Thursday, 30 August 2012

Of Brunhilde and her stallion

My holiday story is slowing heading towards its end. Sad, right? Makes me feel a bit nostalgic. But also makes me wanna plan another thing. Have I already mentioned I'm a planner? Yeah...

We're staying in Thale yet again, but this time we're not going to talk about witches. Sad, I know. But there's a legend here, too! So lets start.

After we got back to Thale from Hexentanzplatz, we took the chair lift (the entrance to which is located right next to the gondola lift to "the witches") that took us up to another peak - Rosstrappe. It's not high either, just 403 metres.

The great local attraction for our kiddo - the Sessellift, the chair lift. He was so excited to take a ride in it, not being surrounded by anything but fresh air. That's the lift he talks about most of all (all three types that we managed to take a ride in during this trip). It moved really slow, so we had a chance to take a look around - first on the mountains, and on the way down on Thale.

Up there, we took a walk to cherish our eyes with wonderful views. We had a chance to look once again at Hexentanzplatz hill. We had a chance to look at Bode River. We also had a chance to fell that we're in the mountains once again. Hard to call them high mountains, even medium ones. Still, these were mountains. The paths weren't steep (well, just in some places and only a bit), but were slippery and uneven. Sometimes it was hard to keep walking. But the views! I love the views in the mountains! That feeling of accomplishment and of overcoming one's own fears as well. But it's hard to talk about these two in Harz Mountains. What they had, though, were the views. Rock formations sticking out of green forests. And that river deep down below us... Marvellous!
We could see the house down there from Hexen-hill as well
And now I owe you the legend. So here it (roughly) goes:

There was a king who had a beautiful daughter named Brunhilde (so not a name I would associate with a pretty princess). There was also a giant named Bodo, who wanted to marry poor little Brunhilde against her will. Brunhilde managed to escape the giant on a white stallion (in German 'Ross'), but suddenly she encountered a deep ravine. She could hear the giant chasing her, getting closer and closer. She didn't know what to do. She decided to put all her eggs into one basket. Her horse leapt.... in one bound... to the rocks on the other side. She was saved. Her pursuer fell into the depths below. The giant gave his name to a small river, the Bode. And the impression of the horse's hoof can still be seen today (and people throw coins into it - I'll never understand this stupid habit of throwing coins into various things...).
 That's the legend in German (I hope my version IS roughly the same... or at least similar)
That's supposed to be the impression of the horse's hoof. Takes a great dose of my imagination to see a hoof in this hole...

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The witches ride to the Brocken’s top - "Faust" by Goethe

When I learnt that there's a place in Germany where witches come before sabbath, I knew I had to go there. You know, true nature and stuff ;) Plus we were going to go into the mountains yet again. What's better than that? My nature plus mother nature? Nothing. I thought so too. And so we went.

Harz Mountains. That was our goal. The legend says that witches used to come to Brocken (the highest peak in the Harz Mountains) for a sabbath on the eve of St. Walpurga's Day. That's how Goethe described it in his Faust:

The witches ride to the Brocken’s top,
The stubble is yellow, and green the crop.
There gathers the crowd for carnival:

Sir Urian sits over all.
And so they go over stone and stock;
The witch she——s, and——s the buck.

(translation by Bayard Taylor).

I had to go there, right? Well, I haven't been there yet. Shame on me, I know. Well, we could choose between going there to climb to Brocken (or ride, but Artur would get so impatient and so bored during the ride... And the climb - not difficult, but long... either way, not a good choice) or spend the night in Thale. And Thale it was. You miss the witches? No worries, some more will come!

Thale is a place that plays the role of a host to Hexentanzplatz. Hexen...what? A place where witches gather to dance! There is a mountain, right on the verge of Thale, where witches used to meet before flying off to Brocken. A sort of before party. With lots of dancing (and drinking?) and having fun. I like having fun. So that's where we visited. Hexentanzplatz!

We didn't climb to Hexetanzplatz. Did witches do that? Of course not! They used their brooms to fly up there. We didn't have brooms. Just cars. And they weren't enchanted like the Weasley's car (in Harry Potter series), so they couldn't fly. We took the cable car (I warned you more of these were coming), much to Artur's happiness and excitement.

When we got up there, to that peaceful and quiet place, I started looking for some signs telling me where to go to find that dancefloor. My nature failed me in that area - I totally didn't feel where I should be heading... We found this sign:
And there we go. The distance, of course, wasn't shown... No idea why...
We passed by a few stores selling, of course, witches. And beer.

We were looking and looking for that place. THAT place. We turned right (yeah, that was our mistake... We could've got to the place much sooner) and got to see some beautiful views. And some less beautiful things as well ;)
 Thale as seen from Hexentanzplatz
I even got to dance a little (and make fool of myself a little a lot):
And then I found it we found it!
Climbing up to the rock wasn't that easy...
There was, of course, a playground right next to the dancefloor:

There is quite a lot of things to do up there. Right next to the playground and the dancefloor, there is a car park as well, so you can drive up to the top with your car. That's something I personally think shouldn't take place there, though. Take a car to the top of a mountain? Even a small one? Oh, come on! Take a walk, take a cable car, but not a car! So much spoils the fun of being close to the nature... Mother nature. And your own nature as well ;)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A postcard town

A postcard town - that's what it's often called.Freudenberg. A small town in North Rhine-Westphalia. What makes it so special? As usually, its old town.

We left our car on one of the car parks and started climbing a hill that we had topass in order to get to the old town. And that was our goal - just the old town. We decided to visit Freudenberg because it was close to the place where we were staying for the night. It wasn't a kind of a must-seeon our holiday route. Still, I'm happy we've been there.

Why does Freudenberg look the way it looks? Everything so similar, almost identical. Each building, each street. It's so easy to get lost in those narrow streets with almost identical buildings on each side.

First the town and the castle were burnt down in 1540. Heavily damaged. In the mid-16th century, the rebuilding works started. And then came another huge fire in 1666. The fire that's truly responsible for the town's present look. It's after this fire that Prince Johann Moritz von Nassau-Siegen built the town anew. In a relatively short time, I might add. All according to the 1540 rebuild plans. The castle, though, was never restored.

The Alter Flecken is Fruedenberg's downtown built wholly of half-timbered houses. It truly gives the impression of a small 17th century town. A postcard town.

It's really worth it to have a walk in the old town. Experience that feeling of being lost and confused, not knowing where you are, where to turn. You get used to it after a while and can easily navigate in the old town, so no worries. The first impression, though, is excellent.

When you're there, don't hesitate and go to the park opposite to the old town. Climb that hill even when you're tired. The views from up there will pay you back for all the tiredness. It's so worth it! Have a look and enjoy!