Tag Archives: Europe

Parkstein, Germany Part 1

Sunday was such a beautiful day in our little corner of Bavaria, so we decided to explore a local treasure, Parkstein (literal translation is Stone Park).

Geology: The Volcano and the Basalt Formation

Millions of years ago, a volcano sat at the center of what is now called Parkstein.

Parkstein 016
Basalt Formation
Basalt Wall
Basalt Wall

The mountain, peaking at about 595 meters above sea level, was formed about 24 million years ago.  The basalt wall itself is about 38 meters (124.6 feet) high.  The hexagonal basalt columns were formed by large eruptions of basalt lava.  It is considered one of the best basalt formations in Europe and is a sight of interest for geologists and those who are fascinated by geology.

Medieval History: The Castle (or Fortress)
Parkstein 023(1)
Stairway up to the summit.

On the way to the summit, the ruins of an early medieval castle tell the story of time. The castle was first mentioned in documents in 1053 and tells a rich history of its occupants from 1052 until its dismantling in 1759.

The legend of the emergence of the Stone Park castle says that a young count was hunting boar in the woods around the basalt formation.  He saw a magnificent boar and he pursued him up to the summit and killed the animal. Attracted by beauty of the place, he decided to build a castle on the summit.

View of Parkstein from the Castle Wall.
View of Parkstein from the Castle Wall.

However, the first record of the castle from 1053 states that the original keep was owned by King Conrad II and burned to the ground by his half-brother, Duke Konrad of Bavaria, during the Christmas of 1052.

The fortress was rebuilt at the turn of the century by Emperor Henry IV and became an imperial seat.  Though the castle changed ownership of the course of several hundred years, it reached its glory years in 1278 and 1435. A 30-year war ravaged the fortress and was eventually abandoned and left to the hands of nature and time.

Castle Interior: The Courtyard
Castle Interior: The Courtyard

By 1798, all that remained were ruins.  However, the town of Parkstein blossomed with the new country courthouse and became a judicial district.  On October 1, 1808 Parkstein became magistracy to Neustadt. The basalt formation, rich in granite, sandstone, and quartzite became a mining zone.

Remains of Exterior Wall

 

 

Turret
Turret

 

Parkstein 045
Arrow Loop in the Turret
Recent History: The Church

 

Mosaic Station of the Cross
Mosaic Station of the Cross

 Dispersed around the park are these beautiful mosaic Stations of the Cross.  I could not find any information as to when these were installed, but they look fairly recent–perhaps sometime in the mid-late 20th century, but I am no historian so cannot be sure. Regardless of when they were placed here, they truly are beautifully made.

 

Parkstein 073
Throne of the Fey King

This “throne” is a very recent addition. The wood is not overly weathered and you can see swirls from a chainsaw on the seat.

Just think, in 300 years, people will visit this park and think “no what on earth? I thought Germany had no ‘kings’ in the 21st century?”

I call it the Throne of the Fey–yeah I am aware that the Fey are from Irish mythology.

This is the King of the Fey–and he IS Irish!

King of the Fey
King of the Fey

 

And this log is the home of the little faeries…

Faerie Home
Faerie Home

 

Christ, Mother Mary, and Mary Magdeleine
Christ, Mother Mary, and Mary Magdalene

Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information on these beautiful statues and was only able to glean a little bit of information about the church.  There is, however, a museum at the foot of the formation–which I found out about while doing my research for this post.  I am hoping to have more information for you in the follow-up post: Parkstein, Germany Part Two.

Right Side of the Church
Right Side of the Church

 

Front of the Church
Front of the Church

 

Looks like the door is open…Let’s go in shall we?

Church Door
Church Door

Don’t you just love old doors? I was fascinated by this one in particular.

I would love to show you the beauty hidden by these unassuming simple wooden doors.  I would love for you to see the Priests “throne” and the gold gilded ceiling. I want you to see the golden Illuminati symbol on the ceiling above the Priest’s “throne”, but alas, I cannot.

This was the very last picture I took before my camera shut down.  I really MUST remember to bring extra batteries with me.

At least Parkstein is just a 30 minute drive through beautiful countryside.  I will be headed back very soon and will share the beauty within the simple exterior of the church with you.

Until then, I hope you enjoyed this short tour of Parkstein.

Tschüß!

