Date: Friday, July 11, 2014 (for Wednesday, July 9, 2014)
Time: 10:23 pm local time (4:23 pm EST)
Place: Hotel Mayflower, Leiden, the Netherlands
I actually started this blog yesterday evening, but I didn’t get beyond “Hello folks!” before I decided to go to bed. So I’ll try again now.
Wednesday morning dawned chilly and overcast. We left the hotel early again, heading to Notre Dame, the Cathedral of Our Lady in Paris. A Cathedral is where the Bishop has his seat, and in Paris it is at Notre Dame. My closest guess is that our equivalent is the conference office, or the church most closely associated with it.
Dr. Wohlers lectured for a few minutes before letting us go into the museum. He started to outline for us the six periods he sees in French history. In very short detail here they are:
We got to go into Notre Dame by this point, and it’s very beautiful inside, though darker than you would expect for a Gothic church (which was built specifically to let light in). The rose window was simply gorgeous, and there was an air of ancient, sacred goings on—though it could have just been incense.
As I was walking around I heard the organ being played, which was very exciting. As I continued to walk, though, I realized that he wasn’t actually playing anything. I got my hopes up that they let Joe Schmo go up into the organ loft and fiddle around, but alas and alak, it was only being tuned.
Notre Dame was built in 1163, though it wasn’t completed until the 19th century. That’s close to 800 years! The original builder, Maurice de Sully, didn’t even expect to see his building finished. He did it out of a desire and a willingness to serve God (actually, technically, to serve Mary, but we’ll take what we can get).
We walked around the outside of the Cathedral to see the flying buttresses and gargoyles. I can finally say that after studying and learning for almost 20 years, I finally understand the point of a flying buttress, and how they work. Special thanks goes to Kathy for taking the time to explain it.
We walked around Paris for a while, stopping by the opera house where The Phantom of the Opera is set. After that we were freed, and I went with Joel and the Laughlins. Little did I know that we would end up at an expensive Chinese restaurant, but I made the best out of it and it was decent.
The afternoon was spent at the Louvre, which was very exciting. I paid the extra E5 to get the audio guide, which was able to take me on a guided tour. We were given two hours, and that was the perfect amount of time. The tour I chose was the “Three Highlights” tour, though I’m not quite sure what the three were, since they also showed me several others.
The first thing that I saw was the Winged Victory, which had just recently been put back out on display, after having restoration work done on it. It is a statue that looks like an angel (without a head or arms) landing on a boat (or part of a boat). It’s famous and kind of pretty.
Then I got to see the Venus di Milo, another statue of a lady without arms, though this one does have a head (but no shirt). She is really quite breathtaking and looks very real, though she is larger than life size. She has a calm serenity about her that is very enjoyable.
The next place I was taken was to see La Giaconda, who(m) we know as the Mona Lisa. I had been told that the guards didn’t take kindly to pictures being taken, but they weren’t stopping us, and so I got a nice picture of her, and then a selfie with her. What a memory!
In the same room as Mona, though on the opposite wall, is Véronèse’s painting of the Wedding at Cana, which is really quite nice. I discovered, however, that the old masters had no clue what it actually looked like in the Holy Lands, how they dressed, or what musical instruments were available. The painting looks like it could have come out of Rome, and there is a cellist and a violinist providing the music. Whoops!
I also got to see the very famous painting of the coronation of Napoleon, which is a misnomer. It depicts Napoleon after he has been crowned Emperor. It depicts Napoleon crowing Josephine as the Empress.
In the gift shop I saw a 3D puzzle I want to get of the Eiffel Tower, though I will look for it when I get home so that I don’t have to pay E45 for it. It’s really nice (and I believe numbered), so I think it would be fun to do.
It was raining as we left the Louvre and started to head back to the hotel. Dr. Wohlers wanted to take us to l’Arc du Triomphe, so we stopped there briefly. It’s quite impressive, and is actually a war memorial. Carved onto the inside of the arch are name after name after name, but as far as I can tell they aren’t names of people, but of places. I will have to investigate more at a later date. Also under the arch is the French answer to the Tomb of the Unknowns. This is specifically an unknown soldier from World War I, so my bet is Ben Walton (the brother of John, not the son). Carved onto the memorial are these words: “Ici repose un soldat francaise mot pour la patrie 1914-1918.” Here rests a French soldier who died for the homeland.
We made it back to the hotel unscathed, then Kathy and I ran back out to go to a couple of grocery stores. Then it was off to bed.
Love to all!
Date: Thursday, July 10, 2014 (for Tuesday, July 8, 2014)
Time: 11:12 am local time (5:12 am EST)
Place: Train from Paris to Leiden (just past Rotterdam)
I woke up Tuesday morning in France, on the way to Paris. Our train was supposed to stop at Le Gare de l’Est at about 9:30, but we didn’t stop until 10:30. It turns out that the Police either stopped our train or made us wait while they handled something at the station. My theory is that the person that was to be in our car was arrested for murder, so it was a good thing we gave him the other ticket.
I’ve just been informed that we only have 7 minutes until our stop, so I’ll get back to you…
Love to all!
Time: 8:58 pm local time (2:58 pm EST)
Place: Hotel Mayflower, Leiden, The Netherlands
We unloaded ourselves from the train and made our way to our hotel, which was on the Rue de Magenta. As we were walking out of the station selected ones of us were given box breakfasts to compensate for the hour that we were late. Unfortunately they didn’t hand me one and I wasn’t sure if I was eligible, so I didn’t push. I was hungry later.
Our hotel was quite nice, and Joel and I had a room to ourselves, though we didn’t know this at that point. We weren’t able to check in until later in the afternoon, so we put our luggage in a closet and went on our merry way down into the Paris Underground (subway system). Kaiti tells horror stories of the Underground system, but I found the trains as easy to navigate as Washington, D. C. or Vienna (my favorite transport system). The stations were a different story, however.
