More of Würzburg

Saturday 1 July 2017

After visiting the Residence we headed back to where the car was parked.  These are some of the things I spotted on the way.

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Vineyards in front of the Marienberg Fortress.

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In 1582, the University of Würzburg was founded by Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn. The Prince-Bishop of Würzburg ordained that a monumental building should be constructed for his university together with a university church.  This is the tower of the Neubaukirche (newly built church).  At 91 meters high it is the highest church tower of Wurzburg.

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This shows part of the old university and the Neubaukirche.

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This is one way of seeing the sights of Würzburg !

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Several colour windmills added some colour to this little garden.

Time for an afternoon indulgence.  The hot chocolate was nice, but the icecream sundae was better !  The topping was Amarena cherries.  Absolutely delicious and a favourite with me.

The outdoor area we sat in was busy with lots of people.  This tour group arrived on Sedgways.  An effortless way to move about.

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Wurzburg is a busy place on Saturday.  This car pretended it was a Smart car and squeezed into a small space.   One thing I noticed about the cars is that I didn’t notice any old cars.

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Right near where Christoph parked was this green space complete with a small fountain.

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On our way from the city centre to where Christoph’s parents live, were some flyovers, similar to what is in Wellington, however these seemed bigger and longer.

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Trains run on a prompt timetable, so people waiting can rely on them to be on time.  However not in this case.  A car somehow lost control and ended up on the train line, thus bringing the train schedule to a temporary halt.  I don’t believe anyone was hurt, but the car was well and truly stuck.

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The next blog is about my homestay in Wurzburg with Christoph’s parents.

 

 

The Würzburg Residence

 Saturday 1 July 2017

What an enormous residence aka Palace !!   It was too much to get into one image, so I have used an image from Wikipedia taken by By Rainer Lippert.

The former residence of the Würzburg prince-bishops is one of the most important baroque palaces in Europe. It was begun for Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn by the then young and unknown architect Balthasar Neumann (1687-1753); the shell of the palace was built from 1720 to 1744 and the interior completed in 1780.  On 16 March 1945, only a few weeks before the end of the Second World War, an air raid destroyed 90 percent of the Würzburg old town. The Residence was almost completely burnt out. From the attic the fire ate down through wooden ceilings and floors, and all the furnishings and wall panelling were devoured by the flames. Only the core of the Residence, the vestibule, Garden Hall, White Hall, staircase and Imperial Hall with Tiepolo’s frescos were saved. Neumann’s stone vaults withstood the collapse of the burning attic.  The rebuilding of the Residence, which cost around 20 million euros, is now complete.

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A model of the Residence.  Several historical sites I visited had similar models.  Some had Braille writing and I guess sight impaired people could touch the model to understand the layout of the buildings.

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The fountain steps provided a welcome chance to get the weight off my feet for a minute or so.

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Actually I was here for more than a few minutes.  I needed to absorb everything around me. The fountain was built in 1894 by Ferdinand von Miller to honor the Prince Regent Luitpold from Bavaria.

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Prince Regent Luitpold did not want any memorial, so the Franconia Fountain was sculpted instead and is supposed to symbolise Franconia, holding the Franconia storm flag in one hand and a laurel wreath in the other.

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From the steps of the fountain I could see the Marinenber Fortress in the far distance.

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Other spires made their presence on the skyline too.

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This restaurant was a popular spot for many.

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We chose not to take a tour inside The Residence.  There was plenty to look at outdoors.  The entrance gate was very ornate.

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The gardens looked beautiful.

As you can see, the trees have been trimmed nicely into shapes and the grass is neat and tidy.

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This particular tree looked like it is trying to be different from the others.  I think it has successfully done that 🙂

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The statues were in a worn state.  I’ve seen so many statues and haven’t really given much in-depth thought to them.  They really are artworks, subjected to the weather.  The artists were very skilled and creative.  I wonder if they ever thought how long they might last?  Did they have models for them?

The gardens were the perfect wedding photo backdrop and we spotted a couple of weddings taking advantage of this.

