World traveler Clown Tom Bolton

Adventure stories & photos

 

Tom’s travels to Northern + Central Germany, Europe

Northern Germany

Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein

As of May 2024, this page was separated from the one for southern Germany. Like Europe in general but Germany in particular, I have traveled it extensively but don’t have many photos from many places I visited because I was often working and not just on vacation. On my way to Scandinavia from southern Germany, I used to always stop in Kiel in the region of Schleswig-Holstein in the north of Germany. The city doesn’t look like much having been razed during WWII but I always met a lot of really cool people there and the “Kieler Woche” festival in the harbor area was great, back before they gave all the playable areas to more bratwurst stands. The ferry with the Becks logo docked across from this pitch use to send their waiters down to serve us free drinks and ice cream, which made us feel like kings. Those were the good old days!

Festival in harbor

Most of the festival is in the harbor area, which is at least a kilometer long in addition to the city center. The wooden boat regatta that is presented in a number of northern European cities each summer was just one of many events incorporated into this mega sized festival. What I failed to appreciate for quite some years was how nice many of the small beach towns in northern Germany were. The north Atlantic tends to be very windy but the Baltic Sea less so and it has extensive beaches, many of which were hardly in the eastern section used until after the wall came down.

Tarzan show

Here I was doing my Tarzan show in 1986. I had done comedy-juggling shows for years but my voice was always weak and then suddenly I developed asthma. Since I could no longer reliably speak, I had to develop a silent show. My first attempt was the Tarzan show which only lasted one season. I figured I could still yell and beat my chest and juggling with some wooden looking clubs would fit the character. I planned to have a sound system playing jungle sounds and drumming in the background but I never managed to find the right sounds.

My big gimmick was to use a blow-up love-doll for Jane who to get a dance from I had to impress with great feats of juggling. I thought the idea was good at the time but it never developed very far. To draw a crowd, all I had to do was to slowly blow up Jane and people would stop to see what the hell I was going to do with the doll. People stopped but the atmosphere was never right. Half of the people would be annoyed that I used such a prop at all although it was totally clothed and I never did anything sexual with it. The other half was annoyed because they felt mislead exactly BECAUSE I never did anything sexual. By the next year I had developed a silent clown character, which I have stuck with ever since.

Traveling in van or motorhome

A year or so after I arrived in Europe in 1983 I bought a VW van. 18 months later after it broke down, I got a Mercedes van which I had for 5 years. Then in 1990 I bought this late model motor home which I kept until mid-2008. I was on the road throughout Europe making shows and my vehicle was my castle, providing transportation, shelter and a place to cook and eat.

With fuel prices what they are and the difficulties in parking, I decided my current needs don’t warrant having such a vehicle anymore but I have many memories having gone throughout Europe for over 17 years in this. The picture is just before I sold it for very little money since it didn’t pass the new fine-particle emission laws in Germany, so it wouldn’t be allowed in the cities anymore and the taxes skyrocket on it but for me it was a real “magic bus” while I had it.

Typically, I would load my motorhome up with food after the Kieler Woche to last me the next 6 weeks or so while traveling in Scandinavia as the prices were so much higher there. At the end of summer, I would head south again, generally to southern Germany where the autumn weather tended to be much better. I later had an Opel Combo, which is almost like a mini-van but as of 2017 I decided to go green as possible and do without a personal vehicle. Now it’s public transportation or a car share if needed.

Central Germany

 

Speyer and Worms, region of Rheinland-Pfalz

We made a day trip to Speyer and Worms in mid-April 2024. The first stop was Speyer which is easily reached from Stuttgart in 2 hours on regional trains headed northwest. From the train station we took a bus south to the Post Plaza. From here one sees the medieval west gate tower which was part of the old fortification of the historical center. From there the Maximilian Street is the main pedestrian zone which runs all the way to the iconic St. Mary and St. Stephan cathedral. Rather than head directly towards the cathedral we swung south where one finds the St. Joseph Catholic church and diagonally across the even more impressive “Gedächtniskirche der Protestation” or Memorial church of the protestation. Either one might pass as the most impressive religious building in most cities, the memorial church’s main spires actually being higher than the Speyer cathedral and its interior with impressive stained-glass windows and a huge organ at least as ornate.

Speyer Rheinland Pfalz Germany old city gate
Speyer Germany St Joseph church
Speyer Germany St Joseph church interior
Speyer Germany Rheinland Pfalz Memorial church
Speyer Germany memorail church stained-glass windows
Speyer Germany Rheinland Pfalz postgalarie
St Joseph church Speyer Germany
memorial protestant church Speyer Germany
Speyer Germany memorial church organ
Speyer Germany memorial protestant church statues
Speyer memorial protestant church sign

From the St. Joseph and the memorial churches we circled around towards the cathedral passing a number of noteworthy historical buildings.

