This morning, from our hotel window in Wittenberg, I noticed older folks working in about 1/5 acre flower and garden plots with small houses on the property. There were probably about 50 such plots. I have noticed them from the train as we traveled across Germany. I decided to venture over and find out what they were doing. I didn’t think anyone would speak English, since English was not taught when the Russians controlled East Germany after World War II. I was right. I decided to cast caution aside, take down any facade, so I called out, “Hallo.” (This is not a typo,) and the woman closest to me responded in German. I told her I spoke little German and asked if she spoke English. “Nein.” It is amazing how you can communicate even when you cannot speak the same language. I asked, “Was ist Das?” as I pointed to the gardens. She told me they were summer gardens, and this particular section had been there for over 20 years. The small efficiency homes were only for an overnight when someone had come in from another town to work their garden or, if local, working and eating lunch and working in the garden again and taking a nap and working again and then going home. What a wonderful way to have a community garden! She picked an apple off her tree and offered it to me and I said, “Danke,” and waved goodbye. It was a delicious apple, made all the more so by our wonderful visit.
Kathy and I also spoke with a young German woman who was bicycling across East Germany. She told us how well marked the bike highways are and how she had prearranged her trip so that her luggage was always delivered to her next hotel before she arrived on her bike. That is common practice here. I told her if I was younger, I would do that for sure, and she winked at me and said there were electric bicycles available. Next trip, that will be on my agenda 🙂
For our evening meal, we ate at a local Brauhaus. We had made reservations, since it is a packed-out place. What a wonderful atmosphere, with German decor all around and archways and the brewery copper kettles right in the middle. The beer that is made there is unfiltered and has no preservatives–super good. Then, as the meal ended, our cute and perky waitress put a clear liquid in front of me and said it was made in house. The first sip was pure lightning. I whispered to Kathy that if I drank it all, it would put me under the table. Did you know that German wooden tables are fastened with wood nails? Just kidding, they are metal. I did leave a big tip, however.
During the day, I took a number of pictures of interesting building facades. That is one of the joys of traveling in Europe; the old building facades are still intact and enchanting. The city of Wittenberg is old and, as the center of the Reformation and home to Luther for most of his life, is in major restoration mode as it prepares for the 500th anniversary in 2017 of the nailing of the 95 Theses on the Castle Church door. We worshiped in the Castle Church in English this evening. It was inspirational singing, “A Mighty Fortress,” in the place it was first sung. WEG
What a wonderful improvement to when we were there! All the buildings were ‘dirty gray’, and we were watched constantly.Everyone was afraid to talk to us more than just ‘hello’. That was just before the ‘Luther Year”, (1983), and the communists were trying to get everything ‘spruced up’ for visitors. We were allowed a visa (at the border) only after being detained for nearly 3 hours. Guess we looked suspicious.! Glad you are having such a marvelous time and hearing all the fabulous music.
Kathy’s mom went during the communist years as well and had the same experiences you had. The major buildings and many minor ones are now in major restoration (especially the Schloss and Schlosskirche) getting ready for 2017.
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