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I so would love to be able to “flashback” a few hundred years to witness those alive at that time going about their daily business.  People of that era certainly appreciated gardens of beauty, statues and other artworks including oil paintings some of which I’ve seen in museums.  They are enormous pieces of work with intricate detail and scaled to perfection.  I bet the artists never envisaged these being an important record of the time at which they lived.

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This a full view of The Residence from the gardens.  Once again, I have used an image by Rainer Lippert on the Wikipedia page.

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This living tree is hollow.  It has quite a few solid poles supporting it.

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The gardens were a pleasure to walk around.  Afternoon tea was next on the list.

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Wandering from the Marktplaz to Würzburg Residence

Saturday 1 July 2017

Once we had parked the car, Christoph, Marle and I starting clocking up some more steps as we headed to the Marktplaz in search of lunch.  As we walked, I naturally took some images along the way.  This is the school that Christoph, whom I stayed with, went to as a youngster.

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The public transport systems mean wires and tram lines everywhere and cars sharing the same space.  It is not always possible to get a photo without including electric wires !  I like the colours of the plaster and how not all the buildings are the same colour.

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Spotted these fishy plates in a window display.

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This shop window poster caught my eye.

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Bright flowers adorn the street lantern.  I’m not exactly sure what the building in the middle is.  “Apotheke” is German for “pharmacy”.

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A regular tram in the city centre.

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The Marktplaz was full of stalls with fresh food and willing shoppers.  St. Mary’s Chapel just creeps into the left of this image.

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There was no shortage of variety both with vegetables and fruit.

We queued up for the traditional and apparently best made bratwurst sausage at this “fast food” outlet.  The reputation of this particular seller is such that the queues are often long.

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Bratwurst sausage with sweet mustard sauce.  No pigeons were going to get a share of my lunch, that’s for sure !

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In front of the traditional Maypole in the Marktplaz is a fish seller’s truck.  A view of more fruit and vegetable stalls and a close up of St. Mary’s Chapel’s spire.

More fresh fruit and vegetables.  The basket of garlic made me think of Sus’s usual large harvest of garlic 🙂

The Neumünster Church, built in the 11th century, looms in the background.  It is located adjacent to the Cathedral.

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It wasn’t until writing this blog that I found out the background of Project “Schmökerkiste” – the mobile bookshop.  The rolling “Schmökerkiste” is a colorful painted car, in which donated books are sold for a little money by homeless people.  The “Schmökerkiste” aims to provide employment to unemployed people and help them to build their day-to-day life, as they lack the structure and regularities, and have little chance of finding a job. This brings them into contact with people outside their usual environment.  It is hoped that through the “Schmökerkiste”  prejudices against homeless people can be broken down.

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The Würzburg Residence beckons at the end of the street.

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A few more things to look at before arriving at Würzburg Residence.

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The Chronosbrunnen , also called Moenusbrunnen stands on the Hofstraße in front of the Bechtolsheimer Hof.  It is a classic temple-shaped fountain witha man with wings on top pointing to the residence, along with a female character who writes something down. One interpretation of this group of figures is that it shows Chronos (the god of time) commissioned Clio (the muse of history) to report on the residence in the history books. On the front side of the temple, in a niche, is Moenus, the river god of the Main. Built on the initiative of prince-bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim. Originally, the figures were painted white and decorated with gold. In the 1870s the figures were weathered so much that a copy was made.  Johann Peter Alexander Wagner (Obertheres, Unterfranken 1730 – Würzburg 1809), German sculptor, working in Wurzburg.

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The next blog gives a tour of the gardens around the Würzburg Residence. 

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Marienberg Fortress, Würzburg

Saturday 1 July 2017

After breakfast Christoph drove Marle and I into Würzburg.  First on the list of things to see was the Marienberg Fortress.  The fortress is a dominating feature of the city as it towers above it all.

