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Report 2015: Alpine Adventures and Other Travels in the Rhone, Rhin and Rhön

By wendy lynn from California USA, Summer 2012

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Page 20 of 21: Fulda: Schlitz and Residenz

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Joe at the Hilders Fest in Germany

This is our last full day in Fulda. Bittersweet. Joe and Wendy are up early before the kids, so we tell Julia we are headed out for a bit. She sleepily nods and rolls over into her covers.

We decide to drive 20 minutes to Schlitz, a little town Joe remembers as interesting and quaint. The drive is another beautiful one, although the road to Schlitz takes us in a direction we haven't yet gone. Joe seems to think that at one time, maybe 200 years ago, Schlitz was another 'big" town, equal to Fulda in importance although Fulda has certainly grown large while Schlitz has stayed essentially the same. Another difference is that Fulda is rather flat, although surrounded by rolling hills. Schlitz has a hillier placement which makes for an interesting old town ... lots of meandering paths, nooks and crannies. The requisite cobblestone streets.

It's early still and few people are out. The town is quiet but the skies are blue and the sun is shining. Joe thinks he remembers a small park where he and friends spent the night after a few too many drinks.

We walk past the City Museum (Stadtmuseum) but it's not open yet. We spy what we think is a witch's tower and walk over. It's cylindrical and similar to Fulda's hexenturm but much taller. It opens at 10am and it's exactly 9:59. We open the door, look up the cylindrical shaft and notice it houses a cylindrical elevator which is currently at the top level. We don't see anyone but press the button. Low and behold, the elevator starts to descend and when the door opens, there is an old man inside who smiles at us. Cool!

He speaks no English, but with our limited German we are able to understand each other. He takes us up to the very top where we can step out to the stone balcony that wraps around the tower. We are able to discern that this is not a witch's tower but a Hinterturm (watch tower) on top and a prison below.

After enjoying the view for a few minutes, the old man takes us back down to a middle "floor" where he has a tiny room. We pay our entrance fee and give a little kleingeld. He shows us a picture of the tower at Christmas when the town puts a large, faux flame on top of the tower so that the entire thing looks like a giant candle. Hokey but cute. We must have seemed appropriately appreciative because he searches through his materials and hands us a photograph of the tower/candle and tells us we can keep it. This is just the sort of unexpected and kind experience we appreciate.

We wander back to the City Museum which is now open. It is so cool. An interesting collection of all things related to Schlitz's history -- the collection gives insight into the history of life in Schlitz since the bronze age through to modern day!

The museum covers three floors and many rooms and includes a weaver's room with multiple looms and clothing, elaborate rock collection, memorabilia associated with notable city figures going back to the 1400's, a bug collection, butterflies, mannequins dressed up in local dress over history, clocks, weapons. The list goes on and on. Maybe it's not all valuable, but it is immensely interesting.

We are the only people there and we take our time. We regret not taking the kids. We thank the old man at the front desk and must seem duly appreciative because he hands us a souvenir ... a piece of cloth with "Schlitz" stitched into the fabric. Joe thinks it was made at one of the museum's looms. We keep it and later that year use it as a Christmas ornament.

We get back in our car and return to the hotel to find that Julia has successfully bought pastries for the kids. She has been a great big sister and a real help on this trip.

We head out on foot to Fulda's Schloss (castle). Alex hopes to see a knife store along the way -- Julia and Wendy saw one the other day but can't remember where -- unfortunately we never find it.

The Residenz is a large Baroque palace built in 1706-1714 for the prince-bishops, but it's hard to appreciate its exterior which is covered in scaffolding for repairs. We walk up the tower and get a grand view of Fulda. There are a few interesting and grand rooms, but really it's not terribly impressive. Most of the building houses governmental offices.

We leave to walk the beautiful Residence Gardens and Orangery. But it's gardening day so many leaf blowers and piles of debris detract from the experience ... and the fountain which was beautiful the day before is now drained for maintenance. Still we again wonder what the European flower growing secret is.

By now we are hungry. We have the usual search for just the right place. We see a promising outdoor cafe but all tables are taken. We come back in a few minutes to find a table open. It was a good call. Great schnitzel for lunch special is €6.50 for giant schnitzel, fries and a drink. Wendy succumbs to her craving and has geat schweinbraten with knodeln, chanterelles and red cabbage. Very good! What a bargain. We are again grateful to be in Fulda.

It's our last day of the trip and the kids want to return to the schwimbad. The parents agree, and we all return to the schwimbad and have fun. The day is hotter and more crowded than our previous visit. Still, it's not at all unpleasantly congested, although the lifeguards are more visible and interactive.

After a few hours of swimming, we return back to the hotel for showers and make it out the door just in time for the concert at the Dom (Musik am Hohen Dom zu Fulda), which Wendy had learned about from a hotel brochure. The concert promptly starts at 6:30pm so we'd better get moving.

We make it just on time. The concert includes a fairly long lecture in German about the history of the pieces we are about to hear ... all organ works. The music is nice and very neat to hear it in such a grand location. Margaret falls asleep and Wendy worries as she realizes she's wearing a sleeveless dress. It's not Rome, but is it inappropriate to show your shoulders in any Catholic European church? Luckily, Wendy has a scarf and is able to manage more modestly.

We have dinner reservations at 7:45pm, so we skip out of the concert early. We walk to the Weissenmuhle. Joe remembers the Weissenmuhle from his time here many years ago. Then, it was a broken and deserted place on the river ... it was a former mill and Joe fondly remembers discovering the ruins and walking about.

We were led to believe that the Weissenmuhle was an upscale restaurant now, but in fact it appears to be a semi-cafeteria style restaurant. We head for the outside biergarten area, which is okay but giant mosquitoes abound. We are next to the river after all. The kids have an outdoor play area and bond with a few German kids, but we are certain they are being devoured by mosquitoes. The food is only mediocre, and even the beer is not up to par. A bit of a downer to end our trip on.

As we leave the Weissenmuhle, we walk by the cool, old waterwheel that has been restored. Joe remembers it well. We walk back to the hotel, sadly, to pack. No one has the heart to go up yet, so we head for the outdoor eating area at the restaurant associated with our hotel ... HMB which is an old Fulda brewery and serves late night drinks and desserts in the courtyard next to our hotel. It's about 9:30pm by now.

We had a few free drink tickets, given on our arrival to the Arte Altstadt, so we pull them out. The beers we are given are maybe .25L. Compared to the beer we've been drinking on the trip, this size is like a child's cup. We laugh. The beer is actually very good, so we order a real one in the larger size. The kids order dessert and Joe gets a warm, deep fried apple dessert with ice cream that's very good. We pay the bill, go up to our room for some final packing and set the alarm for 5am. Tomorrow we return home to San Francisco.

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