My trip to Germany was mostly for work, the first segment spent at a convention in Hannover. The venue featured a huge wooden canopy, possibly the largest in the world.
The following is from a website about the canopy: “Wood is a renewable construction material and it possesses almost limitless structural possibilities. German architect Thomas Herzog put it to the test in 2000; for the World Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany, he designed a giant wooden structural “umbrella” roof that protects a central piazza consisting of a stage area for musicians and artists, small reconfigurable pavilions and restaurants, and spectators taking time out between events.
Mimicking a forest, this giant roof’s columns represent the vertical structure of tree trunks while the lattice shells represent the tree canopy that allows daylight to penetrate below.”
“This artificial forest of trees and buildings, in which private and public spaces, organic and non-organic forms are integrated, covers more than 172,000 square feet (16,000 square meters), with four individual pavilions ranging in size from 10,000 t0 15,000 sq. ft. (975 to 1,430 square meters).”
You can learn more by clicking here.
In Berlin I spent time with my friend Oliver, who lives in Vechta, Germany. Catching up over a beer at a pub I noticed this fine looking gentleman, and I had to ask him if I could take his picture. After making sense of Oliver’s translation, he proudly posed for me. This gentleman, Stephan Bartel, is part of a team of seventeen men who hold a world record for linked beards!
In Berlin I stayed at the Ameron Hotel, right on the River Spree. The weather forecast for Germany in mid-to-late November is unpredictable, typically offering an 85% chance of rain. But we were blessed with partly sunny skies and very mild temperatures, making for some pleasant sunrise walks along the river.
Traveling around and through Berlin was easy and cheap. Just a few dollars bought a train ticket which allowed sightseeing all day and through the evening. The train system is so efficient that there is little need to own a car.
You can’t go to Berlin without going to see the Brandenburg Gate. On the day of my visit an assembly of Kurdish people was involved in a political rally. The specific goal was unclear to me, but the passion was obvious.
Dinner found us with Oliver’s friend Christian, who spend his years as an undergrad studying German history. Being as eager to discuss American culture as I was to learn the history of Berlin, he accepted my invitation to join us for a walking tour the following day. Christian’s knowledge of German history is both fervent and thorough, and I couldn’t have asked for a better tour guide. I was humbled and extremely grateful.
During dinner I was taking a picture of the gentleman behind the bar… he didn’t seem to keen on his picture being taken, but his co-worker enjoyed the attention.
This day started with a wonderful sunrise and couple-hour walk along the river. It was my last full day in Berlin, so I was eager to take in all I could, and was excited because Christian (pictured below) would be joining us.
A brief train ride and walk ended at the World Clock. From there Christian took us down the main street in East Berlin, where, in the Communist days, parades and demonstrations had taken place. Today at the end of the main street we found a place to warm our hands and buy some hot coffee and a ‘Milchkaffee’, the German word for my personal favorite, a latte.
There are many churches and cathedrals in Berlin, and one that we toured was built in the 11th century! I found it truly amazing to consider the architecture and longevity of these historic structures, the magnitude of which was for the purpose of honoring God. The immensity of building this kind structure in the 11th century is hard to imagine as the construction lasted longer than the natural lives of most of the workers.
Along the river is the biggest church in Berlin, the Berlin Cathedral, built in 1905. Its architecture is much influenced by the St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, and in its basement are the graves of many old Prussian kings.
After Berlin I had a couple meetings in Vechta. Vechta is a quaint village in Northern Germany, just East of Bremen.
I traveled to Vechta by high speed train which gave me great views of the countryside and of some great old churches. The churches are everywhere, and I’d love to come back to this area to photograph them.
It was nice to meet see some old friends here, and to meet some new ones. I look forward to going back.
On my last evening in Germany I spent some time walking around the church which was across the street from my hotel, and then down the main street to find some chocolate to take home to my family.
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