Saturday, 16 August 1952:
I woke to find soot from the ventilator on one of my pillows. Since my bottom sheet didn’t reach all around my straw tick bed, there was straw tick all over and half of Alene’s mattress hanging over my bed. I purchased breakfast for two marks. It consisted of three rolls with meat and watered chocolate. Then we stashed the suitcases in the bus. Whatta chore this baggage was!
On to one of the grandest Gothic cathedrals in the world. Cologne Cathedral which was started in 1248 a.d. Unlike those of Notre Dame the towers were completed. I observed a big hole in one of its walls though. It was damage from World War II.
One of the members showed us around. She was dressed in something like a nurse’s aide costume. She had been coming to this cathedral for 52 years and each time she came she saw new meaning in the surrounding symbols. I noticed the organ was damaged as well. As we were leaving Cologne I noticed block after block of buildings in ruins. Cologne was apparently one of the hardest hit cities in Germany.
Meanwhile, Betty told us about her trip up the Rhine River and meeting Duane and his companion in Dusseldorf. The missionaries go to Berlin for conferences and they told her many stories they had seen there. It was similar to our impressions in Vienna, Austria of empty cities with unfriendly people. About 1000 people came across from East Berlin every week after the war and they had to leave everything. Allies were trying to feed and cloth them even while utilizing Russian flags to make clothes for the children. She confirmed that there was practically no reconstruction in Russia controlled areas to speak of.
During a big youth conference, the people were tightly rationed with food for weeks so they could put on a good show. Scaffolding was put in front of buildings and flags hung all over to prepare for the conferences. Then we drove through an industrial section of Germany with many factories.
As we passed through the Ruhr district of Germany we saw many fields of flowers. I noticed “Rats” written on a building. We sighted our first windmill while we were still in Germany. Here we were racing toward Holland and already I could feel the Dutch influence.
At the border I spent my last pfennigs on two oranges and a roll of candy. Then Dr. Rogers came in and gave me a big scare. My German visa had never been signed by the official who had made it out. After all the times I’ve been in and out of Germany, the Germans caught it on my last time out. Thankfully the situation worked out and I was good to go.
Medieval, Royal Castles Are Big Attraction for Travelers
(Editor’s Note: This is another in a series of articles by Mrs. Afton A. Hansen of Provo on her impressions of a European tour she is making with a group of Utah Students)
Letter to the Editor
Castles and palaces in Europe are so numerous that they should come in for their share of mention.
Although the medieval kings and the emperors tried to outdo each other in buildings of splendor, it was Louis XIV of France who was the most imitated. His display of magnificence, splendor, wealth and beauty, at Versailles is oft repeated throughout Europe. Not many of those palaces are now occupied as living quarters, but are museums of treasure and art, owned by the government, and open to the public for a small admission fee.
The Royal Castle of Herrenchiemsee is a gigantic structure created by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. He was called the “mad king.” It was unfinished, but the finished royal splendor surpasses the original at Versailles. Entering the richly decorated, gold and marble staircase, we see hanging from the ceiling a Viennese crystal chandelier with 125 candles, partly burned. On the walk are original masterpieces representing mythical characters — statues of Apollo, god of poetry and song, Flora, goddess of flowers, and Minerva, goddess of wisdom.
We proceed through a vast extension of rooms and apartments, gradually increasing in richness and brilliance. There are curtains (drapes) of lilac damask, silk, embroidered with gold thread. One pair of purple velvet drapes weighs 300 pounds. French Gobelin tapestry in exquisite design and color are on walls and bed canopy. Fireplaces are of marble with one of Meissen porcelain, which is unbelievable elaborate and beautiful. Hardwood floors are artistic in design with a variety of woods. The balustrade in the state bedroom is skillfully carved wood and gold leaf. A 300 year old clock within a gold case in the conference room is still keeping good time. Enormous mirrors on the walls in the reception room, 100 feet long, make the room seem infinitely larger as they reflect lights from 33 crystal chandeliers, and 44 candelabrums, hold 2300 candles which are lighted by 60 people every Saturday evening when a public concert is held. I hope that it is almost as breathtaking to read about as it was to see. The short boat ride to and from the castle added to the romance of the day.
Another castle built by Ludwig II is small but none the less a treasure of wealth and artistry. Poor fellow, he only lived here a few days, but it took nearly five years of strenuous work to build it. The formal gardens and terraces might have been more extensive and luxuriant had he lived longer than his 41 years.
Heidelberg Castle on the banks of the Neckar River in Germany has a somewhat different story—not so elaborate, but where intense history was made. The courtyard here is as highly commercialized as an American carnival, but we were glad for the milk bar and a cold glass of milk.
People of Heidelberg can also boast of their renowned university, as well as the famous representative of the human race—the Heidelberg jaw, a fossilized bone, belonging to the earliest known type of Paleolithic man. Many evidences of prehistoric man, dating back 1000 B.C. have been found in this area.
