Friday, March 16, 2012

My Thurn und Taxis

The train we took to Regensburg arrived SIX MINUTES LATE!  We never thought such a thing could happen in this country.  But that was nothing compared to the train delay going home three days later:  snow, and some construction issue down the line, delayed our train by 40 minutes, causing us to miss our connection in Nuremburg.  Never mind, Deutsche Bahn refunded us 25% of the cost of the trip home, plus the little bit extra we’d paid to reserve seats on the train we never caught.

Otherwise, our Regensburg excursion went very well.  We’d picked this eastern Bavaria town because it’s one of the cities in a family-favorite board game, Thurn und Taxis, and because we wanted to visit a smaller Bavarian town than Munich (which we plan to visit during Oktoberfest, naturally!).  It turned out that it’s the hometown of the family named Thurn und Taxis, which started the first European postal delivery system (which is what the board game concerns), and we were able to visit their palace (the family still lives in part of it but is reduced to hawking lines of Palace items such as teas, beer glasses, and photos of themselves on postcards).  We’d learned from our never-completely-reliable guidebook of choice, Lonely Planet, that there was a Kepler House Museum and assumed that Kepler was born or lived in Regensburg for a long time. Since our favorite grand-cat is named for the 17th century astronomer, it seemed like kismet to us!

Our children will never forget, I’m sure, our first trip to Bavaria in 1997.  We headed to Thierstein, the town of my grandfather’s parents near Bavaria’s border with the Czech Republic.  None of us spoke any German, and I worked feverishly with our little phrasebook as we drove across the country.  When we arrived, I was quite sure I could inquire about where to find the old cemetery, so I could see gravestones with the family name Neupert on them.  Naturally, I couldn’t actually pronounce the German words correctly, and in any case Bavarians speak a German unto themselves.  One after another town resident would listen kindly to my question, and with gestures and often animation, direct us to the other side of the village.  After an hour of this, we concluded that there was in fact no old cemetery, and decided to give up.  We stopped at the town’s only grocery store for some bread and cheese where our cashier brightened immediately and said, “Oh, you are the people looking for the old cemetery!”  Not that she had any new information for us.  That’s the last time I’m heading into Bavaria unprepared, with no personal contacts, and insufficiently fluent in German, to track down my heritage.

I could be very long-winded about our trip but pictures are worth a thousand words!  Here is a view of the huge and mostly ornate Thurn und Taxis Palace.

In the grounds of the Schloss, we saw this awesome tree stump!

The Schloss itself was an amalgamation of buildings of different ages and styles.

The Beautiful Danube wasn't blue, but we enjoyed crossing its amazing old stone bridge, and visiting the apartment at the top of the guard tower.
Regensburg has been a thriving city for centuries, and its winding streets are charming.

They are regularly punctuated by cozy, picturesque, charming little restaurants singing their siren song of "Gemuetlichkeit"!

Johannes Kepler, the astronomer who lent his name to one of our favorite grand-cats, only lived in Regensburg for a couple of years but the Kepler Museum had early editions of his books and this hand-written letter which incorporates his name!  No idea whether it was written by him or to him.
There is also an extremely impressive Cathedral in Regensburg, which has been traditionally Catholic for centuries (it was a Roman fort long before Christian times, and then became a part of the Holy Roman Empire, which oriented it southwards towards the Vatican).  Photographs barely convey the awesome, soaring heights of this place of worship.  I was taken by this clock outside the Cathedral which gave the year the church was remodeled!

When we awoke on Monday morning to catch our train, we were surprised by snow!  When it showed no signs of slowing down, we left early for the short walk to the train station.  

And here we encountered a real shocker:  our train was delayed by 40 minutes, which disrupted the rest of our travel plans.   Deutsche Bahn, however, was prepared to be flexible; re-routed us and partially refunded us!

It has taken me weeks to compose and complete this blog.  While we hugely enjoyed Regensburg, it wasn’t the thrill-packed cultural mind-blower we experienced at Basel’s Fasnacht celebrations.  And as ever, we wished for all our children to be with us and enhance our experiences.

1 comment:

  1. Beth! Kepler's birthplace is Weil der Stadt, a very cute old town on the outskirts of Stuttgart (last stop on the S-bahn). Had I known you were a fan when you lived in Stuttgart, we could have gone to the Kepler museum together. Next time you're in town ...