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Morning in another new town! Though we're only here in Regensburg for one night, so we need to repack and check out straight after breakfast.
It's now after breakfast, which was had in the 14th century chapel on the first floor with a view of the cathedral through impressive hexagonally leadlight glass windows. The breakfast wasn't as good as the others, with no hot choices and what looked like tinned fruit salad instead of hand made. But it was not bad really, and the muesli came in two types: chocolate enhanced or more normal, so that was good. I filled up on two big bowls of the plainer muesli, yoghurt, extra dried fruit, and some of the fruit salad, while Michelle had the muesli and a roll and rye bread with Nutella.
Now the bells of the Dom opposite are calling the faithful to Sunday prayer at the 09:00 service, and crowds are filing in. Our first stop though after we check out in a minute is the house of the great astronomer and mathematician Johannes Kepler.
We have just put on a load of laundry here in a new city, immediately after arriving. The plan is to get our clothes clean again and then go in search of dinner.
After breakfast, we checked out and left our bags at the hotel before heading to Kepler's house. The Lonely Planet said it opened at 10:00, but a sign on the door said 10:30, so we killed the time by taking a stroll along the bank of the Danube in the morning light. It sounds romantic, but the first half of the walk on the western side of the Steinerne Brücke was an obstacle course of broken glass, presumably left by late night revellers who used the bank as a party spot. Passing under the bridge led to the much more seemly east side where the Historische Wurstküchl had open-air tables on the riverbank and there were benches to sit on and admire the view.
Sunday morning beer drinkers
Some men in lederhosen, braces, and feathered caps were sitting down to enjoy a Sunday morning beer. Hey, why not? Michelle sat down on a bench while I snapped some shots. When I joined her, there was a duck standing just a couple of metres away. It didn't move when a jogger passed by within kicking distance. This duck was made of stern stuff. I took some close ups and it never flinched once.
We returned to Kepler's house at 10:30 and were there as the woman opened the door. She sold us tickets and we went upstairs to explore the house where this famous astronomer and mathematician had lived for many years - the street the house is on is now named Keplerstraße in his honour. We navigated the old wooden interior carefully; I almost banged my head on the same beam over the stairs that Kepler must have bumped his head on many times (wow!). We saw some of his furniture and several of the books he wrote in their original 18th century editions, as well as several letters written by Kepler and some members of his immediate family. There was a telescope he'd owned and a bunch of other period astronomy instruments as well as some other bibs and bobs like sundials, perpetual calendars made of bronze, globes, celestial spheres, armillery spheres, sextants, and so on. There were also a couple of busts and statues of Kepler and a modern interactive display illustrating his three famous laws of planetary motion. Although small and dark, the house had a lot of character, with original doors and locked safe things set into a couple of walls, a chunky wooden staircase, a tiled floor that tilted unevenly in a disorienting, almost Escheresque way, and tiny windows. There was also a heavy wooden cabinet with a bronze water tank in it, with a spigot shaped like a fish. I turned it on, but no water came out - presumably Kepler had turned the very same knob himself many times. I guess it worked for him.
Johannes Kepler's house
Before leaving I left a message in the visitor's book and we chatted briefly to the woman at the front desk, explaining that I'd studied astronomy, so the place was extremely interesting to me.
We left the house and walked up Keplerstraße, past a house that some other members of his family had lived in - his parents or grandparents or something - and to the Brückturm tower on the Steinerne Brücke. I was expecting to pay €2 each to get in, but one ticket was enough for both of us - I think she said it was half price today. We climbed the claustrophobic stairs up the narrow tower, stopping briefly at each level to look at the historical displays. On the third floor was the clockwork for the clocks on the south, east, and north faces of the tower. The original had been replaced by newfangled gearing and atomic clock synchronised pulses so the 12th century clocks kept absolutely perfect time. That's one thing we've noticed here in Germany - there are numerous clocks on all sorts of public buildings, from new to medieval (mostly the older ones, in fact), and every single one keeps absolutely perfect time. We've yet to see a clock here anywhere as much as a minute out.
Clock on Brückturm tower
While digressing on things peculiar here in Germany, there is another item of note. Jet contrails. Any time you look up there are one or two long contrails scriven across the blue sky, sometimes several. We noticed this on our first day in Berlin, and it's been true every day since. Of course we are in the middle of Europe and one presumes there is a lot of air traffic going back and forth the whole time, with planes flying to and from distant destinations at high altitude over Germany. But it's strange to us, because that just doesn't happen in Sydney, and our skies are blissfully contrail-free. I have to say, these contrails spoil the sky and I feel sorry for all these Europeans whose skies are perpetually scarred by them.
