Sunday, March 8, 2015

I Regret Some Recent Life Choices

Oma and Opa are in town for the week, so yesterday I was free unexpectedly. (I usually work all day on Saturdays.) The weather, for the first time this spring, was going to be rather nice all day long, so I decided to make it a hiking day – the first real hiking day since it turned cold. My first plan was to hike south to Burg Frankenstein, the inspiration for Mary Shelly’s novel’s setting. However, this turned out to be a lot further away than I had thought, so it’ll have to wait for a day when I can pay for the train ticket to take me a little bit further along.

Instead, I chose to hike to Hanau, which is about 15 miles west of Frankfurt. I’ve hiked further – like when I went to Falkenstein – but for a first major hike of the year it may have been a little… ambitious.

First I took the train from the city center to Enkheim, which sits on the outskirts of Frankfurt proper. Here, my trusty cell-phone-map-cum-GPS-system failed me a little in that the route it sent me on didn’t actually go through due to some train-tracks. I had to go about a mile out of my way to find a through street, and then the GPS thing told me to hike along the shoulder of the autobahn, which I refused to do, thank ye very kindly. However, these obstacles were soon surmounted by some clever side-street maneuvering, and I found myself on a nice little bike/hiking path that ran more or less along the northern shore of the river Main.

It was a lovely morning, a bit overcast and chilly, but you could practically taste spring in the air. Here – proof that spring is indeed come to us here in Germany, while my kinfolk back home languish amidst snow and ice. :D
My heart bleeds for you.

I also discovered the scene of an alien abduction. 

If the Winchesters or Mulder and Scully would like to investigate, I’d be more than willing to help.
I passed through a cute township or two – technically, except for one long stretch along the river, I don’t think I was ever outside of a town, though I passed through Enkheim, Fechenheim, Dörnigheim, and Kesselstadt before I actually got to Hanau. Something very foreign to my Midwestern readers will be that in the same area as from Marshfield to Springfield, you might have as many as 15-20 small towns and villages, all of which eventually tend to bleed into each other, residential areas blurring the boundaries between separate towns.
There are literally houses in this village dating to before the American Revolution. WITH PEOPLE LIVING IN THEM AS THEIR EVERYDAY HOUSES.
Spotted this tower. It’s not as old as I had thought from a distance – looks like part of a waterworks area. Still couldn’t resist the picture – honestly, doesn’t it look just like Repunzel’s tower in Tangled? I could practically hear a frying pan clanging about.
*distant singing* "...when will my life begin...?"

 Hanau! You can’t read it in this pic because I was too far away, but the small print says “Brüdern-Grimm-Stadt” (Brother’s Grimm Town), which is echoed on banners and things around town too.

This is the Schloss Hanau (Hanau Palace) which is technically a sort of castle, but more along the palace line than the fortress. Definitely more for promenading ladies in fine dresses than for knights in battered armor. Presumably one can tour it, and I believe I saw a sign for a museum, but I didn’t have time, since I was trying to see what I could and still get back to Enkheim and my train before dark.

And here they are! Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, brothers extraordinaire and collectors of folk and fairy stories from around the then-known world. Two of my personal heroes, in a way – and heroes to anyone who enjoys speculative literature that can trace its roots back to fairy tales. Thanks to these two, many stories that were only known to small populations were preserved and collected into the lexicon of fairy/folk tales we know and love (or hate) today. To stand in this square, amid the bustle of what was, I think, some kind of spring vegetable and flower market, and know that, 230-ish years ago, these two lived in roughly the same area (though the town’s geography has changed a good deal over the decades)… That was pretty cool, to say the least. I have to admit though: other than this one monument, there’s not much to see regarding the brothers in Hanau. They only lived there until 1791, when Jacob was about six and Wilhelm only about five, so it’s not like this is the place they were living when they collected their stories and things. It’s kind of like Marshfield being the “birthplace of Edwin Hubble”. But still – it’s pretty cool.

I wandered around and came across the city library, which was open, and I found a books-for-sale shelf inside. For one Euro, I got a collection of The Loveliest Children’s Tales from All the World (literally translating the title there) which I thought was an appropriate purchase for the trip.

And here are a few more random pics with explanations in the captions:

Apparently Napoleon the First slept here in 1812 and now there’s a Napoleon Room in this hotel.

Ludwig Emil Grimm, the younger brother of Jacob and Wilhelm, who was a German painter, art professor, etcher and copper engraver.

I honestly couldn't tell if these paintings were graffiti or supposed to be here, but this spinning wheel was painted under one of the overpasses in Hanau.

Got desperately thirsty on the way back and bought this at a grocery store for 45 cents. It tasted like a blue Popsicle and was quite refreshing.

Like the spinning wheel, this art is reminiscent of the Grimm brothers and fairy tales in general -- I'm pretty sure this is supposed to be Hans my Hedgehog. That purple thing a little further on is a castle.

Anyway, so that was the trip. I was staggering by the time I got home, nearly in tears because it hurt so much to move. My feet felt like they'd been scored by delicate razors, and this morning I discovered that the ball of my right foot was (no exaggeration) one solid blister, about two inches long. I've never seen -- let alone had -- a blister that big. I'm a little proud of it. :D

So. It'll be a while before I manage another hike, but as the weather warms keep an eye out, because I've got a couple more planned.