Day 17: Kassel


A Centaur blows its horn as a fountain erupts at the top of Herkules. (as always, scroll to the bottom for more photos).

Fritzlar and St. Boniface

(Wednesday - June 20, 2018)

I was hoping to add a couple videos to this, but I don't know if I will be able to... stay tuned.

Today Ortwin took me to Fritzlar on our way to Kassel. Fritzlar is a small town with a rather impressive collection of preserved medieval buildings and a connection to the medieval conversion of Germans (Sachsens/Saxons, I believe) to Christianity. The largest remaining town wall defense tower is in Fritzlar: the "Grey Tower." It is four or five stories tall and very impressive. Most of the town wall survives and gives Fritzlar a true medieval vibe.

We also stumbled upon a tour group getting a guided tour of Fritzlar including the statue of St. Boniface. Boniface was commissioned by the Pope in 725 to convert German pagans to Christianity. On his first mission, he came to a place near Fritzlar where the local people worshipped an ancient oak tree as the symbol of their god (Donor\'s Oak or Thor\'s Oak). Boniface proceeded to cut it down, but as he made a superficial cut, the a wind came and blew it down... and broke it into four equal pieces... (yes, Christian propaganda: the four equal pieces represent the four gospels, and the wind God\'s will). Anyhow, it was interesting to see the statue, hear the story, and take in the huge church.

Ortwin then took me around to look at some of the old houses. He explained that the low doors, built at an angle into the foundation are entrances to the cellars for preserving root vegetables and storing wood or coal for heating. Much like cellars for midwest homes in the U.S. We ended our tour of Fritzlar with a stop at the best bratwurst stand in the City (according to Ortwin). Strangely, I told him, this was the first bratwurst I\'ve had since arriving in Germany. We got talking with a lady at one of the tables and she told me and Ortwin about her daughter who now lives in Maine. She doesn\'t speak much English and her daughter\'s husband speaks no German. So he cannot easily get a job in Germany. She\'s sad that her daughter is far away, but it is the way of the modern world. I mostly listened, but briefly chatted with her. She complimented me on my German, but I honestly don\'t think I\'m very good... however, I think most people are surprised and delighted that I try.

Kassel: The Herkules

Ortwin and I then left Fritzlar and drove to Kassel. Our first stop was to the Wilhelmshohe Bergpark on the west side of the city. Ortwin had been here before, but seemed as excited as ever to see the fountain. I had heard of the Herkules while researching Kassel on the internet, but I didn\'t find the descriptions all that compelling.

Well, we were lucky enough to get to the Herkules Monument when it was just about to show off its amazing water features. This huge man-made fountain, cascade, and waterfall feature sends 92,000 gallons of water through underground pipes using gravity to increase pressure and display dazzling fountains and natural-looking cascades and waterfalls from the top of Wilhelmshöhe Berg to the bottom.

The rainwater is released only twice a week on Wednesdays  and Sundays. It was much more impressive than I thought it would be. Especially considering it only uses gravity and cisterns to pressurize the water - no pumps, electricity, or even manpower. Even the centaurs blaring horns are somehow activated by the water. The entire complex was built in the 18th Century (between 1701 and 1717 to be exact), 300 years ago as of 2017, by the Landgraves of Kassel.
Ortwin says he has only seen the water features - wasserspeile (water games) - only once before, so arriving as we did, only 15 minutes before the Wednesday water games, was quite fortuitous.

Hotel for the Night

After stopping at a bike shop, Ortwin took me to my hotel in Kassel. My plan is to stay overnight, then bike the 30 miles to Ermschwerd where my great grandfather Friedrich Heinrich Rappe was born and lived till about 1890 (when he moved to Brazil).

Ortwin was very helpful with unloading my items and waiting with me for the receptionist. There was a long line of check-ins. At that point I really wanted to let Ortwin get back to Bad Wildungen. His wife was home from work and he had an evening gym class. I thanked him for hosting me for two days, providing breakfast and dinners, travel by car from Paderborn to Kassel, and showing me several amazing sights I would never have seen on my own. I gave him a hug, which I know in Germany is a bit odd between strangers. But he and his wife are really kind people. I hope they have a wonderful time with Dick and Julie in their travels around Lake Superior this next week.

Once I got settled in my hotel room, I did some laundry in the sink (the socks really, really needed it). The windows made for a good drying system and I tried to get online to write this update... no luck! And that\'s why you\'re reading Wednesday\'s update on Friday (or later).

Till tomorrow my friends! Tschuss! 


Videos and Photos below!

At the top of the Herkules and the beginning of the Wasserspiele.

Herkules and the waterfall cascades – the start of the wasserspiele

The Roman Aqueduct “Ruins” and waterfalls, the second of four water features.

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