Thursday, August 8, 2019

Walking in Berlin

On the last day of his recent visit to Berlin, Red Baron visited Kieser Training at Berlin/Mitte.

Nobel Prize winner Robert Koch
Their premises are located near the Charité, the famous hospital where giants of medicine including Rudolph Virchow, Emil von Behring, Robert Koch, Paul Ehrlich, and Ferdinand Sauerbruch practiced.

The entrance to Kieser Training Berlin-Mitte is somewhat hidden.

The reception in the back has a corporate look.

The narrow lockers were a shock. Only two hangers! My jeans shorts already filled the whole width. What do they do during the winter?

There was little attendance for a Monday morning.

In Freiburg, the training machines are not as tightly positioned.

An exciting addition to machine B1 is foot rollers we do not have in Freiburg.

For lunch, I went to Berlin's Disneyland. To make East Berlin attractive to tourists the German Democratic Republic constructed an old Berlin quarter around Nicolai Church.

Not many tourists were there at noon, but many eateries invited me for lunch. I chose Bolte's Steakhaus although I was annoyed by the Deppenapostroph in the name that was borrowed from Wilhelm Busch's Max und Moritz.

I did not choose a steak but a specialty of the House: Benser Blutwurst*. The black pudding produced by the famous manufacturer of blutwurst located in Berlin-Neukölln is roasted and served on a slice of apple with a mustard potato mash and onion melt. I downed the sausage with a Berliner Weiße mit Schuss (white beer with a shot of woodruff syrup).
*Note: This traditional dish is not offered on the English menu card.

Here is a painting of Witwe (widow) Bolte seen inside the Steakhaus.

Widow Bolte on her way to the cellar where she keeps her Sauerkraut
Wilhelm Busch rhymed in his comic Max und Moritz:

Daß sie von dem Sauerkohle
Eine Portion sich hole,
Wofür sie besonders schwärmt,
Wenn er wieder aufgewärmt. -

Widow Bolte went for sour
Kraut, which she would devour
Warmed a little on the fire
With exceeding great desire.

Following lunch, I decided to walk along the Spree River in the direction of Humboldt University.

Tourists on boats. The scene looks like Venice. In the background the Berlin cathedral and the Hohenzollern castle under reconstruction as the Humboldt-Forum.

The back facade is not reconstructed in its original form.

Following the street, there is on the left the building of our Foreign Ministry and on the right, Karl Friedrich Schinkel's Bauakademie (Building Academy) that "is considered one of the forerunners of modern architecture due to its hithertofore uncommon use of red brick and the relatively streamlined facade of the building" (Wikipedia). To demonstrate the beauty of the building, one corner was reerected in the original masonry. The rest is simulated by painted canvas.

The Schinkel square in front of the Academy is of rare beauty.

The statue of Schinkel is in the middle while that to the left represents Christian Peter Wilhelm Friedrich Beuth called the father of Prussian manufacturing. The one on the right shows Albrecht Conrad Thaer, founder of the science of agriculture.

Looking to the right shows the cupola of the Humboldt-Forum still under construction.

Crossing the Spree River on the Schlossbrücke opens a good view on the Museumsinsel with its new Henri James Simon Forum. Stay tuned for my next blog.

Statue of Alexander von Humboldt in front of Berlin's Humboldt Universität. The University of Havanna dedicated the sculpture to the second discoverer of Cuba in 1939.

In the courtyard of the main university building yet another statue. It represents the physicist Hermann von Helmholtz.

Driving on Unter den Linden with a view on Brandenburg Gate. 
In the back to the left the building of the US embassy.
Being tired, I took the public double-decker bus 100 that is often "abused" by visitors for sightseeing. This famous line runs from Alexanderplatz to Bahnhof Zoo touching most major Berlin sights on its route.

I arrived with the S-Bahn at the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) from where I had a good view of the Reichstag building. To the right the building of the Swiss embassy.

I will end my photostory with an evening view from my hotel with the river Spree in front and the Federal Chancellery (Germany's White House) in the back.

Monday, August 5, 2019

White Socks

Although I am a baseball fan, I am not writing about the famous Chicago Club but only about white tennis socks in sandals.

It is true that a couple of years ago, white socks were a necessary summer accessory for old German men who liked airy feet in hot weather but did not like them naked.

A long time ago, number one in soccer.
From here a legend was born culminating in the myth that all stuffy bourgeois German males walking in sandals through European tourist resorts wear white tennis socks.

The pictures above I collected on the Internet over the years. On the contrary, below are Red Baron's bare, unattractive feet.

