Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Week with Our Oldest Granddaughter, part 1

Our oldest granddaughter Cassidy with Janet at the Niederwald Monument overlooking the Rhine valley
Our oldest grandchild came to spend the week with us. We feel really blessed. She was fun to have here. There were two sour notes to her visit - Jeff contracted some kind of upper respiratory infection that seems to be striking down our missionaries, and she brought her cell phone with her. Just kidding about the cell phone, but do all teenagers continuously Snapchat? We had to keep saying look up. Anyway, it was a thrill to have her here. Jeff spent two days in the office and all of Thanksgiving Day in bed, but that gave Janet three days to take her shopping and do other fun things.

Sunday and Monday - Arrival and Köln (Cologne)

One guy at the top and one at the bottom as they bring all of the luggage carts down the escalator? It worked.

Riding the train from the Frankfurt airport

Early morning beginning our train trip to Cologne

Just exited the main train station at the foot of the cathedral - cold and wet

This Gothic cathedral was the tallest building in the world until sometime in the 19th century - the spires are 500 feet tall

Witness for antiquity - this remnant of a Roman gate is in front of the cathedral

Huddling at an entrance to the Christmas market

The city nativity (no ACLU here) made of brass

Nice lighted pyramid with cathedral in the background. Still a little weird to us to have a saloon under depictions of the nativity of Jesus. 

To the Toy Alley. The Cologne market was organized with different areas for different wares. 

The organ grinder was a fun guy, but his monkey was stuffed

The bear was holding a beer tray, but he was cool.

A stand selling stuff made of wild pig - yum.

A side street off the main market

Tower of the oldest city hall in Germany. The tower was completed in 1414.

During the day the market was not too crowded

We feel the gnome's pain
A "rustic" nativity

We liked the three wise men

This guy was for sale
Great outdoor ice rink

The ice circles a large statue

Details from a panel at an entrance to the market. The Männchen (little men, or gnomes) are everywhere.

The angels market at the base of the cathedral

This market was mostly food but had other things as well. It is lit beautifully at night.

One thing to recommend Christmas markets - the food. Per Cassidy, this pork roasted over an open fire on a stick was delicious.
We have no idea what the cow was for, but little kids were having fun ringing the bell on its neck.
Visit to the Cologne Cathedral

The cathedral (Dom in German which comes from the Latin domus meaning house - the house of God) was built over 632 years. Parts of it are really old, but as it was completed in the 19th century, much of it is newer. There is an English guided tour, and we joined one. The guide was relaxed, fun, and extremely knowledgable. On a guided tour you get to enter the area where the shrine of the three kings sits. This is a medieval shrine (incredible workmanship) that contains (supposedly) bones of the wisemen who sought the Savior. Tradition names them Caspar, Melchor, and Balthazar. The bones were brought to Germany from Italy after there was a rebellion in northern Italy that was suppressed by the German Holy Roman emperor. Legend says that the bones were entrusted to Milan in 314 by Emperor Constantine. Frederick Barbarossa, the German Emperor, gave them to the bishop of Cologne in 1164. They have been there for the last 850 years. The tour used headsets, so unlike some tours where you have to strain to hear the guide over background noise, we could hear everything perfectly. Cassidy isn't a history buff, but she was patient while we enjoyed the discussion of the building, architecture, and history.
The central nave is so large there is a 7 second echo -- wish we could have heard the organ

Looking back through the east choir through the nave to the west

These are 14th century wooden choir stalls and they are flanked by some remaining medieval paintings. The light was low.
Resting our feet
Mosaic floor tile in the eastern choir where the shrine resides. Love the fish.

This floor mosaic actually shows the original church before it was transformed into a gothic cathedral

Another floor mosaic honors the Hegia Sophia which was a Greek Orthodox church, then an Ottoman mosque, and since 1935 has been a museum. It wasn't clear why this is depicted on the floor in Cologne.

This evidently represents one of the rivers flowing from Eden, but we just liked the color and art. The tiles are colored all the way through so that they remain brilliant even as they wear.
Some of the stained glass is 500 years old

These panels are more modern but similar in style to the older gothic windows

The stoning of Steven

These are the older windows and are beautiful

A detail from one of the older medieval windows

The windows were removed during the war for protection, thank goodness
A chapel on the south side has this spectacular triptych
Center panel shows the adoration of the Magi
Catholic depiction of Mary as the "Queen of Heaven" holding the holy child Jesus

Typical carved wooden pieta. The colors are really rich.

Statue of St. Christopher near the original entrance to the cathedral (now in the south transept). It's heroic in size.
The Shrine of the Three Kings
It's actually three sarcophagi stacked together and overlaid with gilt silver
The shrine is ornate and encrusted with jewels (over 1000 of them)

The Three Kings

The workmanship is amazing, especially when you consider it was completed in 1225.
 We had time to walk through the markets some more in the evening and get something to eat before we caught the train back to Frankfurt. Actually, we missed the train because it departed from a different station. We made a couple of dashes on trains across the river trying to get to the right place. The mishap with the trains delayed our arrival home until after 11 pm. That's late for us older missionaries.
A department store window filled with Steiff stuffed animals. Steiff is a German company that has been making stuffed animals for 130 years. The window display was animated. Little children were all pressed against the glass saying, "Papi, guck da!" (Daddy, look there.)

Now that's a gingerbread house, complete with Hansel and Gretel figures. 
The lights are on as the daylight fades

This scary woman was keeping watch over a corner of the market
We love the Christmas spirit and pray for peace on earth and good will toward men
This story to be continued in another post to cover the rest of the week when Jeff was in bed sick.