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The green hills of Germany

I always thought of Germany, and Europe in general, as masses of overpopulated cities. Not entirely accurate.

Wednesday I arrived at the Berlin Haptbahnhof (central train station) around 0230, expecting to take the train to Kiel. Only to find that… no trains were daparting for Kiel within the next six hours. Ok. Something went wrong somewhere in my internet planning. Shada (too bad). Then I saw an ICE (inner-city-express, the fastest and most comfortable trains) bound for Muncheon. So I got on, and traveled as far as Nurnburg. It’s a nice city in southern Germany, and I went and saw several impressive churches before eating an early lunch. Then I got back on the ICE heading back north, to check out an interesting stop I saw on the way down, which I arrived at around 1130.

Jena-Paradies (said Yaina Paradize).  Should have called it Card’s Paradise.  Thousand-foot forested hills surround the town.  Started for the tallest hill and arrived ten minutes later a kilometer away and a third that up. Sweet view.  I inadvertently stumbled across a system of well-maintained hiking trails. Apparently, Jena-Paradies is home to a huge National Park.  Following the foot-paths, I came to an abandoned monastary further alond the sharp spine of the hill.  Climbing the 116 spiraling stone steps of the old watchtower, I got a breath-taking view of the country-side.  Three-sixty degree view for a five to ten miles in all directions.  The crystal blue sky helped, extending visibility even further.  375 meters down plus the height of the tower is the town of Jena, and steep, forested hills intermixed with a few flowery meadows cover everything else.  I could have died for a camera.  But then, I think there are some things pictures can’t describe.

I spent the rest of the afternoon finding (and getting lost in the process) the views from the brows of several dozen more hills.  Did a lot of running.  Close to four hours worth.  My feet still hurt.  There are a lot of oak trees in Germany.  Maple as well, which actually makes up a lot of the undergrowth.  Seven hours later I finally descended back down to the city (having relocated myself on my mental map). 

That was, without question, my best day in Germany.  All the citys, cars, churches, museums, and monuments don’t hold a candle to the awesomeness of the German countryside.  I’m kind of sad none of my classmates got to see it.  Maybe next year…

A. Card

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The Home Stretch

So I figured there wouldn’t be a lot of posts during the last week of the trip since we aren’t doing group trips any more, so In an effort to inform otherwise neglected parents I thought I’d write something. For those of you who dont know, this last week is completely open for the students to go where their wallets can take them (or in some cases your wallets). One group is flying but as far as I know its all train and bus travel for the rest of us. There is large group going to Bremen and others of us are going to Munich. We’ve all been looking forward to this week for a while, and I’m not going to speak for everyone, but I have to admit that the thought of being home is sounding better each day. So, don’t be discouraged if your kid has completely left you in the dark…..Richard, we’re all in the capable hands of Nielsen and are having a great time.
Dave Wierenga

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Near the End

Germany has been an awesome experience. When I first got off the plane I expected it to be a lot like North America but now, near the end I am not surprised to see that I was wrong. Berlin ticks like a Swiss watch and the infrastructure runs smoothly. Trains and buses are almost always on time. You don’t see anyone slacking off on the job. The Germans have an obsession with doing things right. Our train was delayed by 8 minutes and there were many apologies for such a tiny delay and in North America trains get delayed for hours with only a superficial apology. We are more relaxed in North America over lateness and less than perfect work. Because of this work ethic, everything is clean, things are on time, and everything just works better. We should adopt this outlook on work because the results are very clear. The efforts to recycle are also a big difference here. North Americans take a lot for granted because they have so much at their disposal. Over here there is a lot of incentive to recycle and the government has made it very easy. I really enjoyed the time in Germany and I would love to come back some day.

-Richard Fung

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A trip to Lubeck

20 August, 2010, Calvin ENGR 202 class went to the city of Lubeck, about two hours to the northwest of Berlin. The first piece of awesome architecture we saw approaching the Old City from the west:


The foundation doesn’t seem to be too good, as you can see. Note the steeple of St. Peter’s Church in the background.  After a tour of the Old City by boat, we were dimissed to entertain ourselves until dinner.  I wandered off to look for a hat shop west of the Old City… and ended up on the other side of the train station we had origanally come from, where I saw an awesome church.  So I went and looked at it.  This old guy called Hans Froidrick (or something like that) invited me in and showed me the bells in the steeple, which were pretty big (7-8 feet wide)  I headed back towards the Alt Stadt (and found the hat store on the way).  Then went to St. Peter’s Church and took a look around.  The main interior wasn’t too impressive, but for two Euro you could climb the tower, and from there you get a real view of the city.  I immediately noticed that Lubeck had a GREAT number of churches.  So, of course, I had to see them all.


