Resolutions 2014 (and a recap of last year’s)

I was going to start telling you all about Madeira today, but the computer is refusing to register the fact that the card reader is plugged in and contains a memory card, so resolutions it is. First, a recap of last year’s (which you can read about in detail here if you so desire):

  1. Get back to doing my exercise DVD. Nope! Failed on this one. But I did start doing sit ups and jogging on the spot, so that’s better than nothing…
  2. Keep on top of the housework better. Hahaha. As if! I kept this up until about mid-February (which has to be some kind of record, to be fair) then decided at various points in the year that I really, really would make an effort to keep the place tidy from now on… it never lasted longer than two weeks though.
  3. Become a better translator. I’m pretty sure my style is still terrible, but I have at least got faster. And this year I’ll be doing all the translations anyway, including the ones that need to “sound good” as well as being correct. My colleague is now on maternity leave for the next year so I’m the only one left to do them! Hopefully there won’t be any complaints…
  4. Finish visiting 30 German towns before I turn 30 and blog about them. Yessssss! This one I actually did, and great fun it was too! You can find a page with all the towns I visited under “Places I have been” at the top.
  5. Save up and do some OU courses. I saved up, but actually spent the money on flights to Madeira (they were expensive!). I did make a list of the OU courses I want to do though, so maybe some time I’ll actually get round to them…

That was all my resolutions for 2013, and I managed to keep a grand total of one out of five. Ooops! Maybe I’ll do better in 2014? Here are my resolutions for this year:

  1. Travel more. Looking at my review of 2013, I did actually travel quite a bit… but it wasn’t enough! This year, I want to make even more of an effort to at least go on day trips. Participating in the Take 12 Trips challenge should help with this one.
  2. Keep not biting my nails. For years and years, my New Year’s resolution was to stop biting my nails, until I finally realised that I was doomed to not keep that one. But when I had my wisdom teeth out this year, I managed to grow my nails simply because I was physically incapable of biting them! I’ve managed to keep most of them long since then (the others were victims of splitting and snapping.. how does everyone else avoid that?!), so this year my resolution is to try and keep them unbitten!
  3. Enjoy the time I have with my boyfriend and stop worrying so much about the future. I’ve decided to stay with Jan, despite the fact that he still doesn’t know what he wants and it’s looking less and less likely that I will ever have children. But even if I leave him, there’s no guarantee that I’ll a) find someone else. b) find someone else who wants to have children (either at all or with me) and c) even be able to have children. The few weeks before Christmas were fantastic and I was really happy… and I don’t want to throw away that happieness just because some arbitrary deadline has arrived. So I want to try and enjoy what we have and not worry about whether I will ever have children. I’m too late to be a young mother anyway, so even if it happens I’ll already be the kind of parent I never wanted to be!

That’s all. Only three this year… I think that’s enough considering I still have my 35 before 35 list to be working on as well! And what about you? Any resolutions for 2014? Or have you taken the more sensible route of not setting yourself goals so early in the year? 😉

Goslar

Unlike roughly 90% of the other places in my 30 German Towns Before 30 series, Goslar is not in southern Germany! I went there in December 2009. Jan and I were staying at his dad’s for Christmas that year and a girl I’d gone to school with was living in Bad Fallingbostel because her then husband was posted there with the army. We decided such a perfect opportunity to meet up couldn’t be missed, and chose to do so in Goslar because it was roughly half way between where each of us was.

Goslar, viewed from the top of a tower
Goslar, viewed from the top of a tower

Jan was actually born in Goslar, but only because it was the closest hospital to where his parents were living at the time. So other than as a newborn, he’d never actually been there.

Being two days after Christmas, everybody still had their lights up.

Christmas lights in Goslar
Christmas lights in Goslar

A small Christmas market was still going on (unusual – most of them finish on 23 December!), so we stopped for a quick Glühwein.

Sign on the Glühwein stand - Waldhütte translates to "Forest hut"
Sign on the Glühwein stand – Waldhütte translates to “Forest hut”

Jan then spotted a tower that it was possible to climb, so of course we had to go up. One of the photos of the view is at the top of this post. Here’s another:

Goslar 3

As you can see, Goslar has a fair few half-timbered houses.

