Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday, 17 June 2018: Canton, Ohio, USA

Our trip to Germany is over, and we are glad to be home, and eager to see our family again.  Our two daughters were traveling at the same time we were.  Lauren and Chris were in Switzerland and Italy, and Meredith and her French class were in France and Spain.  We are so thankful that everyone is home safe, and that we all had such wonderful times.

Today we got up at 7:30 a.m. in Hamburg.  It was only 45 minutes to the airport. We had none of the traffic or construction slowdowns we experienced on the way in from Elmshorn on Thursday. We returned the car, boarded our flight to Reykjavik, and were home at 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, a 21 hour trip, given the 6 hour time change.

We had driven over 1600 miles, from Königsee in the South to Timmendorfer Strand in the North. We cruised the Elbe River from its German entry-point in Saxony to the town of Wittenberg in Saxony-Anhalt.  We met up again with the Elbe later in Hamburg, where it was wide and busy with container ships, pilot boats, ferries, pleasure craft, and tall ships.

We visited Bad Schandau and the Bastei in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains and toured the cities of Dresden, Meissen, Torgau,Wittenberg and Berlin.  We followed the life of Johann Sebastian Bach from his birth in Eisenach to his late childhood in Ohrdruf and his posts as organist in Arnstadt, court musician in Weimar, and Thomaskantor in Leipzig.  We listened to John Eliot Gardiner and Ton Koopman conduct the Ring of Cantatas at the Leipzig Bach Fest.  We sat in the Nicholaikirche and the Thomaskirche, where Bach played, taught, and composed his finest works.

In between visits to the cities of Berlin, Eisenach, Leipzig, and Hamburg, we relaxed in the spa towns of Bad Endorf and Bad Tabarz and  the seaside resort of Timmendorfer Strand on the Baltic Sea.  We did short hikes in the Berchtesgaden National Park, the Thuringian Forest, and the woodlands along the Lauterach River in Schmidmühlen.

We visited our ancestral homes in Schmidmühlen and Elmshorn.  Best of all, we met so many wonderful people: my language learning partners in Berlin, Roseheim, and Hamburg, and the many church people who helped us delve into our family history records.

Here is a map with our travel destinations marked in purple. Can you name Germany's neighboring countries and oceans?  Can you find all 16 German states and their capitals?  Can you find Germany's major rivers, forests, lakes, mountain ranges and highest peaks? I also made an Interactive map showing points on Johann Sebastian Bach's Timeline.

Following, in reverse chronological order, are my daily trip reports.  I am gradually adding photos and videos to each days' account.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday, 16 June 2018: Hamburg, Germany

Breakfast. Sat on balcony and watched container ship's go out to sea. Pilotboats help them, then wheel around and go back to port.

Packed up as much as possible, except for toiletries, Night table things, trek poles.

Walked down to River, into town to der alte Schwede, found in 1999, somehow from Sweden. People swimming in the Elbe.

Then to Strandperle bier Garten for lunch. 3 Matjes, potato salad, green salad, small Astra pilsner. Like a Belle Epoch seaside painting. Badminton on beach, sunning, dogs, children, beer garden.

Went with friends tol Elbphilharmonie. Views of City, Lobby. Drove around Alster. Coffee and cake in an elegant Cafe near the Town Hall: Zitrone Omelette (cake) and fresh Orangensaft. 'Respect for women'  demonstration, self cleaning rotating toilette 😳
Boatride didn't work out. Instead headed back to hotel in Othmarschen.  Drinks and small plates at Bistro Scherrer. Vorspeise 4 wurst, warm potato salad, bread w Evo and Bruschetta sauce, mixed Traubensaft. So hard to part from friends.

Back to hotel and bed. Will miss views of the Elbe and the fresh constant cool breeze off the river.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Friday, 14 June 2018: Altona, Blankenese, Sullberg, Hamburg, Germany

Breakfast at hotel in elegant dining room overlooking Elbe. Traditional German Buffet with north German touch.. creamed herring and white rolls with single slit. Ask Corinna for the name.

