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March 11, 2007

Photo Album up and ready

Ok. I told Dr. Redding he could have the last post but I wanted to inform you that I've created hyperlink within his story that will take you to the album.

 

I guess he does get the last word in a way...

March 10, 2007

Harold and Kumar Go To Trier

Matt Vast '08

     Yesterday at our farewell dinner Dr. Redding asked about our favorite experience from the week.  I had a very difficult time picking only one because nearly everything we visited was incredible.  Never before have I spent an entire week with such little sleep and enjoyed every single minute of my time.  However, I decided that my trip to Trier, approximately two and a half hours from Cologne by train, surpassed any other experience that I had over the course of the week. 

     Ian Scales (’10) and I left from the main train station in Cologne around nine’ o’clock Thursday morning.  We headed south for approximately 70 miles and arrived in Trier just before noon.  First we headed just down the road from the train station to Porta Nigra, an old Roman city gate.  Then we moved into the Altstadt, the oldest part of the city, and viewed some of the architecture and restaurants there, as well as visiting several stores in the shopping district.  We then made our way to the southern part of the city, where we visited the birth house of Karl Marx.  The entire house was filled with extremely intriguing information, and we easily could have stayed there for several hours; however, we had much more to see. 

     We headed across town and visited Constantine Basilica.  This church was originally commissioned as Constantine’s throne hall, and then used as a Catholic church.  However, today the church is used as a Protestant Church, and it was the only church we visited the entire time that was Protestant.  That fact allowed me to have a somewhat more personal connection with the religious significance than I experienced at the Catholic cathedrals.  The building sustained extensive war damage in World War II, and the displays detailing the extensive rebuilding period were incredibly fascinating.  

     We then headed back around the city to several wine houses where we sampled some excellent German wines.  Trier lies right along the Mosel River, in the region of the country considered wine country because of extensive wineries along the banks of the river.  Sitting on the street completely immersed in the German culture with a glass of wine was my favorite experience from the entire trip.  As it started to get late, we headed out on the train for Koblenz, where we stopped briefly in the station and ate before returning to Cologne.  The whole day was incredible, and the experiences from both that day and the entire week will be with me for the rest of my life.

In Photo: Hauptbahnhof Koeln, "Cologne Train Station"

March 09, 2007

Last Chance for German Culture

 

Today is our last day to enjoy Cologne. Over the past week we have learned about key moments in the 2000-year cultural history of the Rhineland. On our first day we encountered the Roman foundations of urban life in “Germania.” Then on Sunday we visited Aachen, where we learned about Charlemagne and the Frankish empire, which encompassed most of what we know today as Germany and France. On Monday we were back in Cologne. Our goal that day was to discover the culture of the Middle Ages via the great Romanesque and Gothic churches of Cologne. Tuesday was given mostly to Baroque culture, which we encountered at the beautiful palaces of Brühl and various buildings in Bonn. While we were in Bonn we deviated a bit from our chronology by touring the Beethoven Haus and the Haus der Geschichte (the museum of German history from 1945 to the present).

 

On Thursday, everyone had the day to explore their own interests. Professor Gomez traveled with Aaron Bonar and Tony Scheetz to tour the European Parliament in nearby Brussels. Mike Vick made the short train ride up to Düsseldorf to see Germany’s fashion and shopping capital. Chris Vachon, Mark Schultz, and Matt Wynn spent the day over in Lüdenscheid with guest families that they got to know through a high school exchange. I spent the day visiting a Kindergarten and an elementary school with a former student who now lives in Germany. Ian Scales and Matt Vest traveled to Trier to see more Roman historical sites and to visit the Karl Marx museum. Matt Maher, Jake Huston, Phil McNelly, and Jesse James took advantage of the day to get to know Cologne better.

 

The last item on our agenda for this trip was a visit to the Museum Ludwig. It houses one of the best collections of 20th-century art and beyond. The highlight for me was the excellent collection of German Expressionists; a close second was the section devoted to American pop art and op art—the best piece for me was a large installation by Edward Kienholz called “Portable War Memorial.” It was made in 1968, but seems particularly relevant today. Post-WWII German culture was profoundly influenced by American cultural trends. In art, Abstract Expressionists like Pollack and pop artists like Wesselman were very influential on the next generations of German artists.

