Sunday, July 24, 2016

Germany - Part 2

Ok, here's part two of our epic Germany trip. :) You can find Part 1 here.

Richard got sick Sunday night before we left, Eric got sick Monday night, so I ended up letting him sleep in on Tuesday and then we had a leisurely morning at Andrea's parents' place. Gave the midget a much needed bath and got clean ourselves. We finally set off for Bamberg after lunch. We were going to drive up to the castle but ended up getting lost in the tiny little cobblestone alleys and so we decided to turn around and park where we could. That ended up being at the tourist information center parking garage.

The tourist information center had a beautiful rose garden in front of it.

Then we crossed the river into another section of the city and decided to find a place to eat a quick snack and just generally take a look at the architecture and such.

There are a lot of churches on this side of the river, because it was the religious side. The other side of the river was dedicated to homes for the local craftsmen.

You could just see two of the towers of the Dom over the roof tops. We figured that would be part of the tour that we'd take with Andrea's friend later, so we didn't try and walk there.

We did stop at another church though, and although we didn't try to go in, the carvings and the big wooden door were fun to look at.

I have this thing for doors...

We'd become accustomed to having coffee and cake around 3 or 4 o'clock every day. So we decided to stop and have a wrap and pretzel, some really good mint tea, and cake.

Then we had to hurry to meet up with Andrea, her mother, sister, and her friend (our tour guide). Bamberg was first mentioned in 902 CE and became the seat of a bishopric in 1007 CE. We learned about the witch burnings that took place in Bamberg. My only frame of reference for that is the Spanish inquisition and the Salem witch trials. It floored me to hear that they killed over 600 people during three waves of witch burnings. Most of them were burned, but if you were an aristocrat or one of the city elders, you were given a more "humane" death by beheading. Although most of the people killed were women, in the third wave, a lot of men were killed, including the mayor and several city councilmen. Perhaps because someone was angling for their jobs and it was on the accused to prove their innocence.

This is a tactile city map of Bamberg that has braille writing as well as "normal" writing. I thought that was a pretty neat idea. You can see the river flowing through and city hall, which is in the center of the river. 

That's the city hall. One side (closer) dates back to the middle ages, and the other side to the Baroque era. During the Baroque, the entire building was plastered and painted, but towards the end of WWII, the bridges were shelled and some of the plaster was damaged on the medieval portion. They found the stunning medieval woodwork underneath and decided to return it to the original look instead of trying to recreate the plasterwork.

This is one of the houses that's been returned to the medieval style. During the Baroque period, the city offered to give people several years worth of tax breaks for anyone willing to redo their house in the Baroque style (about 4 years worth) or build an entirely new house in that style (20-25 years worth). You can tell which houses used to be plastered, because the woodwork is dinged up so the plaster would adhere better.

We got to stop and buy some souvenirs. We always get ornaments for our tree and a shot glass if we go somewhere new (and have the time to shop).

This is the center portion of city hall. It's got the Rococo statue and balcony on both sides. One side has the city's patron saint, St. George, which you would see when crossing towards the craftsmen's side of the city. And the bishop of Bamberg at the time the statues were added on the other side, facing the religious side of the city. Someone in Bamberg was also the first to invent a clock that would strike on the quarter hour, and the first example was installed in the city hall tower. They also used to have lookouts at the top of the tower for fire and approaching armies and would post a flag (day) or lantern (night).

A close-up of the painted side. It was designed to emulate a Roman temple.

You can see the old slaughter house (now offices and library for the local university) from city hall. It has the statue of an ox over the door which has real horns and a recent mayor had to go to Hungary to retrieve new horns for the statue since no oxen in Germany have large enough horns.

This is the oldest apothecary in Europe that is still in its original location, but the second oldest overall.

Richard had a lot of fun running around. But he never did get to nap that day, so he got pretty cranky towards the end of the day.

The Schlenkerla, one of two breweries in Bamberg that still makes the original smoked beer. All beer used to be made that way in the winter, because in order to stop the fermentation process, you need to heat the mash. In the winter you couldn't do that in the sun, so the mash became infused with the smoke from the fire they used instead. We tried a pint, but like all beers, I didn't care for it. Eric loved it though and bought a six pack to bring back home.

We didn't make it up to the Dom, because we ran out of time. Between me having to translate everything into English for Eric, so he'd get some enjoyment out of our tour, and Richard wanting to run around occasionally, it took way longer than anticipated.

We did get down to Little Venice, which is where the fishermen used to live. They used to be able to row their boats right into the basements of their houses to unload and were one of the most prosperous guilds in the city behind the gardeners. Most of the houses also had balconies to dry and repair nets. Once the river was dammed and regulated (it only changes water levels by about 10 cm), the houses acquired little yards instead. A few people also built little vacation houses during the Baroque period.

