Sunday, September 24, 2023

City Break - Esslingen

Esslingen, Germany. Friday/Monday, 22/25-September-2023.

We had a fantastic weekend in Esslingen near Stuttgart, a part of Germany that we knew nothing about. With huge thanks to Markus and Manuela for inspiring us to visit the area and giving up their time to act as great local guides.

We first met Markus and Manuela when they came to Salento parkrun whilst on holiday in Puglia. Markus is one of the Run Directors for Neckarufer, Esslingen parkrun and was encouraging people to visit. 

Mary had got out her spreadsheet earlier in the year and worked out a plan whereby we could complete our parkrun alphabet challenge (doing a parkrun starting with each letter of the alphabet, except X) plus Mary's 50th different parkrun location and Jetsetter (parkruns in five countries) all at the same time at Neckarufer!

In parkrun circles visiting 100 different locations is known as a Cowell (after the first person to complete the feat) and 50 events is a half Cowell (or Cow). Before the start Markus and Manuela presented Mary with appropriate bovine headband, and as you can see she already had the alphabet leggings.

After parkrun and breakfast with the locals at a nearby cafe it was back to the apartment for a shower and then some normal touristing with Markus and Manuela. The old town of Esslingen has many beautiful buildings, all so well preserved.

Apparently buildings were taxed on their floor area at ground level so each of the higher floors were built a bit bigger.

There is a huge long staircase that runs above the vineyards up to a mansion at the top and a view point. We, of course, had to climb all the stairs to the top of this hill.

View from the top looking over the vineyards to the Swabian Alps on the horizon.

Selfie at the top. This lovely tower had been used as a restaurant / venue but it is sadly currently vacant.

Back in the town, we had stopped for a beer when the furries arrived! We think they were there as general jollity as part of the cultural activities that were going on that weekend.

More furries! They seemed to be having fun and entertaining the children at the same time.

The river Neckar and its many tributaries and canals wind through the old town. This was one of the most decorated bridges with the imposing towers of the Stadtkirch in the background.

Ealry Sunday morning we visited the Stadtkirch which was simple without much in the way of decoration.

The organist was rehearsing early Sunday morning, possibly for a recital that was scheduled for that afternoon, so we sat for a while and got a free organ recital.

Our hosts took us to Tiefenhöhle, a fantastic set of bat caves where you go down and down very steep stairs. At the lowest point for visitors we were 40m underground although the cave continues at least another 40m below

There were regular information points with audio guides in different languages explaining the origin of the caves, the story of their discovery and what we were looking at geologically speaking.

After the caves we went Blautopf a local beauty spot where the water from the caves runs off into this blue pool and the start point for our walk.

The idyllic setting of the blue pool.

Our hosts then took us on a hike through gorgeous woodland paths to a hill top rock, a castle and a grotto. Mary's earworm at this point was 🎵 Where you lead, I will follow 🎵.

The path was mostly gently upwards through delightful deciduous woodland. My favourite kind of countryside.

It was a bit of a scramble but we just had to go right to the top of the rock.

View of Hohengerhausen castle from the rock. It looked pretty impregnable with very steep cliffs on most sides.

The views from the top of the castle were impressive.

Back down at valley level the last section back to the pool was alongside a stream with crystal clear water. Looking back up to the castle it made me realise quite how high up we'd been.

We look forward to returning the favour and acting as local guides for Markus and Manuela in the Lake District sometime.

1 comment:

Markus said...

A great report. Brings back the atmosphere of a beautiful weekend. 😍