The Place I once called Home
I worked in Ulm more than 23 years, from June 1980 to November 2003. Until 1992 I lived in Blaustein, a town made up of several small towns. So a suburb of Blaustein does not exist, it is just a name for the community. I lived in the suburb of Klingenstein, on a hill overlooking the valley of the Blau river (which flows into the Danube in Ulm’s historic centre).
In 1992 I bought an apartment on the second floor of this the award-winning building you see on this photo, located in the Ulm suburb of Wiblingen, 10 kilometres south of the city centre. It did not take me much longer than 10 minutes to commute to work there, as I did not have to travel during peak traffic hours.
I called the house Toblerone House, due to its triangular shape. This makes it look like the famous Swiss chocolate. It it made of thick concrete with fantastic insulation qualities. Although the whole eastern front was made of glass panels, full height windows and doors, you did not have to heat a lot in winter. The lounge had a roof-shaped ceiling of an impressive height of about four metres.
My apartment had two terraces, one of which was huge. It was partly under the roof of the terrace above and sheltered from rain and snow. At the edges there were huge flower beds where I planted shrubs, dahlia, lilies, delphiniums and lots of herbs, really like a small garden. I had climbing plants in big containers, they covered the walls. There was plenty of space for outdoor furniture and a cupboard with garden tools, potting mix, just everything you need for gardening. The kitchen benchtop was like a bar between the kitchen and the terrace, so you never had to walk around with plates and glasses if you had breakfast or dinner outside, you just passed everything into the kitchen through the open window.
Although you had to drive through a not very flash street with several cheapisch highrise buildings, home to many immigrants from Russia, the location of “my” house was fantastic. It was just some metres from a big forest (Gögglinger Wald) where you could go jogging and cycling, and behind the house were nice one- and two-storey row houses. It was not far from the river Iller, and not really far from the Danube either. You could easily cycle to the city on several cycling tracks, and of course, go on big cycling tours just from the door step.
It was a quiet location at the time, and I had wonderful neighbours in my house. When we fixed leaks in our house in New Zealand, and try to stop all the airdroughts, and when I freeze in winter due to the lack of central heating or think how primitive it is to only heat the room where we are in, I often think about my wonderful apartment in Wiblingen.
Wiblingen itself is, as said, a southern suburb of Ulm. Coming from the city centre, you cross parts of Neu-Ulm and therefore Bavaria to get there. The Iller river also is a border.
Wiblingen has a rich history, with a splendid monastery church and an even more fantastic Baroque library as the highlights in the historic part of the town which was about a kilometre or two from my house.
On photo 2 you have a fontal view of my apartment.
Nabada – Bathing down the River
I can explain you what this word means. But how should I explain how to pronounce it?! But let's try, nothing is impossible ;-)))
It surely is not pronounced Na-ba-da, like dadada LOL It is more like Naaaaaaa-baaaaaa-da, with the stress on the first syllable, and the last a as short and insignificant as the “the” sound in English, just the start not as th but as d… Well, try it, and if a Ulmer understands you you have learnt a unique Swabian word ;-)
Nabada. The first syllable “na” stands for the Hochdeutsch word “hinunter”, meaning: down. “Bada” is Schwabisch for “baden”, meaning: to bathe. So the whole word means: hinunter baden, or: to bathe down. And the “Nabada” as a noun means: bathing down, and actually: bathing down the river. And there we are: bathing down the Danube river.
This is exactly what happens at the Nabada. Boats, floats, airbeds and other inflatable items, bicycles on inflatable tyres, kayaks, kids swimming pools, barrels, and of course, a lot of people are bathing down the river in a carnival-like procession. (Not to forget the emergency services of DLRG, the German Life Savers Community…)
It really is a bit like the carnival processions of Cologne and Mainz, just that the big themed waggons are not on wheels but on boats. Even music bands are floating down the river, accompanied by hundreds of locals in and on their makeshift floating devices. Take care, some of them try to bucket you from their floats, others would shoot at you with water pistols. The battle call in and outside the water is:
“Ulmer Spatza, Wasserratza, hoi, hoi, hoi!”
(Ulmer Spatzen, Wasserratten – Ulm Sparrows, Water rats)
The Nabada track is about 7 kilometres, from the start of the historic city centre to the fairgrounds (Volksfestplatz) in Friedrichsau.
It starts at about 4pm on Schwörmontag, the third Monday in July (20 July in 2009).
In case of rain the Nabada is cancelled. To find out you either have to look up to the cathedral’s spire (they put out red baskets if the event does not take place) or call the city’s info phone (0731) 161-0.
The biggst crowds are along the city wall. A more relaxing place to enjoy the procession is Friedrichsau. Either take the tram or bus to Donaustadion, or walk. If you want to go there by car, best you park at the carpark of Volksfestplatz or Donauhalle, and from there walk to the riverbank. You have to be there early to get a good place right at the waterfront. Best you take a blanket or folding chairs with you, so you do not have to stand the whole time while waiting for the themed boats. You do not necessarily have to bring your own food and drinks, there are stalls every some hundred metres, and if you are close to Volksfestplatz you have the full choice.
Apologies for my not so flash photos. But when I attended the Nabada the last time I was happy that it took place at all, as we had drizzle and even light rain. So the start was delayed. But lucky me it took place. Just imagine it with blue sky and sunshine, it is wonderful :-)
Photos as soon as I get closer to my external hard drive... ;-)
Französisches Dorf - French Delights
Another newish festival in Ulm. It takes place in August and is located at Volksfestplatz in Friedrichsau, a bit further down east on the banks of the Danube.
This is nothing but a culinary feast, with French food and wine all over the place. Many food stalls are built around a square which is dominated by a small replica of the Eiffel Tower.
The restaurants are either replicas of other French landmarks like the Moulin Rouge or Sacré Coeur, or just inspired by various French landscapes, especially Provence.
Wherever I arrive on holidays abroad, I shall always be on the lookout for special kinds of honey.
Here in Ulm I found another kind of honey, never tasted before.......
They also sold: propolis, Pollen and Gel?e Royale, all products from the BEEHIVE and excellent for you mental and physical well-being.
The address: Ulmer Honigh?asle....
The fountain with the statue of St. Christophorus was made around 1480 in the workshop of Jörg Syrlin the Elder, one of Ulm's most famous medieval sculptors (now a copy, original in the Ulmer Museum).
The legend says that if you look at a picture of Christophorus you won't die that day. Make sure you visit this fountain...
Location: Weinhof, in front of the Schwörhaus