Thursday, January 30, 2020

We Got It,

the award for the most active German-American city partnership in 2019.


It was the Steuben-Schurz-Society, the oldest German-American friendship organization in Germany, that handed over the certificate in Frankfurt on 28 January 2020, in the framework of its New Year’s reception.



The award was conferred upon the Freiburg-Madison-Gesellschaft in recognition of the German-American city partnership Freiburg im Breisgau/Madison, WI, that has existed since 1988, with intensive personal and diversified official networking.

Here comes a photo chronology:

Final touches on the president's speech
Cool and relaxed at the reception.
Our ladies and president at the table of honor
Welcoming address by SSG's President Dr. Johannes Beerman
Lieutenant Colonel Martin Lammert about a Bundeswehr
 partly ready for action but facing global challenges and requirements.
The great moment.
SSG's Vice President Claudia Pörings awards Toni Schlegel the certificate.
Showing the document to an applauding crowd.
Toni's speech of thanks.
In his speech, President Toni Schlegel stressed the point that city partnerships brave tensions between governments and are a "lived" international understanding. Freiburg has successful partnerships with Isfahan in Iran, Tel Aviv in Israel, and Madison in the US.

During the biennial partnership market of Freiburg's 12 (!) sister cities in the heart of town, the booths of those special partnerships are placed close to each other, allowing for vivid conversations among the participating visitors.

The final group photo
We wound up the historic evening at the hotel bar.
A selfie with the ceiling mirror. 

Friday, January 24, 2020

Hamburg 2


For New Year's Eve, Red Baron had booked a trip to Hamburg (again) this time with the Badische Zeitung, Freiburg's one and only daily newspaper.

But then my relatives did not like that I was planning to stay alone at Christmas. So I took a train north to Bonn on Christmas Eve (December 24), meeting my sister-in-law and my brother for the celebration.


Although the tree was traditional, Christmas Eve was not. I sat with the family of my sister-in-law around a table; we all had meat fondue. The seating arrangement was perfect, so we all found our conversation partner.

On December 27, I continued farther north to Cologne, spending two days with my other sister-in-law and her husband.


I stayed at the Hotel Früh am Dom (near the cathedral). Früh is known as a traditional beer brewer of Kölsch, the local beer of Cologne. They operate extensive drinking facilities on the ground floor but now run a hotel too. Note the Heinzelmännchenbrunnen (fountain of the brownies or good folks of Cologne) in the foreground.


This was the early morning view from the breakfast room. Men are cleaning the square around the cathedral from remains of the Christmas market.


Later during the day, I visited the Rembrandt exhibition at the Wallraf Museum together with my relatives.

On December 29,  I finally took the train to Hamburg to meet my fellow Freiburgers at the hotel. Before New Year’s Eve, we spent some time sightseeing in Hamburg.

Hamburg's major steeples from right to left: St. Michaelis (Michel), St. Katherinen,
St.Nicolai in front of Elphi, St. Petri, St. Jacobi,
 and to the left the twin steeples of new St. Ansgar, the Catholic bishop church.
During a tour by bus, we passed by the Außenalster, the lake within the city, and admired the panorama of Hamburg's churches.

Engraving around 1700. Today all steeples are still there
except the one of the old bishop's cathedral demolished in 1805.

The Elbtunnel

West entrance to the Elbtunnel
Our bus moved through the new Hafen City to the entrance of the Elbtunnel on the left bank of the Elbe River. But before we entered the building, we went to the waterfront where we had a fantastic view of the river and the city.

The Landungsbrücken and the dome of the entrance to the Elbtunnel.
To the right, the Hotel Hafen Hamburg with its"bar tower."
The middle part of the panorama with the spire of St. Michaelis.
Note to the left the tower at Landungsbrücken displaying the tide mark
 and farther to the left the Bismarck statue.
Further upstream: St. Katherinen, St. Nicolai, and above all,
Hamburg's new landmark on the right: Elphi
Here is the full panorama
Construction of the Elbtunnel started in 1907. No access ramps were built.
Vehicles, mostly horse-drawn carriages, were brought to the lower level using elevators.
Here are the entrances to elevators for the vehicles at the lower level.
The tunnel has two one-way tubes with one of them already rebuilt
while the other is still under reconstruction.
The entrances to the tube under construction are covered with canvas.
The surfaces show old photos.
Here dockers with their bicycles on their way to work.
Hurray, even an automobile fits into the tunnel.
 During the construction work, only bicycles are allowed in the already restored tube
in both directions. The speed limit is 10 km/h (6 miles per hour)
He couldn't care less.
Our group walked the 480 meters to meet the bus on the other side of the Elbe River.

