Our time in Horb-am-Neckar came to a memorable close with a written final exam, followed by a party that included our instructors and our host families. Each class prepared a few skits or songs, and a few students performed songs ad hoc, inspired by the cheers and laughter that followed each close of the curtain. Our class, Zimmer 9, performed two skits, videos of which can be found in my previous post titled “The End/Beginning.” The party was held in the very same room in which we had, just six weeks prior, sat in anxious anticipation of meeting the families with whom we would live for the next month and a half. This time, however, the room was buzzing with excitement over our successful completion of our language program.
The next day, we embarked on our final excursion to a city called Ludwigsburg, which is located just a short train ride outside of Stuttgart. Due to the close proximity of the city, we were allotted much more time on this excursion, which allowed us to see and do much more than on previous excursions. We saw the Altstadt, in which there happened to be a cultural faire taking place, and we explored an Evangelical church for a few minutes. Our guides took us on a long walk through the city to see some old houses and palaces, which also provided a great overview of the city. Before we entered the castle, we stopped across the street at Waldhorn am Schloss, the oldest house in Ludwigsburg. It has been an inn since 1707, and has housed some rather prominent historical figures such as poets Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Friedrich Schiller (who back in the day just so happened to live and study in Tübingen, along with Friedrich Hölderlin) as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
In the late afternoon, we were lead into the castle courtyard and let loose to explore the exterior. Schloss Ludwigsburg, or Ludwigsburg Palace, originally began as a hunting lodge by Duke Eberhard Ludwig of Württemberg in 1704, but gradually gained complexity and increased in grandeur over the years. Today, it is a stunning combination of architectural styles, namely Baroque, Rococo, and Empirical, surrounded by sprawling gardens, complete with exotic birds, huge antique swings, Rapunzel’s tower, and a children’s fairytale-themed park.
When it was time to take the tour, we split into two groups: German and English. The German tour took us through the servants’ quarters, the royal chambers, two magnificent indoor theaters, and countless lavishly decorated rooms and hallways. Once outside, we were treated to the annual pumpkin festival that was being held on the doorstep of the castle. The combination of hundreds of thousands of pumpkins displayed in the crisp fall air was a nice treat for those of us who are feeling a bit nostalgic for the Halloween season.
We returned to Horb that night worn out after our last excursion, but we managed to rally for one last party in the Black Forest. A few of us slept in tents that night, which was excruciatingly cold, but we awoke to a beautiful view of thick fog blanketing the dorf in the valley below. I spent my last Sunday with my host family in Ahldorf, relaxing on the couch and procrastinating packing up my things. I throughly enjoyed my stay with my wonderful host family, and I truly do miss them (and the home-cooked meals) very much.
On Monday, we met at the Hauptbahnhof in Horb and boarded the bus to Tübingen. I disembarked at the second stop in town at the Französisches Viertel, or French Quarter, and carried my things up to my room. The next few days were spent in orientations with the other students, reviewing crucial enrollment- and visa-related matters, as well as frantically attempting to pre-clean my living space and organize my things.
My next posts will include details of Istanbul, as well as my dad and brother’s week-long visit here in Germany, with trips to Oktoberfest and Bavarian Castles. As always, thanks for your patience.
Here are some photos from Ludwigsburg, enjoy!