We managed to find our way to Versailles, which was about 30 minutes away. The trains seemed quite dirty at first, but they were easy to navigate and I felt quite safe. It was either on our way there or on the way back to the hotel in the evening that an accordion player got on the train and played for a stop or two. He played songs and tangos, and lots of fun music! I enjoyed it a lot!
We managed to miss our reservation to Versailles, so we had to wait in line which wound like a snake and was at least five or six columns wide. We heard rumors of a two hour line, but it only took one hour. The only hitch was that it had started raining, and it was that cold, misty kind of rain that is just absolutely miserable. No one was happy about needing to stand in line, but we all did it, and, at least my group, made the best of it. I was standing with Kathy and Allison, with both Laughlins right behind us. Kathy told us stories and we all chatted, letting the hour fly quickly by.
We went into Versailles and were given about an hour to go through the wing that we had bought tickets for. It was fine, but way too crowded. I have no desire to go back. It was every inch a French Baroque palace, with gilding all over the place. There was a statue or a bust or a painting of Louis XIV in just about every room, reinforcing his absolute monarchy at every opportunity.
I walked down the Hall of Mirrors, which is a very famous room, though at this moment I really don’t remember what went on there. I want to say there was some famous wedding, but I can’t tell you at this point. The ceiling is gilded and painted, and there is one wall of windows and one wall of mirrors, making for an incredibly well lit and happy room. If only there hadn’t been that many people.
We hopped back on the Underground and made it back to our hotel by about 6 o’clock. Our next appointment was 8 o’clock to go see the Eiffel Tower. We went back down into the Underground, went down a few stops, changed trains and got out after another 11 stops or something. We came up and went around the corner, and there it was. Some 900 feet tall (in comparison, the Washington Monument is only about 555 tall, or about 2/3 the size of the Eiffel Tower). We were at the perfect place to take great pictures, which we did.
Wohlers had told us that we needed to pay attention and know how to get back to the hotel in groups (since he has been to Paris many times and didn’t want to wait out until 1 am like he had done in the past). I finally found my leadership niche in our group of 5 chiefs: I’m the one who navigates the subways, so I took my job very seriously. I marked on my map exactly where we stopped and changed trains, so later on I was able to get us back to Gare du Nord (the North Train Station), which is just a few blocks away from our hotel.
I keep getting ahead of myself, though. We walked down to the Eiffel Tower, which was another 10 blocks or so. I wanted to go up (at least to the first level), but when we got down there and saw the line and the price we all chickened out (and Joel gets nervous in cities after dark), so we decided to head back. But I can say that I stood under the Eiffel Tower in France!
We walked back to the hotel, and I went to bed! The next day was quite full of great, fun, and exciting things to do!
Love to all!
Date: Thursday, July 10, 2014 (for Monday, July 7, 2014)
Time: 10:04 am local time (4:04 am EST)
Place: Train from Paris to Leiden (we just passed through Brussels)
Hello folks! I’m slightly more awake now!
Monday morning started out fairly early again, as we were to go over to Museum Island to visit some of the finest antiquities that exist. We started with what is called the Eastside Gallery, a section of the Wall which has been graffitied. I appreciate it for its artistic and cultural significance, but didn’t especially care for the art. It’s just not quite my style.
We made it to the Neue Museum, which Dad and I had gone to last year and spent quite a lot of time in. We had managed to miss our reservation, so we had to come back in an hour. We walked around for a few minutes, visiting St. Hedwig’s Lutheran Church, which has a beautiful organ on the side. My guess is that it is about the same size as the organ at home, though it might be just a little bit bigger.
We went back to the museum and were let in, and Dr. Wohlers told us to be out in just about an hour. Pretty much the first thing I did was to go to find Neffertiti. She is very beautiful, so it was nice to get to see her again. After that I just kind of wandered through the museum. I went through a hall which showed the change in how Egyptians depicted the human face, and it was really quite remarkable.
I discovered that there was one more level with “prehistory” type things on it, which included a ceremonial golden hat that was used as some sort of a calendar. It was quite cool. Also included was a Neanderthal skull which had been crushed and glued back together. They had also made a probable reconstruction (which I don’t think is particularly probable since there was no nose on the skull, so we’re only guessing that he had a very wide nose. I’ve watched too many episodes of Bones, I guess
We were released to go to lunch after going to the museum, and I went to McDonalds and ate with Rita and Wohlers. It was nice to get to sit with them. I spent most of my time chatting with Rita, since Wohlers didn’t really chime in, but I think he is enough like me he enjoyed being there and hearing the conversation.
Next we went to the National Museum, which told the story of Germany from the early ADs to the present. I thought it was very well done, but most everyone else took Dr. Wohler’s assignment too seriously. He pointed out a few people that we should be looking for, and they all were stressing about not being able to find them. I, on the other hand, decided that it was fine to see as much as I could see, and enjoy as much as I could enjoy. If I did that, then I would probably learn what I was supposed to learn, and I would certainly have fun doing it.
At that museum I saw four or five pianos, a really nice portrait of Handel (the original that we often see in books) and several other great works of art. I compared the busts of Napoleon and Joseph Bonaparte, saw paintings of King Frederick the Great of Prussia (who was ruling at the time of Bach and his son Carl Philipp Emanuel. CPE actually worked for him) and our very own King George III (the king during the Revolutionary War). I never did find anything about Karl Adenauer.
We went to one more museum that day, and it was called the Pergamum Museum, situated right next to the Neue Museum. In it is the Ishtar Gate and the ceremonial passageway from Babylon, both of which date to the time of Daniel. Daniel very possibly would have walked this gate every day on his way to work, and by looking at it, it’s not hard to discover where he got the ideas for the beasts. Both are absolutely breathtaking. The gate very easily stands 35-40 feet tall.
I went upstairs in the Pergamum Museum and was treated to Islamic art. Their culture, along with Jewish culture, forbids the use of animals or people in their art. They believe that doing so would be breaking the commandment against graven images. Instead the Muslims have developed art full of intricate patterns and geometry. Everything is extremely intricate and beautiful.
