15 November 2006

Regensburg and a Little More

This past Sunday was a busy one for me, as I spent the day in Regensburg, then returned in the evening to accept a dinner invitation from some Italian girls.

Regensburg lies about two hours by train east of Eichstaett, and is yet another beautiful city from the Middle Ages. The city gained some attention recently as the site where Pope Benedict delivered a speech which contained some remarks that offended many Muslims. Before being Pope, Ratzinger taught at the University of Regensburg from 1969 - 1979. Regensburg also lays claim to one of the best preserved old cities in Germany. Unlike many other large German cities which the Allies bombed during World War II, Regensburg survived the war nearly unharmed. Therefore, where as the old town centers of other large German cities have been significantly rebuilt in the years since the war, many of the original buildings from the Middle Ages still stand in Regensburg. In fact there are nearly 1,200 buildings on the city's historical record. The city center even earns the title of an UNESCO World Heritage Site. One can trace the beginnings of the city of Regensburg to 90 AD, when the Romans built an outpost in the area.

Joining me on this trip was Olga and her boyfriend visiting from Spain, Jose, Nawellia (Spain), and Mareike (German).

Once we arrived we had to orienate ourselves in the city and find our way to the town center. Luckily we had Mareike with us to save time when we needed to ask for directions. Eventually we found the East Gate of the old town wall, which naturally marks the entrance to the city center. Below are some characteristic pictures of the town. I think the cars seem out of place in the shadows of these centuries old structures.

We made our way to the riverfrount and the Danube. The travel book we had with us presented the Old Stonebridge and the Regensburg Cathedral as must see sights for one to see before death. Finding ourselves at the riverfront we naturally chose to see the bridge first.

From left to right we have here Olga, Jose, Nawellia, and Mareika standing along the Danube. Behind them is an old steamboat similar to the ones that plowed up and down the Danube in the latter half of the 1800s. Today this boat operates as a museum.

Farther down the river lies the Old Stone Bridge, its span complete with sixteen arches. Once at the bridge we figured the logical thing to do was to walk across. Then we reached the other side, did a little more exploring, and crossed back over. I have a hunch that the auther of our travel book was racing to meet a deadline when he wrote the section on Regensburg. I didn't really feel like I had completed any necessary life experiences. Nevertheless, the bridge offered a good vantage point from which to view the city.

One thing that interests me is the fact that in all of the riverside German cities I have visited one always finds seagulls. In an off the top of my head figure, Bavaria must lie around 500 miles from the ocean. Forget old bridges, give me a museum explaining why seagulls live this far from the coast.

As we found ourselves on the original side of the river again, and as I looked around for anyone wearing an "I Love Ornithology" t-shirt, lunch time came a calling. Near the bridge we found a small restaurant that advertised the claim, "The oldest sausage cafe in the world." However, when it comes to sausage, old age doesn't seem to me like a good bedfellow. I went with the traditional potato soup instead. Really I wanted soup so as to warm up from the cold weather. Here's a view of the restuarant's kitchen.

Here's a photo of Mareika as we wait for our food. She comes from north Germany, near Hannover, and therefore has a softer accent than the Bavarians.

After we lunch we trekked over to the cathedral. Below is a view of the building, which, with its pointed arches, flying buttresses, and gargoyles, screams Gothic architecture.

The Regensburg Cathedral is no exception to the apparent rule of prolonged construction times for such buildings. Construction began in 1275, nearly completed in 1634, and finally concluded in 1869 with the topping off of the towers.

The inside of the cathdral may rank as my favorite yet seen. The high vaulted celling gave the interior an airy feeling. As clouds passed in front of the sun's rays outside, colored beams of light from the many stained glass windows shone down on to the pews. Below is a view of the alter.

We had some tme left after the cathedral to wander around the city. Among other things, we joined a piece of what we presumed was public art. Only afterwards did we learn that the white structure we stood on was a memorial to a synagogue.

We also came across the remains of the original Roman city wall, built in 179 AD, which have been incorporated into a more modern building. Below, the old stones stand out from the white wall of the new building.

That wraps up my time in Regensburg, but not my day. As soon as we arrived back in Eichstaett I rushed to meet up with a few Italian girls, Federica, Vallaria, and Franchesca. They had invited me, as well as a girl from China, Schaun Xi (that spelling is a complete stab in the dark), to a pasta dinner. In this photo Schaun Xi poses with me as we eagerly await our dinner.

Here we see Franchesca working on the tomato sauce as Federica prepares some dishes.

The first course was bow tie pasta with the homemade tomato sauce, then came the salad. Apparently the salad almost always comes second in Italian meals. Likewise, it almost always includes some cold meat, in this case tuna fish. For desert I enjoyed cookies and yogurt as the Italians and Schaun Xi sipped coffee.

The European serving sizes still leave me hungry from time to time, this meal included. It could be worse though, I believe Bavarian plates usually carry a larger load of food than thse of the other regional cultures around Europe.

In the near future I hope to return the favor to the Italians by inviting them to a meal showcasing American food, and something other than cheeseburgers or hotdogs. If only I had the means and the know-how to make Memphis barbeque.


DaddyO said...

Regenburgs looks like an interesting city. The cathedral looks allot like Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. Maybe it's that Gothic architecture. I will look into the possibility of sending you some Corkies' ribs. Not sure of the requirements to get it through German customs. Also I've heard a rumor that someone is asking for the recipe for stuffing. Of course I had no idea what that is, now if someone is asking for a recipe for dressing, I would be able to help. Surely you understand the ramifications of giving out an ole family recipe and calling it a yankee name. Well today is brother's birthday, big "26". He's out right now on a job interview. Mom is going to make a special dinner for him tonight. Ok that's it for now, enjoyed the post, keep them coming.

Grandma said...


Nick O. said...

Dad: While you're checking, see how the price compares for the Rendezvous ribs. Remember I like those better. Thanks for doing so, that would be fantastic. That's right, fantastic.

Grandma: I'm glad to see you got it figured out, and I look forward to more comments from you.

Grandma said...

Nick, What a great surprise, I talked to my grandson in Germany. I read most of your blog. It was most interesting, I am looking forward to seeing you and the beautiful country of Germany. In what city did you say a military base is located?

You look so good and happy. I am so glad your parents gave you this opportunity. You are blessed with good parents.

I am amazed at what I have been seeing. This country is indeed beautiful and it looks like you are taking advantage of it.

Take care of yourself and God bless you.

eric hazlett said...

too bad you didn't have a better chapter about regensburg-this has to be my fav. german city so far. i'll have to tell you the story behind the stone bridge, which explains the hump in the middle as well as the peculiar statue there. btw, rachel and i were accepted to eichstaett and should be there april 1.

Nick O. said...

Grandma M.: Thanks for the comments, I'm glad you figured it out. I look forward to hearing more from you.

Eric: I didn't realize there was a story behind the bridge, I just thought it was old. I did like Regensburg, there just wasn't a whole lot going on that day I guess. I'll be looking forward to your arrival, then the Europeans will have other Southerners' accents to laugh about.

Anonymous said...

yes, the story's actually quite strange. i look forward to april, though i must admit i'm a bit nervous. how is school going there? wie ist dein deutsch heuzutage?

Nick O. said...

Eric: Everything is going great. My only complaint is about the wasching machines, too small and too expensive. School doesn't really feel like school, and that's a good thing. Mein Deutsch geht jeden Tag besser. Noch nicht perfekt, aber besser.