Thursday, October 10, 2013

Frankfurt, Köln, Heidelberg, and Rothenburg

View from a hike I did with my Aunt
Greetings from rainy Rothenburg, Germany. I write from the medieval hotel lobby where I am escaping the rain; pity because this is truly a gorgeous town. But, I have wonderful photos and stories to share from the first part of my German tour.

Before I start in on Germany, I should mention that my aunt flew to Trondheim last Thursday night and stayed with me until we flew to Germany on Monday afternoon. We had a great time together: my host scientist had us over for dinner and served reindeer, we tried whale at a local restaurant, we saw multiple landmarks (the fortress, cathedral), and had lots of great food. I introduced my aunt to some of my friends as well. The weather cooperated for the most part; as a matter of fact, I've been very lucky avoiding rain- I typically leave town when it starts to rain and travel to cities that are having exceptionally good weather. Though, maybe my luck has run out.
Dinnertime: Whale

We left for Frankfurt on Sunday afternoon and arrived to the hotel about 7pm. We planned only to stay the night and head off to the next city right away. This was a good idea...the city smelled pretty horrible, was sketchy, and was selling services we didn't want (we accidentally walked through the red light district on the way to dinner). The next morning we got on the train at 8:40am and headed off to Cologne (Köln), the city where cologne was first made and with a famous cathedral where the 3 wise men are (supposedly) buried. This cathedral was absolutely breathtaking, I cannot believe people could figure out how to build something so exquisite in the Middle Ages. Sadly, my grandfather passed away this day, but at around the same time he passed I lit a candle and sent a blessing for him at this famous and enchanting cathedral; I know he would have loved this and he is now in a better place. We managed to take an hour-long river cruise along the Rhine to see famous landmarks (e.g., Chocolate factory) in Cologne.

Cologne train bridge with love locks
We left around 3pm and took a long train to Heidelberg. On this train ride, we passed dozens of castles positioned amongst the rolling green hills, well mostly green- yellow, orange, and red trees were scattered around displaying the beauty of the German autumn. This is so foreign to me since the trees stay one color all year in Southern California. We got there late afternoon so we were able to check in to our castle-like hotel (we ate breakfast in the old dungeon, so cool) and walk around the city. Just up two streets from the river was a huge walking street with more shops than I ever imagined. Hundreds of people gathered around the shop windows, walking with pretzels in one hand and famous German chocolate in the other. In the morning, we visited the Heidelberg castle, famous for the 300 steps it took us to climb to the top, and for it's gorgeous views of the town. I picked up some famous chocolate that Michelle Obama has commended (along with other famous diplomats) and we shopped.

Street in Heidelberg
Later that afternoon we took the longest train ride yet to Rothenburg, an absolutely marvelous old town. The city is surrounded by towers and tall walls, which kept out the invaders since the 800s. The town was saved during WWII because an American general grew up with old paintings around his house when he was a kid - but had never been - and knew of it's historical presence and beauty. We went on a popular Nightwatch man's tour at 8pm, popular for tourists and locals alike. In the morning, we woke up to rain and walked around the walls to marvel the designs and ancient construction of the city.

Next up is Munich, with day trips to Salzburg, Neuschwanstein (sleeping beauty castle), and some other nearby German cities. Can't wait to update you on these adventures!
Falling leaves on a hike in Trondheim

First building (now administration) at NTNU, my University in Trondheim 

Cathedral in Köln

A liter of beer I ordered (and finished) - more than I thought it would be

View from the castle in Heidelberg

Oven in the castle

Old medieval street in Rothenburg
Inside the Cologne Cathedral 

Train station in Frankfurt

Front side of the Köln Cathedral 

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