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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mainz - Where Gutenburg Invented The Moveable Type Printing Press

Librarian on a book at the Gutenburg Museum
The Gutenburg Bible -
moveable type -
justified right margin
On June 24th - 1971 - Lulu and I got married. In 1973 - we built our Tamaqua chalet home. In 1975 - we bought a printing press and started The Tamaqua Paper. When our sons came along in 1977 - we sold the newspaper but both of us kept the education that owning a printing press and business provided. 

In 1440 - in the city of Mainz - Johann Gutenburg invented the moveable type printing press. He probably affected the information industry more than anyone in the next 500 years. 

Up until this time books were written by hand. They were very expensive. Only the rich owned books. A library made much more sense. The valuable books were attached to chains so that they would not be stolen. 

Ironically - Lulu is over here to teach library science and attend library conferences. So we both really enjoyed our day exploring Gutenburg's hometown. 

Mainz was established in 12 BC by the Romans. It is on the Rhine River one of the main traffic routes through Europe. Just up the river in Worms - just 80 years later - Martin Luther incubated the Protestant religion. Martin Luther translated the Greek Bible into German that was printed on Gutenburg's invention. 

To keep this in perspective - Gutenburg's printing press came along in 1440 - a full 52 years before Columbus discovered America. 

Mainz is only about 25 miles west of our home in Darmstadt. We drove the diesel there around noon. We walked to the Gutenburg Museum and had the place to ourselves before a big group of grayheads came in. Mainz is a very popular stop on the Rhine River cruise. Admission is only 3 euros. You get to see old printing presses and rare books. 

Mainz has a beautiful downtown - with a 1000 year old cathedral. It was a Holy Roman Empire city - the church really kept a strong hold on things. So much money was spent on building massive churches as symbols of power - the money probably could have done a better job caring and feeding the locals. I could never understand how an all powerful God was always so broke - and needed money. 

The Rhine River is a business engine in Germany. Much of their food and supplies travel by river boat. 

We had an afternoon snack in downtown where they were preparing for a big street festival. By 5 PM - we were back home. 

Note - this story is printed with a justified right margin. 

Gutenburg also bound the pages into books

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

HymerWorld in Wertheim - Camper Heaven - EuroFest Day 31 of 70

Yesterday Lulu and I drove the 60 miles east to Hymerworld in Wertheim. It was like going to Disneyland. I spent a few hours looking at campers while Lulu enjoyed the adjacent outlet shopping center. There is no admission to Hymerworld - this is a store not an amusement park. 

They say Matthew Brady covered the Civil War with 60 camera shots. He obviously did not have an iPhone - because I could not stop shooting. After 171 shots my eyes glazed over. I am publishing all of the pictures in a row. It will bore many readers - but it will give some a perspective of the wonderful camping facility. They are in the order that I took them. You can see a chain of consciousness. 

The building is giant - high ceilings - lots of glass - airy - bright. Everything is spotless. All campers are clean and ready for delivery. The prices are posted. My photos are in little groups. 

Foremost - Hymerworld is a dealership. They sell many brands - not just Hymer. Although I spent hours in there - not one salesperson approached me. I felt like I was alone on a desert with all these campers. Even when I went to the shopping center and brought Lulu back to see them - not one sales person pestered us. Can you imaged a gray haired couple in their 60s walking around a camper dealer in America? It is just a strange atmosphere compared to camper dealerships in America. 

Hymer has recently purchased Roadtrek in Canada - the company that build my motorhome. They are now selling Hymers in America. They sell both motorhomes and trailers. 

I never tried to publish 171 pictures at once. I hope they stayed in order. I did not take the time to put captions under the pictures. If you want to ask questions - write to me directly -

It was overkill. Lulu and I own a 2004 Roadtrek Class B with 18,000 miles on it. Although we can afford any of these units - we cannot justify the tremendous depreciation. I just can't stomach buying something for $100,000 - and have it worth just $70,000 a year later. I was a teacher that taught for $6500 a year. Even with inflation - I could not sleep at night with something deprecating that badly. It is simply not worth it to me. I do not choose to live in one full-time. 

In one sentence I say - "let's buy this one and have it sent home." In the next sentence - I say "are you nuts - you have a perfect camper at home - and you seldom use it."

My Roadtrek has a king bed - shower - toilet - sink - microwave - stove - refrigerator - AC - furnace - TV - internet - GPS - generator - awning - all in a 19 foot long package. Everything works like new. I can live in your driveway  :-)

Monday, June 18, 2018

Worms - Martin Luther Started Protestant Faith Here

The 1000 year old Worms Cathedral

Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church here

Worms is a German city so far west it is almost in France. It is an old Holy Roman Empire City dating back to 350AD. This year the Worms Cathedral is celebrating its 1000th year - 1018 to 2018.