There was one rug hanging on the wall that I spent a fair amount of time trying to comprehend. There are five panels that have the same bell-like pattern. In the sixth panel, however, there is only one vertical half. Most of the rugs on the walls had holes, but this one seemed to have the border all the way around, so I couldn’t figure out why the pattern didn’t continue. They must have run out of red yarn.
After we finished in the Pergamum museum we were given some free time to eat, go back to the hotel, and gather our belongings. We were taking a night train between Berlin and Paris. We were supposed to have a stranger in our compartment since Lisa went home on Sunday, but Dr. Wohlers very kindly bought us another ticket that we could give to him so that we could have the compartment to ourselves. The man was very nice, and was happy to move.
I was in the compartment with Kathy, both Laughlins, and Joel. Joel and I got to have the bottom berths, then Kathy and Dr. Laughlin slept in the middle. Kaiti slept on the top, with her suitcase sleeping in the other top berth. We had good strong air conditioning, so I had a fighting chance to sleep well.
Love to all!
Date: Thursday, July 10, 2014 (for Sunday, July 6, 2014)
Time: 8:39 am local time (2:39 am EST)
Place: Train from Paris to Leiden (just a few minutes out of Paris)
Good morning all!
Sunday morning we had to be out and about by about 8:30 or so, and we went to the Berlin Hauptbahnhoff where we met a tour guide named Kevin. He took us on another train to the town of Orianburg (sp?) where we took a 15 or 20 minute walk to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen.
Sachsenhausen was the first concentration camp, and the model for all those that came after it. It was the one that was spruced up and shown to dignitaries and the Red Cross in order to get the approval of the international community.
We walked through the gate of the camp, and, like Dachau, the words Arbeit Macht Frei greeted us. Works Brings Freedom. This was twofold. The first part was to give a sense of false hope to the prisoners. The second was to justify themselves to themselves. They had come from a tradition of hard workers, and they wanted to keep themselves tied to this good, honest time in their history.
Kevin showed us a lot of the sights of the camp. There was a barrack still set up like it would have been. We saw the “no man’s land” between the edge of the grass and the wall. If they walked into it, they would be shot.
We were taken through solitary confinement, which seemed nicer than in Dachau. The cells were a decent size, with plenty of room for a bed, and a washbowl. Nothing fancy, but I have imagined much worse. A friend of Dietrich Bohoeffer was held for years in solitary.
Another man held in solitary confinement was Martin Nemuellor, who was originally a part of the Nazi party. When he saw what was wrong and objected he was arrested. After the war he was very big in the reconciliation movement. He said, “At first they came for the socialists, and I did not speak up because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak up because I was not a Jew. And then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up.”
He took us to Station Z, which was a fake hospital/extermination area of Sachsenhausen. Early in the war, when prisoners were to be exterminated they were taken into a pit and shot. As the war continued, however, that got to be too much on the guards. They needed to look at the faces of their victims. So they set up Station Z as a hospital. Prisoners were taken into the hospital for a checkup, and when they were measured for height, they were shot in the back of the head by a guard who never saw their faces. It was much more humane for the guards, and even for the prisoners in a way. Instead of being herded into a pit and being terrified, you are taken to the hospital for a routine checkup. There isn’t the same sort of fear in a doctor’s appointment. I need to be clear that they weren’t doing it that way to be humane to the victims, but to save the emotional damage done to the guards.
Outside Station Z is a quote by Andrzej Szczyplorski (and I’m not even going to attempt a pronunciation for his name) which very eloquently sums up how I think the Germans feel about the importance of having these Gedänkenstätte (memorials, but I always see something closer to “Holy Ground” in the word). “And I know one thing more—that the Europe of the future cannot exist without commemorating all those, regardless of their nationality, who were killed at that time with complete contempt and hate, who were tortured to death, starved, gassed, incinerated and hanged…” We must remember what happened, for if we don’t, it will happen again.
Sachsenhausen was a very good experience, but I think that I preferred the camp and museum at Dachau. Our Sachsenhausen guide was an Englishman named Kevin who, in my opinion, didn’t stay neutral enough in his teaching. He got very accusatory at times, and had a definite bias. I appreciated that our guide in Dachau was more neutral. He was a German graduate student, but he was not apologetic. He didn’t have to be. He didn’t hunt down any Jews. I appreciated the demeanor of the German more than the Brit.
After we finished at Sachsenhausen we walked, very quickly, over a mile to the train station to get back to the Hauptbahnhoff. We were told to meet at the train station at about 6 o’clock to go up to the top of the Reichstag (which is their equivalent of the Capitol building).
I went back to the hotel and took a nap for about an hour or so. Then I headed back to the train station with both Laughlins and Kathy. I decided to leave my backpack (with passport) in the room because I didn’t want to carry it around anymore. That proved to be slightly difficult, because we needed ID to get into the Reichstag. Luckily for me, Dr. Wohlers is amazing and thinks of everything. He had student ID cards printed for us all, which he keeps in his bag. He handed me mine, and it worked wonders. This man needs to be sainted.
We went to the top of the Reichstag and had a wonderful view of Berlin. We got to see all sorts of wonderful buildings, including the Sony Center (where Dad and I went to see the new Star Trek movie last year), the Philharmonie (where the Musical Instrument Museum is), and the Brandenburg Gate (which was right up against the Wall).
We went back down and walked around a little bit. We walked to the Brandenburg Gate and the beginning of Unter den Linden Strasse (Under the Linden Tree Street, one of the most famous streets in Berlin. We were surrounded by embassies, and I got to see the (rebuilt) Adlon Hotel, which is where Murphy lives in Vienna Prelude. It was bombed to smithereens in WWII, but was rebuilt after the fall of the wall.
From Unter den Linden we went home and went to bed.
Love to all!
