Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.






Saturday, June 1, 2013

Schlossing at Hirschorn


 
From Rothenburg ob der Tauber, we followed the brown Burgenstrasse (Castle Road) signs and along the way stopped at Schloss Neuenstein and Heilbronn and saw many castles perched high on the mountains and  hills. We wished we could have stopped at more castles but we wanted to get to our next stop on the Burgenstrasse and our hotel, Schloss Hirschorn, earlier and have time to check out the Neckar valley. We spotted Schloss Hirschorn situated on a promontory high above the Neckar River after enduring a frightening spiral drive on the Odenwald mountains.. The many hairpin edge-of-the cliff turns on narrow roads and straight drops gave my acrophobia a run for its money. It was truly a scary ride, one where you are literally at the edge of your seat. We would have really wanted to enjoy the dense forest scenery filled with dark pines and other deciduous trees (we wondered if we ended up in the midst of the Black Forest) but we were too busy concentrating on keeping our eyes to the front and holding our breaths. The GPS was probably laughing at us since we ignored several instructions to "Turn  right." and ended up on this scary mountain pass. Luckily, there were almost no other fools like us driving on the road. That may have just saved us.


Our View from the Schloss Hirschorn Terrace

This Schloss, where we are spending a couple of nights, towers protectively on it's perch on top of a mountain ridge above the old town of Hirschorn, the Pearl of the Neckar,  which is nestled on the slope of the hill surrounded by the walls of the castle. We dreaded having to drive up another steep hill with winding roads to get to the castle, but we had no choice. We got there in one piece and we all let out big sighs of relief (if we could scream out,to release the tension we just might have).  We were planning on  exploring the area around the Neckar after checking-in and resting a bit but the earlier drive made us wary so we decided to hang around the schloss instead.  We found a nice spot on the terrace with the best view and ordered some drinks (local German beer for the boys) and snacks and proceeded to talk about "everything and nothing at all" as one of us puts it and  toasting to "This is the life!"




One of the Towers




Built starting in 1290, Schloss Hirschorn (meaning Staghorn)  is a typical German medieval  schloss with the main castle, towers, fortified walls,  keep,  great hall, stables, several gates , outbuildings and noisily bleating goats. As the base of the Hirschorn  knights, it was once one of the mightiest castles in the Neckar Valley.  Hotel accommodations were  not as fancy and luxurious as the other castle we stayed at on the Rhine but the location's charms can't be beat. The main castle building  now holds the reception area, a few hotel rooms and the public areas for restaurants and banquets.






Main Schloss building with terrace




A feature in the main castle building is a big terrace overlooking the Neckar River and surrounding Odenwald hills and Hirschorn below.

Markers on walls to guide hikers
Apparently, the Neckar area is a great hiking and cycling spot and a stop at the Schloss is part of the program. So today, instead of medieval peasants with sackcloth bags on their backs and knights on high horses, there are modern day hikers with their fancy backpacks and bikers on Harley Davidsons  just stopping to have beer or wine at the terrace of the Schloss.

We were told that it takes about 20 minutes to hike a steep serpentine course down to the town. We probably could have managed the descent but the climb back would have been another story.







The weather was so lovely that we lingered at the terrace until it was time to order dinner also. The chef, Nadine Wagner, who also happens to also be the  Geschaftsfuhrer (CEO) of the Schloss, is  very talented  and inventive.. One of the items we tried was the deconstructed fish and chips. We enjoyed our dinner as we watched the huge yellow moon hovering over the now shadowy hills.

The moon  illuminating the Odenwald Hills


Main Tower










After dinner, we attempted to climb up the main tower but as we were slowly making our way up we realized that it was too dark and dangerous to continue.







The gatehouse. Our rooms were down below at the Marstall
At Schloss Hirschorn, we stayed at the converted Marstall (Royal stables) building which is down below the hill from the main castle building and involved a lot of climbing up and down a steep hill and several stairs to get to the building and our rooms, a little difficult for us non-exercising seniors. The grounds were left natural and most of the medieval structures were left untouched so it is easy to put yourself in the shoes of the knights of Hirschorn or the maids of the castle as they go a-courting. The romantic in me went into high gear, but in reality, it has to be hard living during the medieval times -always at war with the neighboring and far flung kingdoms, worried about taxes and health issues such as the plague... Hmmm,,,, it sounds like today's news.


Breakfast was served at the main castle building in a lovely appointed room with maybe just 6 tables for the guest staying there. We chose a table by the window with another panoramic view of the Neckar.

View from the window of the breakfast room showing the locks


  
RhineNeckar S-Bahn Train 
Hirschorn is about 20 kilometers away from our next stop on the Castle Road, Heidelberg castle in Heidelberg which we planned on visiting the next day to try and see some of the places our national hero, Jose Rizal, saw while he was studying ophthalmology and finishing his obra maestra, Noli Me Tangere. This time we opted not to take the car because we were still suffering from the trauma of driving on the scary mountain pass.  Nadine called us a cab that would take us to the train station in Old Hirschorn below. There are regularly scheduled trains to Heidelberg and back on the RhineNeckar S-Bahn. The cab driver gave us a card so we can call for pick-up upon our return to Hirschorn. On our return trip, we were not able to buy our train  tickets before we boarded the train.thinking we would just pay on the train. There were dispensers on the train but unfortunately we did not find an English translation for the directions and so could not purchase the tickets,  We had to to disembark at the next stop and find a ticket dispenser at the station and get back on the next available  Such are the adventures (or misadventures) of traveling that add to your repertoire of experience  and of course,  excitement and fond memories.


For more information on Schloss Hirschorn, please visit their website .

2 comments:

  1. Our teenage daughter and I had the same experience at the Colorado Mountains when Claro joined a week's bike tour. We followed the GPS' instructions which brought us to the shortest route, which was through the Gunnison National Fprest, a trek of 25 miles through a narrow two lane gravel road climbing up to 10,00+ feet above sea level, where we were at the ravine side (!). There were scant vehicles passing through, there were no homes because it is a national forest. We saw cattle and forest mice by the road, waiting to cross. I was grateful we were in the U.S. of A., and not through the mountains of South America; that afforded me a great sense of security. The vistas were grand and beautiful, though. C. called it an "adventure." I call it a "lesson" learned, to discern and not totally rely on the computer. The map showed unpaved roads thru the forest, and turning left would have kept us from going into the forest route, but turning right per the GPS was easier to do, hence our adventure.

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  2. Yes, we have a love -hate relationship with our GPS. I agree with C, getting lost is always an adventure.

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