This is where it all happened - where the Protestants broke away from the Catholic Church. Martin Luther was the rebel. He wrote 95 Theses - things wrong with the Catholic Church - and tacked them on the door at the church in Wittenburg - his hometown. Worms was the closest Holy Roman City - so they had a trial called the Edict of Worms here in 1521. Luther appeared at the trial under protection of a white flag. One of his main points of contention was "buying condolences." Rich people were able to sin - and simply by buying a condolence with cash - they could be forgiven. Simply - the Pope said they needed the money to improve the Vatican - and this was his way to get the money. 

To give you a time frame - Ponce de Leon - died in Cuba in 1521. He was governor of Puerto Rico and credited with being the first European to land in Florida - part of the present USA.

The Edict said - no one could teach or support Martin Luther's theses. They left him go. 
The Protestant Church was born. It was not unlike Henry VIII in England. He wanted to divorce - the Pope said no. So Henry started the Church of England. 

Worms was a lovely but quiet city. It was almost 5 PM when we arrived. On Sunday most stores are closed in Germany. But then we realized the the World Cup game with Germany playing Mexico was about to begin. We finished our tour of the 1000 year old Catholic cathedral. Across the street is a big Protestant church built in Martin Luther's honor. We stumbled onto a large crowd as we left the church. It was 4:55 PM - the crowd was ready for the first big match. Since Germany won the last World Cup - they were primed to pound Mexico. Two hours later - Mexico 1 - Germany 0. 

One other highlight. This is the first city where we found a monument to Nazi Soldiers.

This Worms crowd was waiting for the goal that never came

Memorial to Martin Luther

Martin Luther statue behind Cathedral

Worms Cathedral
Main door cathedral
Worms Cathedral
Worms Cathedral
Statue inside Protestant church
Street party that never happened
Worms Train Station - very German looking
I cannot find many details about
this German soldiers monument

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Germany Capitol Modeled After Philadelphia Memorial Hall

Philadelphia Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park

The Reichstag in downtown Berlin today

In 1876 - Philadelphia was the site of the Centennial World's Fair. Several large buildings were put up in Fairmount Park on the Schuylkill River to house all the industrial - agricultural - and mining exhibits. The German visitors must have been very impressed. They designed the new capitol in Berlin to look very much like the American hall.

The Memorial Hall has led a gentle life. It has housed a swimming pool and basketball court. It is still in good shape and many passers by wonder what it is.

The Reichstag in 1933 was set afire - some say by Hitler sympathizers. During the turmoil - Hitler arranged an election. Although he did not get a majority - he seized power - and the Third Reich was born. During World War II - the Allies bombed the heck out of the symbolic building. From 1945 to 1990 - the building was an absolute mess - a symbol to a country - divided between East and West.

In 1991 - the two Germany's reunited. They moved the government back into the building. They put a glass dome on the structure. The public can walk up on the roof and peer down on the lawmakers in action. We did it.

During the Battle of Berlin - the Reichstag was destroyed.

The Berlin Eclipse

Berlin Solar Eclipse
The Berlin Tower - symbol of  great city

In 1965 - Communist East Germany built the Berlin Television Tower. It is 1200 feet tall and sits very close to where the Berlin Wall used to be. It was officially built to send television and radio communications but it became more than that. It was a symbol of the power of the communistic government. I am guessing it was used to spy on the West. Today - that communist government has fallen - and the tower means other things. 

Today - it is a tourist destination. We went to the top to have supper as the restaurant turned a full 360 degrees. It is a very comfortable restaurant and you can hardly notice that it is moving - except when you line up two objects and look far in the distance. The plaza below is a place for musical events - shops - restaurants. It is a hub for trains - trams - buses - and subways. 

We were having lunch on the ground when this eclipse occurred. The turning of the earth caused the ball to line up with the sun - just like a solar eclipse. It lasted about 15 minutes. 

The tower is a free standing structure of steel and concrete. There are no support cables. It reminds me of the ornament you put on the top of a Christmas tree. Now - that orb is a symbol of a free democratic country that has become the 4th largest economy in the world. 


Germany only spends 1.2% of the Gross Domestic Product on defense. That means of all the goods and services in the country - just 1.2% is spent on military. Japan - our other World War II foe - spends just 1% on defense. In the surrender treaty - the USA insisted on occupying  these countries - and keeping their military weak. It has worked - the countries have not attacked anyone - but they have much more money to spend on goods and services for the people. 

