CONTRIBUTED BY MACY ELDREDGE
Have you really checked out the city of Kaiserslautern? If you’re a local, I promise there are some interesting things to see in your own backyard! Do you live in one of the local villages, and don’t want to deal with parking downtown? Download the DeutschBahn app and get a ticket.
1. Take pictures with the different “Kaiserslautern Fish” around town.
Do you know the history of the fish? Have you noticed that many businesses and signs say “Barbarossa?” Well, modern-day Kaiserslautern was the favorite hunting spot of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (ruler 1155-1190). The open-mouthed pike on the flag of Kaiserslautern was supposedly Barbarossa’s favorite post-hunt meal.
2. Watch an FCK (eff-see-kah) match at Fritz-Walter Stadium.
Fritz-Walter Stadium is a sight to see in itself. In 2006, it was a World Cup venue, and can hold almost 50,000 people at capacity. From the train station in Kaiserslautern, it is a hike up to the entrance of the stadium. Get there early, and take your time walking up, stopping at the different beer and food carts along the walk. If you’re lucky, you may learn some of the chants before entering the stadium. Once inside the stadium, if you’d like to buy something from concessions, see one of the employees standing with a small machine in their hands, and buy a reloadable card from them so you can buy food (read: bratwurst) and drinks (read: beers). You don’t want to wait in a long line, only to realize they won’t take any actual money at the counter.
In Germany, soccer is called Fußball (foos-ball). 1. FCK’s nickname is The Red Devils. They currently play in the relegated league of the “Bundesliga,” which means they are one step below the main league in Germany. Their colors are red, black, and white, so get decked out in their colors, buy an 1. FCK scarf on your way in to the game, and watch some Fußball. If you’re daring, sit in the “Westkurve” (Westside) of the stadium, where the fans are legitimately insane (read: impassioned). If you’re with kids, or don’t want to stand up the whole game, then I would recommend buying a seat anywhere else in the stadium. Arrive early, and have fun. The 2016/2017 season began against the Hannover 96 on Friday, August 5, 2016 (we lost). The next home game is on Sunday, October 2, 2016 against Arminia at 13:30. You can buy tickets at the gate.
3. Go Museum Hopping in Kaiserslautern. First, check out the Palatinate Gallery of Art (Pfalzgalerie), where you will find paintings, sculptures, and beautiful neo-renaissance architecture. The Palatinate Gallery of art is located at Museumplatz 1, 67657 Kaiserslautern (Tue. 11:00-20:00, Wed.-Sun. 10:00-17:00). Second, head over to the Theodor-Zink Museum (an 8-minute walk), where you will find collections of architectural charm and collections of Palatinate folklore. The Theodor-Zink Museum is located at Steinstraße 48, 67657 Kaiserslautern (Wed.-Fri. 10:00-17:00, Sat.-Sun. 11:00-18:00). After leaving Theodor-Zink, relax at one of the bars or bistros on Steinstraße before heading home.
4. Experience 21 Lounge. On the 21st floor of the Town Hall Building, you will find the 21 Lounge. There is a bar and lounge area if you are just wanting to have a drink, or have a culinary experience and eat a delicious dinner ($$$). There is a seasonal menu, with rotating options. From the balcony, you can see all of Kaiserslautern. Rathaus KL, Willy-Brandt-Platz 1, 67657 Kaiserslautern. (Sun.-Thur. 17:30-1:00, Fri.-Sat. 17:30-2:00)
5. People Watch at the Japanese Gardens (Japanischer Garten).
This garden is the largest Japanese Garden in Europe. It is open from the end of March until the end of October each year. Bring your SWK Card for a discount on admission. Adults regular day ticket from 5,50 euros, children (up to 11 years-old) free. Garden tours are available with English-speaking guides on request for up to 25 people. Traditional tea ceremonies are also available (in German). Am Abendsberg 1, 67657 Kaiserslautern. (Tue.-Sun. 10:00-18:00)
6. Take a dip!
Join the Hordes at the Waschmüle. Also known as the “Wesch,” it is the largest swimming pool in Europe, with a separate baby pool. Most all outdoor swimming pools in Germany are open from May to September. Waschmüle 67659 Kaiserslautern (Wed.-Mon. 8:00-20:00, Tue. 12:00-20:00)
Act like a local at the Freibad Kaiserslautern. Not as large as the Wesch, but with lots of lawn space to lay out on a towel and relax. It also has 8 lanes for swimmers (50m long), a non-swimmer pool (heated), a 10m diving board, beach volleyball, and a separate baby-pool. Am Warmfreibad 67657 Kaiserslautern (Thur.-Sun., Tue. 8:00-20:00, Mon. 12:00-20:00, Wed. 7:00-20:00)
Experience the spa/waterpark blend at MONTE MARE Kaiserslautern. Let the kids run wild with a 1m diving board, a water slide that can be used with hoops, a giant water slide, artificial waves, and more. The parents can get in some exercise in the sport pool with six lanes (25m long), relax in the sauna and whirlpool, have a drink, or even get a massage. For those with little ones, there is a parent-child area with toys, a slide, and small fountain. Mainlander Str. 67657 Kaiserslautern (Mon.,Wed.,Fri. 10:00-21:00, Tue., Thur. 6:30-8:00 AND 10:00-21:00, Sat.-Sun. 10:00-19:00)
Enjoy nature at Gelterswoog. During the summer, beware the crowds on Saturdays. There is a small sand beach and platform. Rentals available. There is a kiosk, where I recommend a large Weißweinschorle (white wine and mineral water) to sip in the sun. Give yourself enough time to sober up before returning home. B270, Hohenhecken 67661 Kaiserslautern (Tue.-Sun. 9:00-20:00, Mon. 12:00-20:00)
7. Take a walk with the Dinosaurs at the Gartenschau. The garden exhibit is open from the end of March through October, with many events throughout the season. Be sure to bring your SWK Card for discounts on admission. There are discounted tickets for families and season tickets available. If taking the train, the stop is Kaiserslautern-West, which is right next to the Gartenschau. By bus, take the 105, 107, 112, or 117 lines that stop at the main entrance (Kammgarn), or line 102 which stops at “Schulzentrum Nord.” I recommend the Lego exhibit for littles ones and adults alike. This year there is a Star Wars exhibit which is impressive. From September 1, 2016 – October 31, 2016 enjoy the Kürbisausstellung “Royal,” where over 40,000 pumpkins are on display, featuring the “Frog King” and Robin Hood. Lauterstraße 51, 67659 Kaiserslautern (Open daily 9:00-19:00)