Back to Regensburg, and after leaving the tower we popped into the Historische Wurstküchl to see about getting a take away bratwurst in a bun. The Lonely Planet said you could get such, but we didn't see it on the menu posted on the wall outside the kitchen, inside which we could see women turning hundreds of sausages over a fire. All the menu items were various combos of sausages and sauerkraut on plates for the people sitting at the tables. One guy walked into the kitchen and Michelle decided we should follow him. One of the cooks stuck a couple of sausages in a roll and gave it to him, and he left, munching happily. Clearly this was the procedure for getting the take away. I prepared to ask for the same thing in German, but the woman stuck more sausages in a roll and handed it to me before I could say a word! Michelle beat a hasty retreat, lest she end up with a bratwurst roll as well, while I paid €1.90 for mine. I squeezed on some mustard from a greasy squeeze bottle and departed. The sausages were absolutely delicious, and the mustard was very sweet, almost like honey with mustard seeds in it.
Then we wandered around the centre or Regensburg for a while more, exploring aimlessly along its narrow cobbled streets. We steered towards the major remaining sight, the Alte Kappele, a fairly plain church on the outside, but with awesome gold rococo filigree work and gorgeous paintings on the ceiling and walls inside. We could see them from the rear of the church, but the main pew and aisle areas were fenced off by iron gates, so I had to poke my camera lens through to get some shots.
Wandering some more, we stopped for a late lunch at an Italian cafe on Neupfarrplatz. Michelle had a tomato/mozzarella toasted sandwich and I had a thing with salad and bacon on toasted bread which was really good. We'd noticed places serving monster ice cream concoctions in huge dessert glasses, each containing several scoops of ice cream, fruits, sauce, whipped cream, and wafers, and hundreds of people ordering and devouring these vast desserts. They looked great, but enormous. And while we were eating lunch, we noticed not a single other customer there eating anything but ice creams. Not one to buck a trend, I ordered a dish made of cherry and banana ice cream, cherries, sliced banana, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. It was filling and delicious.
Cherry and banana sundae
Our final stop was to take another visit to the vast cathedral to take more shots of details of the exterior, including gargoyles shaped like dogs, pigs, a dragon, and a screaming woman. We went inside again to admire the stained glass once more, and to check again if we'd really found the statue of the smiling Angel of the Annunciation and Mary we'd tried to spot before. It wasn't clear if the angel we'd found was really an angel (or male or female for that matter) with no wings to distinguish it. We didn't find any better candidate though.
Young couple in a niche of the Dom wall
Another meandering route and a final look at the Danube River brought us back to our hotel, where we picked up our bags and schlepped them back to the bahnhof for our trip to Munich. We arrived with plenty of time to spare and Michelle explored the bakery and supermarket there, then I went in to the supermarket to buy us some "boring" chocolate. I found a 71% cocoa version of a 100 gram square block branded Ritter, and it only cost €0.69 - very cheap. I presume this is a mass-produced Cadbury-like brand here, possibly what the lady in Bamberg thought we meant we were asking for amidst her immaculately presented assortment of fine hand-made truffles and fondants. Anyway, the Ritter was quite good and we shared a few squares.
The train to Munich was a regional express, so no reserved seating again. We scrambled with everyone else to score a seat when the train pulled in, and managed to get two seats on the shady side, though facing backwards. Unfortunately, the luggage rack on this train was inexplicably tighter than on the previous RE and we couldn't squeeze either large bag up there. I stuffed one under our seat and nursed the other on my lap all the way to Munich - 1.5 hours worth. It wasn't too bad though, especially since other people were lucky to find seats at all.
We arrived at Munich Hauptbahnhof on time at 18:15 and made our way directly to our hotel to make the 18:30 arrival time I'd rung ahead to tell them from Regensburg station. We're careful not to incur the wrath of jilted hotel receptionists who decide after 18:00 that we're not coming and give our room to someone else, as the Lonely Planet warns can happen here in Germany. We checked in to Hotel Brunnenhof on the dot of 18:30, a nondescript hotel amidst several blocks of probably similar establishments in a semi-seedy area of town immediately south of the Hauptbahnhof filled with neon and fast food outlets.
We asked the reception lady in a mix of halting German and English if there was a laundry nearby for washing our clothes. She looked dismayed as she said they'd be closed on Sunday and maybe Monday too (Monday being the May Day public holiday). Not really believing her, we packed our dirty clothes into plastic bags and went for a walk, finding the SB City Waschcenter on Paul-Heyse-Straße to be open until 23:00. We did a load of washing for €4, with detergent included in the price, then spent some time running a spinning machine and then three tumble drier cycles until everything was dry enough. Michelle had to go next door for change for more drier tokens after the first drying, getting it at a kebab place. On the way home, we popped in to the same place so I could get a döner kebab to eat on the walk home as a quick dinner - Michelle didn't feel hungry at all after dried pears and chocolate on the train after our late lunch.
We are now retiring early for the night, ready to launch into an exploration of Munich tomorrow.
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