The United States spends more money on defense - spending than the next 7 countries combined. 


Will Germany eclipse any more countries? 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Berlin - Friday We Spent The Day Walking The Capital City

The Brandenburg Gate

We woke up Friday morning at our conference hotel. Lulu's business was over - we had one more day in this marvelous city. After breakfast - we packed our bags - got a one day pass for the transportation. We dropped our bags off at the main station - and started walking the city. We had until 6 PM to see as much as we could. 

We have been in Europe 27 days - and except for rain two nights while we slept - it has been dry and sunny. Weather has been 70s. 

Pop hit - West of the Wall - talked about lovers meeting in freedom across the wall.

We walked from the train station to the Reichstag - the German Capitol. We walked along the busy boulevards - the Bradenburg Gate - the US Embassy - the Museum Island - and the Berlin TV Tower. 

We rode subways - trams - buses - and surface trains. Everything is covered by the 7 euro day pass. The system here is much different than that in London. Here - there are no turnstiles - no ticket collectors. You just walk on and walk off trains - buses - trams. You better have a ticket in your pocket though. Inspectors will hop on the train - and check. If you do not have a validated ticket - you get a summons - which is 60 euros. I was checked once - and luckily I had my ticket. In London - you have a card - with credit on it. Each time you go through the turnstile - you swipe your card. I think I still like the London system better - but this is not bad. You can buy weekly and monthly passes. A single ride is 2.50 euros. 

We had lunch downtown at a sidewalk cafe - right in front of the Berlin Tower.

The Berlin TV Tower was built in 1965 in East Berlin for radio - television - telephone communications. It is 1200 feet tall - taller than the Eiffel Tower at 1060 feet - and the Washington Monument at 555 feet. There is a restaurant near the top - a bar - and an observation deck. The restaurant spins once an hour. It is located at the Alexander Plaza - the heart of the city. 

Next - we hopped a tram and visited some of the outskirts of the city. Former East Germany is very different than former West Germany. 

We visited the campus of Humboldt University. Two years ago - Lulu spent three months here on a DAAD Scholarship to study at Humboldt. 

Berlin was the capital before World War II. After the war - the Allies moved the capital to Bonn. In 1991 - when Germany reunited - they brought the capital back here. 

At 6 PM - we boarded our train home to Darmstadt. We took the high speed train to Frankfurt - then a local one to Darmstadt. Then we took a cab home about 11 PM. 

REICHSTAG - This was the capital of Germany before the war. In 1933 - someone set it on fire. Hitler used it as a distraction to take over the government. After the war - it sat in East Germany - a destroyed hulk. After the wall went down - they renovated and moved the government back here. 

BERLIN TV TOWER - This 1200 foot high tower has become a symbol of the city. 

The Berlin Cathedral was heavily damaged during the war. It is restored now. It could use a power wash. 

HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY - It is often called the German Harvard. Lulu had a 3 month scholarship to study here. 

THE SPREE RIVER - it runs right through Berlin. In some places the Berlin Wall was along this river. Now river cruises highlight the Spree.

Everybody knows that 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. Also 20 million Russians died in the war. But many other minorities were targets like the Sinti and Roma. Some would call these people gypsies. They were persecuted because of race. Also gays were targeted.

I found this trailer right down by the Bradenburg Gate.

Downtown was preparing for the World Cup. They have big public viewings downtown - lots of fun. These Coke cans had heroes on. 

The US Embassy - at the Brandenburg Gate - just West of the Wall. 

This cute little tour van had a 2 cycle engine. It smoked and roared like a chain saw. 

A school group at the Brandenburg Gate

TRABANT - in East Germany you owned a little plastic bodied car with a 2 cycle engine. It smoked - chugged along in a cloud of smoke. 

MERCEDES - Same year in West Germany - you had the beautiful Mercedes. Communism and Capitalism - face to face. No wonder people were killed trying to climb the wall from East to West. 

The Altes Art Museum. 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Spandau Prison in Berlin - Where They Put The Big Nazis

These are file pictures of the prison

They put up a shopping center there - right in Berlin

Last week we visited the Nuremburg Court where they tried the Nazi leaders. 21 Nazis were tried for crimes against humanity. 12 were convicted and hung right there in Nuremburg Prison. 3 were acquitted and turned loose. The others were send to Spandau. Some got 10 years. Some got 20 years. Some got a life sentence. 

