Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Exploring Jena

Because we have no money, we haven't really gone anywhere. At the beginning of the summer we had big plans to visit Prague, Vienna, Switzerland, London, as well as a bunch of German places: Munich, Berlin, Neuschwanstein Castle, and Oberammergau. (Of course if we had lots of money I really want to go to Rome and Istanbul, but I kind of always knew we would get those in on this trip.)

But, since we're poor, we've been seeing a lot of Jena and tagging along with members of the ward to other cities whenever we can. A couple of weeks ago we visited the Freiberg Germany Temple, which was the first temple behind the Iron Curtain. We found mostly American temple workers there but the services were in German - so we had to wear headphones (that used an infrared receiver that you could wear under your clothes! I admit, I was distracted by this...). The temple is very small - smaller even than the "small temples" the church has been building the last 15 years or so.

Freiberg Germany LDS Temple

A few days later (I think...) we were invited to a free orchestra concert at the Volkshaus in Jena (folk's house - German is so easy). The played a lot of American tunes and were pretty good for a community orchestra. The concert hall was neat, though:
The Volkshaus in Jena, Germany
We also decided to go for a walk/hike up the hill behind our house. On the way we passed through the community garden plots that apartment-dwelling Germans can lease to grow vegetables and flowers. They were beautiful with lots of big roses that Jenna cooed over and lots of happy Germans puttering away.

A German garden plot on the edge of the city

Our walk was all kinds of lovely. We had a destination in mind (keep reading) but didn't know how to get there, so we just set off in the right direction. We only got yelled at by an angry German property owner once!

Dead-end street from whence we were summarily expelled by an angry German
We eventually found our way up the hill to the trails on the top and made our way to...
A pretty girl I found in the woods

Jena's own Bismarckturm (Bismarck Tower) built in honor of Otto von Bismarck's visit to Jena in 1892. (Apparently building a tower to honor one of Bismarck's visits is common in German towns.) You can read about the tower here via Google translate.
Pretty girl in front of the Jena Bismarckturm
Eagles at the top of the Jena Bismarckturm
We had some great views of Jena. You can just barely see our roof in the picture below with downtown Jena in the distance. Now you can start to appreciate all the hills in Jena, ugh!
View of Jena, Germany from the hills to the west

Some prettiness in Jena, Germany
Here's a picture from the window of our church building:
It's actually not a building - it's sandwiched on top of a couple of bakeries and surrounded by a hotel. It's located right in the center of Jena which is very convenient for most people (but, like everything else, down a huge hill from us). On the right (the red columns) is a cheap ice cream place Jenna and I visit regularly. The square is usually full of people with trams and buses arriving constantly. This square is also located pretty much in the center of Friedrich Schiller University (which is spread throughout the city), so there are lots of students and such around. It's a fun place to walk around on Saturdays as it seems there are weekly farmer's markets we've developed a liking for.

Here's my kitty friend I named Ralph.
Ralph
He waits for me outside the bus stop at Beutenberg Campus and is very friendly. I think he's quite old because he's missing half his tail, has large chunks taken out of his ears, and is missing most of his teeth. But he has a collar, doesn't seem underfed, and is very friendly, so I've concluded that he's happy.

The only problem is that he sheds all over the place and when he gets excited he gums my fingers and drools a lot.

This last picture is of a well-known stretch of restaurants in Jena called Wagnergasse. There are lots of neat restaurants along here in very cramped European style. On warm nights the narrow street is filled with tables and chairs and most people sit outside. We've had some yummy Italian and German food here, but have resisted all the locals urges to visit the American Cheers Restaurant/Bar because we already know what American food tastes like.
Wagnergasse, Jena, Germany

2 comments:

Jessica Rose said...

1. So many cool adventures! Loving it!
2. Love Jenna's dress. Want one. Where did it come from?
3. Happy birthday!! Cross-continental birthday hug!

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