Friday, October 31, 2014

Potsdam, Wittenberg, Oranienbaum, and Wörlitz

Hello again.

Here I'll tell you about the other cities I visited in Germany!

This past Monday, I went to Potsdam, where my friend Jörg lives, to visit him and see the city. He was a great tour guide, and took me to see various city streets and buildings, the Sanssouci (the former summer palace of Frederick the Great of Prussia, who introduced the potato to Germany) and the surrounding parks, as well as a historic windmill in the area. Apparently, the grounds of Sanssouci are also used for the biology studies of a university just outside the grounds, where Jörg attends.

Potsdam building

 Potsdam church

 Potsdam street

 Heron on the grounds of Sanssouci


 Grounds of Sanssouci

 Apparently Frederick the Great likes flute music, so this person was reenacting that

Mustard jars in the windmill museum shop



 Inside the windmill

 Grinding stone inside the windmill

 At Sanssouci

 Chinese teahouse at Sanssouci

 Fresh pumpkins for sale

 Potsdam gate

Glüwein spices for sale

Potsdam streets

We then met Maria's mother, Beate for lunch (also to get Kumpir, so good!), then we said goodbye to Jörg. Maria's mother then drove us to Wittenberg, the site where Martin Luther lived and nailed his theses to the church door. It was a beautiful town with many old buildings, though unfortunately the historic churches of the town themselves were under construction. 

There, we went to the Martin Luther museum and learned everything about Luther. The museum was interesting because it was located where Luther lived and his wife, Katharina lived and worked. The museum modern construction over the old parts of Luther's living quarters, so the construction itself was great to look at. 

Afterwards, we went to Oranienbaum, which is where Maria grew up and where her mother and grandmother live. We had dinner with Maria's mom and step-mother, and had a great (albeit awkward as Maria was the only translator) conversation about Martin Luther and his biases towards women and foreigners (as well as politics in general) over wine and Italian food for the rest of the evening.

 Church where Luther nailed his theses

 Luther church spire

 Luther's theses

 Wittenberg main plaza

 Statue of Martin Luther - I didn't know this before, but he was quite chubby. Probably because his wife made a pretty penny with her farming and homestead.

Wittenberg church

 Wittenberg church

 Wittenberg buildings 

 Wittenberg buildings 

 Martin Luther museum/household

 Statue of Luther's wife, Katharina

Maria and me as Luther and Katharina

The next day Maria had to leave to go to classes, but Maria's mother showed me around Oranienbaum, Dessau, and Wörlitz.

First we went to see Maria's step-mother's charter school, which she manages. It was an old hospital in Oranienbaum, and the school is now undergoing extensive renovations.

Then we went to Dessau, where we saw the River Elbe and toured the Bauhaus Museum. The River Elbe is historically important because that is one of the rivers where the first tribes of Germany settled. The Bauhaus is a design school that was moved to Dessau in the early 1900s, and it is the birthplace of many modern industrial styles. It had various exhibits of the art made by students who studied there in the 1920s, and the building itself is historic, made in the Bauhaus design characterized by minimalist architecture, and muted colors punctuated by an occasional red or orange. I did not take too many pictures though because it was a museum, sorry :/

 Tugboat on the River Elbe

 Lights in the Bauhaus Museum

Coffee at the Bauhaus Museum

Next, we returned to Oranienbaum, where we took a small walk with Beate's adorable dog Betti through the nearby forest. I was so surprised that once we left Berlin there was a great deal of forested areas - if I had more time I would have liked to explore more of the natural parts around the city! We walked to the forest to the grounds behind the Oranienbaum palace, where various Chinese-inspired buildings and gardens were located. It was funny to see these, as they were somewhat Chinese inspired, but still very much German in their colors and materials. The pagoda was made out of red bricks! It's interesting to think of what people imagined China to look like if they only read about it without seeing it with their own eyes.

Oranienbaum forest

 "Chinese" house

 Another part of the Chinese house

 "Chinese" pagoda

Oranienbaum palace. This is the summer palace of the Dutch princess Henriette Catharina in the late 1600s.

Next, we got lunch in Wörlitz, where I got some great traditional German food consisting of pumpkin soup and egg noodles with potato patties and vegetables. Maria's mother got a great roast goose with baked apples. It's funny, the more I ate German food, the more I realized how much we eat German food in the United States, because it never felt foreign to me.

We then wandered around Wörlitzer Park, a sprawling estate with various churches, temples, synagogues, and a palace built by Duke Leopold II as one of the first English gardens in continental Europe. It was a beautiful evening, and we walked until the sun set without being able to see all of the garden because it was so large. 

 Inside a church at Wörlitzer Park

 Inside a church at Wörlitzer Park

 Interesting apple tree growing like a grape vine

Wörlitzer Park

 Wörlitzer Park

 Wörlitzer Park

 Ferry at Wörlitzer Park

 Wörlitzer Park

 Chinese duck at Wörlitzer Park. Look at its shadow

 Wörlitzer Park

 Wörlitzer Park. There was quite a bit of agriculture around the park as it was originally intended to be an educational agricultural area as well.

 Wörlitzer Park

 Wörlitzer Park Venus Temple

Wörlitzer Park

Maria's mother then drove me back to Berlin and left me with Maria. Maria and I had a wonderful dinner of German rye & spelt bread with soft cheese and a dessert of chocolates, and I got up at 3:20am the next morning to go to the airport. I flew back through Istanbul, where I got pistachio Turkish ice cream, and here I am back in the United States! All in all, a great trip to Germany :)

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