England 40 Years Ago — Christmas 1981, Part 2

Continuing our Christmas in Germany: Near Regensburg were strange tall poles with wire stretched over the tops. Armin said that is for growing hops – a beer ingredient – and that we were in the major center for it. The villages nestled in the hills were gorgeous, surrounded by snow laden evergreen trees that almost looked unreal.

Every morning we had crusty rolls, butter, jams, cheeses, honey and beverages included in the price of the room.

Lisa, Armin, Kate, John $, John at St. Ann

Armin guided us through Augsburg, the city he grew up in. He arranged for us to see the church of St. Ann that was closed – his cousin’s housekeeper let us park in their drive – and we walked across the street where a porter met us with the keys. The cousin preaches there every second Sunday and is the head of the Lutheran pastors in Augsburg.

The church itself was very beautiful – the old altar being very plain, and the new one at the opposite being Baroque. Armin’s mother was confirmed there, later had her wedding there, and it’s the church Armin himself regularly attended. More exciting, still, is the fact that all of you know of someone who preached there – Martin Luther! On one side of the old altar is the original painting of Luther that is quite well known.

Family and Armin are in front. Painting of Luther is on the left, way above Lisa’s head.
Baroque end of the sanctuary

In the Catholic cathedral not far away are the oldest stained glass windows in the world.

Christmas fair in Augsburg

Germans snack constantly. In the Christmas fairs are various stalls selling food. Armin bought hot, sweet-coated almonds to share with us because it’s customary to eat them while Christmas shopping. They also sold cotton candy – white. It’s often pink in the US and blue in England.

We ate in a German restaurant, walked a few more blocks to city hall, and drove past the oldest planned housing development in the world – built in the mid-1400’s for textile workers of the Fugger family. It was a lovely visit to Augsburg.

Oldest planned housing development

Every evening after dinner we went for a walk in the lovely little snow-covered town.

$ lay down in the booth when we were eating and said, “Night, night.” Two seconds passed. He rose up saying, “All gone.” He’s a tease.

Pillows in our rooms and in shop windows were square – about two feet by two feet. Germans do not supply soap or face cloths in their guest houses.

Answering the phone differs from country to country. In Norway you say, “Good day, good day.” If we answered in the English way, we’d say, “Tadworth 2978.” Germans answer with their last name. I heard Armin pick up the phone and say, “Herbst.”

Armin took us walking in the central part of Munich. We went in the Catholic Cathedral bombed to rubble and four walls in the war, now beautifully restored in modern style with remnants of stained glass windows, paintings, and furnishings from the original. The church was resounding with organ music because the man was practicing for all the Christmas services.

Wood carver

In one of the large department stores are special displays on every floor only at Christmas time – craftsmen plying their trades. We saw glass painters, doll and puppet makers, a woodcarver, baker, posy maker, etc. I asked Armin to ask the wood carver if I could take his picture. The man said it was against the rules of the store. As Armin was translating for me, the man motioned him over and said he wouldn’t notice if I did it quickly. So, I tried a quick time exposure before smiling and walking away.

We went in a Baroque style church – terribly ornate. Ingrid said we wouldn’t see any in England because they are all Norman or Gothic. This church had few inches left unadorned with angels, flowers, scroll work, etc.

We saw the outside of the opera house, concert hall and former king’s palace. Armin left to go shopping, and we did some shopping ourselves before taking the train back to our guest house.

Some young men came noisily marching down the streets wearing odd caps with feathers sticking out, drinking and blowing raucous horns. Armin deplored the habit. They had just been released from serving in the army and were celebrating in the usual way.

On our way to a palace we passed through the Olympic area used for the games of 1972. The architecture was most unusual. There were big poles holding up tent-like buildings.