Oh, Fall…how I have a love/hate relationship with thee. I love you because you’re beautiful. The leaves bursting with vibrant reds, oranges and yellows right before they fall to the ground. Germany has been spectacular with the autumnal colors…definitely gives the East Coast a run for its money. I loathe thee, because it means that life has amped up. Soccer season is in high gear, school is in session, and this time of year, everyone is starting to prep for the holidays. It’s funny–people tend to think that living overseas is completely glamorous and adventurous 24/7–passports in hand, spontaneity and just get up and go, right? Well…not quite. Passports are always in hand, but mainly in case we get pulled over. Spontaneity? That kind of went out the window when we got the dog. Sure we could probably travel with her, but let’s be honest. She’s a 9 year-old fluffy butterball. She loves walks…for the first 1/4 mile. Then she’s done. Finding a dog sitter or a kennel at the very last minute isn’t always easy. We’ve found an awesome sitter, but she’s got other clients and a life of her own.
This weekend we finally had nothing on the books–no soccer games, no goal keeping practice, not a blessed thing. It’s pretty rare this time of year. We decided to take a day trip to Burg Eltz…which is a really cool privately owned castle. I looked it up the night before and guess what? We’re going to have to take a rain check. Closed for the season. Since we hadn’t really explored in our own backyard, we thought maybe we’d just go drive around Kaiserslautern and check it out. But honestly? It just didn’t seem that appealing. We woke up on Saturday and Husband had a brilliant idea…let’s hop on the train and head to Saarbrücken for the day! Train and explore a new city? Done and done.
We decided to catch the train in Landstuhl rather than Kaiserslautern. The plus side? Landstuhl is closer to us. The downside? Parking is sketchy and basically luck of the draw. Trains don’t come in and out of Landstuhl as often as the ones in Kaiserslautern. Everyone seemed to be traveling in the opposite direction as us, so our train was pretty much empty. It took about 45 minutes on the ‘S’ train (and again…it wasn’t super schnell) to get to Saarbrücken.
History Time: Saarbrücken is a border town of France and Germany. It was founded in 1909, after it merged with two other cities. It was established in the Saar territory, which after WWI, was pretty much its own state. It was primarily German; however, the French decided that the coal mines (which was the primary industry at the time) would belong to France for 15 years as reparations for damages in WWI. At the end of the 15 year period (1935), an election was held and the Saar territory was reunified with German and became the federal state of Saarland. In WWII, Saarbrücken was completely schwacked. Seriously. This city and territory was heavily bombed by the RAF and the US forces. After the war, the area was under the French zone of occupation once again. France again decided to merge it with its own economy because of the coal industry. It wasn’t until 1957 that Saarland rejoined the Federal Republic of Germany.
When we arrived at the Saarbrücken Hauptbahnhof, the Hbf was a lot larger than we had thought. Makes sense, of course, as it’s the last city before the French border. When you exit the station, you get dumped out in the central part of the city. There’s a galleria/shopping mall right when you exit that have some fantastic stores and a 3-story H&M (where we found quite possibly one of *the* best purchases ever). As you walk out of the mall, the streets are pedestrian zones with shops, cafes and imbisses (little pop-up, mom/pop type food truck, walk-up window cafes). There are a few old churches nearby, but the striking difference of Saarbrücken from many other cities we’ve visited is the sheer lack of historical architecture. It’s a very modern-esque city and reminded me of a smaller version of Frankfurt.
We walked across the Alte Brücke (old bridge) that crosses the Saar River. Admittedly, the Alte Brücke didn’t really seem very Alte. Again, makes sense though…because really, when your city gets pretty much blown to bits in a war, there’s not going to be a lot of history that remains. We found the few historical places in the central area and loved that the city was very pedestrian friendly. There are parks in the middle of neighborhoods and walking paths everywhere. There were a lot of markets set up, but many were getting ready to close up shop since it was past lunchtime.
Speaking of lunch, by this time, Girl Child and Boy Child were essentially wasting away with hunger. No. Not really. They said that they were starting to get a
lot little h-angry. We walked back over to the row of restaurants and cafes and found an imbiss that was selling Middle Eastern food and fries. We ordered kebaps (their spelling, not mine) and frites…which was basically shaved, marinated chicken on top of fries, with a garlic yogurt sauce on top. They were delicious! Girl Child ate her share of just plain fries, but hey…we didn’t hit McDonald’s–total win for this fam!
After lunch, we decided that it was time to head back home. We went to the Hbf and there was a train that was leaving 5 minutes later to where we needed to go. We hopped on the train and all agreed that this type of spontaneous trip is completely worth doing. We’ve driven through Saarbrücken on our way into France, but never really thought to stop. So glad that we did!