Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bruchsal and Heilbronn, Germany

I'm in Bruchsal, Germany, population 43,000. Nothing much going on now in Bruchsal but, evidently back in the 1700's stuff was happening. Bruchsal Palace was constructed in 1720 as a residence for the Prince-Bishops of Speyer. It still amazes me as to why these big shot church officials needed to live in such splendor--on par with royalty?

This is the backside of Bruchsal Palace. Its formal name is Schloss Bruchsal. "Schloss" is the German word for castle. So in previous blogs where I've shown you palaces--they're actually castles---even though they don't have the usual fortifications or look you normally associate with castles.

A half dozen marble statues grace the grounds.

The buildings are decorated with gold-plated stucco. That's an on-site church in the right side of the photo.

Between these yellow buildings and the castle at the other end are the formal gardens and park.

One of the outer entry gates to Bruchsal Palace.

Town hall building in Heilbronn, population 1220,00.

Heilbronn saved something from its past and added something modern atop it.

Karlsruhe and Tubingen, Germany

I can't get all of Karlsruhe Palace in the picture frame because I can't back up any farther. The formal gardens are directly behind me but are fenced off due to the gardens being dug up and rebuilt. Built in 1715 this is now a museum.

A large public park occupies the grounds in the back of the palace.

The formal gardens extend as far as the construction crane you see in this photo. Built in 1715, they wait until 2011 when I show up to redo them.

Hundreds of people are hanging out in the park.

Karlsruhe is a good-sized city with 300,000 inhabitants. This is the city hall building. On the right side you see the German flag flying and on the left side the American flag. Couldn't find anyone to explain why the American flag was flying.

The town of Horb lies along the Neckar river.

Tubingen, population 85,000, is a real jewel. It's hilly, the Neckar river meanders through and, it's a vibrant university town with 22,000 students. This is the 15th century town hall.

A German magazine rated Tubingen as having the best quality of life of all German cities.

It's a lot of fun traversing the narrow streets of the old town area with flowers everywhere.

Hohentubingen castle sits atop the hill in the old town. A woman gave me directions on how to cycle up. Well, the woman didn't correctly give directions. I ended up here at this dead end moat. I had to carry my loaded down bike up and down a series of steep stairways and through a long narrow covered passage way. I'm not whining--ok yes I am.

This is the view from the castle grounds.

Sigmaringen castle dominates the town of Sigmaringen, population 16,000.

This the the town hall and main square in Sigmaringen.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Areas around Stuttgart, Germany

Cycling through Tuttlingen (population 35,000) I couldn't help noticing huge plumes of smoke coming from the train station. I investigate and turns out this massive steam locomotive was about to leave the station with a trainload of tourists and train enthusiasts.

A few miles down the road I passed a railway yard and came upon 14 more of these iron beasts lined up in a row. Unfortunately, it was obvious by the rust and rundown look of the locomotives that they had been put out to pasture many, many years ago.

Bicycle touring along Germany's many rivers is very popular with Germans in the summer. It's usually flat terrain with paved bikes routes separated from the roadways. I've been cycling along the Donau, it isn't a major river but, it's fun visiting towns along the way. This is the town hall of Donaueschingen (population 21,000). It's here where the rivers Breg and Brigach converge to form the famous river Danube.

A stone's throw from Donaueschingen's city hall stands princely Furstenberg Palace. Built in the 1600's it's quite impressive. However, it's still owned and occupied by the Furstenberg clan and only groups of 10 or more with appointments can get a tour of the castle and grounds.

This is a shot of the castle's formal gardens taken from an adjacent church.

Rottweil, population 25,000 has a beautiful medieval town center. The rottweiler dog is named after this town. I love the gargoyles and flowers on this building.

This is one of the remaining medieval town gates in Rottweil. Back in medieval times most towns in Europe were walled-in and fortified. There were usually two tower gates, one at each end of town. Besides controlling who went in and out, the tower gates were observations towers.

Cycling through this small village I noticed storks nesting atop this building.

Even the church steeple in this village has nesting storks.

This is a still standing medieval tower gate in the old town area of Villingen, part of Villingen-Schwenningen. Located in the Black Forest, Villigen and Schwenningen were two separate towns forced to merge in 1972 (due to territorial reforms). Jeez, couldn't they have come up with a shorter name?

Head 10 miles north of Stuttgart and you'll end up in Ludwigsburg, population 85,000. Smack in the middle of a downtown traffic intersection is where you'll find this piece of art hanging. Yep, that's a snake.

Forget the snake, this is what makes Ludswigburg famous. Residential Palace is the largest Baroque castle in Germany. This shows part of the formal gardens. Built between 1704-1733, it's been home to various dukes and kings of Wurttemberg. It's a massive complex with TWO other castles on the property.

This is the main entrance. I sure would hate having to vaccum the rooms here. Why? With 452 rooms it might take a while.

Favorite Castle is one of the two other castles on the site. Duke Eberhard Ludwig had this place built between 1713-1723 for someone special. Who was this special someone? No, not his wife, cousin, daughter, son or mother but, his mistress!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Baar and Bremgarten, Switzerland

The medieval town of Bremgarten is a real beaut.

That's a wooden covered bridge over the river.

The little red building you see in this photo is not a toll booth in the middle of the covered bridge but, a mini chapel housing religious statues. Though you can't see it, there's a second similar mini chapel directly across from this one.

The cherry tarts pictured here are excellent! I had three. Benny's bio bakery is located in Bremgarten's medieval town center. Normally I don't bother going into a bakery when it has the words "bio" anywhere on the outside of the place. Why? Because the goodies usually are boring and nothing has any taste. Glad I didn't follow my rule of thumb here.

Yep, those are nails sticking out of this unhappy looking guy.

There was a festival going on as I cycled through this small town located not too many miles from Bremgarten. The big draw was this boating contest. Evidently two people get in one of these metal boats and using only some kind of oar/paddle, they have to maneuver their craft through a series of challenges along this river. The river current was very strong with strength and skill being needed. Counted several hundred contestants of all shapes, sizes and ages--including women folk.

The best part were the bbq's going on along the riverbank. Had a terrific sausage!

Here I am in this German-speaking town and find a sign in English advertising a car wash AND a dog wash!

These two greet cyclists passing by.

This waiter looks to be directing me to his restaurant

This colorful display of flowers stands next to Baar's city hall.

This town near Cham, Switzerland takes a different way of announcing births. In the USA one sometimes see cardboard or wooden storks on a lawn announcing a birth. Here, they build a tall pole and place a small christmas tree atop. These two are for Olivia.

A few buildings over I see an announcement for Corby. Hmmm, he gets only one tree.

Bad Zurzach is a Swiss spa town. Kind of dated and not up to snuff like the many I've visited in Germany.

Not happy to find this castle near Bad Zurzach's town center closed. Still the gates are pretty impressive.