"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


Bad Wimpfen

On Sunday we traveled with some friends to the picturesque town of Bad Wimpfen to visit their Christmas market. It's one of the oldest in Germany, in existence since medieval times. The town is about an hour trip down the Neckar River from Heidelberg.

Here is our gang: Kathleen (American studying at Heidelberg University), little Maarti, Nina and Juha (from Finland, Nina is also studying at the University), and me with Penelope. Plus the father on camera duty.

Bad Wimpfen is known for its half-timbered buildings, winding cobblestone streets and medieval fortifications. The town was of course decked out for the holidays. There were miniature fir trees mounted on most of the buildings and decorated stalls lining the streets selling local food and handmade items for purchase. The stall in the left of the picture was selling local honey and beeswax candles--hence the wicker 'beehive' atop the stall.

Very skinny half-timbered house.

The market keeps going and going...

The town church. Built in the 13th century, its interior is one of the most colorful we've seen. We're not sure, but we suspect that the frescos on the walls and ceiling had been recently restored. Two of the coolest things in the church are the Apostle's Creed that is painted line by line on each wall of the church with an accompanying apostle above it--for a touch of comedy the face of St. Phillip is the face of Martin Luther!

The other striking feature is the 14th century crucifix. First, it is one of the more graphic crucifixes with its exaggerated wounds and unrealistically gaunt and veiny Jesus. They also gave him real hair (still the original stuff!). But the best part are the moveable arms. With these you can take Jesus off the cross, lay him in a tomb, resurrect him, and then reenact the ascenscion. The ascenscion is the best part. They would actually run a rope through the ceiling of the church and lift Jesus through a specially designed opening at the top. This must have been high drama for the Middle Ages!

Christmas stalls below the church.

Funny old man advertising his "Punch and Judy" puppet show taking place that afternoon.

And off he goes with his gorilla

Crowded streets and mistletoe.

Baby, it's cold outside!!!

Penelope went on her first carousel ride.

The lights were a bit overwhelming for her.


Nina and Maarti tried it out too.


The chilly temperature gave us an excuse to keep the Gluewein flowing. Here is Kathleen trying out the Feuerzangenbowle (mulled wine with carmelized sugar and rum). Tasty!

Penelope felt the market was much better from this perspective.

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas!

What really made this trip fun was the first snowfall of the year. There were huge snowflakes falling most of the day. Not much stuck, but it sure was pretty to look at. Unfortunately, the camera couldn't capture it, but if you look really close, you can see a snowflake or two!

Is that dandruff or snow in his hair?

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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