Kepler Memorial

Kona and Kepler

This morning started out with breakfast at a little cafe called Kona, which has delicious bagels.  On the walk there and back, I delighted in the snowfall from the last few days.  As a life-long Florida resident, I’ve never really experienced snow on this magnitude.

Since I was looking around even more than I normally do, I noticed a structure across the street that I hadn’t noticed before, with some gold leaf around the outer edges and a golden shape on the top.

The structure turned out to be a memorial to someone who lived here in Regensburg-  Johannes Kepler, famed scientist, mathematician, philosopher, and astronomer.  People involved in the sciences might be familiar with Kepler’s Laws Of Planetary Motion.  I had already  noticed that there’s a lot of streets named for scientists here.  There are places named for Kepler, and Copernicus, and Max Planck.

Kepler moved to Regensburg late in his life, and he fell ill and died here.  Kepler’s original burial site was lost during the bombings of World War II, but the structure I noticed today is a newer Kepler memorial.

The memorial has a bust of Kepler, with his name misspelled- I’m not at all sure why the bust has two Ps instead of just the one.  There is a piece on the top which I think is supposed to represent the laws of planetary motion, and the outer edge of the canopy is ringed with astrological symbols.

Homeboy needs a new coat of paint.

…and a closer shot of the details on the Sagittarius glyph.

I’m going to have to do some checking to see if there is a definitive guide to all of the different statues and memorials and other interesting antiquities here-  most of the literature I’ve seen has focused on the old churches, but there’s also an ancient Jewish temple which has been razed to the ground some centuries ago, but there’s a memorial which stands on that site.  I walked past that memorial more than a dozen times before somebody told me what it was, and then I found the signs that explain it- one in German, one in English, and one in Hebrew.

Rough translation: "This is where Napoleon the 1st was wounded on 23 April 1809 during the bombardment of the city."

There are lots of that sort of thing here.  As I learn more about my new home, I am constantly astonished at the little bits of history that have happened here.  For example, Napoleon himself spent some time in Regensburg, after receiving a minor wound to his ankle during the Battle Of Regensburg before he moved on to Vienna.  One of my coworkers told me that there is a sculpted throne not far from here that was made for Napoleon to use during his recuperation.

This town is utterly fascinating.

Turn Left

One of my favorite things about being in Regensburg is that all I ever need to do to find something interesting is to take a different path.  For example, yesterday I was feeling Noble and I turned left instead of right.  I had originally wanted to check out the posted menu of a nearby restaurant, and instead I discovered the remains of an old Roman fort.

Specifically, I stumbled across the Römermauer, a section of Roman wall from the original Castra Regina (“fortress by the river Regen”) which was built around 179 AD during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

I’ve seen little sections of Roman walls all over town-  many of the ancient Roman structures survived the bombing of World War II, and they pop up all over town.  It’s fascinating to see the ancient stone speckled throughout the more modern architecture of the area.

This is the first time I’ve seen this much intact fortress though, and it’s even more surprising because it’s sandwiched between the McDonald’s and another restaurant.  I’ve walked past this point dozens of times,but I never realized that it was there because it’s down a slope and not visible from the street.  If you walk down the stairs, there’s a little sign explaining it:

Right across from the sign is another small stair that allows you to climb up into the turret which is still intact.

I hope I never become so complacent that I stop finding fascinating little things like this.

Love padlocks.

Sunny Sunday Walkabout

One of my friends mentioned that they wanted to see pictures from around my new town, so I just needed to wait for a rare sunny day, and I was off and strolling with my trusty dSLR.

I’ll start with a carved tree near the bus station.  I haven’t the slightest idea what this is all about.

You can tell it’s a real city because we even have graffiti.

I had no idea this was nearby until I took a slightly different route-  an Important European Golf Museum!  I’m not sure they have the same definition for “Important” that I do.

The street musicians in Germany are a different calibre than those I’ve seen in the US.  For example, here’s a guy with an accordion.

All paths lead to the Dom, the big cathedral.  It’s just an amazing piece of architecture.

Dude needs to mow his roof.

Another view of the Dom from across the Donau (Danube) river.

Doors all over town have this marking on them in white chalk- it’s left over from last Friday’s holiday, Epiphany.  It is customary for the faithful to bless their houses at the Epiphany with blessed chalk. They write over their front door: 20 + C + M + B + 12. The digits, which appear at the beginning and end of the line, designate the new year. ‘CMB’ stands for the traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) and also signifies the Latin prayer Christus Mansionem Benedicat or ‘May Christ bless this dwelling.’

Despite the sun, it was quite cold today.  To prove this, I have taken a photograph of a frozen puddle near the curb.

Cool little statue on the Stone Bridge.  I need to find out if there’s a reference to the history of all these little statues.

Charming couple on the stone bridge.

Some buildings along the north bank of the Donau.

The rushing waters of the Donau.

There are a lot of buildings with paintings on their sides in various places around town.  This is on Goliathstrasse.

