Years ago I was desperately trying to find a way to get an EU passport. The closest relative i managed to find at the time was my Great, Great Grandmother being German. Many other of my great great grandparents also came to Australia around then from boring places like England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Today I travelled to the region my family came from.
Firstly though i had to get past the continental breakfast on offer. My dad would have had a field day with the cakes on offer for breakfast. A typical german continental breakfast involves bread, deli meats, hard boiled eggs and cakes, with either tea or coffee. Fortunately they also had some fruit as well.
My next challenge was to negotiate driving in a foreign country. As well travelled as I am, driving in another country on the right hand side of the road was something I’d never done. My first few kilometres of driving were very nervous to say the least. I had to undo all the instincts like the wipers and blinkers on the opposite sides. Also sitting in the left hand side meant i had to get used to the fact that I was still driving between some lines, just with a different viewpoint. Then came the autobahns, which operate rather efficiently, because its far more of a sin to block the left hand lanes (ie our right hand lanes) than it is to speed. You pull out overtake and get back left, unless driving at 150+ km/h. Actually I’m sure I was doing that speed and several others were going much closer to 200km/h.
My first stop was the small town of Kirchensall. This is listed on some birth certificates so I thought i’d check the town out. It was a small town with an impressive chuch, but thats standard for these parts. I had intended to look for gravestones in the cemetary, but I was getting funny looks from old ladies pearing from behind stone walls as i took photos of the town and church. I left Kirchensall to visit the local castle.
Schloss Neuenstein was just the other side of the A6. The castle had been around since the 1300’s with several extensions and redesigns done on it over the centuries. It was effectively opened as a museum in the late 1800’s. Certainly my ancestors were probably ruled by the overlords who lived in the castle.
Some suggestions during my research of the region were to go visit a town called Schwabisch Hall. Its like a living open air museum I was told. Well the first challenge was to find some parking somewhere in the town. I also managed to find several one way dead end streets with a steep incline. Something my hire car did not like reversing up and several times stalled. I was about to give up when a park appeared, but required me to parallel park the opposite direction i’m used to. Easy, managed it first time and rather than bath in the glorious sunshine that befitted the amazing parking skills I possess, I wander into the centre of town.
I soon discovered that Saturday was market day. Thats why it was so packed. The market was also ruining my photos of the town hall and church. I wandered through the streets and found a lovely bar overlooking the river and stopped for a beer. I kept wandering and realising I was getting hungry I found numerous lovely outdoor cafes to sit and eat in. The weather has been amazingly fantastic the past two days, temperatures in the mid 20’s. Perfect. I walked back up the hill to find that the saturday markets were gone giving me some much better photo opportunities of the main town square. Yes the place is a living museum, but to see the wonderful old buildings you have to ignore the commercialisation of the stores down the streets, with their big colourful signs.
My final stop for the day was to the Hockenheimring Motor sports museum. I have to say if you like bikes, then you’d love this place. I went hoping for a plethora of formula 1 related stuff and there is just a smidgen compared to the bikes. Still its always worth checking these things out while in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately getting onto the track was impossible.
So my last full day in germany for now. Tomorrow I fly down to Bucharest and start making my way back towards Germany. I remembered a stat from my first trip to europe about 9 years ago. Apparently 90% of people who visit Europe never visit it again. I’m guessing the same applies to many places. I’m glad i’m now in the minority 🙂
So maybe an update from Bucharest tomorrow about tales of Air Malev or maybe nothing. Before i go, I have to wish my Grandpa a Happy 90th birthday. I’m sure you had a wonderful time today and sorry I missed it.