when we got there it was raining, which was actually an appropriate setting for what we were going to see. we had some difficulty finding the grounds where the rallies were held, as they weren't really talked about in any of the tourist info...surprise, surprise. finally, after a half-hour or so of walking in the rain, there it was....the remains of the rear end of what is called the zeppelin grandstand, which offered seating for 60,000 people and standing for 100,000. First, we went to a small museum which is inside the "Hall of Honour" which used to be a reception hall. it looked like a bunker inside, as everything was made of stone. everything at the museum was in german, but the pictures were enough by themselves. after this, we walked around the huge grandstand, which now has several soccer fields and baseball diamonds and also serves as parking for diesel trucks, which made it hard to picture it as it was during the rallies. but then, we walked up and stood on the very platform where hitler stood when giving his famous speeches, and that was weird to say the least.
later, we went to Old town and had dinner in an adorable little restaurant inside a castle! We both had bratwurst with kraut (cooked cabbage) and bread. it was excellent and so nice to get out of the rain and cold. then we strolled around old town before catching a train back to heidelberg.
on a side note, i love how every city or town has an "old town" or aldstadt with picturesque buildings, at least one huge, beautiful church, and plenty of cafes, restuarants, etc. and there is always music playing. i love it!
Friday morning, Paul, Crystal, Tiffany, and i left for Freiburg, a town at the south end of the Black Forest. This town is amazing becuase there is literally a mountain in the middle of the town, and the mountain streams actually flow into the town down little gutters in the street. but it's not gutter water, it's mountain streams! we walked around town, then had lunch....paul and i had bratwurst again! i had mine with fried onions and mustard (the mustard here is amazing, it has the perfect amount of spiciness!) we then took a tram and a bus to the bottom of a mountain, where we took a cable car to the top. it took over 10 minutes to get to the top! the moutain was something like 1200 meters tall. once at the top, we walked a ways up to an observation tower that had an amazing panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, forests, and little towns below us. (Amazing that i was on top of a mountain for the 2nd weekend in a row). we then had dinner, bratwurst again actually! yes, for the 3rd time in 24 hours! it's by far my favorite food here! well, that and the ice cream.
actually, i'm gonna sidetrack for a moment to reiterate how amazing the ice cream is here. first of all, you can get a cone with one small scoop for 1 DM, which is less than 50 cents! secondly, they have an enormous variety of flavors here. i'm gonna try as many as i can while i'm here!
ok, anyway, after dinner we started the long walk down, as the cable car stopped running at 5. the walk down was amazing though because we were walking through the black forest! and it really is dark like you read about, becuase of the density of the trees there. about an hour into the walk, it got dark, which made the last hour walking back really interesting. we also, had some trouble following the signs, and ended up taking an extensive detour on one of the other paths! overall, it was awesome though. but when, we finally made it back to where we had started on the cable car, the next bus wasn't for an hour, so we started walking. we were exhausted though after 2 hours of walking down a very big mountain, so after a half-mile, tiffany and crystal started putting their thumbs up at cars passing by. after a couple tries, one actually stopped and we ended up hitch-hiking with a very nice couple about our age, who spoke almost no english. we all crowded in the backseat and they took us all the way to the train station!
from there, we took a train to triberg, a tiny town in the middle of the black forest. we didn't get there until like midnight and walked about a mile, looking for a place to pitch our tent. we'd decided to do the nature thing and camp one night. finally, we ended up on this little hill that had a very small space right by a river. we think it was in somebody's back yard though because there was a clothesline nearby. the 4 of us squeeze into this 3 person tent and try to sleep. but it was freezing and we only had one sleeping bag, and 3 small blankets. plus we were on a slight incline and just inches from a steep incline that led to the river. finally, at 3 am, we decided to move the tent as the girls were parnoid that we were going to slide right off the hill into the river! finally, morning came and we hiked into the forest and saw germany's biggest waterfall, which is really nothing compared to yosemite's, but still very pretty. then we went to a museum, which showed the history of the black forest and it's inhabitants. the black forest is known for many things, one of them being cuckoo clocks, and i decided i had to get one. so i got a tiny one for about $15! then we started walking back down the hill to the train station, at this point i had a huge blister that had popped on my heel and was rubbing every step i took, even through my wool socks! it had gotten so bad, that i was literally limping down the street with my shoe off. at this point it was decided, or rather paul decided, that i had better just head back home as i could basically no longer really walk. so, we got back to heidelberg around 3:30 on sat. and i actually had some relax time yesterday. then today, i took a tour of the heidlberg castle which was very interesting and saw the world's largest wine barrel. guys, this thing held 58,000 gallons of wine. it's so big, a dance floor was built on top of it, so as not to waste space!
anyway, that's all for this week. tuesday, we leave for our big 5-day field trip, so i'll have lots to write after that!
hope you all are doing well!