King of the Hill

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Friday, April 5, 2013

Howdy folks,

Having come home early from our Easter Roadtrip, we had a few spare days up our sleeves. Steffie's uncle was in the process of closing up his kiosk so we went around there to help him clean up. The kiosk was in Ludwigshafen so just across the Rhine River in the Pfalz. It is known for being more of a low income, industrial area home of the chemical giant BASF. Having never worked in a kiosk before let alone closing one, this was a new experience for me. We took down the shelves and emptied the stock, it ended up taking the whole day.

Steffie's parents bought some new bikes to replace their 30 year old ones and they were delivered all shiny and black. Bikes are big business in Germany. While you can go to the local REAL and buy one, most people take the time to invest in a decent bike because there are a lot of bicycle commuters and tourers. Even in the winter there were still people riding around in the snow and rain. I managed to get an old bike of Tanja and replace the tire and get it going. E-Bikes which are bikes with electric motors and batteries seem to becoming more popular here as well although I couldn't see that happening in Australia.

We arranged to go down to Tübingen on Friday and visit Martina because we missed catching up with her on Tuesday. The drive down was uneventful and we got there at lunchtime. Tübingen is a university town just south of Stuttgart and not so car friendly. Finding the right way was a little troublesome, but we eventually got there and walked down with Martina into town to have lunch at a nice Mexican restaurant overlooking the river.

After lunch we jumped back in the car to drive an additional 30kms south to Burg Hohenzollern which is a famous castle on a hill and just happens to be the cover photo of our Lonely Planet. The weather hadn't warmed up and it was still pretty overcast and cold. As we drove up the winding road to the carpark, there was still quite a bit of snow on the ground. Not wanting to spend €3 to walk 1km to the gate, we decided to climb the last part of the hill which was fine except the decision to take the closed footpath wasn't the best. Halfway up the path turned to slippery ice and luckily we were able to make it to the top although it was slow going!

We decided to pay €10 each to do a tour of the inside rooms as well as the outside grounds and walked up the circular driveway into the main courtyard. It was an interesting entrance for a castle that was rebuilt for the 3rd and final time in the mid 19th century. It is home to Prussian Princes although the title is only ceremonial after German monarchy was abolished after World War I. The current resident is Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern, although his family is only there during the summer and for special occasions.

Our nice view was obstructed by the low clouds although on a clear day it must be possible to see for miles around. The tour of the interior was awful. We had to put on these giant slippers to cover our shoes and stop us marking the marble floor and the tour guide had a horrendous regional dialect which made any sort of attempt to understand her impossible. Even Steffie had a hard time keeping up with 45 minutes of information about the Royal family throughout the various rooms. Apparently we were a small group and they have groups of 60 people trying to cram into the narrow passageways in the summer. The rooms were nice, but I wouldn't do it again.

The rooms weren't heated and just as cold as outside so we walked back down the road to get back to the car and were happy to warm up. We drove back to Tübingen to have a dinner of wine and oven cheese. There is a special cheese you can buy which you put in the oven to melt it and then peel back the skin so you can dip your bread into it. It was certainly different and I guess it is sort of like a lazy man's fondue!
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