"One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Germany on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878." Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad


Lessons from Kaiser Wilhelm

The Kaiser Wilhelm Tower is perched on the top of a ridge overlooking the town of Marburg. It’s the highest point in town and known for its wonderful views of the surrounding area. Since we first arrived in Marburg we said repeatedly that we were going to climb up to it. One week after another passed until we decided to do it—for real. But the Kaiser had some lessons in store for us along the way…

Lesson #1: Always consult a map before embarking on a climbing adventure.

We decided to wing it and walk in the general direction of the tower. This resulted in us ending up on the wrong side of the ridge. Instead of going the way everyone else went, we took the most indirect route possible.

This is me exhausted and annoyed that we took the wrong path.

Lesson #2: Don’t let a Biergarten get in the way of your goal.

So we never actually made it up to the tower that Saturday, but we did make it to the café several hundred yards from the tower. The cold drinks were just too tempting, and the rest of the way to the tower was straight up a hill. Can you blame us? The view from the Biergarten was scenic enough for us.

The temptress.

The look of defeat.

Lesson #3: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Since the past weekend was our last in Marburg and we were running out of options, we decided to listen to Kaiser Wilhelm and attempt the climb again. This time we consulted the map for the most direct route.

Unfortunately, the most direct route was also the steepest route.

We (mostly me) needed to stop and rest a lot.

At least rest stops make good picture opportunities.


Lesson #4: Don’t forget to check your watch.

We were so immersed in the views and congratulating ourselves that we made it to the top that we neglected to check what time the tower closed. At first we were confused why the door leading to the top of the tower was locked, but upon checking the sign and our watches we realized why. The observation deck had closed five minutes prior. Oh well. We decided the drinks at the tower café were more appealing anyways.

Lesson #5: Always be on the lookout for danger.

And sometimes danger comes in the form of little hands. The father learned this lesson when his glass full of Apfelwein was suddenly knocked over by Penelope’s hand when he turned away, resulting in wet pants for the both of them.

Penelope without pants after the incident. Notice the smirk on her impish face. The father opted to keep his pants on even though it appeared to each passerby that he had just wet himself.

Thank you oh wise Kaiser Wilhelm for these insights, but we will not be back to visit your tower again.

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