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“That’s gingerbread house robbery” they cried in Osnabrück

Posted on Dec 28, 2012 in Osnabrück | 0 comments

Gingerbread house being dismantled

An interesting practice at a downtown Osnabrück mall: it’s December 27 and the large gingerbread house that was set up in this mall as Christmas decoration, has been opened to public plundering! Just like Hansel and Gretel, people are ripping the edible tiles and stucco off the facade. But where’s the wicked witch?

Osnabrück is a beautiful old German city that has distinguished itself by hosting the peace talks to end the 30-year war back in — wait while I google this in Wikipedia — 1648.

C. showed me the “Friedensssal” where the end to the 30-year war was negotiated. This process alone took 7 years due to messages being carried to other kingdoms on horseback and back. This begs the question whether that war may have been finished after 23 years if they’d had email or tele-conferencing back then, but I am not so sure. I actually bet they had to be more concise in their communications than we are today.

We also visited the diocesan museum belonging to the Dome of Osnabrück, where church treasures from medieval to more recent times are stored. It is a beautiful museum, although I was hoping to see some icons there, which they didn’t have. I am interested in icon art, not out of reverence but because I would like to do something subversive involving the icon visual tradition. Of course, about 100 other artists have already done it by now.

In the evening, our friends treated us to a nice dinner at the traditional German brewery Rampendahl.

Detail on the entrance door to the Friedenssaal, Osnabrück

The door handle at the entrance to the Friedenssaal, Osnabrück. The city now tries to carry on its tradition and hosts peace-making related events designed to foster understanding and conflict resolution.

Looking out from the Friedenssaal in Osnabrück

Looking out from the Friedenssaal in Osnabrück, but I don’t know what this church is. Hello my friend G. — maybe you can help!?

View from the "Kreuzgang" inside the Dome of Osnabrück

View from the “Kreuzgang” inside the Dome of Osnabrück. I would have liked to sketch this as well, but a) there was not much time, and b) it was too cold.

View down an Osnabrück street

View down an Osnabrück street. This would make a great sketching motiv for one of my extreme vertical sketches. One day… provided I come back in warm weather.

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A trip to old friends in Osnabrück

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 in Osnabrück | 0 comments

There is a German saying: Nichts ist schwerer zu ertragen als eine Reihe von guten Tagen, meaning that “there is nothing harder to handle than a series of good days.”

I can’t quite find a problem with that on this trip, but as the saying implies, excessive eating over the holidays can turn against you.

In any case, more good days involving great food lay ahead as we joined my old school friend G. and his wife and two daughters in Osnabrück for three fun-filled, yet relaxing days.

ICE train

We get to depart Cologne in style on a 1st class ICE ticket. I have never travelled first class on the trains before, but a good winter deal for our 5-trip couple ticket made first class cheaper than the regular 2nd class tickets.

G.’s daughters E. and M. meet us on the train platform, running towards us like in a romantic movie, two beautiful young women in red coats. We get swept up in a large family lunch that consists of all 3 of G.’s siblings with their children (12 cousins total in the family), G.’s mother and a god uncle with his partner = 23 people.

I had a nice chat with G.’s mother S. — the last time I saw her was in 1992. 20 years ago!

The table is set for our friends' large extended family

It’s Boxing Day, or “2nd Christmas Day” as it’s called in Germany, and the table is set for our friends’ large extended family and us = 23 people.

G.’s wife C. is Italian and an amazing cook (those two qualities go together, it’s not just a stereotype). She makes this Boxing Day lunch for the whole extended family, 21+ people, every year.

So there were 12 young people ranging in age from about 10 to 23, outnumbering us middle-aged ones. I don’t come from a large family, so I don’t know what that’s like, and I don’t feel I am missing out on anything, but it was great to see G.’s siblings again after 30 years, and especially his brother A., who was also my friend, but we haven’t stayed in touch as faithfully as G. and I have.

"Tigel" appliance

My friend’s wife is from Italy and has a special appliance consisting of two electrically heated stones to bake her special “tigelle” bread, which is a bit like focaccia. It was divine! I wonder how many of these machines are even made and sold — this dish is from a very small region.

And in 2011, Jeff and I hosted each of G.’s daughters in Vancouver for 4 months, while they attended school and improved their English and got to see a different, far away part of the world from Germany. Their visit to Canada and our relationship with them could not have gone better; they benefited from us including them in all kinds of activities and making it a great experience for them, and Jeff and I were enchanted and enriched by their youthful energy, intelligence, passion, beauty, and zest for life. Win-win-win-win.

And now we are truly friends with the whole family, even the teenagers. 18 and 17 now, the girls won’t be teenagers for much longer.

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