Thursday, April 5, 2007

Regensburg - Thursday, April 5th

April 5, 2007 – Holy Thursday

[Regensburg photos are here]

Margret and Hartwig treated us to a sumptuous breakfast (will we ever need to eat again?) before setting out for Regensburg. The day is lovely. We easily find our way back to the highway. The landscape of Bavaria (southern Germany) is beautiful – fields planted in something green (alfalfa?) and hops, rolling hills and forests. Hartwig says that the forests are called the Bavarian Forest as long as we are in Germany. We see more and more windmills as we travel east and the hops fields become more predominant. Every few miles there is a little village like Parsdorf, neat and red-roofed, nestled into the land.

We get off the highway to go into Regensburg. I have a somewhat crude map, using the railroad tracks as a navigational anchor. When we cross the bridge that goes across the tracks – about 25 or more tracks – Eric says, “Wow that is some railroad track!” European train tracks are a step or two above those of America.

From here we rather suddenly find ourselves in dense and narrow cobblestone streets, and because we haven’t yet figured out what the one-way street sign is, we make some mistakes. But eventually we make our way to the parking lot, Petersweg, where we are supposed to put our car. And we set out into the winding cobblestone streets. I am amazed at how we can sort of just walk around and find our way to things, and before long we discover the Munchner Hof – a wonderful little hotel almost hidden in the maze. We love our very spacious room, which looks out over one of the cobblestone streets. There is an interesting mirror on the wall that we call the “mirror, mirror on the wall”.

Regensburg was the capital of Bavaria before Munich. Situated at the northernmost navigable point of the Danube River, Regensburg was already an important river town when the Romans arrived in the 7th century. Regensburg was most recently in the news because this is the city from which the Pope gave the speech that contained the unfortunate remark about Islam. Benedict is a Bavarian and resided for awhile in this city, which is home to the University of Regensburg. He seems to be popular locally - many stores sell photos of him.
Regensburg is an extraordinarily beautiful city, and feels very medieval. Charmed by everything, we set out to explore. Near to our hotel, and the most obvious thing in Regensburg, is Dom St. Peter. A huge Gothic structure, the church overshadows everything around it. The many people lounging on the steps and ledges remind me of perching pigeons. Strange dog-like creatures lunge from a higher outside ledge.

It is a bit creepy. Supposedly this church houses the only extant statue of the Devil’s grandmother, so we venture inside to look for her. It is the height of the place the first impresses me. And then the beauty of the stained glass. I am not usually a fan of stained glass windows in churches - they remind me of coloring books. But there is something so exquisite in this work that I am simply awed by its beauty. We look around a bit at the statues, but basically feel a bit overwhelmed with the immensity of the church. I seem to be captivated by and drawn to a statue of a pregnant Elizabeth and Mary. It is on the outside as well as the inside of the church.

I light a candle in memory of my parents – a habit I got from my father, who lit a candle in every church he visited.

We head down to the river, and the Steinerne Brucke (Old Stone Bridge), which was built in the 12th Century . Three armies of Crusaders gathered in Regensburg and crossed this bridge on their journeys to the Holy Land.

Regensburg is a very peaceful city and on this warm and sunny spring day everyone is out. Ice cream (Eis) is popular. It doesn’t feel like a tourist town. As we wander around, I get the sense that we are mingling among the locals.

We watch the sun set on the 16 graceful arches of the Stone Bridge from an outdoor restaurant on the other side of the river, the Historische Wurstkuche.
We go to bed to the sound of church bells tolling - a deep chime that seems to awaken one to the place of dreams.

We never did find the statue of the Devil’s grandmother.

[Photos from this day are here.]

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