After lunch

Trip Start Mar 26, 2010
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12
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Trip End Apr 04, 2010


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Flag of Germany  , Saxony-Anhalt,
Friday, April 2, 2010

I had overheard two ladies (sisters from England) as they got up from their lunch table talk about going up the tower of Luther's church. Now there's an idea, I thought. After I finished lunch I went to our room where Ms Jones and I discussed our plans. Ms Jones did not want to go to Wittenberg, so I was on my own.

I looked at the map of Wittenberg the ship crew had made available to its passengers. Where to
go, what to see. Hmm. I thought back to Betsy Ray's first day in Munich.

You don't know Betsy Ray? In the book Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace, Betsy is to stay a whole month in Munich, by herself, in pre WWI Germany. She wants to be a writer, so she decides that the best way for her to write about a place is to live there. Really live there. Go down all the streets, go to the cafes, the museums, the parks, the churches, everything. (It also happens to be what the title of this blog is named after.)

Wittenberg is small, I thought. I've already seen the main thing, so suppose I go off the  beaten path? Getting off the bus, I walked around Luther's church to the other side. It seems much bigger than it looked on the inside. I  followed the road behind the church for awhile and turned onto a small side street, which almost turned out to be a bad idea when a vehicle  almost the exact width of the street came barreling towards me. I hugged the wall and it passed without mishap.

Back to the square. Oh dear, what to do now. I had to go to the bathroom, but I wasn't sure where to go. I also hadn't done the whole 'pay to go to the bathroom' thing that people talk about doing over here. I walked up a street that seemed ok but very quiet. If I get kidnapped, I thought, this would be a good place for it to happen. By now I really had to go to the bathroom. Why didn't I go on the ship?! I'm a 21 yr old woman, this shouldn't be a problem for—is that a Ben and Jerry's?

IT WAS.
Not a Ben und Jerry's. BEN & JERRY'S.

Excellent.
There were two women behind the counter who both spoke English and said 'Oh yeah, sure use our bathroom downstairs.' I walked cautiously downstairs. I peeked into the surrounding rooms to make sure there wasn't anyone around. As I left the bathroom I thought Here I am, going to the bathroom in Ben & Jerry's. When am I going to actually leave America?' Not that I wasn't grateful. Quiet as everything had been, I still hadn't been kidnapped. So far so good.

I remembered that there had been a bit of green across the street from Luther's church. Turns out it was a park. I had a lovely stroll through the park, and almost went to the zoo in the park, but there were more people in that zoo than I had heard all day outside of the ship. I all of a sudden didn't want to be around tons of Germans and have to fumble with money to get inside, basically announcing to everyone that I'm a small tourist with no companion so please, have a go at me. Thinking back on it now, I wish I had gone, just to see what an aquarium in a public park in Germany would have been like.

I continued walking through the park, and it was lovely. There wasn't another soul around, just nature and I. It wasn't a very big park, so I came out next to Luther's church and walked back towards the Main Square, this time taking a different road. I had met Mrs Lois (a woman from the ship) the last time I was in the square, and she said that the other church, a Catholic church, was supposed to put on some sort of concert around 3:30. I made my way inside the church as quietly as possible, the music had already started. It wasn't full, but it did have the old fashioned seating (it reminded me of the Quaker meeting house in the movie Friendly Persuasion), with the middle pews and pews on the right side of the church facing the left and then pews on the left side of the church facing the right. I sat in the right pews, where no one else sat.

After awhile, a young man came to the front of the church and said something in German. I re-realized that I don't understand German and I wished the subtitles would come on like they do for foreign films. The young man said some other things, and then the congregation responded. The organ started up again and everyone started to sing.

After a few minutes of this, I realized that this wasn't a concert. This was a Good Friday service entirely in German. I still wanted to climb Luther's tower, so I left the service.

Some time during the day, as I had been walking down the street, my foot got caught under one of those things that secure tables outside cafe's and restaurants and tripped and almost fell. I don't know if anyone saw, but I didn't fall. I was very proud of the whole 'no falling' fact. (There's no real reason for me to have written this, except that it happened and I find it humorous.)

It was 3:30ish. I arrived at Luther's church. I didn't see a man in the church giving out tickets or receiving money for the tickets, so I hesitantly went through the open side door which had a sign that I couldn't read except for the words 'TICKETS' and an arrow pointing through the door. A few steps in and a man was in a room off to the side, taking monies for tickets. I gave him a Euro and I went on my way.

In no time at all I saw the roof of the church, and as I went up and up and up I thought pfft this is easy. Of course I was soon out of breath and wondering 'how am I not at the top yet'? I was surprised at the number of the little rooms off to the side of the spiral staircase. All were out of bounds, but some were only walled off by glass so you could see what was in there. I started
on my upward journey just after a group of young men, and I stalled myself as much as possible while going up. I was terrified of being stuck at the top of a tower, in Germany, with only a bunch of strange guys for company. I took my time, looking in at the empty workshops and peeking through cracks in doors. It was hard going, and whenever someone else was coming in the other direction, you had to wait at the landing because two people could not fit on any of the flight of stairs.

10 landings, 260some stairs, two legs and two lungs later, I reached the top. The view was beautiful, but very small. Wittenberg is only a town, so the view was by no means grand, but for miles around all you could see was grass and water and red roofs. I took pictures of every view
(as you can see by all the pictures). I love looking out over cities, especially small ones where you can literally see EVERYTHING and everywhere you've just been.

I stayed up in the tower, completely alone for about 15 minutes. My knees stopped hitting eachother and I thought I'd better head down. Down down down down down. I still had plenty of time before the bus came, so I was at a loss. I kept walking down streets I thought I hadn't been down, but I had. Looking around at the people passing me by, I noticed there was a frightful amount of ice cream being consumed. It's the second day of April people, it's too cold for ice cream! I thought, and I was starting to feel chilly myself.

I noticed there was something that was open and not ice cream related. The internet tells me it was called 'Haus der Geschichte' but I'm pretty sure there was a sign that said 'DDR', else I never would have remembered what it was called. There was no sign in English, but if you're American and under the age of 35, you probably thought the same thing as me: Germany has a 'dance dance revolution' museum...does life have meaning after all? I went in, but couldn't make heads or tales of it and was too scared to take pictures so my descriptions are a bit bleak. I only went in to one room, because there weren't many people in there and I didn't want to alert everyone in the shop that some silly American girl is in the shop, quick Gerhardt, overcharge her! Or something. But what I could make out was this: it was supposed to be like going back in time, but where in time exactly I could only guess post WWII communist East Germany. The
one room I was in was set up to look like a grocery store. I assume there were price tag comparisons, but since I don't know anything about Germany groceries current or not, and since all the signs were in German, it was lost on me.

I have since found that it was 'an East German nostalgia museum, Haus der  Geschichte... Rooms furnished in 50's, 60's and 70's DDR style.' As for just what a DDR museum is: 'Its exhibition shows the daily life in East Germany (known in German as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) in a direct "hands-on" way. For example, a covert listening device ("bug") gives visitors the sense of being "under surveillance"' (from DDR wikipedia page, main website http://www.ddr-museum.de/en/). I wish I had known all that when I went in. As it was, I left more confused than when I had gone in 5 minutes earlier.

Eventually the bus made its appearance and those of us who had made the excursion climbed on. I saw the two sisters from England and asked how they had fared climbing the tower. Their expressions were slightly humorous and slightly horrified ('Do you know how old we are?').
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Comments

Tom on

I enjoyed your trip. It did remind me of Betsy in Germany.

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