8. Get outdoors!
See nature in the city at Wildpark Kaiserslautern. The Forestry Office of Stadt Kaiserslautern built this open-air enclosure in 1970 for citizens to enjoy and observe the different game species indigenous (both past and present) in the Palatinate forest. Bring your binoculars or a sketch book for a good time watching the animals. Official hours are Tue.-Fri 9:00-17:00 and Sat. 10:00-14:00, where there are more animals to see. However, I also recommend a Sunday stroll into the forest to view the wild horses, frogs spawning, and view the beautiful 120-year-old trees. Park in the small lot on Entersweiler Straße (opposite the restaurant Quack), and follow the signs for the Wildpark.
Hike to Humberg Tower (built 1900), which affords views over the Palatinate Forest. Park at Bremerhof and follow the paths, which are easily marked with a red tower on a background of white (either painted or nailed sign marked “Humbergturm”). If you plan to mountain bike, it is an intermediate/advanced trail to the top, with many tree roots and steep inclines and declines. There are 162 steps up to the observation deck, after a steep (read: steepish) hike up to the tower. Once to the top, enjoy the sites of the entire city from the oversized bench. (Open daily year-round)
Enjoy a nice picnic in one of the two beautiful parks in Kaiserslautern; the Volkspark and the Stadtpark. On Sundays during the summer, enjoy concerts in the Volkspark. Enter the Volkspark from 37 or Enterweilerstraße. The Stadtpark is situated in between Pirmasenerstraße, Trippstaderstraße, Karcherstraße, and Parkstraße.
Hike to the beautiful and “romantic” Karlstal Gorge. You typically don’t think of sandstone cliffs when you think of the Palatinate forest, but here you will find the remnants of the Moosalbe river, which cut through the rock over centuries to form a beautiful valley, watched over by the Wilenstein Castle. The footpath through the gorge is roughly 3 kilometers long. From Kaiserslautern Centrum, take L503, L502, or B270 south to Karlstalschlucht.
9. Enjoy a German beer and some fresh air at a Biergarten.
Enjoy the tranquility of an authentic German Biergarten at Bremerhof. While parking is available, the best way to enjoy your beer is to work for it. Hike or bike up to Bremerhof from almost anywhere in Kaiserslautern. Once you reach the Pfalzwald, follow signs for Bremerhof. You can see signs from the street driving down Bremerstraße. Bus line 102, Bus stop: Dunkeltälchen. Bremerhof 1, 67663 Kaiserslautern. (Open daily year-round)
Across the street from the entrance to the Wildpark, relax at Quack. Here, there is a special each day with very reasonable prices. There is a large parking lot for Quack customers on Entersweilerstraße. Entersweilerstraße 74, 67657 Kaiserslautern. (Open daily, 11:30-21:00)
Enjoy light and air at Licht und Luft. Licht und Luft has a large private parking lot. It is the perfect end-cap to a day of hiking or hanging out at the pool. Enterweilerstraße 51, 67657 Kaiserslautern. (Open daily, 11:00-21:00)
áPollo is a small restaurant specializing in half chickens with various spice mixtures. The best way to enjoy your meal is in the small biergarten adjacent the restaurant. Conveniently located with private parking, it is the perfect ending to a day in the Pfalzerwald. Bremerstraße 12, 67663 Kaiserslautern. (Open Mon.-Fri. 12:00-14:00 & 17:00-23:00, Sat.-Sun. 12:00-23:00)
10. Immerse yourself in the culture by learning German as a foreign language at VHS Kaiserslautern. Offering intensive courses (5 days-a-week, 4 hours-a-day) to a more leisurely once-a-week option, you can find a class to meet your needs at VHS Kaiserslautern. With language classes in a reasonable price range, and books only 13-20 Euros per class, this school doesn’t break the bank. The receptionist speaks English and will be able to help you find the class you need to confidently speak to your landlord, neighbors, baker, etc. Kanalstraße 3, 67655 Kaiserslautern. (Open Mon.-Wed. 8:00-18:00, Thur. 8:00-19:00, Fri. 8:00-12:00, During the Easter and Fall Holidays Mon.-Thur. 8:00-17:00 p.m. & Fri. 8:00-12:00)