Tag zehn: Up High in Ulm

May 14th

The train ride to Ulm in the morning was pretty quick, and we went straight to the church. I don’t know what I expected knowing it’s 768 steps up, but it seemed like way more than that! By the time we got to the halfway point it was hard to tell if we were actually getting any higher by looking down!

But when we fiiinally made it to the top, the view was still worth it and the wind helped cool us down from the hike. Eventually it was time to go back down, and I was extra grateful for the spiral column in the middle that served as a railing.

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The Danube river from the top of the minster.
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The minster’s shadow over some buildings.

On the train ride and the walk to the church, I was tired and kind of out of it, but after the intense climb up and down, I was awake and ready to take on the day.

Next up was tour time! The tour guide was cool, and asked us a bunch of questions about where we were from and such. He took us to the church, the town hall, which featured more painted architecture, and the memorial for Hans and Sophie Scholl. The siblings were student activists who protested the Nazi regime, which ultimately cost them their lives. Although they protested primarily in Munich where they attended the University of Munich, their family was from Ulm, and the memorial stands where their family home once stood.

He told us to keep a look out for sparrow imagery or statues, since the sparrow is Ulm’s mascot. Apparently, this is because when the church was being built, construction workers couldn’t get structural pieces through the city walls, until they noticed how a sparrow turned straw in its mouth to weave through obstacles. The workers took note, and were able to continue the construction, thanks to the nimble sparrow.

He also told us about a theory into how the church survived the bombing when most of the city was destroyed. Apparently, it was likely that pilots used the tall steeple as a landmark to orient themselves in the air, and bombing it would have made it more difficult to navigate the skies, which I found really interesting.

Our tour guide also took us to the few other parts of the city that weren’t destroyed by bombings during World War II, where buildings from the 14th century still stand. One of them is on one of the many small canals that flow into the Danube river, and over the centuries it has sunk slowly into the small bank, causing it to lean quite a bit. Our tour guide told us how back then you would pay taxes based on the perimeter of your property on the street, but people found a loophole through the law by making the ground floor of their home small, and then making the upper floors wider. It was certainly a way to “break the game.”

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One of the leaning buildings, with the upper floors larger than the ground floor.

We also went to the wall along the river that used to be the city limits in the medieval age. The walk along the top of the wall had a nice view of the river, and parallel to the wall were some nice wide bike lanes.

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The view from the city wall.

I liked the little bridges over the small canals, and can’t imagine how nice it would be to live right on the water like some of the buildings are.

Since none of us are from Ulm, our tour guide was nice enough to end the tour at the restaurant we were having lunch at, the Allgäuer Hof. It’s a crêpe restaurant, and after some deliberation over the large menu, I decided on a savory chicken crêpe. While we were waiting for our food, Ravi and Steph discovered the ad covered paper towels, another interesting German innovation.

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Ravi and Steph with the ad covered paper towels.

We were all starving, and were very excited when the giant crêpes came out.

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My large, delicious crêpe.

Despite how hungry I was, I couldn’t finish my lunch, but luckily Jeff was still hungry. I did save a little bit of room luckily, because we still had cake to belatedly celebrate Eamonn’s birthday. Apparently, Arielle and Sonja had arranged for the restaurant owner to bake two strawberry cakes for us, which were delicious.

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Homemade cake with fresh strawberries!

We took a little too long eating cake, because we half ran to the train station to make sure we wouldn’t miss the train. Of course, when we got to the train station we found out it had been delayed ten minutes.

After we got back to the hotel, the SGL Americans grouped up, and after a detour at Starbucks, we were back at the University of Augsburg to finish our presentation.

We all worked really hard to just about finish our presentation, on beautify.ai instead of Google Slides at Ravi’s insistence. When we left the university for the evening we were proud of the work we had done, and with just a few more things left to do, we knew we would have a great presentation.

We had worked so late that the other groups had already left for dinner, so Maxi took Eamonn, Ravi, Esme, and I to a different döner place, which was even better than the last one! The sandwiches were bigger, and had corn and more types of cabbage, though the owner didn’t give us free Turkish tea.

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As Ryan says, camera eats second.

We talked at dinner for a while, then moseyed back on to the hotel, where I did some blogging and work on the wording for my part of the presentation before bed, resting up for the big presentation day.

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Signs one and two of the day.
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Sign three of the day.

The first two signs of the day are minimalist signs depicting the Ulm Sparrow on the left, and the Ulm Minster on the right. It took me a minute to realize how the left image represents the sparrow, until I recalled the story, and recognized the long thin line as straw, and the triangle as the sparrow’s beak. The second poster is clearly the minster, although much less intricate than the one in real life.

The third sign of the day is a warning sign at the train station, indicating that you should stay away from the edge of the platform. I like the detail on the train of the arm that connects to the electricity lines.

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