Month: March 2014

Rhönrad: German Gymnastics

Derek’s colleague is a Rhönrad gymnast!

Rhönradturnen or  “wheel gymnastics” was invented in Germany, and is still mainly practiced in Germany. And a sport that Derek hasn’t heard of will naturally pique his interest! She invited us to stop by to see an introduction and try it out.


This is what happens:

You find a giant wheel based on your height, and step inside. (The wheels increase in 5cm increments). There are two handles at the top. At the bottom are wooden platforms with leather straps to secure your feet while learning so that you can hang upside-down. It is sort of a blend between floor exercises and parallel bars. And you have a spotter.


It will surprise no-one that Derek picked up Rhönrad in about 4 seconds!

And I think I could have picked it up quite a bit faster, too! But when it was my turn they kept saying, ‘push your feet Kate, push them harder’. And I thought, how much more can I push them.

An instructor came over while I was upside-down because they were concerned with my footing. Rhönrad is about suspension. It should feel less like you are hanging and more like a handstand. Otherwise gravity will take hold and you could land on your head. Ok honestly, I haven’t done a handstand in awhile!

As a final resort, to emphasize how important it was that I pressed my feet harder, they turned to some Rhönrad wisdom: “If you want to make ketchup, you need to squash the tomatoes”.

And after that I lost all focus.

Anyway, it was really awesome.  The gymnasts make it look effortless, but it is a massive amount of work.  And it was really quiet in there. Afterwards the trainer suggested that they begin practicing spirals, but they all wanted to go home to watch Germany’s Next Top Model  🙂




+ A good example of a competition routine. (Also noted, the three ‘spectators’)

+ Must see! The dismount. It involves running up to a rolling wheel, climbing to the top, in motion, and then a sweet somersault dismount onto a landing mat. This is my fave video.






A Rainy Day in Nuremberg

We took an hour train to Nürnberg over the weekend and enjoyed our time in the city despite that it rained all day. The cold and dreary weather enhanced the Gothic sections of the city.  As one of our first excursions in Germany, I would recommend Nürnberg and consider going back for more exploration. The city has a distinctly grim feel, I am sure that I have not been anywhere like it. The train station is at the perimeter of the Altstadt so you can begin there and do a full day of walking, which is what we did.

St Lorenz
The images of Lorenzkirche (1250 A.D) are mainly in contrast to the Hofkirche from the previous post. It felt very gothic and dark, not as bright and romantic as the ornate 18th century chapel at the Würzburg Residenz. 



Saturday’s moody skies set the tone for our walk through the stone and iron corridors of the city’s 12thC imperial fortress.  Afterwards, we had the local specialty for lunch – Drei im Weckla “Three in a bun”, three smokies in a hard roll! And you get a pack of mustard! Not bad. Dad- I think you would like this!


Albrecht-Dürer House
Living space and workshop of artist/draftsman/printmaker Albrecht Dürer is now a museum with a neat interactive interface.

Long gone, Albrecht Dürer still has celebrity status in his hometown.
Dürer was a 15thC humanist. Instead of drawing from memory or imagination, journeymen were sent out to collect everyday natural objects for reference. This was a new approach to german art, and a fundamental contribution to the Northern Renaissance. At the same time, Martin Luther’s Reformation was in full swing; And across the continent in Italy, DaVinci was creating the Mona Lisa.

finally, yarn graffiti! I heard about this awhile ago and here it is. Derek saw this reference in Vita.MN last week or so about Mpls based yarn street artist HotTea.

A huge event in Nürnberg is the Christmas market beginning in November; We will definitely be back. The city was also a Nazi launch pad in the 1930’s and later the location where they were tried.



+ Jürgen Weber. Ehekarussell (Marriage Carousel).1978-1984. Nürnberg

+ Jürgen Goertz. Der Hase—Hommage à Dürer (The Hare—a Homage to Dürer).1984. Nürnberg

(Click to Enlarge)

nuremberg5  nuremberg2

nuremberg1  nuremberg3


Hofkirche at the Residenz

At the Würzburg Residenz there is a Hofkirche (Court Chapel).  The Hofkirche has been on my mind since we we visited last week.  Since college I’ve had an interest in how thoughtful architecture (use of natural light, acoustics, scale) can influence sacred spaces, and the Residenz chapel was breathtaking.

Below are a few more photos.  The planning architect of the Hofkirche was Balthasar Neumann, a german, who designed the adjacent palace. The paintings within the Hofkirche were badly damaged by fire and water during WWII and were restored in the twenty years following the war.

(click to enlarge)

Hofkirche2  Hofkirchefull


There is a second palace in Würzburg, called: The Residenz.

The Schönborn Bishop-Princes of Würzburg lived and hosted lavish gatherings in this building during the 18th-century.  Below is a small portion of a large ceiling fresco  on the grand staircase. The painting is 7200 sq ft, and was painted over 3 years by the Italian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. It was painted in the popular style of the Italian rococo rather than in the german tradition. The scene depicts the artist’s representation of the seven continents.

Balthasar Neumann,  was the architect of the Residenz and designed the palace in a Baroque architectural style. Würzburg was his home for a portion of his life.  The Residenz is a notable work for both the architect and painter. However, it was mentioned a few times during the audio-tour that Napoleon and his companion stayed one night in the grandest room of the Residenz.


residenz1    residenz4

Festung Marienberg

Our apartment is really, really close to Festung Marienberg. We actually park the car against the wall of the fortress! It is an understatement to say that we were surprised by the easy access.

The fortress is huge.  I haven’t been able to fit it completely in my camera frame yet, so the featured image is a little garden house along one of its pathways.  The surrounding green space is a city park called Landesgartenschau with walking trails, japanese gardens, and rose pavilions that are said to produce a splendor of blooms during the spring and summer. The fortress became a palace in 1600, and is today a museum.  It is one of the highest points in Würzburg and overlooks the city and surrounding valley.

marenbergsign  marien5


Würzburg sehr schön!

The most prominent geographical feature of the city of Würzburg is the Main River (pronounced ‘mine’), which stretches across Bavaria and meets the Rhine. It is situated in a river valley that produces Franconian wine.

Würzburg is so pretty.
I hesitate to say this at the risk of sounding like a travel guide, but it is a city brimming with life.  Local culture, history and geography are all present within a relatively small area.  It is a city for tourists, for pedestrians, for students, and for even those who like a bit of the good life. During the afternoon and evening, at least a hundred will convene to order a glass of wine and stand on the Alte Mainbrücke “Old Main Bridge” laughing and talking, gazing out over the river, enjoying the air and good company.

It will be easy to get used to this.

We received many recommendations to live in Würzburg.  Aside from the aforementioned benefits, there is plenty to stay busy.  Within the Altstadt “Old City” there are several historical sites, a couple of universities, shopping, nightlife, scenic walking/running areas and a giant medieval fortress which I think is super sweet. I was seriously hoping for Wü when I heard we were moving to DE. We considered a few scenarios: a) Schweinfurt, the city where Derek works b) a small german town c) Würzburg. For Derek, life in Würzburg will mean a 30-minute commute on the Autobahn each day to work (and then again home). So far it has been alright by him. It does mean a more exciting non-work life, and an amplified experience in general for both of us.

Just a short introduction to our new city; I will share more about the neighborhood and apartment soon.

+ Stadt Würzburg website
+ A City Tour YouTube video
+ Marienberg Fortress, conquered once, since 710 A.D.