Last day of the year! Our NYE hasn’t turned out exactly as we’d like but I guess it will be one to look back on and laugh.
We are in Rothenberg ob der Tauber which is a pretty little medieval town, very much a tourist place but despite that more than half the shops were either closed all day or closed at 2pm today. We walked the entire old town wall, much of it on the covered walkway at the top of the wall. According to Lonely Planet it’s only 2.5 km around but I beg to differ. About halfway (or possibly a bit earlier) I looked at my pedometer and saw that I’d walked 6 km already today, by the end that was up to 10. It took one and a half hours of fairly consistent walking so I’m guessing at least 6 km in total. Anyway, it was a great experience, peeking into the backyards of houses and seeing the full range of well-preserved medieval buildings as well as some lovely views over the countryside and the Tauber river which Rothenberg is on. We were ready for coffee (hot chocolate for Giselle) and Schneeballen by the end, and then on the way back to the hotel I wondered whether we should book a restaurant for dinner. Decided not to as we were still trying to establish whether or not the famous Night Watchman tour would be on tonight at 8pm, and thought we could ask at the hotel. No one was around (haven’t seen any staff at all, the key was left in the letterbox for us when we arrived! I’m assuming someone will be here in the morning, I haven’t paid yet). I did some googling and discovered that the tours are daily except December 24 and 31, oh well. Having had cake so late in the afternoon, we didn’t venture out again until 7.45pm, but thinking that it’s NYE, surely that won’t be a problem for restaurants... The restaurants we tried were either closed, closed for private parties, or the kitchen had closed already (even though there were still people eating). Even the Doner kebab place that Google assured us was open until 10pm wasn’t. Finally we found a Chinese restaurant that was still open and still serving food...but they had no room for us...so takeaway and a look at livestream fireworks on YouTube it was!
Now I’d better backtrack a little.
We left Zurich on Friday and headed to Pforzheim which is close to where Giselle's friend Sarah lives. Three trains to get to Pforzheim. The first, a Swiss one, was a standard long distance train, the second was a double-decker regional train and the third was only one carriage, like a bus on rails.
The scenery along the way was interesting, I’m glad I chose this rather than the simpler two train way which would have been backtracking from Basel to Karlsruhe. Seeing the Rhine falls, spectacular although gone very quickly; lots of pretty little towns; rural scenes of cows and farms; tiny chapels; frost everywhere the sun hadn’t hit. As we got closer it looked like it could have been snow because is was in the trees as well but it seems it is just a semi-permanent version of frost. We followed a river for much of the final leg. Pforzheim is on three rivers, the Enz, the Nagold and the Wurm.
Sarah and her father Mattius came and picked us up at about 2pm. We went to their house in Ispringen where we met her mother Susanna, two of her sisters Milena and Ninetta, her cousin Lily who lives in Norway, and Ninetta’s friend Sochi from South Korea - they met at an English language school in New Zealand, Sochi has been in Germany since September now learning German!
A great deal of effort (and the good china) had gone into afternoon tea with a cake, tea and coffee in pots, home-made biscuits and special Christmas biscuits that are made with old wooden moulds. The recipe has been handed down by their grandmother, they take more than 24 hours to make and are flavoured with aniseed.
A little later, Susanna and Sarah took us to the town of Calw which is a very pretty town made up of medieval buildings. It is also the birthplace of Herman Hesse, the poet, and there is a statue of him on an old bridge that also has a very old chapel on it. It was very cold walking around. We had coffee in a cafe and also spent time in a bookshop before it was time to meet the other girls for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Susanna teaches at a kindergarten and we spoke a little of favourite children’s books, she likes Jackie French’s Diary of a wombat. In the bookshop I looked for any Australian picture books that had been translated but couldn’t see any but I did find Do not lick this book which was the 2018 CBCA Information book winner. Susanna thought it would be a good one for the kindergarten children. At the kindergarten about 90% of the children don’t have German as their first language, many are refugees from Iraq and Syria.
Dinner was at a large beer hall style restaurant, Brauhaus (brewhouse) Schonbuch , in an old sports hall that has been done up. A nice, noisy place. The crowd silenced briefly when one of the waiters rather spectacularly dropped a large pile of used plates. The food was traditional and locally sourced. I had beef goulash with spatzle (noodles) Giselle had schnitzel with mushrooms and spatzle.
Pforzheim is known for jewellery and watchmaking so when Sarah met us at the station the next morning we went to the Schmuckmuseum (jewellery museum). The museum was very good, the historical collection goes back to Ancient Egyptian times, right through to the 20th century. It’s interesting that people have been using precious metals to create earrings, rings and necklaces for thousands of years and that even the very old stuff could be worn today.
Next we headed to the Mittelaltermarkt (Middle Ages Market) which is similar to many of the Christmas markets but has a middle ages theme. People working there are all dressed in costume, and the crafts on display - timber, ceramics, wool/felting, silverwork using an open fire to melt the metal - are from olden times. Mind you, the food wasn’t particularly Middle Ages, plenty of potatoes - introduced by Frederick the great in the 18th century, plus pizza, waffles etc. It was fun.
Then it was time for Giselle and Sarah to say their goodbyes and we caught our first train to Stuttgart, followed by the train to Munich. On the platform at Stuttgart we were standing around with our packs on for quite some time so I decided to bend down to shift the weight around, I lost control and ended up on my back, must have looked ridiculous but it was pretty funny and no harm done!
Me on the platform at Stuttgart
MUNICH. In the morning we walked to Marienplatz where we planned to join a walking tour. We were early so had a bit of a walk around. Found the Michael Jackson shrine, bizarre. Joined the walking tour. It was very cold with light rain and wind making it feel worse than 3C usually would. The walking tour was fine, in and out of a couple of churches, interesting to see a very glamorous shopping centre behind an old looking facade. I guess I must be reaching the point of tourist fatigue because nothing really stands out from the tour. The Hofbrauhaus was interesting for the detail about the 621 people who have their personal beer stein kept in a locker for them to use each day, at a cost each year and the locker only given up when they die! Beyond that I really don’t remember much except for the regular chiming of bells which the guide had to compete with.
Lunch was at a cafe we’d seen on the walk, chicken noodle soup for me, tomato soup, served with a bowl of piped whipped cream(!), for Giselle. We then went to the Pinakothek de Moderne (modern art museum). Very busy. Most museums in Munich are only 1 euro entry, under 18’s free, on a Sunday. All the shops except cafes, takeaway food and restaurants are closed so what else would you do on a cold Sunday! A queue to get a ticket, then a queue to cloak our bags.
There are four sections to the museum, a design museum, modern art, graphics - meaning works on paper, and architecture. The design part was interesting although there were a lot of chairs, none for actually sitting on. Also a special exhibition of jewellery which was a good complement to yesterday’s as it was more recent “out there” work rather than historical. The graphic collection is huge apparently so they only ever have a small part on display. At the moment it is works on paper that are designs for bigger works, mostly frescoes and the like for churches. The architecture display was on the various buildings constructed for Ludwig II. The modern art collection had works by many famous artists but we didn’t spend long there.
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I'm off on an adventure to Europe, on my own for 12 days and the remaining 3 weeks with my 17 year old daughter. This is where I'm going to share my adventures.
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