Medieval Fortresses, castles and cathedrals are also numerous on the banks of the Rhine River. A seven hour trip up the Rhine by river steamer from Mainz to Kein revealed a grand panorama of legend and reality, industry and commerce. No wonder the Rhine as well as the rich Ruhr valley is so desirable and strategic.
Though Germany’s wounds are deep, her efforts for the good and noble are persistent, as is shown in the Oberammergau Passion Play, the Wagner Music Festival in Bayreuth, and Kinderzeche in Dinkelsbuhl and the other community activities. This display of talent, with democratic cooperation will go a long way in proving that love and humaneness are superior to brutal force.
Afton A. Hansen
Then we went to exchange our money. It was 3.70 guilder to a dollar. Hofs Dutch Officials came in with our passports after the Germans had gotten through with them. The Dutch looked us over as the passports were passed back.
Now we’re off to see Holland. There was a flood on the road with isolated houses in ruins. We spotted our first big windmill in Holland. Everyone was clamoring for a picture. So, of course, Andre buzzes on. I recognized new kinds of architecture which kind of reminded me of Baltimore. We drove through a town with a cheese mill. Then back to woods, fields, hay in bunches, and our first man wearing wooden shoes! Next we hit a territory that looked just like those around sawmills at home. Darling houses were everywhere. Oh my kingdom for great pictures! Heather was growing in the open places.
A fruit stand stood by the roadside along with beautiful homes and flowers, cows in the meadows, and bridges. Everything was clean and neat. It was raining like it usually did when we entered a new country. We discovered canals, bicycle lanes, power lines, railroad cars and more houses. The autobahn was much smaller here than it was in Germany. LO was having a tizzy about the stunning sights she saw out the bus window.
We drove by a beautiful park with people on the grass and a basket of fruit all wrapped up with ribbons. The quite wide streets were filled with bikes but few autos. I identified a kind of square architecture which was repeated over and over again. As kids were fishing in a canal, I realized I hadn’t seen any ruins from World War II yet.
Dr. Watkins was asking for directions in German I guess. There were canals at every turn and a market place selling all kinds of odds and ends instead of food for a change. A boy on a bike showed us the way to Schiller Hotel which wasn’t bad looking from the outside. It was on a one way street with trees growing out of the sidewalk all along the canals. We had to go around the block to get on the right side of the street.
At the Schiller Hotel cab men were out front watching and smiling. A Rembrandt statue and park were across from the hotel and a sidewalk café was nearby. We checked in and I got room 33 on the 3rd floor. I walked the narrow carpeted stairs that went up half a floor at a time. It was a nice room that overlooked the square.
In the room there were two round basins, hot water, rugs, drapes, satin comforter, two tables, and lounging chairs. It was really cute.
As soon as we were settled we hit the streets. One shopping street was entirely turned over to pedestrians with no cars on the street at all. The shopping area had people walking down on the right side and back on the left side. There were tall people as well as short people, which was kinda nice for a change.
I looked around in a department store for various things to buy and then wandered into a small shop which directed me to an even bigger shop. By this time the gang had become separated. Shopping in groups always seemed to present a challenge.
A store called Gerzon had several shops on the same street. The first shop just had yard goods. Finally, I found the store with some linen and there was Alicia buying hankies. After much debate, I bought a large size pure linen cloth and a couple of hankies. I cashed my two five Swisse franc notes. The poor cashier showed me all the different kinds of money she had changed in one day. I received 4.31 francs for the 5 franc note.
My dinner was especially delicious as I enjoyed it with my two letters which miraculously appeared with the key to my room. I received news from Caroline and my old faithful letter writer, Twila.
Back to eating, I indulged in the most delectable soup since Italy or Swisse. The rest of the meal had peas, carrots, beans, french fries, bread, and roast beef. The bread and roast beef were particularly good. The meal was topped off with dessert and whipped cream. The restaurant gave such wonderful service.
Later I spent a little time after dinner in our darling room looking out at the city lights in Rembrandt Square and writing. At 9:30 p.m. I left for a movie. There were mobs of happy people thronging the streets of all nationalities. Amsterdam at night was really fascinating. It seemed everybody goes to the theater.
I caught sight of clean, delicious looking food in a stand-up café on the corner across from the square. The streets were wide and clean. Once again there were not too many cars, but a big trolley and lots of bikes. We were really excited about seeing I Lost My Heart In Heidelberg. However, we made a new discovery. If you want to see the movie in Amsterdam one must buy tickets in advance. Big sigh! “Geschlossen” on the box office! We coaxed and tried to persuade the doorman to let us stand or sit on the steps but no soap!
The only alternative was window shopping. So we caught the trolley 16 past Kursal where there was a concert that we didn’t go to. With the help of a kind man we got off and transferred to trolley 1 past the Latin Quarter, tenements, and residential area. Then on to the central station. From there we took trolley 5 back to the Rembrandt Plaza. This kind of made a triangle of the west portion of the city. It showed us what at least one section of Amsterdam looked like.
Now at the hotel again, we stopped to talk to LO and two missionaries. Bert and the other missionary told us about the plan to reclaim most of the Zuiderzee Bay from the sea in the next ten years, and also about Avery’s plunge into the canal.