Monday, November 12, 2018

Porsche Museum, Stuttgart, Germany

Ok, ok... enough of the castles, Mom!  Let's go check out some really fast cars at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart!

The Porsche Museum is very kid friendly.  In fact, kids under 14 are free with an adult.  Adult ticket prices are 8 Euro.  They actually have a family ticket for 20 Euro, which is a better deal when you consider that includes parking in the garage and the kids got cool Porsche hard cover work books. Audio guides are also free!  When you first enter the exhibition, you get to see the VERY FIRST Porsche 356 Number 1 Roadster from 1948!  It was the original, very first vehicle every made by Porsche!

They have a really big race car exhibition right now called, "70 Years of the Porsche Sportscar."  In total, there's about 80 cars in the entire museum.

As you move through the exhibit, you are taken through the history of the Porsche sports car.  Some cars are actual race cars, others are street legal.  Did you know that the Volkswagen Beetle was actually developed and first made by Ferdinand Porsche!?

"What model is your tractor?"  "Oh, I've got the Porsche!  It goes 0 to 30 in only 36 seconds!"

I decided I want to race this one on the Autobahn.

The above car didn't have the classic Porsche plaque.  Instead, it had a sticker because that made it more aerodynamic.

This looks like Thor's helmet.  Interestingly, 70% of all Porsche's ever made still have the ability to be driven due to the care that Porsche enthusiasts put into their cars.

Who put the kid on the ceiling?

My very favorite movie of all time is Real Genius.  This Porsche reminded me of Kent's car in that movie - even though I know he really drove a yellow Citroen!

Am I right?  Am I right?

About halfway around the floor, they have little bean bag chairs that we all insisted on sitting in.

Grant looks really serious here, checking out this 2000 era Porsche.

EEEEK!  My favorite car in all of the land!  It's Sally Carrera from Cars, Lightning McQueen's girlfriend!

The best part of this, which I hadn't known, is that Sally has a "tramp stamp" tattoo on the back of her spoiler!  Even though I've seen the Cars movies a dozen times with Grant, I totally didn't remember this.

The Porsche museum is very interactive.  Here they got to choose their virtual car and listen to various aspects of that particular car, such as revving the engine, listening to sounds of the doors closing, and turning on the blinkers.  

You even get a chance to sit in a Porsche (or three).  I chose the 718 Boxter S.  The leather is SO soft. This one retails for about $75,000.

They even have a VR game you can play for free!  Todd and the kids all played (I just watched.)

Who was the best driver of the group?  Naturally it was Grant.  All those video games are paying off!

Meanwhile, Todd struggled a bit.  He said he kept getting dizzy!  It was so funny watching them crash!

Mommy, we're just gonna take the Porsche for a spin.  That's cool, right?

Grant, driving along, the wind in his hair.

The architecture of the Porsche Museum, which was opened in 2009, is really something else.  It looks like it's hovering over the ground!

As we were leaving the museum, we saw these Porsche's being launched into space!  Up, up and away!

Until next time Porsche Museum!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Narrowest Street in the World! (Reutlingen, Germany)

Now this is a superlative we need to make a stop for!  The narrowest street in the world, as certified by Guinness!  I feel like I've been in a few that have been super close (Mykonos!) but Todd nearly got stuck in this one, so I feel like they're probably right.  This street is in the town of Reutlingen, which is about 30 minutes south of Stuttgart.  We had to stop for lunch anyway, so why not check off another superlative?

Let's talk about what makes this a "street" though.  Just because it has a name?  No one really uses this street except that there's value in a superlative.  

This won't be a very long post because... well... what you see is what you get as it's only 12 and a half feet long.  Spreuerhofstrasse was "constructed" in 1727 after a big fire destroyed much of the city of Reutlingen in 1726.  Leaving some space in between buildings was thought to perhaps deter a fire from spreading.

At it's widest (on this end) the "street" is 19.7 inches wide.  At it's narrowest on the other end, it's 12.2 inches wide.  Interestingly, one of the walls is leaning, and if it continues to do so, it could make the "street" impassable. If that happens, the street could lose it's Guinness World Record status.

Here I am going through!  (Am I more than 12.2 inches wide?  Wait.  Don't answer that!)

In 1820, a fella from the town hall decided to make this a street, rather than an alley or passageway.  At one point, Todd was going through and he said, "I'm stuck!"  (No worries, he was just kidding!)

We can check off another super cool superlative from the list!

Until next time, Reutlingen

Lichtenstein Castle, Lichtenstein, Germany

I love castles.  I love the history behind them, the good and the bad.  So I pretty much forced my anti-castle children into a weekend full of castle FUN!  Our second stop on our castle tour was Schloss Lichtenstein, which is also south of Stuttgart.

There's a small parking lot at the castle, and for a couple of Euros, you can park right at the entrance.  This knight was carved out of an old tree!

