Saturday 27 April 2013

Saturday in Germany

After landing rather late and of course staying up chatting even later, Saturday morning was pretty relaxed. I think everyone got up later than usual (except perhaps for me, but then I'll gladly sleep in every day) and had a leisurely breakfast. The weather was looking pretty grim, so we postponed our original plans for a hike and instead bundled into the car and headed off to Speyer. Despite the rain, it was a drive through some beautiful countryside.

Arriving in Speyer the first stop was, of course, their world renown cathedral and it certainly didn't disappoint. There is something really lovely about Romanesque architecture that is both very comforting and impressive. Towering without being standoffish.

The outside of the cathedral.

Henry V who completed the cathedral is memorialised
The whole cathedral is done in these rose and cream striped bands that reminded a little of the architecture at OU. It was also one of the cleanest buildings I have seen. Either it was cleaned recently or the Germans have some magic dust for keeping the grime of big cities from sticking to their monuments.

Due to its popularity, we stayed in the entrance for a while. The original plan was to go up into the tower and then back into the main cathedral itself. It will probably not be any surprise to those who know me to learn that I didn't make it. I was doing quite well up until we got to the exposed part of the tower with the wind and the rain coming in through the (very much lacking in glass) window slits. Pass. So I went back down and let the others continue to explore the tower.

Fortunately, in the sanctuary there was some kind of youth celebration going on, which was a remarkable contrast to the stateliness of the church itself and also gave it a very homelike feel.

Playing in the sanctuary
No, I don't know what the octapus was about, but I liked the contrast

Looking back down the south vaulted bay.
Before too long, Bobby, Erica and Stephen found me again at which point we all decided to head down into the crypt where no fewer than three Holy Roman emperors are buried. At the time, Stephen and I were reading a history of the papacy and so it was pretty cool to see the final resting place of some of the influential and charismatic leaders we'd been reading about.

Henry IV, looking rather glum
looking through the grating to the graves of the early Holy Roman Emperors
Coming back up from the crypt we were surprised to find a chapel dedicated to one of the newer local saints, Edith Stein. A surprise to me to be sure as I had no idea that Edith Stein had been associated with Speyer.

A small but very moving memorial to a great woman.
Putting us in a rather pensive mood, we headed out of the cathedral and realised that if we were going to eat lunch we probably ought to do it soon. Fortunately, there was a brewery-restaurant quite literally right across the road. And seeing as we were in Germany, a brewery restaurant seemed most fitting.
Brau Haus
And tasty it was! We all tried a different beer, but my favourite by far was their seasonal spring brew, which was just the right combination of light and flavourful without being bitter. It was a perfect match with the skewered roast pork I had as a main. Unfortunately, I forgot to take notes on what everyone else had, but I do remember everything being extremely tasty (there was a local version of macaroni and cheese that I do recall, which was to die for).

Looking back across cathedral square to the brewery/restaurant in the background
After lunch, we took the short walk over to the Technik Museum. I was expecting something like a science museum, instead it was more like a giant transport museum, with a few random large player organs thrown in for good measure. Really rather amazing.

The entrance to the museum
And then once inside it was a airplane and automobile aficionado's dream. 3 points for anyone who can name the various bits of moving vehicles in the pictures, because did I take notes? No I did not and despite growing up going to all these sorts of museums, I never managed to really absorb anything other than enjoying the "neat" factor of it all. And this was very, very neat.



Looking back over the main hall

Off to one side there was even a model railroad

And that was only in the main building. Not only was there another whole building dedicated to space vehicles (including both a Soviet and an American landing capsule), but the courtyard in between also had the larger airplane and boat specimens, most of which you could go up inside.
The square in the back of the museum
By this point, Erica and I were a little technologied out, so we opted to spend some time in the museum cafe chatting and generally catching up while the boys continued to explore. And we were quite literally the last few people to leave. A quick stop by the gift shop, and then it was back to the car and back to Landshtuhl for dinner.

looking back towards the cathedral through the trees.

Dinner was at one of Bobby and Erica's favourite local restaurants where I finally got my helping of spaetzle for the trip as well as another super tasty beer.  After that it was an evening at Bobby and Erica's again chatting long into the night. Needless to say it didn't look like Sunday would be a terribly early start either, but perhaps more important was the chance to catch up and reconnect. 

originally posted on 08 August 2013, back dated to the actual date of the trip. As usual, the photos here are only a selection. To see all the photos, go to my flickr set

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