Walked along Elbchaussee to see large consul mansions, then up Halbmondsweg to Bernadettestraße to a cafe for Kräutertee und Toast mit Gouda und Tomate. Then back to hotel for a shower and nap. Dan walked north along Elbe.

Corinna met us at hotel and we drove to Blankenese, Like an Italian village, above the Elbe. Narrow roads, which Corinna negotiated expertly in her BMW, lovely gardens and terraces. Had Cherrystudel and herb tea in a 150 year old cafe on Sullberg hill. Corinnas English is excellent. So nice to meet in person.

Then drove to St. Nikolai, rode 75 stories up for great views of the city. Toured museum. Very sobering and sad. Then parked in Portuguese Viertel, and visited the beautiful Hauptkirche, St Michaels. It has three huge organs! I wonder if they are ever played together.

Met friend at 7 for dinner at Krameramtsstube. Had Labskaus (Corner beef, beets, and other hash ingredients, topped with a fried egg, served with pickle and beets). Main course was Pannfisch (Zander, Salmon, and another fish filet) in mustard sauce, with home fries and cucumber salad. Merlot, Sprudel, and Still Wasser.

Corinna drove us back to hotel and we went straight to bed after long day and 14,000 steps.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Thursday, 14 June 2018: Elmshorn, Hamburg, Germany

Swam. Breakfast. Drove to Elmshorn. Half Lachs tomato cucumber butter Brötchen. Open face.
Shopped in bookstore. Gifts for Mere, Lauren. Backsack, 2 books.
Irmgard Thieme of Nikolaikirche in Elmshorn. Met when she was hanging a flea market poster. Took us to church office to inquire about family history.  Met Pastor Knees, Duke University, theology, hospital pastoral care. Father was journalist and Fullbright scholar at Columbia. Pastor wrote articles at age 10. Altona was once the second largest city in Denmark once. Our hotel is in area of large homes owned by river pilots.  The church warden's wife invited us for coffee and Kekse in lovely conference room. Long discussion about refugee crisis. They teach German, help refugees find housing, basic supplies. Fundamental need is for the government to expand recognition of refugee status.  Iraq is now a "safe country." Refugee pastors have a stressful job.

Hans Barlach, architect of Jensich Park, opposite hotel. Pastor Knees favorite park.

Showed Pastor Knees a photo of my carved box, carved by my great-grandfather. Immediately recognized the style as the same as  the Arcantus carvings and ceiling in the  church. Arcantus is a Greek flower, just like Wilhelms carvings on the box. Style of early 1700s, Baroque. Quite possible Carl Wilhelm Schmidt or his father could have been one of the church Holzschnitzer.

Pastor Knees is singing in a choir at St.Petri, Mönckebergstraße, 4.20 Concert on Saturday. Open rehearsal beforehand, if we are in the area.  If we can stay for concert, he offered to show us around Hamburg afterwards.

10 Sunday service at Elmshorn but the traffic and construction is too bad to make it.

Weiss hotel. Awesome view. Elbe is huge. Large container ship's going by every few minutes, guided by 1 tug towing, 1 pushing and 1 dragging. Pastor Knees said the pilots own the magnificent homes near our hotel.

Dinner. Mathes Filets, White Herring, Green beans, parsley potatoes, bacon onion sauce. Salmon tartar, potato pancakes.

I lamented to the waitress about how we had not seen Rote Grutze on any menu during our trip, so the chef offered to make us some for dessert! Served with homemade vanilla ice cream garnished with mint.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday, 13 June 2018. Timmendorfer Strand (Ahrensfelde, Ahrensburg, Wandsbek, Travemünde)

Today, since it was gray and spitting rain occasionally, we took a drive to Ahrensfelde where my great great grandparents (parents of Wilhelm C. Schmidt) reportedly came from. Then we went on to Ahrensburg, and  had coffee, herb tea and Franzbrötchen (like a flat cinnamon croissant)  in a cafe. I had to stop in an Apotheke for eye drops, because my eyes are bothering me. It was hard to explain dry eyes to the pharmacist, and even harder to understand the difference between the two bottles of eyedrops that she was offering me.