It served as a home of the local prince-bishops for nearly five centuries. It has been a fort since ancient times. Most of the current structures originally were built in Renaissance and Baroque styles between the 16th and 18th centuries. After Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden conquered the area in 1631 during the Thirty Years’ War, the castle was reconstructed as a Baroque residence. After it ceased to serve as residence of the Bishops of Würzburg, the fortress saw repeated action in the wars of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Festung Marienberg was severely damaged by British bombs in March 1945 and only fully rebuilt in 1990. Today, it houses two museums.

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The car park was around halfway up the hill and the walk to the fortress wasn’t too onerous.

The outer court is made up of the Neues Zeughaus and the Kommandantenhaus (both early 18th century). Access to this part of the fortress is by the Schönborntor.  This entrance is really wide.

There was a lot of red stonework inside the fortress.  I heard that the frames were coloured red from the blood of cows.  This is plausible because much of the red is leeching/running.  The next entrance leads to the inner court.

I wonder if the area in the foreground was some sort of bathing/cleaning area for horses.  In the background is the entrance to the inner court.  There were several “layers” that the enemy needed to penetrate to get to the inner court including getting across the moat.

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The moat, now filled with grass.  Advancing enemy would have been subjected to hot oil and arrows no doubt.

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From the wall by the moat, the Käppele Church can be seen in the distance.  This is a baroque church built 1748-1750 by Balthasar Neumann. Käppele means small chapel.

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The gateway to the inner court.

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A view of the buildings from inside the inner court.  Note how the colour of the window frames is “running/bleeding”.MIMG_3343MIMG_3344

A view of another corner of this building.

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This is the free-standing Romanesque 13th-century Bergfried Tower.  Inside looking up is man hole.  This was the very last hiding place if enemy troops got through all the entrances.  Darned if I’d want to be heading up there and hiding, but then I guess the other option isn’t that great !

There’s a unique well in the fortress, the depth of which is 104 meters (approximately 341 ft). The walls are lined with stone, the width at the base being 4 meters (approximately 13 ft), and narrowing to the top to 2 meters (approximately 6 ft). Since 1200 the well has provided the fortress with the purest spring water.  This is part of the ornate decoration on the outside of the well.

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The building next to the well is undergoing restoration.  There has been restoration at many of the places I’ve visited.

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Heading back to the moat for a walk around the wall.

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This looks to be a trough for the animals at a guess.

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Down some steps to reach some views of the city from the wall.

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The city views were great.  Interesting to note the roof colours, the river, the Residence along with other areas of the city as well as get another angle of the castle.

From the fortress wall looking to the right are some wind turbines.

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Looking to the left, vineyards on the slopes overlook the city.  Würzburg is situated in the heart of the Franconian vineyard landscape. For centuries wine played an important economic role and was Wurzburg’s main export.  Near the bottom, through the green of the trees, is a glimpse of the Old Main Bridge (Alte Mainbrücke), where we were last evening.  The steeple near the middle of the picture belongs to St. Mary’s Chapel (Marienkapelle).

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Würzburg Residence (Würzburger Residenz) is the brown coloured building in the middle upper third. It was built in its entirety, with short interruptions, almost within a single generation.

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A zoomed in view of the Würzburg Residence.

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The vineyards overlooking the city.

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The Würzburg Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral dedicated to Saint Kilian. It is the seat of the Bishop of Würzburg. With an overall length of 105 metres it is the fourth largest Romanesque church building in Germany and a masterpiece of German architecture from the Salian period.  From the fortress you can see how much it towers over the adjacent buildings.

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The cornerstone of the Old University below was laid on 11 June 1582.  At the end of the Second World War, the Old University was severely damaged in a British bombing raid on 16 March 1945. On that day, the university library lost about 80 percent of its inventory. As early as in the summer of 1945, lecturers and students took part in removing the rubble from the destroyed university buildings and started the reconstruction. In the summer of 1946, student enrolment was at 1,279 again. Starting in 1989, the Old University was fully restored with €7.3 million without interruption of its operations. Destroyed parts of the building were reconstructed and new built-in components were made in the style of historic forms and materials in order to preserve the historic design of an important listed building in the Würzburg cityscape. The restoration was completed in 2002.

