Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: October, 2009

Belated Photojournal: Germany Day 4

I’ve added photos for September 19 on Flickr here. Previously, September 16, September 17, and September 18.

The last day in Germany was spent in Ladenburg and Weinheim. Because my father and his college friends were all engineers, it was more of a let’s-visit-where-Carl-Benz-lived day. Ladenburg is where Carl Benz had his garage, where the bishop of Worms had his residence, and where we took a little coffee break in a square filled with buildings that had supposedly been around since the 16th century. Later, we visited the Automuseum (not to be confused with the schmancy-fancy Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart) where I was forced to watch a cheesy German film on how Carl Benz developed his engines before being let loose to explore the museum. Frankly, I was more interested in looking at the late 19th century/early 20th century engines themselves than admiring actual car design.

From the car museum, there was a bit of car pool shuffling and I ended up riding with my father’s friend from Munich, another of his college buddies who is the head architect for the aquarium built in Stralsund, and the architect’s wife–a French teacher. And let me tell you, the architect was one wacky, wacky, chain-smoking dude. I saw him go through three cigarettes in fifteen minutes. And I was mostly dismayed when he and all the other older folks zoomed past me on the steep climb up a mountain to one of Weinheim’s watch towers-turned-beer garden.

If this trip told me anything at all, it’s that I need to get out more often from the lab bench and exercise. Or that maybe for some people, beer can be an incentive for practically anything.

Benz Museum Motor Plaque

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Belated Photojournal: Germany Day 3

I’ve added photos for September 18 on Flickr here. Previously, September 16 and September 17.

One of my father’s old college friends and his wife drove from Munich the previous night and took us to visit the town of Speyer on our third day. (For the history-inclined, it’s about 40 kilometers south of Worms.) Coming off of the highway, one passes what looks like a gee-whiz museum full of airplanes and an IMAX theater. But past that is a large graveled parking lot to the main part of town dominated by a gigantic cathedral built in the 11th century: the Dom St. Maria und St. Stephan–a World Heritage Site. Underneath the Romanesque cathedral is a crypt, which my father and his friends declined to visit. But being the morbidly curiously sort, of course I went. More than a dozen medieval kaisers are entombed there–and I wondered what they would have thought of all the tourists tramping down there to gawk at their stone coffins.

Afterwards, we did a little walking tour through the main part of town. We crashed an engagement party serving pretzels and champagne–no one seemed to mind–and walked past the Altpörtel, a medieval combo of clock tower and gate. We took a small break at a coffee house and I downed a shot of espresso, black and straight, despite the wife of my father’s friend admonishing me that the Italians saturated theirs with sugar before drinking. We visited another church hidden in a back alleyway in the late summer foliage–the Konviktskirche–which was a little more modern, if you call 1266 more modern. This small gem was virtually ignored by the rest of the tourists. Inside, an organ dominates the back and the windows panelled with jewel-colored stained glass. Outside, a rich and fragrant Monet-esque garden cloisters the church walls.

Before heading back to Weinheim where all the old college buddies were gathering for their reunion, we stopped at a restaurant a little beyond the main square with the fountain. I had sauerkraut, bratwurst, and Riesling (250 mL of it according to the marking on the glass)–and was promptly ill for the rest of the afternoon. I suppose the stereotypical German food does not agree with me at all.

Clocktower at Heidelberg

Belated Photojournal: Germany Day 2

I’ve added photos for September 17 on Flickr here. Previously, September 16.

On the second day, my father and I were mostly on our own. We took the train from Weinheim to Frankfurt–the cheaper train which stopped at every other station in between. At the Frankfurt train station, my father suggested we take a one hour tour on a double decker bus, but like the stereotypical male, he failed to clearly ask for directions to the bus stop when we dropped by the tourist info booth. It was only by accident that I spotted the bus stopping in front of the train station–among all the other busy traffic.

Frankfurt is a very modern city. The square surrounding the train station is international in flavor and shiny skyscrapers seem to be everywhere. After the ride on the bus, we took a boat ride on the River Main. The boat itself was scheduled to stop at a beer garden a little ways down the river, but was thwarted because an unauthorized speedboat was docked where the tour boat was supposed to dock (the captain did some shouting on his loudspeaker, but the owner of the speedboat did not appear).

The rest of the day, we walked along Schaumainkai which is pretty much a street populated solely by museums. The Städel Museum had quite a few paintings of the well known sort, but I was more impressed by their exhibition of Edvard Munch. The second museum we went to was the Liebieghaus–which specializes in sculpture. I’d say at least a solid half of their repertoire was devoted to religious works. The rest was a sprinkling of Greek/Roman, Egyptian, and Asian artifacts.

Clocktower at Heidelberg

Belated Photojournal: Germany Day 1

In September, I went over to Germany with my father for a few days, partly to go sightseeing and partly for a reunion with my father’s old college buddies (who I’ve meet before–when I was a baby). We mostly stuck around the region of Frankfurt and Heidelberg.

I’ve added photos for September 16 on Flickr here. It was the first day we were in Germany. Fresh off the plane at around 8 AM, one of my father’s friends took us off for breakfast and then a walking tour through Heidelberg (Main Street, Heidelberg Castle, Apothecary Museum) and the main part of Weinheim which is a small city approximately an hour’s drive north of Heidelberg. Exhausting, but wonderful. And it was at the apothecary museum that I got my current idea for this year’s Nanowrimo novel.

Clocktower at Heidelberg