Sunday, June 8, 2008

Jet-lag and Freiburg

So I had the best of intentions to walk around Stuttgart on my first day in Germany so I would have something to post, even if it was just a few photos. No such luck. It took me two full days to get over the worst of the jet-lag, then Friday was my birthday (apparently no blogging allowed on my birthday - only sleeping and eating!), and on Saturday we spent the day in Freiburg.

The jet-lag was pretty icky, and mostly involved two stages of suck: first, I would wake up between 3 and 5 in the morning, my body somehow convinced that it needed to be awake. Then I would fall asleep until 10 or 11 in the morning, have a half-hearted breakfast, and not really wake up properly until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon. So it was a strange few days when I first arrived, but fortunately the significant other was at work while I was getting over the jet-lag, so at least I could be grumpy and not bother anyone else. We went to London last year, a trip which involves a similar time change, and our jet-lag then wasn't nearly as bad. I think the key was that we forced ourselves to wake up at a fairly normal time every morning, so we could shower and dress before the B&B owners served the breakfast (full English breakfast... yum!) included in the price of our room. When you have to make your own tea, toast, eggs, and tinned tomatoes, it's much easier to just stay in bed until lunchtime.

So Friday night was the first night that I slept all the way through, and we drove out to Freiburg after coffee (Ein kaffe mit milch, bitte!). Freiburg is a little college town in the south-west corner of Germany, quite close to the French border. We actually picked up a lot of French radio stations on the drive down. You have to go around the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) to get to Freiburg, and it was a good 2 hours' drive. The town is absolutely charming. All over the city you see these gutters (bächle) next to the sidewalk:

Bälche in Freiburg

They aren't used for sewage, more like an easy way to cool off the city and its residents. We saw a man walking a dog, and rather than leaning over, the dog hopped right in to have a drink! The two-legged residents clearly have other uses for these drains besides just transporting water:

Toy boat in Freiburg

After finding a place to park, we stumbled in a little cemetery. I figured out later (with the help of the Intarwebs) that this was the "Alter Friedhof" or Old Cemetery, next to St. Micheal's Chapel north of the main part of town.

Freiburg Cemetery

There are gravestones embedded in the wall on the right side of the picture above, and along all the walls. We passed only a few other people (including one nun) as we were walking around, and on our third pass she said hello to us. It was very quiet, probably due to its location outside the main ring of streets surrounding the inner part of the city.

Statue in Freiburg cemetery

It was a nice way to start our tour of the city, and a bit more peaceful than the rest of the town. The map we had of Freiburg was completely inadequate, and we had no idea which direction we were going when we first exited the parking garage, so it was quite lucky of us to have found the cemetery at all. After walking in the wrong direction for about 15 minutes, we found a better map at a bus stop and re-oriented ourselves towards the city center, and all the sights.

Back end of Freiburg Münster

The main attraction was definitely the Münster (Minster) in the center of town. It's a huge Catholic cathedral, with a gorgeous interior. The city is in the process of renovating the stone latticework spire, the cathedral's unique feature among those in Europe.

The altar and ceiling

Unlike the churches we saw in England, visitors are allowed to get quite close to the main altar. In the picture above, you can see where a few tourists are checking out the triptych and dazzling gold & silver altar plate. We arrived a bit late in the day, so I wasn't able to climb the tower, but we were able to hear the church bells later in the afternoon. After thoroughly exploring the interior of the Münster and purchasing a candle, we spent a few hours walking around the inner city.

A smaller street view

Once our feet got too tired to walk anymore, we grabbed a bratwurst sandwich and ate it in the shadow of the Münster, and headed back to Stuttgart before it got dark. Freiburg was a lovely side trip even though we could probably have spent more than half a day there, the perfect way to start touring around Europe. Hopefully it will get sunny enough this week for me to take some good photos of Stuttgart proper. My light box is sadly at home, so my yarn pictures might not be up to snuff for awhile, or at least until I get a nice sunny day. The weather has been off-and-on rain, with some thunderstorms. If you've ever been to the American Midwest in the middle of summer, you can see why German immigrants settled there; the landscape and weather conditions are very similar. Next time I'll try to do a more yarn & knitting related post, so I can share my birthday presents and airplane project!


Anonymous said...

I know how you feel about the jetlag, it killed mom and I when we flew to Isral. The town you went to looks very nice, small and old. Very cool
We will try to skype you guys soon

Lakin Khan said...

love the photos! what a cool little town. Those ditches show you how much water those folks have to move around all the time. glad you're recovering from the worst of the jet-lag...pretty quickly, it seems. (though maybe not to you...)

hugs, Lakin