Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category

Lingen is a Town the Ems River

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Lingen is a town on the Ems River in Lower Saxony, Germany which accounts for 56,107 inhabitants (as of August 2009), including second homes, making it the largest city of the district. Lingen was first mentioned as “Linga” in the Middle Ages (975 A.D.), when it was documented that Emperor Otto II transferred to Bishop Rudolf von Osnabrück the goods in Linga as a “fief”, or source of income, meaning the bishop would live off the returns of the Lingen people.

Here are some of Lingen’s historical highlights:

1366 – achieved city status (confirmed by Nicholas II Graf von Tecklenburg)

1394 – the oldest evidence for the Lingen coat of arms.

1498 – the county of Lingen arises

1548- a disastrous fire destroyed large parts of the city

1605 – Lingens recaptured by the Spanish commander Ambrosio Spinola

1697 – the founding of the university (Gymnasium academicum), by William III, Prince of Orange

1702 – the city and county of Lingen possessed by Prussia

During WWII, Lingen was the location of a major hospital of the Army Reserve, to which belonged also hospitals for prisoners of war in the POW camps in the Emsland region. After WWII ended in 1945, Lingen belonged to the British zone of occupation. The British Military Administration established a Displaced Persons camp. Most of the DPs were freed Polish slave laborers from the Emsland.

1975 began the transformation of downtown, and, in the present, the historical Old Town is usually full of pedestrians, like on the day I was walking around! Lingen is now also known for its nuclear power plants and for its beautiful nature alongside the Elms River.

I started my walkabout just trying get out of our venue, the Emslandhallen Lingen! As you can see, the building is very long…the left side is toward town, and our bus was parked on the back RIGHT side. Of course I didn’t know this when I began walking, but when it was all over, I had circled the building and finally got onto the main street…

By the way, today’s venue has hosted many shows, including numerous cow auctions through the Jahre Cow Club Festival…so there was usually the lingering aroma of cow manure once we got off the bus! Hah! I guess no matter how far this country-born girl travels, the manure always catches up:)

Approaching the main shopping area of Lingen’s downtown, I came across an interesting piece of art in the middle of a driving circle…each large tube of water is bubbling inside! If you squint, you can see some of the bubble specks toward the lower right area. It was cool to see moving water in such cold weather…

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The first historical site I found was pretty cool, and probably the most exciting of the day! Y’all have learned by now that I love all that old castle-like stuff, and though I didn’t find anything out about the gateway (pictured below), what it led too more than made up for it…I love the pic below because I imagine the gate used to mark an entryway into the fortress which used to be here…

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The fortress of Lingen Castle was constructed at the beginning of the 13th century by the Counts of Tecklenburg. The construction of the actual Powder Tower, pictured above AND below, was around the beginning of the 15th century. At the time of completion, the tower actually stood protected within Lingen Castle. Inside the tower was, as was customary, stored gunpowder for the defense of the city.

In 1607, a fire broke out inside the fortress. A powerful explosion occurred, which claimed many lives, as well as ripped off large parts of the fortress and the Powder Tower. During WWII, the basement, the only part of the building not disturbed by the 1607 explosion, was used by the students of the nearby castle school as an air raid shelter. By the year 1961, the Powder Tower lay in ruins in downtown Lingen, overgrown with plants and trees.

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During the 1960s, the Kivelingssektion (The Bachelors Association of Lingen, founded in 1372), began the reconstruction of the Powder Tower, however a complete and faithful reconstruction could not be achieved. Therefore, the project limited its reconstruction to two floors built over the old, intact cellar. The Kivelingssektion (also called “The Guelph”, which means farmers) are the landlords of the Powder Tower. Since the tower’s 1960s reconstruction, the current Lingen section, which has existed since 1954, holds their meetings inside, which includes approximately 20 members.

In the pic below, you can see the Guelphs’ motto on the tower gate, which, loosely translated, says “Once a Welfe, Always a Welfe!”

On the subjecte of the title “Welfe”, here’s a fun set of factoids, courtesy of our tour manager, Arvid:

The Guelphs were named after the Royal House of Guelph-Welf of the Kingdom of Hanover. Grace Kelly, a famous American actress married the King of Monacco, and one of her daughters, Caroline, is married to the Prince of Welf, making her the Princess of Hanover. If there was still a king of Germany, Caroline’s 3rd husband, Prince Ernst August of Hanover, would be the present king. I think it’s cool that Grace Kelly’s daughter was almost a queen:)

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Today, besides being used as the Guelph meeting place, the Powder is used for other events such as:

  • Turmfest (every year for Pentecost)
  • Exhibitions
  • a site on the Lingen city tours

Next up the road is the St. Boniface Church (also called “St. Bonifatius”), which is the largest and oldest (still existing) Catholic Church in Lingen, built between 1832 and 1836. The tower was cultivated in 1905 and the “Chorapsis”, or choir annex was completed in 1910. DSC03203.jpg

In the entrance of the church is the neo-classical organ loft. Originally, the organ in 1836 and built by the builder Brinkmann from Herford. It has been expanded and restored many times since then, and presently the church holds concerts which feature this well-known Fischer + Kramer organ.

DSC03214.jpg Here’s the most interesting “Stations of the Cross” relief in my view… DSC03223.jpg

From this angle, you can see the imposing 3 naves in the classical style, built after the model of an ancient basilica.

