Karl's Rest

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg,
Saturday, June 15, 2013

Howdy folks,

After a hard week at work, it was good to see some sunshine again. The weather has been slowly getting better and we hit 27 degrees again. On the way to work I rode past a modified Trabant which had been turned into a LKW (semi-trailer) not wanting to miss a photo-op, I drove back there once I got home and took a photo! The spargel has been growing non-stop for 2 months as well and is well over a metre high. I'm not really sure what they want to do with it now as people only eat the shoots.

Steffie has been busy baking up a storm for her friend Yvonne's 30th birthday. She gave herself the challenge of baking a 2 tier cake with two different fillings! Not as easy challenge, she finished it in 3 days although the decorating was a little stressful. At the birthday party on Friday night, we heard no complaints and Yvonne was impressed.

Miraculously I had a long weekend with Friday afternoon to Monday morning free and with good weather! Unfortunately paragliding was postponed to Sunday due to strong winds so we decided to hit the road and checkout Karlsruhe. The town is only 60kms south of Heidelberg, but we had only bypassed it on the Autobahn a few times. We almost took the train because the Bundesland ticket would have costed around the same price as fuel and parking, but we weren't so organised. Just outside the city we hit a nice traffic jam which we were lucky to get out of.

Karlsruhe is every definition of a planned city and definitely one for architecture fans or conspiracy theorists due to its layout. It is even suggested that it was the inspiration for Washington DC, although the two cities have completely different vibes. The city and palace was the dream of Markgraf Karl III Wilhelm von Baden-Durlach who started construction in 1715. It has had a short, but turbulent history with everything from tulips to bombings. Karlsruhe was even the former Baden capital.

We parked at the Ettlinger Tor Shopping Centre which is roughly in the middle of downtown between the Hauptbahnhof and the Schloss. From there we walked up Karl-Fredrich Straße to the Marktplatz which is the site of the Stadtkirche, Pyramid Tomb and Central Police Station. The Stadtkirche was completely rebuilt after it was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944, as was the church in Worms. The interior renovations weren't great and the modern concrete look doesn't do it justice.

The pyramid was interesting as it was erected on the site of an old church years after the great man's death. It actually suits the city given the sort of Freemason theme that the whole place has. The city's nickname is actually 'the fan city' because the streets radiate outwards from the Schloss and is a mixture of triangles, lines and circles. You can really see the similarities and symbolism on the old plan on Wikipedia.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Karlsruher_Stadtansicht.jpg

The Karlsruhe Schloss was also destroyed by bombing in 1944. Sadly all of the original furnishings were destroyed, but the Schloss was rebuilt and now houses a museum spanning the entire 3 level complex. The ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian exhibits weren't so interesting, but on the middle level they had quite a few furniture pieces which were saved from destruction. They included the original throne, sceptre and sword of the Markgraf along with old furniture sets and even an extensive travel beauty case. Sadly photos were forbidden.

We got to walk up to the top of the tower to see the view over the city. The tower also marks the central point of the city which seems to radiate out from the Schloss in all directions. It kind of gives you a sense of what kind of ego trip this guy was on when he planned the city. From every direction, he was the centre of attention. On the upper level, there were a few interesting exhibits about German culture through the 20th century, the impact of Muslims in Germany and also some sporting stars. I especially liked the decade by decade exhibit showcasing old 'Der Spiegel' magazines and retro things from each decade. Sadly we didn't have time to walk through the gardens as Steffie's shoes were killing her.

It was also time for lunch so we headed to Burger King. Finding fast food restaurants in Germany isn't easy unless you are in downtown or on the side of the Autobahn and I think that is a good thing. At the moment we are only eating junk food once a month or less. But then again for 7€, a meal isn't cheap. You can normally order a schnitzel in a restaurant for under 10€.

Steffie was keen to go shopping so we left the sightseeing aside and headed to Primark for some End-Of-The-World shopping. I say that because you could not imagine how many crazy people were in the store: it was absolutely full with people picking up everything and piles of clothes everywhere. This is how I would imagine a break down of social order to be when the Apocalypse is eventually announced. Then again when I can pick up a Tshirt for 2,50€ then who's complaining! Having said that, because the line was so long to try on everything, I assumed my sizes were correct and failed on 2 pairs of shorts. But Steffie got 3 handbags so she was happy.

Once we stepped out of the madness I was pretty much done for the day. We walked back to Ettlinger Tor past the Federal Court of Justice, St Stephan's church and the State Museum of Natural History so I guess we have a few more things to check out when we come back again! Next time by train...

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