Monday, September 7, 2015

Small village in Germany, beautiful hills

Zurich... Day 3 ~  7.9.15 (7 Sept 2015)

Today my friend had to go over the border for some banking in Constance  aka Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, and I tagged along.  Zurich isn't far from this German border - about an hour.  The road up feels more country-like, with rolling hills, small farms, barns, cows and other animals roaming the acres of land.  The road or autobahn is actually just two lanes, and the speed limit is 70kmh, which seems somewhat slow compared to California's freeways.  But there is an intimacy within this highway that connects the two countries together.  

When I arrived at the border, there is a passport control station much like the border patrol stations I've seen in California between Mexico and the US.  The difference is here it's only three lanes wide, and the experience is very different.  In fact today, both going to Germany and leaving to go back to Zurich was free of probing officers demanding to see ID and watching for wrongdoing.  Instead, the officers waved us through without interrogation or inspection.  

As we pass the border into Germany, we see a river to our right.  I discover that the Rhine River is what I'm looking at, and this river runs through Lake Constance (the Bondensee) and leaves the lake a larger river as it moves through. I also learn quickly that in German the "See" (Sea) is actually a lake, and an ocean (what we would call a Sea) is a " ".  I was not aware of that fun fact :).  This area was first settled back in the stone age (no joke!), and around 40AD the first Roman settlers came into the area.  This was truly remarkable to me.  Until today I had never set foot in a place that had a history that old.  I was in awe.

The town itself has all kind of winding roads through a mix of shops and residences, cobblestone streets and lively townspeople all over enjoying the sun.  We walked through the windy streets remembering landmarks along the way so we could remember how to get back to where the car was parked.  I tried to take some pictures along the way.  Once we got to the center square where the bank was, my friend was off to the bank and I was wandering the square to see what I could see.

On the side of the buildings there were often a word or three and a year - it really seemed like it was perhaps a nachname of a person (surname) and a year.  I wasn't able to confirm that though.  There are several photos of that in the album.

The fountain at one end of the square is prominent, and has both historical significance and some satire in it's homage.  It's called Kaiserbrunnen and it was built on the site of the market of 1896-1897. It was inaugurated in 1897, and was done by Hans Baur. The fountain stands on a middle stone pyramid in four niches and originally had four life-size statues. The four statues represented four German Dynasties: Henry III (Franken), Frederic Barbarossa (Hohenstaufen), Maximilian I (Habsburg) and William I (Prussia). Unfortunately, the life-size statues were taken to be melted into other things back in 1942, and in 1990, a new rather caricture-ized bust of the Emperor Gernot Rumpf was placed there, along with a new smaller fountain with what Germans see as comical sculptures of water-spouting sea hares, a three-headed peacock with three crowns, Pope and other figures that allude satirically on the council time and the city's history. There is also a bronze edition of the Treaty of Constance signed in 1183.

Interestingly enough, because of this town's close proximity to Switzerland as well as the fact the townspeople were smart and left all their lights on at night during WW2 it was spared bombing because allied forces thought it was still part of Switzerland.

Observations today:

  • This place felt really peaceful, the people seemed very happy and warm
  • This place had a lot of history - it wasn't until I got back that I found out it was as old as it was
  • Squares in Europe are cool
  • I need to explore the little villages too in Germany
  • Maybe a cruise on the Rhine river might be fun
Check this video I found out... The fountain is about 2:20 in: Happy in Konstanz

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