iiiiiAugust ii September ii October ii November

November 18 - Karlsruhe, Germany

After a wonderful buffet breakfast at the Ibis Hotel in Dresden I was back on the train. First stop today is Leipzig, where I have but two hours to take a quick look around and take in the art museum. Got into town without a map, and basically headed straight for the center of the city. I simply asked people along the way for directions to the gallery - Museum der Bildenen Kunst - until I finally found it. It was a small gallery, in comparison to the great museums of Frankfurt, Munich and Koln, but I wanted to see two paintings by Martin Schongauer and Caspar David Friedrich. I kept looking at my watch, as I had so very little time. Made it back to the train station in time, and ventured forth towards Nurnberg.

I was looking forward to Nurnberg as it is not only the city of my all time favorite artist - Albrecht Durer - but is also a beautiful old city with many wonderful old churches and a grand castle overlooking the city. Nurnberg is also known for its world famous Christmas Market - the Christkindlesmarkt. I made my first stop at the tourist office to procure the usual city map - gathered my feeble wits, oriented myself and made note of the time. Next train from Nurnberg was in about four hours. I plan to head back to my home base in Karlsruhe tonight.

First stop on my city tour was the art gallery - Germanisches National Museum - to see more of the great old paintings by the German masters. While I enjoy art in general, my passion is paintings from the renaissance of northern europe - Durer, Cranach, Holbein, van Eyck, van der Weyden and Altdorfer. Nurnberg, home town of the very influential Durer, was a center of art and learning in the middle ages, and thus a very prosperous city. While the museum is not well known, I always enjoy seeing the old paintings, many of which are by some of the lesser known and often unknown artists - this medieval style of religious painting has always appealed to me. I breath deep and wander through the museum in euphoria.

From the museum I wandered through the cobblestone streets of old Nurnberg, slowly working my way to the Durer Haus. Enroute I passed through the old market place, where they are starting to set up the booths for the Christmas Market. I recall coming here as a very small child, and have always wanted to return. As in America, Christmas has become more commercial and lost some of the "magic" of season here in Germany. It is also quite warm, for this time of year, and while I sense the time of year, something is lacking - maybe its like so many other stops along the way - wonderfully romantic when you are with someone (the one you love), but as a solo-hiker, it becomes a bit melancholic. It is all - do not get me wrong - quite wonderful!

I had hoped to visit the grave of Durer at the city cemetery, but the time of day - mid evening - prevented me from this, as it was quite dark and the cemetery was closed. Payed my humble respects at the Durer Haus and made my way up to the fortress style castle, the Kaiserburg, which has become the symbol of Nurnberg. From high on the hill I took in a panoramic view of Nurnberg - very nice! Alas, it was time to make my way back to the train station. This hectic pace is beginning to take its toll. Each of the cities I have seen along the way demand a day or two at least, and I am zooming through like a Japanese tourist. While I seek only the museums and market places along the way, some day I'd like to return and take my Texas time - as opposed to this New York minute. It is all so beautiful, even when you try to stuff it into a thimble.

Made it to Karlsruhe around 11:00 that night. I will rest here tomorrow and try to make plans for my last train adventure - south / southwest towards Munich and Vienna, Austria. Maybe this time I will keep it simple, so as to actually experience the cities. While I have been to Vienna on two other occaisions, I always return. I have been dreaming of Vienna.