I show them naked from mid-April to mid-October wearing just sandals come rain or come shine.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Along the Rhine

On my way back from Cologne to Freiburg, I had all my time. Going south I decided to take the train running along the meandering Rhine river. In Coblenz, I even mounted the local train to Frankfort that makes a stop at Assmannshausen, a village on the riverside with special memories.

Looking out of the window I internalized Ernst Moritz Arndt‘s slogan, “Der Rhein, Teutschlands Strom, aber nicht Teutschlands Grenze.” Arndt wrote, “The Rhine, Germany’s river, but not Germany’s border”, in 1813 when Napoleonic France indeed occupied all territories on the left bank of the Rhine including today’s Belgium and the Netherlands. Here are some photos of Vater Rhein (Father Rhine):

Double railway tracks and roads force their way through the most narrow Rhine valley on both sides of the river.

Initially, nothing else than a miserable toll station located on an island in the river Pfalzgrafenstein castle became a national shrine.

Wilhelm Camphausen 1859: Blücher and the First Army of Silesia crossing the Rhine
 near to Kaub on January 1st, 1814 (©HOWI/Wikipedia)
Here is the reason. The painting shows Prussian Field Marshall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher and his troops crossing the Rhine on New Year’s Day 1814 tracking down Napoleon on the then French territory on the left bank. The Pfalzgrafenstein island was a welcome anchoring point for a floating bridge that allied Russian pioneers had crafted with 70 pontoons made from canvas and tar.

Adolph Menzel 1857:
Wellington und Blücher nach der Schlacht bei Belle-Alliance
This time Blücher was diligent. Not so at Waterloo on Sunday, 18 June 1815, where he was late. When in the evening of that very day Napoleon had thrown his last reserves into the battle creating difficulties for Wellington’s troops the Duke moaned, “Would to God that night or Bluecher were come” known in German as, ”Ich wollte, es würde Nacht oder die Preußen kämen.”

Next stop Assmannshausen. Wikipedia tells us that “the village has a lithium spring, spa, and a Kurhaus, and is famed for its red wine (Assmannshäuser) made from Pinot noir (German: Spätburgunder), which resembles red Burgundy wine.”

Die Krone in Assmanshausen
After I stepped out of the train at the deserted station, my steps led me to a restaurant at the river banks named Die Krone.

Edition Krone Assmannshausen, Roter Schäumender Trocken
(Red Sparkling Dry)
The Crown is known for its sparkling red wine ...

On the black-and-white photo, my mother sits on the right,
my father in the middle talking to two of his employees.
A bottle and five glasses are on the table so I must have taken the photo.
...that my parents already enjoyed in 1955.

Therefore it became a tradition for my family and me that driving along the Rhine on the way to my parents-in-law in Cologne we made a stopover at Die Krone.

My family in 1987 sitting at the terrasse without glasses.
My family inside in 1989, the glasses filled.
Me alone at the terrasse on July 21, 2019.

This year’s first chanterelles served with Serviettenknödel (serviette, napkin, roasted, or Austrian bread dumplings, you translate it).

The inside of the hotel/restaurant is nicely decorated like this festive table. Even the carpet shows the Crown.

Inside of the roof ridge, a half relief commemorates Ferdinand Freiligrath, a somewhat forgotten poet, friend and translator of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and preacher of freedom. In 1844 he became a liberal agitator and finished his political Glaubensbekenntnis (Confession of Faith) at Die Krone. His efforts culminated in the Revolution of 1848.

In the entrance hall you find a copy of a democratic Germania, her shackles broken. The original painting is located at Frankfurt’s Paulskirche (St. Paul’s Church), the meeting place of Germany’s National Assembly in 1848. In her left hand, Germania bears the banner black-red-gold, in her right hand, she holds the sword of defense entwined with an olive branch.

Confer to the seal of the American president with the eagle holding in his sinister talon thirteen arrows symbolizing the defensive strength of the founder states and in his dexter talon an olive branch.

Ups, sorry this is the fake one.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Cologne for Connoisseurs

Two weeks ago on Saturday Red Baron attended a wedding at St. Apollinaris*, a small church near Düren, a city in North-Rhine Westphalia. Why was I there? Well, I am the uncle related by marriage to and the godfather of the groom.
*Apollinaris is better known as a somewhat high-browed glass-bottled sparkling water.