The main sight in Goslar is the Kaiserpfalz – the Mediaeval Imperial Palace, so that’s where we went next. No photos were allowed inside, but here’s one of the outside:

The Kaiserpfalz
The Kaiserpfalz

After looking round the museum, we walked back into town and found a cafe where we treated ourselves to some coffee and cake. Here’s one of the streets we walked down while looking for the cafe… so cute!

Goslar 4

By the time we’d finished our coffee and cake, it was starting to get late, and we each had a longish drive ahead of us, so we decided to call it a day.
Our trip to Goslar was brief, but I’m glad we decided to go there. It’s one of those typical cute German towns with numerous pretty buildings just begging to have their photos taken. When we were there, it was freezing, but I can see it being a lovely place for a walk in spring/summer. And the town is situated at the foot of the Harz mountains – the highest mountain range in Northern Germany – so it would be the perfect starting point for a day of hiking.

Aaaand that’s number 30, which means MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Horb am Neckar

On the way back from our trip to Rottweil, Jan and I stopped off at a place called Horb am Neckar. The carpark we originally selected on the sat nav actually turned out to be on a hill above the town, so we stopped there first and took some photos of the view.

Horb from above
Horb from above

My camera’s battery ran out not long after I took the photo above, so most of the rest of the images in this post are Jan’s – the reason I’m only writing about this now is because he only gave me access to said photos after I got back from England.

Horb has a population of around 25,000, but when we arrived at 7 pm on a Saturday evening, everything was closed and we didn’t see a single one of the residents. All the better for taking photos 😉

This is how photos come out when I'm trying to take them quickly before the camera battery dies...
This is how photos come out when I’m trying to take them quickly before the camera battery dies…

The town hall in Horb had some pretty interested decoration on it:

Horb Town Hall - photo by Jan
Horb Town Hall – photo by Jan

I got Jan to take the photo below for me because of the cool ship sign, then we walked up the hill to the church you can see on the right.

Horb am Neckar 3

The church is the Stiftskirche, or collegiate church, and stands at the highest point in the town. The view from up there is very nice!

View of Horb
View of Horb

I love the little red house!
The next thing we spotted was the Schurkenturm. A Schurke is German for a villain, but I’m not sure whether the name of the tower has aynthing to do with that…

Schurkenturm, viewed from the church
Schurkenturm, viewed from the church
Schurkenturm, up close
Schurkenturm, up close

This sculpture close to the tower was pretty cute:Horb art

It’s a stack of pillows (or cushions), all on top of each other.

Horb is a pretty little town, and if we’d stayed a bit longer there would have been some other towers we could look at, and we could also have gone down to the Neckar and had a walk along its banks. But it was already getting late and we still had an hour to drive back, plus it seemed like it was about to start raining, so we decided to leave. It was definitely worth taking the time to stop off in this cute town though!

 

Bad Wimpfen

With a mere two weeks to go before I turn 30, I need to get my last few posts written if I’m going to complete my 30 German Towns Before 30 challenge!

Bad Wimpfen
Bad Wimpfen

Bad Wimpfen is situated on the West Bank of the River Neckar, about 15 km from Heilbronn. We decided to go there because Jan had read an article about it on Spiegel online and it looked pretty.

Half-timbered houses in Bad Wimpfen
Half-timbered houses in Bad Wimpfen

For reasons that I can no longer remember, I had some time off in the middle of the week, so we ended up going to Bad Wimpfen on a Wednesday afternoon. Being the end of November, I was looking forward to checking out the Christmas market, but it turned out it was only open on weekends. I’ve since found out that this happens a lot in small towns…

Bad Wimpfen 3

The symbolic landmark of Bad Wimpfen is the Blauer Turm – Blue Tower. It was originally the keep of the Kaiserpfalz (Imperial Palace) and continued to be used as a watch tower until well into the 19th century.

The Blue Tower
The Blue Tower

I presume the tower gets its name from the vaguely blueish colour of the roof…
I have no idea where this next tower gets its name though. This one is the Roter Turm… Red Tower.

Red Tower
Red Tower

I suppose it does have a few red bricks…
Finally, there’s the Nürnberger Turmchen, or Nuremberg Tower. Turmchen means little tower, so a towerlet if you will.

Nuremberg Tower
Nuremberg Tower

Bad Wimpfen was the site of one of the most important battles during the Thirty Years War, and the town suffered great devastation as a result. This small tower serves as a reminder of the financial aid that Bad Wimpfen received from the city of Nuremberg after the Thirty Years War.