Be careful walking up the somewhat steep walkway up to Schloss Lichtenstein if it's the autumn because the wet leaves make it a bit slippery!

The previous structure wasn't even a castle. It was actually an old hunting lodge.  There had previously been a castle here since as far back as the 1100s, but in 1802, King Frederick I of Wurttemberg acquired the castle, tore it down and put up a hunting lodge in it's place.

The word "Lichtenstein" translates to "shining stone."  The stone used to build this castle was very light in color, hence the name.

In 1826, the author Wilhelm Hauff wrote a novel titled, "Lichtenstein" which inspired King Frederick's cousin Count Wilhelm von Urlach to purchase the property from the king in 1837.  He used the same foundation that had been put in back in 1388 and rebuilt in the Gothic Revival style as the Count was very into Medieval history.

This beautiful castle was completed in 1842 and became the home of the Dukes of Urach.  It's still owned by the Dukedom (the current Duke of Urach is Wilhelm Albert) but it's not the Duke's primary residence.  It stands precariously on the edge of the mountain about 820 feet above the valley below (2,680 feet above sea level.)

Lichtenstein Castle is one of the more physically beautiful castles of Germany.  It's often called "Neuschwanstein's Little Brother."

The outer bailey (not even kidding!) building was also built in the 1850s.  I know it's trite, but I love half timbers.

Try to time it with good weather, because the views are incredible out over the Echaz valley, overlooking the town of Lichtenstein.

Are they trying to look up under girls skirts here???  Creepy gnomes!

These buildings are a bit newer and were built around 1900.  They now house the apartments of the current Duke.

I don't know why, but I got a huge kick out of this!  A rusted (?) metal squirrel riding along the walls of Lichtenstein Castle!

This bridge was kind of terrifying. It actually slopes up.  It was kind of damp, but it has raised "stairs" to step on as you walk up so you don't slip.  And don't look down, especially to the right!

Todd overlooking the Echaz Valley.

The real stars of the Bailey Planet, ready to visit Lichtenstein Castle.

The real photographic gems come from the point that they call Luginsland.  You really get a sense of how this castle is literally built right into and onto the mountain.

This was the old lodge that was in place until its demolition by King Frederick I of Wurttemberg in 1839.  Notice the bridge to the right and the original foundation of the castle built in the late 1300s.

Photo by user: Andreas Praefcke - Hauptstaatsarchiv Stuttgart, HStAS GU 99 Nr 399 a, Public Domain,

This panorama spreads from Wilhelmstower over to Luginsland, with Augustentower behind it.

Obligatory picture of us in front of Lichtenstein Castle.

Come on!  Isn't this one of the most beautiful and incredibly cool castles you've ever seen???

One more wider view, showing the late fall leaves.  It's honestly one of the most visually stunning castles I've seen.

Tiny cars in the valley on Route 313 look even smaller than ants!

Sharp cliffs define the edge of the Echaz Valley.  Look at that super sharp turn on Route 313 to the left.  We took that road when we left.  That was fun!

Augusta's tower is one of four named for the daughters of Count Wilhelm (the original Duke of Urach).  This one in particular houses the historical canons.

The canons were really neat - look in the far back at the tiny baby cannons!

After strolling the grounds, we were able to enter the actual castle for our German language tour.  Once again, photographs were not allowed in the castle on this tour, so this was the only picture I got from across the bridge.

So thanks to the World Wide Inter-Googles, I can show you a few pictures of the inside of the castle.  The first room you visit is the Armory, where you can see an actual part of the "light stone" that makes up the mountain that the castle sits on. (Also: another baby cannon!)

This room was known as the Ancestral Hall.  A cool story about this room is that there is a mirror with a bullet hole in it, which sits on the opposite wall from this ceramic fireplace.  At the end of World War II, the castle was shot at by us (the Allies) from down in the valley.  It went in through the window, off of this ceramic fireplace and planted itself into the mirror on the opposite wall.  They never bothered to remove it!

The Knights Hall is the largest room in the castle (and it's not very big at that!)  It's called Knights Hall for the ten Swabian knights that are carved into the wood panels on the walls.  You can see a picture of the original Duke Wilhelm on the left wall, when he was 26 years old.  Above him, there is a "golden grill" which guests would hear music played through during dinners and dances.  A band would not fit in the room with so many people, so they played upstairs and the music sent through this grill sounded as clear as if the band were in the room themselves.

The castle has a couple of other really neat rooms such as the Hunters Drinking Parlour (filled with a "sizable collection of historical drinking vessels.")  The Castle Chapel is also an impressive room, where the family would celebrate Sunday mass.  

Once we left with the tour group, you get a nice view of Luginsland and the Augustentower from the bridge.

Before we left, we took another trip over to Luginsland to take a few more pictures of this insanely beautiful castle.

Until next time, Lichtenstein Castle!

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