Marionkirche was quite impressive (It’s bigger than it looks)  The main vault is 39 meters (128 feet) and the steeples soar 125 meters (410 feet) above the city.  It was heavily bombed in WWII, and the mangled remains of the church bells that fell in 1942 still remain  in the base of the bell towers.  Incidently, Marionkirche is also the third-largest church in Germany. (Only the Koln Cathredral and Ulm Minster are larger, I believe)  Note the steeple of the steeple of St. Jacob’s Church in rising beyond the main roof. (which I also visited)

My next stop was supposed to be the Lubeck cathredral:

The Lubeck Cathedral

This was also heavily bombed during the war.  But on the way there, I got side-tracked, by the Sacred-Heart Church, the only Catholic church in the Old City.  A really quiet church.  The doorman admitted me, but no-one else was there.  It is apparently a memorial to four priests the Nazis killed during WWII.  They were buried in a crypt under the church.  Kind of dark.  Really creepy place.

After the Lubeck Cathedral, I headed for St. Giles Church, to the north-east.  Running, of course.  So many churches, so little time…

St. Giles Church

And then on to St. Jacob’s Church.  Except I lost track of the steeple and got a little off course.  Like half a mile off course.  I ran out on an arched footbridge to get a look around, incidently, one of the many bridges we had passed under earlier on the boat tour.  I saw the steeple again from there, and also noticed an interesting fact about the eight foot wide steel and aphsalt bridge: it bounced.  Being an attentive Engineering 202 student, I calculated the resonant frequency at around 2 seconds to the negative one.  Then I started putting weight on the bridge in sequence with said frequency, as Professor Nielson said could cause bridges to collapse.  The old German guy in the wheelchair on the other side of the bridge looked worried, though, so I stopped.  On my recharted course to St. Jacob’s Church I stopped by a medieval hospital.  The total capacity was 170 patients.  Patients were housed in tiny little rooms, complete with old glass windows inside a huge, vaulted room that reminded me a lot of a church.  I eventually did get to St. Jacob’s:

St. Jacob's Church

St. Jacob’s Church was where all the seamen of the city went for worship, and there was the sole remaining lifeboat of a ship that went down in 1957 there.  Apparently on its way from Argentina, this ship was caught in a hurricane and had only two surviving lifeboats, on one of which, only one man out of tweny-one original lived to be picked up three days later.

Having gotten to seven churches, I still got back to our meeting place with fifteen minutes to spare.  I really enjoy all the sweet architecture around here, especially the churches and castles.

A Card

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Been here for several weeks now. One of my favorite parts of Germany is the architecture. The Germans build using all sorts of different styles; you can have a state-of-the-art university building alongside a five-hundred-year-old church.
Speaking of which, we just finished a four day tour to Heidelberg, Koblenz, and Koln (Cologne). Seeing the cathedral in Koln was on of the highlights of the trip for me. The pictures just don’t capture how massive this thing really is (515 feet tall at the spire). As Mr Vander Roest stated so well, “If that doesn’t take your breath away, you’re not alive.” And every foot of that church is covered in statues, stonecarving, and stained glass. I sat staring at the thing for a good hour and still didn’t take it all in. It looks even better at night. Kind of reminds you of Sauron’s fortress in “The Lord of the Rings”, with all the lights reflecting off the blackened stone. I’d highly recommend visiting this place if ever you chance to be in Europe.

A Card

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Church is not a steeple, but a steeple is pretty cool!

We went to the American Church in Berlin (ACB).  Which is an english speaking congregation that is meeting in an old church. (around 100 years old).  The service was great and afterwards the cookies and juice hit the spot.  When we were talking to a member of the church he got excited to hear that we were all engineering students and insisted that we join him on a tour through the church to see how it was built.   So, we got to go on top of the vaulted ceilings to see the trusses and got to go up the steeple to see the bells.

I saw this grocery cart on the bus the other day.  I think it is a great design if you need to roll something up a stairway:

This is what happens if you park illegally in Berlin:

Prof Nielsen has safely arrived today, and I will start my journey back to Michigan tomorrow morning.


Leonard De Rooy

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