Friday, August 25, 2017

Ulm and the Donau and some excitement

Following our trip to explore the local Schwäbish Gmünd city yesterday, today we took a trip over to Ulm - about 1 hour 20 minutes drive.  On our last visit here, we only had a very brief time to visit Ulm on our way to Cologne.  This time, we are determined to see a little more of this interesting city, whose icon is the songbird.

As with many towns in Europe that were developed long before the convenience of cars, parking is at a premium. If you want street parking close to where you will visit, then the price is that you need to re-visit the parking meter every hour. We usually try to get close to the old town.
The Munster was our first stop - as they often are. By the time we had ambled down to the site, we had lost just under our first half hour. We can't get inside as there is a Concert playing at the moment and so we begin with some exterior shots.

Now, there is a real story to today's visit . . .
As usual, Michael heads straight for the tower. I remind him that we have a half an hour to spend up the tower and off he heads.  I head in to the body of the Munster to marvel at the beauty and the history of the interior.  I am sitting in the front pew admiring the nave when after 15 minutes Michael returns. 
"Did you go up?" I ask. 
"Only halfway" was his response, adding "then a little boy running up the stairs knocked me." 
"Where is your phone?" 
"It fell!"
"How far?" (thinking of course that it will be smashed to smithereens).
"Not sure, but I heard it land." 
At this point he looks pretty shattered.
And he then spends the next hour trying to get access to the scaffolding where they are working on the exterior of the Munster to try to retrieve it.  Finally, the lady in the Munster Shop - because they all sell souvenirs - phones a friend - or a least one of the workers who says he can be here in 30 minutes.  He comes, and accompanies Michael to retrieve his undamaged phone.  Talk about the power of a prayer!!
In the hour and a half, we were there in the end, I got pretty well acquainted with some of the fine details here. And with his rescued phone in hand, and a complimentary ticket to re-start his climb up the Munster Tower, Michael asks for the camera as well.  "Please don't drop it," I say as I hand it over!!  He gives me 'the look' (probably deservedly) and heads off.
The photos that he eventually gets almost rival my internal shots - including the collection of the men and women of the choir.

The 'lacework' style to the construction of the steeples is just amazing. They seem to be so delicate, and yet they stand the test of time. The Munster Tower is one of the highest vantage points in Ulm, and the views are just amazing. I don't have a head for the stairs, so unless there is a lift, I remain forever rooted to the flagstone floors while Michael makes the climbs. And while I admire the views from the camera, I just wish that I could see the view with my own eyes.

 All in all, it was trying and exhilarating visiting the Ulm Munster.  We finished and made our peace with this imposing edifice and went back to move the car as by now we had reached the maximum stay. 

But there is still so much to see in this City on the Donau River (the Danube River) that empties in to the Black Sea in Romania where we were last week.

With parking a right pain, we give in and head into the underground car-park.  No cheaper, but we don't have to continually feed a meter. And it is closer to the original market square and the Fischerviertel - the fishermen's and tanner's quarter.

But the day has been racing and we are now quite hungry so our first port of call is for a late lunch at the Ratskeller Restaurant that operates from the former Rathaus. What a stunning building and two great burgers to sate our appetites!

The Butcher's Tower is near where we have lunch and this leads down to the Donau riverside.

We pass a toy store who's front window is a depiction of this part of Ulm - all in Lego - talk about stock unsold and the patience of Job to construct the display. Looks fabulous!

Along the Donau (Danube) riverbank are painted other destinations along this major European River and the distances to them.

And in the Fischerviertel which was once home to two of the dirtiest trades in the City, there are now very cosmopolitan restaurants lining waterways that no longer stink of rotting fish or urine.  All very nice.

More wandering, getting lost in the past and forgetting time as a measure.
And for a final good measure, I spy this shop selling the Ulm Ring. Admitted through locked doors, I am fitted with the second largest size they make while poor Michael, keen to have one too, misses out because of the bananas on his hand!!

After 6, we head for home in the late afternoon light. Not content with travelling the same way, we turn off trying to visit another castle we saw this morning, not to find it, but finding a shortcut over the mountain top and through the horse stud area of this part of Germany.  And as we head back in to Schwäbisch Gmünd we watch hot air balloons silently drifting across the very scenic area.

All together, a very good day.

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