I always thought of Germany, and Europe in general, as masses of overpopulated cities. Not entirely accurate.
Wednesday I arrived at the Berlin Haptbahnhof (central train station) around 0230, expecting to take the train to Kiel. Only to find that… no trains were daparting for Kiel within the next six hours. Ok. Something went wrong somewhere in my internet planning. Shada (too bad). Then I saw an ICE (inner-city-express, the fastest and most comfortable trains) bound for Muncheon. So I got on, and traveled as far as Nurnburg. It’s a nice city in southern Germany, and I went and saw several impressive churches before eating an early lunch. Then I got back on the ICE heading back north, to check out an interesting stop I saw on the way down, which I arrived at around 1130.
Jena-Paradies (said Yaina Paradize). Should have called it Card’s Paradise. Thousand-foot forested hills surround the town. Started for the tallest hill and arrived ten minutes later a kilometer away and a third that up. Sweet view. I inadvertently stumbled across a system of well-maintained hiking trails. Apparently, Jena-Paradies is home to a huge National Park. Following the foot-paths, I came to an abandoned monastary further alond the sharp spine of the hill. Climbing the 116 spiraling stone steps of the old watchtower, I got a breath-taking view of the country-side. Three-sixty degree view for a five to ten miles in all directions. The crystal blue sky helped, extending visibility even further. 375 meters down plus the height of the tower is the town of Jena, and steep, forested hills intermixed with a few flowery meadows cover everything else. I could have died for a camera. But then, I think there are some things pictures can’t describe.
I spent the rest of the afternoon finding (and getting lost in the process) the views from the brows of several dozen more hills. Did a lot of running. Close to four hours worth. My feet still hurt. There are a lot of oak trees in Germany. Maple as well, which actually makes up a lot of the undergrowth. Seven hours later I finally descended back down to the city (having relocated myself on my mental map).
That was, without question, my best day in Germany. All the citys, cars, churches, museums, and monuments don’t hold a candle to the awesomeness of the German countryside. I’m kind of sad none of my classmates got to see it. Maybe next year…