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There is also a St. Bonifatius Hospital in Lingen, which I happened to pass and, though I didn’t see any signs on it, happened to take a picture of it just in case…

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Continuing on my strolling through town.

..what’s this? Another church so close??? Baroque Lutheran Holy Cross Church, built from 1733 to 1737 and expanded in 1888 in the Romanesque Revival style, is integrated into the attractive architectural ensemble of the University Square. It is the oldest Lutheran church in the Emsland region and represents a bit of architectural rebellion, due to the fact that it’s not built in the Christian Orthodox tradition (entering a church built from west to east), but instead aligned from north to south. DSC03232.jpg The church is an important meeting place for lovers of sacred music in the Emsland region. The “Lingener Cross Church concerts” are known far beyond the boundaries of the Lingen.

Also worth seeing are the Evangelical Reformed Church at Kirchstraße (pictured below). Uh huh, a third church smooshed into this relatively small downtown! Ladies, gentlemen, and reading children, my research uncovered many websites which probably talk about this church, yet NOT ONE OF THEM was in English. It’s been a rarity to not dig up English language info on one of the sites I come across, but here is one of those examples. Sorry readers…but as a substitute, here is a bit of history on the Evangelical Reformed Church of Germany:

While in many parts of Germany in the 19th century the Lutheran and Reformed churches decided to form united churches, the two confessions continued to exist side by side in the former kingdom of Hanover, when Hanover became part of Prussia. In 1882 the Reformed congregation was permitted by the king of Prussia to found an autonomous Evangelical-Reformed church in the Province of Hanover. Reformed congregations from other provinces became part of this church. Much later, in 1988, the Evangelical-Reformed Church in Bavaria also united with this church. Today this church consists of 142 congregations with over 200,000 members spread all over Germany.

So there ya go! DSC03235.jpg I enjoyed the “old look” of this building from the outside…though I didn’t have time to go in, I was very happy to stop and stare for a moment. When I began my walkabout, I had no idea I would come across multiple distinguished churches, all relatively large for their surroundings…and I couldn’t see any of their towers from our venue, so it was truly a pleasant surprise!

After unknowingly circling the outskirts of the center of town, I finally entered the Lingen Marktplatz and promptly saw the Rathaus Lingen. The historic town hall is hard to miss, placed in quite the dominating position at the head of the open area of the marktplatz. Rathaus Lingen was erected in 1555 and rebuilt in 1663 on the same site. There originally used to be an open court bower where the current porch is now. You can also see the Lingen coat of arms displayed just below the belfry and clock. The bell chime in the belfry was established by the “Kivelingen”…those same fun bachelors who are landlords of the Powder Tower! DSC03238.jpg I saw similar stepped gables on Meppen’s town hall, and (don’t tell Lingen!) I like Meppen’s more! These particular stepped gables on Rathaus Lingen (I prefer the term “cat stairs”) were fashioned during the building’s reconstruction in 1663. The town hall is considered the symbol of the city, and now serves representative purposes as well as hosts civil weddings.

Just beyond the Rathaus Lingen is this fountain with humorous characters created by Hanns Joachim Klug. I think my favorite one is the character sticking his tongue out towards the right…I can only imagine how the water falls out from him during the warm months! DSC03239.jpg Just beyond the fountain, towards the right, you can see a potentially historical building of grey and cream brick…

and I was right to think it was especially important!… DSC03243.jpg The markeplatz is dominated by gabled houses, but the one that caught my eye is right at home in this newsletter: It’s the House of Kivelinge (those crazy bachelor farmers again!), founded in 1583, and also one of the oldest houses in Lingen. Woo-hoo! Day-Ninja McSkillz scores again! (that’s me today, by the way!)

OK, back to the venue for soundcheck… DSC03246.jpg Today, some of the cast is trying to replicate the strong, flexible ways of Circus Samurai Travis… DSC03253.jpg First Rodney tries… DSC03249.jpg Then Brandy says, “Step aside…I’ll show you how it’s done!” (That was paraphrased, just in case she challenges the quote later!)… DSC03254.jpg And Brandy gets only a little further than Rodney did! Good work everyone…take 5…oh yeah, and maybe check some mics while we’re gathered here! DSC03257.jpg The big news regarding this particular show was that I RAMMED my shin into the “Thriller” coffin backstage after “Beat It”…I was returning to my usual nest on the stairs backstage right, it was especially dark there, and I collided with the coffin with all the muster of a diva working her exit…lots of velocity there! It made a loud BANG that all the band members heard, yet they dismissed it quickly since no scream or further crashes followed. I was a TROOPER!!! I grinned and bore it through the rest of Act 1, then during the break, I layed down on the floor behind the set, Tech-Hero-of-the-Day Marios delivered a plastic bag of snow to my shin, and I rested my leg on the “Billie Jean” box…so the new rule is that if you ram your shin into the “Thriller” box, you get to prop your shin up on the “Billie Jean” box…it’s only fair! DSC03260.jpg My shin had a huge goose egg on it immediately after impact, which almost made me cry when I first saw it (I rarely injure myself past a little cut or bruise), but I stayed strong for the sake of my show make up, and, thanks to the fresh snow and a few Ibuprofen, the swelling was gone by bedtime. I am only left with a little scab that’s healing nicely.

So thanks, Lingen, for another interesting tour story, and for a great audience as usual!

More to come..sooner or later:)

Love to you all!