Date: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 (for Sabbath, July 5, 2014)
Time: 11:08 pm local time (5:08 pm EST)
Sabbath dawned far too early, and I went down to have my warm Swiss cheese sandwich for breakfast. Yummy… I’m very much ready for some scrambled eggs or apple and raisin muffins. We had to leave the hotel by about 8:30 to catch our train to Lutherstadt Wittenberg.
When we got to the town, we walked for about a mile until we found the old town. There we walked down the long street until we came to the town square, which contains a statue of Luther and one of Melantholen (I don’t remember how to spell his name).
We continued down the street until we came to the Schlosskirche (Castle Church) where Martin Luther had nailed his 95 Theses to the door. Last year when Dad and I had gone to the church it was closed and there was a gate up so we couldn’t get up to the door. This year, in addition to that closing and the gate, almost all of the church was covered in what was effectively bubble wrap. They are renovating the church for the 500th anniversary of the day the Theses were nailed to the door. That’s coming in 2017, so I’ll have to be sure to get there then.
We went around the corner, past the church, and found an unused staircase. We all sat down, and Joel and I were in charge of the church service. I taught the group to sing A Mighty Fortress in German, and then we sang a version of it in English. They didn’t seem to care, but I got to do it, and the Laughlins, Kathy, and the Wohlers enjoyed doing it. The Wohlers thanked me for it later.
Joel gave the short “sermon” which basically consisted of telling about his car accident, and then saying how we could very easily see that God, the Mighty Fortress, was in charge. The day before, after visiting Checkpoint Charlie, one of our group fainted due to dehydration, but we could see that God was in control. In everything that has gone wrong, we can see that God is protecting us and keeping us safe.
On our way out of town we stopped and went into the courtyard of Luther’s house. There Dr. Wohlers told us a little bit about Katharine von Bora, his wife. He quipped that she probably wasn’t the best preacher’s wife, since she couldn’t even play the piano. I quipped right back that the piano wouldn’t be invented for 200 years.
We all got on the train again, this time heading for Leipzig, the home of Bach for some 27 years. Last year I had been there, and so when we were released to go find food, I led my group to the Italian restaurant that Dad and I had enjoyed the year before. I got a pizza this time around, and it was quite delicious.
From there we walked to the St. Thomas Church (which was maybe a 3 minute walk). Bach had been the official town music director, which put him in charge of all music in the 4 churches in town. St. Thomas was the “first church,” which means that his new music premiered in the St. Thomas church. We got to experience a concert of absolutely amazing music, most of which would have premiered in that church.
The concert started with an organ transcription of Bach’s famous chaconne for violin. It continued with a motet by Heinrich Schutz, Bach’s motet Jesu meine Freude (Jesus, Priceless Treasure), and his cantata no. 167. I was about the only person to love the concert, but I did love it with all my heart.
After the concert we waited around for a while, then took a subway train back to the train station. From the station we made it back to the Berlin Hauptbahnhoff, which brought us back to our hotel.
Later in the evening Joel and I went down to the market, and I bought a bag of gummy bears that weighted a kilogram (2.2 lbs). After we got back, a few of the girls came and knocked on the door to see if our roommates wanted to go to the Laundromat with them. They declined, but Joel and I jumped at the chance for clean clothes.
It was a fifteen minute walk to the Laundromat, but it was much nicer than the one in Florence. It was actually inside a building instead of what looked like a garage. And there was ample seating (and enough washers and dryers). After a few goof ups, we got clean laundry, and went back to the room. I soon fell asleep, which is also where I’m heading now.
Love to all!
Date: Sunday, July 6, 2014 (for Friday, July 4, 2014)
Time: 9:41 pm local time (3:41 pm EST)
Place: Berlin (I think West)
I should be able to get through this post without falling asleep. I am absolutely exhausted! I’ve been walking around in the hot sun for hours!
We rode the train from Prague to Berlin, leaving at about 8:30 and arriving at about 1:30. Nothing much happened, but I am quite sure I dozed for quite a while. Dr. Wohlers, bless his soul, got us a compartment with six seats, and since Lisa, Kathy, and Laughlin decided to go to first class, there was plenty of room. Joel had taken a Benadryl, and so he lounged out on the three seats going one direction. It was fun to watch…
We went through the Sudetenland, which was a portion of (then) Czechoslovakia which was populated mostly by German speakers. This was one of the first places that Hitler conquered during the years before the war. He claimed that the German peoples (which had been spread hither and yon) had the right to have their own country. It was beautiful land with rolling green hills. It reminded me of Virginia or even the Smokeys (it’s just very, very hot).
We arrived in Berlin about 1:30 and walked quite a way to our hotel. It is technically a hotel, but really it is much more like a hostel. The rooms are nothing particularly nice, but they will do in a pinch as a place to sleep. They are safe, and they supply blankets, a pillow, and a towel. They do, however, not supply air conditioning.
Laughlin, Kaiti, Kathy, and I went exploring in the city (because Wohlers had told us not to stay in the hotel. Unfortunately this meant that I couldn’t do laundry). We had been told about the second largest department store in Europe. Wohlers gave us some sort of bogus directions, and a couple hours later we found it. It was a ritzy, overpriced place without a food court. We finally stopped and sat at an outdoor Italian café and enjoyed food. I got spaghetti alla quattro formaggi (four cheese sauce), which was quite good.
I had run out of deodorant a few days earlier, and had been trying (in vain) to not sweat. We stopped at a pharmacy and I asked if they had deodorant. They showed me two little tubes which were going for almost E16 (close to $25). I asked if they had anything cheaper (I should have asked for American), and they said I would have to go to a drugstore. They gave us bogus directions, too, and finally after about twelve miles (not quite) we found it. There I was able to get one tube (instead of two) for about E7. I didn’t feel very vindicated, but I was able to not stink as badly.
All the groups met by the train stop by the zoo, then we got on and went over to the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is a strange monument. It takes up probably about an acre, and it is just concrete rectangular cubes (3D solids in the shape of a rectangle. I know there is a more technical term, but I’m too tired to think of it). There were no names, no plaques, and nothing announcing what it was. It was strange, but somewhat awesome.
