Rivers & Ruins

Somehow we’ve managed to have some lovely, warm (16 deg C!) weekend days in March, which means rather than lazing around all day, we’ve had to kick ourselves out of the house and go explore. It’s a rough life. For the last two weekends, we found ourselves in the bustling metropolis (heavy sarcasm) of Blaubeuren, a little town only a 15 minute train ride from here. Why keep returning to this city of less than 12,000? A city that, with the exception of a handful of restaurants, is completely shut down by 1pm on a Saturday afternoon? Well, there’s this:

That would be the Blautopf, the source of the river Blau and part of an apparently impressive cave system. The river really is unbelievably blue (no photoshopping!), almost like it belongs in some tropical sea, and is due to all the limestone in the water. From this spring flows a very calm, picturesque river that winds through the town and out through the nearby farmland. Eventually it ends up in Ulm, splitting in two in Fischerviertal (Fisherman’s Quarter), before emptying into the Danube.

To dive in the caves you need special permission, and presumably some experience diving, so taking those obstacles into consideration we opted to attempt some hiking instead. We’d read that somewhere between 4 and 12 kilometers from town were some old castle ruins (google really fails on the obscure German hiking front) and so we set out to track them down. Based on a series of questionable maps, we couldn’t quite figure out the most direct route and so we chose the most promising direction, with the most legitimate looking path and started on our way.

I realize this is the point certain parental figures start getting irritated and begin mumbling things about safety, but seeing as we could see the entire town from our path, and we had a backpack with some supplies, I wasn’t too fussed. Of course, there’s always the possibility of running into a wild boar or two, but I’m pretty sure that’s something only Northern and Eastern Germany get to deal with.

A quick 30 minutes later, we’d arrived at the ruins, obviously managing to find the 4km path versus the 12km one and began poking around. The Rusenschloss Ruins were…ruins. Not altogether surprising, as the castle was first constructed in 1080. A few stone arches, some narrow steps, a castle wall and an excellent view of the city. I’ve had a hard time tracking down much history, but given that the Blau River isn’t exactly a major shipping byway, it’s a little odd someone put in the effort to construct something so high and out of the way. Points for utilizing the natural rock outcroppings as foundation and walls though, as that had to have made building easier.

(Here should be an image showing the beauty of the Rusenschloss Ruins, first constructed nearly 1000 years ago. Turns out I got lazy and took approximately zero. Reporting at its finest. I did take lots of pictures of the city and the farming going on below. This is roughly the same sort of farming scene I grew up with.)

All the crazy rocks in the area are named and seem to have something exciting going on, so on our way back down we climbed around the Grosse Grotto, which looked as though it had been carved out of water, even though it’s about 500 feet above the river. I even found a weird American to take a picture of.

So, now we’ve got some 1000 year old ruins under our belts, although I’m thinking we’re going to need to start expanding outside of Germany. Turns out Europe is sort of stuffed to the brim with castles to explore.

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