Then we ventured into Wandsbek, which is just within the city limits of Hamburg. It was very urban suddenly, with kebab shops everywhere. 

We headed back by way  of Travemünde, where we stopped for lunch at a pleasant little cafe. I had schnitzel and kartoffelsalat, and Dan had a ham and cheese crepe. They also served croque monsieur variations and Frikadellen (meatballs).

When we got back to the hotel, Dan took a nap and I went for a 1 hour swim. There was a little baby in the pool named Lara. She could be Cora's twin. She makes the same baby noises and loves to shout at strange times like Cora. She loved slapping the water and splashing her parents.

For dinner I just went down to the Edeka grocery store and picked up some Frikadellen (meatball) Brötchen, a container of Waldorf salad, two yogurt smoothies, and some Haagen-Daz ice cream. We ate supper on our balcony, and as it got cool, we made hot tea and cappuccino in the room.

After dinner Dan went on and found my Elmshorn ancestors back two more generations, to my great great great grandfather, Peter Schmidt, shoemaker in Elmshorn, born in 1764, and his son Carl, who was born in Elmshorn, but moved to Ahrensfelde later in life. His son, William C. Schmidt, my great grandfather, was born in Elmshorn in 1854, and emigrated to the USA in 1873. His daughter Elsie was my grandmother, my father's (Howard Marr's) mother. 

I finally did a painting of a purple flower growing in a field in Ahrensfelde. The whole field was purple. Across the way was a pasture with Holstein cattle grazing and a farmer walking in it with his sheepdog. Same as perhaps my great great grandfather had done.

I have done a little packing and chatting with Meredith, who is enroute from Barcelona to Cleveland with 24 students in tow, tonight. Can't wait to see both girls and share travel stories!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tuesday, 12 June 2018. Timmendorfer Strand, Germany

The breakfast at the Hotel Royal in Timmendorfer was the best we've had, a buffet of cold cuts, cheeses, rolls, jams and butter, plus fresh fruit, yogurt, fruited quark, scrambled eggs (plain or with ham).  At 10 am we took a tram ride around town, and saw many hotels, holiday homes, restaurants and shops.  Then, despite the cool, gray day, we sat on the beach, and I waded a bit in the Baltic Sea and collected some clam shells. The sand was warm and comfortable to lie on. Back at the hotel, I rinsed off in the small infinity pool, and afterwards, we had lunch at the hotel: baked potatoes with sour cream, and a side salad with pickled herring.  I got my hair done at the salon next to the hotel. Negotiating what length etc. was a bit nerve-wracking, as my German and the Friseur's English were not all that great.  But when she was done, I was very happy with it.  It's been a lazy day, really, but tonight we're going out to dinner at a nice restaurant that Dan spotted on his morning walk.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Monday, 11 June 2018: Timmendorfer Strand, Germany

After breakfast at the Marriott Leipzig, we drove 5 hours through heavy traffic to Timmendorfer Strand. We travelled north towards Hanover and Luneberg, past Luneberg Heath, and Hamburg. Just east of Hamburg, we saw signs to Ahrensfeld, where some of my ancestors were from. Only did the traffic begin to abate, when we entered rural Schleswig-Holstein.  We will visit that area later in the week.

Timmendorfer Strand is beautiful. The air is so fresh, and the town has a quiet elegance.  Our hotel, Hotel Royal, is right on the beach, and only a few steps from the beautiful Kurpark, with all its fountains and meandering paths.  The homes beyond the Kurpark, sitting up on a hill, are beautiful.

Our room is the nicest hotel room we've had:  A large junior suite, with leather sofa and chair in the sitting area, a balcony overlooking a quiet street, a comfortable bed, and a small anteroom/ dressing room just outside the bathroom.

You walk through a small park to the promenade and beach, and there is a pier that juts out into the Baltic Sea.  Streetside is the Kurpark and a small miniature golf course. The Kurhauser are closed now, we were told.  Nobody has used them for 10 years, but sometimes there are concerts.