We sat there and Lisa gave us a lecture about Germans and Germany. The biggest question she tried to answer was “Who are the Germans and what does it mean to be German?” The German people started out as a language group. The people who spoke Germanic languages began to migrate from Eastern Europe in the 200-300s. They settled in the north (Scandinavia) by the 400s.
The Franks were the first Christians, and by the 700s or 800s they were all German. From 1000 to 1200 there were technological developments (especially in agriculture) and the population increased. They moved back east to Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe.
We skip ahead to 1814-1815 with the Congress of Vienna which ended the Napoleonic wars. The various empires were doing their best to shut down the ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity that Napoleon and the French Revolution had fought for.
A man named Metternich came to power (I don’t have his position in my notes) and he very strongly believed that the Church and State needed to keep their powers.
The German Confederation was born during this time. It was the era of nationalism, industrialism, and romanticism. The 35 German states felt the need to come together, mostly under the “Prussian” Rule. Otto on Bismarck was a great diplomat, and he helped Prussia to gain prominence. By 1871 they had unified into the German Republic.
Bismarck was in charge, and so he got to say what was German during this time. He said anything that was Protestant and Lutheran, but he also made the times very secular. The state should have the power, but they should use Protestant ideals. I have the ideas in my head, but I don’t quite have the words to say.
World War I comes around, partially because of Bismarck’s alliances. Germany loses the war and is forced to take full blame for the mess and agree to pay reparations. They hadn’t realized that they were surrendering. They thought they were just agreeing to stop the war. They were forced to have no power whatsoever. Their new government didn’t have a Kaiser. Instead it had socialist and communist tendencies. Hitler was able to come to power during all the hysteria (which comes from the word for a woman’s uterus: a hysterectomy. They thought, basically, that it had to do with being weak, or one’s time of the month).
Hitler said that we need to get vindication for all they have put us through. Their borders had been shrunk, so Hitler said that they needed breathing space. He tried to bring all Germans together in one, large, country. The people of the time needed someone to blame, so they chose the Jews.
After the war the city of Berlin was divided into four parts (one each for Britain, France, the US, and Russia [or some form of the USSR]). Each country helped to rebuild each part of Germany. Britain, France, and the US basically had the same ideas, so their parts came together. East Germany, however, was Communist. It was split from about 1945-1989, though the wall didn’t go up until the 1960s.
In the evening (about 6:30, sunset is like 9:30) we went to the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. It is a very informative museum, though it is a lot to slog through. There is so much information on every inch of wall (and it is in four languages: French, English, German, and Russian) that it’s hard to digest. At some later (and by that I mean much earlier in the day) date I may try to recount some of the stories. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed it, but it also was a bit overwhelming. If it was a time in history I was more interested in, I would have liked to go and spend several days there.
I’m about to fall asleep! Love to all!
Date: Friday, July 4, 2014 (for Thursday, July 3, 2014)
Time: 8:40 am local time (2:40 am EST)
Place: Train between Prague and Berlin, just outside the Prague station
Yesterday we met just after breakfast for our class time, taught by Dr. Diller. She’s a lot of fun to get to listen to, so I’m glad she’s been our teacher. She leaves tomorrow evening or Sunday morning.
Before Lisa started to talk, though, Dr. Wohlers gave a short worship talk, tying John Hus, the Reformer, with Psalm 54. Hus was the rector of the University of Prague who called for church reform (at the time when it was quite obviously in need of reform: when there were three popes at once). He was sent to Constance, Switzerland, to face a trial, where he was burned at the stake.
From the Great Controversy, “When he had been fastened to the stake, and all was ready for the fire to be lighted, the martyr was once more exhorted to save himself by renouncing his errors. ‘What errors,’ said Huss, ‘shall I renounce? I know myself guilty of none. I call God to witness that all that I have written and preached has been with the view of rescuing souls from sin and perdition; and, therefore, most joyfully will I confirm with my blood that truth which I have written and preached.”
Then Lisa began her talk. She started in the 30 Years’ War, which was not just a religious war, but a nationalistic war. The Catholics verses the Protestants. The Hapsburgs suppressed Protestantism and also suppressed the Czech language. John Huss believed that people should be given Biblical instruction in their own language.
She turned to World War I, which was begun by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian who wanted his ethnic group to have its own country. Every people group wanted to have its own country. The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 aided in the process. All the big empires (Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, etc.) were split up and smaller, independent countries were formed.
This left Germany very weak, however, and Hitler’s ideas were Nationalism on steroids. He claimed that all German speaking peoples should have one country. This was difficult since German speaking people had been spreading all around Europe for centuries. This is why he invaded all those other countries, starting (I believe) with the Czech Sudetenland, which is in western Czechoslovakia, about 1/3 of the landmass.
After the war, the Czechs kicked out all the Germans from their country, getting rid of about 1/3 of their population. This was ethnic cleansing, though I wasn’t given the idea that the Germans were killed. Just deported. In 1940, approximately 35% of the Czech population was of German decent. By 1960 it was somewhere closer to half a percent.
The Cold War is really a misnomer. True, the US and USSR didn’t ever actually fight each other (though in Korea and Vietnam we fought their allies). There was a lot of violence, however. During this time, people didn’t fight about religion, or nationalism, but they did fight about their ideologies. Communist vs. Democratic systems of government. After the end of the Cold War (1990-ish) Nationalism comes back with a vengeance.
When you fight a war, you don’t just get to pick up and go home. You have to set up a new government, one that likes you, or a worse person will come to power and then you’ll have real troubles. That is why countries that were liberated from German control by the Russian communists became communist, and those that were liberated by the US became democratic (or at least closer to our model.
Towards the end of the Cold War, another political party in Poland said that it was going to enter the elections, and it won. The communists did nothing to stop it. This was the beginning of the end. Soon it was happening all over the USSR. In Czechoslovakia it was the Velvet Revolution of 1989 with Havel and Dubček. In 1990 the Czech Republic and Slovakia split (peacefully, I believe).