~Jenn


Have a Day off in Meppen

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Meppen, Germany is one of our day-off towns, where we stayed in a local hotel for about 24 hours, then drove to our next show venue. Meppen has approximately 35,400 inhabitants and is situated at the intersection of the Hase and Ems Rivers. The district town of the administrative district “Emsland”, Meppen stems from the word Mappe, meaning “delta“. Formerly a fortified town, Meppen boasts 12 centuries of history. The first documented mention of Meppen is in 834, in a deed of donation by Frankish emperor Louis the Pious, transferring a missionary establishment of that name to the abbey of Corvey. Here’s a brief walk through some of Meppen’s historical highlights:

945 — Emperor Otto the Great grants the town the rights to mint coins and to collect tolls, followed in 946 by market rights.

1252 — Meppen becomes part of the Niederstift Münster.

1360 — Meppen is granted the right to build city fortifications by Bishop Adolf of Münster, and thereby, town rights. Over the next three centuries until 1660, Meppen is built up as a fortified town.

1762 — At the end of the Seven Years’ War, the fortifications are demolished. However, some walls remain standing today.

1803 — Meppen becomes the capital of the dukedom of Arenberg.

1811 — Meppen is incorporated into the First French Empire as a cantonal seat.

1813 — 1814 — Occupation by Prussia.

1866 — Hanover becomes a province of Prussia.

1946 — The state of Prussia is abolished after the Second World War. Meppen becomes part of the newly created Land of Lower Saxony.

The Poker Hotel in Meppen would have been more satisfying for me if A) I wasn’t so sore and cranky this particular morning, B) my TV worked, C) free Internet was available, and D) the walk to my room wasn’t OUTSIDE of the main building…

…around to the left and all the way back behind the main building…

to the left AWAY from the main building…

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…up a random driveway…

and even…yes…UPSTAIRS in this cottage-style building.

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Now, like I said, I was sore and cranky, and also must trek through the snow, dragging 2 suitcases, my backpack, and my pillow all that way PLUS up a narrow set of stairs. Oh, did I mention my hip still hurt? Man, this was not my morning. I was not a happy Jenn…so I slept until dinner time…Not JUST because I was in a bad mood, not JUST because I was in pain, not JUST because I had no free Internet, but ALSO because I had no TV to distract me from my poor physical status and no Internet! I know, complaints galore…well if I was on my honeymoon, the room would have been FABULOUS! I mean, the bathroom was huge and well stocked with towels, and the temperature of the room was good…how ’bout that for a positive attitude? :) I just can’t yet get over the odds that the injured and arthritic females of the tour end up in the most difficult room to reach. However, since we weren’t the only ones with issues (the “old men” of the tour had to lug their luggage up at least 3 floors), I guess I WILL let this go…soon:)

So around 4, I finally got up, did my hair and makeup, and joined LaTosha for dinner at 6 in the hotel restaurant. Tej’ai and Travis joined us and it was a nice evening away from the Honeymoon Suite. I returned to my room to watch “National Treasure” and, since there was nothing else to do, even went through all the DVD’s special features, decoding hieroglyphics and everything! Yeah, Meppen was rockin’ for me!

The next morning I felt much better, and set out 2 hours before our bus departure, to walkabout Meppen. Across the street from our hotel is the Gustav-Adolf-Kirche, which has been Meppen’s evangelical church for over 150 years.

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Construction was from 1856-1858, and temporary renovations began 100 years later, due to WWII damage. After the most recent reconstruction of the church was finished in 1966, only the tower remained from the original design.

Up the street is the “Hase Lifting Bridge” which leads to the center of town…

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Present-day Meppen represents a commercial, administrative and industrial center, situated on a landscape that is crisscrossed by large and small streams, and, therefore, many bridges. This lift bridge, or drawbridge, is an important link between the inner-west of the Evangelical Church and the Old City which includes the town’s train station, post office, schools, and many residential areas. Since the Middle Ages, there has been a point of access to the fortified Meppen where today’s lift bridge is. In the beginning, it was a wooden bridge with a moveable flap, thanks to the needs of the military. Later, the flap was used primarily as a passage for vessels during the periods of higher water levels. This bridge was no longer needed after the completion of the Dortmund-Ems Kanal (DEK) in 1899. A high-altitude pedestrian bridge was added to the structure in 1905, but that bridge quickly became insufficient for Meppen’s needs by the 1920s. In 1930/31 the predecessor to the Hase Lifting Bridge was constructed, called the “Brückengradiente”. The present bridge only finished it’s last technical installments a few years ago, which includes pedestrian windows at each end so that people can “view the technology”. The present bridge has preserved a piece of the “Brückengradiente” at the site, since it had been deemed a historical landmark due to the technological advances of its time. I guess it wasn’t historically landmarkish enough, though, to survive the modern Meppen world, since it was replaced, despite it’s status, with the Hase bridge!

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Walking past the bridge, I turned left instead of going straight into the center of town. I decided to follow a pleasant wintry path along the Hase River…

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Just up ahead on the path was another bridge overlooking a windmill! I think this is the first one I’ve seen here!

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Here’s a close-up…

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Meppen’s slogan is: “green city – City on the Water”…I have heard that Germany is absolutely breathtaking in all it’s greenness, so if Meppen actually calls itself “green city”, I would love to see what sights like this romantic, tree-lined path would look like in the spring!…

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The tree-lined path veers right, over another charming bridge, which will take me back to town…DSC03157.jpg

This bridge is sheltering ducks this morning…I will never get how they can be so happy in such chilling water!!!

