A few weeks ago, I took an overnight trip to Frankfurt to attend a Thomas Dolby concert. The concert was excellent, but my train rides into and out of Frankfurt left me with plenty of time to do a quick exploration around the core of the city.
Before last month, whenever anyone mentioned Barcelona to me, this is what came to mind:
Last month, a long-time friend of mine and her husband were visiting Barcelona for a family birthday event last month. I love exploring new cities, but I always have more fun if I’m doing so with another person, so this was a great chance for me to see Barcelona while catching up with Christina. On the Tuesday of that week, headed over to the Munich Airport. From there, Lufthansa took me to Barcelona for a very reasonable fee. The flight time from Munich to Barcelona? About 90 minutes. Easy peasy.
Long time friends of me know that I’m a big fan of tall stuff. My friend Gabrielle has been with me to revolving restaurants atop towers in two different cities, as well as an observation deck on the Stratosphere in Las Vegas . My favorite part of my 2006 Chicago visit was the observation deck in the John Hancock Center. In Prague last month, I loved the miniature Eiffel Tower lookalike, the Petrin Lookout Tower.
I like observation decks, revolving restaurants, and television towers. A lot.
Here in Bavaria, most of the tallest things aren’t quite as tall as the John Hancock Center, but there are still some amazing views to be seen. Back in March, I posted about Walhalla, and included some pretty spectacular photographs of the view.
Since then, I’ve been to three more pretty tall places. The first was Tropfsteinhöhle Schulerloch, a show cave near Kelheim. The cave is a stalactite cave, and it’s closed during the winter because it’s full of bats during colder weather. Regrettably, I saw no bats on this visit.
The path to get up to the cave is a pretty steep one, though, and just before you get to the main entrance of the visitors center, you’re treated to this view at roughly 1272 feet above sea level:
The second tall place I visited is Waldwipfelweg. The centerpiece of this educational destination is a boardwalk that overlooks a particularly picturesque stretch of Bavarian forest. It’s a very tall boardwalk, though. I don’t think I would have wanted to be up there on a super windy day.
The third tall place I visited recently was the Befreiungshalle (“Hall of Liberation”). This is a sort of companion piece to the Walhalla- there’s a third monument near Munich that I have to go see now that I know that it exixts. The Befreiungshalle was constructed on the orders of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, with a ceremonial opening in October of 1863. The Befreiungshalle sits on Mount Michelsberg above the city of Kelheim, upstream from Regensburg on the Danube river.
On the walk up to the Befreiungshalle, you can get an amazing view of the Danube river, including the boats that run between Kelheim and the Weltenburg Kloister Brewery. I’ll talk about Weltenburg in another upcoming post.
The structure itself is pretty amazing. It’s ringed by eighteen huge statues which are allegories of the German tribes. The number 18 also symbolizes the date of the Battle of the Nations at Leipzig (October 18, 1813), when the Coalition defeated Napoleon’s troops.
As with the Walhalla, however, the view is best from the stairs in front of the main entrance. You can see all of Kelheim, and some of the surrounding countryside.
There are still some other tall places in Regensburg and Berlin that I haven’t been to yet. They’re on my list. Yep, I have a list of tall stuff to climb, all over Europe. I’d better get to it.
I’ve put up external pictures of the Dom before. Here’s one to remind you before I continue with the post.
The Dom, sometimes known as the Regensburger Dom or the Cathedral of St. Peter, is well known as an example of pure German gothic architecture. It was completed in 1634 except for the towers, which were finished in 1869. The Dom is so integral to the identity of Regensburg that pretty much all of the touristy stuff (postcards and so forth) show the cathedral spires along with the Stone Bridge. This town loves the Dom so much that they even made a chocolate version:
In addition, the Dom is the home of the Regensburger Domspatzen, literally “Cathedral Sparrows.” The Domspatzen is the oldest boy’s choir in the world, founded in 976. It’s also a boarding school for young boys. The Domspatzen is quite famous, and has performed for Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II. (Both of those events were in the 1980s though, so it’s obviously not the same kids.) Here’s a sample performance-
I digress wildly. The original point I intended for this post is that I finally had a chance a few weekends back to go inside the Dom and look around. The interior contains a lot of interesting sculpture, an small catacomb, and a pretty huge pipe organ. It was also considerably colder than the temperature outside- I’ve been told that it’s always that cold inside the church. Here are some pictures from that day: