Lübeck, Germany – Eva’s Hometown
Posted on June 6, 2015
As a way of celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary, Eva and I thought it would be fitting to have our daughter, Christina, and family join us in the town where Eva grew up, and where we celebrated our honeymoon, lo these many years ago. The Simmonses took the ICE train down from Copenhagen and we met at the Hauptbahnhof, the main train station, such an important institution in most every European city. Heaven forbid, the train was not on time – a mechanical issue somewhere, almost unheard of. We were advised it would be 40 minutes delayed and so it was.
By foot, we headed right off to the Holstentor, Lübeck’s medieval gate that is the town’s most revered and recognized tower. It is one of several surviving gates that once helped control the ebb and flow of merchants and bad guys. Lübeck is a really special place as a result of being so wealthy in the Middle Ages when it was the Queen of the Hanseatic League. This league of cities controlled trade in northern Europe for centuries. The basic brick architecture of Lübeck carried over to the other league members, and most all of them are architectural jewels down to this present day. Some of the most noteworthy are Bruges in Belgium, Groningen in the Netherlands, Hamburg, Bremen, Rostock, Stralsund and Greifswald in Germany, and even Gdansk in Poland. On our present journey, we are visiting all but two of these places.
There is much to do and see in Lübeck despite it’s being firebombed by the British in 1942, while Eva was a mere babe there. It was a test ground for incendiary air attacks. Most of the city burned, but today it’s largely rebuilt and is splendid. The Rathaus (City Hall) is a major attraction.
The main city is built on an island. A boat cruise is a good way to see the town and all its spires.
The largest church in town, Saint Mary’s, is a real jewel. It’s where Eva’s sister was married.
When the Marienkirche burned during the war, the bells fell and smashed. They have been left in place as a remembrance.
One morning we walked through Eva’s neighborhood where she lived and played in the street with few cars to interfere. As we stood in front of her house a young lady entered and we introduced ourselves. She was kind enough to show us the uppermost part of the house where she has an apartment under the rafters. Of course many changes have occurred but floods of memories returned. In particular, how the considerate British soldiers commandeered the house shortly before the war ended and forced the three Ermeler families into the tight upper story. Then suddenly victory was declared and next day the soldiers left. Remaining table scraps left by the soldiers were eagerly devoured.
One of the most anticipated activities of our family whenever we visit Lübeck is a visit to the Niederegger store, famous for its marzipan confection. This was certainly high on Aiden’s to-do list and he was not disappointed. We all went away laden with purchases to enjoy at home.
This was Aiden’s first trip to Europe, and as a 12 year old, he’s presently studying Europe in the Middle Ages. He’s super excited to be seeing and experiencing the real thing, coming face to face with the art and architecture he’s seen in his school books.
Eva has kept in touch with her high school friends, the Herfurts, over all these years. We enjoyed lunch together and had lots of memories to share.
One day we just had to devote to the beach at Travemunde to relive those days when Eva played in the sand there, and later looked across the river to the Communist East German side so very close and so spooky with its watch towers and barbed wire. Eva’s brother, Rolf, met us there for a day of walking along the cliffs and enjoying a good lunch together.
Here’s a message at the Travemunde beach that is dear to Eva’s heart – Simply Enjoy the Sea.