Jan’s mum and sister were in Tübingen, spending some mother-daughter time together.
Because Tübingen is so close to Karlsruhe (only about an hour and a half) and because neither of us had ever been there before Jan and I decided to go and visit them for a day. And so on Saturday, 18th July we left the house at the ridiculously early hour of 8am (it is ridiculously early on a Saturday!) and headed off in the direction of Pforzheim and Stuttgart.
Tübingen, says Wikipedia, is a traditional university town in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated 30 km (19 miles) southwest of Stuttgart, on a ridge between the Neckar and Ammer rivers.
What Wikipedia doesn’t tell us is that Tübingen is beautiful. Admittedly it looked even nicer when we were there thanks to the millions of flowers which adorned, well pretty much everything that could be adorned with flowers to be honest. Like the lamp post below. But even without the flowers the town would be gorgeous. Our first stop was at the Kunsthalle (art gallery), in the northern part of the town because it was close to where Jan’s mum and sister were staying. Walking there I was struck by how green everything was.Visitors to Karlsruhe often comment on how green it is here (and having the castle gardens right in the town centre helps a lot) but it is a city and with so many cars, trams and people there’s only so much you can do. But Tübingen is something else. Even the fairly busy road leading into town was lined with trees. Not that we took the time to stop and admire them – at that point it was chucking it down and all we wanted was to get to the art gallery, where it at least wouldn’t be raining.
Inside the art gallery we were treated to an exhibition that was quite frankly… strange. It featured a wall of drawings which looked as if they had been stolen from the kids at the local Kindergarten, a photograph of vegetables carved into amusing humanesque characters, a shiny, brightly coloured penis shaped sculpture with a sad face and about 6 drawings featuring penises (penii? What is the plural) which also looked as if a small child could have drawn them. Except that most small children don’t paint picture of a penis sitting in a tree looking at his reflection in the puddle below. I think I should do a few more carvings a la aubergine bee. Maybe I could get my own exhibition in Tübingen too!
Other than that exhibition there was nothing to see at the art gallery. No permanent displays of art that are always there. Nothing vaguely normal. Nothing by anybody that I had actually heard of. Just the penis exhibition. So off we went to take the bus into town.
The so-called Altstadt (old town) of Tübingen also happens to be the main part of the town (is there actually a new town I wonder? Maybe the suburbs are a little newer), which meant that all we had to do to see old (and beautiful) buildings was head for the town centre. Everywhere we looked another old house or cute little side street just beeged to have its photo taken. Just look at this picture, showing part of Marktplatz (Market Square). If that doesn’t make you think of a village from fairy tale I don’t know what will!
After a quick walk up to the castle (now an archeological museum), where we had a great view of Tübingen from above, we headed down towards the river, which we found to be just as beautiful, with more gorgeous old houses lining its banks and a weeping willow trailing its leaves into the water. Fabulous! We had lunch in a nice little beer garden overlooking the river before heading back into town where we soaked up some more of the old town atmosphere, had a look inside the church and headed up to the top of a hill for another view of Tübingen from above – we had hoped to climp up a tower on top of the hill but it was all locked up and didn’t look like anyone had been allowed to climb it for years! After the disappointment of the tower we took the bus back down the hill and stopped off at a nice cafe, which also happened to be a bookcrossing zone (I managed to find 5 books to take home with me!) then finished our trip with a walk through the park before catching the bus back up to where we had left the car.
It was a lovely day in a beautiful town. And I have now decided that if I can’t live in Tübingen I would at least like to find a town that’s similar. Even if it’s only half as beautiful that would be good enough for me!