Richard Pepper's Trip to Germany
December 6 - 19/2002

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Below follows a brief account of my trip, including a few links to some pictures. Use your browser's "Back" button to return to this narration.

Large, uncropped, unrotated versions of my Berlin pictures

Note re. spelling: Rather than use the umlaut over certain vowels in some of the German words, I have followed what I believe is the acceptable practice of adding an e after the vowel.

Note re. links: Lower case links are to on-site pictures. Upper case links lead to other websites.

A big thank you to each of the following:
My father, Alan Pepper, for his airmile sponsorship of the trip;
Al, Annette, Patrick, Andy and Joshua Drinkwalter for hosting me for most of the two weeks and for help with my itinerary;
Paul Rogers for hosting me for three nights and two days (one of which was his birthday) in Berlin, despite his being under the weather at the time.


Highlights: |Day Tour of the Rhein |Marburg |Goslar |Berlin|

Friday, Dec. 6:
Morning: Flew out of Thunder Bay c. 10:40. In Toronto left secure area by mistake and had to clear security again. Duct tape was confiscated!

Evening: Flew (First Class!) out of Toronto c. 17:35. Watched "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".


Saturday, Dec. 7:
Morning: Arrived Frankfurt c. 07:00 (local time). Picked up by Al Drinkwalter and sons, Andy and Joshua and driven to their home in the village of Dorf-Guell (part of Pohlheim). Bread, meat and cheese there for breakfast, served by Al's wife, Annette.

Afternoon: With Al to the "IBO" in nearby town of Giessen, shopping for a shower door.

Evening: With eldest son, Patrick's, Fussball team to "Harry Potter: Der Kammer des Schrecken." "Schrecken" means "horrors" not "secrets". I think I know where Shrek got his name. Dozed off frequently. Noted that the Harry's "Diagon Alley/diagonally" mistake doesn't work in German. Someone was smoking in the theatre despite its being verboten.

Then Al and I went out to one of the neighbouring villages whose turn it was for a twice-yearly Sperrmuell (bulky garbage) night, looking for useful objects not already taken by the professional garbage pickers from Poland and Lithuania (seriously!).


Sunday, Dec. 8:
Morning: To church (Freie Evangelische Gemeinde in Watzenborn-Steinberg) with Annette and their three sons. Al was to follow on his motorcycle but the choke cable was damaged by ice. Annette translated for me. The speaker used more or less the same modern-and-female resetting of the Prodigal Son as one of our Camp speakers, except that the girl ran away to Hamburg.

Afternoon: Local Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) to hear Andy's school choir. Weihnachtsmann/Sankt Nikolaus

Evening: With Al to take apart church's booth at the Weihnachtsmarkt and then more Sperrmuell.


Monday, Dec. 9:
Morning: Slept in until 10!! Al took
photographs around the house. With Al to try (unsuccessfully) to buy a choke cable for his bike.

Afternoon: With Al to Josh's eye appointment. Read children's books in the waiting room and hoped no one would talk to me. Then to the post office to buy stamps to mail a Christmas card. I relied mostly on grunting and pointing for communicating, but this was complicated by the card's being slightly oversized, requiring extra postage and extra grunting.

Evening: More Sperrmuell with Al.


Tuesday, Dec. 10:
Morning: Shopping in Giessen with Annette, including the Karlstadt dept store, which has a blue Santa and many versions of the Settlers of Catan game.

Afternoon: Walked alone around Dorf-Guell. Pferde in a back yard.

Evening: Josh's school play. Bought a bratwurst. Read German storybook to Josh, with little expression, since I understood little of what I was saying.


Wednesday, Dec. 11:
Morning: With Al to Campus fuer Christus staff prayer breakfast in Giessen. Then Al drove me to train to Frankfurt. Began Grayline tour of the Rhein Valley.
Monument (Explanation).

