A Travellerspoint blog

Day 46

Surprises

semi-overcast 10 °C

Today was a day of surprises.

First of all, Access Communications, our email provider blocked email sent out through our Windows mail so we have had to go to their website and enter all of our contacts and then send email through their website. It is a pain to say the least, but we do want to keep in contact with our beloved family and friends. So if your story of Day 45 was scrambled or not complete, let us know as we can receive mail we just need to use a different method of sending mail. We will try to make things right.

We decided that today we would do laundry, pick up some groceries and then this afternoon visit the Altenburg Castle here in Bamberg, Germany.

So we set off with the laundry and as we drove by the grocery stores we wondered why the parking lots were empty. We got to the laundromat and loaded our clothing into washers and struck up a conversation with a gentleman doing his laundry. It seems that today is Whit Monday and a national holiday. Who knew? No stores open and few businesses open.

While our laundry was washing, Reta went out and spotted some interesting business signs which we are sharing with you.

Business sign

Business sign

Business sign 2

Business sign 2

Business sign 3

Business sign 3

We finished the laundry and returned to our apartment and made lunch out of leftovers in our fridge.

We went out in the afternoon to the Altenburg Castle in Bamburg. It is a much smaller castle than those we have seen before. We climbed one of the towers and rambled around and enjoyed the cool afternoon.

Altenburg Castle, Bamberg

Altenburg Castle, Bamberg

Bamberg from castle

Bamberg from castle

We tried to get to a restaurant that our friend at the laundromat recommended but could not drive anywhere near it.

We returned home and rested and discovered that the battery in our computer mouse had died and we did not have another so we went to the local gas station to see if they would have such an item in their little store. Yes, they did have batteries and in their parking lot there was a trailer selling pizza. Wonderful, we now had the answer to supper.

We returned home with our precious pizza and some ice cream from the gas station. Voila, supper.

We will have to go out tomorrow morning in search of breakfast but we can survive that.

Lesson for today: Always check when national holidays are in states and countries that you are going to visit and make your plans around what days they are closed. By the way, in Europe, no shopping on Sundays. If you need something to get you through until Tuesday, go shopping on Saturday.

Posted by A-RPoulton 11:10 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 45

Fossils and Castles

overcast 13 °C

We had breakfast at our hotel and then carted all of our luggage downstairs and across the street to our car and set off for new adventures.

The day is cold, rainy and cloudy.

We stopped at Messel, Germany to visit their Messel Pit Fossil Site, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This area had been known for its oil shale which hides a treasure of fossils. Early in the 1970’s the local government thought it would make a good garbage dump but activists convinced the federal government that this was a site worth preserving and stopped the garbage dump. Today there is a fine museum with gift shop and cafe at the site. We saw a film about the site with English subtitles and toured the museum before having a bowl of potato-vegetable soup with a hot dog floating in it for lunch and continuing our journey.

Gate to Messel Pit Fossil Museum

Gate to Messel Pit Fossil Museum

Our next stop was in the city of Wurzberg. We visited the Marienburg Fortress there. This fortress has been in use since 1250. It served as the home to the prince/bishops of the area until the 1720’s when a residence was built a distance from the fortress and at that point the fortress began serving as a military installation. It was badly damaged in March 1945 by bombing raids and subsequent fires but has been rebuilt and opened in the 1990’s as a museum. We spent some time touring the fortress and the museum and then drove over to the residence palace.

Entrance gate

Entrance gate

Tower inside fortress

Tower inside fortress

View of the buildings from the ramparts

View of the buildings from the ramparts

View from the ramparts

View from the ramparts

We noticed flowers growing out of the walls as we walked to our car.

Flowers growing out of the walls

Flowers growing out of the walls

We took a distance photo of the fortress from a stop light near the foot of the hill that the fortress is built on. As usual we got a picture of a pole as well.

Distance view from the street below

Distance view from the street below

We took a photo of this fine looking lion which is one of four guarding the bridge which crosses the Main River which flows at the foot of the fortress.