We had dinner at the hotel.  Dan had a local fish with pan-fried potatoes.  I had a mixed salad with Norwegian smoked salmon, and after tasting Dan's potatoes, I ordered a side of them too.  Fresh fruit juices seem to be very popular here, so I tried Johannesbeeresaft, instead of my usual Kirschsaft.  Dan had a Weizenbier.

We slept with the balcony door open to get the fresh air.  It's odd, but I don't smell salt air or that "fishy" seaside air I am familiar with, and I haven't heard a single seagull.  Lots of pigeon cooing, and early morning crows arguing, but no gulls.  And I haven't heard a cuckoo since our cruise from Dresden to Wittenberg, but they are a forest bird.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday, 10 June 2018: Leipzig, Germany

We had breakfast in the restaurant at the Marriott, the usual herb tea, birchermuesli, fruit, yogurt drink, grapefruit juice, plus a pastry. Then we went for a walk to the zoo and a stroll in the city park behind the zoo. On the way back we stopped for lunch at a cafe. They made me a mint iced tea with a dollop of lemon sorbet. Very refreshing! I had scrambled eggs with ham and dark bread. Dan had a sweet apple crepe.

We went back to the hotel to rest before the concert. We walked to the Thomaskirche and had time to pay our respects to Bach's burial place inside the church.  I felt such gratitude for him, that we have been able to hear and enjoy his music, and be so changed by him. 

We found our seats, which were quite comfortable and again, very good acoustically. We could see Ton Koopman in the organ loft. I think he must love performing there. It was wonderful to hear Klaus Mertens sing in person. The cantatas were somber...about death...but I saw that they offered great comfort for the age in which they were written. The music was sublime. The performance was so true to the spirit of Bach.

Afterwards we stopped in a cafe for supper, a glass of Riesling with salmon and gnocchi, followed by a French cheese plate. Then back to the hotel to shower and pack.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Saturday, 9 June 2018: Leipzig, Germany

We ordered a room service breakfast last evening, as the buffets are getting to be a bit much.  We just had boiled eggs, birchermuesli, fruit salad and tea or coffee. Dan went for walk. I did some correspondence with the girls and some friends. Then we went out to or a walk and stopped at a sidewalk cafe for crepes at lunchtime. We walked to the Gewandhaus, passing through the very modern University of Leipzig. Later in the evening, we had dinner at an Indian Restaurant. We always order the same thing anymore in an Indian restaurant.  Dan gets Chicken Tikka Masala and I get Palak Paneer, with sides of Chapati, Raita, and Saffron Basmati rice, and Gulab Jamun for dessert. It was a light day, but one for some much needed rest.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Friday, 8 June 2018: Leipzig, Germany

We ate breakfast outside at our hotel in Bad Tabarz. Then we checked out and drove 2 hours to Leipzig. Our room at the Marriott was ready.  We had lunch down the street at Riquet Cafe. Tuna Salad, Quark Kuchen, and then scouted out where the Nicholaikirche Kirche, Markt, and Thomaskirche were. We took a nap at the hotel, so we would be fresh for the concert at the Nicholaikirche at 8pm.

We stopped for Spaghetti Bolognese at a cafe across street, then went to the 8 pm concert at the  Nicholaikirche, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. Julia Doyle, my favorite soprano was singing, along with Peter Harvey, one of my favorite basses.  Our seats were awful, high up in the second balcony above the orchestra.  We couldn't see a thing, but the acoustics were great.  I knew it was Julia Doyle, the minute she began to sing!  Peter Harvey, for some reason, sang one of his parts in the pulpit which is very high, so we did get to see him.  Dan stood up and held his camera up high, and so we have a couple of photos of the harpsichord, and we caught the director, John Eliot Gardiner, briefly too. The music was full of spirit and so perfectly performed, with Gardiner's usual lightness and energy.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Thursday, 7 June 2018: Bad Tabarz, Gemany

Today we took a drive through Bach country.  We drove first to Ohrdruf, where Bach lived with his older brother, after being orphaned at age 10. He studied organ with his brother. His brother would not let him study the music of Pachelbel.  The young Bach used to sneak into the library, reach through the ornate metal grating on the door with his small hand, take the Pachelbel music out, and copy it by hand. After months of doing this, his brother caught him and tore up all of Bach's copies!  What could be so wrong with Pachelbel??? 