Afternoon:
Lunch in Ruedesheim;
Wine-tasting in Assmannshausen;
Rhein boat trip.
Most passengers stayed in the boat, but the young man from our group and I stood out on the deck in the cold photographing the castles. Perhaps people thought we were both Canadian. No, he was Australian! (At one point he mystified me by saying there was a "Fido" everywhere we looked. A dog? No. Click here.)

Evening: Weihnachtsmarkt in Ruedesheim. Train back to Giessen. Talked with a man who eventually whispered to me "I'm born again. Are you?"

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Thursday, Dec. 12:
Morning: Walked to Holzheim and back to Dorf-Guell via Grueningen. Houses with common courtyard

Afternoon/Evening: Read to Josh again. With Annette, Andy and Josh to Annette's parents' near Siegen. The Autobahn above Siegen Bought a bread board and had it "engraved" "Die Bart die!" That's German, you know, for "The Bart the". Back to Dorf-Guell.


Friday, Dec. 13:
Morning: With Annette to Marburg:
City Hall (i.e. the Rathaus);
Up to the castle;:
Schwein;
WC Door;
Another half-timber building.

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Afternoon: Very yummy homemade pumpkin soup! Biked to the reconstructed Limestuerm (Roman tower) near Grueningen. Got lost on the way back and ended up returning in the dark.

Evening: Patrick's school (Liebig-Schule Giessen) concert with Annette and Andy. Very high quality music, but unfortunately some students who had finished their part sat beside us and made noise. Andy fell asleep.


Saturday, Dec. 14:
Morning: Al and I picked up Bill Sundstrom (American) from Campus HQ in Giessen and the three of us went to Campus' CASTLE CONFERENCE CENTRE in Imbshausen. Left Bill there to practise his German while peeling potatoes.

Afternoon: Al and I toured Goslar, notably the Kaiserpflaz, including the Ulrich Chapel, another Weihnachtsmarkt. Bought my first Gluehwein. Al bought an RC car for Patrick from salesgirl, Melanie Borntrink. (Just throwing her name in there in case she ever goes ego-surfing. She had a nametag.) Then Rammelberg Mine tour. When it closed as a mine in 1988, it had been open for 1000 years.

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Evening: Supper with Castle staff and then wine with Andreas and Uta at their home. Brief conversation in German with their son Tobi re. the Kreuz around my neck being like the one on their wall.
Sunday, Dec. 15:
Morning: Church in rented room in Northeim. Al translated for me.

Afternoon: Lunch back at Imbshausen castle. Discussion with Bill and the German staff re. American and German use of table utensils. Train from Northeim to BERLIN with transfer made in Goettingen.

Evening: In U-Bahn (subway) station I had to figure out the ticket machine. The man ahead of me asked me for help and I said I didn't know how to operate it. He worked it out and left me there. Later an attractive young lady asked me for help with it. She was German, but not from Berlin. She figured it out and then helped me. Then we got on trains going the opposite directions.

On the bus to my host's place, I offered a Fisherman's Friend from an unopened package to the mother of a girl who was coughing a lot. The mother accepted it, but the girl didn't want it. But this enabled me to ask them questions about when and how to get off the bus.

Arrived at Zuericher Strasse 6 the apartment of my host, Paul Rogers, worship pastor of INTERNATIONAL BERLIN CHURCH. Supper with Paul and his fellow worship team member, Karen, at KFC (sorry!) at Kurfuerstendamm.

U & S Bahn Map of Berlin


Monday, Dec. 16:
Morning: Toured Berlin alone. Brandenburg Gate. The Reichstag. Russian Memorial. Paid 50 cents to use a toilet which threatened to open its doors on me automatically if I wasn't done in 20 minutes.

Afternoon: To Ostkreuz station. Looked for remains of the Berlin Wall. Two "drunks"(?) offered me help, but their directions bore no fruit. Lost in East Berlin. (It was Ostbahnhof station I wanted.) Back to Kochstrasse station to visit Checkpoint Charlie and see the remains of the Wall there.
Profile of the Wall
Famous Sign
Bought bratwurst for only 1.35 Euro from a man wearing his own grill.