Lion guarding bridge over the Main River

Lion guarding bridge over the Main River

We arrived at the Wurzberg Residence Palace and Court Gardens. This was a huge building with many associated buildings. We could not even get a photo of the entire site. This photo is of the entrance.

Residence at Wurzberg

Residence at Wurzberg

We then drove to our lodging for the night at Bamberg, Germany.

Posted by A-RPoulton 12:58 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 44

Somethings old

overcast 15 °C

"Sunshine came softly in my window today"

Yes, we woke to sunshine this morning. It only lasted for a short while but was welcome.

When we checked out of our hotel this morning we noticed on the invoice that the hotel had us recorded as living in Central African Republic - they will have a tough time tracking us down there if there was a problem.

Our first visit this morning was to the Kloster at Maulbronn, Germany. This is an old town which is now a museum. When we were there few buildings were open so we just wandered around and took photos.

Street scene

Street scene

Church building

Church building

Fortifications at Maulbronn

Fortifications at Maulbronn

Now, the City Hall in Germany is called the "rathaus". Some of us might think there are rats in the city hall but we would not name it the rat house.

Rathaus - City Hall - Maulbronn, Germany

Rathaus - City Hall - Maulbronn, Germany

One of the things that caught our attention and that of others was a BMW Isetta which is a micro car which the BMW people built from 1955 to 1962. It is classified between a motorcycle and a "Bubble car". This car was in mint condition and quite a surprise to see. One of the unique things about this car is that the door is on the front of the car. Two people may sit in the car. They open the front door and sit in the car and then close the front of the car.

BMW Isletta

BMW Isletta

BMW Isletta 2

BMW Isletta 2

After spending time at the Kloster at Maulbronn we were driving toward Heidelberg to see their schloss or castle when this gas truck caught our attention. The signs on the back show that it is carrying flammable goods and goods that will kill fish.

Sign on gas truck

Sign on gas truck

We were disappointed at Heidelberg in that we could get within a block or two of the castle but we could not find parking to walk over and see it. It fact, cars were lined up about ten or so in a line to get into the parking garages. We just gave up and drove on to Speyer to see their cathedral.

Again, parking was at a premium but we at least caught a glimpse of the cathedral.

Speyer Cathedral

Speyer Cathedral

Speyer Cathedral 2

Speyer Cathedral 2

We drove through a city called Frankenstein and spotted a castle ruin and church that we got all in one picture.

Church and Castle ruins at Frankenstein

Church and Castle ruins at Frankenstein

Later on, driving toward Trier, Germany where our lodgings were arranged for the night, we found a wind farm. We must add that most of Germany that we have driven through so far has green forested rolling hills and wide green valleys for agriculture and towns and cities. This wind farm was on the top of one of those ridges of hills.

Wind farm in Germany

Wind farm in Germany

Our hotel in Trier is across the street from their famous Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) ruins. This gate was built by the Romans of grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The gate earned its name in the middle ages due to the darkened colour of the stone. This gate has UNESCO World Heritage site designation as a Roman Monument and Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of our Lady in Trier. The two churches were built attached to the gate.

Porta Nigra, Trier, Germany

Porta Nigra, Trier, Germany

After having dinner/supper at a nearby restaurant and walking around the gate we noticed these lamps in a store window.

Pac Man Lamps for sale

Pac Man Lamps for sale

So today we saw many things that were very old, some things that are from the 50's and 60's that we certainly did not expect to see, windfarms that are something from today, and lamps from a video game from the 80's.

Posted by A-RPoulton 15:04 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 43

Black Forest

rain 9 °C

The rain continues here in Germany.

We set off this morning to enjoy the Black Forest region of Germany. We found that this area has very high hills or mountains. The higher we climbed in the hills/mountains the foggier it got. At one point Reta was following the centre line on the very steep and winding highway. We did not see much of the first section of the Black Forest that we traveled through this morning.

