Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sightseeing in the Schwabian Albs

The Heritage Tour portion of my trip has ended and today we spent the day sightseeing. It was still mostly historical sites so I guess that counts! 

The day started off on a low note because Willi's wife Monika hurt her knee and was not able to join us. So it was just Willi and me. We started the morning off with a visit to the Festungsruine Hohenneufen, which means the ruins of the Hohenneufen Castle.This midieval mountain castle was built around 1100. It stands high above the plains of the Schwabian Alb. The castle ruins are in remarkably good condition considering they are almost 1,000 years old You can read more about the castle here.

Three Billy Goats Gruff?

After wandering around the castle for awhile, we went to an open-air museum that had actual buildings from the villages in the area from the 18th century that had been moved to the museum.  It was beautiful day and we wandered from building to building and were easily able to imagine what life had been in these villages for our ancestors.  

One of the buildings was a small house, called a Tagelöhnerhaus (Day Laborer House). This particular Day Laborer House was built in 1734 and was one of five that were originally located on the outskirts of Weidenstetten.  This was of particular interest to me because my 3rd Great Grandfather, Jakob Braun, was a Tagelöhner (day laborer) and he lived in Weidenstetten before marrying Margaretha in 1823.  It is very possible that Jakob lived in one of these five Day Laborer Houses!  

A picture of the five houses before they were moved

the restored Day Laborer House

From the Museum Tour Guide
Another interesting display was a Schnecktengarten, or a Snail Garden. They raised snails and sold them as a delicacy. 

Then it was time for lunch. We had a nice lunch at the museum's outdoor patio. Since it was the middle of the week there were very few tourists, with the exception of a school field trip. So we had the patio to ourselves. There was only one waiter on duty and just as we finished eating, a small group of about 4 young boys from the school group ran up wanting ice cream. So the waiter went to help them.  A few minutes later, 4 or 5 more kids came running up, then 5 more, then 5 more... next thing you know, there were about 45 or 50 young kids lined up all around us waiting to buy ice cream. While we sat waiting for our waiter to bring us the bill. Finally Willi stuck his head inside the building and asked if the waiter could take a break from selling ice cream and bring us our bill. 

Lunch was a soup made with mushrooms and a German dumpling spiced with Spring Onions. It tasted wonderful!

After lunch it was time to move on to our next destination. We visited a small town called Blaubeuren. In this town is located a natural spring that draws its water from underground caves. Because of the chemical properties of limestone, the water is a beautiful blue color. ("blau" in German).  The water from this Spring flows into the River Danube in the City of Ulm.

The church on the other side of the Spring is the Blaubueren Abbey. Once a Catholic Monastery, the Monks were expelled during the Reformation in 1535 and a Protestant choir school was opened in 1565. In 1817 it became a Protestant Seminary with an attached boarding school. 

Next we drove to the City of Ulm, which is where I will be driving tomorrow to return my rental car and catch the train to Nuremberg. Willi took me to the train station to purchase my ticket and we walked around to see where the car drop-off is located, and where I will need to go to catch the train. Then we visit the old town area. This is one of the few areas in Ulm that was not destroyed during World War II. 

The Ulm Minster is probably the most famous site in the city. Ulm Minster is a famous example of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture. Like Cologne Cathedral, also begun in the Gothic era, Ulm Minster was not completed until the 19th century. It is the tallest church in the world, and the tallest structure built before the 20th century, with a steeple measuring 538 feet and containing 768 steps. From the top level at 469 ft there is a panoramic view of Ulm.  The final stairwell to the top (known as the third Gallery) is a tall, spiraling staircase that has barely enough room for one person. Needless to say, we did not climb the steeple!! 

We walked around the old town and looked at the old buildings and then went to the top of one of the newer buildings for coffee (hot chocolate for me) in their outdoor patio, and then returned to Gussenstadt for a nice dinner and visit with Monika and Daniela, Willi's wife and daughter. 

I can't believe that my time here has come to an end, and tomorrow I will be leaving here to begin the second leg of my adventure. Tomorrow night I will be in Nuremberg and on Saturday afternoon I will be boarding the Uniworld River Countess for a seven day Rhine River Cruise. 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome, awesome, awesome Sis! Really nice pix, they remind me of our trip to France in spring! I like the snails too!