He walked along the cobbled pathway, working his way around the historic square in slow motion in the shadow of the Dom. His feet had last graced these stones many years ago, and now, unlike then, it was raining a fine mist of droplets, covering every surface available but barely palpable on the skin itself. His thoughts lingered to the dominating brick and stone built twin-towered Dom that had stood for many centuries overlooking the square, of the individual lives that they had silently watched over, of the city they had seen being built, burned, rebuilt and bombed time and time again. Time herself is a very odd mistress, one that can command an excruciating hour to last a lifetime but wish away a long awaited holiday in the blink of an eye. It was hard for his mind to let go of the thought that he had been waiting many years to be here once more, in the heartland of Europe, to think that he was meant to come back. To once again see the familiar faces aged by the years but to notice the still vibrant smiles lingering on the faces of people that he loved.
The Dom itself had also been born anew in the time that it had taken for him to return. No longer spouting a skeletal frame of metal and canvas around it’s gothic towers, the building gleamed a new vitality as if life itself leached from the very stone of its own integral anatomy. The smell of the refreshed moist earth, of the surrounding shrubbery glinting with water droplets, made him feel glad to be rooted once again to the European continent.
Photograph by author.
The flats that hosted the group for 6 weeks in the city of Magdeburg, in eastern Germany.
In the shadow of the Magdeburg Cathedral’s cloister, known officially as the Cathedral of the Saints Catherine and Maurice, the author is overlooked by the beautifully designed 13th century Gothic building. It is the oldest Gothic cathedral in Germany, and houses the remains of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I (‘Otto the Great’) and his English wife Edith. Interestingly the cathedral also has one of the first examples of an artist representation of an ethnic African individual in Central European art.
The Jahrtausendturm in Magdburg, which, at 60m high is the third tallest wooden tower in the world. Established and built in 1999, the tower plays host to a science and natural history museum as well as a unique vantage point of it’s surroundings of Elbauen park and the nearby River Elbe, in Magdeburg.
A detail of the Berlin skyline.
The Humboldt Box on Schloßplatz in central Berlin, with the tethered aerial viewing platform in the distance. The Box is a ‘futuristic’ museum, which houses changing exhibitions, cafes and viewing platforms for various views of the city.
As part of the Museum Island in the centre of Berlin, the ‘Greek, Etruscan, and Roman museum’ offers an in-depth look at the impact, history and physical relics of these Mediterranean based peoples.
A small lake near the Schloss of Hundisburg, in Saxony-Anhalt. Dating from the 16th century, but with altered designs from previous centuries the Schloss is particularly impressive, even with on-going restoration.
A rhinoceros at Magdeburg Zoo. This beautifully peaceful beast was happy to have his photograph taken. The zoo hosts a wide range of animals from all over the world, with particularly emphasis on large mammals and birds of prey.
Two elephants at the excellent Magdeburg Zoo amble around and relax. A public feeding helped the visitors become acquainted with these mammals, the largest land animal alive today. To come face to face with such creatures was quite inspiring.
Silently drifting over the city of Magdeburg, balloon rides are a popular way of seeing the landscape from another vantage point.
*All photographs are my own, and if shared please credit as appropriate (see Creative Commons).
“When a memory fails to appear, it seems as though the time when it was created did not really exist, and maybe that is true. Time itself is nothing; only the experience of it is something. When that dies, it assumes the form of a denial, the symbol of mortality, what you already lost before you lose everything. When his friend had said something similar to his father, his response had been, “If you had to retain everything you’d explode. There’s simply not enough space for it all. Forgetting is like medicine; you have to take it at the right time.””
In ‘Roads to Berlin: Detours and Riddles in the Lands & History of Germany’, by Cees Nooteboom (2009: 129).
A deserted medieval village near Hundisburg, Germany, perhaps epitomising the above quote as time itself strips the building, and it’s memories, back. Photograph taken by Don’t Bend Ascend in 2011.
There is a certain something as you dive deep into any body of water, of being submerged and engulfed by the liquid, that feels quite alright by me. It is refreshing, liberating even. It is nice to arch the back, take one last gulp of fresh air and then push down deep into the water, to feel that last kick of your legs in the air as you descend near vertical as the water embraces you in a tight fluid hug. If I get chance I will happily swim anywhere I can, though as of late the sea and the local swimming pool have been my areas of contentment.
The German Lake.
Almost a year and a half ago I had the opportunity to swim in the German lakes, SW of Berlin, and it was a chance I took often, and with great relish. Half way around the lake I discovered that there was a patch of secluded sandy soil, where the grasses fed into the water with reeds swaying lightly either side of this little enclave. It was perfect, it was heavenly. Away from the main ‘commercial’ area of the busy lake, it was a nest of shelter and calm. It was to be there that I swam naked for the first time in public, clear under the midday sun. It was pure bliss. On busier days it was where I swam with an old couple, out into the open water, where I saw young couples in the full bloom of love snuggle and hug in the warm shallows, and where I saw young families enjoying the company of each other, of brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers.
It is not just the inherent beauty of swimming in water that I find relaxing and comforting, rather it is the pure escape, of experiencing a wholly different environment from which we are used to spending our time in. It is bliss, pure and simple.