Tag Archives: schloss

Spring in Stuttgart

4 Apr

Hello again! I go from MIA for nearly a month to twice in a matter of days! Sheesh. I’m sorry about that. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve got something big in the pipeline- a project that’s been taking up a good bit of my time and that I’m really excited to share with all of you in the very near future. *And before some of you start jumping to (crazy) conclusions, nope, I’m definitely not pregnant, nor adding any living creature to the family 😉 But in all seriousness, it is a venture that I’m pretty damn pumped about and that I’m feeling so, so good about. I promise to share more in the coming weeks!

That being said, let’s consider this a photo dump post because we haven’t had one in a really long time! March was a really busy month around here- you already saw the Retro Classics Car Show and that we had Uncle Andy here to join us for the Bunkerhotel– but we also spent a heckuva lotta time welcoming spring, hanging out with friends, welcoming biergarten season back (hallelujah!), exploring new (to us) haunts in our city, etc.

So in completely random order, I present to you the, ‘Thomas Family Month in Pictures…’ (*warning: it’s alot, like alot alot. 😉 )


New pants, vintage boots ❤


The 70s called- they want their look back. Never.




You know a carwash is the bomb.com when you have to take a picture.


Thumbs up for new house shoes at school!




One pup took the other pup’s treat. Can you guess which is which? Ha!




Afterschool Tea Parties ❤



When you’re still in a funk from yesterday, but you have to walk the city…1. Ear buds in so no one will talk to you – > No explaining that you don’t speak German. 2. Sunglasses on so no eye contact. 3. Ball cap on to erase any doubt that you’re American. Ha!



(German) Breakfast of Champions


Tulip Trees are my favorites ❤ (And Redbuds…)


Sunrise from my side of the bed…




Nothing better than homemade frozen yogurt pops after school!


Slumber Parties ❤






When you don’t know if it’s because you just got out of school for the day, or if it’s that it’s finally feeling like spring, or if it’s that the sun is out for the fourth (!) day in a row…You’re just…THANKFUL.







Saturday morning farmers market ❤


When you see one of these in your mailbox, it’s a great day. When you see 5…It’s like freakin’ Christmas! Bring on the packages!

Sunday afternoon at the Stuttgart Planetarium. Neve’s first such experience- she LOVED it.

Another Sunday afternoon at the local biergarten with friends…







Pretty impressed with myself for creating this Stuttgart skyline…


Beauty and the Beast in 3D ❤




She loved this outfit she picked all by herself ❤



Stuttgart Opera House


New Palace




Whew! I warned you it was alot! Ha! Thanks for sticking it out with me. I promise I’m going to try to do better this month. For now, I’m going to try to contain my excitement as my mom gets here in 36 hours!! Total last minute surprise trip just in time for my birthday this weekend (and Easter the following) and I simply can’t think of a better gift than having her here. In many ways, it’s been a very challenging season for my whole family (will elaborate on that in due time…), so having her here for just a couple weeks is a really good thing for me…and for her. Can. Not. Wait. ❤

Heidelberg Hump Day

25 Mar

You know the best way to celebrate making it to the middle of the week? By taking a quick road trip to one of the prettiest cities in Germany, in my opinion anyway! And I do mean QUICK- we had to drop Neve at school at 8a and be back to pick her up at 2p, so we made the most of it for sure! Heidelberg is the coolest little big town (feels small, looks charming, actually pretty darn big) and is about halfway between Stuttgart and Frankfurt, so about an hour and a half, less if it weren’t for the God-awful traffic this country is known for. Grrrr.


Heidelberg sits along the Neckar River in southwest Germany and is the fifth largest city in Baden-Wurttemberg (our state here- the largest in Stuttgart). It has nearly 200,000 residents and is known worldwide for its university, as well as its castle. But look at the picture above- doesn’t it just look like a quaint small town?? That picture is actually only of ‘Old Town’- you can see a bit of ‘New Town’ in the distance…

Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, “Heidelberg Man” died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907. Scientific dating determined his remains as the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of worship were built on the Heiligenberg, or “Mountain of Saints”. Both places can still be identified. The Romans built and maintained permanent camps and a signal tower on the bank of the Neckar. They built a wooden bridge based on stone pillars across it. The camp protected the first civilian settlements that developed. The Romans remained until 260 AD, when the camp was conquered by Germanic tribes. Modern Heidelberg can trace its beginnings to the fifth century.


If you look closely at the top of the mountain, you can see the Roman signal tower (from the 5th century BC!) where the trees part…


Standing on the Old Bridge, the castle is in the distance on the left…


Alte Bruke, or Old Bridge, made of Neckar Valley sandstone, is one of the last large examples of a classical stone bridge. Built in the 1700s, the old Bridge Gate still stands and is a landmark of the area- it was once part of the medieval city wall.


