Saturday – Monday, April 29 – May 1
With Danielle on her way to new adventures we readied JUANONA for our next port, a Friesian Island off the northern coast of Netherlands. Having stopped at Vlieland Island going to/returning from Norway last summer we opted to explore a bigger one just to the east.
Because of the strong tide we timed our departure from Hindeloopen so we’d exit the lock with close to a high tide. With another sunny weekend the Dutch and Germans also decided to get out on the water with plenty of boats sharing the lock with us.
Once out we carefully followed the marked channel through the sand banks. Three hours later we entered Terschelling’s harbor greeted by one of the friendliest marine managers we’ve yet to meet. He smilingly welcomed us and told us to tie up anywhere along the docks noted for 12-meter and longer boats.
Not only was the harbor guy wonderful but so was docking with tons of space. No stressful timing of lassoing pilings here.
Bike rentals provided us a breezy yet sunny ride around most of the island the next day. We spotted soaring kite surfers…
pedaled through pine trees
and beside dunes,
then stopped to gaze at the seemingly limitless horizon of sand and sea.
But, we wanted to cross that sea, not just look at it. Realizing we had another nine days, if not more, before the weather systems would be favorable to sail to Norway we did our usual ‘let’s-go-somwhere’.
Tuesday – Friday, May 2 – 5
So, we did :) We selected northern Germany, specifically some Hanseatic towns as our road-trip destination. The Hansa or Hanseatic League began in the 13th century when some German merchants formed an association to protect their trading interests. Northern German towns located in strategic sites, such as on rivers and coastlines, became powerful commercial interests with Lubeck taking the lead.
We headed to that city via foot, ferry (Where Max practiced some of his yoga moves),
train, and car arriving easily within eight hours of travel.
The next day a bus close to our small hotel dropped us next to to the main landmark of Lubeck, the Holsten Gate. Built between 1464 and 1478 this Gothic gate guarded the entrance to the city during the Middle Ages and remains one of Germany’s most important city gates from that time.
This landmark is also close to the Tourist Information Office where we purchased a self-guided tour map in spite of the dour and uninspiring agent behind the desk. But, hey, we had our map, our feet, and a decent day to explore this medieval city.
What we discovered during our tour were a lot of historic churches. It seemed like no sooner had we exited one religious building we were entering another beginning with…
St. Peter’s: built in the 13th century with subsequent renovations over the years as displayed on outdoor signage as yet another renovation is in process
and where we had an elevator ride to the tower offering a bird’s eye view of the Holsten and the 16th & 18th brick warehouses to the left, which once housed salt shipped from Lunenburg;
Lubbock Cathedral: founded in 1137 by Duke Henry the Lion,
and whose vastness and splendid religious art made we wish for a live guide versus the little pamphlet we held as we walked the 130 meters (over 427 feet);
St. Jacob’s Church: dating back to 1334 and the one for seafarers and sailors with its kegs protecting trading goods or, just possibly filled with grog…
And, our last churchy-inside view,
St. Mary’s Church: constructed around 1200 and called the ‘mother of Gothic brick churches’ because of providing the architectural design for approximately 70 other churches in the Baltic region… it’s also where we viewed bells smashed on the floor following the 1942 bombing raid during WWII.
We wandered into and out of the impressive Hospital of the Holy Spirit, which provided care for the elderly and the infirmed as early as the 13th century; the complex is huge as you can see from this model.
This day we had designated simply as getting a sense of the city and its medieval flavor, not as one filled with any museums; but, we did take in one excellent exhibition, the Willy Brandt House. His name was familiar but I couldn’t tell you much else about this man. We had only planned to peek in yet the displays and Brandt’s story seduced us.
This location in Lubeck is a sister one to a site in Berlin, both run by the Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt Foundation. The foundation’s mission is historical and political education, and we did receive some excellent information as our ‘just a glance’ led to a thirty-minute absorption of Willy Brandt (1913-92).
This small museum offered visitors a fairly quick, but excellent, biography of Brandt’s life, beginning with his birth in Lubeck and continuing to his death in Bonn 79 years later. Below are just a few highlights:
his resistance against the Nazis–resulting in his immigration to Norway under an assumed name following threats to his life 1933-45…
rising to leadership of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG aka West Germany) 1948-70s…
receiving the Nobel Peace Prize 1971…
and continuing his work as an elder statesman on a global scale in his fight for human rights.
