Church on the Lake of Fire! (Seriously)
Day 2: I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter, away to the window I flew like a flash, except there was absolutely nothing the matter & there weren’t any shutters nor sash & this isn’t a Christmas poem. It did feel exactly like Christmas though. Another glorious sunny day in Stuttgart Germany! The window in our room was huge & a section of it opens without a screen or anything getting in the way of gazing out at the graveyard headstones or the dead pigeon on the sidewalk below. If you turned the window handle horizontal then the window would swing right in just as it’s pictured. If you turned the handle vertical (with the handle up) then the window would just open at the top & rock inward at an angle. As far as I could tell this was how all the windows operated even way up on the 6th floor. I had it open whenever we were in the room.A delicious breakfast in the hotel again including lots of bacon & even more fruity strudel. They also offered different kinds of breakfast cereal, granola, eggs (cooked various ways), yogurt, cold cuts of meat, lots of bread (you sliced off the loaf yourself), & fruit. Seriously it was a legitimate restaurant buffet kind of breakfast. In the bottom of the picture is my black journal that I’ve used for the past 8 years, if only you could sit there & read all the juicy details in that volume.Aaron was off to his nerd conference again & I left the hotel immediately hitting the streets on foot. Again abandoning technology in favor of my reliable paper map. I had planned this destination at home weeks before we left thanks to Google Maps. I was looking for interesting things in Stuttgart within walking distance of our hotel & this interestingly U-shaped lake stood out. On it is St. John’s Church, which originally was built with a spire, but they left it off in the reconstruction after WWII. Walking the German streets all along the way I took time to look around. (Not a moment wasted!) I noticed that most of the houses or apartment buildings are 3 or 4 stories tall, white walls with red roofs & that a city block of these houses is built around a central green space. Often they have business on the ground floor & the people live above. Between these houses are skinny alleyways leading into the green spaces, parking, courtyard or all three, which sometimes has garbage cans or dumpsters there too. The alleyways have gates right next to the sidewalk & if they were open I would walk right inside. Yes, I am super curious actually.Once I was on the actual Feuersee (Fire lake) block I watched an older man come out of the cafe on the corner & make some strange noises as he got closer to the lake. I honestly thought he was crazy & made plans to steer clear until I saw the huge white swan swimming right toward him. It climbed up the bank in front of the man & pecked at any ducks nearby before snapping up everything the man dropped for it to eat. I imagined he must do that every morning when he opens the cafe. While watching him interacting with this gigantic swan & pretending not to watch, I also noticed other things swimming around in the lake water. Turtles! Yes, how did you know? Oh right the picture above. The lake was full of turtles. I sat on the stone steps opposite the church & watched the turtles for an embarrassing amount of time. Other people nearby were eating, playing with their dogs or whatever & sitting on actual benches.I like walking around things distantly (picture-wise) & then circling in right close up for the details. In the case of the church the distant pictures were impressive, but this close you can really see the gargoyles. The gargoyles were surprisingly dog-like, I loved the yellow lichen growing all over it. Even before having the rest of my adventures for the day I sent my Mom a picture text postcard of Saint John’s Church all reflective on the Fire lake. “So beautiful! So European!” she said when she woke up five hours later & saw it. There was an 8 hour time difference between us after all.While outside the church taking pictures (of everything ever) I heard a few things. There was traffic noise from the street across the pond, (with all the Mercedes buzzing around town, but less noise than I expected) I heard a German couple interacting with their toddler, a noisy group of college kids taking a break from class & nearer the church I heard organ music. It immediately reminded me of my Grandma Walker, she played the organ in church for years & would practice hymns for Sunday on the preceding non-Sunday days.I did not actually expect to get in through the beautiful wood doors with the impressive ironwork, but after watching an old lady walk right in I immediately followed her. The first things I saw were these two spiral staircases on each side of the entrance. I heard the organ music even louder in the stairwell so up I went. Unfortunately the door at the top was locked. A locked door really is the only thing keeping me out of anywhere here in Germany.I loved the colors the stained glass made on the floor & I may or may not have stared at it for way too long. Wandering around the niches of the church I found this cracked angel statue with a lute. I can