Monday, December 22, 2014

O Holy Night

It's time for this again!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014


We went to Marburg on German Unity Day (a national holiday). It has a pretty neat castle and old town, and the weather was good.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Art Nouveau in Bad Nauheim

Bad Nauheim is an old spa town. There is mineral water flowing around that you can still sample. It tastes strongly of salt and iron. You shouldn't drink much of it. There is a spa complex (the Sprudelhof) that was built in the early 1900s, therefore in the art nouveau style (Jugenstil in German). It has bathouses that are still in use today. So every year the city has a Jugendstil festival with antique vendors and people walking around in period costume. The reason we went, though, was the opportunity to ride an old-timey bike (apparently called a penny-farthing). The guy who owned the bike had to hold it up the whole time we were on it, but that still counts.
One of the pros riding around

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Wetzlar has a nice old town with a lot of half-timbered houses. Like everywhere else in Germany, Goethe lived there for a brief time. Two of his friends who lived there influenced his book The Sorrows of Young Werther, and you can visit their houses.

some half-timbered houses

Sunday, August 10, 2014


We went to Tübingen on one of the few summery days this year. We walked around the old town and saw parts of the university, where Kepler, among others, studied. We had lunch at a restaurant on the river, then walked around some more and up to the castle. The castle has nice views over the city and a museum that includes a prehistoric horse figurine.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Roman Germany

The Romans did make it into Germany a little. Like Hadrian's Wall in England, they built a limes marking the edge of their territory in Germany. The Romans built a fort in Aalen, and some ruins remain. We also went by a villa rustica, this one a Roman winery, in the Palatinate region. They grow grapes there today, too.
rare silver mask at the Roman museum in Aalen
ruins in Aalen
part of the villa rustica
reconstructed tower that was part of the limes

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Schloss Nymphenburg

We went to a Neutral Milk Hotel concert in the evening in Munich, so we used that day to go to Nymphenburg Palace near Munich. We ate lunch in a park nearby that has a beer garden right next to a deer enclosure. The palace is very similar to a number of other palaces we've seen in Europe. The buildings in the gardens were pretty neat.
from the front
part of the interior
in the Hall of Mirrors in of one of the garden houses (Amalienburg). That's all silver there, even though it looks goldish in the picture.
grotto-like chapel

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Japan Day in Düsseldorf

Düsseldorf has a relatively large Japanese population, and they have an annual Japan Day festival. We though it would be a lot of traditional arts and food and such, but it was much more Japanese pop culture-oriented. There were a lot of people in anime and other costumes. I think there was a competition. Almost everyone there was in their 20s or younger. A lot of people were wearing "free hugs" signs, and at one point, there was a very long line of such people, and you move down the line hugging everyone in it. There were also food stands, but just serving food, not with grocery items other than some packaged snacks. The whole thing was outside along the Rhine river. They also had various martial arts demonstrations and musical groups throughout the day and a fireworks show at night. The next day we went to a Japanese ramen place for lunch.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Black Forest

In April we took an extended weekend trip to the Black Forest. Our first stop was Baden Baden. It has hot springs and apparently a lot of rich people go there. It was nice enough, but didn't have too much for tourists to see. We didn't go to the hot spring spa, because it was kind of expensive. They did have a bunch of flower pots everywhere with quotes on them, which was neat. Then we went to Gengenbach. It was used in the Tim Burton Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie as the hometown of Augustus Gloop. It is picturesque, with a lot of half-timbered houses. Next we went to Triberg, which is one of the places where Black Forest Cake was supposedly invented. We got some cake at a cafe that claims to use the original recipe. The town is very touristy, with many souvenir shops and a little train to take people up the hill. There is a waterfall there, but you had to pay to see it, so we didn't. Not pictured below, we stopped briefly at one of the two places that claims to have the largest cuckoo clock in the world. It's on the side of a souvenir store. Towards the end of our first day, we went by one of the origins of the Danube, that is, one of the small rivers that combines with another river to become the Danube. It comes up out of the ground as a small creek. Then we went to our hotel. It was pretty neat. It's an old building now operated by Best Western, between Freiburg and Titisee. There were some cows in a field nearby, which we tried, once successfully, to feed. They seemed wary of people. For dinner we went to Titisee, to an Italian restaurant.

The next day we drove to Freiburg. It has the most sunny days of any city in Germany. It did get sunny in the afternoon. They have mosaic signs on the sidewalk everywhere that historically represented what kind of shop they were in front of. Some of them are still traditional-looking and some are newer. After eating lunch we drove to St. Blasien, which has an impressive cathedral and overpriced cafes. In the late afternoon we went to a large indoor pool complex with lots of pools and waterslides. An hour was included in a pass we got from our hotel. They had one pool with a high salt content, like the Dead See, so you could float really easily, which was fun. They also had seats that shot out bubbles, like a jacuzzi, but they were seats in a larger pool and an outdoor heated pool area with a bar, as well as a hamam-style steam room. But the waterslides were the best part and much fun was had.

On our way back home the next day we stopped by the confluence of the Danube and in Villingen, a small town where we ate in a restaurant that had booths in giant wine vats.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ulmer Munster

My brothers visited for a week, so we finally went up the Ulmer Munster tower. It's all open, so it's pretty terrifying.
view of the back
up among the gargoyles
the uppermost part of the tower, from the inside

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Olympics Coverage, Germany edition

The Olympics coverage in Germany is pretty good.  The two main channels alternate days of coverage, and they show the Olympics all day.  As much as possible is shown live.  We also have access to Swiss and Austrian channels, which also cover the Olympics all day (not everyone in Germany gets those channels, though).  So, when the Olympics were in England, we saw pretty much everything live.  Russia is only 3 hours ahead, so it works pretty well again; they start coverage around 6:30am, and it ends around 8 or 9pm.  Also, the German TV website has live streaming and videos of entire events.  However, it doesn't have video of all events, and you don't know beforehand which events it will have.  So if two things are happening at the same time, you can't necessarily watch the other one later.