Speyer Germany Weinstube Eulenspiegel
historical building Speyer Germany Rheinland Pfalz
Rheinland Pfalz Speyer Germany
Speyer Rheinland Pfalz Germany freie Reichsstad

Speyer cathedral

Speyer cathedral, officially the Imperial Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and St Stephen was built around 1030 to 1124. It is the largest and most significant Romanesque church in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Behind the cathedral is a large park with many sculputure of historical royal figures from the Salain dynasty and a section of the old city wall fortrification with the “Heidentürmchen” watchtower.  In front is a large plaza ringed by historic buildings including the bishop’s house.

Speyer cathedral entrance Germany
Speyer Germany cathedral assumption St Joseph
Speyer Germany cathedral tower archway
Speyer Germany Catholic Cathedral
Speyer Germany Rheinland Pfalz historical buildings
Speyer cathedral entrance Rheinland Pfalz
Speyer Germany imperial-cathedral basilica assumption St Joseph
Speyer Germany Heiden watchtower city walls
Speyer cathedral Rheinland Pfalz Germany
Speyer Rheinland Pfalz cathedral monument
Speyer Germany catholic cathedral interior
Speyer Germany cathedral interior paintings
Speyer Germany Cathedral bishops house
Speyer Germany salian dynasty kings statues
Speyer Maximilian street

From the cathedral to the old city gate the main pedestrian zone and heart of the city commerical district is the approximately 1 kilometer long Maximilian street. Shops and cafe abound and jsut off to one side is the large Trinty church whihc we only saw from the outside

Speyer Germany historical city center
Speyer Germany stadthaus
city center pedestrian zone Speyer Germany
Speyer Germany street musician
Speyer Germany Rheinland Pfalz city center
Speyer Germany city center pedestrian street
city portal Speyer Germany
Speyer Germany trinity church
Speyer Germany Gerry Weber building
Speyer Germany freie Reichsstadt hotel
city wall tower Speyer Germany

Worms city of the Nibelungen in Rheinland-Pfalz

Worms is in the Bundesland of Rheinland-Pfalz and around 30 to 60 minutes north of Speyer where we had vested, depending on train connection. It’s major claim to fame is as the Nibelungenstadt or Nibelungs city. An old German legend mentioned in various poems, stories, plays and songs that had Scandinavian versions sets Worms as the place where kings of Germanic tribes, the Burgundian royal house ruled. A main figure in the story Hagen throws a contested treasure of the dwarf Nibling into the Rhine river. The myths includes elves, dwarfs  and a hero named Siegfried; so a prelude to Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones – and no less complex from the Wiki article I read about it.

What exists today is a city that looks rather unexceptional when arriving at the train station but a short walk has one along a ring of parks below sections of the old city wall. A distinct building is the Hylshof Museum which was formerly a palace of the Heyl family built in the bishop’s garden next to the St. Peter’s Cathedral, the most iconic historical site of Worms. It is still referred to as the cathedral although it is no longer technically one as the seat of the bishop was changed and was it demoted to a mere church in 1802. A blow to the local position of bishop which had been established in 614 and the cathedral started in the early 11th century. To my taste the stone used is rather rough and the exterior details less than intricate. Inside however it is very ornate; many paintings and glitzy, golden statues and a crypt that we visited as it was viewable for free in contrast to the crypt in the Speyer cathedral we had seen that day.

Worms Germany main train station
Worms Germany memorial fascism
Worms Germany Heylshof museum-entrance
Worms Germany city wall archway
Worms Germany cathedral trinity church
Worms Germany cathedral model Rheinland Pfalz
entrance st Peters cathedral Worms Germany
Worms Germany St Peters cathedral sign
St Peters cathedral interior Worms Germany
Worms Germany St Peters cathedral crypt
Worms Germany old city wall
Hylshof museum palaque Worms Germany
Worms Germany Heylshof back gate
St Peters cathedral Worms Germany
Worms Germany St Peters cathedral
St Peters cathedral fountain Worms Germany
dragon statue Worms cathedral Germany
Worms Germany St Peters cathedral alter
St Peters cathedral statue Worms Germany
Wormser Dom sign Germany

Worms Trinity church, city hall

Diagonal from the cathedral is the Trinity church or Dreifaltigkeitskirche, obviously protestant from its multiple signs about Luther. Btween the church and the cathedral are a couple of statues, one of which is a dragon which I assume is out of the Nibelungen mythology. Next to the chruch is the Wormser Rathaus or Worms city hall and a large plaza between them.

Worms Germany Luther cathedral advert
trinity church fountain Worms Germany
Worms Germany Rathaus city hall
Worms Germany statue cathedral
Worms Germany Rathaus platz church
Worms Germany trinity church

Nibelungen Museum, city walls, watch-towers

To the west of the city hall and pedestrian zone there is a section of the old city walls and watch-towers complete with a wooden structure that protected the defensive forces stationed on the wall. There is a museum connected to this but it was closed that day.

Worms Germany Nibelung museum city walls
old city walls Worms Germany
city walls fortification Worms Germany
Worms Germany city walls passage way

Rhine promenade, Rheinpromenade, Nibelungs tower

Continuing west one eventually comes to the Rhine river. Short before there is a large school called the Ersnt-Ludwig-Schule. From there one has a view past the statue of a guy named Küchler to the imposing Nibelungs tower and bridge. A modern bridge has been built on top of the ancient one passing through the middle of the tower. Nice that they saved the tower and old bridge but one has to question the decision to build a modern bridge over the old one since there is another modern one parallel to it, so why not 2 parallel? But the tower looms over the banks of the river and the promenade where one finds restaurants, cafes and plenty of flower gardens. There is also an iconic statue to Hagen, the mythical figure who is said to have thrown the treasure of the dwarf Nibel into the river.

Worms Germany Nibelungen bridge
Nibelungen tower Worms Germany
Worms Germany Rheinpromenade Biergarten
Nibelungenturm Worms Germany
Nibelungen Hagen Denkmal memorial Worms Germany
Worms Germany Hagen memorial plaque

Mainz, Rheinland-Pfalz

I was briefly in Mainz and Wiesbaden a couple of time in the mid 1980’s but never found a reason to return to either until end of April 2024. Mainz a medium sized city on the west side of the Rhine River in the region of Rheinland-Pfalz with Wiesbaden just across the river to the north-east in the region of Hessen. Frankfurt is 40 kilometers due east. Neither city is really spectacular having lost most of their historical centers during multiple wars but both have a number of notable buildings and attractive local architecture. Otherwise, both are lively cities with lots of shops and restaurants. Arriving in Mainz, we strolled towards the Rhine River passing the Landesmuseum (regional museum) with St. Peters church diagonal across from it. Next to this church was the Landtag-Rheinland-Pfalz (regional government building) and next to that the Staatskanzlei (state’s chancellery).

Mainz Germany city map sign
Mainz Germany main train station
Mainz st Peter church Landesmuseum
Landesmuseum Mainz Germany entrance
Landtag Rheinland Pfalz Mainz Germany
Mainz Germany 1500 sign
Mainz Germany Rheinland Pfalz architecture
Landesmuseum Mainz sign
Rheinland Pfalz Germany Staatskanzlei

Mainz, Kurfürstliches Schloss, Rhine promenade

Near the St. Peter’s church is the Kurfürstliches Schloss or Prince’s castle which overlooks the Rhine river and the promenade.

Rhine River princes palace Mainz Germany
Kurfuerstliches Schloss Mainz
Mainz Rehinland Pfalz Germany prince castle
Evangelische Christuskirche, Protestant Christ church, Neubrunnenplatz new fountain place

Circling back away from the Rhine we came upon the Evangelische Christuskirche or protestant Christ church, passing a curious building with an old sign for a life insurance company. A stroll along a long park and we reached the Neubrunnenstrassen (new fountain street) and adjacent plaza wiht the “new” fountain. Nothing spectacular here but it was a pleasant short pedestrian street with multiple restaurants and an amazing Turkish pastry shop.

protestant Christ church Mainz Germany
neubrunnen Mainz Germany
Mainz Germany Turkish pastry shop
Conconrdia life insurance Mainz Germany
Mainz Germany neubrunnenstrasse

Center of old city, Marktplatz, Dom St. Martin’s

After lunch in the Neubrunnenstrasse we headed to the main attraction of the city passing a number of interesting oddities in the main pedestrian shopping streets. But the heart of old Mainz is the Marktplatz or market place and St. Martin’s Cathedral. We were in luck that the weekly market held on the market place was in full swing adding color to the impressive historic buildings, fountains and old columns.

Mainz Germany pedestrain shopping street
luamaya shop Mainz Germany
Mainz Germany Rheinland Pfalz Marktplatz
obelisk Mainz marktplatz Germany
Mainz Germany Market place
Mainz Germany street market fruit stand
Mainz Germany outdoor market stand
Mainz market vegetable stand
Mainz Germany market bread truck
fruit stand Mainz market Germany
Mainz Germany outdoor market asparagus
weekly outdoor market Mainz Germany
Mainz Germany cotton-candy machine
Crepe truck Mainz Germany
Gutenberg statue Mainz cathedral Germany
Marktplatz Mainz Rheinland Pfalz Germany
Mainz Germany weekly market
Mainz Germany street market
Mainz Germany Marktplatz historical fountain
Mainz weekly market germany
Mainz Germany statues Market place
Mainz Germany outdoor market flower stand
Mainzer Dom St. Peters

Of course the over 1000 year old cathedral is the iconic heart of Mainz. It is extensive with a large main section, courtyard and multiple chapels on different levels. It was open and free to visit although there is a museum section that cost extra. We declined since one could see enough sculptures, paintings and other artwork as it was.

Mainz Germany cathedral entrance
St Martins cathedral Mainz Germany
Mainz St Martins cathedral archways
St Martins cathedral statue Mainz Germany
Mainz Germany cathedral plaque
St Martins cathedral interior Mainz Germany
Mainz cathedral baptism Germany
Mainzer Dom Kunstwerk
Mainz Germany cathedral courtyard
Gutenberg museum, Staatstheater – city theater

To one side of the cathedral and market place is the Gutenberg museum. The famous inventer of the printing press is the most known personality from Mainz having been born and spending his childhood there. In addition to the museum there are countless Gutenberg statues, plaques, memorials everywhere you turn. To the other side of the market place, passing a ineresting towered building  and across from another Gutenberg statues is the Staatstheater or state theater.

Gutenberg museum Mianz Germany
Mainz Germany Gutenberg statue
Gutenberg museum entrance Mainz Germany
Mainz Germany old city historical building
Mainz Germany Stadttheater

Wiesbaden, Hessen

We visited Wiesbaden in late April 2024. A bus from the main train-station took us to the city center, a maze of pedestrian shopping streets around the Marktplatz, market place and Schlossplatz, castle plaza. The main buildings ringing these open areas are the impressive Rathaus or city hall, next to the Marktkirche or Market church and across from there the Hessische Landtag or regional government building and the local tourist information.

Wiesbaden Germany city hall market church
Wiesbaden Germany train station
Wiesbaden Hessen Germany city hall
Ratskeller Mainz Germany
Hessische Landtag Wiesbaden
Wiesbaden Germany city museum
Wiesbaden Germany tourist information
Wiesbaden Germany rathaus marktkirche
Wiesbaden Germany city hall
Wiesbaden Germany marktplatz rathaus
Wilhelm I statue Wiesbaden Germany
Mainz Hessen Germany lion statue
Fussgängerzone – Pedestrian zone shopping

Other than some iconic buildings, most of central Wiesbaden is practical but not really charming. With some exceptions there are just mundane shops and department stores but with wide streets and open plazas. One souvenir shop advertised that it had the world’s largest cuckoo clock. Also saw a poster for the local  “Trickfilm Festival” or animated film festival, something that has become a big event in Stuttgart as well.

Wiesbaden Germany brewdog brewery
Wiesbaden Germany pedestrian street
Wiesbaden Germany worlds largest cuckoo clock
Wiesbaden Germany historical building statue
karstadt walking street Wiesbaden Hessen Germany
Trickfilm festival Wiesbaden Germany
Hessisches Staatstheater

East from the Marktplatz and Schlossplatz we went looking for the old Kurhaus or “cure-house”; a large spa in one of Germany’s early spa cities. We came upon the Staatstheater or State theater which we falsely assumed was the Kurhaus. This very beautiful, historic, ornate building has an annex which is a modern looking travesty to architecture. It is surrounded by a green open space and lake which we mistook for the “cure-house” gardens all of which were just a few hundred meters farther east.

Kurhaus Wiesbaden Hessen Germany
Mainz Germany Kurhaus historical building
Wiesbaden Germany Staatstheater
Wiesbaden Germany Staatstheater monument

Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Rheinland-Pfalz

We visited Neustadt in May 2024. One would translate its name as “new city on the wine street”. The region has many vineyards. It has a long history of settlement with artifacts from the Celts dating to before Christ and then Romans were there although no buildings from these periods exist. But different villages grew together and the names changed over the years. The photo of the main train station there caught a historical train that pulled in as we were leaving. There is a large historical building across from the train sation that is now a convention center. There was also a sign at the station giving information about 2 closeby museums; one for train cars and the other a bible museum.

Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany hauptbahnhof
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany convnetion hall
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany train bible museums

Neustadt and der Weinstraße Altstadt

The designation new city actually came in the 13th century and what is special about the town is its charming Altstadt or old city center. Previous fortifications and city wall are long gone but it has a number of impressive buildings around the Marktplatz or market-place like a large protestant church the Stiftskirche and Rathaus or city hall. Anotehr plaza on the other side of the church is known as the Katoffelmarkt or potato market. But rather than many imposing buildings, Neustadt is known for the many remaining old houses with shops, bars or eateries on the ground floor and multiple levels of apartments above.

Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany marktplatz sign
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany marktplatz stiftskirche
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany old city center
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany wine bar
Neustadt Weinstrasse half timbered house
Neustadt Weinstrasse historical gated building
Neustadt Weinstrasse Altstadt
Neustadt Weinstrasse Gasthaus zur Post
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany black cat bar
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany Gerberhaus restaurant
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany historical center architecture
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany war memorial
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany rathaus
Marktplatz cafes Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany stiftskirche statue
Neustadt Weinstrasse kartofelmarkt stiftskirche
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany pizzaria
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany weinstube
Neustadt Weinstrasse half timbered houses
Neustadt Weinstrasse half timbered restaurant
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany alleyway
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany altstadt
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany gated house
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany historical center
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany historical city
Neustadt Weinstrasse Germany Hintergasse

Saarbrücken, Saarland

I was in Saarbrücken in Saarland in west-central  Germany a number of times performing on the streets in the late 1980’s and early 1990s. It was lively on the weekends but somehow I stopped going there. I visited again in mid-May 2024 when I took these photos. It has a nice promenade along the river with shops and outdoor cafes and restaurants in parts and greenery and bike paths farther along. There is an old bridge over the river Saar but the top section of it is modern so no so charming to be indicative of the cities’ name. The center is on one side; on the other is a hill with fortified walls with a castle; all but the foundations being rather modern. But the castle church next to it is historical. In and around the castle are various museums and the old Rathaus.

Saarbruecken Germany train station
Saarbruecken Germany river barges
Saarbruecken Germany old bridge Schlosskirche
Saarbruecken Schloss castle Germany
Saar history museum Saarbruecken
Saarbruecken Germany castle fountrain
Saarbruecken saarland old city hall
Saarbruecken Germany promenade
Saarbruecken Germany historic old bridge
Saarbruecken Germany tower Saar river
Saarbruecken Germany old city panorama
saarbruecken saarland germany castle church
Schlosskirche church interior Saarbruecken
Saalandmuseum early prehistory Germany

Saarbrücken city center

Like most German cities the center of Saarbrücken is a maze of pedestrain shopping streets with many cafes and eateries. There is a central plaza called the St. Johanner Markt with a fountain the “Marktbrunnen”. Not far away is the St. Johann basilika with a lot of detailed golden sculptures.

 

Marktbrunnen market fountain Saarbruecken Germany
basilica St Johann Saarbruecken
st johann saarbruecken church interior
St Johann church Saarbruecken Germany
Marktplatz Saarbruecken Saarland Germany
St Johann church sign Saarbruecken
Saarbruecken Germany antique shop
Saarbruecken St Johann church interior
Altstadt Saarbrucken St Johann
Saarbrucken St Johann
St Johann church courtyard Saarbruecken

Saarbrücken Rathaus city-hall, Johanner church

Not far from the Marketplatz one comes to the backside of the “new” city hall AKA St. Johann Rathaus. One notices right away that it is a massive old building. Towards the front one sees the ornateness around the entrance that contain the Ratskeller, the standard German pub incorperated ito the city hall. Then one comes out on the small plaza and sees the front of the Rathaus. It is bold with many metal scultures and figures including a knight spearing a dragon. With the possible exception of the Munich Rathaus it is one of the most exceptional city halls in Germany in my opinion. Across from the Rathaus is another massive although not so appealing church called Jahanneskirche or Johannes church not to be confused with the nearby St. Johann church.

Saarbruecken Germany Rathaus city hall
Saarbruecken Germany Rathaus
Saarbrucken Germany Rathaus tower
Rathaus Johanneskirche Saarbruecken Germany
Rathaus Ratskeller Saarbruecken
Saarbruecken Ratskeller Germany
Saarbruecken Rathaus city hall
Saarbruecken Germany Rathaus dragon
Saarbruecken Germany Johanneskirche

So, those were just a few tales from my many travels over the last thirty and something years. I hope you've enjoyed another side of a traveling clown! If you want, write me an email or better yet, book my show or set a link to this website or just state me as the beneficiary of your will!

To book or see more information about Tom's clown show and entertainment, visit one or both of his clown websites:

Clown Stuttgart www.clowntombolton.com

Clown juggler Stuttgart, Gremany www.clown-event.de