Evening: To Kurfuerstendamm station. Attended brief service in the new sanctuary of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechniskirche with Dr. Kirschstein (friend of Al). Ceiling of the old tower. Supper at Moevenpick (pronounced approximately as if it's spelled "mervenpik".)

To Zoologischer Garten station ("Zoo Station") to photograph U-Bahn 2 sign ("U2"). Didn't turn out. Back to Paul's.


Tuesday, Dec. 17:
Morning: Visited Sony Center at Potsdammer Platz. Look up. Then to Hallescher Tor station. Asked for directions to JEWISH MUSEUM. Had to pass through rigorous but friendly security. Good thing I didn't have duct tape with me. Yarmulkes
Menorah
I noticed that the six-pointed star was used in Germany as a Christmas symbol far more often than it is here, despite its history.

Afternoon: American guard at the door gave me directions to the Neue Synagog. American man on the subway teased me about my Canadian regalia, joking that I was probably really an American wanting people to think I was Canadian.

Then walked around outside the Berlin Dom. To Alexanderplatz station. Walked to the big Berliner Weihnachtsmarkt. Supper was yummy mushrooms, steak in a bun and Gluehwein bought from various booths as I wandered.
Little Red Riding Cap?

Evening: To Ostbahnhof station. Still couldn't find remains of the wall. Then rode the U-Bahn to a couple of stations just to explore.

On the bus back to Paul's the next-stop-sign wasn't working. When do I get off? Finally, I asked a man about the Zuericher Strasse stop and he seemed to have trouble understanding the street name. "Do you mean Zuerich as in Switzerland?" "Yes!" (Thinks to self: "Isn't that what I was saying!!??") As far as I was concerned, I was saying "Tsew-rikh-er-shtras-uh", but I guess it wasn't good enough for him. As it turned out, I asked this only just in time. It was the next stop!


Wednesday, Dec. 18:
Morning/Afternoon: Paul escorted me to the pick up spot for my ride back to Al's, arranged on the Net with three total strangers: Corin Hild, Karol? and Gustav. One stop for the bathroom. No lunch stop. Apparently in Germany, if you want something, you ask for it. Anyway, we made good time and all for 15 Euro (compared to the c. 75 the train would have cost).

Gustav and I talked a bit, but my conversation with Corin and Karol? was limited to my saying "Canadians!" when the BNL came over the stereo.

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Evening: Attended Andy's Christmas Pageant and Party. Then with Annette to Wal-Mart to buy German chocolate. Showarma (or Doener) from a stand outside.

Wine with Al & Annette and their friends Kristof and Enis (sp.?).


Thursday, Dec. 19:
Morning/Afternoon/Evening: Al drove me to Frankfurt Airport for my 10:35 flight.
Attempt to check in with the wrong airline.
"Excuse me, I think we must be related."

Entertained by German (?) toddler who wandered around visiting the many Turkish (?) passengers (and me). Left c. an hour late.

First Class again. Champagne. Watched "Insomnia" (murder mystery) on a private video player, while others laughed aloud at "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" on the main screen.

Connection in Toronto. Asked security for a prohibited items list.
She told me to look for it at WWW.TRANSPORTCANADA.CA.
After you've tried there, you might wish to check WWW.TRANSPORTCANADA.COM.

Arrived in Thunder Bay c. 18:00 local time a bit ahead of schedule. Driven home by my Mum. It was midnight for my body.


Interesting German Signs:
Bear in mind that I learned most of my German as a child from "Hogan's Heroes". Thus this represents a very ethnocentric point of view:

As we say in English, "Bon Voyage".
The "Get Rid Of Slimey girlS" Club?
They are everywhere.
So are they.
"I need 5 seconds to reach the door. And you?"
An interesting street name
Memories of Hogan's Heroes
He sells jewellery?


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Last Update: April 26, 2009

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