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Thursday, February 16, 2012

My View of Germany from Louisiana

  One of the most unexpected joys that has come out of this blog has been the wide range of readers that have visited my page.  Many of you who read my blog are from Russia, Great Britain, France, Pakistan, Brazil, the Marianas Islands, and many other fantastic countries.  This is one of the most amazing factors of the Internet: so many people have met who would have never interacted fifteen years ago.

  My wife Jennifer has also met many people outside the United States.  One of those new friends lives in Germany.  We were quite pleased when he took the time to send us some postcards from that beautiful country.  (For you young people out there, a postcard is something like a status update on Facebook.  It shows a picture of some place you have visited, and you send this picture to a friend, with a note on the back of it.  See?  A Facebook status sent through the mail!)  I've had dozens of photos sent to me on Facebook, but none of them were as exciting as getting one postcard in the mail.  Maybe I'm old fashioned, but it really says something when a friend takes the time to drop a postcard in the mail.  Especially from over five thousand miles away.

  What the postcard sender did not know is that I took two years of German language class in High School, and my teacher, who had spent a great deal of time in Germany, use to tell us of his many travels in Germany, filling our heads with stories of snow, autobahns, and lots of German beer.  We loved it.  Sadly, I allowed much of my knowledge of German to fade away, but I never lost my interest in Germany.  It is why I was so happy to see our German postcards in the mail.

  Here's what struck me after the third postcard arrived.  Though we travel a little, we are pretty busy, and don't get out from our home town too much.  And yet, through friends, we have been able to peer into a part of Germany (and Austria) we would not have been able to see from here on our own.  Of course, the name of my blog is Room With No View.  And it has a meaning.  I have a small bedroom, which is really a walk-in closet, that I use when I work the night shift.  It has no windows and I can sleep in the dark during the day.  Often, I sit in there with my laptop, surfing the web, seeing the world from this room with no view.  Little did I guess, when I started the blog, that so many people from other parts of the world would be able to see into my small world.

  This blog, through the Internet, is a window through which I can see out and others can see in.  So, without further explanation, I would like to share with you what has been shared with me.  Jennifer's friend Gunther(and I would certainly count him as a friend, as well), sent these postcards to us, and I pass them on to all of you readers.  My sincerest thanks go out to Gunther for his kindness and thoughtfulness.

The first of the cards was a collection of photos of the churches of Gorlitz.  The easternmost city in Germany, Gorlitz, once on both sides of the Lusatian Neisse river, is now a divided city.  The city on the east bank of the river, now part of Poland, is called Zgorzelec.  Today, the residents of both cities can cross freely from one side to the other.

  As you can see in the postcard, these large churches are simply beautiful.  I'm sure the interiors are even more stunning.  I am intrigued by the modern design of the Kruezkirche (top right), but I am partial to the traditional architecture of the Kreuzkapelle (Cross Chapel) and the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche (Holy Cross Church) on the bottom row.

  Next we see a wonderful view of Munich.  Gunther tells us there is a pretty Christmas market where one can eat Lebkuchen cookies while drinking spicy mulled wine.  The cookies sound great.  Googling them tells me they are traditionally large cookies that are somewhat like gingerbread.  That would certainly hit the spot!  And Jennifer is a big fan of mulled wine, which she usually gets at our annual Dickens on the Strand festival in Galveston.

  Again we see magnificent churches, eclipsed only by the Alps in the distance.  In the foreground you can see the Siegestor (Victory Gate) of Munich.  Built in the mid 1800's, with lions pulling the chariot instead of horses, it was partially destroyed near the end of the war in 1945.  What remains is still impressive, and its inscription now reads "Dem Sieg geweiht, vom Krieg zerstört, zum Frieden mahnend", which translates as "Dedicated to victory, destroyed by war, reminding of peace", according to Wikipedia.
  Munich must be a very colorful city.  Just in this view, we can see red roofs, a yellow cathedral, a while cathedral, and the blue-green copper domes of the Frauenkirche.

  The third postcard of the set is a winter wonderland of snow and fun.  Zell am Ziller, a town in Austria, is certainly picture perfect for a postcard.  This looks nothing like the cross-country skiing I use to do in Michigan.  This is the real deal.  Set in the Tyrolean Alps, our friend on the scene tells us the fresh air is exhilarating.  It is also -20 degrees Celsius!  That's -4 degrees Fahrenheit for us in the States.  For us here in Louisiana, that's more like...death! 

  As you might know, I'm an avid reader and film buff.  I can't help but think this location would be great for an Alistair MacLean novel or movie: vast scenery, yet isolation in a cold setting.  That would be delightful!

These three postcards stay on our refrigerator, and now you can enjoy them too.  I hope that those of you who are in distant lands might consider sending me pictures from your country as well.  I would love to share them with everyone here.  If you'd like to send me pictures by e-mail, you can do so at  If you'd like to send me postcards (I'd so love to see them in my mailbox) then just e-mail me for my postal address.

Thanks again to Gunther for the excellent postcards! 

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