The subsequent fest was a big affair with about 300 young and youngest guests, me being the oldest. On the vast terrain belonging to the bride’s father, he had organized the wedding party. We, the guests, were treated with sparkling water or wine, Kölsch*, and finger food served at various service points. The host had even a toilet van installed for the people to get rid of their liquids.
*the local beer from nearby Cologne

The fest tent seen in the back was equipped with tables and chairs for all those eating their barbecue buffet. I only present one photo of this family affair showing in the foreground the young husband chasing his wife (?) and children playing in the meadow with some of them flattening the molehills.

I had already arrived in Cologne at noon the Friday before by InterCity Express (ICE). It took me only three hours from Freiburg into the heart of the city; the central train station is just a stone’s throw away from the cathedral.

I know Cologne well for Elisabeth had lived here before our marriage and we visited my parents-in-law frequently. Being alone in the city, I took a guided bus tour for the first time.

The problem for the guides is that Cologne’s inner city is a pedestrian area. So I was driven through unknown suburbs called Niehl and Riehl and had an extended trip on the right bank of the Rhine that real Cologners pejoratively call the Schäl Sick (the wrong side of the river).

Here are a few photos I took on the ”right” side. The old Malzmühle (malt mill) nowadays is a brewery and pub for Kölsch. It is little known by tourists because it is located off their usual trail.

Det hillige Köln (Holy Cologne) had already nine big churches and a cathedral all built in the Romanesque style before the construction of the Dom started in 1248 in the Gothic style. Most of the old Romanesque churches were destroyed during the Second World War but reconstructed except for St. Alban's. The ruin now accommodates a memorial for those who perished during the war in particular in the bombing raids that destroyed Cologne to 90%.

Here is a place to visit, the new Wallraf-Richartz Museum of Art. The outside walls show what paintings you will find in there. On this side of the building are marked the names of Van Dyck, Murillo, Munch, Bruyn, Piacetta, Feuerbach, Morisson, and the less known Van Henessen.

Following the bus tour, I went to one of the Merzenich bread outlets where I noticed the first plum tart of the season.

Well, for the self-service stamp-sized tart and a cup of coffee I paid more than for two packages of Merzenich’s famous Schwarzbrot (coarse rye bread). This bread thinly sliced is cult for many Germans and possibly only digestible by them. My grandchildren even don’t look at me when I savor it for breakfast spread with Pflaumenmus (plum jam).

When I left my hotel the following morning, the steeples of the cathedral standing against a blue sky invited me. On my way, I passed the fence of a building site decorated with some banners presenting historical views of Cologne.

The panorama shows that a pontoon bridge still existed in 1900. It was opened at intervals for ships to pass.

Before the present cathedral was started in the Gothic style in 1248 a Romanesque bishop’s church the Carolingian Hildebold Dom, and an episcopal palace (marked in blue) existed.

All building activities came to a halt between 1524 to 1828. Here is the famous view of the unfinished cathedral in the 19th century. The new bishop’s palace is located in front of the already finished church choir that for centuries has served as the place of worship.

Inauguration and consecration in the presence of the Kaiser on 14 August 1880
The Catholic Kölner Dom was eventually finished in 1880 using French reparation payments following the French-German war of 1870/71.

Since Kaiser Wilhelm had some money left, he served his Protestant subjects too by having built the Berliner Dom around 1900.

My first action when I enter the cathedral always is to light a candle in front of the Schmuckmadonna. Since the end of the 17th century, the faithful have come to the small figure of the Madonna of the Jewelry placed in front of the left northern transept. The believers offered their precious gifts to the baroque, partly painted, partly gilded wooden statue of Our Lady.

Since December 2013, the Cathedral has a “new” relic. It is a scrap of cloth with a drop of blood of Pope John Paul II. The relic is contained in a silver reliquary depicting Karol Józef Wojtyła leaning on his Ferula.

Sideward of the doors of the northern transept, I discovered the statues of St. Mary and her “husband” Joseph. It was always my impression that the Church is not at ease regarding this special relationship. Here Joseph and Mary even look in opposite directions confirming my point of view.

To replace some broken windows the cathedral chapter mandated German artist Gerhard Richter in 2006 to fill the opening of the southern transept. Richter worked without pay.

Although one doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth Cologne’s Cardinal Joachim Meisner - not a member of the cathedral chapter - started a controversy about the Richter-Window, "It rather fits into a mosque or another house of prayer. If we already get a new window, it should also clearly reflect our faith. And not just any."

While the tourists started streaming into the cathedral, I stepped out into the bright sunlight heading for Brewery Früh just a stone’s throw away from the Dom.

Before I started on my trip to Düren, I had to strengthen myself with a Halve Hahn and a few test tubes of Früh Kölsch.

In the meantime, groups of tourist with their guides were continually passing by. My second breakfast attracted many an envious glance.