Germany was unbelievably great. It’s amazing how much we were able to do during the time spent there. Even the first day was filled with historical monuments like the Brandenburg gate and I even accidentally found Checkpoint Charlie. The trip was a perfect mixture of planned activities and trips and down time. While the entire experience has been great there are a few key highlights. The Koln Cathedral was absolutely amazing, it’s impossible to describe it without seeing a picture, and even the picture doesn’t do it justice. The top is 157m (515 feet tall) – that’s like stacking nearly two football fields on top of each other. Besides its height, the detail was magnificent. There wasn’t any part of the whole building that wasn’t handcarved using extreme care in the details. (There is a reason it took 800 years to build.) Also, the Heidelburg Schloss was really amazing, along with many of the other castles and palaces we saw. Then there’s the food – which was so good. I will need to try going to more German restaurants to find some authentic ones. The brats were especially good and are not comparable to the brats we have in the US – the ones in Germany are just exponentially better.
Our group was able to visit most of the different regions all over Germany. We visited many of the key and well known places in the country and when there weren’t planned trips, I was able to visit some of the beautiful National parks – Jasmund National Park in very northern Germany and Switzerland Saxon National Park a few hours south of Berlin. Jasmund is known for it’s salt cliffs and ancient forests and Switzerland Saxon is known for its towering rock structures and arched bridge roads at very high elevations. Both parks were amazing and I don’t have anything in the US to compare them to as a reference point.
What really made the trip the best was the people I got to meet and know better in our group. I knew a few of the people before I came on the trip, but I got to know so many more. Having these old and new friends made the entire experience amazing.
In a country with so many elaborate churches, why do you think religion has lost its importance and does not appeal to people like it used to? Do you think this could happen to America in the future? Why or why not?
It is hard to see how a country with so many beautiful church structures and the cradle of the Reformation could have grown so cold with regards to their faith. Many people were so passionate about their faith that they were burned at the stake and died because they wanted to read their Bibles in their own homes. However, now I would say that religion has lost its much of its importance in Germany and all of Europe because the people are moving farther and farther away from God. Also, secular teaching for several generations that separate the secular and the sacred make it easier for people to put religion in a box they don’t have to think about unless they want or need to. Viewing churches just as architectural and artistic masterpieces without the acknowledgment that they were built that way as an act of worship also helps make religion very cold. Continue reading “Reflections on Wittenberg”
The food here is amazing. “Bayerisches Schmankerl,” a Bavarian dish, was offered at a traditional German restaurant. Notice how it was served on a wood plate or platter. It included a kind of Bavarian meatloaf that does not taste at all like American meat loaf, 3 Numberg-style sausages and one regensburg-style sausage. The Numberg-style sausages have a lot of flavor as they are typically spiced with ginger, nutmeg, chilies and cloves. What is interesting about the Regensburg sausages is that supposedly they are made like a restaurant in Regensburg, Germany makes them that has been open since around 1135 AD. I don’t know if this is really true, but it is an interesting possibility. The meal also included fried potato slices, and sauerkraut in the front. This has so far been my favorite meal here. Continue reading “What’s it like?”
Let me start by saying that I have attended many types of worship services. I went to a conservative Lutheran Church until I was 7. I have worshiped in several different countries, seen charismatic and high liturgical services but no church service or mass that I have ever attended was as amazing as the mass we attended at the Köln Cathedral. By saying this I do not mean the content of the service was amazing as I only understood parts of it, but the grandeur of the service itself was overwhelming. The service involved almost every sense from smell with the incense to sight with how the Cathedral was beautiful and absolutely colossal. It’s a form of worship all by itself. The service was quite different from my home church. My home church is in the inner city on the west side of Chicago. It’s very diverse and much smaller than the Cathedral, not to mention the difference in language, content, worship music and tone of the service – people shout out in our services and that wouldn’t happen in the reverent Catholic mass.
Continue reading “Köln Cathedral”
Our visit to Sachsenhausen Concentration camp was as one would expect – dark and somber. Continue reading “Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp”