Sunday, July 22, 2012

Update: July 9-22

OK. I know I have not posted anything since July 9! We have been on a whirl-wind tour of places in three countries. Early starts, long days, lots of walking, late evenings--but I have been taking notes and pictures (of sites as well as food.) Unfortunately, some of the food pictures have not come out so well so I will just have to describe.

I could say that for the most part, the food has been . . . substantial!
Many of our breakfasts have been classical European style: in addition to cereals, there is yogurt (sometimes with fruit), fruit of various kinds, varieties sorts of wonderful cheeses, sausages, and breads and of course good coffee. Lunch, when we have had lunch, is often something at a sidewalk cafe. I'd like to say the "something" was always light, but many meals in this part of the world include potatoes and sausage. So, we have eaten a lot of those. Dinner is usually late. We have tried to eat as much "local" as possible, just for the experience. But in addition to Swiss, German, and Dutch, we have also tried Thai, Italian, Chinese, Indonesian, and Portuguese. In the big cities (especially Berlin and Amsterdam, these are local--you can find these just about everywhere you turn.)

Below is an itinerary of where we have been since I last posted:

July 11-12:
We were back in Zurich at Mike and Sarah's to do laundry and catch up. The way it works in their apartment is that you get assigned a couple of laundry days each month (about 2 weeks apart.) On your days you have exclusive access to the laundry facilities in the basement. You don't get to do laundry any other time. We took full advantage of these two days because we won't be back here until late on July 25 (which also means we will miss the next laundry day.) We have to have enough clothes to make it until the end of the month!

July 13:
Took the 3-hour train ride to Heidelberg, Germany. Wandered the old town that evening.
Stayed at the Mission Hotel.

July 14:
Spent the day exploring churches, the University, and the castle in Heidelberg. Discovered schneeballen (literally: snow balls. No, they are not those marshmallow/pink coconut things with the chocolate cake. They are huge, dense balls of dough with all sorts of wonderful centers and icing.)

July 15:
Up early for the 6-hour train ride to Torgau, Germany. The train went through Erfurt, Eisenach, and Wittenberg--all important towns in Luther's life. Stayed at the Hotel Central. Explored Torgau, looked for a church; visited the castle. Ate authentic German food for dinner at the cafe overlooking the castle grounds.

July 16:
Explored Torgau some more. Ducked into a coffee shop just before the rain came pouring down. (I love the European coffee shop culture--they are everywhere, easily accessed, and where people meet routinely.) Took an afternoon train to Berlin. Took a walk in the park after we settled in at the Sir Savigny hotel.

July 17:
Sites around Berlin: Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie.

July 18:
Places in Berlin: Pergamon museum, Berliner Dom.

July 19:
Took a train back to Wittenberg. Spent the day there exploring the university, old town plaza, and the castle church. Back in Berlin for the night.

July 20:
Up early for the train to Münster, Germany. Only had the afternoon to find and read the Anabaptist story here. Visited several churches and the local museum as well as roamed around town.

July 21:
Rented a car here to drive to The Netherlands. A 2 1/2 hour drive to Pingjum and Witmarsum, charming little towns, the home of Menno Simons. Took a walk along the dike which holds out the North Sea from this very flat land. Continued to drive another hour to Amsterdam, to stay at the American Hotel. We are here for 4 days. Several places we want to visit.

July 22:
Ate Dutch waffles for breakfast. Visited the van Gogh museum. Learned some things about the artist--and was reminded that art is not always the answer to a trouble soul.

July 23:
Tomorrow we plan to go Corrie ten Boom's house in Haarlem and visit the Old Church in old Amsterdam.

More to come . . . the schedule from here is still under construction.

July 25:
Late Wednesday night we will fly back to Zurich. We will be there to catch up with ourselves, visit a few places we still want to see, and possibly eat some more.

I am posting some notes I have taken and related pictures. Hopefully, I will get caught up with this in the next day or two.

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