Monday, November 22, 2010

Münster and Münsterland

Was it really two weekends ago that we drove 547 km (340 m) roundtrip from our home in Zuid Holland province to Münster and Münsterland (area around Münster), Germany! Dear blogger friend, Philine, from several years now, had invited us for a Saturday-Sunday rendezvous. I had met her previously in Amsterdam a few years back but it was a first for Astrid. To all be together at one time was a treat we cherished.

As I think about it, I'm still blown away by how close these European countries are (click on map to enlarge). It seems far to Astrid but for me, this trip was nothing. In less than 3 hours on a Saturday morning, we were there, in Germany, getting situated into our hotel room and then walking over to Philine's house for lunch.

What a sweetheart! Philine is 3 years my senior, a retired school teacher, who has no blog of her own but who has become the Mother of All Commenters on the blogs of those of us who know her, mainly on Shutterchance. She has also met some of our same blogger friends in England, there. So you could say we all get around!
We were thrilled to be her guests for lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.

[As always, click on collages to enlarge and then click again on an individual image.]

True to her teacherliness, Philine had a plan for our two days together: on Saturday we would see the city center itself, Münster, on foot, and on Sunday we would drive out into the Münsterland area, known for its moated castles.

So first, MÜNSTER, the city center, in Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Germany:

Lucky for us, Philine is as interested in archecture as we are, if not more so. The top-left old tower gate is just a block away from her apartment's front door. The bottom right-hand tower was taken outside our hotel window.

It's not my intention to tell you what everything is but rather to give you a feel for the city and what we saw architecturally as we walked around. However, because we are gluttons for old city halls, look at Münster's (top center image) and how it is juxtaposed not far away from the new, modern library (bottom right-hand image).

It was an overcast day with a bit of rain here-n-there, except for when we were actually touring the city. By mid-afternoon it was starting to get dark, but then, that's what it's like here in northern Europe at this time of the year. A couple things of note above: the second image down on the right-hand side is an outdoor free book-exchange kiosk where books are left for others to pick up, whatever you want to take. How fun is that! The image second down on the left side is a chandelier that hangs in a public toilet off the market square. And the bottom center image has a Woolworth store that Philine says almost no one can pronounce. LOL.

But as you'd guess, it's the churches that captivated us the most, true to form. There were four of them we entered:

The first was just the wee St. Johannes kapelle (St. John's chapel) at the beginning of our walk to whet our appetite. Philine is the consummate tour Dutch, German or English. Take your pick. Sometimes she spoke all three languages in the same sentence...and no one blinked an eye!

The second church was the Überwasserkirche from 1340 (the original 1040 church was destroyed by fire). We first accessed the more modern building adjacent to it which is a library with the courtyard you see on the bottom row (above). The statue is called the Angel of Death. It was in that courtyard where I did the following "Body Language" collage for my Hart & Soul post last week:

That was fun! Philine was such a good sport.

From there we walked to the St. Paulus Dom, Münster's big Roman Catholic cathedral from the early 13th century (1225-64) on the market square.

Wiki says "The most famous feature of Münster Cathedral's interior is the magnificent astronomical clock, made in 1540-43." See it there in the top left-hand corner above.

When we entered the cathedral, I heard immediately the sound of chanting in the distance and wondered if it was something in preparation for Sunday services. No, it was Vespers for the resident priests.

I'm a glutton for the little details I find in these huge cathedrals, like this little prayer box that was so easy to miss if I hadn't been in the right place at the right time. Philine helps to give scale to the size of it. And yes, I opened the little door, where there were indeed folded pieces of paper...with prayers, I presume. I did not disturb them further.

From the market square we walked a bit further to the fourth church, St. Lamberti, the market and citizen's church built in 1375 to "counter the over-powering St. Paul's Cathedral" nearby (St. Paulus Dom above).