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As the wander around the Marienburg Fortress had burnt off a few calories we headed to the Marktplaz for some lunch before visiting the Würzburg Residence.

 

An evening delight – Würzburg

Friday 30 June 2017

Because I bought my train ticket (to travel on the ICE train – fast) the same day as the travel, I paid more.  It cost 34 Euros.  The ICE train travels between major European cities and has fewer stops than a regional train.  The wait for the train was really interesting.  The volume of trains was a lot more than I would see at my home town station.  The 80km from Fulda to Wurzburg took around 32 minutes !  The ride was smooth as.  I stood for around 10 minutes as I was unable to see a vacant seat where I could also have my suitcase with me.

I was met at the Wurzburg railway station by Marle and Christoph.  They hosted John and I when we were in Roth for Challenge Roth last year.  We so enjoyed our stay with them that that is the reason we decided to return again this year.  Even with John passing away nine months ago, I felt it was important to stick to the original plan, even though it meant travelling alone.  It is has worked out fine so far.

It was really exciting to see them.  It felt like meeting old friends again, although we have only known each other a year and most of that via long distance !

We stayed at the Wurzburg home of Christoph’s mother and father.  After enjoying a wonderful meal prepared by Christoph’s mother, Christoph, Marle and I drove into central Wurzburg to the Old Main Bridge (Alte Mainbrücke).  I thought this was an interesting sign on the button to activate the “cross now” green light.

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The bridge connects the Old Main quarter and the fortress on the other side of the river to the centre of the city.  The view of the river and the skyline from the bridge is spectacular.  The image below shows the canal for barges coming through.  We were fortunate to see one come in, the water level raise and it moved on.

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I’m not sure if this is a nightly occurrence, but certainly on a Friday night people gather to share a drink with their friends on the bridge.  There are a couple of nearby places to buy wine.  A deposit is paid on the glass and this is refunded if returned.  It was a warm evening and as the sun went down, the number of people on the bridge increased.

Wurzburg has a population of around 120,000 and about 20,000 of those are university students.  There was a good mix of ages on the bridge when we were there.

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At one time the river was an important part of the trade route between Frankfurt and Nuremberg.  The first stone bridge was in place in 1133.  Flooding and freezing took toll on the bridge and its replacements over the years and in the 15th century a completely new bridge was built.  Gates adorned both ends.

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Below is a power station on the river which can be seen from the bridge.  In the background are the vineyards which produce Franconian wine.

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In the 18th century, the Baroque stone figures were added.  Some were of saints and the rest of other important citizens (the first bishop, the ruler and his son etc).

Looking over the city is the Marienberg Fortress.

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Before we joined those already on the bridge with a glass of wine, we had a short walk around the shopping area.

Beautiful colour on the front of this hotel.

One the shops had this on their window which I thought was something good to remember.

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The buses/trams were frequent.  I guess in a city this big they need to be as well as punctual.

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This is House to the Falcon.  It used to be a pub.  In 1751, Widow Meissner, who ran the establishment at the time, commissioned travelling Upper Bavarian Craftsmen to carry out the ornate Rococo stucco work on the façade.  A falcon on the centre gable was also added.  This decoration was not only good for business, it was also worthy of a tax exemption !  During the Christmas Market, the backdrop of this building blends perfectly into the festive ambiance of the season.  During post war years, the building was meticulously reconstructed in its former style based on archival photographs.  This shows the importance of keeping photographs !   Currently the building houses the public library and Tourist Information Office.

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This gentleman looks like a “night watchman” on duty.  St. Mary’s Chapel dominates the Market Square.

The changing evening light gave the buildings and water a different look to than that in daytime.

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I have finally researched information on the Maypole which every town seems to have.  I understood that they would relate to May Day, but hadn’t expected them to still be up in the middle of July.  Most still have the circle without the ribbons attached.

In Germany, the first of May is a day to celebrate the changing seasons. Every year, on May Day, communities across Southern Germany gather to erect the Maypole (Maibaum in German). This tradition is done by manpower alone. About a dozen burley men dressed in overalls or lederhosen grapple the wooden pole, eventually bringing the 20 meter (or more) allegorical emblem upright. But it doesn’t stop there — the maypole must be defended.  It is tradition for different villages to steal each others’ poles on the day of the celebration.  In recent years, many villages and towns have added additional decorations on each side of the tree trunk that showcase the local community, clubs and important landmarks.

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We queued up for a glass of wine and then joined other patrons on the bridge.

A partial moon above the Marienberg Fortress.

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The Marienberg Fortress kept grabbing my attention !  Below that there is a barge coming into the canal.

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The evening in Wurzburg was really special.  The combination of lights and water is always a good one with the reflections and the fortress looked magical overlooking the city.

 

 

 

 

Fleeting visit to Fulda

Thursday 29 & Friday 30 June 2017

I travelled by train to Fulda.  Captured a few views out of the window.  Note that some of the images are taken on my cell hence the inferior quality.   I love the colours in the fields.

Several of the fields were filled with solar panels.  I recall seeing these last year and discussing them with John.

I love seeing the wind turbines.  Just a shame I could only view them through a window.

The train I was on catered for bikes.  Belts positioned by the seats could be used to secure the bikes during the journey.

Fulda IMG_5538Fulda was a larger place than I expected (pop. 64,000+).  I’d kept a screen shot of the route from the railway station to my accommodation and also had drawn it on a sheet of paper.  I forgot the screen shot was on my phone and after I’d arrived, I couldn’t get my bearings exiting the large busy railway station. I pulled my suitcase behind me for about 20mins looking for particular street name & ended up doing a suitcase circuit right back to the railway station. At that point I thought stuff this & launched myself into a taxi for the short trip to the hotel.  It was a tricky place to find actually. “Doll” was the street name/area I was looking for.

My room was on the 4th floor.  The lift went to the 3rd floor.  It was a bit of a mission getting my suitcase up the stairs.  Fortunately halfway up, a young guy who was heading to the lift on the 3rd floor looked up and saw my slow progress and gave me a hand.  Coming down when I checked out was way easier.

During my short stay I used the stairs a bit and spotted this poster.

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These are of the view from my room window.

These are taken from the 3rd floor window by the lift.  The street sign “Doll” is down in that square.

The hotel was made up of three buildings that I’m aware of.  The building opposite was accommodation and to the side was another building with accommodation and the hotel restaurant where I had my complimentary breakfast.  The pot of honey they had alongside the other spreads was huge.  There was a big selection of cereals, yoghurts, fresh fruits, cold meats, breads, eggs etc.

I did get in my long run  before I left on Friday.  There was a big park area with lots of paths, streams etc which wasn’t far from the hotel.

After a shower and quick lunch, I was off to the railway station (by taxi) for my next journey, this time to Wurzburg.

 

Captivated by Alsfeld

Saturday 24 – Thursday 29 June 2017

My five night stay in the little town of Alsfeld was a chance to relax in quiet, unrushed surroundings.  I pre-booked accommodation at Hotel Klingelhoffer.

The room I had was comfortable, clean (serviced daily), had good internet access and was actually located in a building across the road from the hotel.  Included in the accommodation cost was breakfast.  This included a good selection of cereals, breads and yoghurt, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, salami and other cold meats, coffee, a selection of tea and juices.

I had a meal in the hotel restaurant on my first night there.  I chose what I thought was a fish dish.  It turned out to be a 2 course meal and the main meal was a stunner.

A large single bed !  A view from my accommodation across to the hotel and then looking up the street towards the medieval part of Alsfeld.

On the corner just up the road is a cycle shop, however it always looks to be closed.  The cobble patterns are amazing and the colours seem to differentiate between footpath, gutter, road etc.  I wouldn’t risk wearing high heels on them!  Outside one house I spotted a set of old scales.  I wonder what their use was primarily for.  Hersfelder Street is what my hotel is on.

