip for Need Another Holiday‘s #Take12Trips challenge.**

Karlsruhe Christmas market 2013

I did go to the Christmas market last night, but my train was delayed so I went straight into town from the station and had no time to pop home for my camera. It was dark and my phone has no flash, so photography was impossible… but I had to go into town today and I made sure to put my camera in my bag before I left. Sooo here are a few impressions of Karlsruhe’s Christmas market for you…

There's always a children's carousel at German fairs...
There’s always a children’s carousel at German fairs…
Glühwein pyramid
Glühwein pyramid

The Glühwein pyramid may look cool, but be warned… they make you queue twice for your Glühwein! First you have to buy tokens at a stall off to one side, then you queue again at the actual pyramid to order your drink.

Just a few of the yummy treats on offer...
Just a few of the yummy treats on offer…

 

All the stalls have something on the roof...
All the stalls have something on the roof…

KA Weihnachtsmarkt

Look Up, Look Down – The Vierordtbad Tower

For today’s look up, look down entry, I’m using an old photo that was taken right here in Karlsruhe. It shows the tower of the Vierordtbad swim baths at sunset.

Karlsruhe Vierordtbad tower

The “tower” is actually a chimney, and all that remains of the former thermal power station, which provided heat for both the Vierordtbad and the neighbouring Tullabad. The rest was torn down in 1989 when the Gartenhalle was built – that green roof that you can see in front of the tower on this photo is the Gartenhalle, which is part of the congress centre. Here’s another photo of the chimney/tower taken on a different day and from a different perspective:

Krlsruhe Kongresszentrum + Vierordtbad

Got a photo that would be perfect for the theme? Check out Travel With Intent’s blog post to join the challenge and view everyone else’s entries.

Bratar burgers and Bratwurst

Yesterday, after an afternoon spent clothes shopping (and not for me I might add – although I did get some new winter boots) Jan, me and a friend we had met in town decided to try out the new burger and Bratwurst restaurant that’s arrived in Karlsruhe. By “new” I of course mean it arrived some time in the summer and we hadn’t got round to trying it out yet…

The table we chose to sit at
The table we chose to sit at

The basic concept behind Bratar seems to be organic and local. The menu assured us that the pigs from the Bratwurst are kept in a manner appropriate to the species, with plenty of space and the right kind of food. They live in Schwäbisch Hall, which makes them local in the sense that it’s the same Bundesland (and there probably aren’t too many pig farms in the Karlsruhe area, to be fair).

All three of us chose to drink Alpirsbacher beer and eat a burger. The burgers come in three different sizes – single, double and triple. I chose the double burger, which was 300 g of beef! They also had turkey burgers, vege-burgers and a children’s beef burger, which I assume was smaller. All the burgers come with lettuce, tomato, onions and gherkin (I ordered mine without the gherkin) and you can then add extra ingredients yourself. The list of extra ingredients is fairly long and I’ve already decided I will have to go back to try out more combinations! This time I went for jalepenos, goat’s cheese and bacon. The bacon was grilled and very tasty, but I think another cheese would have been better in this combination… the mid taste of the goat’s cheese was pretty much drowned out by the generous portion of jalapenos. That was my fault though, nothing to do with the restaurant! You can also choose from three different types of bread bun, although I just went with the traditional burger bun that it comes with automatically. To go with my burger, I chose the rosemary potatoes, which were amazing! I love potatoes, and these ones were nice and crispy with just the right amount of rosemary. They came with a sour cream dip, which also contained rosemary and provided a nice contrast to the spiciness of the jalapenos.

My burger... please excuse the terrible photography!
My burger… please excuse the terrible photography!

The kitchen, which is in the middle of the restaurant, has glass walls so you can see inside. I saw some chips (fries) through the window as we were leaving and thought they looked tasty too… nice thick cut chips, not the barely there “fries” you get at McDonalds and co.! This is definitely the best burger I’ve had in Karlsruhe and I intend to go back some time.

Look Up, Look Down – Karlsruhe

Today’s look up, look down entry was inspired by Alex at Ifs, Ands & Butts who recently posted some gorgeous autumn photos taken from the top of Karlsruhe’s castle… which reminded me that I’ve been up there as well. The following photos were taken in June 2010, when I decided to be a tourist in my own (adopted) town because I had a friend visiting.

Karlsruhe from above

Those who still live in Karlsruhe or have been to visit recently will notice that the area in front of the castle on the above photo looks quite different now…
Also, you can almost see where I live in that shot. Not that I’m telling you where I live though 😉
Here’s one taken from further round the tower, looking down on the castle itself:

Karlsruhe Schloss

And here’s the Schlosspark from above. It’s practically empty because it was a week day morning, so everyone was at work, school or university (or in the case of some students quite possibly sleeping!)

