Sunday, October 28, 2012

Epic Deutschland Tour, Part the Last: Bricks, Bodies, Broadcasting

The last two months have been very busy for us, what with Tyler's job applications, my final project for my master's, and thinking about all things pregnancy- and baby-related. So busy, in fact, that I don't feel too bad about finishing up this series of blog posts nearly two months after our return from our trip. I'm still in the throes of my project, but Tyler has promised to take over blogging responsibilities until it's done so that we can (hopefully) start posting more than once a month again.

This post is all about the free cities of the Hanseatic League: Lübeck, Hamburg, and Bremen. The Hansestädte (Hansa cities), as they are called, were capitals of trade in the 13th to 17th centuries or so. Obviously, this made them very wealthy. Unfortunately, the historic wealth of Bremen and Hamburg isn't so easy to see, because both were bombed extensively in WWII. Lübeck, however, is very well preserved.

So, on to Lübeck! Feeling a bit rested after our two nights in Berlin, we made the most of our three or so hours in Lübeck by walking all over the old city and taking lots of pictures (as is our wont). It's full of beautiful buildings, in a style unlike any we'd seen before, about half of which are leaning dangerously. Like this iconic city gate:

The Holsten (formerly Holstein) Gate, minted on 50 DM bills until 1991 and on the 2 Euro coin in 2006. Without us, of course.
And the towers of this massive church:

I know you can't tell from this picture, but these towers actually lean forward quite alarmingly. I felt a little nervous walking under them.
Lübeck's Rathaus is perhaps the coolest we saw on our trip. It's huge, with tons of interesting detail. It's impossible to capture in one picture because it looks quite different from different angles.

Long front view
Front detail view
Rear view
We found Lübeck's streets very photogenic.



Here's another cool city gate:


And another interesting church:


And a guild hall:


The old city center is on an island near the mouth of the Trave River. As we were heading back to the bus we saw these pretty boats.


Our next stop was Hamburg. Since our return I've learned that Hamburg is a prime destination for German teens. The kids in my Sunday School class were quite jealous that we'd been, which surprised me, because Hamburg was one of my least favorite stops on the tour.

We took two more tours of modern German industry while we were there. The first was at the Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) television studio. We got to see the studios where their shows are filmed and check out some of the technology. Here we are on TV! Well, in front of the blue screen, anyway. But I think this proves that we should be on TV, because we look pretty darn cute.

Courtesy of Claudia
And this is Tyler pretending to be a light-control pro:


After the tour we had lunch at the studio cafeteria, which was unexpectedly excellent because they had an extensive salad bar. We were DYING for fresh, non-German food at this point.

The other tour ... well, let's just say I slept through most of it. Sitting at a table, surrounded by friends, in broad daylight. It was a harbor tour, which, I admit, sounds pretty cool. But our tour guide appeared to be mostly interested in talking about shipping statistics. We got a couple of nice pictures, anyway. Or rather, Tyler did. I was napping.

Tall ship
Hamburg from the water
After the tour we walked around a tiny bit and did some shopping. Hamburg is big, we didn't know where to find cool stuff to look at, and we were too toured-out to make much of an effort. We had another delicious meal from an unexpected source: an Indian restaurant in a mall's food court. It tasted like real Indian food, which is all any Indian restaurant in Germany needs to do to utterly thrill me.

Hamburg Rathaus
We stayed in Hamburg two nights and saw two very different kinds of shows. The first was a synchronized light, water, and music show in a big park.

Though this looks a bit like the aurora borealis, it's actually just very tall, illuminated jets of water. Still pretty cool. Courtesy of Sarah.
The second event was a show of Cuban music and dance by some (apparently) famous and (obviously) ancient performers. The music and dancing were good, but the smarmy narration by an obnoxious man with absolutely the worst Spanish accent I have ever heard in my life was bizarre and, well, obnoxious. Plus, the theater was sweltering and I was cranky.

And finally, Bremen. We only had a few hours in Bremen, but we had some great recommendations from our friends Leif and Xylar. We tried to take a tour of the lovely Rathaus, but sadly, we were denied--it was being prepared for a week-long festival that started after we left.


We found the Bremen town musicians...


...and the Bremen town centaur-merman dude.


Then we went around through a back courtyard of the cathedral and into the Bleikeller (lead cellar). This was one of the highlights in weirdness of the trip. This sign was the highlight of poor yet hilarious English of the trip:


I'm not clear on the details, but for some reason a few corpses were stored in this cellar over the centuries. And for some reason there was a very high concentration of lead in this cellar, which caused the bodies to mummify in a totally freaky way:


Finally, we went into the cathedral itself. It has some lovely painted details.


And that was pretty much it for our Epic Deutschland tour. After Bremen we drove to Münster, where we spent our final night. Münster is famous for its many churches, and we saw a bunch on our walk to dinner that night, but it was raining so we didn't spend much time looking. Our last group dinner was at a restaurant most memorable for its name. In fact, we think this restaurant may have given us our baby's name: Pinkus Müller. If it's a girl, we can call her Pinkie.


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