Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Rest of My Semester!

So, this is going to be murderously long.
I suggest a cup of tea and a hob nob.  And, possibly reading it in sections!
It was what I wrote for my journal for class.
I will be writing an overview of my time at some point in the future!
Highlights, etc!

9 October 2010
The first day of the AmBex Reformation History academic study tour was spent traveling to Dresden.  However, there was a brief stop to visit the Flossenbürg work camp.  The ride to the camp was full of autumn beauty and clear blue skies!  It was surprising to arrive at the camp and find that homes have been built right up to the property line.  The camp was very physically different than Buchenwald.  On one side it was surrounded by beautiful forests while on the other private homes encroached on its property line.
There was a building that provided a history of Flossenburg the town as well as Flossenburg the work camp.  There was a quarry in Flossenburg which was where the prisoners were sent to work…work to death.
It was at this camp that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hung.  Walking through the building where political prisoners were held (and Bonhoeffer may have been) was thought provoking.  It was interesting to walk through the rooms and imagine them being there and what it may have been like.
The fall colors were beautiful!  It was hard to take it in because just as a thought regarding and rejoicing in the beauty would come to mind a sobering realization would hit that this was a work camp.  It almost seemed disrespectful.  Yet, looking back, God created the world, the autumn leaves, eyes to see, and hearts to appreciate the beauty!

10 October 2010
Dresden is the capitol of Saxony which is a state in Germany.  It is a beautiful place and considered the Florence of Germany (this is probably due to the amount of art that is in the city).  Florence was where royalty lived and there was a great amount of wealth.  This can be seen in the buildings, the art, and the Procession of Dukes which is a mural made of porcelain that stretches the length of a street block.
There is a famous church in Dresden that has survived many tribulations.  The Church of Our Lady is a Protestant church in the center of Dresden.  It was too small for the number of people attending and was rebuilt to house more and as an act of defiance against Augustus the Strong for converting to Catholicism.  During WWII the Air Raid of Dresden occurred.  The church was hit and the lantern at the top of dome fell.  It disintegrated and the pews burned.  The church was reconstructed afterwards and now on the 13th of February every year people gather to commemorate the people who died in the air raid.  Many people now use this church as their place of gathering or worship, including:  Catholics, Protestants, and those of Eastern Religions.
When the Frauen Kirchen had been erected in 1726 Augustus the Strong decided a Catholic equivalent needed to be built.  Thus the Cathedral was built.  It is now the burial place of the Veten’s (Royal family) and Augustus the Strong’s heart.  His body was buried in Poland but his heart in the Cathedral.  It was rebuilt after being bombed in 1945. 
Dresden is known for its porcelain.  The nicest porcelain is Meissen porcelain and their symbol resembles a necklace with two almost connected X’s as pendants.  Across the street and on the following street block after the Meissen porcelain store is a mural called The Procession of Dukes.  It is entirely made of porcelain and documents different royalty.
 The Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden is in a beautiful building with lovely gardens in the courtyard.  There are multiple sections to the museum including science, math, art, armory, and porcelain.  In the art section there was a Vermeer exhibit that showed many of his famous works, including A Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window.  They created a life size model of the picture with a certain place to look so that the viewer could have the proper perspective. 
Dresden was beautiful!  A visit in the future would be a wonderful thing!  The river was lovely and the river bank was just asking someone to have a picnic on it!  The courtyard of the museum was beautiful!  I loved just observing everything!  The old architecture and manicured garden just creates old thoughts in my head!
11 October 2010
Check Point Charlie.  The point where people went to and from East and West Berlin and where many people attempted to escape from the East to the West.  There were plaques documenting successful attempts as well as the failures.  It is sad to think that people would have to hide and try to escape.  They were not free.  The East Germans were cut off from their family members in West Germany.  They were provided for but were dictated to.  They were not free.
