Saturday, January 29, 2011

Rudesheim, Germany

At the end of our train journey was a quaint little village of Rudesheim. It is the off-season right now, so most shops and restuarants were closed, but we enjoyed walking around for about an hour, observing the beauty of the town's buildings and got plenty of (brisk) fresh air! Here are some of my favorite pictures.

 Walking the cobblestone alleyways.

Restaurant in the Tudor style.
View of Rudesheim (and across the river) from the top of the hill.
Unusual trees.
 Empty Vineyards.
Carved wood that makes it looked embossed.

Stonework and multi-level 

A view from the top of the village.

Koblenz, Germany

During our train ride, we stopped to switch trains in Koblenz. This is the train station:

Since we had a little bit of time before our next train, we walked around a few streets in Koblenz to check out the classis German architecture. 

What a cute Cafe!

 Check out that classic bug!

 I love the tree on the deck of the white-trimmed house! We saw very little grass in any city, but many potted trees.

Such history! I'm glad we got to see a "normal neighborhood" since our hotel and the show buildings are very "city".

Many people ride bicycles even though the weather is around 0 degrees C, but we also spotted a few more modes of transportation that are not as commonly seen in the States.

 Smart Car (Which they park on cobblestone sidewalks, by the way)
Sweet moped.

Train Ride

On Saturday afternoon, we got train tickets to ride from Koln to Rudensheim.  After some glitches in figuring out the HBF trains, we finally made our way to Koblenz (see next post), switched trains, then rode on to Rudensheim. The pictures aren't great since they were taken at dusk from inside a brightly lit (and moving) train with dirty windows, but it gives you an idea of the things we saw, even if there are glares and blurs!

View from one of the train platforms along the way.

Houses on the hillside.

Excited to see my first castle!
 Here's another!

And another!

For the second half of our trip, the train followed along the Rhine so we could look across and see the villages on the opposite shore.
 The light structure on the right is a castle overlooking a village. As a defense strategy, the castles were usually built up on a bluff...
...or in the middle of the river.

It was a fun ride and I am so glad we had the opportunity to spend an afternoon seeing some amazing sites!

Cathedral in Cologne II

On Saturday morning, Jennifer and I took a guided tour of the Cathedral. I am very glad we did because we got to see a few more things up close and hear the history behind the building of the Cathedral.

Here is a picture of the organ. They installed an additional organ in 1998 which can be controlled by the keyboard on the other organ, or it can be played simultaneously.

We learned about the symbolism of the 13 colored statues and their musical cherubs above them. The twelve disciples and Mary are all carved and then colored, hanging from enormous pillars.

This modern window (abstract squares) also has meaning in that it looks like a random pattern of 72 colors, but there is order once it is studied. For example, the order of the squares in the left-most window is a mirror of those in the third-from-the-left. It symbolizes how God's creation has a pattern and purpose, even in the midst of chaos. It replaced a plain glass window which had been installed after the original stained glass was destroyed during WWII

 The inner Choir had a spectacular floor made of porcelain mosaic. The detail and symbolism were very impressive.

This is the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings, a sarcophagus dating from the 13th Century. It is said to contain the bones and the clothes of the three wise men who worshiped Jesus after his birth.  There are many stories carved into it, including a 4th king who was King at the time of the carving and wanted to be remembered as being a follower of Jesus also, just coming after the Three Holy Kings.

Here are some final facts about the Cathedral:
  • Construction began in 1248 and not completed until 1880, although constant maintenance makes the people of Cologne say "It will never be 'done'".
  • For a period from 1880 to 1884 it was the world's tallest structure. It is now the 2nd largest in Germany and 3rd largest in the world.
  • 20,000 visitors come to the Cathedral each day
  • It is, of course, not heated and temperatures can reach below zero, but they still hold mass regularly. It is a functioning church and the main home of the Archbishop of Cologne.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cathedral in Cologne

I have a view of the enormous Cologne Cathedral from my hotel room. It's about a block's walk across the village square area.  Jennifer and I took a brief look-see this afternoon, but are planning to go back for a guided tour Saturday morning. I'm going to post pictures now, but may add captions and commentary as we get more information from the tour.

The impressive gothic architecture looks like it's literally touching the sky.

 Here's an idea of the scale. That's me standing in the doorway with only a small part of the cathedral in the background.