What this church is most famous for is the Anabaptist Rebellion (notice the 3 cages on the steeple in the top right-hand image):

To this day, there are three cages attached to the tower of the church above the clock. In these cages, the dead bodies of the leaders of the Anabaptist movement (Jan van Leyden, Krechting, Knipperdollinck) were put on display by the Archbishop after their execution on the 22nd January, 1536, as an example to all. The cages were not taken down until the tower was demolished between 1881 and 1898. They were put up again on the new tower which is still in place.

And that was that...a tour of Münster's city center before we headed back to the hotel for a wee nap, followed by dinner at the lovely home of Philine's friend, Mechtild, where we spent a delightful evening getting to know a new friend around delicious food in her kitchen:

Don't you love how tickled-pink Philine is (lower left-hand above) to watch the connections!

Then it was nighty-night before embarking on MÜNSTERLAND the next day, known for it's moated castles (about 100 of them!). It was a must for us, so Philine and Mechtild both obliged. Since we were headed in the general direction of Holland, it made sense to take both cars so that we didn't have to backtrack to Münster before heading home. I rode with Mechtild and Philine rode with Astrid. It was perfect.

Because Philine knows I'm a sucker for windmills, at the start of our day, even before they were officially open, we stopped at the Mühlenhof Open-Air Museum to see their windmill. A German windmill, mind you. But as Astrid says, remember this is very near The Netherlands! We were there several minutes early but Philine used my "big-lens-American-lady" ticket to get us inside for about 5 minutes, long enough to capture the windmill. As fast as you could say 'Sam's scratch,' we were on our way again....

...but not before we got a preview of the organ grinder in the parking lot, getting ready to go inside to set up his little 'shop.' See how Lady Luck follows us everywhere we go!

So, we were on our way to see castles. Decisions, decisions. With over 100 to choose from, and only limited time, we leaned on Philine and Mechtild to choose for us.

It ended up that we visited two castles well. How's that for putting it.
The first was Haus Rüschhaus, a country estate built in 1745-48 that we had the privilege of touring. It's where Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, one of Germany's most important poets (January 10, 1797 – May 25, 1848), lived with her mother and sister after the death of her father.

Did you see our Granny Towanda above? Yup. She was there all along the way. And as Lady Luck would have it, Philine bumped into one of her teacher colleagues there (bottom right-hand image).

No photos were allowed inside but I cheated big time to take the one picture I couldn't resist...and then got my hand slapped afterwards (in German). But but could I say NO to this:

From Haus Rüschhaus we drove 5 miles away to the Burg Hülshoff, Annette's birthplace. That made total sense, of course, especially since it's one of the most famous of all of the moated castles in Münsterland. We were not disappointed!

Notice the bronze bust of Annette on the bottom row (above). Actually, better said, notice the yellow tree behind her. That one lone, yellow tree became the focal point of the outside landscape the rest of the visit.

Did you know that many castles have their own private chapel (we saw that in England as well)? And can you imagine eating lunch inside such a place! We'll never forget it.

After lunch we took one last walk all around the castle and in the process met up with this fella, Mark Ivo, a 'crazy guy' from Germany who rides his bike all over the world. Interesting trivia: the distance around Germany is longer than the distance from Florida to California across the States. Who would have believed it!

There was one last castle Mechtild wanted us to visit just to see it, since it was a private residence....

...but on the way there, we saw another castle, Haus Havixbeck, which we could view only from the front gate (above left). Also, we passed Gerleve Abbey, (center image above), "a Benedictine monastery and education centre for persons who are interested in religion," per Philine. She adds that it is possible to enjoy there "inner recreation days" which is "rather beloved in Germany among stressed managers and burn-out persons." The right-hand image just caught my eye from the car.

The last castle of the day was Haus Stapel, first mentioned in 1211 and formerly owned by one of Annette's uncles. Because it's a private residence that takes tours by appointment, we were only able to walk around it outside. But it was enough to make us feel that we had come full circle on the day.

Then, as the day was winding down, Mechtild needed to stop and pick up a painting she had purchased from a recently deceased artist who wanted his wife to sell all his paintings for dirt cheap (relatively speaking) to the common person who could afford them.

That was a sweet moment near the end of our day.