After class we met with Renata again and were taken up to the Castle complex. Instead of Buckingham Palace where the only thing on the grounds is the palace, their castle is more like a medieval castle, with a church and other buildings inside.
We walked inside, then waited for Renata to get us our tickets. While we were waiting we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and street musicians (a double bass, violin, flute, and accordion) play “Going Home” from Dvorak’s Symphony “From the New World.” They took some of the falling themes very freely, but I loved how they performed. They knew how it was supposed to sound.
I don’t remember the name of the church we went into, (though I’m pretty sure he was a saint, and I’m pretty sure his name started with a V) but inside were beautiful, modern stained glass windows. The most famous is (I believe) number 3, which shows Good King (actually never King, but Prince) Wenceslas, who is one of the patron saints of the country. He was killed by his brother who wanted to become king. Also pictured is Wenceslas’ grandmother, also a saint, who was martyred by her daughter-in-law who was a pagan. Note to self, don’t get sainted because you have to die a horrible death.
There is a 300+ year old pipe organ in the church, which is used for the three services on Sundays. There is a very small, one manual, organ that they use during the daily masses.
Renata took us around the inside of the church, showing us important pieces of art, including a map of Prague dating back to probably around the 1600s. I was actually able to figure out where (approximately) our hotel would have been.
One of the paintings tells the story of St. John Nepomuk, who was the personal priest and confessor of the Czech queen. One day confession took longer than usual, and the king got jealous. Nepomuk wouldn’t break the vow of secrecy he had made to God, and had his tongue cut out and then was dumped off the Charles Bridge.
We then went into the Castle itself, which owes the most of its fame to being the place where the 30 Years’ War began. Some of the Protestant Bohemian (Czech) nobility were fed up with the (Catholic) Hapsburgs. They came into the church and grabbed two governors: Chlum and Borita and threw them out of the window. They landed, according to history, in a manure pile.
We walked through the “Golden Lane” which had cute little houses (just small enough that I could bonk my head on the way in, but that I could stand up straight inside. Someone half an inch taller wouldn’t have been able to. There were gift shops in the little houses, and one was set up like it was when the last person moved out (in the 60s, I believe). He was a movie buff, and they still show old black and white movies in the house. I got to see a film winder/reparer and reel upon reel of movie film canisters.
From the Golden Lane we walked to a Czech restaurant where Dr. Wohlers had pre-ordered our meal. Being vegetarians we didn’t have a great entrée, but it worked. Our opener was a bowl of really yummy mushroom soup (without a whole lot of chunks of mushroom, and with a few other vegetables thrown in for good measure). Then the main course was fried cheese with tartar sauce (it was good, tasting like mozzarella sticks). A body wants more than just mozzarella sticks for lunch, though. Luckily we got to have crepes for dessert. Yum!
We walked past the one wall in Prague where it is legal to write and do graffiti. It was really something to see, especially since they were also playing pop music from the 60s-80s on an acoustic guitar right nearby. Jason, one of the animation majors, got up on Brandon’s shoulders to write all our names on the wall. I feel special.
We walked to the Charles Bridge next, and got to enjoy the sights, which included absolutely beautiful watercolors that I wanted to buy, but couldn’t quite bear to spend money on (they were about 30 Euros, which is about $45, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility, especially since I really haven’t bought souvenirs yet). It was very historical.
I got my picture taken touching the statue of St. John Nepomuk (if you touch him with your left hand, you will get to come back to Prague, but if you touch the dog on the other side of the statue, it won’t work). I also got my picture taken with the Charles Bridge in the background.
We left Renata at that point and continued toward our hotel. I was tired, needed to go to the bathroom, and was thirsty. We passed the statue of Huss, and I stopped to get a picture. I spent the afternoon (maybe two hours) in the hotel room, and I fell asleep. Hard. Joel came up and knocked on the door to get let in, and I didn’t hear him. For five minutes. Finally he went down to the desk and called the room phone. I groggily found my way to the phone (I couldn’t find my phone), and evidently I answered the phone like I was wide awake.
That evening Dr. Wohlers took us to a concert in Dvorak Hall. It was the California Youth Symphony in the last concert of their four country tour. Grandpa, you would have loved it! First up on the program was Don Juan by Richard Strauss. The orchestra was so rich and colorful! Then we heard a set of dances from On the Town by Leonard Bernstein. There was an intermission, then we came back and heard a suite from John Williams’ ET (which was so-so). Closing the concert was a suite from Porgy and Bess (which included Summer time). For an encore they played the theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark).
After the concert the girls (both Laughlins and Goddard) wanted to stay and see the lights come on on the bridge, but I was ready for bed. I walked ahead of Joel and Chris Dant, and found my way all the way back to the hotel (though when I got there, I walked too far…). All in all a very nice day.
I’ll write more later. Hopefully we’ll have consistent internet in Berlin.
Did I mention that I only had to share the room with Joel these past two nights? It was great! He and I get along fine. It’s the others I need to worry about.
Love to all!
Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Time: 9:06 pm local time (3:06 pm EST)
Place: Prague, Czech Republic
One more short post for today (though once again the internet is being dumb and I’m not sure I can post it tonight).
We left our hostel about 7:30 this morning to get over to the train in time for our 8:30 train. We were on the train until 1:30 this afternoon. It was long, but very manageable. I napped on and off, listening to music (King’s Heralds, Derks Bentley, PDQ Bach, etc.).
We arrived in Prague and made our way to our hotel, the Atlantic, which is an actual nice hotel (instead of the iffy hotels or hostels we’ve been staying in). The best part is that I only have one roommate—Joel—instead of the usual three (so a total of four).
We had about 45 minutes in which to get settled before leaving for part one of the walking tour of the city. We walked downtown on our way to the Jewish Quarter. We saw a municipal building, a tower which once held the gunpowder for the city, and signs for a deluxe WC. I was tempted to pay the money to see exactly what makes them deluxe.
