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Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Early in the morning on Saturday the 12th of April, I took a day trip to scenic Rothenburg ob der Tauber with Cliff and Sarah of Regensblog.   Cliff already posted his write-up of the trip, and he included a ton of great pictures.

Rothenburg is incredibly popular with tourists, and it’s often featured in package tours.  The town is compact, but we walked past an astonishing number of hotels on the outer edges of town.  We had good weather and a very light level of tourist crowding, but I shudder to think what this town would be like in June or July.

One of my favorite things about Rothenburg is the wall.  Many towns in Germany still have intact sections of their original outer walls, but this is the first time I’ve seen one with the entire wall up.  It’s been rebuilt over the years, so it’s not all original, but it’s still quite amazing.

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I mentioned it was scenic, right?  It gets used in film quite often.  In fact, sections of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows were filmed here.  Not on this specific street, but here in town.

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There were a couple of great fountains around town, but none of them were actually moving water around.   There was a lot of construction, so perhaps they were turned down during the other work.

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This is the town hall.  The tallest point is the Rathausturm, a tower that you can climb for the low, low cost of €2.

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This elderly tourist couple was just really adorable.

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Naturally, we climbed the tower.  You can actually see the outer walls, and the towers at intervals along the wall.

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The wall is especially clear in this picture.

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While we were walking around, we were all kind of amazed at this tree-  it had clearly been encouraged to grow almost as part of the building.  It was fascinating.

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While walking around, we found a small cloister garden containing a very pretty green space.

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I’ve lost track of which tower was which.  This one was on the western side of the city.

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…but this one is the actual western town gate.

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This face is set into the tower on the western gate.  It’s kind of interesting.

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Did I mention how picturesque the city is?

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This street is the Plönlein.  The tower to the left is the Siebersturm, built in 1385.  This is one of those views that people take pictures of quite a lot.   Seriously, just put “plonlein” into a Google image search and you’ll immediately see what I’m talking about.

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It was just before Easter, so these wreathy crown things are starting to show up all over Bavaria.   I’m not sure what they’re called, but they’re always draped with colored eggs.

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The design on the eggs is quite intricate.

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This kind of archway appears all over town.

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It is possible to walk along the wall.  There are stairs at regular intervals to go up to the walkway.

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Wooden railings keep you from walking off the edge.

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This house caught our eye because the seal over the door looks a great deal like Trogdor.

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Seriously, it’s an ancestor of Trodgor.  Ready to burninate the countryside.

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I think the wall may have been my favorite part of the city.  Right behind Trogdor, that is.

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We had fairly spectacular weather for the day, also.  Blue skies, whispy clouds.   I secretly believe that the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber employs weather wizards to keep it pretty like this.

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To break up these pictures of scenic Rothenburg, here’s a teddy bear blowing bubbles.  This is at a shop in town-  it took me a minute to figure out where the bubbles were coming from because it’s in an upstairs window and it’s not constant.

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One last shot of the wall on our way out-  this was close to where we parked for the day.

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Have you ever been to Rothenburg ob der Tauber?

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Miniatur Wunderland, Hamburg

A number of my Blog-Friends have posted about Miniatur Wunderland, but I didn’t know it existed the first time I visited Hamburg. I wish I had known, because it’s awesome and I want to go back sometime.  The place is so incredibly detailed, there’s no way I saw absolutely everything.  I’ll give you some examples…

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The exhibit is broken into sections.  There’s a Hamburg section, an America section, a Scandinavia section, Bavaria, Switzerland, and a large portion for the fictional town of Knuffingen.  One of the most amazing parts is the Knuffingen airport, a large and completely automatic airport with planes landing and taxiing to the gate every few minutes.   Oh, and every fifteen minutes, “night” falls and the lights change.

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I took some video of one of the landings, because it was amazing.

