Germany Part 5: Friendly Hostels and a Mann Twinn

4 08 2012

We were up early this morning so we could get to breakfast and out by 8:00.  We had placed our ball in the 7:00 slot of the hotel’s breakfast tracking system, so they were expecting us.  We ate a good breakfast from the buffet: various rolls, cold meats, cheeses, fruit, yogurts, and cereals.  We both made sandwiches for our lunch on the train ride.  After a brisk 25-minute walk to the train station, we waited half an hour before boarding.  We are getting pretty good at this train thing; we switched four times without a problem.

We got to Lübeck around 1:00 and used the map on the iPad to navigate to our hotel.  Unfortunately, the map showed the wrong location for our hotel/hostel (the Rucksack Hotel) so we walked in circles for a while trying to find it.  My ears perked up at the sound of a family speaking English, so I approached them and asked for directions.  It turned out that they were visiting from Canada and didn’t know the address, and their grandfather who had lived here for 50 years didn’t know the street either.  However, they did point us to a taxi driver, who pointed us in the right direction.  Lesson for the day:  when needing directions to an address, taxi drivers always have the answers.

We got to the place just in time, since the owner, a very talkative and friendly Estonian who also worked as a family counselor, was leaving for a break until 5:00.  She gave us the keys and a pile of sheets had a girl lead us to our room.  It was certainly not like any of the places we had stayed before.  For one thing our room was decorated like a rain forest complete with a  four- foot long dried crocodile hanging from the wall.  It was clean, though, and at 88 Euros for two days, it was about half what we had been paying.  We dropped our bags and headed into the historic district for a look around.

    We stopped in a couple stores where I bought a scarf and Annalise bought a pair of funky pants, a purse, and a couple of scarves as gifts.  We then stumbled upon a huge cathedral, St. Marienkirsch, and went inside.  It was truly spectacular, with an extremely high vaulted roof.

 Germany 2012 281   Also interesting were the bells.  Although, as a Red Cross city Lübeck had escaped most of the bombing in WWII, it had been hit by one bomb in November of 1942 that burned this church.  The intense heat had caused the bells to ring until they fell.  Eventually, the church was rebuilt, but the bells were left where they fell, a quiet reminder of the tragedy of war.

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The bell remains where it fell more than 60 years ago.

Outside the church was a more light-hearted tale:  a statue of a devil sitting on a stone next to the church.  Legend has it that the devil saw this church being built (1250-1350 AD) and was told it was to be a drinking hall, so he let the construction continue.  When it was finished and he discovered it was a church, he tried to tear it down, leaving claw marks on the wall and a large stone next to it.

We continued our meandering and went through another, smaller church, St. Jacobi Kirsche.  Not as large, it still was charming, with a huge dark organ with ornate wood carvings and plaster arms jutting from the columns to hold candles.      Back at the hotel, we settled up with the owner, gathering tips from her on what we should do and see while here.  We ate our remaining rolls and apples for dinner and spent considerable time catching up on goings on in Aiken while we had unlimited free wifi usage, one of the advantages of staying in a hostel.

The next morning we had the luxury of sleeping in, relatively: me until 7:00 and Annalise closer to 8:00.  After traveling for eight days, I found I was having to remind myself what day it was: Wednesday, June 27.  Although we probably could have had a free breakfast at the hostel, we decided to eat at a cafe instead.  Annalise had a large pretzel and I had a spinach and cheese strudel and käsebrot (cheese bread) along with our coffee.   We were enjoying the heck out of our breakfasts!

We spent the day wandering around the old town, tramping through the northern city gate, the burgtor, built in 1444.   It started raining, something we weren’t prepared for (you’d think by now we would have known better), so we ducked into some stores to dry off.  I picked up some cash at an ATM and then we headed for the Holstentor, the largest and most impressive of the city gates.  We went inside and found a wonderful museum with a huge diorama of the city.  I could almost hear the clatter of hooves on the cobblestones and the din of the medieval marketplace.

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After this, we headed over the bridge to the haufbahnhof to get tickets for tomorrow’ s train ride to Flensburg .  Street performers made sightseeing easy:  jugglers at the HB, a mime statue of John Lenon by the Rathaus (city hall), and two guys singing opera accompanied by an accordion at the other end of the Rathaus.

Trying to avoid a crowd of street people, we ducked down a narrow street and found an interesting puppet museum.   At 15 euros, it was a bit on the pricy side, but it was interesting to see the extensive collection of puppets from all over the world.

Back on the main street again, we went in a marzipan store, finding our way to the upper level where a room had exhibits showing how marzipan was made (sugar, almond paste, molds, and paint brushes, if you are curious).  We’d be hard pressed to find a store in the United States that sells marzipan, but here was a huge store/museum/factory that sold nothing but!  We made it out with all our money intact, but just barely as the temptation to buy was terrible.

Although not Annalise’s choice, we made our way to the Buddenbrooks House and found out more than we wanted to know about Thomas Mann, the novelist, Nobel Prize Laureate, and local boy done good from Lübeck.  There was also an exhibit about his daughter, Elisabeth, who had a passion for protecting the oceans.  Throughout the exhibit, I had a niggling suspicion that I had seen her before.  It wasn’t until I stood beside a large poster of Elisabeth Mann that my suspicions became clear:  Annalise commented that we could be sisters.  There was a startling resemblance between this Elisabeth and me, Elizabeth!

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Elisabeth Mann——————————————Elizabeth Eberhard

At 4:15 , it was too early to call it a day, so we went to the Behnhaus, an art museum housing several of Edvard Munsch’s pieces.  The cashier indicated that we wouldn’t have enough time since the museum closed at 5:00 , but we set a new museum record and were done in 15 minutes.  More than a little embarrassed by our touring efficiency, we feigned interest in several paintings until another ten minutes passed and we could slink out of the museum.  I bought some lovely raspberries from a street vender on the way back to the Rucksack and admired them with much more interest than any of the paintings.  We stopped by Aldi’s and stocked up on groceries for our evening meal as well as for breakfast and lunch for tomorrow.   From our first stay in a hostel to the Holstentor, from marzipan to Mann to Munsch, our stay in Lübeck had been lovely.