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Living Across from a Palace

When we first arranged our apartment, we of course looked at a map to see where we'd be living. "Look," said Pat to Xandie, "we're going to live right across the street from a castle!"

"Pooh," said Geoff. Look at these streets on the map. We're going to be several blocks away. But it's only about 300 meters."

"Yay!", said Xandie, who doesn't care about minor details.

It turns out that we were both right and both wrong. It was 300 meters, but those "streets" are paths through the garden. We really are across the street from the "Schloß", a German word that translates as both "castle" and "palace". This one, as you can see from the pictures, has no defensive value to speak of, but is palatial as hell.

Since the city's name means "Karl's rest", it's no surprise that there are restful gardens behind the palace. What is surprising is their size and complexity. There are two playgrounds, miles of woods (which we haven't explored), a huge lawn for picnics and Frisbee, a duck pond, giant chessboards, a kiddie train that's adult-sized, a pottery factory, greenhouses, fountains...and that's only what we've discovered so far.

On Sundays, since by German law the stores are closed, everybody goes to the park. Actually, it's in use pretty much all the time. Xandie loves it, of course. She can run and play with other children, climb on very a unusual rope-based jungle gym that must be 25 feet high, feed the ducks, and generally wear herself (and us) out.

Last Friday, there was a special "Schloß in Flammen" (palace in flames) concert. After a full performance of opera arias, they played Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, synchronized to a fireworks display. The tickets were too expensive for us (30 Euros, or about $37), so we sat on the lawn with the peons and heard snippets while we waited. Germany isn't uptight about alcohol, so I went back to the apartment (it's handy to live so close!) and grabbed a bottle of wine. The fireworks were amazing, perhaps the best we've ever seen. There was only one oddity (from an American point of view): the color scheme centered around gold, rather than red, white, and blue. Sometimes you find cultural expansion in the oddest places.

This is the Karlsruhe palace (Schloß Karlsruhe), taken from the side
that faces our apartment.  Behind the tower is the largest portable
Ferris Wheel in the world.

A small part of the Karlsruhe palace gardens.  This picture really
doesn't do justice to the beauty and extent of the gardens.

The tracks of the mini-train that runs through the Karlsruhe palace
park.  The visible tracks represent perhaps 30 seconds of a 15-minute
trip; nevertheless, they give an idea of the scale and beauty of the

The Karlsruhe palace duck pond, viewed from the top of the giant
Ferris wheel.  Again, this picture doesn't give a good idea of the
extent of the grounds.

The Karlsruhe palace, the front palace grounds (which is the small
part), and the city of Karlsruhe, all viewed from the top of the giant
Ferris wheel that was set up behind the palace when we arrived.  Just
outside the grounds are two white buildings; our apartment is in the
right-hand one.

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© 2004, Geoff Kuenning

This page is maintained by Geoff Kuenning.