We arrived in Freiburg at lunch time. We went to the main train station to get a couple of postcards to send to friends from home who have connections in Freiburg. We ate lunch and returned to the road refreshed. The rain made it difficult to take pictures so the only surviving picture is of a church that we drove by which has raindrops clearly showing in the picture.

Church in Freiburg

Church in Freiburg

The fog lifted in the afternoon and we were able to enjoy the famous Black Forest.

Black Forest

Black Forest

Black Forest 2

Black Forest 2

Small town in Black Forest

Small town in Black Forest

We drove through Baden-Baden and arrived at our lodging for the night at Karlsruhe, Germany.

There is a huge construction project going on across the street from our hotel. We went out for a walk before dinner/supper as the rain had let up and
found that this team of construction workers has a sense of humour. Even though the sign says that they are on strike, they were busy working away.

We are on strike

We are on strike

Reta thought this tower at the university was very colourful.

Tower in Karlsruhe, Germany

Tower in Karlsruhe, Germany

Street art always catches our attention. This rendition of a horse was today's focus.

Street art outside of theater in Karlsruhe

Street art outside of theater in Karlsruhe

We live in hope for sunshine tomorrow.

Posted by A-RPoulton 13:22 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Day 42

Circle tour

rain 12 °C

We woke this morning to pouring rain. It has rained all day. Too bad we are not in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan where this kind of rain would stop or slow down the wildfire which is causing so much damage to the environment and those who live in it.

We had a short drive through the hills and valleys and farm sites before the GPS found her way to a highway. We drove to Lucerne (or Luzern). Lucerne is located on a beautiful lake which was very rough this morning. In the background we could see the shapes of mountains in the clouds.

Reta caught a street art object as we drove through the city that she got a photo of. The shepherd and his sheep are endearing.

Lucerne street art

Lucerne street art

We traveled along the shore of Lake Lucerne for awhile which would have been a spectacular drive on a warm sunny day but was still impressive in the rain.

We then drove toward Zurich. We travelled along the north shore of Lake Zurich for awhile. We stopped at a view point and ate our picnic lunch there in the car.

We noticed a balcony scene in Zurich. No, this is not Juliette's balcony. (nor is it Verona, Italy)

Zurich street art

Zurich street art

We were disappointed to not have driven past the Zurich insurance office as Art worked for Zurich Life during his career.

We returned to our Gasthof and the rain continues.

We had thought of some items from our visit to Geneva that we would like to share with you.

Reta was driving on Friday, May 6th. We entered a tunnel in Switzerland. Switzerland has a sign at each tunnel entrance that tells the driver how long the tunnel is but we had not caught on to that at that point. Reta kept driving and saying. "when will this tunnel end?" Art noticed a sign that said 12. We wondered what that meant. Then we saw a sing that said 11. We then realized that we had yet to travel 11 kilometres to the end of the tunnel. When we got the computer going we discovered that we had been traveling in the Gotthard-Strassen Tunnel which is 16.9 kilometres long and is the fourth longest tunnel in the world today.
Tunnel digging has become an art.

We discovered that Switzerland is made up of "cantons". Each canton has its own government and police force and makes its own decisions about what language is spoken in their canton. We are aware that cantons make decisions about what is their official language. Some speak French, some German and some Italian. All cantons meet in the parliament to make decisions that affect the entire country.

Our tour guide told us that 1/3 of the people who work in Geneva are from communities outside of Geneva, for example Annemasse where we were staying. Of the remaining 2/3 people who work in Geneva, one half are from the countries who have "missions" in Geneva. A mission is equivalent to an embassy in other countries. Because an embassy can only be in the capital of a country, therefore the countries who have offices in Geneva are referred to as missions. The general population of Geneva are immigrants, some from the Reformation time, some from Portugal and many other countries.

The odd thing about all of this is that a country which at one time was a place of refuge for Protestant Christians is now largely home to Roman Catholics. The guide said that now Geneva is more Catholic than the Pope.

So tomorrow, we are off to the Black Forest of Germany.

Posted by A-RPoulton 08:01 Archived in Switzerland Comments (0)

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