A Glimpse of Würzburg

Yesterday I traveled to Würzburg from Kaiserslautern, the city I dwell in right now. Würzburg is one of the touristy cities reachable for free from K-town, if you have the VRN Semesterticket. Thank God (or not?) I still have one.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t really have much intention to travel there yesterday. The weather forecast has said their part – it’s going to rain all day long, and there was even an exclamation mark on the web page, indicating an “Unwetterwarnung” in German, meaning more or less “thunder storm alert”. I did not really want to go, but since the majority of the pack (what are we – animals?) have agreed to go venturing out, I just tag along (well actually I did most of the research – being the tour guide and all. How ungrateful of them.)

Würzburg is a city in the west of Bavaria, one of the regions in Germany. It was one of the oldest cities here and it was heavily bombed in March 1945, just a few months before the WWII ended. However, there are still some remarkable historic sites worth visiting, although some of them were reconstructed. After some research in TripAdvisor and Google, I was only interested in going to two places: Würzburg Residenz and Festung Marienberg (aka Marienburg Fortress). Unfortunately, the fortress is only open from March to October (plan your journey ahead, people!). Yet all the comments in TripAdvisor said that there’s an incredible view of the city from outside of the fortress, and there’s going to be a castle tour. I did not know how a castle tour could exist when the fortress itself is not open, but hey, let’s give it a try. The fortress itself, being one, is located on a hill, which supposedly takes 20 minute to walk there.

Hence the state was: it’s going to rain the entire day, the fortress is closed, and we have to hike in the rain for 40 minutes. Perfect.

We only had around seven hours to spend in the city. The trip from K-town to Würzburg is around 4 hours one way. It’s still winter, so we didn’t want to go too early in the dark (i.e. 5 in the morning), hence we only have time from around 11:30 to 18:30. K-town is in the Rheinland-Pfalz region, which is one of the most west of Germany, and Würzburg is in Bavaria, that is the most east of Germany. So you can imagine the 4 hours long spent to travel from the west to the east (and then gain the knowledge from the Chinese – wait, what?)

In Würzburg there is no Gruppen-Tageskarte (day ticket for group) offered, so the only option is Tageskarte Solo (day ticket for a person) that costs 4.90 euro. Actually, the POIs are not too far from the main station, but given the time constraint, the rain, and the need to pray in a proper place, I decided that it is important. On another sunny day in summer or spring, I would be more than happy to walk, but just not yesterday.

Snow
Snow showers in one of the places we passed

So there we arrived in Würzburg – it was cold and constantly raining. The places we passed by train were even snowing. It was just crazy! First we had lunch in Istanbul Kebab, in Kaiserstrasse, that was just a straight walk from the main station. It was recommended by a friend of a friend, and when I checked in in Swarm/Foursquare (yes, I still do, I want the stickers!), a person said it was the best kebab in town. The bread looks fresh because it was handmade, but the doner box that I ordered is a little bit too pricey for me. FYI, a doner box consists of french fries, doner meat, and sometimes with salad. From there, we went straight to The Residenz!

Processed with VSCO
Würzburg Residenz

That afternoon was drizzling, but we managed to take some group photos. Shame on me, I didn’t take any pic of The Residenz with my camera because it was freezing cold. We paid 6.5 euro each because we’re students, but the normal price is only a euro more expensive. We joined a tour in English – which is a must, I must say! The tour guide (who shares the same name with me – Jasmine ;P) was friendly and lively. I’ve been to similar castles and I had their audio guides while I was there, but indeed, listening to an actual person speaking is much more entertaining and informative than listening to an audio guide. By joining the tour, we obtained access to some areas that inaccessible if we’re going on our own. The English tour lasts approximately 45 minutes, and we can explore the rest of the castle on our own. We also went to the garden, but since it was winter, most of the plants were branches and trunks. Much unattractive, so lame, but I bet it’s pretty in the spring and summer!

