Castles and Palaces

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Saturday, November 10, 2012

Howdy folks,

Now that I'm not travelling too far, I won't be writing such a comprehensive blog, but if something pops up that is interesting you know I will be there to take a photo! This week has been the first school week so I've been spending most of my time in the classroom. It is a slow process and I think I will have to take the next course as well before my German will be anywhere good enough. Having said that, I've been keeping some time free to play some frisbee when the weather is good. I've recruited a few of my fellow students and on Friday we even had some random guy join in who was walking past. Such is the power of frisbee as a cohesive bond!

On Friday, I was keen to go to Heidelberg for a Couch Surfing Sprach Cafe where you can go and practice your German and meet new people. Before Steffie and I left, they told me about St Martin's Day. In essence, the day is to teach children the values of kindness and sharing. We left the house at 6pm to walk down to meet all the other school children at the school. It is tradition to walk with paper lanterns, singing songs and meeting around a bonfire. There were plenty of kids around carefully supervised by their parents and the fire brigade. At the end they all got a pretzel baked figure.

After the event, we walked back home and drove into Heidelberg. We parked at the east end of Alt Stadt near the Karlstor and walked past the big church to a small cafe nearby. There were quite a few people there already and everybody was already talking in their own groups, so Steffie and I just decided to have a hot chocolate alone and participate next week. The hot chocolate was interesting, it was a milk latte with a chocolate bar that you had to melt into the milk. The pumpkin seed flavour wasn't too bad!

Once we were finished, it started getting really busy so we left to take a walk down to the Alte Brucke. I had seen a few nice photos with the bridge and castle in the same photo so I wanted to get the same, but I think it works better in the daytime. We also went for a walk back to Karlstor which is an entrance gate and a pretty big one at that! I still haven't been up to the castle so I will have to do that on a clear day.

Steffie is a little sick again so she wasn't up to doing much today. To top it off, it was raining so there was a bit less motivation to go sightseeing. We were going to head south to Karlsruhe for the day, but decided just to go to Mannheim instead. It is a 15 minute drive there and just like in Heidelberg, most of the parking lots are underground. Our first stop was the Schloss Mannheim which is the largest Baroque palace in Germany. Originally the local ruler Elector Karl III Philip of the Palatine was based in Heidelberg, but decided to move his location to Mannheim and had a large palace constructed there starting in 1720 and being completed in 1760. Karl Philip died in 1742 and his heir Karl Theodor took over. His stay in the palace was shortlived however, because he inherited the Elector of Bavaria and had to move to Munich.

The palace's history was well documented in the museum in the main wing. After being severely damaged in World War 2, it had to be rebuilt and reconstruction was only completed 5 years ago. Most of the rooms have imitation furnishings or tables, chairs and artifacts similar to what would have been in the palace some 250 years ago. The audio guide was good although a little long in sections and unless you are a real history buff you won't listen to all the selections. Nevertheless it was the first palace I've ever been in, so well worth the visit. The adjacent church was also very well decorated and Mozart played there once.

We walked down from the palace to Parade Platz and down the shopping mall to the Water Tower. The water tower is definitely a meeting point and has many fountains, trees, hotels and conference centres around it. There was even a rabbit eating the grass! Thankfully the rain started to hold out and we were able to walk around more comfortably. We walked back through town and bought tickets for the upcoming Hand Ball game this weekend and a computer game from Saturn Electronic Store. The Germans seem to be keen on simulator games with there being just about every possible permutation from trains, farming, trucks and even snow grooming! If I spent my time doing that I would want to be paid for it!

We drove back to Edingen and I made fried rice for the crew although it turned out to be more overcooked than fried. I don't have a wok here so it was a little tricky to make. Steffie decided to have ice cream for dinner with a little plum liqueur drizzled on top so it was quite nice!
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