The exhibit also explained his controversial “Ostpolitik”, the policy which began the de-escalation of Cold War tensions between the FRG and the German Democratic Republic (GDR aka East Germany) by beginning a dialogue with the Soviet Bloc in 1969.
Another political controversy ended his rule as chancellor when five years later Brandt resigned after discovering one of his aides was an East German spy.
But, Brandt didn’t stop working towards unification of Germany, which he witnessed with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
And, he tirelessly advocated for overcoming the socio-economic gap between the north and south hemispheres believing the main causes of terrorism and wars are hunger and social injustice. The world could use a heck of a lot more politicians like him.
Time to catch a bus back to our hotel and scrounge for dinner.
Thursday with its forecast of rain was the perfect day for what was one of the highlights of our trip: the Hansemuseum, which opened in 2015.
This museum benefits from the new technology used to immerse visitors in the displays. With a simple paper ticket we began our tour,
one lasting for almost four hours.
For anyone interested in a behind-the-scenes tech usage at the museum, check out this link: https://www.amptown-system.com/en/references/europaeisches-hansemuseum.html.
The museum begins with the early foundations of the city
and then quickly provides information on how Lubeck came to be the power house of the Hanseatic League.
I discovered that Novgorod, one of the oldest cities in Russia and an important trading center, played a key part in Lubeck’s success. With luxury goods arriving from the Silk Road and other ancient trading routes from the East, Novgorod attracted foreign merchants, some being those from Lubeck and surrounding towns.
Initially Low German merchants would sail to Sweden’s Gotland Island to join their Scandinavian counterparts for the journey to this Russian city. (The Scandinavians knew the route across the Baltic having traded with Novgorod for longer. As commerce grew among different cities, agreements would be signed with rulers designating specific rights to merchants.)
In 1159 Duke Henry the Lion grants Lubeck special privileges and rights. He also agrees to let Scandinavian and Russian merchants trade freely in his city. These two components position Lubeck for leadership of the Hansa.
To control their trade even more German merchants set up trading posts, the first one being in Novgorod with others in London (it wasn’t until Queen Elizabeth I’s rule that the Hansa lost their post there), Bruges, and Bergen (the latter we had visited last summer when in Norway). Eventually, the Hansa has its own governing body, tariffs and exchange rates. The League also had its own military, but peace was preferred in order to keep the goods flowing.
The museum provides exhaustive detailed information on all aspects of the Hansa. Just take a quick look at a few of the displays:
a chart of Lubeck merchants’ capita…
navigation at sea…
ties to the crusades…
construction equipment (note the interesting source for the illustration)…
and even economic effects of the Plague.
We also saw connections to other sites we’d visited such as a pilgrim badge with its image of Saint Servatius whose church we recently saw in Maastricht, Netherlands
and a replica of stockfish warehouse such as what we spotted in Bergen, Norway as well as in most Lofoten towns we visited.
I have no doubt whatever question you have about the Hansa, you’d find the answer here.
After almost four hours our eyes were spinning and you could have fried an egg on my brain. With a stop in the (over-priced) cafe for lunch and wifi access, we ended our day by visiting the Castle Friary. Constructed in the 13th century and originally for the Dominican monks, it later served as an almshouse after the Reformation in the 16th century. Later, this morphed into a hospital, a prison, and a court of law. Nice to have old buildings reused vs. torn down.
As part of the museum, the Friary had a display answering my question on how the Hansa become defunct: the development of profitable trans-continental trade by Spain, Portugal, England, and the Netherlands; and, increased power of regional lords over their cities’ laws and commerce. The League also had competition for their Baltic trade, which eroded their power even more. The last parliament was held in 1669 and only a few showed up in spite of the League’s threat of expulsion for non-attendees. The finale was in 1862 with only three members (Lubeck, Bremen and Hamburg) remaining as members. However, some former members still call themselves “free and Hanseatic Cities”.
One could say the League just went dormant until the 20th century for some folk credit this early Germanic association as the forerunner of the European Union. Hmmm… a foretelling of that body’s future?
Next, another Hanseatic port…