The Berlin Wall.  A symbol of division, oppression, dictatorship, and sadness.  The Red Army liberated Berlin and destroyed over half of the bridges in the process.  Then, when dividing Germany among the French, British, Russian, and American the United States gave up a portion of their area in Germany so that they could keep a presence in Berlin and the U.S.S.R. would not have complete control.  The wall was 99 miles long with watch towers at certain intervals.  This made it practically impossible to get over.  If caught attempting to escape the guards would shoot.  The wall fell in November of 1989.
The group visited the Berlin Wall and spent some time walking around reading plaques, viewing photos, and seeing the remains of the wall.  It was a thoroughly interesting time and much was learned!  It was so strange thinking that there was a time when people could not cross.  In fact, a street was divided.  Half was free and half was not.  This street was Bergstrasse.  It was one of the first streets in Germany to have the wall built on it. 
The Reichstag is the German Parliamentary building.  The ground on which it was built (the city park area) used to be the hunting grounds for the royal family.  The building took ten years to complete and was finished in 1894.  The dome was finished in 1890 (I believe).  The inscription on the dome reads, “Of the German People.”  The people are at the center and are most important.  The building was burned in 1933 and had to be rebuilt. 
The Brandenburg Gate was an Athenian structure that was completed in 1791.  The décor was added in 1795.  Most of the embassies in Berlin are on this same street (Under the Lime Trees).  It is crowned by something called the Quadraga that Napoleon took.  It was returned from Paris to Berlin in 1814.
The Pergamon Museum houses the Pergamon alter and many other treasures that the Nazis stole from Turks while helping build a railroad.  The Pergamon alter is over 2000 years old having been built in 170 B.C.  It was built to show gratitude to the gods for their blessings.  It was a huge structure (half a structure) with many steps leading up to the alter area.  Along the wall of the exhibit room were carvings that showed gods fighting and other scenes from mythology.  One in particular was of Zeus fighting three giants and Athena fighting the son of the earth god.
The Pergamon Museum also housed the Gates of Babylon which were beautiful!  Blue and gold covered with symbolic images!
The museum was fantastic!  It would be wonderful to return someday and really walk through and take more time so see everything.  There was an Islam (I think) exhibit that was so interesting!!! 
Berlin was a fantastic city!  It was so awesome to visit this city where so much history has occurred.  It is definitely a city that requires a second and more detailed visit! 
At the end of the day we reached Wittenberg.  That evening we watched the Martin Luther movie.  At the end it hit me…I am right next to the church where he nailed the 95 Theses to the door!!! I am in Wittenberg watching a movie about Luther and Wittenberg!  I was in awe as I thought about it!
12 October 2010
Wittenberg.  The city where Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Castle Church doors.  Contrary to the belief of many, this was not an act of rebellion.  The church door was the community bulletin board.  When people wanted to let the town know something they would post it on the doors.  Luther posted the Theses to probe people into a debate. 
The Stadtkirchengemeinde (The City Church) was where Luther preached many of his sermons.  In his lifetime he preached over 2,000 sermons.  The Castle Church is where the nailed the 95 Theses.  It is on the outskirts of town where as the City Church is in the center of town.  He preached at both churches but he is buried in the Castle Church. 
Luther’s house was formerly an Augustinian monastery.  It was given to him by Frederick the Wise.  Only part of the monastery was actually used by the Luther family as their place of residence.  Luther’s family owned the most livestock in the town because of the great number of guests and students that they housed.  His wife Katharine had a great responsibility caring for their family, students, and guests as well as taking care of most of the family accounts. 
From 1513 to 1518 Martin Luther lectured on four complete books of the Bible.  This showed his progression of interpreting and understanding the Bible.  The books included Romans which showed him salvation through faith (his tower experience).  In 1515 he became the district vicar of eleven monasteries in Dresden, Magdeburg, Wittenberg, and Erfurt.
The Castle Church doors on which Luther posted his 95 Theses were burned by the French in the Seven Years War.  Both Luther and Frederick the Wise were buried in the church.  The details of the church were very beautiful, especially the stain glass windows.  The detail was not overwhelming but very beautiful to look at.
