Wurzburg

P1420484

Wurzburg was a lot bigger than we expected. It is amazing how many big cities we come across that we have never heard of.

Wurzburg was another big Christmas market held in the square in front of the church. There are a number of constants at the German Christmas markets: Gingerbread, chocolate covered fruit and Bratwurst. We have tried the gingerbread on a few occasions, so this time we tried out strawberries covered in chocolate which was unsurprisingly delicious. We also had some Bratwurst which was also very yummy.

P1420470

P1420511

P1420518

P1420559

Advertisements

More Christmas markets

             

P1420295

P1420285

Rothenburg has a Christmas market, which we of course we had a look at, but the big attraction for this town is the old buildings, in particular the tudor style buildings. It is a very photogenic place and the medieval town walls add to its charm. Teddy bears are also big here with a number of busy teddy bears shops in town.

P1420379

P1420392

P1420418

While we were in Rothenburg we purchased some Schneeballen (snow balls) because we had eaten these in Heidelberg back in February and found they were rather tasty. It was interesting to discover that Rothenberg claimed these as their own creation as I was pretty sure that Heidelberg had also said they were native to their area – I had to go back and check some old photos and was surprised to see that the shop in Heidelberg promoted theirs as being ‘original Rothenberg Schneeballen’ so my memory had let me down – it is great that we have photos. Anyway the Schneeballen were still pretty nice, although everyone struggled to eat a whole one on their own (in Heidelberg we shared one between the five of us).

Rothenburg was a nice little town to visit and the shops as well as the markets were enjoyed.

P1420446

P1420407

P1420463

 

Nuremberg

P1420102

We have spent a fair bit of time on the road in all sorts of situations and I have been surprised that we have seen only a few minor traffic accidents. On our way to Nuremberg, as we came around a corner on the autobahn I noticed a guy carrying something on the road going in the opposite direction. I then realised that the something he was carrying was a stretcher and then I noticed that there was a helicopter on the road. Next I noticed a number of fairly heavily damaged cars. It was interesting to talk to each other afterward and how different we had all perceived what we had seen. We all agreed however that the helicopter seemed to be the only emergency vehicle on site, and it was only as we got down the road a little further that a number of police cars, ambulances and a fire truck came along. We thank God that we have not encountered many accidents, this was by far the worst, and we thank Him that we have not been involved in any.

The day we visited Nuremberg was the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere – sunrise was at 8:08 am and sunset at 4:19 pm, so it gets dark very early, but that’s OK because we have decided that Christmas markets are best at night.

We arrived in Nuremburg and went to the tourist info to find out where the markets were. The markets are in the old town of Nuremberg which is a walled city. Most of the city has been rebuilt after it was heavily bombed during the Second World War but it has been rebuilt in its original style so it still looks very old.

P1420093

We were fortunate to find a car park inside the city walls about 100 metres from the markets. It was very, very cold so it was good that Max was so close so we could head back for some more clothes.

There is a children’s market area as part of the overall market which we spent a fair bit of time at. There were some hands on activities that the kids got involved in and they enjoyed. MiniMandM did some poker work (with a burning poker not the card game), Bookworm did some glass engraving and Legoboy made a gingerbread angel. The ride on the kiddies’ ferris wheel gave us a good view of the market and the lights.

P1420198

P1420121

P1420141

P1420195

 

P1420158

 

P1420187

After spending time at the kids market and then a trip back to Max to eat the food we had bought (it is so much easier to eat when you can sit down rather than try to eat while bumping around amongst all of the people – it was also warmer) we headed to the main market in the square in front of the church.

P1420229

P1420257

P1420258

It was very busy here as well and there were a lot of stalls selling all kinds of things Christmas and otherwise.  Plum people (we would call them prune people) are unique to Bavaria so most markets have a few stalls of these intriguing, maybe a little disturbing, characters.

Towards the end Legoboy and I went back to the kid’s area to the Playmobil play area where Legoboy could play and it was warm while the girls checked out some more stalls and made some purchases.

It was great to be able to drive just a couple of kilometres to a camp stop for the night.

P1420271

One Last One

P1410938

Nymphenburg Palace was the Summer Palace of the Bavarian Kings and is the birth place of poor old mad king Ludwig II – you may remember him from Neuschwanstein Castle.

Germany is dotted with castles and palaces so it is not hard to find one to visit. We have seen a fair few during our time here but the girls were keen for one more. It will probably also be our last. One of the reasons we picked Nymphenburg for a visit was the fact that they had a carriage and sled display and we thought this may help Legoboy cope with one last palace.

P1410920

These guys knew how to build an over the top carriage. As you will see from the photos they liked things to be dripping with gold (everything gold in colour is real gold and the grey-black on the upholstery is silver) and really showing off how much money they had, even if it was a little tacky. I guess they must have liked them or they would have had the designer come to an unfortunate end.

P1410993

P1420001

P1420012

 

The interior of their house was almost as ornate as the carriages. Like most royal families there is a pretty good undercurrent of dysfunction amongst the family members and the associated hangers on. The gardens here are immense, but it was getting dark and starting to get really cold so we just had a quick look. You may think that they had strange taste in garden sculpture when you see the photos, but these wooden structures are actually over the sculptures to protect them for the winter.

Overall it was a pretty good palace for our last one.

P1420020

P1420053

Munich

P1410546

After a quiet day parked beside a lake in the country surrounded by snow-capped mountains we headed for Munich.

Some parts of Europe are very easy to travel in in a motorhome. There are plenty of places to stay and they are in close proximity to the places you want to visit. The flip side of this is that some of the campsites are in places that you may not expect.

The campsite we stayed at in Munich is at the Allianz Arena, a huge soccer stadium and the home to FC Bayern (apparently a famous club). The arena is the only stadium in the world that can completely change colour; when we arrived it was red, so it certainly stood out. We were glad a little later in the night when they turned the colour off so everything was not glowing red.

P1410561

P1410568

Being parked at a major stadium means that it is close to public transport, so a little walk around the arena we got to the U (metro) station.

A quick trip and we were in the centre of Munich at the Marienplatz. Marienplatz is the location of Munich’s famous glockenspiel as well as its oldest Christmas market.

The Glockenspiel only goes off once a day so we were not sure if we would get there to see it as we had no idea how long it was going to take to walk to the metro, then when a train would come and then how long it would take to get into the city. We were happy to arrive just 5 minutes before it went off. As we had travelled in on the train we thought that if we had missed it we could come back the next day. We were really glad we got to see it when we did as we would have been a little disappointed if we had made a special trip to see it. The glockenspiel plays a tune on its 43 bells which lasts for about 15 minutes. While the bells play two sets of mechanical figures go to work. The top set enact the marriage of a local Duke, including a medieval joust, while the lower figures of barrel makers do a traditional dance.

P1410606

P1410600

Legoboy has been very patient during our trip as we have dragged him to countless palaces, castles, churches and other places that hold little interest for a boy his age. One of the major sites we had planned for Munich was the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest Science and Technology Museum with about 28,000 objects on display and Legoboy was pretty excited about going there. Once we had seen the glockenspiel we caught another U-Bahn train to the station for the Deutsches museum.

P1410615

The outside of the museum does not look very interesting, but as we all know it is what is inside that counts and this museum has heaps inside. The plan was to pick a few different sections of the museum and check those out which we did. We visited the Aeronautics, Astronautics, Maritime, Aquanautics, Power Machines, Nanotechnology, Physics, Robotics, Astronomy, Electrical Power, and Kinderreich (Kids World)areas and I am sure that I have missed a few. We only had about 5 hours here, but I think we could have spent 5 days.

P1410632

P1410637

P1410647

 

P1410641

 

One of the highlights was the demonstration in the Electrical Power area where we got to see up to 1.2 million volts arced through various devices. We even got to see one of the staff get into a steel cage (a Faraday cage) and be hoisted off the ground while 50,000 volts passed through the cage. A guy standing next to us said they could have told us that they could do it but to see it is even better, I just wouldn’t like to be the guy on his first day in the job – “did we mention that you have to get in the little steel ball while we zap it”. The power of electricity is incredible and it was good to be able to see that in a safe way.

There were also heaps of hands on things to do as well as the kid’s area. Legoboy and the rest of us all enjoyed these and hopefully learnt something along the way. In the kids area was a giant guitar which Legoboy got inside while we strummed a tune.