The History of the Advent Wreath

Red Baron's traditional Advent wreath of 2019
In 1839 the Protestant-Lutheran theologian, educator, and founder of the Protestant Diaconia Johann Hinrich Wichern (1808-1881) introduced the Advent wreath when he was working in a suburb of Hamburg at the Rauhes Haus (Harsh House), an approved school for orphans and street children.

The so-called Wichernkranz was a wagon wheel with initially twenty small red candles and four large white candles. Every evening from the 1st Advent to Christmas Eve, a candle is lit. The big candles are for the Sundays in Advent, the small ones for the workdays. Wichern hung the wreath in the prayer room of the orphanage. It was to show the children the number of days until Christmas while they also learned to count.

The Wichern wreath is still alive at St. Michaelis church.
A closer look.

Visiting the Kings of St. Pauli

On the second evening in Hamburg, our group went to the theater.

Crossing the Reeperbahn, Hamburg's sinful mile. A red-light district?
On the right the famous Davidswache, Hamburg's smallest police station.
A family story: Die Königs vom Kiez.
 Their name is König, and they live in the St. Pauli district.
Red light urinal.

Beer Tasting

A beer tasting was included in the trip. Hamburg has an old tradition of beer brewing, although the hygienic conditions were not always perfect in the past.

The mayor announces that beer brewing is scheduled for Wednesday.
From Tuesday on, it is no longer allowed to shit into the creek.

Here is a day view of a scene Red Baron took in January 2017 by night
The tasting took place at the Störtebeker, a restaurant on the upper floor of the Elbphilharmonie.

The brewery is named after Klaus Störtebeker, a privateer at the time of the Hanse.
He was captured and beheaded in Hamburg.
The pipes of Störtebeker's beer orgue
For the tasting, we had the following beers accompanied by appropriate sandwiches.


1. The mild off-dry Kellerbier trüb (Cellar beer, foggy; 4.6%) is served with an avocado cream sandwich.


2. Fruity aromatic Wit-Bier (5.1%) with a Brie cheese sandwich. The Störtebeker Witbier brewed with coriander and orange peel does not fulfill the German Reinheitsgebot. You must ask for an authorization for naming the drink a beer. Such approval is easier to get in Northern Germany than in Bavaria.

3. Stormy fresh bitterly Atlantik Pale Ale (5.1%) and a smoked salmon sandwich not in a photo.


4. Substantial fruity Roggen Weizen (5.4%) and a smoked ham sandwich. The rye “wheat” beer is brewed with aromatic hops in addition to the classical bitter hops.


5. All the sandwiches are gone. The substantial aromatic-fruity Eis Lager (9.8%) is served with mascarpone in a glass. The ice lager is increased in alcohol by freezing out about half the water but retaining the alcohol.

New Year's Eve

On New Year Eve, our group boarded a boat, the MS Hafen Hamburg, to celebrate the new year on the Elbe River. In Germany, New Year's Day is welcomed with noise and smoke from official and private fireworks. Apparently, about 20% of the yearly dose of fine dust is emitted during New Year's night. Could the money spent on fireworks find nobler causes? The air would be cleaner too.



Passing Elphi on the water. The air around the building is polluted with fine dust.

Miniatur Wunderland

Before taking the train south, our group visited the Miniatur Wunderland on New Year's morning. We were walking from our hotel, still smelling the curse of the night's deeds. Red Baron reported earlier on this extraordinary exhibition. So here are just two new photos:

Venice's Piazza San Marco without inundation.
The Principality of Monaco is still under construction.
The greatest challenge is the simulation of the
famous Grand Prix de Monte Carlo, the Formula 1 car race.