The view from the Nuremberg Tower could be quite nice… if it weren’t for the huge power station down in the valley behind it. I tried to get a photo that didn’t include the power station…

View of the River Neckar and beyond from the Nuremberg Tower
View of the River Neckar and beyond from the Nuremberg Tower

After wandering around for a while, we decided we were hungry. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant we ate at! They had the most amazing Maultaschen in all different varieties.

Bad Wimpfen Stadtkirche - the Lutherian Parish Church
Bad Wimpfen Stadtkirche – the Lutherian Parish Church

Bad Wimpfen is a pretty little town and there are certainly plenty of old buildings to photograph, but judging by how dead it was when we were there I don’t think I would want to live there! Not including the restaurant staff, we saw about 4 people all afternoon! But if you like half-timbered buildings and are into history it’s worth a visit. However, for the Christmas market, make sure you go on a Saturday or you’ll be disappointed!

Bad Wimpfen 4

Heilbronn

With exactly one month to go until my birthday (aarrghh!!), I really need to get a move on with my 30 German Towns Before 30 posts! Here’s one that I visited a few years ago!

Heilbronn is located in north-western Baden-Württemberg on both banks of the River Neckar. It’s best known for its wine-making industry, and the very first time I went there was for that very reason – it was the week of the annual Weindorf (literally Wine Village) festival and some ex-colleagues had arranged to meet up for a tour of the vineyards followed by wine tasting at the Weindorf. I wrote all about that trip to Heilbronn here, but without pictures which is why I’m re-doing Heilbronn for 30 German Towns Before 30.

Heilbronn is about 75-80 km from Karlsruhe, and is quite convenient to get to using public transport – there’s an S-Bahn (suburban train) that goes directly from one town centre to the other… and if you manage to get an Eilzug (express train) it’s even fairly quick, taking just over an hour.

Heilbronn/Karlsruhe Stadtbahn train pulling in...
Heilbronn/Karlsruhe Stadtbahn train pulling into the station outside of Heilbronn Hauptbahnhof (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in the post I’ve linked to above, Heilbronn was bombed extensively during the Second World War, with 62% of the city being destroyed, including the old town area. Unfortunately, this means that, today, Heilbronn is nowhere near as pretty as most other towns in the region – admittedly one of the towns it has to compete with is Heidelberg, which makes things a little unfair! Here’s a photo taken from up in the vineyards. Heilbronn is down there somewhere:

Heilbronn from above
Heilbronn from above

And here are some of the grapes in vineyards:

Grapes, waiting to become wine
Grapes, waiting to become wine

After a guided tour of the vineyards, we went down into Heilbronn itseld for some wine tasting at the Weindorf. There were a lot of stalls selling wine down there, but all the ones we tried were from the same producer.

Welcome to the Weindorf!
Welcome to the Weindorf!

My second trip to Heilbronn was with Jan for the Christmas market – we had been to Bad Wimpfen that day and werde disappointed to find the market there closed so we headed to Heilbronn so I could get my Glühwein fix (he was driving). Before hitting the Glühwein stand, we took a walk down to the river where I took my only photos in the town that day. Sorry people of Heilbronn, but concrete and glass shopping centres do nothing for me! Here’s the Götzenturm (Götz Tower), which used to sit at the south-eastern corner of the city wall:

Götzturm, Heilbronn
Götzturm, Heilbronn

Being the middle of November, it started to get really dark soon after I took the photo above, so we went and looked round the Christmas market, failed to find any gifts then I had a Glühwein before we headed home. Here’s a terrible shot of the Christmas market, with a church in the background (all the photos in this post were taken with my old camera, which was even worse than my current one… and my current one isn’t the best!)

Christmassy Heilbronn
Christmassy Heilbronn

All in all, I can’t say Heilbronn is my favourite town in Germany, but if you’re into wine the Weindorf is worth a visit.

Rottweil

After looking around Nagold, we moved on to Rottweil, the oldest town in Baden-Württemberg. How old exactly? Well, it was founded by the Romans in AD 73. The town is famous for its medieval centre and one other thing. Can you guess what that other thing is?

I’ll give you a hint shall I…

Scupture outside the town museum
Scupture outside the town museum

Yes, it’s the Rottweiler breed of dog! It seems this kind of dog first became popular here then spread throughout the world. Rottweiler just means “of Rottweil” (in the same way that Berliner means “of Berlin… remember that speech?). Here are some more Rottweilers:

A Rottweiler and a puppy
A Rottweiler and a puppy

Sadly, I didn’t see a real one. Jan did, but it had disappeared around the corner before I could look.