There are also lots of smaller things happening.  While I was there, this plane caught fire and tiny fire trucks raced over two it for about ten minutes…

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The imaginative people who put the exhibit together aren’t shy about nudity either.

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Speaking of the people behind the exhibit, they have a fairly sophisticated control system.  Their monitoring area is in the exhibition area, which has got to be incredibly distracting:

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…and they’re building new sections.  I’ll have to come back in a few years when England is built.  This section is going to be Italy!

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There were fires in other parts of Knuffingen, but the firemen were ready to roll!

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The core of Miniatur Wunderland is that it’s got automated model trains.  Miniatur Wunderland is the world’s largest model train, in fact, with more than 12,000 meters of track.

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There are lots of tiny jokes embedded throughout the Wunderland.  For example, this kid has tossed his shirt in the bushes and he’s running, naked and free!

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…while across the meadow, a pedophile watches him with binoculars.  Kind of creepy, but also a little bit funny.

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Meanwhile, in a giant field of flowers, another couple gets it on.

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The fair was also incredibly detailed, with a half dozen moving rides.  The ferris wheel, the spinny thing next to it, the bungee jump, and more, were all in motion.

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The sports stadium in the Hamburg section had a game on.

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One of the buildings in the Hamburg section opened up, and a tiny orchestra was playing-  the various pieces of the orchestra were moving.

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Meanwhile, in Scandinavia, weird shit is happening.  I don’t know if there’s a real place that looks like this.  It wouldn’t surprise me, though.

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Some of my favorite things were just little tiny gags that you might miss if you go through the Wunderland too fast.  Here, we see a mole who has been busted by the Polizei for digging a hole in the park.

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…and cows wearing scuba gear.  Seriously.

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Master criminals at work!

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…and in the America section, Area 51 has a Stargate!  (And little green dudes playing basketball!)

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When the Wunderland chooses to duplicate a real building, they do an amazing job of it.  Here’s tiny Miami Beach.

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… and here’s tiny Las Vegas.

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The Grand Canyon.

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They’re amazing at buildings, but I don’t think they really understand America’s relationship with sports.   The baseball player ready to hit the pigskin thrown by the football player while an elderly couple and a flamenco dancer look on is pretty confusing.

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The Wunderland makes up for that weirdness with lots of incredibly detailed tableaus.  Here’s a very intricately detailed concert.

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They’ve really thought of everything… the tiny concertgoing people even get a row of tiny porta-potties!

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…and in the crowd of that concert, I found more adventurous cows!  These two seem to be wearing shower caps.  Maybe it’s the scuba diving cows from earlier…

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There are also some exhibits near the cafe and restrooms of certain time periods in Germany.  Here’s the day that the Berlin Wall came down in 1989:

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…and here’s the bombed out city at the end of World War II.

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Have you ever been to Miniatur Wunderland?  What was your favorite part?

August Break: Tourism

I’m on an August Break from my regular blogging schedule. Here’s today’s pictures.

Regensburg is fairly popular with tourists.  Besides having a first rate Dom and a great Stone Bridge that has been in use since the Crusades. We’re also on the Donau river, and the river tour boats like to stop here, so it’s not uncommon to see tour groups in the Altstadt on weekends.

There’s also this, the city tour.  I went on it once-  It was interesting, but not the sort of thing I’d bother doing over again.  It’s fun to see this winding its way through the city on weekends though- if you hang out for a while, you’ll see it two or three times in a day.

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Have you ever been a tourist in your own city?

 

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One Week In The UK, Part One: London

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson

Ever since I was eleven years old, I’ve wanted to see London.    My fascination with the city started when I would come home after school, running from the bus stop to catch the second half of the day’s broadcast of Dangermouse on Nickelodeon.  For the uninitiated, Dangermouse is the world’s greatest secret agent, a mouse in a white jumpsuit with an eye patch.  His assistant, Penfold, is a hamster in a tiny blue suit.   The link above is part of an episode.  To date, Dangermouse is still my favorite cartoon.

