Feb 02

This next post is a bit long. It was a very full week! Sadly, photos cannot compete with experiencing the sights and smells and tastes of Deutschland.

 

I have now finished studies at the Goethe Institute. All went well, but I feel like I am even closer to actually feeling competent with the language. The hardest part for me remains understanding language on the street, as well as remembering the articles. If German had no articles (die, der, das), it would be incredibly simpler to learn. At the end, we had a little test, and I did the worst in Grammar, the best in conversation. So, that means that I must study the Grammar more.

 

In the last week, I did a short trip down to Köln in order to run up to the top of the Kölner Dom.

It is difficult to describe in photos the massive nature of this church, standing as the most prominent edifice on the Köln skyline. The bell itself was about 16 ft high, with four other surrounding bells.

 

I had finally started to get to know most of the classmates, so it was a little sad saying goodbye on the last day of class.

Photo shows Fatima (Libya), Anna (Italy), Ela (Poland), Shigi (Japan), Nazim (Turkey), Aliraza (Iran), Evana (Uraguay), Elana (Russia), Nadia (Russia), Tseje (Japan), Mia (Japan) and our teacher Roman Truhlar.

 

I decided to walk home after the last class, since the weather was so nice. It was about 8 km and it took me about 50 minutes to complete.  That same last evening, a number of us from the school went out to the Füchschen for dinner. I tried the Eisbein, as no such thing can be ordered in Amerika.

 

It tasted great, far more than I could eat. All in all, it was a great time, with lots of food and beer, and yet not terribly expensive. Most of the group then went out for Salsa. Me? No way, José! Ich bin nur ein alter Knacker. Staying up way into the ungodly hours just doesn’t suit me anymore, unless I’m forced to do so, or am climbing Mt. Rainier, or ….

 

After touching base with Herbert, we headed out to Würzberg the next day. Our destination was a close couple of Herberts’, Katja and Hannes. They live in a small village close to Würzberg, so from there, we were able to see the Altstadt of Würzberg. This included many nights of chatting, mostly in German, about Alltag in Deutschland.

Much of Würzberg was not destroyed in the war, so many of the old buildings were still intact. *Correction: Würzberg was heavily damaged in the war, owing to an absolutely pointless and idiotic bombing raid by the Brits, in spite of the fact that Churchill had studied in Würzberg and should have known better than to bomb the town, achieving zero military advantage. It was at the end of the war, when there was no question as to the end of the war. It leaves me always wondering about who the most evil character was in WWII: perhaps it was Churchill and not Hitler or Stalin.  You can read about the damage (in German) athttp://home.arcor.de/christoph_rose/wuerzburg/zerstoerung_von_wuerzburg.htm.We went on a tour of the Residenz. Würzberg has an archbishopric here, and the Residenz was the home of the the Archbishop. It was probably nicer than many of the palaces I saw in Europe.  The Altstadt also had the place where Röntgen discovered x-rays (sorry, no photo), and the many churches in the area.

The next day, we went to Bamberg, also a city with an Archbishopric, and not heavily damaged during the war. There we saw the Altes Rathaus, which has river flowing on each side of it.

We also walked the streets, went up to the Bamberger Dom, where King Heinrich II and Queen Kundigunde were buried in the early 11th century. Awesome. There were many art artifacts, including the Bamburger Reiter (seen in the top-most photo and below).

We also had dinner in a quaint restaurant, and drank the beer unique to that area, which was a dark beer with a smoky taste, called Rauchbier, or Smoked Beer. It actually tasted incredibly good. Of course, we also ate Bamburger und Nurnberger Wurst with sauerkraut. Like I said in previous posts, the food doesn’t get any better than this.

Finally, we had to say goodbye to Katja and Hannes and headed up to Leipzig. Leipzig was not in our original plans, but instead, we were going to visit Hille in the Rothalmünster area, but she had a case of the Grippe (flu). So, plans were quickly aborted, the internet searched, and new arrangements made. From Leipzig, we will be going the Nürnberg, again to Katja und Hannes, and then back to Krefeld. Shown below is the Kakelofen in their house, typical for Germany, and their dog, very gentle like a Golden Retriever, but a bit larger, and behaves more like a watch dog.

 

By the way, I have in the title “Franken”. Northern Bavaria is a region of people that are called the Franken, and do not like to think of themselves as Bavarians. In fact, they have been to Oktoberfest only once or twice, and then, did not enjoy themselves. Nürnberg, Würzberg, and Bamberg are all in Franken. There is also a small region called the Spessart, close to where we are made famous by the story about the Wirtshaus in Spessart by Wilhelm Hauff. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen it translated into English.

 

Leipzig. The road to Leipzig was on a new autobahn, that included 5 very long tunnels, the longest being 7800 meters. It was snowy.

We arrived in Leipzig at about 3 pm, so didn’t have much more expected daylight. We first ran to the Volkerschlachtdenkmal, built to commemorate the victory of the German people over Napoleon, at the battle of Leipzig. It was a massive slaughter, but started the end of the “French Hitler”. Oddly, Napoleon is still adored by the French.

That evening, we went to the St. Nicholas church, where Bach regularly performed, to the St. Thomas Church, where Bach was cantor, and to the famous Auerbach’s Keller, described in Goethe’s Faust.

Herbert and I were able to enjoy a beer in the Keller, and Mephisto never showed up.

 

Here is the St. Nicholas Church. It was in 1989 at this church where students held regular non-violent protests that stirred the East Germans to protest, leading to the fall of the Communist DDR regime.

 

The St. Thomas Kirche was truly impressive, being a very large church. The original organ no longer exists, though the present organ is quite impressive. I’m sure Jonny would have loved to have his fingers tickle the ivories of that organ.

Bach was originally buried in the Kirchhof (church grounds) of the St. Nicholas church, but was moved to the St. Thomas Church because of the destruction recieved to St. Nicholas church in WWII.

 

Off to Nürnberg. Much of the city was preserved, including much of the old city walls.

There is much I could say about the city, including the churches, the streets, the statues, etc., all of which were overwhelming, with a mix of the ancient and modern. The most impressive site of all was the castle (Kaiserburg), which was visited by every King of Germany since the early 11th century, including Heinrich IV and Heinrich V, Barbarrosa, etc.

The third photo shows the Turm (tower) that is the symbol of Nürnberg, and well as the well house, where a well 150 ft. deep through solid rock was dug to supply water to the Burg. The fourth photo is the room where the first Reichstag meeting was held for every new Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire. The last was the chapel with a balcony where the king and queen sat, the regular floor where the dukes sat, and then a floor underneath, where the common people sat.

 

We then went to the Reichspartei grounds of the Nazi era. Unfortunately, we walked around alot, but I just didn’t take enough photos. The most significant was the Zeppelinwiese, which most people should recognize from the large rallies which were held there. I had to have Herbert take my picture standing in the place where Hitler stood 70 years ago.

 

Lastly, Herbert and I made a mad dash down to the town of Feucht. Not too many people have a town named after them, but we do.

It was truly a beautiful town, very quaint, extremely clean, everybody was polite and courteous, the most perfect place to have named after ones self. Eat your hearts out, dear readers.

 

I’ll be home this week. Thank you everybody for your e-mails and comments. I don’t respond to many of them, but always enjoy getting them.

 

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