 

After the museum we adjourned to a traditional restaurant for a farewell dinner together. We reflected on our week and I asked each student what his favorite part of the trip was. Charlemagne’s cathedral in Aachen seemed to be the most common response, but the Cologne cathedral had a lot of fans as well. I also asked rhetorically what the least favorite part of the trip was. If I had pressed for answers, I suspect many of them would have mentioned the Max Ernst Museum in Brühl.

 

After lunch everyone split up to buy souvenirs and enjoy their last evening in Cologne, at least for this particular trip—most everyone seems certain that he will be back in Germany in the very near future.

Click Here for photos from throughout the week

-Professor Redding

 

In Photo: The group eats "dunch," dinner-lunch, at a local restaurant. We were seated just outside the wine cellar.

March 07, 2007

'Bahnhof', 'Beethoven', and the 'Bundesrepublik': Ah, Bonn

-Michael Vick '10

Today we headed south again, but this time we headed past Brühl to the city of Bonn. The hometown of Ludwig van Beethoven and former capital of West Germany, the city offered its fair share of museums, shops, and churches. Shortly after leaving the train station in Bonn, we headed through towards the Beethoven house. After posing for a picture in front of a statue of the composer himself, we took a short side-trip to explore the Romanesque-style Münsterbasilika St. Martin (finished in 1248, the same year that construction on the Cologne Cathedral began). We continued on through the shop-lined streets to the Beethoven house, where Ludwig van Beethoven was born. After a tour of the house, where we saw the composer’s personal instruments and the various “hearing aids” that he used near the end of his life, we got a chance to explore the house on our own and spend a few minutes browsing his music on the computer. After breaking for lunch, we reconvened in a nearby marketplace and spent a few minutes individually watching people shop and learning the dynamics and vocab. of the open-air markets. Next, we saw the Baroque winter palace of the Cologne archbishop and elect-prince, Clements Augustus—who we learned about in Brühl—which is now the University. A short ride on the U-Bahn took us to the Deutsches Bundesrepublik Museum, where we wrapped up our day walking through and seeing the last 50+ years of both East- and West German history. Most students headed back to Cologne to relax and have dinner, but those of us with a little more Wanderlust stuck around Bonn to visit the old government quarter and walk along the Rhein before heading back. Whether wandering through the marketplaces, touring the Beethoven house, or traveling through the Deutsches Bundesrepublik Museum, we had plenty of opportunities to experience first-hand some of the lessons that no textbook can fully impart.

March 06, 2007

OK, OK...I got your pictures up

OK. OK. For those who love picture books for the shear fact of pictures I have attached photos to the blog below. Also, keep an eye out for an album...

-Jess

p.s. For those who are keeping tabs, the altitude and I are mixing swell.

...From the blogmaster...

My apologies for the lack of pictures on the blogs....the laptop is dead and we´ve been sharing one adapter; I'm using the internet at a nearby netcafe to upload the blogs, but I should be have the laptop charged and ready to go for tomorrow ... I'll have some photos to accompany the text tomorrow!!!!!

Bis später!
Ihren Blogmeister

Brühl and Back

Phil McNelly, ´10

    Today, we went to Brühl and toured the Palace of Clemens Augustus, a Baroque palace. We weren´t allowed to take pictures of the inside, in order to preserve the beautiful decor of the walls and ceiling. The styling and artwork were very similar to that of Versailles in France. One of the most impressive ceilings was above the main staircase. The ceiling was a square, flat ceiling, but the artwork on it made it look oval and concave. So much so, that if the tour guide had not said anything, I doubt any of us would have noticed. We also toured Falkenlust, where Augustus actually lived,he did business in the palace. The man truly loved his falcons. Like many of those privileged enough to afford them, he owned hunting falcons that he took out in much of his spare time. While smaller and less grandiose than the palace itself, it still was quite large and ornate. This evident by the existence of a room whose sole purpose was decoration. After lunch we wandered the Max Ernst Art Museum for a while. Most of his works, painting and sculpture, were done in the 1920s as part of the dada movement, similar, in a way, to today´s surrealism. There was a lot of walking, but the rewards were worth it.