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Reentering civilization, the first sight is this beautiful, late-Romanesque church, “Katholische Propsteikirche St. Vitus”…

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This impressive Propsteikirche is unusually large for the time period it was built, as well as the area. The church as been associated with the title, “Provost”, which refers to old age, the size, and the importance of the parish, and the Catholic Parish of St. Vitus appropriately lives up to this title as a substantial landmark in historical Old Town.

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Originally on this site was on a mission belonging to the peasantry of Mepen. The citizens and the residents of the Meppen parish church erected their own wooden church, which also served as a resting and supply space for mission trips to Friesland. “Katholische Propsteikirche St. Vitus” is said to be one of the oldest places of worship of the Emsland district. It was consecrated over 1,000 years ago in “Bocia” by Bishop of Osnabruck Dodo. Approxiamately 69.7% of Meppen’s population is Roman Catholic.

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The foundation of St. Vitus Church goes back to the St. Ludger (742-809), who was a missionary among the Frisians and Saxons, founder of Werden Abbey and first Bishop of Münster in Westphalia. It was said of him that his peaceful methods were far more effective in promoting Christianity than the aggressive tactics of Charlemagne. He was criticized during his life for spending money on alms that should have gone towards the ornamentation of his churches, but was able to convince Charlemagne that this was no fault.

Here’s the organ loft shot…massive and stately as usual in these churches…

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And here is the “Stations of the Cross” relief that stood out to me most…

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Here is a mural named, “Taufort”, painted by Eberhard Muench for the new Baptismal font of the church…

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Circling back towards more of the old town center, I come upon the Old Town Rathaus…

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The foundation walls of the town hall, built from mere boulders, originate from the year 1408. The building had been enlarged and changed into the renaissance-style between 1601 and 1605, not only expanding to two floors, but also adding pillars to increase the surface area of the facade. The building has now been turned into a cafe and a pharmacy.

A neighboring building is the colorful and fairly large ‘Gymnasialkirche”, one of the few baroque buildings in North Germany, constructed from 1743 – 1746.

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The Windthorst Gymnasium, which is a school and church, has made a name for itself as a “jewel of Baroque church architecture and art”. The school was founded in 1642 by Jesuits and is the oldest high school even beyond Emsland. In 1982, the school was named after Ludwig Windthorst, a German politician who fought against the secularization of schools his whole life.

Here is the statue that stands on the front lawn…

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Also in the historical district of Meppen is the Stadtmuseum, or “City Museum”, housed in the former” Arenberger Rentei. The classical style building was built in 1805 by renowned architect, August Reinking, for Meppener Kaufmann Ferdinand Frye. In 1835, the house was purchased and served as the administration building and residence of the Rentmeister. Presently the museum of Meppen’s past, its exhibitions mainly focus on settlement history, medieval history, and Meppen’s cultural history from the 17th to the 20th century.

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And that’s about it for this historical area. The town center is pretty small and quaint, yet there was still room to put an H&M clothing store in the middle of everything! I had allowed myself two hours to walkabout before having to be on the bus, and I actually had plenty of time to shop before heading back over the bridge and up the street to the Poker Hotel and, yes, faaaaaaaaaaaaaar behind the hotel to my Honeymoon Suite! Next stop, load the luggage on the bus and drive off to Lingen, Germany for the next show.

The Lingen newsletter is coming up soon, I promise!!! Until next time, stay safe, God bless you, and may your Internet cafes be even more comfy than our tour bus:)

~Jenn


On With Dortmund, Germany!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
  • I know it’s been FOREVER since I’ve sent a newsletter. It’s not that stuff hasn’t been happening…I just needed a break from researching during all my time off. We also haven’t had a lot of free Internet opportunities in the last two weeks, during my usual research times, so it’s been harder to gather my data anyway. But enough with the excuses…on with Dortmund, Germany!
  • When we arrived in Dortmund to check in at our hotel, our rooms weren’t ready…and we were all hungry and ready for the restroom! Luckily, there was a McDonald’s around the corner, so Ralf drove us around to wait the hour + there.
  • At first glance, the picture below might look like Travis is about to get run over by Ralf, but actually the bus is parked and Travis is starting his mad dash to get food…
  • During our hotel stay, some of us together to record some rough background vocals for “Bad”, which we’re putting into the show soon. The vocals for “Bad” are so simple that once I started singing, I think I was in there less than 15 minutes!
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  • So here’s the basic info on Dortmund, Germany:
  • After being destroyed by a fire, the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I (Barbarossa), rebuilt Dortmund in 1152 and resided there for two years. It became an Imperial Free City in 1220 and during that century, was the “chief city” of the Rhine, Westphalia. During the industrialization of Prussia in the 1600s, Dortmund became a major center for coal and steel. During WWII, the bombing destroyed about 80% of the Dortmund homes. Post-war, buildings such as the Reinoldikirche and Marienkirche (churches) were restored/rebuilt, and extensive parks and gardens were laid out. The LWL-Industriemuseum began in 1969, and the city subsequently became a center for hi-tech industry. In the present, Dortmund‘s population of 587,830 (as of June 20, 2005) makes it the 7th-largest city in Germany, and 34th-largest in the European Union. The Ruhr River flows south of the city, and the small river, Emscher, flows through the municipal area. Dortmund is known as Westphalia’s “green metropolis.” The city center of Dortmund still retains the outline of the medieval city. A ring road marks the former city wall, and the Westen-/Ostenhellweg, part of a medieval salt trading route, is still the major (pedestrian) street bisecting the city centre.
  • Ladies, gentlemen, and children of reading age: I saw none of this! The only walkabout I got was another trip to the McDonald’s on foot, since we were too far away from downtown to walk, and I didn’t want to spring for a taxi. On the way to our fast food destination, which was connected to our hotel by a “business circle” of office-type buildings, Night Scout Narada and I stopped to take a few pics of the interesting “office artwork”.
  • If we relate all this to the offices in back of them, we can call this one, “Standing Around the Cooler Water”…
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  • Gossip, gossip, gossip…
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  • And here’s my favorite rhinoceros!…
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  • In case you missed my Facebook post, I named him Falkor, and we had a lovely photo shoot together. He told me he was glad to have another colorful being in the area, as everything around here is pretty dull until you get to the McDonald’s!
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  • After a bittersweet farewell, we continued on our office tour…
  • Who’s tired of standing outside in the cold?…a show of hands please…
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And Dortmund’s version of the LOST statue…