"Ornate" is a little underrated when used to describe the carvings and artwork adorning every surface of the exterior.

The inside is just as fascinating:

There are many statues and paintings inside the church:

But they can hardly touch the beauty of the stained glass windows.

Hopefully I can get a shot of it all lit up at night, but for now here's to Guten Nacht!

Leaving, not barfing, on a jet plane

I know I've been AWOL from this blog for two weeks, but I've been so busy at work preparing for my trip to Germany and any spare second that I don't spend with my family, I'm desperately working on show choir.

Here are some highlights from the traveling portion of the trip, since Thursday & Friday became one long never-ending day and should be treated as such.
  • Prescription motion sickness patch did it's job and even though the dryness of the mouth, throat, and nose are no fun, it's better than having to ask the flight attendant for another barf bag.
  • I could not sleep on the plane, even though I had a window seat. On the l8hr.  flight to Amsterdam I read and watched the movie Grown Ups, an epidose of the Mentalist and an episode of American Pickers on the seat-back monitors.
  • I ate an authentic Dutch Saucijzbroodjes for breakfast at the Amsterdam airport.  YUM! And I did not care that it was 8am...even S'barro's was open in the food court at that hour!
  • The funniest souvenier items I saw in Amsterdam was were plush wooden shoes to wear as slippers.
  • I realized how lucky we have it at our local airports where you just walk down the jet way and into the plane. Not so everything in the world! We had to walk down steps right onto the tarmac I felt like the President walking out like that..except for the wearing a suit and tie and being one of the most powerful people in world and not focusing 100% of your energy of how to not fall down the stairs.  When loading the plane for Cologne, we had to take a freezing cold shuttle bus out to the runway.
  • After a few false starts, we figured out which DB train would take us to the HGF Main Railway Station and arrived at our hotel before 1:00.
  • We were dead tired, having been up for 24 hours already, but it was suggested that to get over jet lag, we should force ourselves to stay away, go outside and not go to bed until night time.
  • So, we did a few errands like changing currency, ordering internet, and then shopped many of the souvenir shops in the area.
  • We also took this opportunity to go into the giant Cathedral that is less than block away. More pictures on that coming up!
  • Tonight I think we're going to go eat at the Bit Burger (good meal since we never had lunch and a pig-in-the-blanket only gets you so far until you have to start substituting with goldfish crackers and Reeses PB cup unwrapped minis.)

    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    The worst part of traveling... missing this:

    I love you Ryan and I'll miss you soooo much! I hope Daddy and you have a good week together!

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    There may be a correlation here

    Maybe the person who ordered too much is the same person who uses their stellar spelling abilities to make your sign.

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Girls' Weekend Away: Saturday

    Saturday morning I played with my niece and nephew and visited with my sister, then headed to Cedar Falls to buy 8 tee-shirts from UniversiTees. (Best t-shirt store ever for Hawkeye/UNI gear. Or ISU, I guess if you're into THAT sort of thing.) Other than going to church with my sister, I had not been in Cedar Falls in at least 5 years, but weirdly, the one store I visited was being run by a girl I went to college with and had done a research project with. I think it freaked her out a little that I remembered her full name since we only had one class together about 7 or 8 years ago, but I have a good memory like that.

    After picking up bagels from Panera (hello...why are you ALWAYS out of Cinnamon Crunch bagels before 11am?) I headed to Waterloo.  My friends were heading into town from over an hour east of the city and coincidentally we met up in the turn lane to get onto San Marnan! Weird coincidence #2 of the day.  After a delicious lunch of soup, salad, and breadsticks at Olive Garden, we hit the mall, then headed to the hotel.

    We stayed at The Isle in Waterloo and the room was very nice! It was quite spacious (and good thing since there were SEVEN us sharing it!)  We hit the buffet hard (prime rib, crab legs, shrimp, fried chicken, and a full dessert bar) and then wandered the casino for a while where I lost a stunning $3 because I'm super cheap and can't stand losing money. We went back up to play a fun game called What's Yours Like and had a great time catching up.

    Four of the girls were in my class in High School and the other two were in the class below us and it had been a long time since I'd seen many of them! We're all married and six of us have a kid, but they're the kind of friends you can not see for 2 years and then pick up exactly where you left off.

    We're hoping to make it a yearly tradition (with a few others who couldn't make it this time) and although I missed being home with my boys, it was nice to have a fun weekend away! Love you girls!