Friday, May 29, 2015

Adventures in Bavaria

I am currently studying abroad through John Brown University in Germany during May and June. I have the fantastic opportunity to receive upper-division core credit in theology by studying Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer (and more) in the country where they wrote. Also, at Karstadt, a fabulous German three story department store, I bought this wonderful German flag blanket. 

We are spending two weeks in south Germany (Bavaria) before moving up the north for another two weeks. The city we are staying in is Landshut, one the most idyllic cities in the world. This is my view from my hostel room.

Most of the buildings in the older part of Landshut are painted pastel colors.

Landshut is gorgeous at sunset.

Sunday, the second day after we arrived in Germany, we went to Munchen, the capital of Bavaria. We attended an English-speaking church that serves refugees, visited beautiful cathedrals, saw breathtaking old architecture, ate at a world-renowned wurst restaurant, and visited the Alte Pinathek museum. This adorable German couple are looking at my favorite piece in the museum, which was Hagar and Ishmael in the Desert by Claude Lorrain.  

On the next Tuesday, we visited the concentration camp in Dachau. It was haunting and bizarre. Especially difficult was realizing that there were citizens in the city of Dachau who lived right outside the walls where 30,000 people were killed. The gate at the entrance reads "Arbeit Macht Frei / Work Makes Freedom," reflecting the chilling philosophy of the Dachau work camp. Remembering those who suffered and reading passages from a memoir about life in a concentration camp made this an unforgettable moment. 

On Friday, we returned to Munich to visit the YMCA there. We learned about the Christian history of the YMCA and the ecumenical ministries that are still happening in Y's in some parts of the world. We visited a YMCA house that ministers to children and met amazing God centered people from across the world. 

While in Munich, we also attended a short meditation
in St. Michael's cathedral, a breathtaking structure that reflects the majesty of God in a way that I have never experienced before.  

The next day, Saturday, we went to Augsburg. This city was mind-blowing: founded in 15 B.C. by the Romans and heavily bombed during WWII, it seemed to be dripping history. The Cathredal of Augsburg was my favorite piece of architecture we have seen so far. Some of stained glass windows inside were 500 years old during Luther's time. 

While in Augsburg, we learned about the history of the city from Rolf-Dieter Braun, an expert on Luther and an extremely sweet German gentleman. 

This past Tuesday we went to the Alps in Mittenwald. This was the first place we went that showed the amazing scenery of Germany rather than the architecture. Unfortunately, it was raining, but we were still able to walk around the city and see the amazing Alps. The city is famous for its violins. 

In addition to the surreal landscapes and historic buildings of Germany, the German people are simply fantastic. On trains, in cities, and in the hostel we have met a series of fantastic, caring, friendly, and wonderful people. The stereotypes are mostly not true…not everyone is as serious as this man I photographed on the street in Munchen. Also, alle schnitzel (all the schnitzel) is serh gut.

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