The Residenz - back
The back of the Residence, with my fellas working hard to make a group pic – notice the umbrellas? 😉

 

The Residenz - garten
The Court Garden of the Residence. It looks okay, but on the sides there are plants covered with plastic, which thankfully didn’t appear in this photo

After finishing a photo session (again), we went to a masjid to pray. The problem with finding masjids is that they are usually located far outside the city center, but I found some still near the center. We went to the one in Erthalstr 1 (mainly because the map I used explicitly said it’s a Deutsch-Islamisches Kulturzentrum). There were a building right on the side of the street, but the actual masjid is the building behind it. It was small compared to the one we found in Strasbourg, but it is clean and tidy.

It’s almost 17 by the time we finished praying, and our train would leave in half an hour. We canceled the trip to Marienburg Fortress, but instead went to Alte Mainbrücke (old main bridge) and again, a photo session. From the bridge, we can spot the fortress. It is similar to the Alte Brücke in Heidelberg, where you can see the castle up on the hill. A friend who had been to Prague also said that it’s a similar view as the Charles Bridge there.

Marienberg
Festung Marienberg

Well, that was pretty much all about Würzburg we saw yesterday. I missed a couple of interesting stories – I’d rather share them in person. I would definitely visit Würzburg again in spring or summer if I have time! Even though it’s raining cats and dogs, the trip wasn’t dull at all thanks to the companions. It’s true what they say – perfect company is better than a perfect destination 😉

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Fasting in 2012

I was very lucky in last Ramadhan (the year 1433 Hijr). I got the chance to experience fasting in three different countries. Indonesia (for sure!), Australia, and Korea. Alhamdulillah.

In Australia, I was spending holiday for less than a week. Australia was having winter season, the temperature was about 15 degrees. Yep, it was freakingly cold! Thank God I didn’t get sick at all during the vacation. Well, as Australia was having winter season, the sun rise later than usual and set quicker than usual. It means our fasting started at around 5 am to 5 pm. Quite enjoyable.

During our time in Sydney, we travel mostly by walking and by using the subway. The weather was so cold that we barely sweat. Our legs were stiff, but it didn’t stop us from traveling. For me, the weather, the traveling, and the fasting season was a perfect fit. It was not very hard either to find a masjid, there are many websites providing the info. Too bad we didn’t get the chance to join the Tarawih Prayer in one of the masjid around.

Indonesia was in the middle of dry season during this Ramadhan. The weather was hot and a bit humid,  yet the fasting time still goes as usual: from 4.30 am to 6 pm, approximately 13,5 hours. Therefore, the routine was still like years before. I still went to campus several times to take care of some things, therefore I mostly do Tarawih Prayer alone, because I arrived home too late to catch the jamaah.

At last, in Korea! We stayed in Seoul, specifically in the Duksung Women University. My team and I attended a women conference there for a week, and most of our day was already scheduled, while at night they gave us free time to stay in the dorm and wander nearby the uni. We managed to pray on time, fortunately, and also to fasting as well. Seoul was having its summer when we were there, so we experienced many sunny days, and two days raining, because the season was about to change to fall. The sunny days were hotter than Jakarta! By all means, the sun was more fierce than it was in Indonesia. We were really lucky the season was changing, because they told us that several days before we got there, it was more hotter than we experienced.

Since it was summer, the fasting starts around 4 am and finished approximately at 8 pm. Man, it’s like, 16 hours! However, most of the moslem participants carried on fasting during the event. We were glad that the committee even provided different meals for moslem diets, every night! Oh, and speaking of the foods, we used to eat rice with kimchi, and probably seafood. That was the safest combination, to avoid eating forbidden food.

Having experienced fasting in those three cities, I still love fasting in Jakarta most. The weather was perfect -all year- and you honestly cannot replace the atmosphere of fasting in Jakarta to fasting anywhere abroad. As a matter of fact, I did not quite feel the Ramadhan ambiance and did not capture the purpose of fasting this year, by going there and there. The atmosphere, the intention to pray and reading the Quran is much less than in Jakarta. This is a challenge itself if anyone wants to live in countries where Islam is not the dominating religion 🙂