Deutschland/Österreich trip 16-26 April200 8

Writing this while still in the grip of jet lag may be a problem. This was perhaps one of our more enjoyable trips to Europe. Every place we visited was too short and too quick, otherwise, we were more than overwhelmed. The weather was mostly rainy and cold, so the photographs tended to not be quite so nice.
Departure was with Scandanavian Airlines on Wednesday evening. As usual, we popped a sleeping pill soon after boarding the plane, and off we went. The next day, we were greeted by an enthusiastic, and delightful Dr. Herbert, and then stayed two nights at his place, catching up on matters, discussing politics, etc.


Herbert and Betsy at a local restaurant

Me with a new pipe that Herbert got me
Herbert is always a delight to visit, and it was sad having to say goodbye. The next phase of the trip was Berlin, where we met Diane. Our first stop was the Kaiser Wilhelm GedächtnisKirche, close to the hotel we were staying in. Concurrently, the Dortmund-München Fußballspiel was occurring in Berlin, with fans everywhere on the streets, on the train and transportation, and in all public buildings drinking cases of bier and singing their team cheer songs. It was well behaved but very entertaining. The Kaiser Wilhelm Church was not repaired after the war, so we won’t forget what grief a war will cause. We won’t forget.

The next day, we visited many notable buildings, including the Reichstag

the Brandenburger Tor

and even the site for Hitler’s bunker, which now happens to be an obscure parking lot…

Poor Adolf, now buried beneath a parking lot and across from a Jewish memorial. We also went to the Pergamon Museum to see the Isar Tor, which is one of the smallest gates leading into the city of ancient Babylon, of fame noted by the book of Daniel

Of course, there was our first attempt at Döner, and we had what was called Dürüm Döner, which is Döner that looks like a burrito.

Rachel, we thought about you as we ate our Döner! On Monday, Betsy and I took a hop down to Lutherstadt Wittemberg to see the Luther sites. These included the Leucoria, which was the seminary where Luther taught

Luther’s house next door to the university

The church and door where Luther nailed the 95 theses….(this was not the original door, which was made of wood, and destroyed during the first 30 years war of the world against Germany, as well as Luther’s grave…

We also went into St. Marys Church (Marienkirche) where Luther did much of his preaching. Here is the ascent to the pulpit

In this church was a billboard that stated Luther’s sentiments quite accurately, “ Der wahre Schatz der Kirche ist das allerheigiste Evangelium von der Herrlichkeit und Gnade Gottes” (The true treasure of the church is the most holy message of the gospel regarding the majesty and grace of God). Indeed, something that Luther was missing in the Catholic church, and is unfortunately now missing even in Luther’s church as well as the Catholic church. Meanwhile, back in Berlin, we headed to Alexander Platz, which is sitting in east Berlin, and had a sense of some sentiment against the US…

Oddly, they need to express that sentiment to the two people that got them more trouble than Amerika, their old friends Karl and Freddy…

Wahnsinn. Diane was a delight to see, as she was most enthusiastic about her studies, and already becoming moderately fluent in the language. It was sad to say goodbye. After more bier and Döner, we headed to München. Here is Betsy in the main town square, in front of the City Hall (Rathaus). We mostly walked the town, went to the Englischer Garten, and had bier and Würst at the Hofbrauhaus

From there, it was to Wien (Vienna). There we met a friend of ours Doktor Annita Budzanowski, and stayed at their parents’ house, Edward and Aldona…

This was most precious to us. They were the most kind, loving, hospitable family. We truly hope we can be able to return kindness to them with a visit to the USA, or perhaps, getting Annita into a US surgical residency close by. The first night in Wien entailed a night at the opera, at the most famous Wiener Staatsoper, where we saw a production of Richard Strauss’ Solome.

What a special treat. I couldn’t say how extremely delighted Betsy and I was to be at one of the two most famous opera houses in the world, close up, actually enjoying an opera. Besides that, we walked downtown several times, went to the Wiener Kunsthistorisches Museum, where many Egyptian,  Greek, and Roman artifacts were on display, as well as the works of many Dutch and late Italian masters. There was a huge collection of Rubens, Rembrandt, Carravagio, and many other well-known artists. What a treat! The last evening, the Budzanowskis took us to Schönbrunn, modeled after Versaille and the summer residence of the emperors, and then up to the top of Kahlenberg, which overlooks the city of Wien

Schönbrunn was unfortunately closed so we couldn’t go in. Kahlenberg was the site where the Polish King Jan Sobieski led the attack on the Turks that had sieged the city in 1683. It is no wonder that Austria has a deep respect for the Poles. All in all, our visit to Wien was most unforgettable, made very special by the graciousness of our hosts, the Budzanowskis. Departure back to Seattle was difficult, but, its time to get back to work.