As I grew older, the UK criss-crossed my personal pop culture landscape.  Many movies I loved were filmed, in part, in Pinewood Studios about twenty miles outside of the city.  Here’s a very short and in no way complete list:  Superman and Superman II, the original Harryhausen Clash of the Titans, Pink Floyd: The Wall, Legend, the James Bond movies, Little Shop of Horrors, Aliens, the first two Hellraiser movies,  the 1989 Batman, The Fifth Element, Stardust, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (the single finest movie adaptation of a stage musical ever made), and The Dark Knight.  Granted, most of these didn’t showcase London, but they were made there, and in my brain, that counts.  Sweeney Todd has an entire song just about London, though.

I read every Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy book as it came out.  Tom Baker was my Doctor until 2005.  I watch Love Actually at least once a year.  A hefty portion of my regular television viewing comes out of the BBC.  My favorite living author is British.

My point is that I was predisposed to love London even before I ever dreamed of traveling there.  And I did, of course-  dream of traveling there.  When I finally got my passport back in 1996, it was with the intention of making it to London.    I was just waiting for money, time off, and someone to travel with.

As I gained more seniority at Mr. Company, the money became less of a constraint, and the time off became easier to come by.  I was still waiting for a travel buddy though, but it never quite worked out.    Meanwhile, I went to other places.  I traveled widely in my own country, visited Canada, and spent two weeks in Hong Kong for work.   Then in late 2010, my life reached “Do-Over” status-  I found myself single again and temporarily without an apartment of my own.  In that time of upheaval, I made a promise to myself that I would reach London before my fortieth birthday.

Fast forward to April of this year.  I’d been in Germany for a scant five months, and I saw a link on Facebook to a Neil Gaiman post.  The surviving cast members of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio shows were doing a live touring version of the radio shows. Neil himself would be the voice of The Book in the Edinburgh, Scotland show on the 21st of July.  Twenty minutes after I read the post, I had already purchased tickets.    Thirty minutes after I read the post, I had compared the dates of the Olympics to the date of the show, verified that the week leading up to that event was a full week before the crowded Olympics began, and requested my vacation time.    The trip formed from that point forward.

On Saturday, 14 July, I flew into Heathrow Airport, with an Oyster Card, a LondonPass, and a very basic travel framework locked in.  I had a ticket for the London production of Wicked on Tuesday.  I had a rail ticket to go from King’s Cross Station in London to Waverley Station in Edinburgh by rail on Friday.  I had the aforementioned HHG Live ticket, and airfare to go from Edinburgh back to Munich the following Sunday.  And finally, I had a list of things I wanted to see, based on a lifetime of absorbing the UK into my soul like so much mercury on the skin.  I had a terrific time, and I took nearly a thousand photographs.  I’m only going to share about two dozen of them here.

Photos and such are behind this More tag

11 The Nine

Easter Weekend In Prague

Easter weekend is a four-day weekend here, because the Friday before and the Monday after are public holidays in Bavaria and much of Europe.  Not wanting to waste a long weekend, I went to Prague.

Some notes before the pictures and story:

  • The Hotel Victoria is pretty convenient to the tram lines, and the room was surprisingly nice for the low rates.
  • Never again will I use an ALEX (Arriva Länderbahn Express) train to go anywhere.  It was not a happy experience, either to or from Prague.  We were treated like cattle on the way there.  Give me a DB train any day.
  • Inside Prague, where tourism is huge, we didn’t have any trouble even though neither of us speak Czech.  There was plenty of English.  Except on the aforementioned ALEX trains.
  • The entire weekend, from rail to hotel to food and attractions, was actually very affordable.  I just wish the weather had been a little bit better…
  • While there are thirty-four pictures in this post, there are over 240 in my SmugMug gallery from Prague.  Feel free to click through that if you like.

On with the pictures and story!

There’s a lot of images here. Click to see more!