Monday, September 11, 2017

Ulm on the Way Home

Our drive home day presented a few options and we chose to visit Ulm, the birthplace of Albert Einstein!!  We only had a few hours so we followed a walking tour in one of our books and discovered a beautiful city!
Red dog statue

The Ulm Münster is the 2nd largest Gothic church in Germany as has the tallest spire in the world.  It was started in 1377 but the steeple wasn't finished until 1890.  You can climb to the top on it's 768 stairs which we didn't do but I saw a picture of the inside and I'd love to do it sometime either without kids or when they're older.  The spire is open with lace work and supposedly on really clear days you can see the Swiss Alps.

This cathedral turned out to be one of our favorites ever.  It was gorgeous all through it but also some of it's details where magnificent and things that we hadn't seen before.  I loved this statue - the statues are usually religious figures and I don't think I've seen one this loving with teaching a child (which is how I interpreted it).

 My second favorite things about this place was the organ with the window framing the stained glass window on the outside.  Gorgeous!  Chopper loved how light and bright it was in the cathedral.  So many of them are really dark.

And then in the choir stalls they had amazing carvings.  Men on one side and women on the other.  I read that real women posed for these carvings in the 15th century.

Megan's favorite window

The kids were also wowed by this replica of the Münster made out of 112,000 legos.  Legoland is apparently about 20 minutes away which means that we'll be back in Ulm sometime . . . 

After the Münster, we walked down through the medieval fisherman's quarter.  Ulm is right on the Danube and the fisherman's quarter is full of canals and creeks and half-timbered houses.

That tower is Ulm's very own leaning tower.  I guess we don't need to go to Pisa!

The Danube

 The Rathaus.  Actually it was pretty badly damaged in the war.  It's wonderful to see that some many things have been restored and that history is preserved but it's also neat to see in cities how modern buildings have come in to replace ruined ones.  I think it's part of what gives Europe it's charm -- the eclectic mix of old and new.
We walked up to St. George's church because we saw a picture of it that looked fantastic.

Then we let the kids play at a park for a bit and got some early dinner and went on home.  We had a really good day!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Freiburg im Breisgau

 This is not the Freiburg where the temple is.  There are several places in Germany that have the same names and so sometimes you have to make sure you get the WHOLE name.  This Freiburg claims to be the sunniest city in Germany though and even though it was chilly, it did not disappoint in the sunshine!  It was a Sunday and so most stuff was closed -- mostly shopping but we do love to poke into antique shops and that certainly didn't happen.  We were glad that restaurants were open though because we completely forgot to stock up!
 We started by wandering the town of course.  It had some really great architecture.

Two things that they're known for -- one is the mosaics that advertise the shop and are placed in the sidewalk.  And apparently they can come out as a whole circle so that if the shop changes, the mosaic can change too.

The other is the Bächle -- streamlets that run down the streets.  Apparently they've been around since the 13th century and were easily dammed to flood the streets in case of fire.  According to Rick Steves, locals say that if you fall in, you're destined to marry a Freiburger.  And William fell in.  Guess we'll see what happens down the road!

Freiburg has two surviving medieval gates.

First stop: bakery for breakfast!

I cannot remember what these are called or what book I read about them in.  But basically they're plaques that commemorate (I don't know if that's the right word really either) the people who lived in specific houses and what happened to them during World War II.  The one on the bottom says Auschwitz but we also saw some that said America so apparently they've done their homework and traced all those who were taken and didn't return one way or another.  I think it's a subtle but important reminder.

We stopped in at St. Martin's church, a light and beautiful interior with a very interesting crucifix.

This is the New Town Hall

I think the reason we like wandering is because we tend to stumble on interesting things . . . 

And then the kids had to pretend to be statues too.

The Freiburg Münster is a beautiful building and we were able to squeeze a look inside before mass

The entry way was covered in carvings and color!  

They also have some carvings in the walls right outside the door that give the official sizes for loaves of bread, baskets of produce, and bricks and tiles.  On days other than Sundays, the market is right in the square and you could bring your purchases here to make sure you weren't getting cheated!

The inside had some spectacular stained glass.  About 80% of Freiburg was destroyed by bombing in WWII but the cathedral survived.  The windows that were from the 13th and 14th centuries had been hidden away though so they weren't broken in the bombing.  I decided not to post too many pictures of them though because stained glass is so hard to get good pictures of.

When we exited the cathedral the bells went off to call people to noon mass and it was glorious!

This is the historical Merchant House dating from 1532.  Apparently around here, if a building was painted red it meant that you had to pay a tax or fee there.  The multi-colored roofs on the turrets were gorgeous!

We wandered through the streets some more, including this beautiful wisteria hung lane (I'll bet it's amazing in the spring!) called Konvictstrasse -- which is actually named for a convent.

But it had some weird window displays

We then went to the Augustiner museum.  Small and interesting, it mostly had art and statuary from the cathedral.  One room was statues and gargoyles that had been removed because as sandstone, they deteriorate easily.  It was interesting to see how the statues are elongated so that when you're looking up at them, they appear proportional.  But up close and personal they are definitely not.  Plus the way the museum is built, you are able to be on eye level with the gargoyles and it was neat to see them up close.

On one side of Freiburg is Schlossberg (Castle Hill).  There used to be a fort there built by the French to control Freiburg (we were really close to the French border) but it's pretty much gone.  Today it is covered in walking paths and you can go all the way to the top for great views of the city.

We spent less time in Freiburg than we thought, mainly because so much of it was closed.  So we pulled out Rick Steves and found directions to two smaller towns in the mountains called St. Margen and St. Peter.  In St. Margen the church was closed and in St. Peter we had to wait for a concert to end to see it but the drive through the Schwarzwald was breath taking and the trip was worth it anyway.

Bell at St. Margen's 

Part of the monastery complex at St. Peter

Giant chess!!  They let William win because they're good sisters.

 Beautiful church inside, fun bushes with faces outside (not at the church exactly though!)

 Pictures just don't do it justice!