24 July, 2015

Impromptu "Hike" around Schloss Derneburg

I have yet another castle to share with you today: Schloss Derneburg in the small town of Holle, a short drive from Hildesheim. Germany has no shortage of castles, as you've probably guessed after reading about my trips to Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss Marienburg. When Maxim was here last weekend to visit me, we decided to venture outside my dorm and outside of Hildesheim altogether. (I'm sure Hildesheim has much more to offer than I've taken advantage of, but sometimes you just want to get away.) We remembered that, when we got information from the tourist office about Schloss Marienburg, we had also gotten information about another castle, which we didn't end up visiting. After some googling we found it again (we'd forgotten what it was called so this part was a bit difficult), and set off on an adventure: part coffee-drinking and part castle exploration.

Once on the road we left the city behind and were greeted with wonderful countryside and fresh air. (I'm so glad Maxim has a car, but we could have even done this trip by bus since there is a bus stop right next to the castle. I'm constantly surprised by how far out the buses go in Germany. This would have never been possible with public transit in America.) After driving about 15 minutes we had arrived, and we stopped first at the CafĂ© im Glashaus located next to the castle to have some coffee and cake and for me to get some homework done while Maxim read the paper.

The cafe was pretty cool to look at, but the view when I turned around was much better:

The view reminded me so much of Vermont. There were even cows grazing in the field! It made me feel very at home and was a very relaxing backdrop for my homework time.

Once we had had our coffee, Maxim had read his paper and I had worked on my translation, we got ourselves moving to explore the main event: Schloss Derneburg. Unfortunately, when we walked over to the gate I realized sadly that we couldn't actually go in, but I still took some pictures from outside.

And the castle itself wasn't the only thing to see. There were also several other buildings in the immediate area that had served as "support" buildings for the castle in its heyday. We came across these and some more natural sights as we made a loop around the castle grounds.

We weren't allowed to go in here, but I took a sneaky picture from the gate anyway.

The driveway up to the castle and cafe.

An old mill that was leaning ever so adorably toward the water.

Mill from the other side.

We even got to see more of the castle!

I'm not sure if this building originally belonged to the castle grounds, but in any case it is a private house now with a very cool yard.
Our walk back to our starting point took us through a small village and then again past the castle and cafe on our way to the car. I really liked the area around the cafe so I snapped a few last pictures as we were leaving:

This is one of my favorite pictures I took that day.

This trip made me realize that I shouldn't fall into the trap that so many people do of never visiting the things that are close by. Just because it's near me doesn't mean it's any less interesting, but it's a human tendency to assume that things that are far away are more interesting or more exciting. I've definitely experienced that tendency before; in fact, I'm living proof of that right now: I've visited more places in Europe that in the United States, even though I lived in the U.S. for much longer (22+ years) than I've lived in Europe (2.5 years including my time in Spain). I've now been in Germany for long enough that traveling within it is beginning to lose its appeal, but I should fight that feeling. There is still plenty for me to discover here, and it's so easy to travel in Germany that I really have no excuse. I can even travel almost anywhere within Niedersachsen (otherwise known as Lower Saxony, the state in Germany where I live) by train for free with my student ID, so I have even less of an excuse now.

That will have to wait for now, though. My focus now has to be on studying for my last two final exams, and then a few days after those are over I fly back to the U.S. (again!). I would also like to get back to some more culture-oriented posts sometime soon, so if there are any cultural aspects of Germany or the United States that you are interested in, let me know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter (see sidebar).

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