Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Exploring around Schwäbisch Gmünd

Tuesday 1 August - OMG is it August already?!

Schwäbisch Gmünd is located in the foothills of the Swabian Jura Mountains with the Rems River flowing through the city's centre. It is a historic place, tracing its roots back to the early post Christ days with plenty of evidence of the work of the Romans around AD. Today there is a wonderful array of architecture - new and old.

If you want to see a history of a town in Europe, go visit the churches. There is a sense of permanence, of continuation, of the keeper of secrets. High on the hills above the city is the Church of St Maria with the ruins of the Hohenstaufen Castle slightly below it. Of course the Catholics laid claim to the highest spot in the area to build this parish church. I wonder what the locals really thought as it is high above the City and when it was finished in 1699, it would have necessitated flogging some poor horse, or a bloody long walk up a very steep path - no doubt used to encourage pious lives!

There were a few interesting elements - the 'green man' carved in to the end of the pews - interesting because this figure was used to encourage 'heathens' to come in to the faith of the church and the date here is quite late. And the pulpit sits very high above the congregation - no doubt to ensure that the priests could hurl fire and brimstone on the unfortunates beneath his feet!

In the grounds outside, there is a memorial to those who fell in the wars, a cemetery that is being tended by an old lady as we visit, and a brass plaque that shows the distance to places near and far as you gaze out over the surrounding country. From up here on high, you can literally see for hundreds of miles.

There is a restaurant up here too, advertising bier and Movenpick ice cream. Alas, they are closed!
We continue our explorations, going over the Jura and into the forest lined valleys on the other side. Like many places in Europe, the towns are 1.5 to 2 kms apart. Houses date back to the 1500s, churches abound and town halls all have bell towers. The Catholic Church of St Johannes (St John the Baptist) in Wisgoldingen is quite an enigma. The church building is obviously old but when we enter, it becomes clear that the interior has had a redesign - I put the age around 1960. Yet they retain a very old and work coat of arms and one of the paintings at a side altar has the date of 1623 (the painter's name is obscured by the frame). Quite a neat blend of old and new.

Again, outside there is acknowledgement of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the two world wars, and a plaque recognising the Parish Priests from 1738 to the current day.

Its time we turned for home. While we met Niklas for the first time yesterday, we have yet to meet Mathilda. Steph is running a workshop today in Stuttgart at Stihl where she has worked for many years. Felix's mum, Christa, has come up from Stuttgart by train to care for the kids who are on the first week of their 6 weeks summer holidays.
En-route, the GPS takes us through the centre of town and passed the new building affectionately called the Spongebob Building!
Before long we are back at Steph's spending precious time with two very special little people - our German grandchildren - and their German Oma!

Wednesday 2 August
I've come in to Germany with a cold - thanks to dry plane air that is recirculated. Last night it hit my chest, and I am thankful that I had asked Dr Dunn for antibiotics to bring with me.

So I hit them and the panadol in an effort to keep my temperature at bay and my chest clearing.

We head over to help Steph do some packing, but I am really not much use.

Michael packs books with Steph and I cook lunch - the main meal of the day here. Chicken with strawberries and pepper, papardelle and a huge pan filled with veges - carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini and mushrooms, finished with lemon zest and juice and chives. Was yummy. We head back to the hotel when I really begin to flag at 3 pm. Michael settles outside with a book and his cigarettes and I try to sleep.

At 6:30 Michael heads back to have dinner with Steph and Felix, bu I stay here - really don't want to push my luck with passing this cold to Steph. Hopefully, I'll sleep tonight!

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