P1410654

P1410692

 

P1410672

P1410766

P1410763

For us adults the Nanotechnology area was fascinating. I know everyone knows this but Nanotechnology works with atoms and molecules that are measured in nanometres. A nanometre is one billionth of a metre, so it is pretty small, for example a DNA double helix has a diameter of 2 nanometres. The most interesting and puzzling part of the exhibition for me was a quote I saw on one display which basically said that researchers are trying to use nanotech to build a nanostructure which is as complex as a living cell which to date they have done to a very limited degree. The part of the quote which baffles me came next where it said that what these scientists are struggling to make even the most basic version of happens in nature all by itself with no building master. I am no rocket scientist (or nano-researcher) but it doesn’t take too much imagination to think maybe if this is so complex that we struggle to put a few cells together let alone everything that is in the universe then maybe, just maybe there is a master builder. I think it is just sheer stubbornness and unwillingness to admit that they would be responsible to a master builder (God) that these people continue to believe that the incredibly complex universe we live in just happened. These people, of any of us on the planet, know just how complex every little bit of every little thing that is all around us and in us is so it must take a huge amount of “faith” to believe it just happened.

P1410869

P1410843

 

Another reason to stop in Munich was to visit the Christmas markets so we headed back to the Marienplatz and got started. In all of the travel photos the market is blanketed in snow, which of course is very romantic and beautiful – but not this year. The markets start in Marienplatz and then spread out into the surrounding streets and squares. It was interesting to see the different stalls and products. As we followed the markets we also got to wander past the Church of our Lady which has two onion domes spires (which were covered in scaffold) as well as St Michaels and St Peters. Unfortunately as we wandered it also started to rain which made things a little unpleasant but meant we sought shelter closer to the shops and got to check out some Christmas windows.

P1410886

Once the markets were done we headed for home. Once we arrived at our train station the kids got into the soccer theme of the stadium we were staying at and found a bit of plastic which they kicked half of the way back to Max, taking their minds off the walk and the rain – it certainly made the walk more enjoyable than if it had been “are we there yet, my legs are killing me”.

P1410912

 

Disney Land and the Nutter

P1410339

Germany seems to be very similar all over, which is mostly pretty (it reminds us a lot of Tasmania). Once we were back in the country we headed east and drove along Lake Constance which is the Swiss German border. MiniMandM had read the book “The Silver Sword” for school this year which was partially set at the lake so it was interesting for her to see the lake and it surroundings.

P1410294

P1410323

King Ludwig II of Bavaria was maybe a little mad, or maybe he just had no clue. Bavaria was taken over by Prussia which meant he was no longer the Sovereign, but he had an affinity with the Middle Ages and the king as the ultimate ruler so he thought that he should be able to live like a middle-ages king. He was in the process of building himself three palaces and had another one on the drawing board and was basically bankrupt when the government had him declared insane and locked up in one of his other palaces. He died a few days later in suspicious circumstances, found drowned in the lake at the palace.

One of the palaces that was under construction and had been for about 17 years was Neuschwanstein. The castle is built high on a hill on top of the ruins of two previous castles overlooking a castle built by Ludwig’s dad.

P1410342

The palace is apparently the number one destination in Germany and was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s castle at Disneyland.

Ludwig spent about 3 months living here in the few rooms that had been finished before his death, but he never saw it without scaffolding. The design of the palace included a church in the centre as well as a keep with a large spire but once Ludwig died these plans changed and the remaining work done was a lot less grand.

He also really liked swans and there are swans built into the furniture and the fittings of the palace all around the place.

Two months after his death the palace was opened to the public. The palace looks like it belongs in the Middle Ages but the work actually began in the late 1860’s, so much of the furnishings and fittings in the completed section are in very good condition.

P1410358

P1410389

 

The tour we went on took us to all of the completed rooms which were not many, but they were very lavish. As with many other historic buildings we were not allowed to take photos of the interior but were allowed to take photos through the windows, which I did from a fair way back in the room.

P1410420P1410449

It was rather cloudy and foggy on the day we visited, it would have been nice to have a clear sky with a dusting of snow over the palace, but we did have snow in the hills behind. The girls and I walked further up the hill to the Marienbrucke, a bridge that spans the gorge above the palace. The bridge provides a great view of the palace which we got to just see before the fog really moved in (it did give it a pretty mysterious feel though).

P1410477

P1410473

P1410480

P1410482

It was good that SWTTM did not come up here with us as the drop to the stream below was rather large and the boards on the bridge flexed a lot as we walked across them.

We were all happy to have visited Neuschwanstein, especially the girls, as it is a real fairy-tale princess palace.

P1410498

White Christmas

P1420711

As I wrote in my last post we hoped for a white Christmas but rather than snowy it was rainy. So we got up in the morning and started to enjoy our Christmas day. We Skyped family in Australia and sat down to enjoy a bad kids Christmas movie that we found in a supermarket. On and off during the morning it had continued to rain, but mixed in every now and again was a bit of snow. We were happy to see the little bit of snow wafting around every now and again.

P1420751

After watching the movie for a while we looked out the window to see that the snow was starting to fall more consistently, so of course we all ran outside and played around like crazy Aussies who very rarely see snow let alone see it falling.

So we thanked God for a fantastic Christmas experience.

P1420662

P1420756

Happy Christmas

P1410868

We would like to wish everyone a very happy Christmas.

We hope you have a great day with family and friends.

Most importantly we want to thank God for sending His Son, Jesus into the world in the form of a man to live a perfect life, to be brutally crucified on a cross to pay the price of our sin, to rise from death to defeat sin and death, so we can have a relationship with Him. Jesus, thank you.

Have a great Christmas from sunny and snowy Germany (I am actually writing this on Christmas Eve here, about 6:30 am Christmas day Brisbane time and it is rainy, but we do hope for sunny and snowy, we will see what happens).

P1420648

 

Zurich and the Niagara of Europe

P1410139

Zurich is another Swiss town that is full of pretty old buildings, but our reason for visiting was just to visit the Christmas markets.

The markets are in the train station and are Christmas markets as you would expect.

There were many interesting handmade stalls as well as some interesting food. We enjoyed some Feini Opfelchuechli which is an apple fritter with vanilla sauce which was very yummy.

P1410169

P1410130

P1410100

P1410106

P1410157

One of the highlights of the market is the Swarovski Christmas tree which is decorated with hundreds of Swarovski crystal snowflakes.

P1410173

After the market we headed for Rheinfall where we stayed the night.

The Rheinfall is a waterfall on the Rhein River – I guess where the waters of the Rhein fall. It is dubbed the Niagara of Europe which I think is probably a little overdone.

While the falls are impressive, and the volume and speed of the water going over them is amazing, it is not quite the Niagara Falls.

P1410184

P1410207

P1410198

P1410221

P1410250

Just something I spotted near the waterfall - very exclusive

Just something I spotted near the waterfall – very exclusive

We were able to get a view of the falls from a couple of different spots near where we camped the night and then from across the river.

And that was the end of Switzerland.  Switzerland has its own currency, the Swiss Franc (which looks a little like monopoly money) so we did the juggle to try and make sure we had enough cash while at the same time making sure we didn’t get stuck with any at the end. It is very stressful (maybe a bit dramatic) counting all of your remaining currency and then trying to put that amount into the fuel tank.

Now back into Germany.

P1400362

P1400788P1400775P1400769

Luzern

P1400822

I think all Swiss towns are built beside crystal clear lakes with towering snow-capped mountains surrounding them – Luzern definitely fits this mould.

We arrived around lunchtime so found a place to stay for the night and then walked along the shore of the lake into town. The lakes and the mountains of Switzerland are just beautiful and I wonder if you would start to not notice them if you lived here.

The buildings of Luzern are also very beautiful and some are decorated with murals. We wandered around the malls and visited a small Christmas market of handmade things which of course the ladies were interested in.

P1400858

P1400915

P1400939

The Needle Dam is a dam made up of timber planks that are manually adjusted to regulate the flow of water from the lake and through the town. We checked this out and then crossed Spreuer Bridge which is part of the town fortification, built in 1408 and is near the dam. On the bridge is a series of 67 paintings called the “Dance of Death” painted in the 1620’s. Legoboy enjoyed looking for the skeletons in each of the paintings.

P1400945

P1400963

P1400989

As we wandered we stumbled across another Christmas market set around an old church. This market was much bigger and very crowded; a fun experience. We even got to see the horsemeat stall.

There was a sign outside the Jesuit Church, warning us of the music police, it turned out the sign was bringing our attention to the police band playing inside.

The Chapel Bridge is another famous bridge in Luzern that was part of the city fortifications. This bridge also has a series of paintings which depict Swiss history. A large number of these are missing because a section of the bridge was destroyed by fire and then rebuilt.

P1410024

P1410032

P1410046

P1410074

We checked out the local Christmas (winter) ice skating rink which was very crowded and then made our way back to Max along the shores of the lake again.

P1410081