Haha, okay, so I never told anyone I was going to Germany before I left, but anyway, was gone for two weeks, but I'm back now
My mother-in-law was in Europe with a friend and took Casey and I on a trip - we met up in Prague for two nights before catching a train to the Black Forest where we did some sight-seeing and hiking, then caught a day cruise up the Rhine before heading back to Birmingham. We ate much in the way of meat and potatoes o_o I don't usually write lengthy journals anymore, but I found I ended up forgetting a lot of the neat details from our last trip, so I'm writing them out this time :b
Prague was really neat, beautiful architecture, but crowded
. Coincidentally, the "Blade for Hire" image I painted recently... well, I had searched for references of cool medieval taverns, and it turned out the tavern I drew the most inspiration from is in Prague! We ate there the second night.
We also tried a trdelnik
, which is a hollow sweet pastry roll that was being sold everywhere
in Prague and made the streets smell perpetually like waffles
- we have actually had them before at the Richmond Night Market and were severely underwhelmed by what tasted like a bland cardboard tube with a scraping of custard inside, so we almost gave them a pass, but seriously, authentic trdelniks are actually quite delicious! Chewy and sweet, dusted with sugar, and as the ice cream melts, it infuses the pastry with its flavour :3~
After Prague, we made our way to Rothenburg in Germany, which is notable as a fully-walled medieval town. We opted to not go on the Night Watch tour since there were a ton of tourists, and instead returned to the wall around midnight and walked it then - it was actually pretty surreal, perfectly silent and dark and empty, and if you're a fantasy or history buff, it was a lot of fun to actually
experience walking a medieval wall in the middle of the night. It's entirely different from what you can experience while shoulder-to-shoulder with dozens of tourists gradually queuing their way around in a line. The only thing that was missing was the extra sense of danger - the walls in Rothenburg had wooden railing which wouldn't have been there back in the day! But we were glad for it, since we didn't have a light with us and had to navigate the stairs, towers and walls entirely in the dark :b
Our next stop was Füssen - our hotel was nestled at the foot of the Alps, edged by forest and just a two minute walk from a lake, which frankly reminded both of us a lot of British Columbia - to rub in the Northwest nostalgia, however, it was also pouring in rain :V We went for a walk anyway, and found an adorable little black salamander on one of the trails enjoying the shower. He seemed liable to be stepped on where he was, so I shooed him into the underbrush where hopefully he remained safe :3.
We visited Freiburg after that, which Casey wasn't as fond of, but the Minster was beautiful, and perhaps our favourite European cathedral we've visited. There's a lovely market surrounding the building that we grabbed some street goodies from before heading inside just in time, coincidentally, for a live pipe organ performance. I'll spare you all the gushy details, but I never had heard a live pipe organ performance before, and as a passionate music lover, being immersed in waves of sound from the various surrounding pipes worked into the architecture at multiple points was thrilling and I think I'm going to be a little disappointed every time I listen non-live, non-surround sound pipe organ music :b ((How often could that be, you ask, that I listen to pipe organ? Probably every day, among a variety of other eclectic music genres :b))
We also went to Schlossberg tower, which sits atop the hill beside the city and overlooks the valley, commanding an impressive view. We convinced Casey's mother to join us despite her being terrified of heights and hiked up the 500m hill only to find the tower had been closed for maintenance and repair! Well, rather disappointed, we, uh, jumped the gate and went up there anyway, haha (Casey's mother remained below, watching apprehensively :b). On the plus side, there was no one else up there, so that was neat... it certainly wobbled when you stand on the very top, though (its distinctive spiraling supports were notably absent that day), so what we did was very much at our own risk :b Worth it, though!
Triberg was next, which was, despite the tourist-iness of it, really quite nice. It boasted at least two wonderful shops featuring beautiful hand-carved wood pieces - tribal masks, rugged animal statues, walking sticks, chess sets - and, of course, it had cuckoo clocks. Now, I never really cared about cuckoo clocks before Casey, but anyone with an appreciation for art should love visiting the Master Carving Club shop, who uphold the highest traditional standards in cuckoo clock-making. The artisans were very passionate about their craft, and it was wonderful hearing them talk about their work.
Triberg is the home of cuckoo clocks, but also the original Black Forest cake (which is way
boozier than we make it in North America!) and Germany's second highest waterfalls. Although filled with tourists and fairly standard compared to the waterfalls you can find all over the Northwest, the waterfalls were really enjoyable and we enjoyed hiking up them and down again, although the real hiking took place at our next destination just outside the resort city of Baden-Baden, where we hiked at least 30km over the course of two days (Casey's mother opted to skip out on those :b) through the Black Forest and the neighbouring castle ruins of Altes Schloss, which features a very cool windharp, an instrument I had never encountered before and would enjoy having.
We didn't actually explore much of the city proper in Baden-Baden, although we did visit the Lichtentaler Allee park and gardens, which did a great job of incorporating sprawling green space, striking older architecture, and stylish modern establishments.
After Baden-Baden, we caught a cruise up the Rhine before eventually travelling by train back to Birmingham, where Casey's mother wanted to see around the city - while perhaps expecting more from the city (it's not exactly a shiny tourist city out to impress :b), she enjoyed Brindley Place and got to see the Bull Ring and the crazy mirrored monstrosity that is Central Station :V. We also met up with some distant relatives that live in Coleshill and took a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon together.
Then, quite abruptly it seemed, I'm back to sitting in our ghetto flat in Bearwood that still has no furniture and has had no hot water for almost three months now because the landlord refuses to pay to fix the boiler. lol. Being away was nice while it lasted!