Friday, December 30, 2011

The Ulm Munster

Before we headed out of Ulm to our last big stop, Munich, we embarked on a climb to the top tower of the Ulm Minster.  As the tallest church in the world, you can imagine what kind of feat this is.  How many steps to the top of the tower?

You can't see the top of the tower in this picture.
800.  800!!! We were brave, though, and went for it.  I've climbed a few church towers in my life, but this was Kevin's first.  It has also been many years since I climbed a church tower, or I might have had second thoughts.

The thing I hate most about climbing church towers, aside from the pain in my legs, shortness of breath, sweating, and fear of heights, is the scary spiral staircase.  The staircase isn't even so bad going up, but to me, it's terrifying coming down.  I am always just certain that I will have a misstep and tumble head over heels down 700-ish cold, wet stone steps, bones cracking the whole way.

Kevin took this without me knowing because he knew I wouldn't want to forget these terrifying stairs.
I mean, is a railing to much to ask?  And even then, what if someone comes up while I'm going down?  See how narrow the stairway is?  And how slender the inside of the step is?

Some of the views going up were quite nice.

The Christmas Market

The Danube
At one point, you could go inside to a room above the bell room (I'm sure there's a more official term for this), where you could look down and see the bells.  Hanging around the room were drawings of many of the other great churches/cathedrals of the world, and it was fun to pick out the ones I/we had been to.  Kevin was more interested in the bells, of course.

Every time I see this picture I get the theme from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame stuck in my head.
This is the view from the highest point of our ascent, again, of the Christmas Market:

Once we came down, we toured the inside of the church, then split up to do some souvenir shopping.  Funnily enough, there wasn't a lot of "Ulm" merchandise to be had - Ulm is just not that much of a tourist destination,  Still, I purchased a few items with sparrows, as the sparrow is the Ulm mascot, and there are sculptures of them everywhere, kind of like we used to have all the crab sculptures in Baltimore.

Then, the strangest thing happened. We were standing outside of the Ulmer Weinachtsmarkt on the only sunny day we'd had since arriving in Ulm, and thought it would be nice to have a photo of the two of us in front of it, perhaps to use as our Christmas card.  We looked around for other tourist-types to ask to take a picture, but since it was nearing lunchtime on a Monday, most people were dashing purposely and we didn't see anyone we felt we could stop.  Then, we noticed a young woman standing near us - maybe in her late teens or early twenties, somewhat sullen looking (so, she was probably a teenager ;-)) with headphones on.  She was just standing around as though she was waiting for someone or something, so she seemed like our best bet. 

"Enshuldigen zie," I said politely.  This is German for "Excuse me."

She looked at me.

I held up my camera, smiled, gestured at Kevin and myself in the universal sign language for "could you take our photo," and said questioningly, "Photo?" 

She glowered at me, and spat out, "No."

I was so bewildered, I thought she might have misunderstood me.  I held up the camera again, and with a confused smile, gestured again and said, in English, "Could you take our photo?"

She shook her head and with a bigger scowl said again, "No."

Ok, I realize now that I should have:

A. Learned how to say "Could you take our picture?" in German ahead of time.


B. At least asked her if she spoke English and apologized for my bad German, first, which I had really done for about everyone else I talked to the rest of the trip.

 I don't think that she misunderstood me at all.  I don't see how she could have.  Who hasn't asked or been asked to take a photo with the universal gesture of holding up the camera and pointing?  I had obviously offended her in some way, or she is just a super, super grouchy person, or was just in a really, really terrible mood.  I was just really kind of bewildered by it for the rest of the day. 

So, just imagine that Kevin and I are standing under the sign in this picture.

1 comment:

  1. Very similar to the climb up the Duomo in Florence, Italy. I was fitter back then..not sure I could make that climb again!

    As for the sullen teenager..some people just hate tourists. =(


What do you think?