Tuesday, October 30, 2012


After we had this view of Heidelberg from Castle Hill:
 We went down to the city center to get an up-close look at the Church of the Holy Spirit, the late Gothic structure that  dominates the scene above:
The area around the church is the market square, and we were momentarily distracted by the window displays:
Okay, we were more than distracted:
Wouldn't it be wonderful to stay in the Hotel zum Ritter (below, on left), built during the Renaissance?  Just think of the pastry accessibility lovely view from the window. It is being watched over by a statue of Hercules (on right), built in 1706 to symbolize the heroic efforts the city's residents made to rebuild Heidelberg after a series of devastating wars:

No, Toto (or Bob), I don't think we're in Redlands.  I have to admit, this handsome man leaning out of the beautiful window stopped me in my tracks. Um, it's only because he looks just like you, dear.
Okay, okay. Definitely time to go inside the church, which was completed in 1544 after 150 years of construction. When the original steeple was destroyed in a fire in 1709, it was rebuilt in a Baroque style. During some of its existence, the church was used by both Protestants and Catholics, sometimes simultaneously, and a partition was made so that each group could hold its service without disturbing the other. (The choir area was Catholic and the nave was Lutheran.)  How is that for ecumenism?  The wall was not removed until 1936, and since then the church has been exclusively Lutheran.
The church has a rather disturbing, violent stained glass window entitled "Physics."  It includes two New Testament verses, Einstein's equation E=mc2, and the date of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima written in blue lettering on the bottom: 6.8.1945 (6 August 1945).
Thanks to my sister Angie (again), I have a translation of the two scriptures.  The top one is 2 Peter 3:10 "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; then the heavens shall pass away with great crashing: but the elements will melt from heat, and the earth and the works on it will burn up." (Lutheran Bible Translation)

Wow. What an appropriate description of an atomic bomb.

The scripture below that is Isaiah 54:10: "...my kindness shall not depart from thee, and the covenant of my peace shall not fall down, saith the Lord thy merciful one."

Quite a beautiful response.

There is also a model of an atom in the church, not your typical church adornment:
It was really interesting to see a memorial to the atomic bomb in a German church. In a way, these references were almost a way of saying, "Hey, bad things happened in places other than Germany. We all need to be careful about our use of power."

Other very modern stained glass windows in the church have caused a fair amount of controversy, but I rather like them. If a Baroque steeple can be put on a Gothic church, why can't a few post-modern stained glass windows be part of the nave?

The second church we visited was the Baroque-style Church of the Jesuits, a Catholic church built between 1712 and 1759, with the tower completed in 1872. It's more formal name is Parish Church of the Holy Ghost and St. Ignatius:

These churches with clean white walls, large windows, and brightly colored paintings are very refreshing, and I loved this peaceful, tender Pieta, sculpted in 1909:

I can see the influence of Michelangelo's Pieta, sculpted in 1499, particularly in the positioning of Mary's legs:
Michelangelo's Pieta, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy
This church, like the previous one, also had its modern touches. The interesting sculpture below looks somewhat like twin church steeples. Mourners purchase a red clay brick and engrave the name of a departed loved one on it, and then it is fired and added to these towers as a tangible memorial of the dead.

A side-by-side comparison of the recent vintage organs of the Catholic Jesuit Church on the left, which was just added in 2009, and the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit on the right, added in 1980:

Our time in Heidelberg was over, and we made our way back to the ship.  Along the way, we ran across this awesome knight in not-so-shining armor.  I wanted one for my house--I think it would scare away any would-be robbers. Too bad it didn't fit in my suitcase:
Back on our ship, we started off for our next destination.  We passed the river equivalent of a garbage truck, loaded with tons of scrap metal:

We also took a tour of the kitchen.  I was shocked by how small it was.  All the food for the 192 passengers and 40 personnel on board came from an area about twice the size of my kitchen at home.  It was divided into two areas: a cold kitchen and a hot kitchen.
During the tour we learned a few interesting facts:
* Seventy percent of the pastries we ate (and we ate a lot) were made from scratch in this kitchen.
* Food is purchased along the river each day from local farms.
* Kitchen workers are on the job seven days a week for two months straight, and then they get two weeks off.
 * A single person prepared most of the breakfast buffet each day.  More staff is added for lunch.

While we were there, the pastry chef was busy making chocolate Ls.  Lots of them. I wasn't getting the Love Boat vibe in this kitchen.  Working on the ship sounded like a hard, tedious job.

Coming up: A brief stop in Rudesheim

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Yesterday afternoon we made our annual pilgrimage to the Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch in Redlands, California. This is the fourth year in a row that I've joined the Hutchings family at the farm, and the Mylroie family has joined us for the last three years.  Unfortunately, Bob is nursing a bad cold and thought it better not to expose everyone, so he didn't get to come along. We missed him!

This year, I think the pictures can speak for themselves.


Friday, October 19, 2012


The next stop on our family cruise was Heidelberg. For some reason, just the name "Heidelberg" has always seemed exotic and beautiful to me.  The actual city did not disappoint.

