So the friends I was staying with just outside of Munich (the Schäfer family), discovered that my Australian driver's lisence is valid in Germany for 6 months before I would need to get an international lisence, which is a good time period as I am only here for just over that anyways. It came in really handy during my last week in Munich, as Mr and Mrs Schäfer went away for a holiday, my friend Anna-Lena was helping run a camp, and her brother is barely home as it is. So being able to drive meant that I wasn't completely stranded by myself at their house with nothing to do. I had a bit of practise driving with Mr Schäfer before they left, just to make sure I could handle driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. I only relapsed to driving on the left once! :P Although I was a bit intimidated by the narrowness of the roads!
On Saturday Anna-Lena had an exam at a place just outside of Regensburg, a relatively well-known University city about an hour away from her house - on the Autobahn! I came with her and the plan was that once we
got to where she had to be, I'd then take the car and drive into the city centre and spend the day there. I thought it was a nice idea, although I was a tad nervous about the Autobahn...When Anna-Lena drove we were reaching speeds of upto 160kph - legally!! Before that I'd never really travelled faster than 120, and that was illegal! :P Although I must admit it didn't really feel all that fast.
Anyways, so the plan was a good plan in theory, but once I missed my exit then tried to turn around but ended up going the same way I was thinking
bad plan, bad plan!
(don't mind the quote from Lano & Woodley... :P) However I did finally reach the exit (or
he he he) I wanted, but then couldn't actually find the street the directions said I would be on if I came off the Autobahn there! After turning around a number of times, I realised all I needed to do was to have turned left when I exited, but the directions didn't say that, so this time it wasn't my fault! :P Needless to say I was very relieved (after turning around a few more
The Donau with the Autobahn in the background
I must say it was nice to just sit and enjoy this beautiful river after the stress of driving! :P
times) to FINALLY find a parking complex.
Once I actually got to the centre of Regensburg, it was quite nice. It's right on the Donau (Danube) and is quite small and friendly. It still has the walls up around the outskirts of the city from Medieval times, however they are quite low. There is also a very impressive (and I think well-known) Dom (cathedral) in Regensburg that was under construction from about the 16th Century (I think - hopefully you've learned by now not to go quoting my blogs :P) and was only officially finished, with the last addition made, in 2004! I thought that was interesting! It is a huge place and has some impressive stained-glass windows, as well as containing the burial site of many priests. The old part of the town was also quite beautiful and there were a few nice cafes that I enjoyed!
Now if you thought I had a tough time getting INTO Regensburg wait for my adventures getting out! I know I'd be a little disoriented coming out of the carpark so I made sure I noted where I would come out and which way to go before getting into the car.
I went to pay the ticket and it was a whopping 8,80Euros!!!! For 5 hours! I obviously didn't have much choice but to pay though. As I started heading back toward the Autobahn on a smaller backstreet, I suddenly saw a flash of light coming from the back window of a car on the side of the road. I had just been flashed by a speed camera doing 40kph in a 30kph zone. Doh! The first speeding fine I get since having my lisence is in Germany! I suppose it makes a good story! :P Anyways, I got lost a number of times trying to find my way back to where Anna-Lena was, so I was immensely glad when I got there early, so that I could just sit down next to the Danube and read for a bit...I was glad to hand back the keys!
Next day Mr and Mrs Schäfer took me to a place a little way up the mountains where an area has been set up in resemblance of an old farming village, with different houses/huts spread over the countryside housing different occupations (eg. Stone mason, blacksmith, basketweaver, etc) and some houses just displaying how
they used to be set up. It was quite interesting to see what people did and how they lived back a few decades. It was also a really nice area up in the mountains and the walks between each hut were quite beautiful.
Then Monday morning I left for Nürnberg (Nuremberg). This is an amazing place. I have to say my favourite so far. As soon as you step outside the main trainstation you are confronted by the old town (Alstadt) and the huge wall that has surrounded the city since Medieval times with its huge watch towers. I felt like i was in a Robin Hood movie or something! I explored the Altstadt (old town) and its handycraft stores a bit and then visited a few old cathedrals before making my way up to the old Medieval emperial castle. It was unbelievable! I felt like I was on the set of A Knight's Tale or a Shakespeare play! And this time I was actually allowed to take photos! :P The castle itself didn't realy have all that much left in it, but there was a museum next door that had quite a few artefacts. It rained all day, but
One of the watchtowers on the city wall
There were about 6 of these located at various points along the wall - still intact from the middle ages!
I was so impressed by the city that it didn't really bother me until I started walking back to the trainstation. That's when my shoes and socks got wet and that's when I get unhappy!
That evening I caught a train to Leipzig, where I stayed with a young, married couple that used to go to the Schäfers' church. The next day I did a bus tour of the city, but after the amazing beauty of Nürnberg I was a little bored. However I did get to visit the famous Nikolaikirche - famous for the
on October 9, 1989, the peaceful demonstration that took the Stasi by surprise, causing them to stand down their attack. It was also well-known by the locals before that as the church that was
Offen für Alle
, letting anyone who wanted to enter the church and be prayed for. Long before the 9th of October, they also began (and continue to this day) to have a weekly time during which they prayed their prayers-for-peace.
I also visited the huge
, a monument to the Battle of Nations, erected as a plea to people for such a thing never occur. Quite ironically it was finised in
1913 - one year before the onset of World War I! It is a really impressive building, standing 91m high at the edge of the city centre (it took me 30mins to walk to it from the city centre).
Again it was a bit of a rainy day, but I managed to miss most of it. At least until it started to hail as I made my way back to the trainstation to catch my train to Berlin! However, I found that a bit exciting, as it was one step closer to snow!
When I got to Berlin, I was expecting to meet up with a friend who used to be in my German class at UWA but who moved to Berlin at the start of the year to work as a translator. However, I was a little bit unclear with when I was coming, and we didn't actually end up organising a meeting spot...or a meeting day...and the only contact information I had for her was an email address, which although is better than nothing, I know it meant I probably wasn't going to be in contact with her immediately, so after 3 hours it looked like I
The Frauenkirche in Nuremberg
I know you're all probably sick of seeing pictures of churches by now, but they're all so beautiful and so unique!
would be spending the night in the trainstation....
To be continued...
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