Sunday 26 May 2024

schutzzieles schutzwรคlder (11. 583)

Traveling a bit further on towards Suhl, we came to a crossroads of many trails through the Thรผringer Wald but with an an embarrassment of choices but finite time could only pursue hiking a segment instead of the proper loop that was nearly thirty kilometers to see all the highlights and returning to the campsite, we picked a peak in the Rennsteig and walked to Adlersberg through the protected landscape, sensibly managed since 1937 after exploitation dating from the Middle Ages. 

There we found a restored observation tower from the late seventeen-hundreds that afforded a really commanding view of the region, with summits of the Kreuzberg. Gleichberge and Wasserkuppe in the panorama


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting

two years ago: more links to enjoy

three years ago: your daily demon: Leraje, Johnny Mnemonic, the murder of George Floyd one year on, an educational short, more links to revisit plus a precursor to NFTs

four years ago: Dracula (1897) plus a cursed alignment chart

five years ago: Sweden traffic switches orientation, the EU votes plus a trip to Saxony’s Elbsandsteingebirge

Monday 15 April 2024

das rennsteiglied (11. 489)

First performed on this day in 1951 in community hall of the Hirschbach (presently the Hotel Zum goldenen Hirsch) of Suhl by local musicians Herbert Roth and Waltraut Schulz, the hymn extolling the joy of wandering in nature (see previously here and heresee also) has become an auxiliary state anthem and better known than the official, Thรผringen, holdes Land (Fair Country). 

The refrain goes: “I often walk this path to the Hรถhn (apparently a picturesque high hill with the ruins of Fischberg castle on top that we will make it a priority to see) , the little song birds singing / If I am far away, Thuringer Forest, I only long for you!”


one year ago: Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (1755), General Dynamics’ playing cards plus assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: more links to enjoy, the Universal Day of Culture plus AI Easter eggs

three years ago: your daily demon: Valefor, more Star Fleet uniforms plus Canada’s Olympics closing ceremony costumes

four years ago: a North Korean holiday plus a prescient comic from 1990

five years ago: more on the cannibalisation of the Old Web plus the art collective messy modernism

Saturday 13 April 2024

burg salzburg (11. 485)

Running some errands in town, we paused to take a stroll around the dry moat and Ringwall of the fortified castle complex Salzburg, with a commanding view of Bad Neustadt an der Saale from a plateau above—the historic city founded by Charlemagne when he created the palatinate of East Francia, legendarily as a token of love for his wife Fastrada of Ingelheim owing to the city walls when looking down are vaguely in the shape of heart, though the modern symbol is pretty anachronistic. Important already since the time of the Carolingians and predating the settlement, it was probably built chiefly by the ordained Henneberg son Bishop Gebhard in the tenth century to, among other strategic matters stop the expansion efforts of his fractious family (the Burgmรคnner—castellan—oppidanus or castrensus, the class of knights obligated to guard the castle recruited from various factions and had to work together), and secure the route between Mellrichstadt and Meiningen and Wรผrzburg. Partially occupied by the descents of the Guttenberg barony that came into ownership in the nineteenth century after the preceding lines died out without heirs and who oversaw its restoration and transformation into a tourist attraction, hoping to lure spa-goers to the nearby thermal baths—see previously—Burg Salzburg was a major bulwark of resistance during the Nazi regime. We’d walked here quite often before and visited the interior keep and ensemble of towers and chapels but realise that we should more fully limn the history of places we had sort taken for granted by dent of familiarity and proximity.

Sunday 17 March 2024

wรผstungsperioden (11. 432)

Travelling a few villages over towards the former border, driving past some abandoned settlements, vacated owing to they’re being a liability too close to the boundary, we took another nice hike with the dog up to the ruins of Hutsburg on the summit of the Hutsberg, which also was a victim of its formerly strategic location and shifting allegiances.

On the way back, we stopped in Filke to revisit the so called Mauerschรคdel, another ruined remains, this time of early abandonment and then rendered inaccessible, like the above stronghold, during DDR times and its nave acting as the line of demarcation. 