Wittenberg was incredible!  As far as small towns go it is not one of the more interesting (after walking around a few times it becomes boring) BUT the best part was having the ability to walk outside and read about the Reformation right next to the Church where it all began!  How many students have that opportunity?  Not many!  Also, the view from the top of the Castle Church tower is beautiful!  It was very special to sing A Mighty Fortress from the top of the tower!
13 October 2010
Erfurt has been considered the Rome of Germany.  It was an intellectual center at its university in 1392.  According to Luther, whoever wanted to study needed to study in Erfurt.  In the cathedral in Erfurt Luther held his first lecture.
The Augustinian Monastery in Erfurt was beautiful!  Honestly, the quiet peaceful atmosphere was very appealing (the same can be said for the convent in Salzburg).  The beauty of fall with the lovely architecture of the buildings was wonderful!  The history behind the monastery was very interesting as well.  In 1656 the last Augustinian monk died which ended the activities of the Augustinians in that monastery.  Since 1996 Lutheran nuns of the Benedict order have lived in the monastery.  The main order is in Wurzburg.
It was such an interesting tour to walk through and be shown where they ate their meals, where they had chapel, where they studied in their cells (especially Luther’s).  Although the building burned and was rebuilt so Luther’s room is not the actual place he studied but a rebuilt room. 
There were several other people in the group.  One of them was a German Lutheran pastor.  He thought it was interesting that everyone was taking such furious notes.  He wondered if we were going into the ministry.

14 October 2010
Luther began school at age four and a half and continued without pause for nine years.  He was not allowed to speak German as that was not the language of the scholars.  He continued his education in 1497 by attending a Latin school in Eisenach.  From there he went to Erfurt.  A little over twenty years later Luther preached at Georgenkirche in Eisenach.  Bach was also baptized at this church. 
Some background to the history of the Wartburg Castle was Elizabeth married King Ludwig IV in the thirteenth century.  She built a hospital at the bottom of the mountain for the townspeople.  Her husband died shortly after they were married.  She then devoted herself to working as a nurse and helping the poor.  Later she moved to Marburg.
The castle was also where Luther lived for 10 months.  It is a beautiful and old castle that was added on to during different periods of time.  It was an overcast day and the fog was very thick on top of the mountain.  However, toward the end of our tour the sun had come out and the view from the castle was incredible!  It was similar to the mountains in Virginia.  There was one particular room that would be perfect for a wedding ceremony or reception!
Bach’s house was a very beautiful experience!  There was a demonstration of different instruments from different time periods. Also, throughout the house there were displays of violins, a finger harmonica, and many other interesting items.  However, the two most wonderful aspects of the Bach Haus were the garden and the music room.  The garden was incredibly beautiful!  The flowers were in bloom and there was a very quaint gazebo in the back of the garden that would have been a perfectly lovely place to sit and read or do work!  The music room was a room full of clear bubble chairs hanging from the ceiling by a chain.  Attached to each hanging chair was a pair of large headphones.  From each set of headphones was playing some musical piece by Bach.  It was amazingly beautiful!  The view from the window was lovely and the music was so relaxing!  It would have been so lovely to have just sat there and listened for a much longer time!
**A few personal observations and feelings from the Bach Haus.
On 11 March 1828 Bach’s St. Matthew was performed for the first time since Bach’s death.  March 11 is my mother’s birthday.
Bach went to school in Luneburg.  Luneburg is where my Grandmother grew up.
Below is something I wrote as I was listening to Bach in a clear bubble chair while looking out the window at the mountain:
“How lovely it is to be sitting in a clear swinging chair while listening to Bach and gazing out a window into the hills that are tinged with fall colors of yellow, red, green, and orange.  I see two steeples peeking through the window.  I feel almost as if I am in another time.  Harpsichord playing in my ear with strings and horns.  Tis so lovely. 
Eisenach is a lovely, quaint, and old place.  The garden behind Bach’s house is trés bon.
