Thursday, December 30, 2010

Day 9 and 10--Stuttgart

Hohenzerollen Castle
On Saturday, we visited Hohzerollen Castle which is about 50 km outside of Stuttgart. Honenzerollen Castle is the ancestral seat of the Hohenzerollen family and who eventually became Germany's royal family. The best part of the castle was the views (it's located almost 3000 feet above sea level) of the surrounding mountain ranges and villages. I loved watching the fog roll over the villages as I waited for the sun to break though an make the coutryside sparkle. The castle itself is really beautiful with some great architecture.

Emily and I at the entrance gate.

Outer wall of the castle.

View from the castles

I thought this sign was cool, but I have no idea what it means or why it was there.

This picture made me smile. How can you not love seeing two boys in matching coats each taking a picture of the two boys in the doorway.

Sunday was so nice because we were able to spend the day at Church (in an English branch), eating good food, and taking naps.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 11--Leipzig

View Larger Map

It seemed like a good idea. Me, driving by myself for 484 kilometers from Stuttgart (south west Germany) to Leipzig (north east Germany) to meet up with Taylor because it was a straight shot and I'd have carefully printed directions. What could go wrong? :)

1. I don't read German. Which poses a small problem when you're trying to be navigator and driver all at the same time. It also meant that I got all confused trying to get out of the airport after picking up my car and drove an hour (a good portion of that is stop-and-go traffic) before I realized I was heading south-east. Lovely.

2. I don't speak German. Which meant that when I finally realized I was headed in the wrong direction I realized that it's kind of hard to ask for directions. I know that not everybody speaks English, but I was surprised that it took me awhile to find someone who did and could help me out. It ended up being a very nice taxi driver who not only gave me directions, but also his phone number and told me to call him if I got lost again.

3. And since I don't speak German it also meant that I didn't understand any of the radio stations that I spent seven hours listening as I'd forgotten my ipod adapter.

4. It was being half way to Leipzig calling Taylor to give him an update and get more specific directions about where we were meeting rather than the vague "we'll meet at the Leipzig train station" that I'd been working on, only to find that the number he's given me doesn't work. A few earnest prayers may have been offered as panic set in.

5. It's calling Emily and having her find any other possible contact number in my email that by some small chance would know how to contact Taylor. Then getting a list of names and numbers, praying that 1. someone would answer 2. that when they did they would speak English. Someone finally answered and spoke English--sort of.

6. It was having Google maps not giving the correct exit name and so in looking for an exit that didn't exist I drove past Leipzig.

7. It's finding out after I've stood in line for 20 minutes that you pay for gas AFTER you fill up.

8. It's finally getting into Leipzig and having Taylor trying to give me directions and not being able to navigate and drive at the same time worrying that I've committed some driving error. Before finally deciding that since Taylor knows Leipzig better than I do, and it's been a stress seven hours, that my best option is to pull over and have Taylor find me. HIGHLIGHT is that without knowing it, I stopped on the street where he'd lived as a missionary so Taylor knew EXACTLY where to find me! Answered prayers are the best.

But what I learned from my seven hour ordeal was:

1. I LOVE, LOVE , LOVE driving on the autobaun. I was shown the the joy of a truly wonderful driving experience. Everybody on the autobaun plays this well choreographed game of leap frog which equals no congestion, no tailing, and no aggressive behavior.

2. I love going fast! One day I'll drive the autobaun in a car made for driving, but until then I was kind of excited to drive like the Germans at 220 kilometers (130 mph).

3. If I can get lost and navigate myself, for the most part, in a foreign country I can do it anywhere.

4. In dyer circumstances the Lord really does answer prayers and sends tender mercies when they are most needed.

I came to learn so much about the people and the areas Taylor served in, but it's something else to finally meet someone in person as you feel like you already know them.

I was looking forward to seeing more of Leipzig, but my little adventure didn't really allow for that. :) Leipzig was both a beautiful (great buildings and parks) and a very stark/run down city (evidence of the bombings and years spent under communist rule).

The Elder's apartment in Leipzig.

Frederike Wittmaack (this fun German sister who servedwith Taylor and who teaches German at the Preston MTC), Taylor, me

Taylor and Frederkia with this adorable investigator family.
The little girl made me draw her all of these pictures and kept
wanting to have her picture taken with all of us.

St. Thomas Church
Bach wrote a majority of his works in this church where he served as Cantor. It was closed for rehearsals so we weren't able to go inside.

I love the bicycle parking complete with meters and fees.

Some of the beautiful buildings of Leipzig.

Taylor had this gelato place that he loved so of course
we had to stop and get some and of course getting gelato became a daily ritual.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 13-Schwarzenberg

The first area that Taylor's served in on his mission was Schwarzenberg, this wonderful little village close to the German/Czech border.

Found in the 12th century as an important fortress town on the trade route, Schwarzerg flourished because of it's rich mining resources. Todayit's considered the " Pearl of the Erzgebirge" because of its wonderful historical center and small shops that continue to make truly stunning handcrafted Christmas decorations. Tradition goes that the miners from the Erzgebirge region would crave beautiful wooden figures as a way to relax. Even though the mines closed up in the 1500's, mining motifs are still seen on the buildings, in the carvings, and in the local dialect. But I love Erzenbirge because of the beautiful Christmas products it's given us--wooden nativities, nutcrackers, candle arches, and my favorite the Christmas pyramid (which is over 300 years old).

This pyramid shows both the mining influence,
but the building is also very typical of the
buildings found in Eastern Germany.

Most houses display this candle arch that highlights
the regions mining and lacemaking traditions.

I was surprised to see how twenty years after East Germany collapsed how, much left over influence from that time period are still around. Compared to the other cities of Germany, I felt that I stepped back twenty years in Schwarzenberg. Communism themes are still seen on old buildings, in fences and gates, in advertising. But what was most unexpected was the Nazi and communism posters and propaganda that I saw displayed by the youth and I was shocked to see how much Nazi found on The cities in eastern Germany are different from cities in the southIt's a very typical eastern Germany city, and I was surprised not only in the obvious difference in architecture and cultural customs, but also how.

We were lucky enough to stay with the Ebish's, a stalwart German family--though I did wish I knew at least a little German. It was fun to see Taylor interact with some of the people he'd served and to see their love for him.


This church sits atop the old medieval fortress and was one of
the most beautiful Medieval Churches I've ever seen.

Saint George is the patron saint of Schwarzenberg and there are numerous references to him throughout the town. Legend goes that George took on the lindword outside the village, and in an attempt to flee George and his horse leaped across the river and landed on the stone the town is built on. Legend holds that prints his horse made are still visible today.

This mural showed the history of the city.

Traditional Lace making. It was fascinating to watch how
fast she was able to braid the bobbins.

Yes, they had an Arnold Schwarzenberg nutcracker. Yes, I made Taylor pose.

The chapel. Don't ask me what were doing.

The apt where Taylor lived.

The last thing we did before we went left Schwarzenberg was to take a tour of one of the old mines. After the mines closed in the 1600's, the hundreds of mine entrances were lost. It's only been in the last 40 or so years that they've been rediscovered. The tour of the mine was fascinating. To see what they did was incredible. To realize that they dug out tunnels by hand, padded their hats with grass to protect them, spent two hours climbing down and two hours climbing out, and worked an eight hour shift for very little money. In the region people still say Gluck Auf, which basically means, Good Luck, and was said by miners to each other as they entered and left the mines.

Me, Taylor, Aiden Ebisch, and his friend (who's name I couldn't understand)