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  • These look like a bunch of over worked, under lunched, suicidal employees…
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  • “Don’t jump!”, their coworkers shout from below them…
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  • …and more onlookers in the distance shout, “noooooooooooooo!” in slow motion…
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  • Alright, enough of office buildings and their artwork full of woe…onto McDonald’s and their kids’ play place! Some BIG kids got to play in this place today! Narada, Jesse, Shannon, and I got to shoot some serious hoops, as well as a few dunks. There was even a timer built into the wall so we could have timed competitions of who could shoot the 6 balls into the hoop the fastest. So much fun in such a small space!
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  • Eventually, the manager came in to tell us the place is only for children, and though we insisted we ARE children!…he made us exit the otherwise-deserted area. Sorry, all you children waiting in line outside the door to play…all you loads of children from which we were stealing your play place. We are sad, thieving adults;/P
  • The generally docile time in Dortmund was very restful. I believe my hip had been hurting a lot this week, and Latosha had a mean cold, so we definitely needed the extra time to sleep and relax.
  • Here’s a pic of our Dortmund stage set up…
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  • We performed at the Westfalenhalle, a large convention center, the site of several major conventions, trade fairs, ice-skating competitions, concerts and other major events since the 1950s. This center is a part of Signal Iduna Park, which is the soccer ground of Borussia Dortmund.
  • So that’s it! Again, sorry for the huge newsletter delay…but sometimes a gal just has to BE in the place she is, rather than document day and night. But never fear, the walkabouts have continued, the pictures have been taken…only the research is lacking. And I SHALL catch up on that…hopefully before Easter:)
  • Love and miss you all!
  • ~Jenn

East German Town of Leuna

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The East German town of Leuna (sounds like “Loin-uh”) is known for the Leunawerke or “Leuna works“, one of the biggest chemical industrial complexes in Germany. Here, a very wide range of chemicals and plastics is produced. In 1960, the town’s population was nearly 10,000, but high unemployment rates and poor living conditions, including pollution from nearby industries, has caused significant outward migration. Before December 31, 2009, its population had sunk to 6,670.

Across from our venue was this building which looked like no one had touched it for at least a decade! I wasn’t feeling extremely well today, so the confirmation that everything was pretty much still and grey outside reenforced my decision to stay inside the bus, drink plenty of water, and rest before work.

And when I checked out my dressing room, the window opened up to reveal a church, whose bell I’d heard ringing from the bus a few times today. I Googled “Leuna Church” and didn’t find anything concrete…oh well…hello little church in the distance…

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Inside at mic check, we found out the stage had plenty of depth, yet no side space for the backup singers to stand…so tonight we infiltrate the dancers’ usual stage right space, forcing them to re-block some of their placement. Of course they’re all pros so it was basically no problem…but us ditzy backup singers…couldn’t get that phrase, “Leave your mic stands where they are for the whole show”, to sink in. DSC03097.jpg

The tricky thing was that Rodney and I were standing directly under the screens which periodically descend and rise back up during the show. We both kept panicking about the screens hitting our microphone, and even Jesse tried to be a hero and rescue my mic stand once, jumping in “just in the nick of time”, to swoop my stand off stage right, only to find out later that the stands were never really in any danger. We need to TRUST, people! :) It all worked out, though…no screen or stand was harmed during the making of tonight’s presentation. But the cast?…that’s a different story!…

While we were getting ready for the show, Shannon encountered a showering incident…he was minding his own business when, out of nowhere, his own lufa sponge turned on him and scraped him across the forehead! Of course, we only got Shannon’s side of the story, so we just have to take his word for it that the lufa’s actions were unprovoked. No charges were pressed, yet Shannon and the lufa apparently couldn’t reach a reconciliation. Lash-Out Lufa is probably still in that shower, abandoned, until the cleaning personnel throw it out, I guess!

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Narada offered to slice at Shannon’s forehead during the “Thriller” fight, to try to get a better story for his scratch, but Shannon declined, saying, “With my luck, you’ll give me a second scrape!” The funniest thing about it was that Shannon kept trying to put powder on it to cover it up, but it never took…poor Shannon…his only option was to try and crinkle his forehead the entire show to try to camouflage his injury!