And then we really wound down, as the late afternoon became evening, first at one last church, followed by Good-Byes at the café across the street....

This is the St. Ludgerus Roman Catholic church in Billerbeek. It was appropriate to see one last church after all the castles, to somehow bring both days together into one big circle. To then say Thank You and Good Bye to each other in this context was the frosting on the cake. We had been so well taken care of by our two new friends, Philine and Mechtild!

Once back home, Philine herself then sent me photos she had taken of us throughout the weekend. And with this I close a long rendering of a weekend we will never forget:

One last point of trivia:
Münster is twinned with the following places:
to those of you who celebrate it!


  1. I told my husband, no computer today, but I had to take a quick look... and then I saw your new blog post and had to have a peek... Laughed out loud when I read "she spoke three languages in one sentence". And I love that you OPENED the prayer box in the church. I probably would have done the same thing - it makes for a good photo. And I love the shoes all in a row - I saw that on your photo site - well worth a "hand slap". I will have to wait until after Thanksgiving to blow up and look at all the detail that I know is in these photos. The family wants everything homemade - including pies. I was rooting for dinner at a nice restaurant... but I was outvoted.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Astrid.

  2. Oh, Ginnie, it is really wonderful to follow your webalbum, such a plenty of beautiful photos, and to rejoice at all the happy moments and lovely details we could enjoy together on those - only- two days! These pictures, often taken from a new, unusual point of view (yes, you have a special eye, not only a special camera!), are doubling our pleasure we had to show you both Münster and its countryside- and you both are so wonderful friends, so interested in all things and curious to experience new sides of life and country- and we had also interesting talks, quite more than small talks, for you both are so open and sensitive persons- and what I really could see - you both are such a happy couple, born for each other!!! (Oh, I hope I found the right English words to express this my feeling)- ontzettend bedankt voor deze prachtige herinneringen!

  3. :) 'she spoke three languages in one sentence' didn't we all at some point and we did know what we meant to say and we understood.
    I am still sitting here in awe staring at the collages, did we do that much in less than 48 hours.....
    High quality again of the collages/pictures and lots to remember, Philine and Mechtild made our stay delightful, two wonderful friends that share the same interest as we do.
    I like to thank Philine for the delightful pictures she send us.

  4. Margaret: You're such a sweetheart to stop by and read/look during a busy week. Wow. I'm humbled. Gotta get those girls in on the Thanksgiving action...the boys, too. How 'bout that. They're probably all depending on you and don't realize how much maybe they can do to help? I was so glad the last years when I wasn't totally responsible for the big meal. I gladly did the dishes! Speaking of which, I wish I could do someone's dishes this year in exchange for a great Thanksgiving meal! :D

    Philine: I think you could express yourself explicitly in whatever language you chose, English, German or Dutch, dear Lady. You totally amaze me. WE are the ones thanking you for our wonderful time. We'll never forget it. And yes, you are so right. We are indeed "such a happy couple, born for each other!!!"

    Astrid: We really did see and do all of that...and more. How could we possibly capture everything! I'm just glad we have a place where we can put it all together for posterity. I'm sure we'll come back to these images over and over again. I feel so lucky to share it all with you, mijn vrouw. Thank you.

  5. Nothing beats a free tour by a local who also happens to be a good friend.

    I envy Europeans and how close countries are with each other. Out here 3 hours of driving northward and southward I'm still deep into the California territory :), not that I'm complaining for it's beautiful out here, but still you know.

    Are you and Astrid going to cook turkey and have a little Thanksgiving dinner?

  6. What a great account of your visit with Philine. Looks like a wonderful place with loads of fantastic buildings..So pleased you enjoyed your trip. Well documented as usual Musketeer.

  7. PC: You are so right, Maria. Nothing like your own tour guide who's also a friend. I lived in CA for 12 years and so definitely know the distances you can drive and still be in the same state. You can drive for 5.5 hours here and be in Paris. It still blows my mind!

    Astrid and I are not planning anything special for Thanksgiving dinner...but now that you mention it, I'm the, hmmm. Maybe I need to think about that!