One of the first things we came across after parking the car was the cathedral, or Minster (I’m not 100% sure of the difference.. if there is one?), so we decided to go in and have a look.

Heilig Kreuz Münster (Holy Cross Minster)
Heilig Kreuz Münster (Holy Cross Minster)

At one end of the cathedral, they had all these… staffs, I guess(?) for the various guilds, which I thought were pretty cool.

Rottweil guild staffs
Rottweil guild staffs

Sorry the photo isn’t the best… they were behind bars and I was afraid I’d drop my camera down the other side if I held it in there for too long!

On leaving the cathedral, we followed the signs for the centre. It turns out Rottweil used to be have an alliance with the Swiss Confederacy, which would explain why we saw a lot of things like this:

I don't know about you, but those wooden shutters just scream "Swiss" to me...
I don’t know about you, but those wooden shutters just scream “Swiss” to me…

Here’s the Schwarzer Tor (Black Gate). It used to serve as the women’s prison.

The Black Gate
The Black Gate

And this is the view you get when you look through it:

Looking through the Black Gate
Looking through the Black Gate

Rottweil is a fairly small town, but it’s beautiful! I don’t think I saw a single building in the town centre that didn’t have something that made it worth photographing… be it cute wooden shutters, a gorgeous display of flowers, an interesting old sign or some kind of decoration/painting. Here are some photos to show you what I mean:

After walking around for a while, we went to the Dominikaner Museum, which is included on our museum cards. They had an interesting exhibition about Roman Rottweil, including a Roman mosaic of the legend of Orpheus.

Orpheus mosiac
Orpheus mosiac

By the time we left the museum, we were hungry so we went in search of food. Jan suggested the Indian restaurant we had passed earlier in the day – Taj Mahal. It turned out to be the worst decision we’ve ever made. The service was slow, despite the restaurant being nearly empty and my curry tasted so sour that I couldn’t finish it, despite having not had lunch. So if you find yourself in Rottweil, don’t bother going to Taj Mahal!!

The town itself is definitely worth a look at though.

DSCN0747

Nagold

I suggested to Jan that we should go to Rottweil as it’s the oldest town in Baden-Württemberg (the German state we live in). He then suggested that, since it takes roughly an hour and a half to drive there, we should stop somewhere else on the way… and that’s how we ended up going to Nagold.

Buildings down by the river

The town of Nagold takes its name from the river that flows through the town. It’s known for its ruined castle, Hohennagold (which we didn’t see) and for the many half-timbered houses in the town centre. Can you guess why I wanted to go there? (Hint: It’s the same reason I love Tübingen…)

If your answer to the question above was buildings like this one, have a gold star!

The day we were in Nagold was right in the middle of their Kermes – a word that I wasn’t even able to find a translation for until I changed the spelling to Kermis, and even then it only took me to a Wikipedia article about the Dutch Kermesse! But, reading through the article, it seems to be the same thing. Basically, it’s a town fête or festival, usually in the form of a funfair although we didn’t see one in Nagold (if there were funfair rides, they wouldn’t have been directly in town). What we did see, were things like this:

Whale game

Judging by the other items that were lying around, the aim of the game was to throw rings into the mouth of this… whale? At least that’s what I think it was meant to be! A killer whale with a surf board…

Nagold is in the district of Calw, and with all the half-timbered houses, the two towns are pretty similar (click here to read about my trip to Calw). Most of our time in Nagold was spent just walking around taking photos. We tried to visit the town museum, but it turned out to be closed on Saturdays… because nobody would ever want to visit a museum on a Saturday. Clearly. Here, have some photos:

 

It had been raining quite heavily while we were in the car, but by the time we stopped in Nagold, it was only cloudy. Not bad considering the forecast was for nothing but rain all day!

After I had taken a photo of every single half-timbered house in the town (well… maybe not quite, but definitely a lot of them. What can I say? They’re just too pretty!), we decided to go for a coffee. We ended up at a place called Il Due, where I drank a Latte Macchiato with vanilla syrup and Jan had a cappucino. We didn’t eat there (although, in retrospect, I think we should have!) but the pizzas that were delivered to the table next to us looked – and smelled – amazing! But time was moving on and we still wanted to go to two places that day, so we paid for our coffees and headed back to the car. Next stop: Rottweil… but that’s a tale for another blog post.