St. James’ Church was next on our tour, and our tour guide, Renata, told us a great story about it. It goes that a thief broke into the church late one night to try to steal one of the sculptures. He was apprehended and then taken to the town square. His arm was cut off, and then hung in the church as a warning for others. Around four hundred years later it’s still there, and I got to see it.
The church was simply beautiful inside, though simple isn’t a good word for it. It was decorated in a wonderful Baroque style, which means that there is some sort of decoration on most of the surfaces. There are frescoes (or just normal paintings) on the ceilings, and beautiful wood carvings around the center. In the back there is a beautiful organ, which (thanks to Dr. Laughlin’s fearlessness) I might get to play tomorrow. More on that if and when it happens.
There was another statue, this time of St. Agatha (we think). The legend was that the Czech Republic would be granted its freedom of self-determination once she was made a saint. She wasn’t sainted until 1989, but within a matter of days the preliminaries of Czech freedom began to happen. It was within a year that they were independent.
We continued to walk on our tour and came to a Jewish synagogue with a statue of the Czech author Kafka out front. He is sitting on the shoulders of a headless statue (actually, it looks like a suit without someone wearing it). Taking pictures was Verboten, though I do believe that Kaiti took a few. Inside the synagogue was a small museum honoring the Jewish Czechs who were killed or suppressed during World War II.
We walked to another synagogue, this one was, I believe, the oldest in the city, though at this time it has been transformed into a shrine of memory for the Czech Jews. I want to say there were almost 80,000 names written on the walls of that building. That is considered holy enough ground to require all the males to don a yarmulke, which I kept afterwards.
We walked through the old cemetery, which dates from the early 1400s, though it was filled by the mid-1700s. There are over 100,000 bodies. It’s a fairly small parcel of land, so they would bury one on top of another. In places there are bodies 11 and 12 layers deep. It was a very nice cemetery, but I was surprised at how worn and aged it looked.
We passed the famous Astronomical clock in Old Town, which dates from the 14th century and still works even today. I’m anxious to go back and see it when it rings (every hour on the hour). It’s amazing how complicated it is. It tells the date, the time, the phases of the moon and sun, and all sorts of other details.
We passed a little stand selling Trdelník (and I have no clue how to pronounce it, so do your best). They appeared to be crust dough (though shaped differently) dipped in cinnamon and baked. I thought Grandma would enjoy one. Maybe I’ll get one in her honor later on.
Renata left us at about that point, but Dr. Wohlers took us up to Wenceslas square toward the national museum (more of a natural history museum—lots of rocks). Luckily we didn’t have to go in. In front of the museum is a 19th century statue of the Good King—who has become a patron saint of Prague.
From there Joel and I walked back to the hotel, then went out for supper to the Italian restaurant right across the street where I paid about $8.50 for a very lovely plate of spaghetti.
I’m getting sleepy (and am done writing about what happened today anyway), so I’m going to bed!
Love to all!
Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 (for Tuesday, July 1, 2014)
Time: 10:15 am local time (4:15 am EST)
Place: Same train (Vienna to Prague), about three hours out now…
Yesterday was quite the adventure, though misadventure probably is the better word. It was a day full of hurry up and wait. We left the hotel somewhere between 8 and 9 to take the train to Budapest, Hungary, for the day. We got to Budapest about 1 pm.
We were instructed to go find food (if we hadn’t already eaten on the train), change money, and go to the bathroom. I needed to do none of the above, so I just stood around for a while. Eventually we moved outside the train station (which from the inside made me feel like I was behind the Iron Curtain, but from the outside looks quite nice). We wandered around the courtyard for a while, taking pictures, admiring the restaurants (a KFC, a McDonalds, and a HUGE Burger King), and listening while Kathy Goddard or Lisa Diller held court (telling stories or teaching). We were waiting for Dr. Wohlers to get us tickets to ride a get-on-and-off tourist bus.
He finally came out of the station with tickets in hand. We had been told to follow Hammy and that he was a “good guy” that we could trust. I immediately didn’t trust him. The whole city felt like it was waiting to pick my pocket. We walked a couple of blocks to the bus stop, and then waited for about 30 minutes there, trying to get on the bus. We finally got an empty bus, and settled in for a tour of the city.
It was a lot of fun to ride around the historic parts of the city. We began our day in Pest (on one side of the Danube), then we crossed the river to Buda. The joke told by residents of Buda is that the only good thing about being in Pest is that you can see the rolling hills of Buda. The information given us was very interesting, and all the sights were fascinating, but I still managed to doze off several times. One time I nodded so hard in my sleep that on the rebound I bonked my head quite hard into a metal box between my seat and Dr. Laughlin’s.
We arrived back at the train station without problem or delay, and I felt slightly more rested after the trip. We had to wait for a while now for Dr. Wohlers to buy us metro tickets so we could go down a few stops to a square with some restaurants. We waited for quite a while, during which time I found out that Chris Dant had lost his Eurail pass, though as best as we can tell it wasn’t his fault. It had ripped from the rest of the folder and we think that the conductor didn’t return it to him.
We finally got our tickets and went down to brave the subway system. The escalators moved very fast, but the tickets were not easy to validate. We went down three stops and got off at the stop for the square, where we should have had about 40 minutes to get supper. Unfortunately, however, a few of the girls didn’t get their tickets validated properly and were stopped and hollered at (in Hungarian) by the guards. That ate up time and shaved several months off Wohler’s life as he went down to get them released.
We were out of time by that point, so we walked back down into the subway system and rode back to the train station. We waited for about 40 minutes, got on our train, and went home. Kaiti and I watched most of the new Star Trek movie, and I enjoyed an episode or two of Hogan’s Heroes, as well.
That’s about all for now! Love to all!