This all makes me want to watch Sense and Sensibility.”
15 October 2010
The Gutenberg Museum was very interesting!  There were many different printing presses on display that allowed the viewer to observe the progression that was made over the years.  The ability to print is mass amounts provided a need for greater literacy among the people.  The need for literacy created a need for education.  The printing press did many things for the world.  In the immediate world at the time of its invention it created a way to print the Bible so that the common man could read for himself the word of God.  In the future it created an inexpensive way to make many copies of writings so that people everywhere could read them!
16 October 2010 (I personalized this entry because this day was very special in a personal/family way)
Spending time in Heidelberg was AMAZING!  This was the city that was at the top of my list the entire week!  My family lived there for several years so I had heard many things about it and I wanted to experience it myself.  We walked downtown and saw the University of Heidelberg as well as the student prison with all of its decoration.  It turns out it became an honorable feat to say that one had spent some time in it.  Next we walked along the Hauptstrasse and walked along looking in shop windows before reaching the church.  The church was alright but I do not remember anything that jumped out. 
Next we decided it would be a fun idea to walk to the castle and see the view.  In the mean time it had begun to rain so we were all walking around with our wonderfully cute umbrellas.  As we made our way up the steep hill (very steep) one of our group members came down to tell us that there was a fee but the view was a nice one.  We decided to keep going.  The view was definitely worth it!  From the top we could see the entire city, the stone bridge, and the beautiful mountain sides!!!  It was incredibly beautiful!  Then, to our great surprise, Mr. Jacobs came out and handed us tickets of entry to the castle.  So, after taking some photos and hearing a brief history of the castle we went inside! 
The castle was beautiful!  It is definitely one of my favorites!  The architecture and walled city feel was so lovely!  We went into the wine cellar and were able to climb on top of the wine vat!  It turns out there is enough room for 25 people to dance on top of it, if they were to so choose.   We all walked around some more, I went inside the pharmacy museum for a brief time, and then we made our plans for the evening!  All in all it was a wonderful day!  However, my camera did not have batteries so I was unable to take my own photos.  I did not think I would be returning.  Yet, to my surprise, the following weekend I returned to Heidelberg for the day with some Swiss acquaintances and was able to show them around AND take pictures!!!
Heidelberg is a very beautiful city!  It is surrounded with lovely mountains, vineyards, rivers, etc.  The buildings are beautiful and the castle is amazing!  Although, the Salzburg Fortress very possibly topped the Heidelberg Castle!
Semester Break: October 17-24
Semester Break was spent in Mosbach, Germany.  Mosbach is a small town about an hour by train from Heidelberg.  The plan was to arrive and help at the Operation Mobilisation hostel for the week!  It was a grand time!  It was new to learn how to clean the “German way” and to be around Germans so much of the time!  I learned some words and was around people from many different countries!
Cleaning toilets was the specialty of the week.  Getting to know people and making friends was fantastic.  I was able to meet and get to know Germans, a Kazak girl, a Mexican guy, some Swiss people, a lady from Argentine (I think), a Welsh man, and even a couple of Americans.  It was such an awesome time! 
We talked about cultural things, what they do with OM, how long they are with them, and what it is like being on the team.  It was definitely something that has made me wonder if it is something that I would like to do someday.  I met quite a few people who have been on the ships.  OM has a ship ministry and they travel to many countries a year, by invitation, to tell people about Jesus.  My dad was on the very first ship, the Logos, and I have been thinking for a long time about doing the same thing.  It was nice to be able to talk with people who have recently been on the ships about what it is like, what they do, etc. 
On Saturday a group of Swiss and I went back to Heidelberg!  It was so much fun!  I had my camera and I was able to show them around a little bit.  Then we split off and I was able to just wander around the town exploring, shopping and enjoying. 
