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Our 1999 Germany Trip

Here are some pictures from a trip Kim and I took to Germany in August of 1999. We visited Heidelberg (where I attended the ISMB meeting) and also visited Rothenburg, Munich, and Trier, and various cities and castles along the Rhine and Mosel River Valleys. Kim wrote the nice descriptions that go with the pictures.

There are quite a few images so be patient while the page loads if you have a slow connection.

The Rhine Castles
This trip came about because Steve had a conference to attend in Germany (see above). I decided to come along and Steve took a few extra days off work so we could have a real vacation. Before the conference started we had a couple of days to explore the Rhine and Mosel River Valleys.
Our first stop was a village on the Rhine. We stayed in one of the old towers of the city wall. The windows were hundreds of years old and made by the simple method of blowing and flattening circles of glass.
After making sure we had a room, the next order of business was getting ice cream.
This little girl was taking her stuffed dog out for a walk on the cobblestone streets. The old wall with these narrow gates surrounded part of the town. Although cars drive through the gates now, it was easy to imagine medieval soldiers with pikestaffs guarding them.
With the ice cream sustaining us, we hiked up to the old castle above the town. Here's the Rhine!
We rented bikes the next day and rode alongside the river. We past many small towns like this.
Our goal was the ruin of a mighty castle called Rheinsfelds. Here I am in one of the many gates.
Weird picture! Rheinsfeld has miles of tunnels that extend out underneath the fields surrounding the castle. In the olden days, these were used to sneak soldiers out behind the enemy. If the enemy army was camped above a tunnel, it could be filled with explosives and detonated. There are no signs, you have to know about the tunnels, but there are no barriers either. The gift shop will sell you a candle for fifty cents. So off we went exploring... I combined a flash with holding the shutter open to get this shot, because the tunnels were pitch black.
Ahhh...the next day we went to Burg Eltz castle. This could be a demonstration that tongue is stronger than the sword. Rheinsfeld was mighty, but eventually was destroyed. Eltz has survived through strategic marriages, diplomacy, and because it was a lesser castle, off the major rivers. It has been owned by the same family for 700 years.
Because it was never destroyed, it's a great way to see what castles really looked like. They built half-timbered structures above the stone walls with all the pretty painting you see here.
The guidebook said they won't give tours in English unless you ask and organize your fellow English-speaking tourists into a group of twenty. So I did! It was a little scary, but everyone appreciated it and we all got a lot more out of our visit. Sorry, they didn't allow pictures inside. It was fabulous, but you'll just have to go see it yourself.
Here's Steve in the inner courtyard.
These are called siege balls. When they fought by surrounding a castle and starving the inhabitants into submission, these rocks were flung back and forth by huge catapults.
We went to Trier, the northernmost capital of the Roman Empire. They have awesome ruins there, but all we ended up taking a picture of was this massive door. Go figure....
Steve's conference was starting so we drove into heidelburg. Most of Germany seemed to be agricultural. We saw many fields like this from the autobahn. How was the driving? Great! The German drivers obeyed the rules and strictly adhered to the system of slower cars on the right, pass on the left. Not like the utter chaos we are used to in the Bay Area. We also never found heavy traffic.
heidelburg is both a modern and an old city. We were staying in the old university town. This is a statue of Bunsen, the inventor of the Bunsen burner. Evidently he knew that Steve and I occasionally forgot to turn ours off.
The hotel that we had reserved for the week was dreadful, so we ended up jumping from hotel to hotel, a night or two at each. This shot was taken from the window of our room on the Corn Market square. Only a half hour before the square was covered with cafe tables with bright umbrellas and packed with people. The rain cleared it out, and all the cafes pulled their tables in. That's the end of the church that you see. It seems that the church was built with those little shops with the red doors on the outside. Our guide on the walking tour also told us that when Germany was split between Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation, a wall was built down the center of this church. It solved the problem of who would get the church. Another interesting thing the guide said was this square was where the witches were burnt at the stake. I asked if Heidelburg had a lot of witches, and the guide said, oh, the normal number for a city this size.
You know Steve and me. On his one afternoon free we went hiking. This bench was carved out of two tree trunks.
heidelburg's castle was destroyed but has been partially restored. This small tower (you should see the rest of the castle) held the gunpowder. When it blew, the whole outer portion of the tower flew out and down. You can see the top edge of it sticking out of the moat.
A sunny day! We saw some of the tourist's sites. This monkey is the symbol of the city. Steve felt like he really became a part of heidelburg during our visit.
The conference ended with a day trip to see the eclipse. We went to a manor home and had a lovely lawn party. The clouds cooperated most of the time--we were quite lucky. This cloudy time was our chance to take a picture of it without a special lens.
Steve cheered up this grumpy old carving with a kiss. Shows you that everybody needs a little love.
Rothenburg was truly one of the high points of the trip, but you wouldn't know it from our pictures. It's a time-capsule town. It was one of the largest cities in medieval times, but its population was decimated in by the plague and during the Thirty Year's War. The town fell out of public view, emerging 600 years later as a complete, intact medieval city. I love this picture Steve took of me on the city wall, looking across town.
We spent the last two nights of our trip in Munich. By this time I was finished climbing towers, but I'm glad Steve took this picture so I can see the magnificent view he got of central Munich.
We drove out to Andechs, an ancient monastery. We saw the monks in the brown robes file into the church and chant the service in Latin. That was amazing. But these monks haven't just taken orders, they'll also take your order. Their mission is to brew beer, and they do a heavenly job of it. Here's Steve in the beer garden. Note the large pretzels and the small "taster" mugs of beer.
On our last day we went to visit the Dauchau concentration camp. It was an awful experience and I hope everyone who visits will come away forever changed. It is our responsibility to know what our government is doing. This memorial sculpture is titled "Men in the Wire" and refers to the method of suicide the men sometimes used of jumping into the electrified fence.
Here is the hallway of the prison unit.
We took no more pictures after this, but I can tell you that after several very quiet hours in the car, we decided to make a reviving stop in the spa town of Baden-Baden, which was less that an hour out of the way. I had been twice to the pools while we were staying in heidelburg and they were fun and great for my back. I was glad to spend some time there with Steve. After that, it was on to the airport and back to California!

Copyright (c) 1999-2007 Steve & Kim Trutane.
Last revised: 2007-07-27