Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mainz and the Gutenberg Museum - October 24, 2015

Back of the Cathedral in Mainz. Lady in the foreground looks cheerful, doesn't she?
We joined three other couples in Mainz about 45 minutes southwest of Frankfurt. This city was founded as early as 13 AD by Romans as an outpost of the empire. It eventually became the capital of the Roman province Germania. The city is on the western side of the Rhein River where the Rhein and the Main rivers come together. Saturday is apparently market day in Mainz in the plazas surrounding the cathedral in the old city. Our intention was to visit the Gutenberg Museum (more about that in a minute), and the market was a bonus.

When we arrived, the market was teeming with people. Bakers, butchers, cheese makers, vegetable and fruit vendors, flower sellers, and assorted other marketers were set up everywhere. With a couple of exceptions, a person with a rolling shopping bag (there were many) could do an entire week's grocery shopping, including wine and flowers. We really enjoyed wandering through the crowds looking at the beautiful fruit and vegetables and sampling unusual cheese and bread.
Cold and damp in the morning

Cut flowers or arrangements - everything was available
Everything is metric - you buy 10 roses, not a dozen
The covered stalls tended to be a little more expensive - guess you have to pay for the tent

These guys had magnificent vegetables

These are tomatoes. We've never seen any like these. We should have bought one to try it out.
There were acres of marketplace
Fruit, wine, fruit preserves, and vinegars
Crepes filled with vanilla cream and cherries
The open market squares were flanked by ancient buildings on one side and a large red stone cathedral on the other. The cathedral interior court reminded me of Hogwarts.
The cathedral was started about 1000 AD
Harry, Hermione, and Ron were not on the halls

The interior of the cathedral was dark and very cold, but some sunlight drifted in from time to time through the stained glass windows along the courtyard
Central nave

Beautiful frescoes high on the side walls of the central nave

Have no idea what this represents. Strange image in a cathedral.

This is beautiful sculpture work
Back out in the square, the old buildings around the plaza are really stunning.

Look at the art work on the building exterior

Worth a closer look

Front of part of the Gutenberg Museum called "To the Roman Emporer"
We ended the afternoon at the Gutenberg Museum. The oldest part of the building was built in 1664. The museum is dedicated to the invention of printing with moveable type by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439. As we looked at books printed in the 13th and 14th centuries, we were pondering the impact of this momentous development. Within 100 years Martin Luther was fomenting the Reformation, and his ideas and the ideas of other church reformers were spreading like wildfire because of the printed material that crossed national boundaries. Knowledge that was formerly controlled by religious and royal elites could now be in the hands of average men and women. Literacy blossomed and a middle class rapidly developed. It's hard to think of an invention with farther reaching consequences. By the way, looking at a bible printed in 1452 generates a certain sense of awe.

A few end of the day pictures:

We didn't try Taco Kidd, despite its promise of being the best burritos in the city, but the young people in the window got a kick out of us taking a picture of them and the restaurant.

We love the tree lined streets

The trees are magnificent now and displaying beautiful fall colors

City streets are beautiful and green

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Trip to the Zeil

Inside one of the malls. Jeff was disappointed that he didn't get to ride the 5-story escalator.
One day last week we paid a visit to the largest shopping area in Frankfurt. We went with Elder and Sister Newman after work. The car stayed in the garage at the mission office, and we took the subway a few stops to the Zeil. It is a large pedestrian mall downtown and is lined with stores and indoor malls. It reminded me of the Ginza in Tokyo. There were lots of people strolling. Street vendors were selling everything from hot dogs to helium filled balloons. Have you ever seen a hot dog vendor carrying his grill like a set of snare drums in a marching band? We were trying to figure out how he kept from singeing the front of his shirt, but at least he was warm. The temperature was in the 40s and it was damp.

We didn't find much there to purchase, but it was interesting to see the masses of people. And we found a really good Thai restaurant in one of the large indoor malls.

Our missionaries hold street displays in places like this when they can get permission. We generally have to pay for a permit and register with the city, but the officials are reasonably cooperative as long as we pay the 20€.
Ultra modern architecture. Rain runs off the glass roof into this big things that look like glass funnels and collects under the building somewhere or goes into storm drains. 

More Dental Trouble

So, after all of the dental work in Houston, Janet had a crown come out and a tooth attached to the appliance she has been wearing broke off. She called Sister Castleton, the mission nurse, and she recommended a dentist where they speak English. Sister Fingerle said that medical assistants, hygienists, nurses, doctors, and dentists are always the worst patients because they think they need to be involved and give everyone instructions. Jeff was hoping for limited German in the office, but when we went this afternoon, they treated Janet really well and spoke English. They re-cemented the crown and made an impression with her appliance in so that it can be repaired. We go back Friday morning to pick it up and hope that it fits.

Jeff enjoyed himself reading the children's books in the waiting area, including this one about the bear family who went to the dentist. In this page, Dr. Katz looks in Mama Bear's mouth with a little mirror at each tooth and finds that all of her teeth are in good shape. Mama Bear Kirk's teeth are not "in Ordnung."

