21 November, 2016

Erlangen part IV - Bamberg 2.0

Call me pernickety, but after my quick evening stroll through Bamberg I thought it had not done justice to this gem of a city. Therefore, I decided to give it another try during my last weekend in Franconia. After making sure "my" patient was fine and independent, and assuring I can be reached by phone any time, we agreed on taking the weekend off so I could explore. 
Again, my path led me from Bamberg train station towards the old city center, only this time I had the whole day ahead of me. Plus: given I've been there before, I could get most of my plans done without getting lost in maps and apps :)
Even the sun came out and promised a wonderful time, giving me the chance to discover new views, as well as see the known ones in a different light.
First of all, I decided to have a stroll by the Linker Regnitzarm towads Schleuse 100, a mid-19th century sluice that is still operated by hand.
I could not see any activity that day, and decided not to go any further. 
Skipping the Luisenhain, I went back towards the city center, past the old town hall and crowds of tourists. 
As there are some renovations going on in and around the Michaelsberg abbey that obviously made the object unaccessible, I decided to skip that part, too, and head towards the cathedral instead. 
It seemed to be open (yay!), but obviously due to a concert it would be closed to public for some time, meaning you wouldn't be able to get out once you were in, let alone explore its interior. For a while I thought of seeing something else in the meantime, but then I figured I might as well take the surprise performance for a little rest.
Smart decision. Under the sounds of the huge organ I could comprehend the size of the building as well as what I could see of its ornaments. It may seem these concerts have tradition as the church was packed full.
Another bonus: when people started pouring in and out after the performance, I was alread strolling past the gigantic pillars.
I somehow missed the importance of the Bamberg Horseman, but I happened to find the altar of Veit Stoss - certainly makes me with to visit its big Polish brother again :)
Rich Thanksgiving decorations in front of the main altar. No wonder the smell of groceries was spreading through the whole front area of the cathedral :)
Next on my list: Alte Hofhaltung. The formal economic buildings of the Episcopal court were incredibly empty, especially compared to the rosegarden where one would litteraly fight their way through crowds of tourists. 
No lonely terrace view for me this time, however, after waiting for ages I could even get a no-people shot :)
My uphill walk this time consisted of visiting the Carmelite convent. After a little bit of getting lost not being sure whether I was on the right way, I got to see a big bright church, a quiet cloister, and the loveliest little monastery shop one can imagine. I'll certainly have to do some more shopping here next time ;)
When I wanted to spend the rest of the day just strolling around, it seemed as if rain was about to set in. With no jacket and no umbrella owever, I switched to a quick walk to the train station, hoping to arrive at the hotel before it really  starts to rain.
Only on my way back however I realized how close to all the water people live. It must be a Venice-like fairytale as long as the weather is nice, but any increase of water levels probably means your belongings will be flooded in no time.
Another last-minute discovery: some kind of crafting store. Even though it looked like it's focused on stamps and printing, I might want to have a look some day. Because that's what we crafters do (and then go home with a bag of things one never knew they needed). 
The Stolpersteine on the other side are probably one of the first things one will notice in the streets. Literally meaning "stumbling stones", the small cobblestone-like monuments by Gunter Demnig do their name justice as they really seem to pop up on the pavements in front of you. 
Commemorating the victims of the Nazi-regime, they are created individually for each person once research on them is complete. Equipped with basic personal data they are then being placed in front of the person's last known freely chosen address. 
Even though one might argue its placing enables people to step on the victims with one's feet yet again, I think you're more likely to try not to step on them intentionally. Because they are not the kind of cobblestones you're used to. Because you know each of the names engraved represents a person - a couple of dates and places that sum up their fate. And because each time you pass one in a hurry, a sort of collective guilt gives you that indescribable feeling in your chest and stomach. 
And all of sudden it becomes incomprehensible how people could disappear from every other house without anyone noticing, let alone questioning it. 
I guess the answer isn't only to be sought in open hatred towards someone, but also in a quiet radicalization of the minds, the indistinguished spreading of ideas and fears that are at first too asurd to be taken seriously, until they're too real to rebel against them without getting hurt. And in the end, silence has always turned out to be the strongest ally of oppression.

Overall, I should probably say Bamberg is a charming little town with plenty to see that makes it worth visiting - if necessary, even twice in a week. From busy tourist lanes to quiet hidden places, it has attractions to fit whatever type of visitor you may be. Nevertheless, a weekday-trip may have the benefit of *a little bit* smaller crowds in general ;)

~ to be continued ~

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