I haven't posted anything in a while.. my apologies. Life has been very routine here as of late. Turns out living in Germany is more or less the same as living in the US! Who woulda thought?
So to mark the end of our intensive language prep classes, someone decided to organize an outing to Schwetzingen Schloss. Now what they seem to have forgotten is that this particular 'castle' (palace would be more accurate, as it was designed along the lines of a French baroque to rococo palace) was designed as a summer home, and is now predominantly gardens. Yes, gardens. It rains here almost every day, and the temperatures are in the 30's. But apparently someone thought that a huge garden in the middle of winter would be a good plan, so off we went.
Schwetzingen is about a 30min bus ride from Heidelberg through a lot of farming land. The last time I saw this area, the fields were covered in snow. This time everything was muddy--not nearly so picturesque.
The palace, much to my surprise, is actually right in the city as opposed to the Heidelberg Schloss which is up on a hill. As we were walking up to the entrance it began to rain. We were less than impressed...
The front of the place, especially now when all the plants are dead, is less than spectacular. Combine this with the cold and the rain, and we were starting out with bad feelings about the day.
But, it's not as though we had to pay anything extra for this trip... so might as well give it a chance!
Inside was much nicer! The whole area is apparently built to be an exact circle.
Note the weird cones in the background? Normally, those would be statues. But since it's winter...they were all covered up. No, really. Sigh.
Here's a look back at the place showing even more clearly what I mean...
Here's a shot from about halfway back in the courtyard area. This place is HUGE. Also, very dead. At this point the tour guide informed us that Mozart had stayed here once when he was seven, and gave a piano recital. I wanted to laugh a little, remembering what my parents had said about Austria and the way that every place wanted to be connected to Mozart.
Interestingly enough, there are three different temples here, all built in different styles. The smallest was this one, which I believe was for Diana? But I could be wrong.
(Oh, remember that whole "everything is dead" bit? This is the gate you walk through to reach this first temple. Which would normally be covered in plants.)
There was a statue in here. I would have enjoyed looking at it, but the tour guide was keen to move on.
On the way to the next one, we saw this field, which we were informed used to be a garden for food...but has recently been planted with Japanese cherry trees. I imagine it'll be beautiful in a couple months when they're blooming..
And the paths are all lined with trees. Big, leafless trees.
The second is a Mosque! Surprise! Although it isn't a traditional Mosque.
There were several of these very melancholy lions around the place.
The tour guide was saying something about how this Mosque was supposed to be dedicated to people of any and all religions, which struck me as odd. Perhaps I was misunderstanding over and over again?
We went inside, but much to our general sadness... it wasn't heated.
The arabic text over the door apparently reads something like 'one god', which our guide was trying to say could mean any one god. Which seems to go against every monotheistic religion in existence, just by definition.
Out back, there was a pond... which would have been pretty (say it with me now) if we weren't in the middle of winter.
This swan had come closer when we went back outside. One of the guys was trying to pet it, and it was puffing its wings up. I kept hoping it'd actually take one of his fingers off, but no such luck.
So here we have the last of our temples, the Temple of Apollo (I think..) This one was pretty nice. We walked up through a very claustrophobic stone tunnel lit entirely by vents from the surface.
The guide commented that the designer was a prude.
Here's a shot looking back from the temple..
And here's a shot back up at it.
See that thing in the foreground?
It's a statue honoring the boar hunt, which is apparently especially dangerous?
This thing freaked me out a little.
There was more there, but after a while the cold and wet started making photography unappealing. Is it worth visiting? Yes. But visit it in May or June. I'd like to go back when it'd actually be worth while.
A bit of strangeness around Schwetzingen...
They have very specific reserved parking spots here..
And this, this is creepy.