The next few pictures are fascinating to me.  There’s a pedestrian bridge a little bit upstream from the Stone Bridge, which has a metal latticework covered in padlocks.

The tradition, which is apparently very common in Germany, is for lovers to inscribe their names on the metal locks, sometimes with a personal message but sometimes not, and then attach the padlock to the bridge while declaring their undying love for each over.  Then they kiss and throw the key of the padlock into the river below as a romantic gesture.

Here’s a good article about it:  http://www.pgtraveltips.co.uk/blog/regensburg-germany-sweethearts-cross-the-danube-to-lock-into-love/2827

I’m really curious about the stories behind the locks.  Especially when there’s nothing but a date.  I spent quite a while looking at these padlocks today.

I swear I was not stalking this couple, but the city just isn’t that large.  We crossed paths going in opposite directions at two different points.  I even crossed the Donau twice before running into them again from the other direction.

When my vegetarian friends visit, I’ve got them covered.

The Garbo, one of several movie theatres in town that sometimes plays movies in English.

The bar in the center of this picture, Orkan, has great beer and tasty Schnitzel.  (Although to be fair, I have yet to have a bad beer in this town.

More buildings near the Donau.

This view is actually from the bridge with all the padlocks, but I find it to be pretty spectacularly picturesque.  I can’t wait to see what this place looks like in the Spring and Summertime, when everything is green again.

Ah, Maximilianstrasse.  I tend to think of this as the central corridor of the city, even though its nowhere near the center.

A cop and kebap.  Doner Kebab is a very tasty hand-held food, similar to a gyro.

This statue is near the Dom.  The inscription on the pedestal says, in German, “Ludwig I – King of Bavaria.”

Most of the pictures I’ve posted of the Dom don’t really give you a sense of the size of the thing  Here’s some pictures where you can see just how large it is.

Albert Einstein as a Marionette?  Check.

Someone’s nick-name is “Hempy?!”  I want to meet this individual.

Another high quality street musician.

That sign in the shadowed portion of the picture?  I’ve seen them all over town, pointing in different directions.  I couldn’t figure out what they were pointing to, so I finally asked someone.  It turns out they just say “one way street.”  Oops!

Haidplatz, a triangular plaza with several delicious restaurants, including one of the Thai places I haven’t had a chance to try yet.

ICE Train

Nuremberg

Friday was a holiday here in Bavaria. It was Epiphany, a Christian holiday celebrating the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus.  Since the office was closed, it seemed like a great day to take a day trip out of Regensburg.   First stop- the train station!

ICE Train

The ICE (Inter City Express) trains here are amazing.  They look a bit like Disney’s Monorail trains.  They’re fast, quiet, and smooth as glass.  The seats are incredibly comfortable as well, and it was actually very affordable.

The destination?  Nuremberg!   I’d heard that there was a toy museum there, and indeed there is- Nuremberg is apparently quite large in the toy community, and there’s even an International Toy Fair held there every year.

The train station in Nuremberg is significantly larger than the one in Regensburg, so we had to walk a bit to get out of it.  This is in the center of it:

Nuremberg wall.

Once in Nuremberg, we were on foot, so it’s hard to miss things like this whopping great cathedral.  I like the one in Regensburg better, but I think that’s just home-team pride speaking.

The goal for the day was to visit the Spielzeug, aka the Nuremberg  Toy Museum.  It was four stories tall and contained toys going back to the middle ages, including a great toy train section and an entire room full of creepy porcelain dolls.  They also put ALF, Babar, Garfield, E.T., and some Star Wars figures into the same display case, so that was fun for me.  Unfortunately, this picture is the only one I can show you, because they didn’t allow photography inside.

Toy museum

After we finished at the museum, we walked around the city for a while.   Almost everything was closed for the holiday, with the exception of restaurants, cafes, and museums, but that didn’t stop the street musicians from trying-  I’ve never seen so many accordions one any day that didn’t involve a Weird Al concert.  We also saw people dressed in the appropriate costumes for the holiday, and we ran into some Mormon missionaries who, as amusing coincidence would have it, one lived in the town where our company’s Utah office is located.  There was also this man, the bubble maker.  He was fascinating to watch, and the second bubble photograph seen here is my favorite picture from the entire day.

Bubble manBubble!

I didn’t learn of Nuremberg’s famous castle until after we returned from the trip.  (Note to self: When travelling in Germany, always check for castles.  They’re everywhere here, like Starbucks back in the U.S.)  I did, however, learn of Schöner Brunnen, the site of a rather amazing fountain surrounded by a wrought iron fence.  There is a golden ring welded into the fence which is said to bring good fortune to those who touch it.  Naturally, I had to see this one for myself…

Schöner BrunnenNuremberg Ring

That was pretty much it for the trip to Nuremberg though, except for lunch (average pasta) and dessert (amazing apple strudel).  I really need to re-think the idea of traveling on holidays.  It’s got to be much more interesting when things are open.

Now I need to decide where to go for my next trip!