Tuesday, May 24, 2016

In no particular order - Oppenheim and Bacharach with the Jarrards

We aren't often in a picture together, so we had to post this one
Elder and Sister Newman had family here, so the weekend of May 14 we drove down to Hahnheim to the Jarrard's apartment. We went with them to Oppenheim, a remarkable little place just over some hills from their apartment in Hahnheim. Hahnheim is a true village with about 1500 residents. It is farming country. The valley below is wide and fertile, and the wheat and other crops are green and beautiful this time of year. The hillside above their home is a grape vineyard. The vines are just now leafing out. The hill above their home is pretty steep, and there are two large windmills at the top. Germany has "drunk the Kool-aid," as Elder Jarrard says, and is advertising that they will be using 100% renewable energy sources in no time. As an ExxonMobil retiree, I am not too concerned. They still drive lots of cars and trucks, all of which still run on gasoline and diesel fuel.

Oppenheim was a really great little place. It's history extends at least back to 765. There was an imperial castle there (Charlemagne) and a beautiful church. Spain occupied the town for 12 years during the 30 years War. In 1689 the castle and the town were completely destroyed by the French. That's a common story in this part of Germany. The French invaded and destroyed lots of town completely. In the process, they trashed some really amazing pieces of history. Of course, Americans and the Allies did the same thing in World War II. Germany has been burnt to the ground multiple times over the centuries.

The church in Oppenheim has magnificent stained glass. It also has an ossuary (a place where human skeletal remains are stored) that contains the bones of more than 20,000 people, many of them victims of the 30-years War. There is a small information center and "store" outside the church, and we met a really nice man who is a retired English teacher and volunteers there and for the city giving tours of the underground labyrinth under the city. We talked for a while, shared a pass along card, and agreed to come back with a group for a tour of the underground tunnels.

The city has this unique system of tunnels under it. They estimate only 3% of the passages are open and explored, but you can tour those. We definitely want to come back and do that.

After a walk up to the castle ruins, we came back down and walked through a cemetery on the way back to the car. Jeff stopped to talk to a woman who was tending a gravesite. Her name was Mrs. Colaci. She is a widow and her only son is living in San Francisco with her only grandchild. We talked to her for more than half an hour. Jeff testified that death is not the end. We hope that we relieved her loneliness a little, and we left her with a pass along card. She especially warmed to Elder Jarrard who speaks Italian.

We also drove down the Rhine a little way to Bacharach and walked around town a little. It was a cold day. Bacharach is a quaint town with a wall along the west bank of the Rhine. We found a small shop that was open. An older man was making some wood burnings that he paints. The walls of his shop were covered with watercolors that he had done. He had an old upright piano, and Jeff asked him if he plays. He found some sheet music for an American spiritual and played a one-piece concert. We shared what we are doing in Germany with him, too.

Katharinenkirche. You notice that it is actually two church put together end to end at different times.
Some of the colorful stained glass

Skulls and femors in the Totenkapelle Gebeinhaus (ossuary)
The Jarrards
Walking up to Burg und Schloss Ruine Landkron. We aren't good at selfies, but Janet at least has a Rachel face.
Landkron Castle and Fortress was built in the first quarter of the 13th century - 1210-1235

These places result in contemplation. They have fallen to ruin but are maintained as monuments to the past.
From the vineyards on the walk down
A nice Italian lunch at the Hotel Golden Crown. The proprietor and waiter both spoke Italian, so Elder Jarrard got some additional practice. He was having a great time.
On to Bacharach

Bacharach is a picturesque city on the Rhine, downstream from Oppenheim. It is a tourist stop on the Rhine River boat trip that we haven't done yet. It really only has one street in the old city, but many of the old city gates and a good portion of the wall is still intact.
Imagine driving a car through that gate at the end of the street. You probably have to fold the mirrors in.

The green is a beautiful clear stream that runs under the village and peaks out here.

That Mini squeezed through the gate.

There were a few pedestrians, but it was late in the day and most stores were closed.

The "Eis Cafe" in the background is an ice cream store. It looks like ice cream weather, doesn't it? 

Neat looking hotel on the main square

We like this little guy on the sign for the Electoral Palatinate Coin - the English translation sounds ridiculous.
Looking down on Bacharach and the Rhine Valley
This bit of Gothic church ruin dates to the 1200's. It is maintained as a reminder of the persecution of the Jews - not during the holocaust, but during the middle ages when Jews were blamed for everything bad, like the black death. In the 1400's they were murdered, forcefully baptized, and otherwise persecuted. It didn't start in the 1930's.

If you are up for some translation, or can read German, this explains the history of the persecution and the reasons for this church ruin as a memorial.

Elder and Sister Jarrard live here. Janet says she would be happy to wake up to this view every morning.

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