I am writing this while waiting for a plane at OSL. Seems that’s all I do lately. This particular one will take me to FRA. (Annoyed with people who speak airport code? At least these two are easy.)
At FRA, I’ll pick up a hire car – and follow in the footsteps of Martin Luther.
Yet… didn’t you do that last autumn, you ask? Why yes. But the good Martin got around, see. There’s more ground to cover.
Last year, I focussed on his journeys through Saxony: the beautiful city of Dresden, the lively music city of Leipzig and the historic town of Torgau where I was delighted to get acquainted with his wife, the lesser-known but oh so fascinating Katharina von Bora.
The year before, Wittenberg: where the man defiantly nailed his 95 theses to the church door on 31 October, my very birthday (a few centuries before my time, but who’s counting…)
This time, I am going to trace that 16th century revolutionary in Lutherstadt Worms, Speyer, Lutherstadt Heidelberg and Lutherstadt Augsburg.
But there’s more to these German Lutherstädte than, well, Luther. Here’s a few other titbits:
Worms is the oldest city in Germany. Possibly. Cologne and Trier make the same claim. But Worms is the only German member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network (along with Colchester, Béziers, Maastricht, Tongeren, Roskilde, amongst others).
Old: There’s a Jewish cemetery with 1000-year-old grave stones. 1000!
Young: Worms is home of Liebfraumilch. We’ve all experienced Milk of the Beloved Lady at some (young) age in our lives, no?
I am particularly excited about Heidelberg – and hoping I’ll have time for another little pet project of mine: one Samuel L. Clemens.
Samuel who? Well, perhaps you know him better as Mark Twain.
Sam Mark hung about Heidelberg for several months in 1878, learning German. I read A Tramp Abroad years ago, and still laugh out loud at its Appendix B, all about the horrors of learning German. Twain frequently lectured on this subject. On 31 October 1897 (there’s that date again), he gave a talk to the Vienna Press Club on Die Schrecken der deutschen Sprache.
His pet peeves included (but were not limited to) German grammatical genders (a tree is male, its buds are female, its leaves are neuter; horses are sexless, dogs are male, cats are female–tomcats included), and the abominable cases. If you’ve ever studied German, you will appreciate this sentiment:
A dog is “der Hund”; a woman is “die Frau”; a horse is “das Pferd”; now you put that dog in the genitive case, and is he the same dog he was before? No, sir; he is “des Hundes”; put him in the dative case and what is he? Why, he is “dem Hund.” Now you snatch him into the accusative case and how is it with him? Why, he is “den Hunden.” But suppose he happens to be twins and you have to pluralize him- what then? Why, they’ll swat that twin dog around through the 4 cases until he’ll think he’s an entire international dog-show all in is own person. I don’t like dogs, but I wouldn’t treat a dog like that–I wouldn’t even treat a borrowed dog that way. Well, it’s just the same with a cat. They start her in at the nominative singular in good health and fair to look upon, and they sweat her through all the 4 cases and the 16 the’s and when she limps out through the accusative plural you wouldn’t recognize her for the same being. Yes, sir, once the German language gets hold of a cat, it’s goodbye cat. That’s about the amount of it.
A picture speaks a thousand words. If not, you can read about this charming town here.
Augsburg is another very old city; it was founded way back in 15 BC under the name Augusta Vindelicorum. Augsburg also has the world’s oldest social housing project still around, the Fuggerei. (Germany does social housing projects very well.) It is a green city; so green, in fact, in 1997, Augsburg became the first German city to win Entente Florale Europe, the prize for Europe’s greenest, most livable city.
And finally, a day in one of the old, familiar places, i.e. Munich. Lovely Marienplatz with the daily Glockenspiel, the wonderful Viktualienmarkt (farmers market), the fabulous Deutsches Museum for science and tech geeks, the beer halls, the snazzy shops along Maximilianstrasse, the pub and club quarter… I know you all! This time, perhaps the English Garden. And the cat cafe! And let’s face it, there’s going to be beer, because Oktoberfest (which you may remember is in September). O’zapft is!
I’ll be sharing the hire car with fellow blogger Laura from Finland, whom I’ve never met. We’ll drive around Germany together in the coming week. Hopefully, we’ll be fast friends this time next week. And I had better learn to say the name of Laura’s blog – Matkablogi Urbaani viidakkoseikkailijatar. (Google Translate tells me it means ‘Travel Blog The Urban Jungle Adventurer’.) I think I can handle it. After all, we have our fair share of compound words in Norwegian as well. But of course, it could all end in tears. Go on, you try saying it!
Follow along on Instagram, will ya? Look for the hashtag #Luthercountry and cheer us on. Also any tips for cool cafes and top spots to visit in Worms, Heidelberg, Augsburg and/or Munich are most welcome.