only assume that it was damaged in the bombing & they left the white parts (just like the top of the spire) as a kind of memorial. I adore his cracked face. I could have taken a million pictures closer & closer of all those cracks, but that is probably just a half step too weird even for me.On the way out I dropped some Euro in the donation box. I checked my trusty paper map & saw a green space with some paths & that determined my next direction. Apparently curving paths through a green square on the map means an incredibly steep hill. I decided on my way up to this viewpoint that I would love to live in the very top of any of those red-roofed houses in the foreground. You can see the spire-less church there on the right that we just left.I continued up the steep, winding path & found these huge statues of Athena, Prometheus & Pandora. I loved this shot of Athena fiercely looking out over the city. I passed a long metal slide going down the hillside. Sadly I was already too tired (or too cynical) to walk down the hill I was already on to the slide & then climb up the top of the hill slide, just to slide back down that hill & then have to walk right back up the original hill. These were steep hills. Maybe next time. :) This vineyard was on the opposite side of the hill from Athena. Once I spied that two spire church & heard it ringing out wild bells I knew it was officially cathedral day.I continued up deeper into Karlshöhe park & I’m surprised (& not surprised) to find this scenic Biergarten at the very top. I sat at a table & soaked in another picturesque view. A ton of empty tables in the shade overlooking Stuttgart made me wish for ALL my friends & family (& heaps of food & drink) with me. Maybe just Bear-face. Where in the heck is he? Perhaps this mustachioed fellow knows.I ran down the never-ending staircase of doom, right into this metal man. He directed my attention to the house I will purchase immediately for my second residence in Stuttgart. All the houses & buildings have these metal blinds on the outside of the windows, on all floors. During one of the dinners we had with nerds from all over I mentioned the blinds & someone supposed they protected against vandalism. I speculated they might protect against windows being blown out, Aaron thought they would be great for blackout situations. It isn’t a common thing in Oregon. Anyone have any ideas?I followed the map down to my next church. Once the hilly winding streets brought me to my destination I sat outside & watched the sun disappear behind the spire high in the blue sky. This is Saint Maria’s Church. It was quite a lot bigger than the first church & the rose window looked particularly beautiful & I couldn’t wait to get a look at it from the inside. No waiting for old ladies, this time I just walked right in.More impressive ironwork on a wooden door. It reminded me of the blacksmithing class Aaron & I took together in May 2013. I remember exactly how hard it was to beat a heated piece of metal into a leaf shape. I can’t imagine doing it 38 times just for that one door.I was totally attracted to the modern-looking stained glass in this church. It reminded me of random stacks of books. More great light casting there on the windowsill. In this church you could pay into the black metal box & get a (really tall) candle to light & stick on a metal spike. There were quite a few more people in this church when I went in, so I decided against candle lighting for fun. Everything in this church was destroyed in WWII except the two spires. The really interesting thing about Saint Mary’s is that after the war they rebuilt the ceiling with wood. Along the aisle walls they had a series of mosaic stone portraits of Christ’s life. The cubist sort of abstract art was totally irresistible.The glorious brick archway at the very front of the church. I find bricks irresistible. After Saint Mary’s I wandered around for quite some time trying to find a subway station so I could get back to the hotel for some lunch or a nap, or both. After more than an hour I find out it’s closed for construction. (Curse you Österreichischer Platz!) The steps behind me lead to a pedestrian tunnel under a super busy street. I was curious about the metal slides down all the staircases everywhere. The more I thought about it the more I realized they had to be ramps for wheelchair use & not for kids or roller skates like I originally suspected.I tried to find a place for lunch, but succumbed instead to food cart ice cream on the street. Hazelnut & chocolate all the way! While I stood in line a group of college guys enjoyed their ice cream nearby. When one had finished he went to the little ice cream shaped garbage can to throw away his cup & spoon. While his friends (& I) looked on he struggled to figure out how to open the rounded pink & yellow plastic top of the garbage pail. It was obvious his friends were teasing him but it was all in German. I could only speculate that they thought his ineptitude with such a simple thing like a rounded garbage can might also indicate his ineptitude in other rounded areas, such as with women. Purely speculation of course.Here’s our Bear! Nerding it up with the best of the name-shield wearing nerds.