Saturday 16 March 2024

heimatblick (11. 428)

 Before the weather turned, we took the dog on a hike up above Stockheim for a panoramic view of the village below. The diversion in the trail up the Tanzberg was a bequest from a local landowner stipulated in his will after an unfortunate farming accident. A bit further along the main path, we encountered a Blitzstein, a memorial for an anonymous resident and likely not the above donor struck and killed by lightning though now an unlikely occurrence given tree height in the vicinity though yet memorable and cautionary. 

I’ve noticed such small headstones before and wondered if they memorialised similar Acts of God—and wondered whether if this was all the individual received for funerary rites since it did sort of seem like divine punishment. When I first came to Germany and began noticing makeshift cenotaphs the just off the shoulder of the road, commemorating the victims of a traffic accident, I remember first thinking, there sure are a lot of people walking on the side of the road and getting killed by cars and thought that the country must have a problem with pedestrian deaths. 

Of course, during our walkies, I wasn’t preoccupied with such morbid thoughts, just wanted to know more about the practise and customs but was not able to find anything else out. Both spots were equipped with a nice picnic area and a wooden sun lounger for warmer weather.  It was a beautiful early spring day and we went on down the valley with a glimpse of the next town of Mellrichstadt off in the distance.


Saturday 9 March 2024

ostheimer warte (11. 410)

On the way back from grocery shopping, we walked the dog (car rides are still not her favourite and we like to reward her and ourselves with a little adventure en route) on a hiking trail called the “Kirschberge” (cherry mountains) to a fourteenth century signal tower a few kilometres outside of town with the central stronghold of the area, the Lichtenburg of Ostheim vor den Rhรถn, between there and the Stockheimer Warte in the woods near home.  The “Amt”—an administrative unit of the County of Henneberg—changed ownership and allegiance often and subject to dispute over rights to impose taxes and tariffs on trade through the region (see above) and so this series of watch-towers was erected to secure their holdings for the next five hundred years. Like the one within the line of sight of Stockheim, the quarried-stone tower is seven metres high with re-enforced walls almost four metres thick and built a top a commanding height.


one year ago: the peculiar properties of the letter r plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: more links to enjoy

three years ago: medical trains in Siberia, St Frances of Rome, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogany (1930), Sputnik 9 (1961) plus a colourful neighbourhood in Kyiv

four years ago: the musical stylings of Jackie Manface Opel, the pandemic continues, a more mindful approach to recycling plus Nintendo LEGO

five years ago: the musical stylings of The Skaggs, Luke Perry guest stars on The Simpsons (1993), more links to enjoy, the introduction of Barbie (1959) plus the magic of bread

Sunday 7 January 2024

chorioactis geaster (11. 251)

Appearing only in parts of Texas (recognised as the official state fungi since 2021), Oklahoma and Japan, this leathery star-shaped (usually seven-pointed) flower-like mushroom is delighting mycologists, professionals and amateurs alike. Nothing quite so uncommon, the Lone Star State mushroom also nicknamed the Devil’s Cigar as it is reported

to produce an audible hiss (quite a rare ability at least for the human range of hearing) before unfurling from a clylindrical shape to release spores, but after the thaw, we’ve been noticing quite a few winter funguses distinct from the autumnal ones that we are most accustomed to encountering,
like this formation of hair ice (Haareis) that we thought at first were patches of frost but is a phenomena that occurs when weather conditions are just right, damp and humid and just at the freezing point when ice forms on the substate of a specific kind of mould (Exidiopsis effusa, not identified as the catalyst until 2015) growing on dead wood. The resulting strands and curls, however, are not formed on this fungus but rather extruded, expressed in the shape of ephemeral fine hairs before they sublimate away, though a still unknown mechanism and chemistry.