The hardest item for me to pass by is old books.  Being in Germany has helped since the books are usually in German so I can’t read them.  However, I happened to pass by this very cute little book shop that had a curling staircase in the back corner and I decided I wanted to go in.  Oh, had I been able to read German I have a feeling I would have walked away with an arm full…except I have to get them back to the States.  Anyway, I found one book in English by Catherine Marshal (the author of A Man Called Peter and the Christy book).  So, that was my one book purchase.  No more….until maybe England!
Over all the day was fantastic!  We had a great time and I learned how to say shirt in two different Swiss German ways (I do not remember anymore).  Good memories were made that week!  It was just so nice to be around people who love Jesus!  It was nice to be able to experience time with the organization that influence both of my parents so very much.  In fact, had God not used that organization I would probably not be alive.  My parents met while working with OM.  So, it was nice to be there on top of just spending time with new people!
14 November 2010
Salzburg was amazing!  Our hostel was a quaint building that was seated upon the top of a hill with a beautiful view of Salzburg!  Salzburg is a lovely city!  It is not terrible large but is large enough!  To the right of the hostel was the Salzburg Fortress that was AMAZING!!!  It was decided to go into the city, explore, and then go to dinner.  After wandering around and eating an awful chicken döner several people went exploring.  It was great fun to walk around the city and see the sights.  Suddenly we stumbled upon a set of stairs.  Up, up, up!  We kept walking!  It was only the thought of what might be at the top (and Kacey) that got us to the top!  We walked around and saw the convent (we did not know it was the convent at the time) and then decided to keep walking.  We reached the split in the road that would either take us down or to the fortress.  At the urging of Hannah E. we began the ascent to the fortress.  The road was so steep at times I wondered if I would make it to the top.  We all did.  Some slower than others.  The view was absolutely spectacular!  The fortress is now one of my favorites!  It is as if there is a small city within the confines of the walls!  My goal was to reach the top of the turret.  However, I was unable to get through the locked doors.  Needless to say, at the end of the day I had been filled with wonderful and romantic views of Salzburg and exploration of a dark fortress!!!
15 November 2010
Salzburg.  The Sound of Music, Apple Strudel, Mozart, and much more!  It was a day full of dreams becoming reality!
The morning was spent walking through the Alps of Bavaria singing “The Hills are Alive!”  How many people dream of doing that?  And who got to?  Exactly!  It was incredible!  It was a day that will be remembered forever!  Wearing a dirndl in the Alps singing and to all the famous locations!  It was as if it was another time period (which I love!)!
I have never seen mountains in person that are like the Alps!  They are so tall and magnificent!  The ride up in the background contrasted against beautiful blue sky with snow capping them!  The grass was covered with dew and manure of some kind…not very pleasant but dealt with!  The view was spectacular!  The company was grand!  The songs were invigorating!
For The Sound of Music Tour we visited the lake where Marie and the children fall in!  It was so amazing to be STANDING right there!  Really, the view was so lovely!  Then everyone walked around the lake and took pictures from a distance!  The house reflecting on the water was beautiful!  Next was a visit to where the gazebo had since been moved at the request of Harvard who owns the property where it used to be (in the garden of the lake house).  It was moved to a park.  As you walk through the opening in the wall and look to the right, there it is.  We took pictures, sang “I am Sixteen,” and Steve and I were called upon for a picture that was very awkward!  We created quite a spectacle and people stopped to watch, record, and maybe even snap a picture!  Next on the list to places to stop was the home that was used as the outside of the house, front and back!  In order to get to the walk outside where “I Have Confidence” was sung we had to walk by a field filled with beautiful yellow flowers!!!  Then….we were there.  On the path that Maria (Julie Andrews) walked on to reach the gate (that we touched) before she ran singing up to the porch to ring the doorbell!  The only disappointment was that the house was covered in scaffolding!  However, songs were sung and great fun was had by all!  Lastly we visited the garden and took pictures,  sang the songs (even some random tourist chimed in), ran singing through the arbor, walked around the fountain, and each took a role on the stairs (I got to be Maria : ) )!  It was grand!  Then, right before we left Monday morning we climbed to the convent where the gate scene and some others were filmed!  It was so beautiful and peaceful there….I almost wanted to become a nun….for a week : )
All in all the time in Salzburg was a positively enjoyable experience!  I would love to return someday! 