Karlsruhe Schlosspark

To see how other people have interpreted the theme and join in yourself, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post.

To see the same views in autumn, check out Alex’s blog post. Her photos are also much better than mine! (These ones were taken with my old digital camera which was quite frankly crap!)

Happy Birthday, Train Station

I mentioned in my neighbourhoods around the world post that Karlsruhe’s main train station is turning 100 this week. And how do you celebrate such a momentous occasion? By lighting it up in pretty colours, of course. What else would you do? 😉 Here are some photos I took this morning:

Red train station Blue train station

Lighting the building up in red and blue isn’t the only thing that’s happening though. The real celebration is this weekend, with live music – Blues/Jazz on Friday night, three bands on Saturday night, including the one belonging to our quiz master and a “classic brunch” on Sunday with music from the Federal police Orchestra – and children’s activities, including a puppet show on Saturday. Exciting stuff 😉

Making the most of the sunshine

Sunny days are so few and far between right now, that it pays to make the most of them when they arrive! After weeks of rain, cold and grey skies, the sun came out on Sunday, so I persuaded Jan to come out for an afternoon walk with me. A few signs of autumn are showing up now, but mostly we’re still at that in between stage where most of the trees are still green with only a few traces of yellow or orange. It was a lovely day for a walk though, and I actually managed to get some photos of Karlsruhe with blue skies (unlike all the ones in my Neighbourhoods around the world post…).

Konzerthaus (the concert hall)
Konzerthaus (the concert hall)
This tree in the Nymphengarten has decided to embrace the colours of autumn...
This tree in the Nymphengarten has decided to embrace the colours of autumn (unlike all the ones around it)…
A nice old building squished in between two less nice buildings on Kaiserstrasse, the main shopping street
A nice old building squished in between two less nice buildings on Kaiserstrasse, the main shopping street

It was Stadtfest on that day and also Verkaufsoffener Sonntag (a Sunday on which shops are open for business) so a lot of places were giving out balloons. This tree next to a tram stop was doing an excellent job at catching those that s,all children inevitably let go of…

Balloon tree
Balloon tree

I’ve posted a photo of this old entrance to a swim baths before (the modern entrance is round the corner, and much less impressive). That time there was snow on the ground and the trees were much more bare.

The Vierordtbad in Autumn
The Vierordtbad in Autumn

And finally, a photo taken by Jan…

Me and the Vierordtbad
Me and the Vierordtbad

He said he likes the way my hair looks with the sun shining on it.

Yesterday we woke up to rain again and the forecast seems to be indicating more precipitation for the rest of the week, so it’s a good job we got out in the sunshine while we had the chance!

Neighbourhoods Around the World – Karlsruhe

Show me your neighbourhood around the world

A slightly different blog post today. I’m taking part in a series hosted by Annabelle over at The Piri-Piri Lexicon – Show me your neighbourhood around the world. The idea of this series is to take a little tour of other people’s neighbourhoods around the world through the lense of their camera. Every two days between now and the end of November, a different blogger will showcase their own nighbourhood and town. You can see who else is taking part and where else the tour is taking us by clicking on the link I included earlier. But for now, let’s have a look at Karlsruhe. I live in the Südstadt (literally “south city”) district.

First of all, I should tell you the rules:
– All photos must be of the town/neighbourhood you live in or are well acquainted with.
– All must have been taken by you.
– Please publish a maximum of 12 photos.
– 6 photos that MUST be included:

  1. a playground / play area
  2. a local mode of transport
  3. a typical house/building
  4. a street nearby
  5. a school, nursery or other education facility
  6. a market, supermarket or other shopping outlet

– (Up to) 6 other photos are up to you. Think typical and local.

I’ll start with my six mandatory photos. Most of them were taken in the rain purely because the last time it wasn’t raining, or at least cloudy, in Karlsruhe, I was at work in another city and therefore unable to take photos!

A playground:

This is one of three small play areas that are all in a row on the so-called “Grünstreifen” (green strip).

Play area

One advantage of taking photos of playgrounds in the rain is that you don’t have to worry about disturbing any children! Also, I’m pretty sure those little red elephants are mandatory for all German play areas… they’re everywhere 😉

A local mode of transport:

S-Bahn

The bright yellow trams and S-Bahns are a familiar sight in Karlsruhe. Trams are the smaller ones that serve the city and its suburbs, while the larger S-Bahns are capable of travelling on both tram tracks and the proper Deutsche Bahn train tracks and can thus travel to further away places, like Baden Baden or Germersheim.

A typical house/building:

There are probably single-family houses somewhere on the outskirts of Karlsruhe (like Waldstadt maybe?) but if, like me, you live in a fairly central part of town, you will definitely be housed in a flat (apartment).