Heidelberg Castle was originally built in 1214 and added to over the years with most of the current structures being added in the 16th century. The ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. Throughout its years in operation, the castle was used as both a residence by multiple kings and as a fortress. Also over the years, it had several severe destructions due to attacks, fires, bombs, and plain ‘ol time…Luckily, the majority of the castle underwent restorations in the early 1800s so we can at least get a taste of its splendor. It’s really a beautiful castle.


The grassy courtyards surrounding the castle were used for drying laundry and grazing farm animals.


Powder turret split by an explosion in the late 1600s and described in Mark Twain’s ‘A Tramp Abroad’ from 1880.


Gate was built in the 16th century and had a drawbridge just beyond…




Aside from the castle, Heidelberg is so darn pretty- the architecture, the colors, cobblestones, the squares, the green spaces…All set along the river. Even the ‘New Town’ is pretty as far as modern cities go. I definitely think I could live there 😉





Heiliggeistkirche, or Church of the Holy Ghost, is the tallest and most famous church in Heidelberg. Its foundation dates back to 1398. That’s a permanent farmer’s market around it.

So we covered alot of ground in just a few hours, right?! Our feet were hurtin’, but in a good kinda way ;). It even managed to wait until we got back in the car to rain! And before I  go, I’ll leave you with just a couple neat factoids about Heidelberg:

  • The first evidence of humans in Europe was found here (already told you that one up top!)
  • The city served as a Nazi stronghold during WWII- nearly all of the Jewish population was wiped out once Hitler came to power.
  • The Allies, however, did not target nor bomb Heidelberg because they wanted to use it as an Army garrison following the war due to its awesome infrastructure (Autobahn, river, and railways).
  • Heidelberg University is the oldest in German, and one of the oldest in Europe. It’s been teaching medicine for nearly 650 years. One of every five residents is a student.

Interesting stuff, huh? Hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend! We will drop Uncle Andy at the airport in the morning to make his trek home 😦 and then head to the park with friends for a little Easter Egg Hunt! Should be fun- fingers crossed for no rain! Jeez, I must be getting used to it over here if I pray for no rain rather than sunshine- I know better by now! Ha!




9 Aug

OK, so you know you’re a nerd when you’re anxious to get ‘home’ from a weekend getaway so you can write about the weekend getaway!  Ha!  But seriously, Heidelberg was that fabulous!  SUCH a beautiful, warm (not in a temperature sense, although that ended up being better than perfect, too!) city.  Check it out on the new ‘Maps’ page- it’s northwest of Stuttgart.  That being said, I’ll go ahead and warn you that this will most definitely be a picture-centric post! 🙂

What better way to start our first excursion than with a courtyard lunch overlooking the river?!  John got two appetithappens (appetizers)- marinated beef strips with mustard sauce and salad greens, and Bavarian Goulash that had grilled sausages over Spatzle (Swabian pasta).  Yes, he was in heaven- that boy loves his meat!  I had the Heidelberg Color Bowl- a ginormous salad of mixed greens, cabbage, grilled chicken, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions with homemade Heidelberg dressing.  YUM!

Perfect outdoor lunch in Old Town

The restaurant sign, which happened to be at the entrance to our hotel of the same name.

After lunch, we checked into our hotel.  We chose one of the smallest hotels in the city- a small Mom-n-Pop place with just 13 rooms.  Pets are welcome and free to roam about unleashed.  Max and Dulcie quickly attempted to befriend the resident Jack Russell Terrier (who we affectionately called ‘Frank’ during our stay, but actually have no clue what his name is), who quickly put the kibosh on that idea.  Our room was definitely the smallest we’ve ever stayed in- the double bed went wall to wall with just enough room down each side for you to turn sideways and crawl into bed.  The bathroom was the same- washing my hair in the shower, my elbows were touching the walls!  Ha!  But it was a bed, a shower, a roof, and even had a small TV, so it was perfect for what we needed!  Best of all?  The location definitely couldn’t have been beat- right at the base of the Old Bridge overlooking the Neckar River!

The bridge gate dates back at least to the 16th century, originally part of the city wall.  Just to the left of the arch, you can see a metal monkey sculpture holding a mirror- legend has it that this is to teach all people entering the city humility.

The 'Alte Brucke"

The bridge, which takes folks from the Old Town to the suburb of Neuenheim on the opposite shore, is made of red sandstone and the idea was to replace the former wooden structures, which were frequently destroyed because of high waters and ice movements. The first wooden bridge at this place was mentioned in the 13th century, written down in the chronicals.  This one was built in the mid 1700s.  The sculptures on the bridge represent the four most important rivers in the area: “Rhein,” “Neckar”, “Mosel” and “Donau.”

Crossing the Neckar River

On top of the bridge, facing northward.

And the other side...Heidelberg is on the right.

We found a hidden gem- OK, not so hidden since there were plenty of people there, but most were locals, so we’ll say ‘tourist hidden,’ which we all know means the best for anything!- in a lush, green riverside park.  It’s definitely safe to say that this was the pups’ favorite part of Heidelberg :).

