August 15, 2009
Per usual, I’ve started this post fairly late in the evening, and once again I’m promising myself that I’ll go to bed at a decent time (heh). Tomorrow we’re leaving for Vienna, and while I may snag some extra hours of sleep during the seven-hour drive, I also have plans for some wild and extended reading. Have sixty pages left of The Name of the Wind. Then, I’m restricting myself to Moby-Dick and The Great Hunt for the next six days and twenty-one hours of driving. I’ve been neglecting both on purpose and by principle.
Yesterday, we toured Nuremburg with Mr. Jaeschke as our intrepid tour guide. He grew up in Nuremburg, and when you combine this fact with his penchant for German and church history, he does a very good impression of a walking encyclopedia. We started at the castle, which, like Burg Colmberg, sits on a hill overlooking the city.
Lots of cobblestone streets, stone walls, tile roofs, and flower boxes under the windows. I was content to think of it as medieval, but Mr. Jaeschke pointed our which bits were constructed during the Romanesque period and which bits during the Gothic period. You can tell by the windows, apparently; I kind of had it after we saw the Renaissance-style town hall and fountains, and the Gothic cathedrals. (And, by the way, Mr. Jaeschke pronounced it “Ra-NAY-sense,” which made my day.) Anyway.
Here’s a closer view of the main castle. There were apparently three castles in this complex: one for the regional prince, one for his under-leader-dude who always stayed in Nuremburg, and one for the castle-keeper. To the right of this picture is the well house. The well was almost fifty meters deep through straight rock and took ten years to chisel out.
Here’s a view of Nuremburg from the castle wall.
Hm. This was just yesterday and already I don’t remember my order of events. We sauntered down from the castle into the city, and I think we ate lunch next. We sat across from town hall and had Nuremburgers (sausages; every region in Germany has its own distinctive type of sausage). They were good enough that I didn’t even mind the sauerkraut when I ate them together. Actually, the sauerkraut was good as far as pickled cabbage goes, despite the lurking caraway seeds.
Memorandum: German bathrooms sport this odd, plastic, re-usable “paper towel.” The thing looks like a paper towel dispenser, but the “paper towel” makes a loop through the dispenser and hangs down beneath the dispenser. You can pull a fresh part of the “paper towel” ring out of the dispenser, but you can’t pull and tear it. The towel feels funky and synthetic and strikes me as unsanitary.
Anywho. We walked through a couple of cathedrals. See below:
Note the Gothic style (I’m pretty sure). Mr. Jaeschke led us inside to a row of seats near the back, stood in front of us, and drew our attention to the various parts of the church. The heraldic shields were placed there in memory of members of those aristocratic families that died. The shields kept on getting bigger and bigger until the church enforced limits. The ceiling near the back is Romanesque as you can tell by the stolid capital and vaulting, but the front of the church was finished during the Gothic period as you can tell by the windows. This statue represents human mortality and was placed by the door where the emperor, when visiting, would leave the church. Etc.
The host and relics would have been kept inside this door.
This is the Beautiful Fountain, which stands in the corner of Nuremburg’s center square. The shop where Jon bought their wedding rings is about fifty feet away.
After touring the center of town, we went to see the Zepplin Field and the Nazi rally grounds. The size of those sights staggers the mind. I didn’t know how to feel as I stood and leaned against the railing where Hitler gave all of those speeches of which I’ve seen grainy black-and-white pictures.
It may look more familiar like this:
The Jaeschkes foisted cola and cookies upon us when we got back to their house, and we discussed how fast we’ve all driven on the autobahn. When Mrs. Jaeschke learned I was staying in Germany for five weeks after Mom and Dad are leaving, she said I should spend a weekend with them. She also volunteered her son’s soon-to-be in-laws to host me for a weekend in Hamburg. I smiled and nodded.
I feel like this post is already quite long enough, but I’d like to touch on today’s visit to Rothenburg quickly because I don’t think I’ll be posting for the next six or seven days.
Rothenburg is a walled medieval city and the inspiration behind the setting for Disney’s Pinocchio. Very cute with tiny cobblestone streets and wood-and-plaster buildings. It is also, without two doubts, a tourist spot. The outsides of the buildings are deceptive, but once you’ve stepped into the teddy bear shop or the knights and armor shop or the Christmas shop, you feel like you could be at Mackinac Island. The Christmas shop was absolutely enormous, with room after room of ornaments, toys, gadgets, and things of questionable usage. It was all bright and flashy, well designed and well marketed. The smell of the air conditioning reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean, and Steve asked if he had died and gone to Disney World.
This post is already pretty picture heavy, but indulge me.
Our view of the city wall as we walked in.
Just a random street. It pretty much looked like this everywhere.
I’m guessing this building is the town hall. Anyway, the area underneath is the main marktplatz of the city. As you can see, there were various fruit stands, apple cider stands, embroidery stands. Most of the shops were near this marktplatz.
We had feuerwurst (fire sausage) for lunch down the street. Imagine half a meter of thin hot dog, except the hot dog is actually quality sausage with mustard and the bun is crusty European baguette.
There’s a fort at the southern end of Rothenburg, and this is the rotunda of the fort. Quite the juxtaposition to see cars driving through this.
Inside the fort. There was hardly anyone around and we didn’t have to pay to get in. Michael kept on humming Legend of Zelda tunes. I wondered if the setting for a dozen and one fantasy novels come from research into medieval times or research into how other fantasy authors wrote medieval times.
We walked most of the way back to the marktplatz via the city wall. Also felt extremely fantasy. Fig had to duck sometimes because the rafters were so low.
Once off the wall, we indulged in some ice cream. Here is Fig beforehand, contemplating the thought of ice cream and the warmth of the sun on his luminescent skin.
We had to park outside of the city. Here is Mom picking a plum from a tree on one of the sidewalks. I asked Mom to give me a sneaky expression, and this is what I got.