Then there’s me…I was an OLD LADY this show! My throat had been a bit sore the day before, and I woke up with a strange pain running down the left side of my neck, almost like the bottom of my tonsil was sprained! Weird, I know, yet still a reality on a show day for me, so I took it easy the whole day, whipped out some Ibuprofen, warmed up before the show, and that’s all I could do.

Second, I broke down and used my backup pair of boots for most of the show because my feet keep hurting so much in the primary pair…it’s my own fault for choosing a pair of boots that ended up being a half size too small!

NEXT, somewhere in the middle of the show, my left hip erupted into sharp pain…almost dropping me on the spot! I’ve been dealing with the mysterious pain since our Orlando rehearsals, yet the last two weeks had been virtually painless. Anyway, I don’t know what set it off, but my hip has been hurting ever since, and it’s a pretty sad sight to see me hobbling around backstage, down stairs, and down the hotel hall:) Is there a chiropractor in my reading audience??? Anyone know what’s wrong with me and what I can do to fix it???

FINALLY, I chipped my tooth on my microphone! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m an official mess! I was finishing up the call-response section of “Shake Your Body”, did some crazy spastic move, and hit one of my front teeth with the mic. I’ve done this before throughout my career, yet this time I felt a tiny chip fall on my lip, and knew I’d finally done it…it’s not the end of the world because I still have all my teeth…yet you can tell one of my front teeth is way more jagged than the other!

Thank you, God, that I didn’t knock out a tooth!

So here’s my microphone point of view for this show…looking straight out into the house today…

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Here are the carved wooden inserts that live over the back exits of the house…

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The inside of this theater is breathtakingly different from it’s outside surroundings! These inserts alone are more warm and dramatic than anything else I’ve seen today (besides Shannon’s wound!)

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Alrighty, that’s it for this edition of “You’re A-Peein’ To Read My Old Lady Newsletter” newsletter…please pray for my injuries and Shannon’s recurring lufa nightmares.

Goodnight from Dortmund (the next/our current city…I’m all caught up!!!)

Love,

Jenn

P.S. My throat felt so much better the next day! Hallelujah!


Limburg Traffic

Monday, February 8th, 2010

We start off our Limburg morning with our Tour Manager, Arvid, redirecting oncoming traffic in order for the bus to fit down a street…going the WRONG WAY!!! Arvid: Limburg Traffic Controller! At least he had a white-and-hazard orange striped shirt on so that the cars could see him in time to brake! We park halfway down this street, of course facing the wrong way, and our only doors out of the bus open up to the busy car-filled road! Our morning of dangerous living begins…

Bus Driver Ralf keeping a positive attitude!

Usually, Musical Director Richie and Dance Captain Shannon exit the bus to scout out the venue (locate catering, dressings rooms, where we shouldn’t walk, etc.), while we stay on the bus for a while longer. But today, Rob immediately herds all of us across the street…

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(Hey, at least they put little barricade-letts by our doors so we buy ourselves an extra 3 seconds of running time!)…

And files us into a line to get our picture taken for our Russia work visas. “But I don’t have any make-up on!”, I exclaim. “Well when the Rusian border wakes us up at 6AM to check visas and they compare yours with your sleepy face, it will match perfectly!”, retorted Rob. He was right, but I wasn’t happy.

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Thankfully, the photographer’s soft lens took care of any splotchy places. When I went into catering later to grab some lunch, what did I find taped under the show schedule?…our Russian mugshots! Hah! One big happy family:)

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After filling out my visa paperwork with Arvid, I was released to frolic in the streets of Limburg, and I was so excited because there was a HUGE cathedral I was rarin’ to find!

There are few cities to be compared with Limburg, where buildings date back to the middle ages and still stand today as they did then. For this reason the heart of the city that used to be surrounded with a wall is now under a preservation order as historic monument. That’s pretty awesome to have a whole piece of the city be deemed a monument!

In 910, the town was first mentioned as “Lintpurc”. Two of the popular theories are:

  • The name was chosen because of the closeness to the Linterer Bach, a former brook in Linter that has now run dry and that emptied into the Lahn River. Therefore it could be derived from “Linter Burg”, i.e. “castle on the Lint Brook”.
  • Rather unlikely but very popular is the connection to a dragon saga (see Lindworm) and the connection with the monastery of Saint George the “Dragon Slayer” founded in Limburg.

Right behind our venue is the Limburg Rathaus…check! That was too easy!

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OK…but no online stats on this town hall. Weird, but you know what? After hours of research, I’m just going to say it’s quite the whimsical structure to be known as the town’s City Hall, and more power to it! I think it’s beautiful, and I thank it for being the beginning of my walkabout!

The statue (below) by the Rathaus commemorates a Limburg citizen, Senger Werner, who in 1358, left the majority of his fortune to the hospital. Now called the “Citizens Hospital Foundation Fund, it ensures the poor to be equally treated in Limburg.

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So, just like in Siegen, I wandered down the streets again, craning my neck to see some hint of a spire, knowing this large structure was SO CLOSE (I caught a glimpse of it as we pulled into town on the bus), yet buried behind one of these parking garages or skyrises…then BAM!

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As I was taking a picture of another building, I saw the cathedral in the midst! This is what I stepped off the bus to see!

As I walked toward the cathedral, I was getting so excited because I could already see some of the famous half-timber houses of Limburg an der Lahn’s Medieval Old Town, nestled in the shadow of the cathedral. Below is a pic of where I was crossing over from newer brick road to old medieval cobblestone! I LOVE this place already!!!

