This Year's German Adventure

Jun 18th, 2007, 12:01 AM
  #1  
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This Year's German Adventure

We left Australia (Melbourne) at 1550 on Wednesday, and arrived at Singapore seven and a half hours later. There we had a three hour wait before the twelve hour flight to Frankfurt. As ever, the Singapore Airlines service was excellent. We landed at Frankfurt Airport at 0630 local time on Thursday, and passed through Customs and Immigration in the usual speedy manner before catching an S-Bahn directly to Wiesbaden, about forty minutes away.
There we wheeled our bags to the Best Western Hansa, checked in, and had a brief rest. However I soon walked from the hotel to the nearby Luisenplatz where I caught the No. 18 bus out to the stop 'Thermalbad'. Indeed, the Thermalbad Aukammtal was right at the stop.
I went inside the splendid-looking complex, and found that the procedure was similar to most spas. I changed into swimming gear, put my clothes into a locker, and entered the pool area. There are five pools, all of considerable size. Two are outdoors, three inside. The water temperature of the mineralized thermalpools is 32oC. The pools have neck spray jets, underwater massage nozzles, water massage recliners, and a whirlpool, all eminently relaxing, and a great way of dealing with the effects of a long plane trip. If you enjoy saunas (as I do not!), then there is, as usual, a sauna section available upstairs at extra charge. I utilized all the pool facilities for two hours and appreciated the beneficial effects. For €8.50, it was a bargain!
Wiesbaden proved to be a very pleasant city. It is the capital of the state of Hessen, and a long-time fashionable spa town, meaning that, over the years, plenty of money has been invested here. We walked around the largely-pedestrianized Altstadt, visiting the Schloss, the Altes Rathaus, the Neues Rathaus, and the Marktkirche, all worth a glance. Nearby, the Kurhaus and Kurpark are excellent, as is the Kaiser-Friedrich-Bad, an elaborate building from the early twentieth century. We took the bus to the Nerobergbahn, a cable rack railway which goes up the Neroberg, the local 'mountain'. Nearby is the Griechische Kapelle, which, despite its name, is really a Russian Chapel. It looks spectacular, set in trees on the side of the hill.
After two nights in Wiesbaden, we set out by train for Hildesheim where we were to spend several hours before going on to our destination for the next several days, Braunschweig.
adeben is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful idea to spend some time in a spa after the long flight. I'm looking forward to the next installment. CJ
CarolJean is offline  
Jun 18th, 2007, 09:26 AM
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Thanks for sharing, adeben. I can't wait for the next part about your adventures in my hometown Braunschweig.

Cheers,
quokka alias KathrinE - we've met on the Thorn Tree, haven't we?
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Jun 20th, 2007, 05:08 PM
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We were to change trains at HILDESHEIM on the way to Braunschweig, so took the opportunity to see that town. We lockered our bags at the station, and wandered down to the Rathausplatz. This was an excellent square, with some splendid buildings therein, even if they were all re-builds: the place was flattened in March 1945. We found the Tourist Information, and then adjourned to a nearby backerei for coffee and cakes while we examined the town plan.
We walked down to St Godehards which was a very impressive Romanesque building and well-worth the visit. We then walked through the original old quarter, undamaged in WW2, to the Dom, which we thought was quite ordinary. From there we went to the main reason for coming to Hildesheim, St Michael's Church, rated one of the best Romanesque churches in Germany. It looked sensational from the outside, but was still closed for renovations which was a disappointment. So it goes. We then visited St Andreas where there is a fine organ which features on one of our favourite Bach CDs, before returning to the Bahnhof and boarding the next ICE, direction Braunschweig.
At BRAUNSCHWEIG, we stayed at the Mercure Atrium, just opposite the station. It was a fine base for our activities in Braunschweig, particularly at the bargain internet rate of €55 per night. On the first evening, we walked down Kurt Schumacher Strasse to JF Kennedy Platz, and nearby we located the restaurant San Lorenzo, where we had a pasta dish each, as well as an amuse bouche, some Lambrusco, some Chianti, some bread and garlic butter, at a total cost of €25 which we though very reasonable for good food and service.
Next day we explored Braunschweig, which seems like a city in search of a centre: there are numerous small squares, and many of them contain yet another 'rathaus', all of which are worth a glance. The Altstadt is largely pedestrianized and is a pleasant place in which to stroll. The centrally-located Schloss has been converted into a shopping mall: it has been well done, but the mall could be anywhere in the Western world.
Later, we walked from the hotel towards the centre of town, and, as advised by KathrinE, turned right just past the equestrian statues of the two Herzogs, and went into the area known as the Magniviertel.This was a most attractive neighbourhood, with many cafes, bars, and small shops. We ate at Anders, and thought the food fine and the ambience even better.
We had two 'day excursions' from Braunschweig. One day we went to CELLE, a town rated Three Stars by the Green Michelin Guide, and no argument from us. It is a spectacular small city which reminded us of the Centre Ville in Colmar, but this was more extensive and in better order. We spent about four hours there, and that was barely enough. Celle is a lovely town.
So too was our second destination, WOLFENBUTTEL. This town is only ten minutes by train from Braunschweig, and we went on Thursday May 17th. Whenh we arrived, the place was lovely, but, to our surprise, largely closed and deserted. It was Ascension Day, a Public Holiday of some pretension in these parts, but one that took two Australians unawares! We wandered around a very attractive town full of half-timbered buildings, and inspected the Hauptkirche, Trinity Church, and the Catholic Church, of which the last appealed most. Renaissance/late Baroque (not our favourite era) is the general trend of church architecture hereabouts. That was also the case at the Schloss where we visited the Museum, which provided a good oversight of the history of the town and its environs.
While in Braunschweig, we took various trams to their termini so as to get a better overview of the whole city. Of the outlying areas, Heidberg appealed most.
On Friday morning, we caught the 10.00AM ICE to Berlin.
adeben is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 01:37 AM
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Again, thanks for sharing, adeben. Glad you enjoyed it!

Your preference of Heidberg made me smile. That, and nearby Melverode, is where I grew up. Did you see the big ugly grey school centre in Heidberg? That's my old high school...

You're right about the Schloss shopping mall. That thing, which has just been opened this spring, has caused a whole lot of discussions and uproar during the process of planning and construction. Except some politicians, and those who earn money with it, there is hardly anyone in town who actually wanted it.
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