A castle? Yoshi can’t go in those.

The winds and bends of the roads and the surrounding fields of wildflowers and orchards made for a lovely drive from Hechingen Village to Burg Hohenzollem. As we were nearing the castle and snaking up the mountain I was so excited I kept having Kenny stop the car so I could take a picture of the nearing castle at every bend… I will spare you the majority of these photos, as they are very much alike. However, here is my favorite! The seemingly endless coiling road came to an end about ¾’s of the way up the mountain. We were met with the neon vest and open hand of a parking attendant. We paid 2 euro to park and wait for the next shuttle up the remainder of the mountain. Meanwhile they had a little pub and a shop of some of the most random castle paraphernalia you can imagine. Here are a few examples…

There were also ridiculously sharp swords and battle-axes labeled unconvincingly as fake, as well as dragon figurines and the usual wall of alcohol that has become a commonplace of sorts in the German shops we have happened across. After dress-up we headed towards the shuttle. We got on the bus and sat down in the teeny seats. Poor Kenny barely fit… but we were so excited!

…and then a wonderfully ridiculous human being sat down right in front of us. You haven’t seen a bowl-cut until you have seen this guy. It was incredible…

I have never seen it’s equal.

Anyway! We finally made our ascent. The shuttle arrived at the castle grounds and we bought a ticket for the “tour grandeur”. We were informed we won’t be able to understand a word of it (obviously), but they gave us a castle guide in English! Which was all we needed:) The way up the castle was really cool; consisting of a drawbridge, another winding path made of stone, and a charming garden courtyard.

I knew the view was going to be amazing, but there are not words to describe the feeling I got when I looked over that edge. Kenny and I, both being from Midwest America, will always appreciate such things. You could see for miles and miles all the way around the castle. We sat on a bench in silence for nearly five minutes just taking it all in. I was freaking out during this picture… He wanted to lay down!? I said nooooo way!

Also, Kenny downloaded this really cool app (he was obsessed with it) that allows you to take panoramic photos! Though, as you can see it’s a little on the squiggly side and it couldn’t exactly figure out where I was every time… Side note: Above I am imagining those little stone hobbles along the wall to be where Legolas would stand and just murk people.

Here, a nice (and fluent: low levels of awkwardness) German couple took our picture too! Surrounding the castle were several statues representing kings that have ruled here in the past dating back to the 16 hundreds. Kenny was bound and determined to take a picture of every last one. However, (for the sake of my sanity in trying to read the crumbling inscriptions) I am only going to post the first and the last out of the ten. It was rather interesting to see how the different fashions have changed over the centuries. Why would people ever stop wearing capes?

1640-1688

1861-1888

Since the castle was at the very peak of a mountain it was difficult to get a decent picture… not for lack of trying of course…

So incredibly beautiful. Moving right along, as you can see Kenny is headed into the building. Unbeknownst to us, the internal guided tour was to begin at 6:00. There is no such thing as “Mayers” time in Germany… I mean, this thing started at 6:00 sharp. Naturally, Kenny and I moseyed in around 6:06. I’m pretty sure it was uncomfortable for everyone involved. The door was locked so we had to knock. The kindly old man that was to be our tour guide let us in, and was most likely reassuring us that it was alright to be late… although of that we can never really be sure. We just kept shrugging our shoulders and saying “English, sorry,” then pointing at our English guide book… total idiots. Also, to make matters worse we were just snapping photos in every direction only to discover this sign when the crowd dispersed to head into the next room…

Oops…

So that is our excuse for the poor quality of photographs you are about to see. We had to be in stealth mode.

All four walls of the first room were adorned with an elaborately painted family tree. Naturally, it reminded me of the Black family tree in the fifth Harry Potter film… R.I.P. Sirius. 

The room below featured beautiful paintings: depictions of both actual historical events and fables from centuries past. Unfortunately, due to the big and bright windows, they were overexposed.

However, the next hallway had a couple of fancy mirrors…

Also, there we found the weirdest stained glass window in existence… Seriously though, quadruple high-five for anyone that can tell me what this thing is.

Every room we entered was more aesthetically pleasing than the next.

The last stop of the tour was an armory and a room full of display cases. Each with various artifacts from the different time periods of the castle’s existence.

(Ignore the panoramic squiggles.)

Although we did not understand a single word from anyone throughout the tour, it was still an amazing experience. The inside of the castle was just as magnificent as the outside promised. Kenny and I had another unforgettable day together:) Plus, we finally quenched our thirst!!

Cheers!

Bookmyer-Land!

Guten tag! Kenny had another free afternoon yesterday so we took full advantage. As per my beautiful grandmother’s recommendation, Kenny and I ventured to Hechingen: the ancestral home of the Bookmyer’s (…though it was shockingly void of slot machines and small yappy dogs…). The village of Hechingen is barely 15 minutes south of our Dußlingen so it was a very short and pleasant drive. Also, conveniently enough the castle of Hohenzollem, (our destination #2), was just another 10 minutes up a mountain. Imagine our excitement to see this looming off the horizon…

I was bouncing in my seat and half expecting to meet Dumbledore after that sighting. Anyway, after a couple displays of classic Kenny road rage we arrived in the village of Hechingen. The place was beautiful. The town square was very modern; obviously the newest part of the village as we were not met with anything of the sort when we left the square.

First order of business: I needed my caffeine fix. We walked into a mod looking café only to stare at the gibberish menu board. I sincerely hate ordering here… I feel like a baby-idiot. Nevertheless, I placed my order: iced coffee. This was a grievous error. The nice lady gave me a face of pure confusion. So, naturally, I said the word “ice” a few more times and put my fingers apart the approximate size of an ice cube thinking this would help. Well, like a light bulb went off inside her she went to work. When she pulled out the ice cream scoop I knew I was in trouble. I received a large mug complete with a bitter espresso mixture poured over vanilla ice cream and a mound of whipped cream. I blame myself, really… my level of awkwardness was at an all time high.

After we finished the weird espresso float we walked around the shops in the square. Until we happened upon a shop we had no choice but to enter…

LOOK who we found!

AND LOOK what we bought!!!

I am sorry Marge… the Coke puzzle is getting put on the back burner to make room for our Disney friends.

Moving forward, besides fabulous puzzle places, Hechingen features some beautiful old buildings.

As well as this creepy thing that confused us…

As I was saying previously, after we left the square the village sort of crept back in time. My personal favorite was the cobblestone streets. Kenny had mentioned that it was clear these were not created for the purpose of cars. Immediately I imagined horses trotting through the narrow streets and big wooden wheels making for a bumpy horse drawn carriage ride.

Until I saw this in a store front window…

That shirt really smacked me in the face back to the present…

Up next in our wandering session, we stumbled upon these lovely family crests.

Unfortunately we have absolutely no idea what this means.

You can’t really see it (mainly because I botched the photo and completely cut it in half) but the farthest one to the right does not have a family name underneath it… So, I pretended that it’s the Bookmyer family coat of arms:)

Meanwhile, the sun was beating hotter and the hills were getting hillier and Kenny and I were developing a thirst. Hence, Kenny darting off at the speed of light towards this beer umbrella.

It was closed… Apparently from 12-2:30 shops and bars take naps. Needless to say, we were not pleased. We trudged back to the car sweaty and parched. Although, on the bright side, we did discover the deal with the creepy thing…

It’s a fountain!!! Still creepy though…

It was really fun touring the village of Hechingen. Just walking down the streets with the possibility that my ancestors have done the same. Thanks for the suggestion G-Money:) Next stop: the castle! Cheers!