    Lurch: It was wonderful in every way, Tracy. One day you, too, will have to meet Philine so that the 3 Musketeers and 3 Stooges will complete the circle with her. BTW, it's good to see you are back in the saddle...just in time for the holiday season. Hang in there, Musketeer.

  8. Another interesting trip! I wish I could spend so actively each weekend as you do:) Anyway, great places to see. I liked however esp. the idea of a kiosk allowing for books exchange - here we have similiar possibility but in special cafes only. Have a nice week! PS. nice to have blog friend all around Europe, tell me when you will be visiting Warsaw:)

  9. Wonderful. To start off, I smiled that you said "to Astrid it is far." We have noticed that when European visitors come to the U.S., they plan trips to places far and wide as if they are nothing! Then they realize how very far "far" is here. :)

    I didn't know Philine has no blog of her own! I've seen her comments at Shutterchance for so long. Wow.

    What amazingly interesting architecture, all squeezed into one city! I want that multi-colored chandelier in my atelier. Great idea for a free book exchange! I too love the three languages in one sentence! :D I love the pauline-Astrid quad-trych (OK, "collage"). Oh the beautiful old features of the churches. The prayer box! Wouldn't Nelson enjoy those churches, and the history of the Anabaptists (and Nathan too).

    Does anyone look more Dutch than that organ grinder? Oh, those wooden shoes .... The castle and grounds are just gorgeous, like a dream. And the abbey is wonderful!

    Precious photos to end with, I really love how you include those in your posts, that others have taken of you. What an extraordinary weekend, and account here. I can feel how much you packed in and how much you loved it all.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Astrid!

  10. Ola: By the looks of things at your own blog, I have a feeling you, too, do a lot on your weekends. It seems like something is always going on. We love to travel, even if it is just a few miles from home. There's so much to see and we want to see it all! If you're serious about Warsaw, we'll let you know when we're coming. :)

    Ruth: The distance thing here in Europe still boggles my mind, sister. So many things are at our fingertips...things people would die to see. It helps to see everything in km for me because I know the actual mileage is much less. Maybe if the Europeans used mileage, they'd suddenly realize it's not that far. :)

    I see so many things that remind me of Nelson...and how much he'd love the architecture here. I often look at it through his eyes. I wonder how Nathan would view these cathedrals and all the icons? Dad and Mom, too?

    More and more I will make sure I include photos of both Astrid and me. Astrid takes as many of me as I of her but I don't always ask her for hers. I'll start doing that because, yes, I want it for posterity.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Thank you.

  11. So, it is midnight here, but I'd be exhausted even if it weren't, just from the looking and looking at all of the wonders you've recorded - not only for posterity, but for all of us who love getting peeks into parts of the world probably out of our reach now!

    It's been a long six months - not because of anything to terribly bad, but only because all of life suddenly seemed a slog. Much of it still is, but the energy is returning, and I have a little extra now to feed my spirit with the wonderful things people like you are doing!

    I'll be back to look more at the collage, but just wanted to leave a quick note to say I didn't know how much I'd missed your wonderful postings until I came back! Never mind the turkey and pie - I'm grateful for you, and your wonderful eye!

    (Whoops! Accidental rhyming - the best kind.)

  12. SA: You have cheered me to no end, Linda, seeing you here again. I know my posts have become chock full of everything under the sun these days. I think since you were last here I found Picnik for collages, which means I don’t have to do photo albums anymore. It has made all the difference in the world. There’s no way we could remember all we’re doing if we didn’t have this format, so it’s more for us than anybody. If someone else can enjoy and appreciate it, it’s that much more the fun and joy. Thank you. Thank you. And Happy Thanksgiving.

  13. yes, please let me know:) However I would personally recomand spring or early summer-now it is really grey here:(

  14. Ola: We will definitely keep you in mind if/whenever we plan a trip to Warsaw, indeed! What a great idea. THANK YOU.

  15. I have been to York in England but I didn't spot their twin city sign post there...

    I have to say Munster is such a lovely little town.
    But it doesn't look little at all - you've certainly seen a lot there!

