Thursday, May 11, 2017

More snapshots from Germany

My previous post showed you the sights in the historic center of Hersbruck, my hometown in northern Bavaria. This post ventures outside the town center and covers areas a little farther afield. 

The best panoramic view of Hersbruck is from the Michelsberg, the 388 m (1278 ft) hill north of downtown. I will never get tired of this sight:


Town center, with Hersbruck Castle in the back and City Hall and the Stadtkirche on the right
The photos above were taken from the terrace of the restaurant that sits on top of the hill. This is what it looks like from below:


Spectacular linden tree, just leafing out
The restaurant parking lot also offers panoramic views looking north. This is Altensittenbach, the part of town where I grew up:


I'm constantly amazed at how green everything is!



 The timing was right to see rapeseed fields in full bloom:


Rapeseed is the third largest source of vegetable oil in the world (what we call "canola oil" in the U.S. is made from rapeseed).


My mother's neighbor has quite an assortment of things in his front yard:


This part of town still has many old farm buildings. Most, if not all, of them are protected and cannot be altered.


Altensittenbach Creek
This is the church where I was baptized and where my wife and I got married: 


It's just up the street from my mother's house. In fact, it seems closer now than it did when I was a child. Funny how your perception of size and distance changes as you get older.


The church was completely renovated not long ago and looks better than I've ever seen it.




As we were walking around the cemetery, I was joking that quite a few graves had nicer plants than many front yards around town.


This is where I spotted my first agave on this Germany trip:


Yes, it's just a tiny pup, but it's an agave nonetheless. I have no idea which species.

Sempervivums are commonly seen on graves because they're extremely hardy and can get by with very little water. I suspect dew might be enough to keep them alive.




Communal watering cans for folks taking care of the graves in the cemetery:


Across the way from the cemetery is a restored farmhouse with a fully functional wood-fired oven:

I wonder if they still bake bread here?

Right next door is the neighborhood's haunted house:


It's been many years since this house was lived in. It's total disrepair now, but since it's protected as a listed building, structural modifications are either impossible or cost-prohibitive. As happens all too often, the heirs aren't able to fix it up, so it continues to degrade.





The front door was wide open, so we snuck inside. There was a lot of junk, disintegrating pieces of furniture, even an old record player. Except for the broken window below, nothing was all that photogenic, just sad.


This house on the other side of the cemetery is about to suffer a similar fate. Its elderly owner has died, and now it's for sale. The restrictions imposed on listed buildings are so strict that few people are willing to deal with such a potential money pit. When I was young, a great aunt of mine lived in a small apartment downstairs. I have fond memories of her and the house, and I hope it can be saved.



Speaking of relatives: Another great aunt owned the house below when I was a child. I spent a lot of time there. The house wasn't as nice then, but the garden seemed enormous. Now it's just a regular garden--neither small nor large.


This is where I had my second agave sighting on this trip. Two rather forlorn-looking agave pups, species unknown, but at least somebody there likes agaves. Maybe the family that lives in this house now is also responsible for the agave pup I spotted at the cemetery earlier?


My great aunt's old house from the side. The walkway is for foot traffic only; it's much too narrow for vehicles.


And finally a few more images of greenery. Have I mentioned how green everything is?

Weeping willow

Weeping willow and war memorial

Creek with newly leaved out beech trees

River Pegnitz
I hope you enjoyed this trip back to my roots. I had fun exploring my old stomping grounds through the eyes of a tourist. Contrary to what I had expected, I didn't feel wistful or melancholic. That must mean that my real home now is back in California.

13 comments:

  1. OMG...I love this series! Ever since my first visit years ago, I've dreamed of living in a small German village...especially in Bavaria!

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    1. Life is certainly different there. People may complain about being stressed and constantly in a hurry, but life is still slower paced than here.

      And then there's the quaintness factor! I don't think people know how picturesque their villages and towns are.

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  2. Oh your last paragraph made me weepy for some reason. I bet your mom was thrilled to have you there, thanks for the beautiful photos...and for proving there is always an agave (or two) if you just look hard enough!

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    1. I spent a lot of time thinking about the concept of "hometown." Is is the town where you were born or grew up? The place where you spent the largest part of your life? The town where you currently live (and hence consider your "home")?

      I've lived in Davis for longer than in Hersbruck. So maybe Davis is my hometown now?

      Re agaves: I was so thrilled to spot that small pup at the cemetery. Probably A. americana?

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    2. For me, I think "hometown" will always mean the place where I grew up no matter how many years may have passed. "Home," however, is where your heart is now. :) Funny, now I have Bruce Springsteen's song "My Hometown" running through my head!

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  3. Rapeseed blooming has gone past its peak here it seems but a few weeks ago the fields looked spectacular. Listing of building, both good and not so good. Beautiful photos as always!

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    1. I didn't know you have rapeseed fields in the UK, too. I love the expanses of yellow. Hey, maybe that's what Sting had in mind when he wrote "Fields of Gold?"

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  4. Your post made me wonder whether succulents have crept into cemeteries here. I love the shots with creeks, which look more like rivers to me! I hope your mother and your family thoroughly enjoyed her birthday celebration.

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    1. It was a 2-day celebration, and everybody was wiped out at the end :-).

      I caught a nasty bug, either on the plane to Germany or while I was there, and am still suffering from it. I call it my special souvenir!

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  5. Nice, hope you start feeling better!

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  6. Charming and quaint, to that I'll add bucolic. And yes so very green, shocking to California eyes.

    Melancholy that some buildings cannot be sustained and are left to crumble--that must take decades, what happens then? Sempervivums are also sometimes called "live forevers", which must have some symbolism in a cemetery.

    I hope you are feeling better!

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    1. The greenness was almost alien. Yes, our hills were green, too, this winter, but this is another level of verdure altogether.

      Listed buildings: I've heard of some simply falling down over the years because the owners (usually heirs) didn't have money to fix them up according to code. Surprisingly, it hasn't happened in my hometown. The house I showed (with the broken windows) is the worst I've personally seen. I don't think this house can be rescued. I'm not even sure it has running water! My mom remembers the kitchen being in a lean-to in the back (and of course there was an outhouse).

      Yes, "live forever." My mom said they don't need any water there. Dew is enough.

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