Bach attended the Lyceum in Ohrdruf, and he sang in the Kurrende Choir. Ohrdruf is a small, clean town, with a Lutheran Church. An American invented Kewpie dolls here in 1912!  There is something called the Tobiashammer there, but I don't know what it is.  The Michaelis monastery is also there.

From Ohrdruf, we drove to Arnstadt. We went into the Bach church there and saw the organ.  It was the first place we saw that Bach had actually had a presence in.  I stopped in the Apotheke to buy some arnica cream for Dan's neck.  Homeopathic medicines are quite mainstream here.

Next we drove to Erfurt. Martin Luther studied law here. I had Schnitzel toast for lunch at cafe below the Dom. Finally we drove to Weimar for Kaffee und Kuchen. Mandarin Quark Kuchen is very popular, but the Rhubarb cake with Strudel looked good too. Dan had an eclair. We had them with fennel tea and coffee.

We then drove back to the hotel in Bad Tabarz for a swim, a nap, and dinner.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Wednesday, 6 June 2018: Bad Tabarz, Germany

Breakfast...yogurt, fruit, muesli, Rührei, bacon, mint tea
Hotel bus to Marienglashöhle. Cave tour. Gypsum crystals. Used on altars in Catholic church.
Hiked through Thuringian Forest back to hotel. Met Inge (63) and Chrystal (83), while eating our box lunch in a small hut, along the path.  They were from Dresden, and were on holiday, staying in Ferienwohnung.  They never learned English, growing up in East Germany, so I had to blunder through the conversation in German.  I did better than I thought I would.

We arrived back to the hotel, and I swam until it was time for my massage appoint.  Dan had a back and neck massage after mine. I added a foot massage to my spa package, since my feet are getting a bit ragged.

We had dinner at the hotel: a surprisingly tender Filet mignon with grilled Mediterranean veg's. Chocolate mint sorbet in prosecco with 3 berries.  And then it was early to bed!

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Tuesday, 5 June 2018: Eisenach, and the Wartburg, Germany

Toured Palace
Elizabeth of Hungary
Martin Luther room
Could see Wartburg on hill above town
Drove to Bad Tabarz
Swim, dinner, walk

Monday, June 04, 2018

Monday, 4 June 2018: Eisenach, Germany

We went to the Bach Haus in Eisenach today. The tour was in German, but there were wonderful demos of a house organ, a pump organ, a spinet, a clavichord, and a cembalo (harpsichord), plus displays of violins, horns, blockflöte, oboes, a bassoon, sackbutts, krumhorns, and a lute. There was a room with "pod chair swings", each with a pair of headphones, for listening to pieces like the Goldberg Variations, a harpsichord concerto, Air on a G string, a cello suite, and Jesus Joy of Man's Desiring. It made for quite an intense experience. We came away with a concept of Bach as virtuoso, composer, imaginative perfectionist, transformer, creator, teacher and preacher.

Afterward we had lunch at a Konditorei across the street. I had a refreshing homemade Limonade, and two rolls, butter with herbs, homemade jams, strawberries and grapes, Quarkkuchen, and hot Mango Tee. Dan also had scrambled eggs and ham, served with cherry tomatoes on cucumber.Thrn wewent back to the hotel for a nap. Dan went out for a walk and got himself an ice cream. Later I went out shopping to the euro store and got a small blanket, raspberry granola bars and a fold up bumble bee shopping bag, but not the US-EU AC Adaptor I was looking for..

I bumped into Dan in the lobby and we went outside for drinks and appetizers: peanuts and stick pretzels, and Thüringer sausages with mustard. Other appetizers on the menu were kslamata olives,, potato salad, antipasto, green salad, or soup. Later on we had dinner next door at Valentino's, lasagna and salad, but I couldn't finish mine. It is really taking a long time to cool off tonight.