Tall and Famous

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Germany  , Bavaria,
Friday, March 29, 2013

Howdy folks,

Day One and Two of our 'Great Escape' saw us heading out of Heidelberg on Thursday directly after my class finished at 1pm. Just like Steve McQueen, we headed south towards Switzerland and promptly found a traffic jam. There was an accident in the fast lane and we were reduced to crawling for 20 minutes. It didn't seem too bad, but there was another one on the north-bound side between 3 cars that was holding up the traffic even more. The German Autobahn normally has just two or three lanes in each direction so accidents cause big delays.

As we left the traffic jam the traffic got better, but as we approached our destination of Ulm, we got stuck once more for over 30 minutes. Ulm is only 200kms away from Heidelberg´, but with all our delays it took just over 3 hours. I guess that everywhere in the world on Easter Thursday is the same. I remember the delays in Adelaide being pretty big on the freeway.

We were gambling with the weather over the Easter weekend. Normally in Germany, Easter is the start of the warmer months, but the temperature dropped back down the last 2 weeks and I managed to catch a cold. As we arrived at our hotel it was raining and even though we had a few hours of daylight, we had no motivation. Instead we had dinner at the hotel which was a newly built complex complete with restaurant-function room. There were about 5 people having dinner, but they had a schnitzel special so we couldn't resist. I drank a local beer - Gold Ochsen which wasn't bad. Our room was pretty modern, but lacked simple things like a room phone and an alarm clock which was a bit strange.

Our hotel was actually in Neu-Ulm which is across the River Donau from Ulm and technically in Bayern. After our breakfast, we checked out and walked across the bridge back into Ulm and Baden-Württemberg! The Donau or Danube starts in the Black Forest and goes all the way through Eastern Europe before emptying into the Black Sea through Romania. It is interesting that two large rivers which both start in the Southern Baden-Württemberg go in two completely different directions. The Rhine River empties into the North Sea through Holland. 

Thankfully the weather was clearing up and the morning promised to have some blue sky. We walked along the city wall until we reached the Metzgerturm which is leaning at the top by 2 metres off centre. It isn't like the Tower of Pisa but you can definitely tell that it isn't straight. Ulm is also known for having a Crooked House (Schiefes Haus) and Thin House (Schmales Haus) which are apparently in the Guiness Book of World Records. Both houses are in the Fischerviertel of the Alt Stadt where the houses seem to bend around the river that runs through the area. It is a pretty cool part of the city and definitely worth exploring.

From there we walked back to the main shopping strip to take a look at the stupid Einstein Monument that marks where the house once stood where Albert Einstein was born. Despite the fact that his parents moved when he was one, doesn't stop the town trying the harness his fame. The monument and the supposed fountain on the other side of town were a total waste of time and space.

The most famous part of Ulm is the Münster which was the tallest structure in the world from 1890 to 1901 and still the tallest church in the world. However it didn't achieve its fame overnight with construction first starting in 1377. Such is the case with these old churches here that they start small and just get expanded and expanded throughout the centuries. Thankfully it survived World War II mostly intact. With the spire closed for renovations, climbing the 768 steps up to the top was sadly out of the question. We had to come back later because there was an Easter Friday service and when we went inside the ceilings were enormous. Sadly there wasn't such a nice stained glass window like the one in Strassbourg, but it was still impressive.

With the sights having been seen, we walked back to the car to drive to Füssen. The town lies in the south of Bayern right on the border from Austria and it didn't take us long to reach it. We stopped in at McDonalds for lunch and contemplated our next move. The weather had clouded over making a trip to the Zugspitze or the Schloss Neuschwanstein so we decided to go for a walk through the Alt Stadt. For such a small town, the city boasted a city wall, a schloss and nice shopping district albeit it closed.

After walking around for over an hour it was time to head to the hotel in nearby Schwangau and we drove past the twin schlosses of Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein although the clouds were so low we could barely see them. I guess that from our balcony we should normally be able to see the Tegelberg, but it has been snowing all evening. Hopefully the weather clears up enough tomorrow so we can get high!
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