Schloss Thurnau to Frankfurt – through hail, flood and demonstrations.

If you thought the day’s planned itinerary of two pits stops over a 300 km drive was intimidating, think again. We had to brave an intense hailstorm in the summer season, drive through a flooded road from which many turned around, and circumnavigate the road blocks the polizei had set up around Frankfurt because of demonstrations which coincided with our time of arrival in the financial capital of Germany.

The realistic painting on a flat wall takes on an appearance of 3D

The realistic painting on a flat wall takes on an appearance of 3D.

The day started grey with a slight drizzle but turned sunny by the time we checked out of Schloss Thurnau. We roamed the event function rooms of the castle and admired the realistic Trompe-l’œil on the walls. There was to be an art symposium in the castle and painters from a number of countries were working on their canvasses in a hall in the castle.

One of these we got acquainted with was a lithographer named Mireck who had participated in last year’s exhibition and had been invited back by the organisers this year.

Scratch its neck and Sam the black Labrador can stay as still as a statue lying on its back.

Scratch its neck and Sam the black Labrador can stay as still as a statue lying on its back.

He had this dark brown Labrador that loved to dash around capering with the kids, yet would remain absolutely still on its back when the kids scratched it. It could keep so still that at first, I’d thought the kids were fawning over a very realistic statue that the artists in the hall had sculpted!

Mireck remarked that it was opportune that a man and his dog from Prague and a family of tourists from Singapore would meet in little Thurnau in Germany. Imagine his surprise when we told him we’d only just arrived in Thurnau from Prague two night ago! Mireck himself had only arrived the morning before.

One of a number of foreign artists invited to the painters symposium.

One of a number of foreign artists invited to the painters symposium.

He agreed with us that Prague had become rather expensive but assured us that outside of the capital, things in the Czech Republic were not as expensive. He showed us some of his lithography – paintings made by first applying colour on stone before printing on paper to form abstract images with natural texture. One painting comprised three adjoining oval shapes linked by a tenuous white vein. The oval shapes were symbolic of the current life, the previous life and the coming reincarnation, linked by the weak vein of life.

I felt Mireck’s work reflected the depth of thought and philosophical outlook of life of an artist.

Parishioners or wedding guests can either sit on the ground floor or at the upper two storeys around the sides.

Parishioners or wedding guests can either sit on the ground floor or at the upper two storeys around the sides.

We then visited the church next to the castle. It was one of the most interesting small churches I have visited. Probably because of its small size, apart from the benches in front of the main altar, the three walls around the sides had two additional storeys holding additional benches, like box seats in a concert hall. These were accessed via two spiral staircases at the back corners in the church.

The covered wooden bridge from the castle led to a room on the third storey directly facing the altar. I suppose during rain or the cold months, wedding guests could get from the castle to the church via the bridge.

Onwards to Bamberg

Bamberg is a big but charming city.

Bamberg is a big but charming city.

The 50 km drive to Bamberg was pleasant enough, and we had lunch, walked around the old town centre and visited the large St Peter’s and St George’s cathedral. You can tell Bamberg is a relatively larger city since ice-cream stands charge 90 Euro cents per single-scoop cone like in Nuremberg, compared with smaller towns where the ice-cream index is lower at 70 or 80 Euro cents.

This altar in dim light was shot using an Olympus E5 DSLR.

This altar in dim light was shot using an Olympus E5 DSLR. I like the sharp detail and lack of noise despite a high ISO OF 1600.

Shopping rain or shine

The 150 km drive to the shopping outlet at Wertheim was more dramatic. The sunny weather gave way to heavy rain. It even hailed for what seemed like ages although looking back, it probably didn’t last longer than 10 minutes.

Poor visibility - and this is only at the beginning of the hailstorm.

Poor visibility at the beginning of the hailstorm.

The rain stopped after the hail stopped.

The rain stopped after the hail stopped.

The hailstones were small – about 5 mm in diameter but pelted down so intensely that I was worried the windscreen might break. Fortunately, we’d just turned off the autobahn and was on a small country road so I could simply pull over to a layby to wait out the hail. A BMW that arrived slightly later also had to stop but on the road itself. Fortunately, other cars must have stopped also so nobody drove into that BM.
The entire windscreen was obscured by the rain and hail.

The entire windscreen was obscured by the rain and hail.

After the hail stopped, we continued the drive once we saw that the hailstones on the ground had melted. We’d considered earlier whether it was better to shelter from the hailstones under leafier foliage but that would have been a bad idea, because we could see leaves and branches had been strewn all over roads under tree branches.

The flooded area was small and shallow but nobody wanted to take the risk of getting stuck in the water.

The flooded area was small and shallow but nobody wanted to take the risk of getting stuck in the water.

Although the rain had stopped after the hail, we soon came upon a part of the road where there was a slight flood about the size of half a basketball court. A queue started building up as cars on either side of the flood began to make 3-point U-turns to avoid the small flooded area. I guess they weren’t sure how deep the flooded area was or whether there were potholes below the puddle.

We could tell from the GPS that a detour would involve a huge loop. The flooded area was really quite small, and we didn’t think it was that deep. So we decided to wait a while to see if a local who knew the depth of the flooded area would drive through the water. After most of the cars had done their U-turns and left, residents from nearby houses who’d emerged to snap photos of the flood gestured to us that it was alright to drive through. A merc came along and took the lead. We followed once he made it through unscathed and “speeded” through. Bravo!

A group of chinese ladies were filming some variety cum hosting programme at the shopping outlet.

A group of chinese ladies were filming some variety cum hosting programme at the shopping outlet.

We made it to Wertheim Village shopping outlet through more rainy weather. The outlet was like those we’d visited in France, Spain and Japan, although the discounts weren’t as substantial, nor was the selection as varied. By the way, a single-scoop of ice-cream in a cone sets one back by 1 Euro. After the shopping and dinner, we embarked upon the final 100 km to our next hotel at Frankfurt.

Police road blocks, marching protesters and demonstrators.

Police road blocks, marching protesters and demonstrators.

We’d thought the drives so far had been adequately exciting. But upon arriving at River Main, we found the bridge blocked off by Frankfurt police. We had to make a detour to cross the river at the next bridge. But after the bridge, we were blocked off once again by police.

Convoy of riot police vans driving through the red light district.

This is not a police van visiting an "Erotik-shop" at the red light district of Frankfurt, but a convoy of riot police vans driving through.

We’d thought earlier that the detour might have been due to some large festival or performance but when we saw the riot police, convoy of police vans and finally the marching protesters themselves, we realised how “lucky” we were to enter the city at the exact appointed time of a protest/demonstration.

Detour through the red light district of Frankfurt.

Detour through the red light district of Frankfurt.

It was only after more jams and a few more detours – including a drive through the red light district – that we finally arrived at our final hotel in Germany. What a relief! What remains is to check the ice-cream index of Frankfurt.

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