Building

I chose the above building for my photo on the advice of Jan, who tells me that particular pattern of bricks is typical for the area. Lots of flats are located in buildings that have something else on the ground floor – in this case, it’s a bar.

A street nearby:

I didn’t want to post a photo of my own street on here (I have photos of myself… I’d prefer not to have them associated with an address, however vague) but here’s one in my neighbourhood. This is pretty typical for the part of Karlsruhe I live in:

Karlsruhe street

A school, nursery or other education facility:

Not being a parent or having particularly close contact with anyone who has children of school age, I have no idea about any of the schools in Karlsruhe. I know of three schools within 2-3 streets of where I live, and I chose to take a photo of this one purely because the building it’s in looks nice:

Karlsruhe school

Here’s another photo, from a different angle:

Karlsruhe school 2

Looking at the signs outside, I gathered that this building houses a Grundschule (primary school) and Realschule (secondary school for pupils who are seen as not too bright and therefore not expected to go on to study. The other secondary school forms are Gymnasium, which prepares the most intelligent kids for university, and Hauptschule for those children who are considered suiltable for only the most menial of tasks, such as collecting rubbish or factory work. Some areas also have Gesamtschulen, i.e. comprehensives, which are supposed to be for everyone, but in reality parents of the most intelligent children still send them to Gymansium, leaving the Gesamtschulen full of pupils who would otherwise have gone to Realschule or Hauptschule).

A market, supermarket or other shopping outlet:

I wasn’t sure about the policies on taking photos inside supermarkets, so I took the following very surreptitously using the camera on my phone, hence the terrible quality!

The above photos were taken at Scheck-In Center, one of the larger supermarkets in Karlsruhe. It’s actually pretty close to where I live, but I rarely go there because the way it’s located in relation to my flat means it’s so much more convenient for me to go into town. But the other day I arrived at the train station to find that the next tram going anywhere useful would take me to Scheck-In, so off I went. Apart from selling all the usual goods you need for everyday life, Scheck-In Center is one of the places to go for anything you can’t find at “normal” supermarkets – such as vanilla extract or Cheddar cheese.

And now for some additional photos to hopefully give you an idea of what life is like in Karlsruhe.

Karlsruhe Hauptbahnhof

Unless you come by car, the above “Hauptbahnhof” (main train station) is the first thing you will see in Karlsruhe. And if you’e a commuter, like me, you’ll feel like you spend half your life there! The original train station was further North (for those who know Karlsruhe, it was on Kriegstraße, between Ettlinger Tor and Mendelsohnplatz), but in 1902, the Baden parliament decided to build a new one to make room for the expanding city. Construction began on the current Hauptbahnhof in 1910 and it opened in the night between 22 and 23 October 1931, meaning it will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in just over a week’s time!

Notice all the bikes in the picture as well. I could have used a picture of a bike for my local mode of transport… people in Karlsruhe loooooove to cycle!

As soon as the sun comes out even a little bit, the grounds of Karlsruhe’s castle are the place to be! Everyone and anyone can be found there – people walking their dogs, teenage girls sun bathing, students drinking beer, people playing with frisbees, joggers, parents running around after children….

A rather wet Schlosspark
A rather wet Schlosspark

The only people around when I took the above photo were either walking their dogs or just passing through on their way to somewhere else – although I did spot one dedicated jogger! You certainly wouldn’t catch me jogging in such weather (although I apparantly have no problem going out in the rain for the sake of my blog… I suppose it’s a matter of opinion who is more crazy).

It might be raining, but I still need my walk!
It might be raining, but I still need my walk!

Karlsruhe pyramid

The pyramid on Marktplatz (Market Square) is one of Karlsruhe’s main landmarks. I bet there are very few residents who have never uttered or written the phrase “I’ll meet you at the pyramid”…

Nymphengarten Karlsruhe

For a city of 297,488 (in 2011, according to Wikipedia), Karlsruhe is pretty green. There are trees, flowers and small parks all over the place. The picture above was taken in the Nymphengarten, a small green space behind the Naturkundemuseum (Natural History Museum).

That’s thirteen photos, which is technically one too many (I thought I’d compensate for the terrible quality of the supermarket photos by including two images!), so it’s time for me to stop now. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out the rest of the series? The next stop on the world tour is Japan. Links to previous entries and a schedule for the rest of the series can be found on The Piri-Piri Lexicon.

A gaggle of geese…

As I walked past the zoo on my way home from work yesterday, I happened to glance up as I was passing a gate through which you can see inside. Most of the visitors had left by that time, and I expected the path I could see through the gate to be deserted, but I was wrong! In the distance, I saw these guys walking along:

zoo geese

I wonder what they were chatting about?