 
Sources:

Basalt Formation

Castle legend

Castle History

 

 

Flying to Germany–Or One of the Most Stressful Days of My Life

Though we have been here for nearly 4 months, I have unfortunately lagged behind in sharing our fabulous (Okay it’s not all that fabulous) adventures in Germany.

We boarded the Lufthansa plane at about 3pm on January 8th at the Dallas/Fort-worth  airport.  But I’m going to back track just a tad.

We had to take our van to the shipping agency before our flight to Germany. So while the kids packed up our stuff in the hotel room, we went out in search of a car wash. They won’t ship a dirty car.

It was a gloomy day and it had rained the day before, so the car washes were all closed! Who closes a car wash just because it’s a bit damp outside? Texans that’s who!

Now we are running out of time. We have to get to our appointment.  We drive and drive and just can’t seem to find this darn place! We finally find it–and we are 30 minutes late.   They send us to a car was around the corner that is open.  In the meantime, I am worried about the kids.  The shuttle was due to pick us all up in the next hour, but the car thing will take about an hour. The hotel is 30 minutes away.

I call the shuttle company and have them change the pick-up time. Crisis averted–or so I think! I sit around and wait while hubby takes care of the car thing.

My daughter calls. She said the shuttle driver has arrived! What the #!@$&?!? I speak to the driver. He said that the afternoon schedule is booked, so it’s either take the kids (and the big dogs) to the airport, or find another mode of transportation.

My daughter is a mature 15 yr-old and my son, well he’s a typical 13 yr-old boy. Do I trust the driver? Do I trust my daughter? Do I have any options?

Okay. I take a deep breath and tell the driver that these kids are my LIFE. Please take them, help them unload the van and put all our bags and the dogs in front of the Lufthansa check-in.  My daughter will give him $20 only if he follows my instructions to the letter.

The taxi arrives to pick me and my husband up from the car shipping place.  We are 20 minutes from the airport. My kids are on their way as well.  The van is good to go and will arrive in Germany in about a month. We head off to the airport.  Hubby is having a grand conversation in front with driver while I sit in the back and chew my nails down to nubs.

We pull up to the Lufthansa departure entrance. Right behind the shuttle that brought my kids.  He had just finished helping them bring all of our stuff into the airport and was about to leave.  I handed him another $20, shook his hand, and told him was my knight in shining armor today.  He tried to give me my money back, but I wouldn’t take it. I told him to take the $40 dollar tip and take his special someone out to dinner.  He said that he was going to use it for his son’s birthday present instead.

Now it was time to check in, get the dog crates approved, and find coffee.

It is just after 12pm.  Our flight is in about 3 hours.  The dogs look miserable in their crates.  I’m a ball of tangled nerves, and my kids are arguing.  I needed a shot of Tequila at this point, but settled for Starbucks instead.

I will skip all of the waiting. You’ve probably been to the “waiting place” so I’m sure you know how mind numbing it is.

It is finally time to board. We are at the very back of the plane.  If you have to fly coach to Europe, I recommend Lufthansa. I felt like it was at least Business Class. The seats were comfy, the attendants were fantastic, and the food was delicious.

My teenagers on a 9.5 hour flight.
My teenagers on a 9.5 hour flight.

From Dallas/Fort-worth, the flight took 9.5 hours.  I don’t sleep well on planes. I’m not afraid of hijackers, snakes, or of little gremlins tearing the wings apart. I’m afraid of crashing. engine failure. small spaces. heights.  I get a bit claustrophobic and rarely use elevators.  9.5 hours in a tin can flying across hard land and even harder water (yes harder–it’s a scientific fact) going a gazillion miles an hour was not fun.

Every time I dozed off I would wake suddenly to turbulence. I would look over at my hubby–sound asleep–and my kids who were wide awake and enjoying the movie selection.  Lufthansa has great movie screens embedded in the seat directly in front of you.

I watched at 3 movies.

We finally arrived in Frankfurt on January 9th at 9am.

We lost half a day.

Picked up our luggage, found our poor freaked out puppies and finally located our Military contacts. They loaded up the van and the station wagon and drove us to our hotel.  It was a 4 hour drive on the autobahn–and I slept.

The hotel would be our home for the next 9 days.

Army Hotel
Army Hotel
Our first "Home" in Germany
Our first “Home” in Germany

The kids and dogs shared a room while hubby and I had a room to ourselves.

Once we arrived, I felt a sudden drop in blood pressure and an urge to enter a coma sleep.

More to come on our first month in Bavaria soon.