Sunday, March 9, 2014

Find a castle, March 2014

Spring is sprung here in Hessen.

It is spring here, and has been for almost a month now.  There are bulbs blooming and trees spreading their pollen and today I think I will go for a run in SHORTS!! I know some of you still have tons of snow, of which I am sort of jealous since we only got to go skiing a few times while in the US over Christmas, but I am rather enjoying today.

This weekend and last weekend, it stopped raining long enough that Sasha and I thought we could play a few rounds of "find a castle" without risking hypothermia while poking around in the woods.  We are 3 for 3 for March so far, and the castles ran the range of ruinedness. 

Last weekend, we picked a ruined castle symbol on the map near towns called Friedensdorf and Buchenwald.  The ruin even had a name on the map, so that seemed promising.  Although the name was "Hohenfels" which translates more or less as "high rocks", so perhaps I should have expected what we eventually found...

We took roads and then the bike path for a while before we had to cut in on a hiking/mountain biking trail.  I suppose now would be a good point to mention that we had road tires on our bikes and it had rained a good amount the previous week and there was major logging going on on said hiking trail.  Oh well.  We'd had the foresight to take running shoes too, so we were prepared for this:

Perhaps mountain bike tires would be more appropriate
 We got up to the top of the ridge and found a sign telling us that it is illegal to deface the ruins, but where were they?  We wandered around the local maximum and convinced ourselves that there were some manmade earthworks and maybe a wall, but it was underwhelming. 

At least we are allowed to climb around unsupervised when the ruins are unexciting.
 So we ate a snack and rode onward, trying to make our way back home.  Luckily, we picked a good direction, for we found a sign explaining the ruins!  There were indeed fortifications on 2 local maxima, dating from the 1200s or so, and indeed the 2nd of the local maxima had much more satisfying ruins.
If you want to read about which Landgrafs and which Konrads and Heinrichs are responsible for this castle, here you go.
Indisputably human made.

And look at those walls!

Now, Dad, if you are reading this, I am sure you are shaking your head about your crazy daughter's castle obsession.  But answer me this: wouldn't you like to go on a several hour bike ride through fields and forests, and isn't it nice having an excuse to go some new direction to explore some new woods?  And if such a journey goes by an award winning bakery that serves raspberry cake AND hot cocoa, would you still protest against castle journeys, or would you perhaps join in our enthusiasm?
I like cake!
OK, so that was last weekend.  Yesterday, we wanted to go on another adventure, but since Sasha had been out of town for a week for a conference, we decided against going anywhere too far away, so decided to bike the stretch of the Lahn from here to Giessen.  This also involved trying to get up to two castles that we have seen from the train.  OK, so since we could see them from the train, it wasn't the usual gamble about whether or not we'd find them, or whether they'd be castles or just remnants of rock walls, so perhaps this round wasn't quite the same challenge, but hey.  The weather was so warm I got to ride my bike with a short sleeved jersey!!  The downside to the nice weather was that the bike path (which we were on for a good part of the day) was crowded.  The nerve of all those other people taking advantage of the weather.

The first castle was in Friedelhausen and was quite nice, and more of a manor house than a stereotypical castle.  It was very private, unfortunately, but at least the fence/hedge was low, so we could get good views. 
Look, there is skin showing on my arms!! (yes, that's skin, not pasty white arm warmers)
From there, we went on to the town of Staufenberg, which has both a lovely castle that has been turned into a hotel (a 4-star hotel no less, not that I have ever figured out who gives a hotel stars, or what they mean), and some satisfying ruins for clamoring around, including a tower with a spiral staircase.
the hotel part of the castle

Ruined tower with a nice view
Now, if only the hotel/castle restaurant had had cake, it would have been perfect. Alas, we had to settle for pretty good.

From Staufenberg, we rode back down to the bike path along the Lahn, and rode the rest of the way into Giessen and caught a train home.  Since Sasha likes birds, you will be pleased to note we saw a few birds, although nothing incredibly worth noting from a birders perspective.  However, as further proof that spring is upon us in this Deutscher Land, there were baby geese!!! Yay for spring and cute balls of fluff! And warmth! and sun!  May such things reach your corner of the globe soon if you don't have them yet.


Mom or Dad. In case you are curious, these are Egyptian geese, which have been introduced here, but are now quite common in our part of Hessen.

1 comment:

  1. Short sleeve jersey! I used yet another morning of snow and plows on the road as an excuse to not ride into work today.