Watching the boat traffic...Barges, row boats, catamarans...

Resting before we head back into town...

John found some wild blackberries along the way, so we stopped for a snack 🙂

Now, on to the most famous castle in the world, the Heidelberger Schloss (Heidelberg Castle)!  It sits high above the city, built on a plateau jetting out of the side of the Königstuhl mountain, overlooking the entire valley.  Even in ruins (mostly), it’s so majestic and imposing, yet made of a warm-toned, red brick (as opposed to cold, grey stones that I generally think of where castles are concerned) so it almost blends into the mountainside.

'Heidelberger Schloss'

The castle, here in its heyday, was popularized by artists as early as the 1400s!

The castle was originally built in the 1200s, then added to and renovated over the next few hundred years.  By the 1600s, the extravagant kings of the area transformed it from a traditional fortified castle into a luxurious palace.  But as years passed, the palace was repeatedly hit by lightning- yes, it kept getting struck over and over again!- and descended into disrepair.  By 1800, it was abandoned.

In the castle courtyard

The most intact building left of the castle

Castle Clock. How neat is that?!

Castle Courtyard...Ruins...

Most castles had a 'Great Barrel' where wine from around the region was stored. This was one of the largest and prettiest in Germany. It was used until the wood rotted to the point where leaking couldn't be controlled.

During WWII, the German National Pharmacy (apparently Germany was a big player in the advancements of chemistry and the development of modern medicine), was destroyed, so they decided to move into one of the remaining castle buildings.  For the next few decades, the Pharmacy operated from here and today, the site has been preserved as a museum.  So neat!

Where you would have picked up your prescription 🙂

The 'Mixing Room' with all the pestles and mortars. These are the kilns in the middle of the room.

Heading back up to the top, we wanted to get the kings’ view of the city below.  WOW!

The large church is city center- we'll get a little more up and close and personal a little further down 🙂

Back to that big church we saw in the distance a few pictures up…The Church of the Holy Spirit is the symbol of Heidelberg and marks the central plaza, where we stopped for a tea (me) and beer (John) after our trek back from the castle.  The plaza is huge, lined with shops and cafes, filled with tables, umbrellas, and LOTS of walkers (and pups!)- resting their weary feet like we were!

John says these plazas are his favorite part of Europe. I think it's probably that AND the beer 🙂

The church was built in the late 1200s, then added to and remodeled throughout the years to be used by both Catholics and Protestants.

Front of The Church of the Holy Spirit. Tallest steeple in the region.

One fun fact: around 1700, a wall was built right down the middle of the church so both groups- Catholics and Protestants, could use the building simultaneously!  No evidence of said wall today, but still such a grande sanctuary!

Ceiling detail...

Prayer Wall...there are handwritten prayers in all languages from around the world. We found this so moving. And of course, we added our own prayer.

Heading back to the hotel, we ambled in and out of shops, stopped to people watch (SO much fun over here, by the way!), and just take in the sights and sunshine…

Random street. Isn't it marvelous?!

Another random street...Yep, that's John and Dulcie walking ahead 🙂

Random plaza...

OK, and one final funny story before I go…So, we ate our big meal at lunch (remember the beef and Bavarian Goulash and Color Bowl…).  A few hours later, I stopped to check out a menu (ie. cross my fingers and hope for an English translation menu!) at a restaurant as we passed by.  No, some things never change- I think I will always be consumed with food regardless of time of day!

John said to me, ‘Oh, there’ll be no way I can eat dinner.’

I replied, ‘I didn’t mean eat now, I was just looking for later.’

‘Well even later, there just won’t be any room at all.  But it’s fine, I’ll have a beer while you eat.  Or at most, an appetizer.’

‘OK, suit yourself.’

A few hours later, we found a delicious traditional German dive restaurant.  Best part?  English Translation Menu!  SCORE!  I decided on another regional salad with mixed greens, ham, sheep’s milk cheese and pineapple with homemade balsamico.  Mmmm…John decided on a beer and slice of complimentary rye bread.  Ha!  Yeah right!  He chose the largest meal on the entire menu, the Castle Platter!  Pork chop, rump steak and 3 sausages (strung together to add that little bit of German flare!) all in gravy with sliced potatoes sauteed in bacon grease and a side salad (because it’s important to eat healthily!).  Best part?  He ate all of it!  Don’t judge 🙂

John's meal. We joked for the rest of the night, 'Hey, do you have anything bigger than the Castle Platter? I'm eating light.' 🙂

My salad...

Well, boys and girls, that concludes our tour of Heidelberg!  The pictures don’t begin to do it justice, but hope they at least give you an idea of what an awesome town it is!  Definitely a must stop on your next visit to Germany!  Back to Stuttgart now!  Goodnight from Heidelberg 🙂

As we closed our curtains at night. Beautiful city...

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