Friday, May 31st, 10:22 am local time (4:22 am EST), Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany
Hello again, folks! Dad and I are in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, just a little over an hour's drive from Leipzig. Leipzig really only took a day, so we're officially at least one day ahead of schedule. We saw all there is (basically) in Wittenberg, but we booked for two nights, so we're taking a day off, and Dad is asleep...
On Monday I managed to sleep through my first two alarms, so I had to rush around to take my shower and get on the shuttle to the airport. Jean came down and gave me a hug goodbye, and a few minutes later, both Kibbles came and we waited for the bus together. Dr. Kibble gave me a heart keychain with a flag of Norway on it so that I would remember everyone loved me.
The bus came, I got on, and I waited as we drove about an hour from my hotel, via several other stops, to the Oslo Airport. I got off the bus, found the right line to get in, and I tried to sign in using the automatic kiosk, but they couldn't find me. So I waited in line for about 5-10 minutes. When I got to the front of the line, the man spoke perfect American English. It took him about 2 minutes to get me registered. He then asked me if I'd like an aisle seat, which I immediately asked for. He then noticed that I am tall, and offered me an emergency exit seat, which I heartily took. I suggested a bump to first class, but that didn't happen.
By this time it was just a little after 8, and I went through security with plenty of time... I found my gate, realized that it was full with passengers from a different flight, so I went and found a blueberry muffin and hot (dark) chocolate. I went back to a nearby gate and enjoyed my breakfast and finished a book I had on my iPad. I looked at my watch and it said that I had just a little under an hour until boarding. So I got up, went to my gate, and saw that there were no people... I looked at the board with all the assignments, and found that I wasn't supposed to be at gate 13 like my ticket said. Instead, I was to be on 37c. So I hoofed it over there ASAP.
I made it to 37c in plenty of time to start a new book, and get engrossed in it while waiting for the plane. I found generic gate 37, but couldn't find 37c. There was a hallway that look like the kind that lead to the airplanes, but it said something like Passenger Lounge. I walked through, and when no alarms sounded, I walked to the end of the hall and found my 37c.
We were shuttled on a bus from gate 37c to our waiting airplane, and allowed to board. I was in seat 9c, right above the wing. I didn't have anyone sitting immediately next to me, and though I didn't have a lot of leg room, I was comfortable. I read for a while until I started getting sleepy. From there I watched some Star Trek. I woke up when the fasten seatbelt sign lit up.
Several people (flight attendants, etc.) needed to talk to me during the trip, and they all immediately started speaking Norwegian or German. Only my panicked look and explanation that I didn't understand got them to switch languages to something I understood...
We landed in Munich, and I found baggage claim with no problem. My bag came around, and I grabbed it, and started heading out. I went through the "nothing to declare" line in customs, and saw nobody official and made it into Germany... Dad was waiting for me outside of customs, and from there we walked about 15 miles to the car, which was parked outside terminal 1 (I landed in terminal 2).
We got into the car (which was really quite nice), and drove to our hostel. It was one of those cold, blustery days that make you want to stay indoors. However, it was before 2, so we couldn't get into our hotel immediately. We walked down the street and saw a McDonalds and had lunch, and by the time we got back it was time, and we could get to our room... It was on the 2nd floor (which we would call the third floor), and small. The "bathroom" was a sink in the corner of the room, and if you wanted to more than brush your teeth, you needed to walk down the hall...
That afternoon, after just relaxing for a while in the hotel, we went out to the old part of Munich to the "Marienplatz" of St. Mary's Square. There is a church, and an old city hall. We went into the center of the City Hall, but didn't go in to see anything. We got to hear the City Hall Glockenspiel chime from 5-5:15, which was fun. It played a lot of Renaissance/Baroque sounding music, and there were dancing statues. Quite nice.
We walked around Marienplatz for a while, and down a few side streets, looking for food. We finally decided to go back to the hotel, so we hopped back on the subway, and even managed to go the right direction. At our end of the Subway, before we got on the bus, we stopped for food at a Pizza/Falafel stand, and Dad got swindled out of a tip by a very fast talking cashier.
Back at the hotel, we were tired, so we got in bed. We put on an episode of Star Trek, and neither of us knew what happened in the middle.
We woke up on Tuesday morning, and ate breakfast in the hostel. While we were getting ready, dad stood up, with arms stretching out. His 6-foot wingspan almost made it from one wall to the next. He was only about 6-inches short. From there we checked out, and went to the Dachau Concentration/Work Camp. They have kept much of Dachau how it was during the war, and they have very professional tours. They accept the fact that these horrors took place, and they don't, under any circumstance, try to hide it. They make their students come to Dachau at least once before they graduate.
The tour was very interesting and meaningful. We were shown the field where they stood for roll call, we were shown where the prisoners were registered, where they slept, where they went to the bathroom. I saw where special prisoners were put into cells, and I saw where religious services were held. I saw the crematorium, and I even saw the gas chamber.
This is the time when I need to clarify what the difference between a work camp and a extermination camp is. Dachau was a work camp. Until close to the end, the prisoners were there because they disagreed with the government. They were taken there to be put to work, not to be killed. That being said, many of them died due to overwork, lack of food, and lack of hygiene. There were individual executions, but no mass killings. The guide said that there was no evidence of mass executions happening in the gas chamber, but only individuals.
The prisoners in Dachau were stripped of their clothing, and basically given wooden shoes and a pair of pajamas. No socks, no underwear, no jackets. Only a small cap. They were forced to work that way rain or shine. I was struck by how cold it was in the camp buildings, and I was nicely bundled. I tried to imagine how they felt. I don't think I even have an idea.
