Well, I think I’m finally over my jet-lag enough to blog about my second day in Germany.
On Thursday, after my son-in-law left for work, my daughter took her dad and me to her favorite city. Bayreuth (pronounced: Bye-roit.)
It’s a beautiful little city in Bavaria Germany nestled in a valley beside the Red Main River. We parked in the parking deck and walked over the street to the mall before crossing over another bridge to enter the city center.
Bayreuth, like many towns in Germany, has a walking district. But it was hard for me to distinguish the walking districts from the driving districts. Both the sidewalks and roads had similar paving stones and even in the driving districts, there was often more foot and bicycle traffic than cars.
It was a beautiful afternoon, and the streets were packed with people out enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.
After lunch, we walkd through the city enjoying the scenery. Bayreuth is a gorgeous city.
And from there, we toured the catacombs under the city.The origin of the catacombs date back to medieval times. They were probably used as a prison and/or escape route during the 30-year war (1618-1648.)
As a young man, Friedrich II served in his father’s army. But he disapproved of his father’s harsh rule so at one point, he and two military buddies decided to run away and take refuge in England with Friedrich ‘s uncle, King George II. One of Frederick’s friends escaped, the other was executed, and Friedrich spent months in the catacombs as a prisoner brewing beer. He became a master brewer but after his release, he never brewed again.
Also in the catacombs, at some point around Friedrich II’s time, a foreign worker was buried alive inside the walls of the catacombs. His foot prints are still visible in the cement.
During WWII, the people of Bayreuth felt safe from the Allied bombings. It wasn’t until the end of the war on April 5, 8, and 11, 1945 that Bayreuth was bombed. Afterward, many of the city’s inhabitants fled to the catacombs, taking as many possessions as they could carry with them.
Children stayed together and an old farmer ventured out to gather fresh milk while a French prisoner of war heated it on his gas stove.
There was even a small hospital in the catacombs and according to our guide, at least one major surgery was performed in the cold, dank recesses of the catacombs.
I was fascinated by the history of the catacombs and although most of the tour was in Germany, our tour guide spoke fluent English and provided us with an English program guide.
In fact, most everyone we encountered spoke some English, and I did my best to learn German. And after the tour, we got to choose one of the great beers still brewed at the Bayreuth brewery. Then we headed back to my daughter’s car and the short ride back to her house.
Day 3 was good Friday and I’ll share my adventures in the Czech Republic and my sad attempt at speaking Deutsch (German) while hiking in my next post.