What an adventure of discovery and learning over the past few days! Head is still full of this visit. I was very fortunate to have relatives (Cousin Molly and husband, Ori) who hosted a most excellent time in Darmstadt. Truly!
We met at the Darmstadt Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) late in the afternoon. I had arrived from Berlin earlier and had time for a shower before we met up. Before dinner, we walked around an art nouveau artist colony founded by the great duke Ernst Ludwig in 1899 which integrated housing and work places (Mathildehohe). This first night we did a quick walk through but our walk-through gave me a sense of the variety and scope of projects from this colony, including an orthodox chapel, built for the former Czar to allow him to go to church when visiting his relatives, and the wedding tower built to celebrate marriage of the local grand duke. (We visited this area again on Sunday – and will include more narrative and pictures below.)
Ori and Molly with Orthodox Church
Pool in Front of Church
Church with Wedding Tower
Dinner that evening was at a local Italian restaurant where we had a wonderful fish dish where the waiter was an expert at filleting. Also, so began a running conversation where we talked about many subjects in great detail. Loved it! After dinner we took a walk around the center of the city and the local schloss (castle) that sat across from my hotel. We then had to say good night because we had a full day on Saturday.
We scheduled to met up late morning on Saturday, so was able to get in a good walk to explore the central part of the city before starting our adventures for the day. First up was a tour of GSI Helmholtz Center for Heavy Ion Research where Ori has worked as a scientist for a number of years. Our tour, by our illustrious tour guild, Ori, started with the particle accelerator’s source (that generates the particle) and along the path of vacuums, magnets, and other means of providing the environment to support the process that will produce the best results (very high-level explanation). Amazing at the variety of work performed there and GSI has been credited for discovering new elements and confirmed the existence of of others. (I’m a major geek and was fascinated and amazed – and admired the blinking lights.) Saw just the outside of their Green Cube data center with a cooling capacity of 12 megawatts and is one of the biggest scientific data centers in the world. (Being a former IT Infrastructure Project Manager – was very impressed!) Also, cancer treatment is another output from the work accomplished by this company. Impressive!
Part of the Accelerator
Part of the Control Center
Think this was a lab area
Interesting Periodic Table
Cancer Treatment Lab
Green Cube Data Center
After our tour we were looking for a place to take a short break. Our next stop was Frankenstein’s Castle. Yes, “that” Frankenstein! As the story goes, Mary Shelley who, on her honeymoon, visited this area and was inspired by the name of the Frankenstein Castle, just outside of Darmstadt. Who knew?
We had a beer then decided upon dessert. Molly and I shared three! Talk about a sugar high. They were excellent! After our break we explored the Frankenstein Caster, or what is left of it. Some of it was restored at some point, and there are some open rooms for special events. Great view of the valley below the castle.
View from Frankenstein Castle
Another first for me, driving on the Autobaun – wow! (Correction, I was not driving – just the passenger along for the ride.) Wow – just like the days when 80 MPH was the norm on Oregon’s freeways.
Next, we visited a village Heppenheim (Bergstraße) that is well-preserved and maintained. Above it is the Starkenburg castle (if I did my research correctly). Perfect day to stroll around the village. Took some pictures of the hillside below the castle. I said it looked like something Disney productions would make.
Starkenburg Castle and Me
For dinner, we headed back to Darmstadt and ate at a marvelous (the inspiration for today’s post) restaurant. Each course was a kaleidoscope of flavors and effectively presented. The wine was excellent! Molly and I again had dessert – in fact two each! The restaurant’s name is Muller and Muller, in case you want to try for yourself while in Darmstadt. What a wonderful evening of good food, good conversation, and most of all, good company. Marvelous!
Our final day together started off with a walk back up to Mathildehohe, where we started on Friday. We arrived as church was beginning at the orthodox church and listened to the choir, then went through the museum there which had collections of many of the art nouveau works created and built in the colony. The whole colony of buildings and homes are also art, but the museum showed a wide range of items created by those from the colony. Small museum, but was very impressed by the range of items displayed. From there we toured the rose garden or Park Rosenhoehe and walked down a number of paths, and also rested and reflected along the way.
Museum at Mathildehohe
We ended our tour by returning to Mathildehohe and went up the elevator to the top of the wedding tower. I took some pictures of Darmstadt from the tower, included below.
Darmstadt from Tower
Darmstadt from Tower
Darmstadt from Tower
We rested at a nearby pub and, believe it or not, no dessert this time. During this break we talked about some future meetings since I’ll be in Europe for awhile. Fun to plan these outings. We walked back to my hotel where some friends from Portland were waiting. So very thankful for the time spent with Ori and Molly – what a great time we had!!
As I said my good-byes to Ori and Molly, I got to saw hello to Austin, Jessica and their two daughters, Abigail and Evelyn. They have been in Germany for almost two years and what a great place to catch up with them. They were nearby in Heidelberg and we arranged to meet in Darmstadt. We only had a few hours to catch up, but we may be able to meet up again later in December when we’re all in London.
Austin and Me
Austin and Jessica took me to the train station where I was headed for Stuttgart and they were headed home. Long day for all of us!
Next day, after making arrangements for Glattfelden and Zermatt, I headed out to the Stuttgart Tower. (Stuttgart Tower, or Fernsehturm Stuttgart) is a 216 m. telecommunications tower in Stuttgart, Germany. It was the first telecommunications tower in the world (1954 – 56) constructed from reinforced concrete, and it is the prototype for many such towers world-wide. It sits up on a hill which makes it even taller. I took the S train, then the U train to get to it. It was worth it. The pictures below, one pointed out to the Black Forrest, were phenomenal and thankful for the great weather.
Stuttgart Tower (about 2 km away)
Stuttgart Tower (about 10 meters away)
Now, after publishing this update, will prepare for some traveling tomorrow, starting at 6:00 a.m.