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Emily Dickinson Meets Captain Blood


Kiel, Germany

On Tuesday I did something very remarkable, at least for me, as opposed to Emily Dickinson, or I imagine many people: I never left the house from waking up to going to bed.

On Wednesday I was turning that one day event  into a trend when at two in the afternoon I realized I must strike out into the world or start writing poetry.  Without top coat, but with a hat, I strode confidently to the train station and took the train to Lübeck.  It was  gray day, but not cold.


I didn’t know that Lübeck was different from most European towns in that the train station was not near the center of town.  That is because Lübeck is a place of great antiquity and the old center of the city, sort of like Brugge in Belgium, was recognized as place to preserve before such a defilement could happen. My initial destination was the 15th Century Holstentor Gate. I walked from the station to a bus loading area where I found a posted map.  I then followed the buses over a bridge toward the old city.  There I saw the gate.  It was the sort of thing Walt Disney tried to recreate in Disneyland.


On the other side of the gate was a mix of the very old and the nearly new.  I walked up a business street that strangely reminded me of Ashland, Oregon.  Near the top I could see a McDonalds.  I looked to my left and saw something much older.  I went through a narrow passage and then under the eave along a building easily five hundred years old.  Ahead of me was a large brick church.


I went inside, contributing 2 euro, as asked.   I was told the cathedral  had been bombed in 1942 with most  of the roof and towers demolished.  There was also a firestorm.  To commemorate that terrible time in a corner under one of the now rebuilt towers they left where they lay  large bells that had fallen from their heights and smashed on the floor  .  It really impresses me how bomb destroyed buildings in Europe were so carefully rebuilt after the war.  This one was a twenty year process.   The original organ, which Bach and Handel had both played, was also destroyed.  It has been replaced with one that has  pipes thirty feet tall.  Those pipes were high above the church floor at the  rear wall of the central nave.  It really is a huge place with three long vaulted roofed naves and short transepts on each side.  Behind the Apse are statues.  Most are missing limbs or fingers.  The general feeling of the place was stoic somberness.  I hope to return some day and hear the organ play.


It was raining, sort of a heavy mist, when I left the church.  The old city of Lübeck is surrounded by water with the streets going up hill toward the middle.  Those main streets have the most modernity among them.  I walked along a diagonal street with many houses built in the crow step gable design.

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One of the more notable was the Seaman’s Guild building that houses  the Schiffer Gesellschaft restaurant and claims to be the oldest pub in the world.  It is a meeting place for sailors from around the world.  I wondered if my dad, long time member of the Sailors Union of the Pacific, had ever dropped in?  I considered having a beer or something inside for posterity’s sake but decided to keep walking.  It didn’t look like the heavy drizzle was going to stop.


Further along that street was another huge brick building from the middle ages.  It was the Customs House building.  Due to the rain I decided to head  back toward the bridge to the train station.  I didn’t want to take exactly the same route so I went a few blocks in the opposite direction on a narrow cobblestone street past houses hundreds of years old.  I came to a business street and turned along it.  There I came to the most interesting group of buildings  of my visit.  It was the Hospital of the Holy Spirit which was established in 1260.

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Being pretty damp, from there I took a different diagonal road to the station.  I crossed the Bridge of Statues. The statues were of Greek Gods.  Mercury was properly shown sans outfit with the poor guy’s nether regions naked to the north wind.


Further reading about Lübeck would not be a waste of time.  It has a very interesting history and was once a very rich city. In1375  Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV named Lübeck one of the five “Glories of the Empire.”   The other four were Venice, Rome, Pisa and Florence.  A whole bunch of famous writers have lived there.

Walking through the drizzle I was looking forward to buying a beer in the station store for the ride home.  Darn the luck, my train was warmed up and ready to roll when I arrived, so I got on board and sat back and relaxed.  Choo Choo Ch’Boogie!

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