Friday, November 7, 2014

7QT: Sarah and Allison's German Adventure

In which I reminisce about my trip to Germany with Allison (two years ago?) during which much productive work happened but we also did some exploring.

--- 1 ---

We traveled for about eight hours and ended up in Germany on the morning of a brand new day! We decided to power through and not sleep until early bedtime to avoid jet lag. The conference wouldn't start until the next day and we wanted to explore Hamburg. But it was a Sunday and I needed to go to Mass. Allison, wonderful friend that she is, agreed to come with me and we somehow managed to stay awake through Mass in an extremely spartan church called St. Ansgar. (Turns out somebody made a funny about St. Ansgar.) I tried to follow the German in the Missal but ultimately neither of us understood a word. The kneelers were unpadded 2x4s, or whatever dimensions they have in Germany, and during communion our Mass participation turned into a kneeling contest. Allison made a valiant attempt at kneeling and several Germans failed before we did. I'm not sure anyone held out until the ciborium was back in the tabernacle. German Mass #1 was kind of a bust.

--- 2 ---

Later we went to Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg and saw the largest miniature exhibit in the world, if I remember correctly. It was way too crowded but has a nice display with an animated NASA shuttle launch. They had the yellow and black stick figure signs with phrases in German so we each bought one without knowing the meaning. It turns out that Allison's was untranslatable but said something about being fiery drunk.

--- 3 ---

Later in the week we went to Kloster Luene in Lueneburg where the meeting was held. It's a formerly Catholic and currently Lutheran convent with lots of nice paintings and a tapestry museum. Now that it's a museum a lot of the Catholicky things have been restored. It was kind of surreal to visit the chapel with an ornate Catholic altar piece but no kneelers or a tabernacle.

--- 4 ---

Allison and I took some personal time to visit my friend Felicitas in Duesseldorf. We took the train but it was late so we spent much time trying to figure out how to work a pay phone. Eventually we gave up and through some miracle Allison was able to get Felicitas' email from her Gmail cache and send her the update. We started to get a little concerned when Abfahrt station was announced at multiple stops. Were we going in circles? Or were there several different stops in Abfahrt? Or maybe Abfarht was the end of the line? After a fairly lengthy discussion we finally realized that Abfarht means departure. So we succeeded in our role of stupid Americans. Note: the word abfarht apparently also has something to do with alpine skiing. Don't ask me what.

--- 5 ---

Felicitas is an awesome host and tour guide and she marched us all over Cologne until my feet felt like bloody stumps and I thought I might collapse in the street. She even seemed a little bit tired, and that's saying a lot! The central feature is the Cathedral of Cologne where we got to see the abstract kaleidoscope stained glass windows that have apparently caused quite a stir.

--- 6 ---

At one point, Felicitas must have noticed me faltering because we ducked into St. Kunibert-Kirche (St. Cunibert Church). I haven't been able to learn much about Cunibert but his feast day happens to be on November 12. St. Cunibert, pray for us!

--- 7 ---
St. Maximilian in Duesseldorf

After failing miserably at being engaged in the German language Mass in Hamburg I decided to try out a Latin Mass at St. Maximilian in Duesseldorf. This was not the traditional Latin Mass but rather a novus ordo Mass celebrated in Latin. Allison came along and I hoped that seven years of high school and college Spanish would help me follow a little better. I would say it helped un poquitito. Let's just say I have a new appreciation for Mass in the vernacular. The church was packed when we got there and we managed to cram into the only pew with a little space left, next to an equally foreign looking girl. We scanned the room looking for someone else in jeans (we found one!) and relaxed while taking in some amazing choir music. But the singing kept going. And going. And going. It turns out it was a Mass for some sort of parish celebration. We have no way of knowing what was being celebrated because the only word we understood of the homily (given in German) was Hitler, at which point we loudly whispered back and forth: "Did he just say something about Hitler??" "I think so! I definitely heard Hitler." "Wow! I wonder why he's talking about Hitler!" The Mass was about two hours long--what a tour de force!

After Mass I insistently ordered an Earl Grey Latte at Starbucks without realizing until later that it's not on the menu in Germany. But the baristas made one overbearing American's day by figuring it out on the fly. Overall it was a fantastic German Adventure.

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  1. Awesome!
    You forgot about the fainting guy though! That happened at the Dusseldorf Mass, right?

    1. Whoa, I totally forgot about that!! It was way down in my memory archive. There was a group of guys in uniforms and it was really hot, right?