While he waited for Janet, a man from some Balkan country (maybe Albania) came in with his little girl. He spoke some limited German, but the little girl spoke none. She was wearing a headscarf, so we assume they were Muslim. Jeff wished he could have taken her picture -- she was beautiful and had a radiant smile. Her father was a youngish man who was really loving and attentive to her. Jeff really wanted to talk to them, but the language was a barrier.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cochem and the Moselle Valley - October 17, 2015

The Moselle Valley from the castle in Cochem
The Moselle river was a thoroughfare for traffic from France to Germany, and Cochem was ideally situated to extracted tolls or duties from those passing up the river into Germany. The fortress castle was begun about 1000 AD. This was a lovely spot, but the day was overcast and cold. We drove the 2 1/2 hours to Cochem with the Newmans and met the Jarrards and Stevens there.

Start with the Village of Cochem

Cochem is more small town than village, but it straddles the river and is "touristy." The old part of the town is a warren of narrow cobblestone streets lined with centuries old buildings -- we still gape when we see a bakery that is in a building built in the 1600's. This little place is filled with shops selling stuff for tourists. People were from various places in Germany, but there were also loads of Chinese and other nationalities. The streets were crowded, and late in the day, we realized that Oktober Fest was on. Well, people were festive and generally having a good time, and there were lots of young families with children. Other places we have been have mostly been devoid of children -- except at church. German families are smaller than the average family in the United States unless you're talking about the coming generation that doesn't seem to want children. That sounds negative, but it's just an observation based on statistics. The birth rate in Germany is way below replacement, and their population will shrink by 20-25% over the next couple of decades. It's irreversible at this point based on demographics, and the only way that will change is through emigration. You've probably been reading or hearing about Syrian refugees. Germany is welcoming large numbers of refugees, but there is no clear path to permanent residency or citizenship. Germany isn't sure they want all of these new folks who are so clearly different from them.

The pink building at the end of the square is the Rathaus or City Hall
Distorted panorama of the town square

The tower is attached to a Catholic church
Through a stone arch and down another alley

We wish the pictures gave better perspective on how narrow the streets are

We love the decoration of the old buildings

Janet and I both love the window boxes - they're a chore to water
Spielwaren = Toy Store

Beautiful mosaic - modern
Alte Thorschenke = Old Inn at the Gate
The Visit to the Castle

The tower and gate in the foreground were built in 1352
The castle sits on the crest of a hill surrounded by vineyards. The 1st level of the castle is 100 meters (more than 300 feet) above the river. In such a narrow river valley, you can see why this spot was chosen for a fortification. A small fort was constructed in about 1000 AD. It was expanded over time as it was controlled by palatinate princes (successors to rule under the Holy Roman Empire) and German kings. The French, under King Louis XIV occupied Cochem and took control of the castle in the 1680s and then burned it to the ground and blew up part of it in 1689. It remained a ruin until the 19th century. A wealthy Berlin businessman named Ravené (a descendant of French Huegenots who fled to Germany to escape persecution) bought the ruins in 1868 and began a project to build a new castle on the ruins, incorporating some of the original elements. It was completed by the purchaser's son in 1877. It has 50+ rooms and was filled with artwork and 15th to 16th century furniture at one point. Most of the artwork was lost during World War II. In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Fascinating history.

Brrr. The chill seeps into your bones.

We wimped out and took a shuttle bus to the base of the hill, but there was still a steep climb to the entrance.
The views along the path up are gorgeous

There are splashes of fall color everywhere now.

We thought this was a frog, but it is a lion wearing armor with the face shield all the way down.
We will be sad when winter arrives and the flowers are gone.

Elder Jarrard said his wife's purchase (the scarf) from the market in town looked like a collection of dryer lint. 

The history of the owners of the castle

Love the fanciful architecture of the side residence and the bright red vines covering the walls.

The 120 ft square tower is a holdover from the Romanesque period
Dining room -- too cold to eat in here. 

Walls and ceilings are decorated by burning patterns into wood and then painting it.

Ravané loved wood carving
Ceilings were beautifully painted in the rooms we visited

Detail of the ceiling in a Romanesque room

These ceilings are all late 19th century work
Beautiful stained glass in a ladies' sitting room
If you touch the spot on the mermaid and make a wish . . . Antlers for wings? Weird.
Most valuable piece in the castle made in the late 1500s - remember, no power tools
View from the balcony not bad

Round tower at right called the Witches tower - used to test for witchcraft by tossing women out of an upper window -- assume not many passed the test.

Window of the Jagdzimmer (Hunting Room) where the men sat and told fish stories and drank large flagons of wine. The fish grew larger by the 5th liter of wine. 
The Stevens - photographing 2000 documents a day for FamilySearch in Wiesbaden

The Jarrards work in the office 2 days a week with us and work in a small ward

Late afternoon stop for a snack and a warm café

Hot chocolate with a large hot waffle, whipped cream, and cherries

Or a piece of warm apple strudel with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream
There was a brass band that was wandering from spot to spot in the old city, and they were clearly having a great time. I think I saw my brother Brad in the trumpet section. 

In the village Catholic church
One of our last stops was the Catholic church. It has an old exterior (a few hundred years, but that's common in Germany), but the interior is modern. There were spectacularly colorful Marc Chagall type stained glass windows, so the church interior was lit with primary colors from the windows. It was very cold -- I imagined that I could see my breath inside the church. I wonder how comfortable it is for parishioners during mass or in the confessional. Anyway, there was a slightly larger than life size carved wooden statue in the back of the main chapel. It wasn't labeled, but I'm reasonably sure that it is meant to be of St. Christopher. We liked the depiction and that the child is kneeling on the scriptures. What better foundation can parents offer their children than the word of God?

It was a great day in this little town on the Mosel. We love the country and the people.