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Limburg an der Lahn has one of the best preserved medieval town centers in Germany. Some of the old town’s half-timbered houses date back to the 13th century, but most of them from “only” the 17th or 18th century. The white houses with red and black framework give Limburg a particularly cheerful atmosphere. The city of Limburg an der Lahn was strategically important due to its location on the main trade route from Cologne to Frankfurt. This led to frequent conflicts with neighbouring lordships and made the city a target of robber-barons. As a result, the city was heavily fortified by the Counts of Limburg. Towers were built around the city in 1315. In 1343, walls and a moat were added to surround the town. Remains of the fortification wall from the years 1130, 1230 and 1340 (with a greatest ever length of roughly one thousand metres) are today’s strongest proof of the town’s quick development in the Middle Ages. The town wall was torn down in 1818. Of that original city wall, only the 13th century Katzenturm (“Cat’s Tower”) remains. This tower is now home to a naval museum.

Below are a group of houses at Bischofsplatz dating back to the 16th century. The so-called “Byron House” is one of them…

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These are my favorite shots from wandering the little town…

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I love how irregularly close these buildings are! I am truly mystified here, as if I’ve stepped into the town of my childhood imagination. It’s almost like strolling through the “Goblin City” from the movie Labyrinth! I could have spent all day just wandering the few streets, sitting by a doorstep and looking around for a while, running my hands along all the wood, plaster, and stone which just seems a bit more magical in these buildings than elsewhere…

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Because many buildings now have modern shops, pleasant cafés, and refurbished homes, it gives Limburg a living, breathing town life to balance the fantasyland aspects…so not only do I WANT to live here, but the complimenting modernization of the town makes it POSSIBLE for me to live here (hypothetically, of course)!

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Past all the quaint shops, tiny alleys, cobblestone paths, half-timbered houses, and wrought iron doorways, I finally come to the crown of the town… a colorful Romanesque cathedral.

Well hello there, colorful Romanesque cathedral!…what’s your name???

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The seven-towered Dom St Georg (St. George Cathedral) can be seen from quite far away, and draws visitors not only into Limburg in general, but towards its towering presence. The St. George’s Cathedral (also called Georgsdom) was built on the old monastery church’s site and was consecrated in 1235 by the Archbishop of Trier. The St. George Cathedral (ALSO called the Limburger Dom) is one of the best examples of late Romanesque architecture in the region, with some elements of the impending Gothic already visible in the interior. It was elevated to the rank of cathedral in 1827. The cathedral’s image appeared on the back side of the 1,000 Deutsche Mark banknotes (the largest denomination) in circulation between 1960 and 1989 (a period coinciding with West Germany’s post-war “economic miracle”).

Although the church was stripped bare during the 19th century in an erroneous notion of what medieval churches should look like, the exterior was repainted in its original colors during the restoration of 1968-1972.

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South of the cathedral is the Castle of Limburg (Limburger Schloss), erected around the same time as the cathedral (at that time, still just a church), by Gerlach von Ysenburg.

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I unknowingly took the pic above from the steps of part of the old castle….I didn’t take a picture of this area because it didn’t LOOK like a castle! I have to get it into my head that many German castles look more like fortresses or merely strongholds vs the storybook castles at which I’d prefer to gawk! The goal of the picture above is to show you all 7 of the cathedral’s towers in one shot. You can count the 7 points, yet the second-to-last one is only visible by it’s point:(…therefore, to show you just a bit more of that tower, plus to show you were I was standing, I broke down and pulled a stock photo (below)…

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Just to the left of this photo are the stairs I was standing on in order to take a picture. And you can barely see just a bit more of that 6th tower on the cathedral from this angle.

Around 800, the first castle buildings arose on the Limburg crags. This was designed for protection, probably for a ford on the river Lahn. In the decades that followed, the town arose under the castle’s protection. In the early 13th century, Limburg Castle was built in its current form. The Lordship of Limburg passed to the House of Isenburg between 1219 and 1221. One line of the Lords of Ysenburg resided from 1258 to 1406 at Limburg Castle and named themselves for their seat, the Lords of Limburg. From this line came Imagina of Isenburg-Limburg, German King Adolf’s wife. The Counts of Limburg, who lived in Limburg Castle, built the majority of the town structures still existing today. In 1379 a fire burned parts of the castle. In 1400 John II built the southern two-story hall (I’m assuming that’s one of the buildings above?). I feel like a jerk, missing the castle, and I honestly can’t figure out how I missed it, except there were two sets of paths behind the church that I didn’t explore….I would most likely have seen the vast back parts of the castle had I gone those ways, but there was a group of men lunching in the middle of one narrow path, and I was traveling alone so I didn’t want to pass them…and the other way just slipped through the cracks. DOH!

Well hopefully these inside cathedral shots will make up for the lack of castle shots…

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During restoration work, medieval frescoes were uncovered, making three quarters of the interior decorations the originals! The nave is 50 m (165 ft) long and 21 m (68 ft) high while the cupola soars to 33 m (197 ft).

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Of course I had to take a picture of the beautiful organ pipes in the back…

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By the way, the cathedral has it’s own donation box for Haiti…thanks Dom StGeorg!

