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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

GERMANY - Post #3

GERMANY - DAY TWO continued...

After our guided city tour we ended up at St. Mary's Cathedral. Unfortunately the view was somewhat blocked by the Open Air Opera that wa
s setup on the steps to the Cathedral. This is a very popular venue for outdoor plays, festivals and operas. However, I think you can see by the picture, that it is still a very impressive site.

St. Mary's Cathedral is also the home of one of the oldest and largest free swinging bells in the world. We were given a private guided tour of the areas above the cathedral including the Bell Tower. For those of you who are architects, engineers or ever work(ed) on construction'll find some of these pics pretty interesting. Forgive me for forgetting the name of our tour guide, but he is in charge of the Cathedral's current restoration.

Below you can see the inter-workings of the roof that sits above the cathedral itself. The majority is still the original wooden beams. Just below on either side you could see the mass concrete forms that make up the actual ceiling of the cathedral. It was common practice for a construction worker to hang flowers, leave a bottle of whiskey (usually empty) or tack a package of cigarettes somewhere within the structure upon completion.

This was a little port hole, possibly part of an old ventilation system in the ceiling of the cathedral. You can see the pews below.

After quite a hike, we finally reached the Bell Tower. There are several more bells within the large tower, however this is the oldest and most famous. It is still used today, only on a few days out of the year. To show you just how big it the short video clip. There are 8 of us standing inside the bell.

And finally we took the stairs to the top for an incredible 360 view of Erfurt!

After our tour ended Gabriel took us to lunch at a wonderful Italian restaurant. Yes that's right, we ate Italian while we were in Germany...(it actually made me miss Italy) and drank more beer, wine and ended it with a shot of Aromatique...a Thuringian Bitters specialty.

That evening we met up with the Erfurt Fire Chief Tobias Bauer who hosted a special traditional german dinner for us consisting of Meat, Thuringia's famous Potato Dumplings, and Red Cabbage at a local restaurant...oh yes, and more beer!

Afterwards, we all ended up at Town Hall where we hoisted a new Shawnee Flag in honor of our Sister City program...and toured the inside of Town Hall...running in to the Mayor in the process. He is the youngest mayor they have had at the age of only 36.

And ended the day with a night cap of champagne in Gabby's office!