You can see one such house built by the secretary of a city councilman in between the pink and the black houses. Its roof line is different.

Another view of the old slaughterhouse. They used to throw all the offal straight into the water and it would get swept into the river through the archways. The fishermen downstream loved it, because the fish were always fat and happy. 

It was starting to get late and because the Germany EuroCup game was on that night, we didn't get to go to the restaurant I had scoped out during our earlier walk. So we ended up at the Schlenkerla. Unfortunately, they didn't have a high chair for Richard and he got increasingly fussy in his stroller. The food left something to be desired as well, but at least the company was good. 

We got back right around 11:30pm, after having driven 4 hours back to my grandmother's house. I drove most of the way. Driving at 200 km/hr is so much fun, but also takes a lot of concentration.

On Wednesday morning we brought the rental car back, although we had to go to the rental car place first and make sure it was ok to be a little late and ask where the nearest gas station was. They said it was fine and pointed me in the right direction. My mom had beat us back from her trip to Barcelona with the good news that everything she'd needed to take care of had gone according to plan.

My grandmother's backyard. It was finally sunny and got relatively hot the second week we were there.

On Thursday, my aunt Elke had found the remaining white asparagus of the season from a farm stand, and my grandmother made German pancakes. She'd just gotten her hair done that morning, so decided to put on a head scarf to protect her hair from the smell.

Lunch was white asparagus, German pancakes, and ham. It was so yummy and didn't taste anything like the white asparagus we get here.

Like always, our kid ate like a champ.

After lunch, my mom, grandmother, aunt, Richard and I headed to my godmother's house (my grandmother's sister) for coffee and cake. It was super hot there, because they don't have A/C and didn't have any windows open either. Plus they have a bench that the hot water from their solar array runs through and you can't turn that off.

Eric decided to go to the public pool with my cousin Marius to cool off and because he couldn't stomach the thought of another round of coffee and cake.

Once again our kiddo missed his afternoon nap and started to get cranky. Despite the cranky kid and the hot house, I'm glad I got to see my godmother though.

When we got back, we spent some time in the garden just hanging out and enjoying the weather.

We finished out the night playing Romme.

Oma Fini had wanted to know what we wanted for lunch on Friday. Since my Knoedel at the Schlenkerla had been unsatisfactory, I requested Knoedel. When pressed, we also asked for blue cabbage and roast. She delivered admirably. We also kept the kiddo entertained with the metal whisks after lunch.

After lunch, we put Richard down for a nap, handed the monitor off to my mom, and headed into the city to buy a few presents for people. You can see the difference in the height of the river and we were able to walk along the riverside walk.

When we got to the city, we stopped for some ice cream. I finally got my favorite, pistachio, and because the midget wasn't with us, I could also indulge in some hazelnut.

We wandered around after that and stopped in at this shop and that shop and just bought whatever looked cute. We even bought Richard a stuffed animal panther ("dat").

Because it was so hot, but ran out of time to go to the public pool because my uncle Wolfi and his soon-to-be wife came to visit, we decided to fill up a basin of water for Richard and let him run around naked for a while.

We also went on a last minute shopping trip to grab a few more things we wanted to bring home with us (mustard, herb salt, etc.) and because Richard didn't want to go to sleep, ended up picking up pizza again instead of having another date night. We packed up our bags and then sat around talking with my mom until the wee hours of the morning, when Oma Ursel finally came out of her room and yelled at us for being loud.

The trip back on Saturday was worse in some ways than the way there. We got up around 8:30am and were headed to the airport by 9:30am. Got to the Zurich airport well ahead of our scheduled departure time of about 1pm, only to find out the flight was two hours delayed. So we had five hours to kill during with Richard slept for half an hour right before our plane boarded. Then on the plane we couldn't get him to sleep at all, and about two hours before we were supposed to land, he just totally lost it. Eric ended up having to stand up in the aisle while the fasten seat belt was illuminated to get him to calm down. He ended up falling asleep on Eric's shoulder. Going through JFK was nuts too. Not only did you need to pay for a cart (which we didn't want to do), but we had to grab all of our checked luggage, go through customs (with an expired green card with a sticker on the back saying it was extended through the end of June, which meant an endless round of questions from every security checkpoint we went through starting in Zurich), an overtired toddler, we lost the banana that Richard hadn't managed to eat on the plane, and our bottle of Jaeger plus a full bottle of sprite, because we'd forgotten they were in our carry ons and had to go through another round of security checks, and then had another flight to look forward to, which we had to take a bus to get to. At least Richard was fairly well behaved on that flight, minus a few hiccups. And Max came through for us and picked us up at the airport. We actually managed to get all our stuff unpacked and put away on Sunday.

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