The Old Town is packed full of old timber-framed homes and stores — over 400 of them to be precise!  Some of these buildings are like none you have seen before! There are tiny houses, wonky houses, overly tall houses and enormous and ornate houses. There are even some buildings that get wider and wider the higher they get — seeming to defy gravity!  In Alsfeld you can also find architecture from all the major periods in history covering the past 700 years. 

I love how the buildings look “wonky”, as described above.  Many walls do not look straight.  The timber beams aren’t “perfect”.   Such a variety of materials are used with the wooden beams.

Some buildings located on corners had interesting colourful carvings.  I am not sure of their purpose.  The pot plant was novel 🙂  as was the letterbox.  No need to be able to read German to understand the meaning of the road sign !

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A few of the buildings have inscriptions on them.  I will need to check with my German friends to discover the significance of these.

The stone Walpurgis Church behind the main square has its beginnings in the 14th century. It has collapsed, been rebuilt and been extended over the following 600 years to its present form! It also a resounding bell collection — 7 in total — and the music from its tower is a delight at any time of day.

The Walpurgis Church is open between 1.30 & 3.30pm.  I took these images on my cell.

The Bein House was at one stage used for preserving skeletons from the surrounding cemetery as the cemetery was too small to cope with the numbers of deaths in the 30 Year War and the various plagues.  Later the chapel was misused for “profane” purposes.

Lunch on one day was a kebab for 5 Euro.  Great value and very filling.

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These were taken around the Marktplaz.

Someone’s private home garden framed by the enormous gate in the wall.

I love how different materials (textures and colours) are used in the buildings, resulting in them looking so individual.

Café Rahn makes a variety of delicious cakes and the tea is good too.  Inside the beams are slightly “rugged” looking and are not just for show.  I love how they are pieced together to provide a solid wall foundation.

The Wine House, next to the Town Hall, in the Marktplaz.

The Town Hall in the Marktplaz.

The outer wall of each level of the building is wider than the level below it in most cases.  Whether that is a design effect or something structural, I have no idea.  I tried to take a photo looking up underneath !

Some of the buildings that had narrow walkways between them nearly touched each other at rooftop height !

Leonhard’s Tower is the last remaining tower of the city fortress .  It is 27 metres high.  Entrance was from the city wall, through a doorway half way up the tower.  At the base was the dungeon.  I could see the stork’s nest, but there was no sign of the stork !

This looked to be like part of the town wall perhaps.  I couldn’t locate any information in the vicinity.

This was taken outside the main town area.  In the distance near the light strip of land is the autobahn.

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Walking around the block, I discovered a supermarket which enabled me to restock my tea bag supply.  I was interested to see the word “Haka” on the wall on the corner wall.  Not far from my hotel, stacks of cardboard were being loaded onto a truck.  The mini crane had claws which pick up the stacks and the “crane/truck driver” loaded them onto the back of the truck.

When I went to get an evening meal at the hotel on Sunday night, I discovered their restaurant is closed that night.  So I wandered about 100m down the road to the Italian restaurant.  What a magic discovery that was.  I subsequently had 3 nights evening meals there and take out pizza on another night.  Their seafood risotto was my choice and it cost 7.50 Euro.  On the last night I tried their Tiramisu.  I didn’t expect it to be so large!  It melted in your mouth, but half the size would have been plenty.  They also had “black” beer which was just the ticket.

It was near impossible to find a few kilometres of flat area to run on.  It took until my last couple of days before my legs got some oomph to go up the slightest elevation .  Humidity was over 90% and after each run the sweat just poured off me.  On one run I came across an empty pond.  I wonder if it was drained purposely or suffering drought?  It didn’t look flash.  There were lots of trails, albeit short ones, to run on and some of them were alongside streams.  In the distance I could often hear cars on the autobahn and trains.

A late evening view looking from the bottom of the street up to my hotel.

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