Melting in the scorching European Sun

Honestly – I love summer! I always have and always will but when the mercury does not drop below 24 Celsius at night and reaches already 31 at 10 am it’s a bit too much even for me. But I should not complain – a week ago when I arrived here it had only 10 degrees and I was wondering if I landed back in New Zealand:-)

Having said that – when it is that hot one finds it hard to move yet alone do some sightseeing or other activities – just sitting in the shade lets the sweat drip from my face and every move makes me think I am enjoying a lovely Sauna.

Cooling down
Cooling down

So my brother came up with a great idea to make the day at least a little bearable – he cleaned up the old Zinc bathtub from our great grandparents and filled it with cold water and put a table over the top so now we are sitting on the deck with the big umbrellas up and our feet in reasonably cool water and are

able to write on the computer or play cards – priceless.

However I am guessing that the hot weather also played on the minds of some German drivers as there is no other explanation for the complete disregard to road rules I’ve witnessed over the last 2-3 days – in particular when it comes to where and how one has to / can park.

Terrific but wrong parking
Terrific but wrong parking

There is a public swimming pool near my parents house (Zschonergrundbad) – I grew up going to the pool almost every day during the summer months until it was closed in 1988 – that has recently been re-opened after a public funding campaign to repair and upgrade it.

 

Traffic jam with a bus due to poor parking choices
Traffic jam with a bus due to poor parking choices

In these temperatures every person and their child seeks to cool down so public pools become very popular – so popular that the parking space provided is simply not enough (or in this case poorly managed). So as a result and also due to pure laziness and ignorance people park as close as possible to the entrance but as a result also more or less in breach of German road rules.

If it was not so dangerous in some instances one could be amused – I am sitting with my feet in cold water and watch the drama unfold – but on numerous occasions we witnessed sheer horror when the half hourly bus tried to get past parked cars and had to stop for pedestrians who could not use the footpath because cars parked on that one as well – around the corner and in front of our driveway. Fun and Games.

Schoenfeld Castle
Schoenfeld Castle

The best part is when one does dare to talk to some of those people and asks them where they learned to drive they feel completely within their rights and only worry about any possible fines but not if that bus or another car perhaps damages their car or if a person gets hurt as a result of their stupidity.

Excuse my rant but I thought I let you in on what’s going on when it’s this hot…

Anyway – before the big heat we did manage a few sightseeing trips and one in particular was well worth the 1 hour drive – Castle Schoenfels near the small town of Zwickau.

If there ever was a archetypal Medieval Castle in Saxony this one must fit the bill. It’s origins go back to the 12th century and it almost got destroyed / dismantled by the Russian Army after World War 2 for some reason. The Village bought it and in particular after the fall of the Berlin Wall started not only a careful restoration but more importantly also a archaeological survey.

Gnandstein Castle
Gnandstein Castle

This work has been well documented in one of the rooms and whilst it is still ongoing they have already made amazing discoveries and used them to enlighten visitors.

Only an hour drive from this one lies yet another 12th century gem that none of us had ever heard of – Burg Gnandstein. Whilst this castle is larger and part of it is presently used as a hotel it can still surprise the visitor with hidden gems and hints of it’s long history – in particular around the central defensive tower (called Bergfried in German).

In both castles we where lucky enough to spot a bird of prey that is becoming rare these days due to lack of suitable nesting areas – the Turmfalke. At Schoenfeld Castle we even spotted a young in its nest.

Baby Turmfalke
Baby Turmfalke

As far as Saxon Castles go these two take a firm spot in my top 10 for sure and I hope more people would visit them to help fund further restoration and excavation there.

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