Update from August 2014: I’ve decided to include this post in the Travel edition of the Expats Blog Hop over at Young Germany. Find the other entries here.

Koblenz

Jan and I went to Koblenz in April 2011, when they were hosting the Bundesgartenschau or BUGA (National Garden Show). It was Easter weekend, but unlike this year and the year we went to Worms, the weather on that day was absolutely stunning!

The Rhine in Koblenz
The Rhine in Koblenz

The name Koblenz originates from the Latin confluentes, i.e. confluence, meaning “at the merging of the rivers”, which should give you a clue to the town’s location… Koblenz is situated on both banks of the River Rhine at its confluence with the River Mosel. The headland where the two rivers meet is known as the Deutsches Eck (German corner) and features a huge replica of a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I (the original was destroyed by the French in World War II).

Kaiser Wilhelm I
Kaiser Wilhelm I

In May 1953, Theodor Heuss (who was German president at that time) rededicated the plinth of the statue as a monument to German unity and had the coats of arms of all the Bundesländer (including those in the East that, at the time, had been “lost” to the Soviets)  installed there. The flags of all the states are also flown at the end of the Eck, along with the Germany flag.

Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument
Deutsches Eck, viewed from the Kaiser Wilhelm monument

It’s a great place to sit and watch the world (and the river) go by.

Having viewed the famous German corner, it was time to go and look at some flowers! Well, what else is one to do when the entire town has been taken over by a garden show?

Flowers

Flowers and statue

The photos above were taken in the grounds of a church right next to the Deutsches Eck, the Kastorkirche (St. Kastor’s Church). Here it is:

St. Kastor's Church
St. Kastor’s Church

After viewing the area around the Deutsches Eck, we took the cable car (installed especially for the BUGA and still in place) up to the other side of the Rhine and the grounds of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

Koblenz from above
Koblenz from above

There were some flower tents up there and a few other interesting things, including bee hives! Here are some of the flowers we saw in the tents:

BUGA Koblenz 1

BUGA Koblenz 2

BUGA Koblenz 3

Before heading back down into town, we also decided to have a look at the fortress itself. I have no photos taken at the fortress, for some reason, but the museum inside was quite interesting. Here’s what Ehrenbreitstain looks like when viewed from Koblenz:

Ehrenbreitstein fortress, Koblenz
Ehrenbreitstein fortress, Koblenz

Back down on the other side of the Rhine, we headed to the third area of the Gartenschau, the Kurfürstliche Schloss or Electoral Palace.

Kurfürstliche Schloss Koblenz
Kurfürstliche Schloss Koblenz

Once in the palace gardens, we followed the sound of tweeting until we found these guys:

BirdsOf course, there were also more flowers.

Flowers 2

The restaurant at the back of the palace was surpisingly inexpensive, and before heading back to the train station, we ate a delicious platter of cheese, grapes and various types of bread, plus a glass of wine each.

Koblenz is a beautiful town, but doesn’t have as many tourist attractions as some I’ve been to. The main ones have been mentioned in this post: The fortress, the Electoral Palace and, most famous of all, the Deutsches Eck. On a sunny day, it’s definitely worth a visit but if it’s raining, I’d maybe give it a miss – other than the museum in the Electoral Palce (which we didn’t visit as only the gardens were open during the flower show), I didn’t really notice anything for visitors to do indoors. Koblenz isn’t my favourite German town that I’ve visited, but I wouldn’t object if I was given the chance to go there again.

Baden-Baden Panoramaweg

View from the old castle, Baden-Baden
View from the old castle, Baden-Baden

It seems like we’re going to be doing a lot of hiking during our trip to Ireland, so yesterday Jan and I decided to get a short practice hike in before we leave. However, Jan also wanted to be back in time to watch the Champion’s League final in football, so we needed to pick somewhere fairly close. Being only about a 30 minute drive from Karlsruhe, Baden-Baden seemed like the perfect choice.

I’ve been to Baden-Baden a few times before, sometimes for events (I saw the musical Evita there), occasionally passing through to catch a flight (Karlsruhe-Baden Airpark is around 12 km west of Baden-Baden) and once, while I was a language assistant, all the teachers went on a daytrip to Baden-Baden, taking in the old castle ruins (pictured above) and an exhibition of Marc Chagall’s work at the Frieder Burda Museum.