Spandau was the prison where the Nazis tortured people. That was going to so well - they decided to open up Dachau and the hundreds of other concentration camps. So after the war - it was fitting to put the Nazi leaders in Spandau. 

The leaders I remember off the top of my head were Rudolf Hess - Albert Speer - and Karl Donitz. Many people do not know that Hitler on his death transferred power to Karl Donitz. 

Donitz was the last leader of the Nazis. He was also in charge of the U-boat base in Lorient - France. The Allies could not penetrate the submarine pens there - they simply fire-bombed the city around it - and planned to serve them out. Donitz got 10 years in Spandau. Donitz died of old age. 

Albert Speer was the youngest Nazi leader. He was Hitler's architect. He got 20 years and was released and lived a long time. 

Finally there was Rudolf Hess. He ended up closing the place. He died there in 1987 - spending the last 11 years alone there with the warden. They became good buddies. When Hess died - they leveled the prison - ground it into dust - then dumped it into the North Sea to avoid the Skinheads making a shrine of it. 

Templehof Airport - The Berlin Airlift - Eurofest Day 25 of 70

US planes carrying coal and food - saved the
cold starving West Berliners. 

I took these pictures this morning as I visited
Elevation 164 feet - Templehof
I took the train from our hotel to Templehof Station

It was 70 years ago when I was born in West Penn - PA. But the cameras of the world were focused somewhere else. World War II was just over. The Allies decided to divide Germany into 4 pieces. They also divided up the capital city of Berlin. USA - UK - France - USSR each were given parts to govern and watch over - to prevent Germany from rising again. West Berlin was completely surrounded by communist East Germany. In 1948 - Russian decided that they could blockade the city of West Berlin to starve and freeze the people out. 

Rather than start a World War III - the Allies decided to keep West Berlin going by flying in coal and food. For 11 months - airplanes landed and took off every minute in Templehof Airport - carrying supplies to the West Berlin hostages. It ended with Russia lifting the blockade - and trucks started rolling into Berlin again. The world stood still hoping a new war did not flare up between free and communist countries. It was the start of the Cold War that ended when the Berlin Wall feel in 1991 and the Soviet Union died. 

But Templehof Airport was a star before that. At one time it was one of the biggest and best airports in the whole world. It was built in the 1920s. In the 1930s - the film industry in Berlin rivaled Hollywood. If you visited Europe - you probably flew in and out of Berlin at some time. 

When the airport was built - it was just south of the center of town. From the runways you can see Berlin Tower - it reminds you of the ornament you put on top of a Christmas tree. Now the city is all around it. 

After breakfast at our hotel - I hopped on the Ring Train west from our hotel. I got off at Templehof Station and walked north toward the open patch. The airport is now a state park - and their were hikers - hikers - and skaters - all over the place. It was basically two parallel east/west runways with a circle taxiway around them. The concrete is over 2 feet thick and is in perfect shape. 

As I walked the length the runway - I imagined all the traffic that went through here. In 1933 - the biggest ever Nazi rally was held here. Templehof was heavily fortified during the Battle of Berlin  when the Soviet Union took the city in street to street fighting. Since Templehof was close to Hitler's Fuhrer Bunker - many expected him to escape from here. We now know he chose to shoot himself instead of surrendering or running away. Some think he fled to South America. 

There is one airplane at the airport which was used in the Berlin Airlift. It is a 4 motor DC-6. 

After the war - the airport was used until 2008. When Germany reunited - a small plane crashed in the city when trying to land. The people with their newly found democratic freedom voted to close the airport! For the last 10 years - some of the best development land in the world has been lying fallow. 

Two years ago - when Germany accepted refugees from Syria - a colony was set up at Templehof.

Today the airport is officially a state park. I had the pleasure to spend the morning there and imagine what these runways would say if they could talk. 

Planes lined up to unload booty for the West Berliners. 

Right in the middle of the city is this beauty mark

The runways are in perfect shape

My iPhone maps shows where I was

This USA stamps was released when I was 50. 

Sings at the airport 

What a romantic Art Deco airport

Movie star posed with the planes

Art Deco Terminal

The 1933 Nazi Rally at the airport 

A panorama of the taxi way

Airplanes pulled into hangers under the porch

Pilots would set their altimeters here

These cars were some kind of
emergency driving school.
Lots of screeching tires.

Refugees from Syria live in these portable houses

The refugees were playing mini-golf -
all dressed up. 

The golf holes were on the runway

Old airport signs

Art Deco airport terminal

The airport is just a couple miles
south of the Berlin Tower.
I caught a picture of this