HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY! …also, Schloss Lichtenstein

First and foremost, before I begin, I would like to wish my beautiful mother a very happy 27th birthday. I could not ask for a better role model and friend. Your daughters and husband love you very much and are lucky to have you!

On to Schloss Lichtenstein! I am not going to lie to you people… these pictures are fantastic. This is largely thanks to Dr. Fritz (The Fritz’s are a very nice German family we have come to know), as he let me borrow one of his amazing cameras, that of which takes very high quality photographs. We also had a very beautiful subject. The castle of Lichtenstein seemed to have been plucked right out of the Middle Ages. It was not as grandiose as others we have seen, but it certainly had the most character. The castle is perched atop a stony mountainside. It being contrived mainly from stone as well, giving the illusion it has simply sprung up from the mountain itself.

Am I right??

As per usual, Kenny and I arrived just as the internal tour was starting. Naturally, the tour was entirely in German, but due to dumb luck, a woman in the tour was whispering translations of the whole thing to her two friends, whom of which (if my eavesdropping skills are up to par) were from New Zealand. Apparently, there has been a castle in this location since 1200. However, it has been destroyed twice and the current structure has only been around since the 1800’s.

Side note: forgive the horrible quality of the photos from inside the castle… picture-taking was frowned upon, thus, we had to be sneaky again.

The first room we entered had painted murals from floor to ceiling.We also found these rather interesting paintings on either side of the room. The first is Count Eberhard I, Duke of Württemburg and the second is Count Herzog Ulrich von Württemburg. Each painting features a peculiar phrase at the top.

“Attempto” meaning “I dare”

“Stat Animo” meaning “I have it in mind”

How embarrassed must Count Herzog be? What a lame caption to be eternally associated with. At least Count Eberhard gets to be daring…

Anyway! The next room was really beautiful. It boasted gorgeous stained glass windows overlooking the valley below, as well as sundry suits of armor and weaponry.

Apparently, according to the New Zealand lady, boys as young as 12 and 13 were made to fight as well (Kenny and I had originally deemed them midget-armor). The following armor was designed to fit children (not for Tyrions).

Oddly enough the coolest part of the room was a rock…This is a part of the mountain from underneath the castle; they literally built the castle around this chunk of mountain for fear of disrupting the mountain’s foundation.

The next room was the “gentlemen’s drinking quarters”. It featured more elaborately painted murals and all sorts of old-fashioned drinking paraphernalia. But first, this room had the most beautiful hearth I ever did see…

What a pretty green color!

The room, in itself, was comedy. The mural depicted men doing manly things… which in these times (still accurate if you ask me) meant drinking, hunting, fighting, and smoking a pipe… Believe it or not, this tubelike thing is a champagne flute. It takes 4 men to wield it and holds up to 3 bottles of champagne, if memory serves. These guys clearly liked to party.

The next rooms we saw were the part of the castle that the owners would use to entertain their guests. These rooms were more elaborately decorated than the rest, gaudy even.

Side note: what people did before technology… Below, there is a small, fancy sort of gate opening at the top of the wall. There is a hidden room through the tiny gate where musicians would sit and play during parties for hours on end… rough gig.

Lastly we entered the castle’s chapel. This really was a lovely chapel, except my pictures turned out awful because it was really dark and we were in stealth mode so using the flash was not an option. Thus, all you guys get is a photo of their stained glass window behind the mini alter… Es tut mir leid.

After the tour we spent a long time just taking in the view. The leaves were starting to turn and the sun was hitting the valley just so… it truly was perfect.

Stunning, right?

Also, I had to post this picture. This “C’mon Emily” pose is nearly identical to the picture from Tübingen when I was taking too many pictures…

Unfortunately, there was nobody around to take our picture together so this is the best we could do…

Until next time! Cheers!

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It was no Hogwarts but…

Sunday was magical! Upon arriving in Europe I was most taken aback by it’s natural beauty. There is myriad of hills, valleys, trees, and flowery fields all along the drive from Stuttgart’s airport to our little town of Dußlingen (ß = “ss”). However, what I really wanted to see was a castle. Thus, Sunday we set out on a castle hunt. Obviously, we have no castles in the ‘Mericas (unless you count Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas… which I know my mother does) so I was doubly excited! These “castle hunt” pictures will be the first of many!!

Our first excursion outside of Tübingen began with a lot of insanely fast driving (not my fault) and a near trip-cancelling experience due to some spilled McDonald’s coffee (possibly my fault). Anyway the expedition made us quite thankful for our GPS… that of which I have decided to name “Navi”. Our drive through Stuttgart was nuts… there is no rhyme or reason to the streets here. Kenny was very impressive and ninja-like with his newly honed manual shifting skills. Although the roads were confusing we enjoyed very spectacular views just off the highway. However a minor speed bump hit us when the address we searched via iPhone and entered into Navi brought us to a large industrial building… sincerely hoping this was not our castle we drove around the corner to a beautiful park and stumbled onto Schloss Rosenstein.

This particular castle was destroyed and made anew in the 1900’s thus it appeared almost modern looking.

Rosenstein has ornately carved stone lions on either side of the castle… As I was taking pictures I had to wait because so many kids wanted their pictures taken on the lion’s back…

The castle itself was beautiful but I thought the sculptures surrounding it were the real gems there.

Also, these statues instituted the “don’t give the camera to Kenny” idea…

unless you want pictures of stone butts…

Anyway! As you may see in stone butt picture #2 there is a beautiful garden behind me; featuring blooming red roses (my favorite flower), ivy laden stone pillars and hedges trimmed to perfection.

We even (albeit awkwardly) asked a couple to take our picture in the garden…

and also my attempt…

Schloss Rosenstein was beautiful and an excellent first stop on our “castle hunt”! Cheers!