The Evangelische Stadtkirche, with a fountain in front of it
The Evangelische Stadtkirche, with a fountain in front of it

For our hike, we decided to do part of the Panoramaweg (Panorama Route) – a hiking trail that goes all the way around the town of Baden-Baden and down into the Geroldauer Tal (valley). It was “Trail of the Year” in 2004 and is considered to be one of the finest footpaths in Germany.  The entire route is 42 km, but for those who don’t have 10-12 hours to spare (or just aren’t fit enough… the latter would be me!!), it’s subdivided into 5 different stretches. You can see the entire route here: http://www.naturparkscout.de/mapbender/frames/index.php?PHPSESSID=26c33f0978997e0137d85ee9839fe707&gui_id=npscout_schwarzwald_public

The individual sub-rotes are:

1. Bernharduskirche – valley station of the Merkurbergbahn funicular railway, 6 Kilometer
2. Merkurbergbahn valley station – Forellenhof / Fischkultur, 8 Kilometer
3. Forellenhof / Fischkultur – Waldparkplatz (forest car park) Malschbach, 10 Kilometer
4. Waldparkplatz Malschbach – Tiergarten, 13 Kilometer
5. Tiergarten – Bernharduskirche, 5 Kilometer

We did roughly the last 3 stretches, although we didn’t actually start at the Forellenhof.

From Karlsruhe, we took the train to Baden-Baden – it was an IRE (Interregio Express), so Baden-Baden was the second stop. From there, we took a bus to Lichtental (see the map I linked to above). It should have been Oberbeueren, but for some reason the bus we took ended at Lichtental so we began our hike there, walking through Lichtental (a district of Baden-Baden) until we found the first sign directing us on to the Panoramaweg.

This way to the Panoramaweg!
This way to the Panoramaweg!

As you can see, the sun was shining, for the first time all week! I was expecting to have to hike in the rain (which admittedly may have been good practice for Ireland!) but we got lucky. About two hours before we finished our hike, it started raining a little, but it stopped after around 20 minutes. Despite the sunshine, it wasn’t the warmest of days (highs of around 12°C), but to be honest I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any warmer! All that exercise generates enough heat of its own…

Oberbeuern and a lot of trees
Oberbeuern and a lot of trees

Most of the route takes you through the woods, occasionally guiding you through a field or a small village.

In the woods
In the woods

The first leg of our hike took us in a circle around Oberbeuern and down into the Geroldsauer Valley, with its gorge, stream and waterfall.

Geroldsau
Geroldsau
Down by the Grobbach stream
Down by the Grobbach stream
The Grobbach
The Grobbach
Geroldsau Waterfall
Geroldsau Waterfall

The waterfall is 9 metres high and looked very pretty with the sun shining on the top of it.

After viewing the waterfall, the route took us through part of Geroldsau, up the hill and back into the woods. A short time later, we reached the Malschbach carpark – part one of the hike done!

Looking down on Geroldsau
Looking down on Geroldsau

Back in the woods, we sptted this pretty looking bird. Anyone know what it is? We didn’t! (Click on the photo for a bigger version if you can’t see the bird among the leaves)

Pretty bird
Pretty bird

The next point of interest was the Louisfelsenhütte – a hut on the Louisfelse, a Felse being a crag and Louis presumably the person said crag was named after.

Louisfelsenhütte
Louisfelsenhütte

I love the slightly overgrown stone steps leading up the the hut! From the top, we had a really nice view of Baden-Baden. This was about 5 minutes before the rain started, so the sky is rather more grey than in previous photos…

Looking down on Baden-Baden
Looking down on Baden-Baden

Three hours later, we were finally back to civilisation!

Welcome to Baden Baden!
Welcome to Baden Baden!

From there, it wasn’t far to our final destination, the Bernharduskirche.

Hurray, we made it!
Hurray, we made it!

From there, it was just a short bus ride back to the train station, with aching legs but a real sense of achievement!

All in all, we walked 27 km (roughly 17 miles) and were on the trail for 7 and a half hours. If Jan’s GPS tracker is to be trusted, 4 of those hours we spent actually on the move, while the rest was stopping to take photos, look at butterflies and eat muesli bars.

The entire route is excellently sign posted, making it almost impossible to get lost. Just look out for the green circles:

Look out for this symbol
Look out for this symbol

Where there’s a fork in the road, the sign also has a little black arrow in the bottom corner telling you where you need to go. And if it’s really confusing, a few metres further along, another green circle lets you know that you did take the right path.