During our tour of Dachau we met a man who is an Adventist, from Asheville, who, believe it or not, knows of Judy. I had introduced myself to someone else, and he overheard. I said I was a music major, and he asked what my instrument was. I said voice and organ, and he said he met Judy before the organ was installed. It's a small, small world.
After leaving Dachau we set our GPS to our hotel in Leipzig, which was about a four hour drive. We got in the car, and drove through some of the most beautiful countryside you'd ever seen. The grass was green, and there were wonderful fields of yellow (maybe mustard?). The houses all seem to be in the same style--sort of cement with bright red roofs. Very pretty!
We stopped along the way at an Aldi and bought a loaf of bread to go with the peanut butter and jelly Dad brought along. We also bought gummy bears and water. After that stop we got to Leipzig at about 6 o'clock.
We drove to the place the GPS took us, and there was no hotel... I was looking for different addresses, and Dad was about to make a phone call when he rolled down his window and yelled to a bicycler "unschudigung" (Excuse me). It turns out that we had passed it just a few yards back. So we turned around, parked, checked in, went out and changed parking places about three times, and then went in and up to the room.
The room was small, but it was huge compared to the night before. It even had its own bathroom... Unfortunately, there was a window into the bathroom, and even though glass was frosted, it wasn't private. The same for the door. My project for the evening was to do laundry, which was a fun experience. One washer took about an hour, but the other took 2.5 at least. And it took at least 2 hours for the clothes to dry!
Breakfast was not included at that hotel, so we resorted to PB&J. I found the addresses to the places we were going for the day, and we decided to go first to the Bach Museum and St. Thomas church. By the time we got to where we needed to be it was about 11, but by the time we parked and figured out where exactly we were supposed to be, it was closer to noon.
We went in to the Bach museum, and were given audio guides that contained a wealth of very interesting stories, facts, and even music! In the museum we got to see a family tree with at least 5 generations of Bach's family, beginning with Veit in the 1500s. From there we got to see an organ console once played by Bach. Then we saw more family trees, musical instruments, pictures, manuscripts, and many, many other things. I learned more about Bach in 2 hours there than 2.5 years of the B's!
After leaving the Bach museum (by way of the gift shop), we took a few pictures by a statue of JSB, and then went into the St. Thomas church, where Bach was in charge for 27 years. We walked around the outside perimeter of the inside until we found Bach's grave, which is at the very front in the choir area. We took several pictures, then went into a side room that told, in German, about the last days of Bach.
From St. Thomas church we headed toward the Mendelssohn house. By this time it was raining, and we were hungry, so we stopped at a hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant, and had SPAGHETTI, and it was so good! After we left, we walked the remaining blocks to the Mendelssohn house, almost missing it entirely.
The Mendelssohn house is one floor of currently-used apartment building, and it's all in German. When we went in the door of his apartment, we were given a translation booklet with our tickets. The information was very interesting, but not laid out in a way that compared to the Bach museum. I read every word, and then looked around at all the exhibits. They were quite interesting to look at, especially the one of the Gewandhaus (guh-vant-house). It was just nice to be there. After a quick trip to the gift shop for a present for Grandma, Dad and I left and began walking back to the car.
By the time we were almost to the car we started seeing signs for the Schumann house. We started following them, and walked close to a mile before realizing that we didn't know where it was, and also realizing that our feet hurt. So we turned around and finally found the car! I was overjoyed.
We first figured out how to get into the parking garage, then we figured out how to drive out of the garage. We made it back to the hotel, ate PB&J for supper, and watched the rest of the Star Trek movie we started the night before.
Thursday morning we woke up and decided that we didn't want to walk the 5K Music Circle, and we didn't want to wait until 2:00 for the Schumann house to open. So we drove to Wittenberg by abut 11. It was only about an hour-and-a-half drive, and we made it to our next hotel by a little before 1. We checked in, and used the first good Wi-Fi we'd had in days. There was a knock at the door, and the lady asked if it was going to be one person or two staying. Dad booked it for 2, but their records only said 1, so we had to pay more.
By about 3 we went out into the city. We were only about 2 blocks from where all the important things happened in Wittenberg. We enjoyed walking down the street until finally coming to the end at the Schlosskirche (Castle Church), where Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses. Unfortunately, the church was closed for renovations, and we couldn't even see the doors up close.
We walked across the street to the Information Center/Gift Shop and bought a present for Grandpa. From there, we walked up the other street (they kind of meet at a V), and headed back up. We crossed over at one point, and then began looking for the Lutherhaus. We (finally) it, and went in with just under an hour to see everything, since we were trying to get to an English language church service at 4:30.
The museum is amazing! There is interesting information, and the exhibits make it come alive. I learned new things about Luther, but also saw old things in a new light. I saw Luther not as a troublemaker, but as a theologian who had issues with what was going on. He was just stating how his knowledge of the Bible didn't match with what was being said.
We had to run from the museum to the Corpus Christi Chapel for the English language service. It was special to get to worship in the town that Martin Luther caused such a stir in. When we sang A Mighty Fortress, I realized that I was singing it where it was written, at the birthplace of the Reformation.
After church we went to an Italian restaurant and had more Spaghetti. This wasn't as good as what we had in Leipzig, but it worked in a pinch, and I was full. From there it was back to the hotel. Dad and watched Ice Age, and went to bed.
I think I'm all caught up, now, but can't wait to have more adventures and tell you about them!
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.