"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Göttingen: Winning for churches-per-capita

Hello once again after another long(ish) silence!  The weekend is drawing to a close one more time, having been full of productivity and responsibleness.  But I can't even pretend to complain, because on Wednesday morning I will be off on my first Big German Adventure!  Erfurt and Weimar, with day trips to Gotha (or maybe Eisenach instead?) and Buchenwald.  Six days, five nights -- and I will have an actual, real-live travel buddy joining me on Friday!  Germans get a 4-day weekend because of Easter, so a good friend and I decided to make the most of it.

Of course, nothing says "get off your ass and write a freaking blog post that's so overdue it's getting silly" like having another adventure just on the horizon, which of course will need to be blogged as well.  So without further ado, here's a little day trip I decided to take a couple weeks ago, to the very cute nearby town of Göttingen.

Göttingen is only 20 minutes away by ICE, which means that it was a deliciously astonishing 35 minutes between walking out my front door and touching down in the Göttingen Bahnhof.  That's less time than it takes me to travel between client sites in Kassel!

There's not exactly a ton of historical goodness in Göttingen, but there are a fair few churches (natch), and the town itself is utterly charming.  I was blessed with some pretty perfect weather, so picked up a map/walking tour at the Rathaus and set out for a day of wandering.

Gänseliesel (Goosegirl) Fountian, paying homage to one of my favorite fairytales
Inside the Rathaus
St. Johannis, early 14th c.

I'm realizing as I do this that there might not be a terrible lot of text to this post.  "I walked from this place to that place, avoided fellow tourists, sharks, and giggling university students as best I could" is pretty much going to be the entirety of the transition from one pretty picture to the next.  That said, here are some photos of this really cute town!


I checked out St. Michael's, Göttingen's first Catholic church (18th c.), but it was unimpressive, so I doubled back and checked out St. Jacobi's, which certainly was.

Loved the chevrons on the columns
I wanted to take a look at Göttingen's one museum, the Stadtmuseum, but it was closed for some reason.  Oh well.  It really was to gorgeous of a day to spend it inside.  Instead, I walked up to see another church, St. Albani's, just to throw some novelty into the day.  But the outside was meh and I couldn't get inside because they were rehearsing a concert or something, so it was on to the Botanical Gardens.

The gardens were quite pretty and peaceful, but Spring had yet to truly "spring" at that point so things were kind of bare.  Another month  or so from then (hey, that would be about... now), the I imagine the gardens would be beautiful.

It was getting to be way past lunchtime, so I walked around looking for somewhere promising.  The place I picked was off the beaten path a little and delightfully run-down, with crumbling mortar and colorful outside tables.  I sat... and waited... and eventually went inside to order as I had not seen anything resembling a member of the staff going on 15 minutes.  There was kind of a language barrier fun situation, but I got a beer ordered.

(Almost immediately I realized I had stumbled into what was well and truly a very local bar, and so managed to spare myself the awkwardness of asking for food. This, btw, is exactly why I love traveling by myself.  Pretty much any travel companion I could think of would have been put off by this seedy dive, and if that hadn't done it, the lack of service and then lack of menu would have meant we'd be moving on about now.  As for me, I was perfectly happy to postpone lunch and just sit in the sunshine for a little bit, rest my legs and sip on a liquid brunch [liquid breakfast had been coffee on the train]).

Except when my beer came it was... sweet.  I realized that I had, either through miscommunication or spite, been served a Radler, a German concoction of half beer and half Sprite.  This was decidedly not what I had ordered.  I suppose "Krombacher" could be mistaken for "Radler"?  Maybe???  Not really.  But all the same.  I had my refreshment, and I can add "Radler" to my list of "German things I have tried once and therefore never need to try again".  It was still very excellent to sit in the sun and have a rest, and they were really nice to me outside of the beer thing.

Post-(half)libation, I walked down to see St. Marien's.  For real, I am just plain running out of not-another-church jokes here.

More of adorable Göttingen
Inside St. Marien's
"The old gate to the new city"
 The last big item on my Göttingen checklist was the Bismarckhäuschen, the "student home" of none other than Otto von Bismark.

You're supposed to be able to go inside, but it was closed despite the fact that it was supposed to be open.  Seriously, is this the norm for all travelers, or am I just special?  :)

So very, very time for lunch that was now probably also going to be dinner.  I wanted to splurge at this steakhouse housed inside a famous old building, but when I walked in there wasn't a staff member to be seen and only one table was filled.  It looked... pricey.  Very, very empty, and pricey.  I made my escape and ended up at Meyer's, a Lonely Planet recommended place, that I had walked by earlier because it looked very boring, but inside it was actually quite cute and they had a huge outside terrace.  I asked if I could sit outside, and they graciously sat me at the last free table, not even making a face at my single-person-self taking up a valuable four-top.

I got a beer, a real beer this time, and roast beef with fried potatoes, which was simply heavenly.

I am always so amused by the perfunctory German "salad", hiding meekly in the background
And that was pretty much it for Göttingen.  On my way back to the train station, I stopped in at another LP recommendation, Monster, and had a glass of sekt, or German sparkling white wine.  The service was pretty glacial however, and not much was happening inside or out.  It was only 6:30ish though, so maybe things pick up later.

Oh yeah -- I can't leave you without at least mentioning the Göttingen bicycle ocean.

Verdict?  Göttingen is pretty much the cutest damn little place ever.  The weather made a huge difference in the day -- if it had been cold, or rainy, or hot, I probably wouldn't have had a very good time.  As it was, it was nothing but pure pleasure to walk around for hours, taking pictures and exploring.  Dinner at Meyer's was an unqualified success, I can recommend them.  Overall, an extremely pleasant day-well-spent.

As always, stay tuned.  New adventures, travel mistakes, and awkward embarrassments are just around the corner!

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