Date: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 (for Monday, June 30, 2014)
Time: 9:06 am local time (3:06 am EST)
Place: On the train between Vienna and Prague
Monday gave every indication of being an easier day—we didn’t have anywhere to be after Lisa’s lecture until about 11:30, and that was just to get on the metro to go up a few stops to Schönbrunn palace, the summer home of Maria Theresa (and later her famous great-grandchildren, Franz Joseph [I think] and his wife Elisabeth [called Sissi]).
Dr. Wohler’s verse for the day was Psalm 84—How Lovely are Thy Dwelling Places. Which was the perfect verse for the day’s itinerary.
The Holy Roman Empire was a loose confederation of states with the Emperor being elected from the kings of the states, though from the 1400s onward it was the generally the king of Austria.
The Hapsburg dynasty began in the 1300s in Switzerland, with Charles V living at the same time as Martin Luther. He was the Holy Roman Emperor, and also king of Spain and the Americas (neither of which fell under the HRE). Charles decided to retire from ruling, and also decided to split up his empire. He made his nephew the Holy Roman Emperor (and king of Austria), and his son got Spain and America. They basically left the other one alone, except for when they needed to fight France (which was between them).
At this time the various cantons (in Switzerland) and dutchies were allowed to choose to be either Protestant or Catholic, depending on who was in charge. The Protestants generally allied with the Protestants and the Catholics with the Catholics. The Hapsburgs remained Catholics. Under their rule Austria became the second largest European country.
The last great war fought in Europe over religion was the Thirty Years War, which actually lasted 30 years (from 1618-1648), and it was very devastating—almost as devastating as the plague had been. This was a war between Catholics and Protestants, but the Pope usually sided with the Protestants.
The war ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, which can be seen as the beginning of the modern era. This is when we became “civilized enough” to not fight over “superstition” (religion) but instead fight over important things like land and money. I hope you hear the sarcasm in my voice. As Christians we believe that the only thing really worth fighting for is Christ (but then we are given a headache because he wouldn’t want us to fight), but they saw that as fighting over superstition.
The 1700s saw the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, and from this Enlightenment came the idea of Enlightenment Rule. There should be one law for everyone. People should become homogenous. The problem with that, however, is deciding whose culture to choose. This was the age of benevolent despots and a centralization of power, all of which sounds good on paper, but that is flawed in real life. Revolutions during this time were not against the backwards governments, but were instead against the governments who were trying hard to modernize.
They weren’t just trying to reform, however. They wanted to become a powerful Empire in the style of Rome, which included being the center of art and culture. Maria Theresa (Queen of Austria) was against the church, because it was trying to take away some of her power, but the common people were for the church because they felt like it was the only one looking out for the common people.
During the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century Austria fought for the French nobility (partially because of Marie Antoinette, the daughter of Maria Theresa was queen there) and partially because when one monarchy goes, others tend to follow. In 1804 they fought Napoleon.
The year 1848 is very important in European history because it was the year of many historical independence movements, including the movement for Hungarian Independence. This was the age of nationalism. Every people group should have their own country in their own language. The Austrians didn’t want to lose Hungary, so they agreed to a dual monarchy, turning the Austrian Empire into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
On June 28, 1914 (100 years ago Sabbath) the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Throne (Francis Ferdinand) was killed by Serbian anarchists who wanted to have their own country. Then came World War I. After Francis Ferdinand was killed the Austrians wanted to wipe out Serbia, who called on the Russians for help, prompting the Austrians to call on the Germans.
The goal of this war was to be the last war that needed to be fought. The countries vowed to split up territories into Nationalistic regions at the close of the war, problems from which we are still dealing with today. The problems in Syria and Lebanon can be attributed to this arbitrary splitting. Now tribes are split between several countries, forcing tension.
When we got to Schönbrunn we were told we were going on the Grand Tour, which included an audio guide (yay!). It’s so much easier to appreciate the tour of 40 rooms with the audio guide instead of trying to read the signs (which aren’t always in English) around the crowd.
I really enjoyed the palace, though they encouraged me to not take pictures. Luckily, though, the postcards were fairly cheap, so I bought a few.
After we went outside the palace we walked through the French gardens on the grounds of Schönbrunn. French gardens are gardens that are very manicured and perfect. They are contrasted with English gardens, which are allowed to grow wild.
From Schönbrunn we walked around Vienna for a while. Dr. Wohlers had us walk past the winter palace of the Hapsburgs (the name of which I can’t remember), the Spanish Riding School (which is closed for renovations, but which would normally hold the Lipizzaner horses which are trained in ballet), eventually winding up at Stefansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral).
I went to St. Stephen’s last year with dad and took a picture of one of the organs, but I didn’t realize that there are two more. I was able to walk up much closer to the front this time around, and I tried to take pictures of the new organ (which Judy doesn’t quite approve of) and the smaller choir organ, too. Unfortunately they didn’t come out very well, but it was fun to see them. Now I can report back to Judy that I finally saw the right organ (and that it only took me two trips).
We made it back to our hotel again (I can actually navigate the city of Vienna, which is slightly alarming), and took some time to eat, some of us changed, then we went to the Musikverein in time for a concert by the Vienna Mozart Orchestra in the Golden Hall. The orchestra performed in Mozart costumes, which added a little bit of flair, but it was also quite cheesy. The music was outstanding.
On the program were two overtures by Mozart, quite a few opera arias and duets (including La ci darem la mano & Papageno/Papagena), the first movements of Mozart’s symphony no. 40 and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and several other pieces. The concert was concluded by the Racoszy March by Johann Strauss, Sr., which calls for audience participation. We got to clap, and it was so much fun!
At the close of the concert the conductor threw the baton into the audience, but unfortunately I was too far away to even have a hope of catching it. I would rather catch someone’s baton than a baseball (and probably more than a garter). What a souvenir it would be!
We walked back to the hotel, and went to bed. We needed to be out fairly early the next day, as we were going to Prague.
Love to all!
I'm a Classical musician, a growing Christian, and a world traveler. I'm learning, exploring, and trying to understand this wonderful world I live in.