September 28, 2010

Update! Update!

After a few eventful weeks of Orientation, completing Christian Worldview lectures, and the Academic Tour to Weimar (Athens of Germany), students are out and about all over Europe during the Reading/Prep week for Reformation History. This course will accompany further lecture of Geography: People and Places, as well as German Tutoring for both conversational and beginners German.

Day One: Munich Hofbraeuhaus for Dinner

A few highlights of these past 3 weeks included visits to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Neuschwanstein Castle, Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial, Goethe House, the Friedrich Nietzsche Archives and the Alps as well as a first taste of independent travel on weekends.

Sunday Services at High Point Baptist - an American Military Missionary church near Regensburg

Sunday afternoon we headed to the charming medieval city of Amberg where we leisurely walked through the old city and stopped at a "Gasthaus" for some delicious dessert

Just a little snack to hold us over until dinner - the Windbeutel (windbag)

St. Mary's is a lovely Rocco style church overlooking Amberg

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a charming, beautifully preserved medieval town just a few hours west of Regensburg. The rather large fortifications expanded as the city grew, and Rothenburg is famous for its well preserved walled Old City and lovely location overlooking vineyards and lush deep green valleys. We discovered several bakeries selling “Schneebaelle” (Snowballs) pastries on our walk around the city and a few of us couldn’t resist the purchase. A visit to the “Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum” (medieval crime museum) gave students a glimpse into a world of ancient torture devices and ritual punishments common to that era. Rothenburg is known throughout Germany for its Christmas-themed store: Kaethe Wohlfahrt. This was our first introduction to several quintessentially Bavarian items like Cuckoo Clocks, Christmas Pyramids and hand carved nativity scenes.

 On our way into the city - the fortifications were massive

Fall 2010's!

They failed getting their homework in on time...

Saturday marked the first, of many, train excursions. Our destination: Neuschwanstein Castle. The train ride was long, but we kept busy with preparatory study, fellowship and beautiful scenery as we made our way into the Alps. Around noon we reached Fuessen, a lovely town a few miles from the Castle, where we were greeted by beaming rays of sunshine. We hopped on a bus which took us to the castles. The two Alpine lakes surrounding the castles are frequented by local Swan families -hence the name: Neuschwanstein (New Swan Stone Castle). Neuschwanstein, built by Bavaria’s King Ludwig II, is nestled atop a steep hill which students climbed to arrive just in time for the guided English tour. The Castle stands incomplete as Ludwig mysteriously passed away before he could see this project through, but it is magnificent nonetheless. Ludwig was fascinated with the composer Richard Wagner, and this Neuschwanstein is dedicated to several of his works, and his operas “The Ring of Nibelung”. Many paintings and even entire rooms reflect scenes of this fictional world. The guided tour included the two-story throne room, the King’s Master Suite, a room made to look like a cavern, the Singer’s Hall, dining room etc. It was well worth the visit.

 We had an entire train car to ourselves on the ride up to the Alps

Our view from the train... we even saw a few cows wearing cowbells

 Kacey and Steve on the "Marienbruecke"

 Don't they look Deutsch?

 "Swanlake" is located in the valley below Neuschwanstein Castle

These swans were really friendly and let us take a few close ups

This week students ventured out on their own for the Reformation History Reading/Travel week. During Reading weeks students read course textbooks and answer questions as they prepare for lectures which begin the following week. This lends time for exploring Europe and traveling to destinations that are a bit farther than our Bavarian back yard. This week students are in Paris, Rome, Barcelona, Sweden, Mannheim, Regensburg and in Southern Bavaria enjoying the villages along the Alps.

Check back for an update on our first Academic Tour to... Weimar. Home of Goethe, Schiller, Nietzsche, Bach, Luther etc. etc.!

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