Trip to Germany and Poland
Mike and Judy Henderson
May 9 - 30, 2015
5/14/2015 [Still in Hamburg] We found some of our group already at breakfast this morning. From the left are Dick, Kathy, Emil, Mary, and Elsa.
And Pete and Chris.
And Dianne and Philip.
Angela and Thomas picked us up at the hotel and we drove to the Hanseatic City of Lubeck, a town on the northern coast of Germany. Judy, Thomas and Angela posed at the Holstentor Gate.
And just to prove that I actually went along, here's a picture with me in it :-)
Lubeck has restored this medieval gate.
From the tower of one of the churches we looked over the town.
While walking the town and admiring the architecture we visited the Holy Ghost Hospital, originally built in 1227. In more recent years it was converted to an old people's home but eventually they were moved to more modern facilities and the building was restored. The hospital has tiny individual rooms for the patients that open to the hallway. It is a popular site at Christmas Market time now, with each room decorated and selling holiday items.
The original chapel is being restored.
We had a light lunch and then indulged in the famous Lubeck marzipan at the Niederegger shop.
After dessert we drove to Travemunde on the northern coast of Germany for a view of the Baltic Sea. It's about 25km from Lubeck and the wide beach is a popular vacation destination. The map shows Travemunde in relation to Lubeck.
Thomas, Judy and Angela at the beach.
Mike and Judy.
A panoramic view of the beach with wicker cabanas for rent. Being this far north, you can imagine that the beach season is fairly short. The cabanas offer wind protection and sun exposure.
It was a holiday and there was a small festival going on with food and beer booths.
And a accordion band!
By the time we got back to the hotel, we were tired but it had been a wonderful day - the best!
We had a hamburger in the hotel and collapsed into bed.
5/15/2015 This morning, we went to the Modelleisenbahn Wunderland, which is a model train exhibit on steroids. It is the largest display in the world and is enormously popular.
The exhibits are on three floors and depict different parts of the world. The exhibits are not accurate but are representative. The Las Vegas exhibit, for example, shows a fanciful railway passenger terminal. Each exhibit shows more trains than actually exist in the area depicted.
This is a portion of the Scandinavia exhibit. There were many more from different parts of the world. It's a creative way to display model trains.
We shared lunch with our friend Max, who lives in Hamburg, at a local Italian restaurant.
In the evening Thomas and Angela drove us along the Elbe (toward the Baltic sea - downriver since the Elbe flows north). The area is the Beverly Hills of Hamburg, with magnificent homes and estates. One was so expansive that the grounds were eventually given to the public as a park. The entire area is popular for housing, and expensive. Thomas explained that wealthy shipping magnates built their homes in this area because they could see the ships coming up the Elbe towards Hamburg.
Some of the homes built into the hillside looking out over the river.
We ended the evening at a lovely seafood restaurant in the harbor area of Hamburg, and were joined by their son Conrad and his friend, Hannah.
Here we are at dinner. From left is Hanna, Conrad, Thomas, Angela, Judy and me.
5/16/2015 On to Leipzig. We left from the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof on one of the InterCity Express trains.
The group on the train. From left are Chris, Pete, Dianne, Philip, Martha and the back of Bill's head.
We arrived at the Leipzig Hauptbahnhof after going through Berlin.
Judy and a few others went to a recital at the Thomaskirche, the church where Bach worked for about 37 years. Later we all got together for a walking tour of the center city.
We would have had dinner at Auerbachs Cellar (of the Faust story fame) but there was a long wait.
Six of us went to a small German restaurant right across from the Thomaskirche. We're trying to figure out the menu. From the left, Philip, Dick, Elsa, Dianne and just a bit of Judy using her smartphone.
5/17/2015 This morning was devoted to the exciting task of getting clothes washed. The "U-wash-It" place was about a mile from out hotel so we walked over there. We assumed the place would have a change machine, or even take credit cards. No, not here - just coins! And everything was in German. Judy batted her eyes at a couple of the guys there and they fell all over themselves to help her with the routine, so that was taken care of :-). But we still needed coins. I tried going to a hotel in the area but they would not change a 10 Euro note. So after a mile walk back to our hotel, and another mile back to Judy, we got our laundry done.