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Back outside, off to the side of the front of the cathedral, is a modest cemetary…

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I don’t know if it’s in the cemetery or inside the cathedral, but Konrad Kurzbold, the one who laid the foundation stones for Saint George’s Monastery Church, is buried here, as well as the rulers of the house of Limburg. The cemetery lines the side of the cliff, reminding me how far above the Lahn River, valley, and town the cathedral truly rises.

Plunging back into my favorite little town streets, I come upon a more open space where Stadtkirche St. Sebastian sits…

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The Gothic church of St. Sebastian, a former Franciscan church, dates back to about 1300. True to the rules of the mendicant order (relying on charity), this church was built simply, without arches or ornamental shapes (later, the current ceiling, one aspect for which it is most known, was introduced in 1743). The most famous of the tombs here is that of John von Limburg (died 1312). “The Blind Lord” (reportedly nicknamed as a result of an eye disease in his old age) was head of the House of Limburg. John was probably responsible for the construction of the bridge over the Lahn at Limburg, the construction of the church of the Franciscan Monastery, and the founding of the Wilhelmiten monastery. Even the construction of St. Peter’s Chapel in Limburg Castle goes back to him.

Here’s a bit more info on the town history:

The ruling class among the medieval townsfolk were rich merchant families whose houses stood right near the castle tower and were surrounded by the first town wall. The area of today’s Rossmarkt (“Horse Market”), in which many simple craftsmen lived, was only brought within the fortifications once the second town wall was built. The inhabitants there, however, unlike the merchant élite, were accorded no entitlement to a voice in town affairs and were not allowed to send representatives to town council. Nevertheless, they had to bear the main financial burden of running the town. Only in 1458 were they allowed to send two representatives to town council.

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Here are some not-so-great parts of Limburg history:

-On 14 May 1289, a devastating fire wiped great parts of the inner town out, although these were built anew.

-The first Jews probably came from France in 1190 to Limburg, yet the first documentation of a Jewish community in the town was in the year 1278. In 1337, Limburg’s Jews were driven out of town. Only in 1341 could they once again settle in the town, by royal order. Around 1450, the Jewish community was wiped out again, and the few Jews who remained used a fish market’s cellar as their synagogue until the 18th century. Since 1998, there has been a stabilized Jewish community in Limburg, with a membership of 200 as of 2009.

-In 1344 a half share of the town was pledged to the Electorate of Trier, and in 1420, the town went wholly into Trier’s ownership. This event, along with another town fire in 1342, the Black Death in 1349, 1356 and 1365, but above all the Territorial Princes’ rise, led to a gradual decline until…

Back on the positive historical facts:

-…the early 19th century, when the rise of the the Duchy of Nassau (1806-1866) gave a new lease of life to Limburg.

-In 1827, Limburg became the seat of a diocese.

-In 1862, it had become an important railway junction in the region, which led to it becoming district capital in 1886.

Making my way out of the “most medieval” part of town, I see a fountain which reminds me of my St. George research…they guy who became part of a dragon-slaying legend, etc. I’ll snap this picture, then see if I’m right later…

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I’m right! (hah!)

The George Fountain, or “Georgsbrunnen” was donated by the honorary Limburg citizen, Josef Heppel, who was a trained plumber, born in 1849. This year is the fountains 100th birthday. The fountain of St. George was moved in the 1960s to this small square (Neumarkt), it’s present home. The victorious knight it represents was a hero, a saint, and also patron saint of the diocese of Limburg. The figure, resting on an approximately two-meter high octagonal pillar, was created by sculptor R. Hilf. At some point, the statue had become structurally vulnerable, due to the wars and old age, and was therefore recast entirely in bronze. Young George replaced Old George, and has watched over the residents and guests of the Neumarkt, since 1987. Old George, now stands at the entrance of the Limburg town archives.

The last interesting structure I come across is the Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Lindburg, or the Evangelical Church of Limburg…

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The Evangelical Church is also the Jugendfreizeitstätte Limburg (JFS for short, meaning “Youth Leisure Place”), a meeting place for youth. With a table football, Internet café, and many church-based and non church-based events, this institution’s staff serves members and visitors.

Now that I’m finishing up my walkabout, and even as I write this newsletter a few days later, I really wish I’d stayed put in the Old Town of Limburg longer…I truly miss it already (and still)! But nevertheless, my Limburg journey is completed upon my return to the Josef Kohlmaier Hall (Limburg Stadthalle)… DSC03086.jpg

This venue contributes significantly to the cultural atmosphere of Limburg, presenting everything from concerts and fashion shows to providing rooms for lectures and even bowling!

Here’s a particularly enchanting angle of the lobby stairway…

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So let’s see…Nothing out of the ordinary to report about the show. The children’s choir was adorable, Latosha borrowed my speakers for her new iPod and had an exceptionally entertaining day because of it, and, oh yeah…one more incident…I will sum it up with this statement: If the one girl in your cast usually keeps her dressing room door WIDE OPEN when she gets ready…check twice…check three times…before entering if the DOOR IS CLOSED! I’m so tired of not having locks on my dressing room door, because of course the 5 minutes I’m getting into/out of the shower or getting changed, someone has to open that door. I kind of live in fear every time I close that door, and today in Limburg, that fear was realized. It’s all good, though…the culprit is innocent…but STILL! A lady deserves her privacy, even on tour!!!

OK, enough complaining. I’ve had a great day in Limburg and no accidental peep show is gonna ruin that!

Have a great start to your week and I’ll be emailing you again soon!

~Jenn