 

In Photo: Here's the view of Clemens Augustus' Baroque "work place" as we walk back from his residence...many, many steps away! But dog!!! It was worth the walk back!

March 05, 2007

Buttresses and Arches - A Day in Cologne

-Aaron Bonar ´10

After the exciting day-trip to Aachen, the group decided to stay in Cologne to view the many different types of architecture. We started our day at the Cologne Cathedral. Widely regarded as one of the prime examples of Gothic architecture in Europe, the cathedral has been under constant construction for over six hundred years. Most Germans will tell you that it will never be finished, and they are absolutely correct. On the inside, however, one can view the marvelous interior of the structure. Flying buttresses and pillars force one's eyes skyward. The altar and the many chapels filled with old statues and religious works of art have stood the test of time, and are just as beautiful today as they surely were in older times.

Next, we traveled to the Cathedral of St. Gereon. This proved a stark contrast to the Gothic style of the Cologne Cathedral, as it was constructed in the Romanesque style. Arches and columns adorned the interior, giving the structure, as its architectural style suggests, a distinctly Roman flavor. It was built in a decagonal figure, as were many buildings of the time. However, not all of this cathedral is original either. Large sections of the cathedral were rebuilt after the war. Entire sections of wall and, no doubt, priceless religious works, were lost to Allied bombs, but one would barely guess it today.

All in all, today was very exciting. We took a small tour through German history, and learned a lot just from architectural styles. Tomorrow, we head to Brühl!

 

In Photo: After climbing to the top of one of the towers of the Cologne Cathedral, some of the guys hangout partway down to hear the bells.

March 03, 2007

Ersten Tag in Koeln

 Jesse James ‘08 - Hello, Wabash!!  We made it safely to Cologne this morning at (TOA) 8:00am local time…we’re 6 hours ahead of all y’all, so that made it 2:00am home time.

Today, we were all zonked but we still went to the “Roemish-Germanischem Museum”…Roman-German Museum. It was fantastic! The museum houses collections of art and livingware of the region during Roman control. The craftsmanship was exquisite and rather impressive. At the main entrance lay a tiled floor from a house in which a wealthy family lived; the mosaic was of Dionysus and colored the floor of a “celebration room” (where the owner hosted guests).

Elsewhere, the museum has collections of everyday objects used by Romans of the day: combs, knives, jewelry, locks, keys, glassware, tombstones, sarcophaguses, shoes, cloths, and many other remnants. Being in the presence of so many objects, to which give the most realistic insight into the lives of “Roemer” circa the time period, left me the last to leave each section!  I didn’t want to leave! But, I better stop before I transform this entire blog into a history lesson!  I’m doing work within my major on German history, but as much as my history professors would love me to elaborate on my findings at the museum I will stop for the sake of the not-so-history buff.

Cologne itself is a fantastic city; and we’ve only been here for just over 12 hours. Our hotel – Brandenburgstrassehof – is close to the gem of the city, the “Koelner Dom.” We’re visiting this cathedral later this week, so keep an eye out for text and photos about it. Other than that, the weather is so-so; overcast and sporadically rainy with temps the equivalent of 49 degrees Fahrenheit. The wind picked up significantly just after lunch (which felt like dinner after all the traveling!) when the group split off to tour the area.

Aaron Bonar ’10 and I wanted to visit the area so we went around to the small shops and walked along the Rhein. He’s a Russian culture enthusiast and we happened to stumble into a shop devoted to Russian art and artisanship, so that was off the hook.  We walked just far enough to make it a challenging trudge back to the hotel…especially with what blew like 40 mph winds!!!!   We made it, and I got a “Bundesliga, Fussball” (National Soccer League) scarf out of the voyage and Aaron got an umbrella which is now shoved into a trash can near the trainstation; apparently, it was made for rain and not blow-you-backwards wind gusts!!!

Bis Bald

Jess

p.s. For those who followed my quaint little weblog in Mexico City back in November: The altitude is fine and the salt content is on par. Ha Ha. 

Photo: Professor Redding explains the monument (background) to Michael Vick '10