    Since it's so close the NL, maybe the food between these two places are very similar?

    You didn't upload any food photos, I can't really say...
    I love your American food photos. I felt so hungry after reading that...

  16. LC: You are such a sweetheart to stop by here and comment. That means a lot to me. This is the place I try to collect all the ramblings of our trips and put them down for posterity. After awhile it's easy for them to all run together if we don't keep track of them. :)

    On your recommendation, I'll try to do better with food images, Too often I just forget!

  17. Since Tuesday (and before)... but more especially since your last note (which I must find and respond to before TOO long), I've been first, deep in preparations for having guests to Thanksgiving here at our house, and second, recovering from a bit too much wine consumed (at the relief of having the cooking done) on Thanksgiving and doing all the cleanup which has taken a couple of days and still requires a bit more putting away of dishes used only once in awhile.

    How's that for a run-on sentence! OK... on to this post of yours... I'm absolutely AMAZED at all you were able to pack into a weekend trip... the collages are amazing!!! (I do pay Picnik but haven't used it yet for collages... will try before posting again on my vacation blog.) I especially like the one of Philene and Astrid in the courtyard that you also posted on Shutterchance (another recommendation that I must follow through on). I love all the stories of the sights you saw, the things you learned and, in addition to the collage mentioned above... absolutely LOVE the one of the organ grinder!

  18. You're not going to believe which picture I find most intriguing: the manhole! My husband knew someone who took photos of manholes around the world. It is amazing how often they express the local culture.

    I love the photos of the priests in cardinal red through the wrought iron screens.

    Your windmill collection got a very nice addition this weekend. Is it as small as it looks on the photos?

    I'm so glad that you "stiekemetjes" took that picture of the "klompen" - it's a beauty!

  19. Wow, Ginnie, what a fabulous post! Chock-a-block full of things for the eye and the mind. I would have disobeyed the no-pictures rule too - you got a fabulous shot.
    The picture of you and Astrid holding hands made me smile out loud.
    Don't you just love Europe? You are both really taking wonderful advantage of the proximity of so many interesting places - you go, girls!

  20. Victoria: You are such a sweetheart to stop by during/after all your holiday busyness. Thank you. You'll love Picnik when it comes time to use it. I don't know what I'd do without it! Now go rest a bit before the next holiday. :)

    DB: You delight me to no end. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Soon you'll be ready to eat your Sinterklaas letters, I know. :)

  21. What a treat to look at all your photos. I enjoy visiting castles too and thought Annette’s birthplace is enchanting. You must have taken so many photographs – it is hard, isn’t it, to decide which ones to place on a post when you have so many good ones to choose from? I am pleased that you use collages so you can show us many of them.

    I am not into churches really, but I like them for their architecture. I wish that here, instead of having a multitude of churches, they would invest in just a few and built them with a sense of beauty in mind. In my neighborhood they have built at least 5 churches in the last 4 years and they are like little boxes with a steeple on them. Such a shame. I went to a wedding in one and could not tell I was in a church – just a regular room, no paintings, no statues, no beautiful windows, just benches. Today we went to vote – our voting place was in the new and huge Methodist church close by. You would never know it is a church – a huge parking lot and a brick building just like a medical center. I think there is a cross on the front door and that is all. Inside I could not tell where people pray – there was a large basket ball area – maybe they change it into a church on week-ends. It is certainly different from Europe. You know what, that gives me the idea of a post – to show all the new churches in my neighborhood. I’ll have to go inside them I guess – I wonder if they will let me go in them – I don’t think it is like in Europe where you can just walk into them – we’ll that is a good project for next spring.

  22. Vagabonde: I honestly don't know what I'd do without these collages! They have been my salvation, especially since we do get around as much as much as we do.

    You have described so succintly why I am here in Europe viewing these great cathedrals in awe. We just don't experience this in the States, except rarely. Here they are found in almost every city, a dime a dozen. You do wonder what blood, sweat and tears went into all of them. Some of it we'll never know!