Germany: Saarbrucken

George slaying the dragonToday I hopped on the train and headed to the capital of the state of Saar, Saarbrucken. I started by heading to Rathaus St. Johann, the old town hall. Outside above the entrance is the oddly out of place bronze figure of St. George slaying the dragon. A symbol of England. Perhaps their presence represents the battle between good and evil. The facade is decorated with sandstone statues representing trades of the region, a miner, a smelter, a farmer, a brewer. The sandstone has that wonderful red color. This was an excellent place to start as well, since there was a tourism office right inside, complete with guides and maps in English. Making my exploration much less complicated.

Saarbrucken castle ruins in blueI walked along the pedestrian shopping street, which was well over a mile long in this city, all the way to the far square. Another holiday festival was going on and I indulged in another crepe. From here, I crossed the Saar river and made my way up the hill to the shlossplatz, the castle square and the Saarland Regional History museum. This square was constructed to have buildings erected that looked similar to the palace but without distracting from the castle. Inside the museum, I was led underground where the remnants of the castle walls, corridors and rooms remain. On one side the museum contained posters of WWII propaganda. Everywhere else I was taking photos and was left alone. The moment I tried taking shots of these posters depicting England as a small vulnerable island surrounded by U-boats, or London being bombed, I was quickly told that photography was not permitted.

Miserly Baker on castle wallThis castle plaza is on a bluff overlooking the city below, with a tall castle wall. On this castle wall is an odd gargoyle, the Miserly Baker. It is said that the miserly baker refused to help the poor in times of need. He would insult them and encouraged young women to offer him their bodies in exchange for bread. When the margravine (the wife of the military governor) heard this rumor she dressed up as a beggar to put him to the test. The baker fell for the disguise and was put in the stocks as punishment and died several days later. An effigy of his head was carved of stone and placed on the Old Bridge to serve as a drain pipe gargoyle and as a warning for several centuries. This castle wall was moved 16 meters when the modern motorway was built along the river below.

That evening we enjoyed a dinner at hotel restaurant which featured two wines from the region as well as a fabulous dessert. It was an apple tart topped with the most amazing vanilla ice cream, it tasted like it was topped with creme brulee. And was encircled in pureed peaches and plums.