The oldest university in Germany, my mother's alma mater, is in Heidelberg. Mom told us that right after the War, after passing an ability test with flying colors, she was awarded an emergency credential and sent to the country to teach a 7th/8th grade combination class of 58 students.  She was 19 years old, and it was the beginning of 32 years of teaching.  Many of the universities, which had all been closed during the war, were re-opened in 1946. Although Mannheim, which is only 10 miles from Heidelberg, was almost completely destroyed during World War II (it was a major industrial center), Heidelberg was largely spared, and after a year or so of teaching, Mom was sent to the University of Heidelberg to attend two semesters at their pedagogical college before returning to the classroom.  She taught for a total of four years in Germany before emigrating to the United States.

Unfortunately, we only saw the University of Heidelberg from a distance, but it was fun to imagine Mom walking the city streets, seeing some of the same places we visited. Heidelberg's skyline is dominated by an ancient castle, and I can picture Mom hiking up to the ruins with other students for a picnic.
The earliest structure on the castle hill was built before 1214, but most of the buildings standing today were built during the 1500s and 1600s.  Parts of the castle were frequently destroyed and rebuilt during the frequent wars of the day, but in 1764 the castle was struck by lightning twice. Many saw that as a sign from heaven that it should not be rebuilt.  In the ensuing years, repairs were made here and there, but it remained largely a ruin.
 In spite of its condition, it was well-known throughout Europe and has been the subject of many idealized, romantic paintings:
By German artist Carl Phllip Fohr, 1815
By Englishman J. M. W. Turner, 1844-1845 (This version looks a bit like Brigadoon or Shangri-La)

Even Mark Twain got in on the act, devoting several pages in his 1880 book A Tramp Abroad to a description of the castle: "Heidelberg castle must have been very beautiful before the French battered and bruised and scorched it two hundred years ago. . . . A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed.  It stands upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green woods, there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary, there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude.  Nature knows how to garnish a ruin to get the best effect."


The building below was the first Renaissance building in Germany:

This fanciful gate, with little stone creatures crawling up the posts, is the Elizabeth Portal, a private entrance for the queen built in a single night in 1615 as a surprise from her husband on her 19th birthday:

The two angels below, an embellishment above one of the courtyard doorways that dates back to about 1400, are holding two compasses and a wreath.  The angels are said to be the twin sons of one of the master builders of castle.  One day while visiting their father, they fell to their deaths from a high scaffolding.  Heartbroken, their father put down his tools and all construction work ceased.  Day after day, the grieving father wove white roses into wreaths and placed them on the graves of his two lost sons. Finally, one night he had a dream in which two large angels appeared in his room. They told him his sons were well and happy, and that they were anxious that he finish building the castle about which they had been so excited. When the master builder woke up, he found a wreath of red roses at the foot of his bed.  He promptly returned to work and finished his part of the castle, adding this remembrance as his final touch:

Walking among the crumbling walls, visitors can't help but feel they are in another time, another world.  It's the kind of place that has an almost magnetic draw on cameras stashed in pockets and backpacks:

This fuzzy pink plant is called a "wig tree."  The blossoms look and feel somewhat like hair.  They were dried and used to fill in wigs during the Renaissance:

 Heidelberg Castle is definitely a place for a Kodak Moment:

 (The statues below are fill-ins for the DeLongs and Jackmans. Where were they? Probably off in the crowd somewhere with Waldo.)

The most famous tourist attraction on the inside of the castle is the Heidelberg Tun, built in 1751 to hold wine paid as taxes by local vintners. Jules Verne wrote about it in his novel Five Weeks in a Balloon, Herman Melville mentioned it in Moby Dick, and Victor Hugo referenced it in Les Miserable. Mark Twain even included an illustration of it in A Tramp Abroad:
"Everyone has heard of the great Heidelberg Tun," Twain wrote, "and most people have seen it, no doubt.  It is a wine-cask as big as a cottage, and some traditions say it holds eighteen thousand bottles, and other traditions say it holds eighteen hundred million barrels.  I think it likely that one of these statements is a mistake, and the other is a lie. . . . Some historians say that thirty couples, some say thirty thousand couples, can dance on the head of this cask at the same time."
Front view
Rear view
In reality, the Heidelberg Tun is the world's largest wine cask.  It was built from the trunks of 130 oak trees, holds 58,124 gallons, and does indeed have a dance floor on the top. Wine and beer were the common drinks in the 1700s, and the average person, children included, drank two liters per day, beginning at breakfast with a dish called "beer soup."  I guess a regular keg just wouldn't cut it.

The thought of all that wine naturally turns Mormons to thoughts of their own particular vice, and how odd it was to find a decidedly American vendor at this quintessentially German spot:
 However, apparently one may purchase, but one is not allowed to partake--at least in some areas:

Next, our guide took us to view an unusual indentation in the stone just outside the castle walls:

He directed our eyes to the windows on the very top floor in one of the few sections of the castle that appears to be intact.  These were the rooms of  kings and queens.

Apparently one queen had an affair with one of the knights, and when the king came home early and found them together, the knight leapt out of the window, landing hard enough on the stone pavement to leave his footprint before he ran away.  Legend has it that those who step into the knight's footprint will, like the knight pining for his love, one day return to Heidelberg.

Hmm, I guess that means me!

Next: Heidelberg Part 2