16 November 2010
Italia!  Venice!  Words that bring romantic thoughts to mind.  Not just romantic in the love idea but romantic in the adventure, story, and beauty aspect as well! 
Alas, the day dawned dripping wet that was chosen to go to Venice.  It definitely put a damper on the time.  It was an incredibly beautiful city!  Canals and bridges were everywhere!  However, between the rain, taking photos, and trying to keep up memories are not as clear as they should be and a good bit of the day is muddled with wetness.  However, when time is taken more can be remembered from the day and it is seen that it really was not all that awful (except in the moment of wetness and cold!  That was not fun!).
After being lost for almost an hour San Marco’s Plaza was reached.  There was a line for the Doge’s Palace so while tickets were bought students scattered and looked around a bit.  Then, with tickets in hand we went in.  As the history of where we were was vague as was what the building was it was difficult to really see the relevance of why we were spending all this time walking around.  Someday, if I get the chance, it might require another visit. 
Following the Doge’s Palace people scattered to find lunch and go shopping.  All the shops seemed to have the same thing!  Some people will haggle…and some will not!  The change purses were beautiful! 
Next was a visit to San Marcos (The church).  It was a very large church with murals everywhere showing Biblical scenes!  It was very dark inside and there were signs around asking people to please be silent.  The darkness was due to the fact that they only turn on the lights at select times throughout the day and it was not one of those times when we were in there.  There are not many windows.  Thus, it was dark.  There were a few things that they charged people to see.  One of these things was to see where St. Peter (?) was buried.  Whether or not it was actually his bones….we will never know.
When departure was taken from the church and everyone walked outside the sun had come out!  It was beautiful!  Sunshine makes such a huge difference!  San Marco’s Church looked lovely, the Grand Canal was incredible, and the entire plaza just had an entirely new look!  We were able to walk along the Grand Canal and smile and wave to the people riding by in the gondolas!
Then, the groups split up.  Some went shopping while others went sightseeing.  Since Venice is known for their carnival masks it was so much fun to try them on!  There was quite a cariety!  Some were small and cheap while others were very large and dramatic (and expensive)!  We then went to dinner and had a fun relaxing time.  However, that was not so easily found!  Eventually it was and we crashed at our hotel!
17 November 2010
Tuscany is beautiful!  It was so incredibly beautiful to drive through Tuscany and just soak in its beauty!  When the group arrived at the hostel just outside of Florence it was an “awing” few moments to walk through the courtyard to the hostel.  It was even more amazing when upon arrival in the room the view was sighted from our window.  Breathtaking.  Positively breathtaking!  It wanted an entire day to just be dedicated to wandering the hills, relaxing in the garden while reading a book, and just resting!
That night was spent in Florence being showing around to some main points of importance.  St. John’s Baptistry, the Duomo, San Marco’s Piazza, Palatzo Vaceo, and Dante’s house.  The Baptistry was where we spent some time viewing and talking about the paintings inside.  The Last Judgement scene that showed some dead rising to Heaven and others to Hell while the doors showed Biblical Stories.
The Duomo is the main church in the square.  It is part of the baptistery grouping.  As far as churches go, it was not hugely impressive, however, the dome itself was lovely, and the story behind it is very great!  It showed a step of progression artistically and architecturally.
Dante was from Florence.  That was a fun fact from the first night.  Having read the Divine Comedey (in part) it was very neat to be able to see the house where such a great writer lived!
The Palatzo Vaceo was a very interesting plaza area.  There was a government building as well as an Greek looking building that was full of replica statues.  There was also a replica of Michelangelo’s David outside the government building.  After visiting the palatzo the main bridge was next on our list.  It was, indeed, a beautiful bridge that was well lit!  It was full of shops, especially jewelry shops!
18 November 2010
Art Overload.  If this is something that has never been experienced, let me give an explanation.  When a person spends many hours in a museum seeing countless works of art, many of which look very similar, there comes a time when a saturation point is reached.  We reached that.
However, the Uffizi was very awesome!  It was not my favorite time period of art but much was learned!  Some of the art was very beautiful and the sculptures were very nice!  As everyone was wondering the rooms and halls a thought struck me.  I was in Italy learning about Art first hand!  It was very neat!
The Academia was visited after eating some lunch, walking for ages in the rain to a Franciscan church/monastery.  The church was very beautiful and many many famous people have been buried there, including, Marconi, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.  The Academia was the place that held the most excitement because it meant the David, Michelangelo’s David, was going to be seen!  I was not covered with chills as I might have expected to be as I walked toward the great statue, but, once I was able to stop and observe the magnificence of the renowned statue I realized what an amazing sculpture it is!  The detail that Michelangelo put into it is amazing!  He carved the vains in that run in the crook of the arm.  He put in the sternum bone.  It is just an incredible piece of art!
Florence was a nice city.  Spread out but not nearly so much as Venice!  It seemed very commercialized.  Perhaps it was where we were during the day.  It would be wonderful to be able to go back and visit different areas and see more of the culture of the people.  Also, it would be very nice to go back someday and revisit the museums, especially the Academia.  Not much was seen since everyone was so tired.  Everyone wanted to see the David (of course) and after that we left!
  The night was ended with walking around in the pouring rain, walking through a market, and eating a scrumptious dinner at Pizzaria Mama Mia Restaurante!  It was delicious!!!  The ambiance was lovely!  Classy music played in the background as we all chatted and laughed!
19 November 2010
Pisa.  The Leaning Tower of Pisa.  A statue that children (at least American children) learn about in school from a very young age.  Would it be famous if it was not leaning?  And, only the tower is spoken about.  I did not know until just before our trip that there was a baptistery and church in the same cluster.  The tower leaned within thirty years of being built.  It was built with Romanesque arches, is 200 feet tall, and was made from marble.  The baptistery is the largest in Italy.  It was built in 1152 and is 120 feet tall.  It was begun in the Romanesque style but was finished with a Gothic top.
The tower was beautiful!  The Baptistry was also beautiful but we did not go inside!  We did visit the church.  It was an 11th century building that was built with four tiers of Romanesque arches.  There were a few gargoyles which served two purposes.  The first purpose was to show the evils of the outside world but the church offered shelter from those evils.  The second purpose was a draining system.
The transept of the church was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, built during that time period.  The tomb of Henry VII of the Holy Roman Empire was inside.  The lectern was probably the item of greatest interest, at least for the group, that was inside the duomo.  It was extremely detailed!  It resembled a gazebo and the top was where the priest would stand to speak.  The inside center pillar was the three graces standing with their backs turned into each other.  Many of the outer pillars were people carved into the pillar.  One person was Hercules.  There were carved around the top very detailed Biblical scenes.
The plaza area surrounding the tower, church, and baptistery was very beautiful and picturesque!  The grass is said to be the nicest in Italy.  There was a delicious little deli-like restaurant we found.  The owner was very nice and allowed us to make our own panini’s.  It was scrumptiously delicious!
20 November 2010
Our next stop was Cinque Terre.  Actually, we stopped in Levanto.  The end of our drive was by far the most beautiful part of that day’s travel.  As we began the descent to Levanto the road became very curvy.  There were many quaint clusters of houses along the mountain!  Then, there it was.  The Mediterranean Sea!  I have always wanted to see it!  It was so beautiful!  The hostel was closed so we had to waste some time.  What better way to waste time than to go to the beach! So, off everyone went!  We walked down to the water!  I walked in!  Then, we walked out on this walk way that jutted out in between these rocks!  There were great rocks at the end and the water would crash against them sending a great spray!  It was incredible, especially with the sun gleaming through!!!
We went back to the hostel, checked in, and decided what we wanted to do for dinner.  It was a fun and relaxing evening!  Well, relaxing might be a stretch.  We played an extremely fun game called Signs!  So much laughter and fun!
The next morning was a restful sleep in morning. We lay around for a while and finally headed out for the five towns of Cinque Terre a little after lunch.  The walk to the train station was very quaint and pretty.  We bought our tickets, waited a while, and then took a five minute train ride to the next town.  The group did not actually make it into the town because the view was so amazing along the sea.  Most of the group ended up climbing a huge rock that was on the edge of the sea!  It was so beautiful with the sin setting in the background.  Well, not setting but definitely lowering.  Narnia kept coming to mind.  Especially the scene in the BBC version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when Reapacheep gets in his little boat and sails away in the sweet waters that are covered with water lilies.
The next town was soooo sweet! It was just a tiny little town that had some shops, boats, cats, and a lovely view!  It began to drizzle a little but not badly.  One cat in particular was very cuddly and cute!
The third town required quite the hike to make it to the top.  Along the way we saw gardens, cactuses, and incredible sea views!  We made it to the top and wondered what to do.  So, we climbed to a lookout point that was amazing!  We were able to see the next town that we would go to, the one where we would eat dinner.  It was such a wonderful and beautiful experience!  The best part was I was not alone.  I was able to share the beauty with friends!
Dinner was a wonderful time!  We ended up eating a different restaurant but we met an American couple from California who are living in Italy.  They live there for a year then move back and I believe this was their second time.  Once they have down it three or four times (I think) they will apply for a four year visa!  It was very interesting!  The restaurant was their favorite!  Everyone enjoyed the last evening in Italy together!  It was restful and great fun!
21 November 2010
The drive back to Germany was long and beautiful!  Driving through snow covered Alps should be something that everyone does in their lifetime!  It was incredible!  Reading for Art History was definitely difficult!
It was a good ending to the trip.  Everyone was happy to be home and to get back to a normal schedule.  It was an incredible trip!  A trip that has been awaited for many months (and going to Italy has been waited for my whole life)!!!
The damper was the rain….but it was an amazing experience!
Personal End of Semester Reflections
This time in Germany has been one of great learning!  Learning has been achieved academically, spiritually, personally, relationally, and culturally.  It has been the best semester of college.  There were things I would change but on the whole there was nothing that was detrimental to being able to fully enjoy the semester.
The classes were in a genre that I have not really studied before.  I was stretched, grown, and probed to think and question things I had not before.  I have decided I am not a Calvinist, I am not a feminist, I need to acquire a softer response to people, I need to remember to not judge people by what they do when I judge myself by my intentions, irritations are learned all the more when living with many people all the time, and friendships are formed with people that I may not have been friends with otherwise.
I have been semi-immersed in German culture.  I still do not speak the language.  However, I know a few more words than when I began and I have a desire to learn more!  I have enjoyed meeting people and seeing the stereotype of Germans change.  Yes, it is true, Germans can seem cold or unfriendly, but I have met so many who are so kind!  If you try smiling at them as you pass by some will smile back, other will not return the gesture, and some will do a double take as if to say, “Someone smiled?”  One man I passed by did that to me!
In a country where so many terrible things have occurred in less time than the past 100 years it is really wonderful to see where they have come.  They have one of the strongest, if not the strongest economy in the European Union, they have an established democracy, they produce some of the best cars in the world, they have an excellent (and rigorous) education system, and they care about what they do.  This is not meant to glorify Germany because for each thing I have mentioned I am sure there is an issue somewhere in the networking, however, Germany has done very well, especially considering what they were dealing with sixty years ago, and even 20 years ago…a newly unified country!
As the semester is closing it is hard to know what emotions are being felt.  There is a sadness that has crept in some but not greatly, yet.  There is anticipation of going home in a month.  There is a reluctance to leave. The bottom line is I have learned so much from these three months in Germany!  Now, I must be responsible and follow through with the things I have decided I need to do when I get home in regards to doctrinal beliefs and personal changes in my interaction with other people.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...