Well, I am now back from our big field trip! We stayed in amazing hotels, ate incredible food and saw wonderful things.
First off, i attached a few pics from the field trip that someone took with a digital camera. when i get more organized i'll try to send more.
Also, before I start, I want to thank those of you who have sent me mail! When I got back from the field trip, I had 4 real letters in my mail-box…very exciting! However, apparently, I accidentally gave you guys the wrong zip-code. The correct one is 69117.
Now for the field-trip….
Tuesday September 26:
We left at 6:45 in the morning…yeah, real fun! The first stop was in the town of Creglingen and saw an amazing wood-carved altar and a cemetery that had really cool-looking gravestones. Then, it was on to the medieval town of Rothenberg, that actually still has a wall around the town, just like in medieval times! Rothenberg is also known for its Christmas shopping. (mom, you would have loved it!) We went inside this store that looked small, but on the inside went on forever with I don’t know how many levels. I seriously got lost a couple times in this store….i’ve never seen so many ornaments in my life!!! After some shopping, we had a guided tour of the town and saw the town hall and a big church. (We saw a lot of churches or kirsches on this trip, and every one was huge and ornate and had amazing paintings, sculptures, carvings, etc.)
The town is on a hill, so from the rear there was great views of the surrounding hills, forests, other towns, etc. after the tour, a few of us went and walked on the wall that surrounds the town…how cool is that! It is still the original wall and even still has the holes where archers shot out arrows, and later where cannonballs were shot out!
The town is also famous for their schneeballs, which are pastries that look like snowballs…very interesting, but good.
That night we stayed in the tiny medieval town of Dinkelsbuhl. The hotel we stayed in was amazing! I have never been in a hotel this nice. It looked simple from the outside, but inside every room was different and just so cute! Crystal and I were roommates and had an actual like suite to ourselves that for some reason no one else had. As far as lodging went, crystal and I were good luck or something, because we got hooked-up every time! That night, we had a little bedroom, a hallway, bathroom and living room with a table, couch, and tv…all to ourselves! For dinner, we had bratwurst with sauerkraut and potatoes. It was excellent and the owner of the hotel rolled out an old musical organ thing, where you turn the wheel and it plays music. He turned it for about 15 minutes, playing several songs and even singing along to some! We took a night tour of the tiny town and saw the night watchman who sang and blew his horn for us, a welcoming girl in native costume who passed around a pitcher of wine (a welcoming tradition!) and a trumpet-player (also in full-costume!) Then we found a pub that had a live band playing and danced!
Wed. the 27th
First we saw the cathedral in Dinkelsbuhl on our way out…it had the bones of a Roman martyr…kinda gross but cool.
Next, we went to Linderhof palace, which was built by “Mad King Ludwig” a German king who loved isolation and building castles and was declared insane then mysteriously drowned in a lake. The palace we saw was his smallest, but still incredibly ornate. Inside every room was 24k gold-covered wood carvings. The amount of gold was just overwhelming! Each room was so ornate, it was stifling! The most expensive piece was a chandelier made completely of ivory! Near the palace, he built the largest artificial cave in the world, constructed to hold Wagnerian operas in it! (I’ve now seen the largest natural ice-cave and artificial cave in the world!)
Driving on the double-decker bus, we saw incredibly clear Mt. Streams and drove by lakes made up entirely of melted glaciers! We also listened to some great German music!
Our next stop was Hoschweinstein where we’d stay the 2nd night. It is a collection of hotels, shops, restaurants, etc. below the Neuschwanstein castle. (also built by Mad King Ludwig, it is the castle that the sleeping beauty castle at Disneyland is modeled after!) we stayed in another amazing hotel…this time crystal, kara, Lindsay, and I all roomed together and even had our own private balcony with a fantastic view of the castle! Yeah, no one else had this either! Dinner was amazing…soup, salad, pork in mushroom sauce with german noodles, then apple strudel for dessert! I was so full! Later that night I went skinny-dipping for the first time! With 8 other girls in a freezing glacier water lake beneath the sleeping-beauty castle! What an experience!
Thurs. the 28th
We walked up to the castle and took a tour. It’s enormous and so beautiful. The tour guide let us sing a worship song in the music room….great acoustics! Afterwards, we walked to a bridge that had a great view of the castle and got some great pics! Then we went back to the infamous lake and rode around in canoes. After that was yet another church.
Then, we were on our way to oberamergau! The group split up into smaller groups and different hotels. Kara and I stayed in this cute little hotel thing. We literally had our own apartment for the 2 of us! We ate our meals at this Italian restaurant. That night we had the best tomato soup I’ve ever had in my life, salad, Cordon Bleu which I’d never had but was amazing, and pasta noodles!
Oberamergau is renowned for their wood-carving and the shops are everywhere, and everything in them is amazing! They also had a great ice-cream place that we visited several times!
Friday the 29th
Finally, the day of the Passion Play! First, we had an amazing breakfest of rolls, cheese, yogurt, fruit, cereal, hard-boiled eggs, etc. everything had it’s own little dish or piece of silverware including a tiny glass dish to put your jam in!
The play is hard to put into words. I sat in the 2nd to last row but still had a great view. There were 4500 people watching it with us and it lasted about 6 hours with a 2 ½ hour lunch break in-between. The enormity of it was overwhelming. In the opening scene, when literally hundreds of people came on stage in full costume, it brought tears to my eyes, it seemed so real. It was in german of course, but we had books of the dialogue so we could follow along. Each scene began with a song and the curtains would pull back to reveal a tableau (people in costume standing motionless to create the effect of a sculpture or painting) this was my favorite part as they always looked so much like a painting. The tableaus would draw a coorelation between the upcoming scene and something from the Old Testament such as Jesus on the Mount of Olives asking God if He really had to go through with this, as compared to Moses before the burning bush asking God to send someone else….neat huh! The crucifixion was very real and powerful.
For lunch, I had the creamiest, best mashed potatoes ever! (you would have loved them dad!) and for dinner…lasagna!
Sat. the 30th
We left oberamergau and began the trip back to Heidelberg. On the way, we stopped at Dachau. That was a powerful and surreal experience that’s hard to describe. This is what I wrote in my journal afterwards…”How to describe what I saw or felt? Or the tears that come to my eyes even now on the bus driving away? Of the 30 barracks, only 2 are standing (reconstructed) but the creamatorium still stands as it did then with the gas chamber and furnaces. To see something that I’ve read so much about is surreal. It becomes hard for the mind to comprehend what the eyes are seeing.”
Anyway, we watched a moving video then were free to walk around on our own. I walked across where they held roll-call for an hour every day, toured one of the barracks, seeing the beds, walked inside the crematorium and saw the actual ovens used. Very hard to see. When leaving, I saw a memorial that simply said 2 words….Never Again.
That night when we got back, the Heidelberg Festival was going on. There were booths everywhere, and they had a huge dancing area set up surrounded by 4 DJs in each corner. We danced for hours…to both American and German music…I’m already recognizing some german songs!
Sun. the 1st
Some girls and I went to Hanover to see the World’s Fair. It was huge with over 350 different tents. It was amazing and overwhelming. We didn’t get inside many tents as we didn’t have much time and were still exhausted from the field trip, but it was still neat just walking around and seeing everything.
Well, now it’s back to the grindstone…I have 2 big tests this week! I know this one was long, but hey, I was gone for 5 days…I had a lot to write about!