Here's Judy at the wash place. The search for the coins took quite a while so we spent the whole morning washing clothes.
By the time we finished with the clothes it was about noon. We walked back to the hotel and then headed to the Mendelssohn house.
Judy with Mendelssohn and his wife.
Judy had posed with Brahms' piano in Hamburg, and here she is with Mendelssohn's piano.
In an interesting exhibit at the museum you could conduct an electronic orchestra.
Now it was time for lunch, so we headed to Auerbachs-Keller. It's famous because it is the setting for a scene in Goethe's story of Faust. There's a statue of Faust and Mephisto (also called Mephistopheles) at the entrance.
Note Faust's shiny foot. Students from Leipzig University rub his foot for good luck as they walk by.
We had a nice meal of pork with a mushroom gravy, red cabbage, and a potato dumpling.
At 5:30pm the group gathered for a recital at the Gewandhaus (music hall).
The group outside the hall. From left, Judy, Emil, Kathy, Chris, Pete, Mary, Philip, Martha, Bill, and Dianne.
The concert featured a string quartet - two violins, a viola and a cello. Each player was a section principal in the Gewandhaus Orchestra, continuing a tradition lasting 200 years. It was a magnificent concert in the smaller hall, and it had stunning acoustics. We were thrilled.
After the recital we went with Dianne and Philip to a restaurant.
We just ordered a dessert, crème brulee with fruit and chocolate ice cream.
And so ended another day in Leipzig. Tomorrow we head to Eisenach for a day trip.
5/18/2015 Taking a regional train with one train change, we traveled from Leipzig to Eisenach to visit Wartburg Castle (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). This is where Martin Luther lived in hiding from 1521 to 1522, and where he translated the New Testament into German.
And on-board the train.
The trip was about three hours with one train change. There's a faster ICE train but it's much more expensive and did not include our castle tour. This is the Eisenach Hauptbahnhof (railway station).
We had a light snack at a restaurant near the station. The food was very good.
We had time before the bus to Wartburg castle left so we wandered around Eisenach a bit and bought an ice cream cone.
Then, we caught the bus to Wartburg castle (stock photo from the web).
The castle is quite high (1,350 feet up), and while you could walk to it, it would be a difficult walk. The walk from the bus stop to the castle was quite steep and difficult in itself, but we made it.
It has quite a view of the countryside.
We took a tour of the castle, While it's very nice, the castle fell into ruin and was only restored in the 1800's so most of it is not original.
After the tour, we had a couple of beers and a snack in the castle restaurant.
It was nearly 5pm when we concluded our visit to Wartburg. We thought it might be possible to make a quick visit to Bach's birth house in Eisenach, before the last train departed, but there was not enough time.
After a three-hour train ride back to Leipzig it was 8pm and we were pretty tired. We found a nice pizza restaurant and shared a "Pizza Royal" and a couple of German beers. Judy's at the table in the center of the picture.
Just as we were finishing dinner, some of the rest of our group came to the same restaurant. Here's Kathy, Emil, Mary, Pete and Chris.
After dinner, we were exhausted and fell into bed. Tomorrow, we head to Nuremberg by train.
5/19/2015 The trip to Nuremberg was uneventful. Our group at the Leipzig train station prior to departure.
Dianne and Philip had lived in Nuremberg as a young married couple. We walked through part of the city and found a restaurant that began in 1419.
Here we are in the restaurant: Judy, Philip and Dianne.
Judy and I each had the dinner of six small Nuremberg sausages and German potato salad.
Just as we were leaving, some of the rest of our group came into the restaurant. Out of the whole city of Nuremberg they chose the same place - what a coincidence! From left, Pete, Chris, Emil and Kathy.
We walked to the river and looked at the sights before going back to the hotel. Tomorrow we have a guided tour of the city.
Our journey continues here.