All the start and end points of the individual sub-trails can easily be reached by public transport (if it had been raining heavily, we could have stopped after the first 11 km and taken a bus back to town from the Malschbach carpark). Facilities are hard to come by along the route (although there would have been a small restaurant close to the waterfall), so if you’re squeamish about peeing in the woods, make sure you go before you leave! Decent, waterproof shoes are a must – especially if it’s rained recently (some parts of the trail were very muddy!) And remember, no matter how much your muscles are aching, unless you’ve actually injured yourself, you can keep on walking if you have to! Personally, I would have liked to stop at least an hour before we actually did, but with no choice but to continue, I kept placing one foot in front of the other and surprised myself by making it all the way back to the church. Today, I’m aching all over and walking like an old woman, but it was definitely worth it! Gap of Dunloe, here we come!

Munich

It’s been a while since I last wrote a post for my 30 German Towns before 30 series, and with only 3 months to go until my birthday I really need to get a move on! Today, it’s Munich’s turn.

Marienplatz with the Old Town hall and Mariensäule (Mary's Column)
Marienplatz with the Old Town hall and Mariensäule (Mary’s Column)

The very first time I went to Munich was for Oktoberfest during my year abroad. Not knowing whether we would ever come back to Germany, Oktoberfest seemed like a must do. Unfortunately, I have zero photos of that day thanks to my dad’s girlfriend managing to delete ALL the photos from the first half of my year abroad from her computer. I only have those few photos that fit on my (at the time very small) memory card. My dad tried to make it up to me after the fact by buying me a memory card with room for over 1,000 pictures, but by then the damage was done. So no photos of ginormous beers, I’m afraid.

I went to Munich again in 2010 with Jan and a friend of ours, this time for a football match. We had plenty of time to walk around Munich before the football started, and this time there was no loss of photos! All the pictures in this post are from that occasion.

Part of the new town hall
Part of the new town hall

I’m sure most people will have heard of Munich, so I’ll keep my description of it brief. It’s the capital of and largest city in the state of Bavaria. Basically every stereotype people have of Germans (Lederhosen-wearing, huge beer-drinking, sausage eaters ring a bell?) comes from Bavaria. Almost nobody in any other state own Lederhosen (guys) or a Dirndl (girls). The part about the big beers is true for some places outside of Bavaria… but not all. Rheinland-Pfalz, for example, is more of a wine region.

More of the new town hall
More of the new town hall

Munich is a big city (population 1,378,176 in 2011!), which means a lot of traffic and a lot of people! But it is also beautiful – at least the old town is – I once had to go to the Neue Messe (exhibition centre) as part of a seminar and that area is not particularly nice!

Munich is, of course, famous for its beer (hello… it’s the home of Oktoberfest!) and there are any number of breweries and beer gardens to choose from. Here’s a photo of the Löwenbräu brewery:

Löwenbräukeller
Löwenbräukeller

Löwenbräu literally means “lion’s brew”.

The Viktualienmarkt is a daily food market and square in the centre of Munich. Apart from the usual market wares (such as fruit, vegetables and flowers) there are stands selling gourmet foods and one with freshly pressed fruit juices. Delicious! The maypole on the Viktualienmarkt features the Bavarian colours – blue and white.

Maypole1Maypole2

The football stadium in Munich is the Allianz Arena, home of the famous Bayern München. On that particular day, the match being played there was an international one – Germany vs. Argentina.

Allianz Arena
Allianz Arena

Apparantly, if FC Bayern München are playing, the arena is lit up in red, while for 1860 München it’s blue. As you can see, we got a sort of yellowish white colour.

I even managed to get a photo of someone from my own team – Jonás Gutiérrez, an Argentine national, plays for Newcastle United in the Premier League. He’s the one with the long hair.

Gutiérrez
Gutiérrez

With only a day to spare (and part of that being taken up with football) I didn’t get to spend as much time in Munich as I would have liked. And, of course, on Oktoberfest day I spent all my time in a tent drinking rather large beers, but what I’ve seen of Munich I liked. I definitely want to go back some day and check out all the things I missed… For example, the Englischer Garten is one of the world’s largest urban public parks and is supposed to be fantastic.

For some much better photos of Munich, check out Alex’s of Ifs, Ands and Butts post on touring Munich by bike.