Monday 25 December 2023

basaltwerk stengerts (11. 214)

For a grey but bright Christmas day, we ventured past the industrial section of Bischofsheim an der Rhรถn to explore the former basalt refinery and quarry (see previously here, here and here), active for decades but now abandoned and designated as a nature preserve. The wind was a bit fierce and the trees bare but the moss covering the stones was a vibrant green.  Once containing an active settlement for workers, the volcanic rock used for construction and the making of cobblestones as well as more recently insulation as stone wool and a possible repository for carbon sequestration, were taken to the freight yard with a cable car and distributed throughout the region.

Friday 2 June 2023

hinter den kulissen (10. 782)

H doesn’t recall watching but we rented Stanley Kubrick’s sumptuous 1975 period drama Barry Lyndon (based on the William Makepeace Thackeray novel about the gentleman gambler and social-climber) several years ago. 

Set in Ireland, England and Prussia in the 1750s during the Seven Years’ War, the title rogue travels across Europe calling in debts through various scams, scenes and establishing shots were filmed in Dublin, County Wicklow, Schloss Ludwigsburg outside of Stuttgart, Sanssouci in Potsdam and as we just learned, in between these two locations at around the fifty-three minute timestamp, Lyndon’s regiment on the march, in our very own little village on the Bavarian-Thรผringen border, uncredited but confirmed by Redditors

Not much has changed (the roads are paved now however) and we’ll need to do a re-watch soon.

Saturday 4 February 2023

gassi gehen (10. 522)

After a long walkies to the top of the Hohe Schuhe—previously, along the prehistoric trail that leads through the woods from an ensemble of ancient burial mounds and along the former border for a perspective from the promontory overlooking Bavaria and Thรผringen from the puppy was treated to another surprise with her first encounter with the neighbourhood peacock

 It went better than expected with both looking fairly enchanted but glad it happened through a barrier however.

Sunday 1 January 2023

oh don’t be stupid, darling—i’m sure they could send over a selection and i could pick one (10. 378)

There’s been a paucity of posts lately, but for a good reason: H and I adopted a New Year’s Baby from the animal shelter after a couple of weeks nearly daily visits to the Tierheim for walkies and a couple of day-excursions to get used to her new home. Animal welfare authorities in Germany take this business seriously and inspect future living arrangements to make sure they’re appropriate for the type of canine and decide by panel on prospective human parents.
She’s a rescue originally from Romania—my Mom made a reference to that episode of Absolutely Fabulous where Eddie threatens to adopt a Romanian baby to call Saffy’s bluff and forgets to stop proceedings—and we’re keeping the name the home gave her since it fits and she seems to respond to it, at least the cadence—but we’re not, in the interest of not having a future password breached, disclosing it other than to stay the staff picked a Street Fighter character as namesake.

Saturday 20 August 2022

erlebnis bergwerk (10. 073)

Decommissioned since 1993 but revitalised since as a living museum and working mine and venue, I had a chance to visit with H’s father the salt and potash (Kalisalz, used as an important agricultural fertiliser) extraction operation near the village of Merkers on the Werra river not far from Bad Salzungen.  

 Aside from the long history of mining and a comprehensive lesson on the enterprise and geology that bores under the Rhรถn mountains, the location is also the hiding spot for hundreds of tonnes of gold, silver and paper currency (amounting to around eighty percent of the holdings of the Reichsbank at the end of the war) and many priceless works of art looted by the Nazis, discovered per chance by the advancing United States army (tipped off by slave labour transporting treasures to the mine) who then worked quickly to clear it out of Soviet occupied territory before the borders were demarcated.

After being lowered in safety gear—like actual miners beginning their shift—in a hoisting cage that descended into the dark, and driven in flatbed transports from five to eight hundred metres below the surface through a network of tunnels that covers an area the size of Munich. 

Though the vehicles were only taking the dips, curves and ascents at under twenty kilometres an hour, the darkness, wind and narrowness of the shaft made it seem much faster, like a roller coaster ride stretched out for some two hours, with intermissions, lastly in the above Goldraum, a pair of excavated former bunkers that now serve as a machine exhibit, theatre and a concert hall with uncommonly good acoustics and unique crystal grotto with accompanying bar for refreshments—the deepest in the world.  

It was definitely worth the visit and would drag H along next time.