Archive for st

This Couple Lives on Top of Roman History

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

May 2

Roland Geiger holds a tile nearly 2,000 years old found in the parking lot of his home in St. Wendel, Germany.

Roland Geiger holds a tile nearly 2,000 years old found in the parking lot of his home in St. Wendel, Germany.

I was invited to have dinner with Roland and Anne Geiger recently. As we sat in their cozy dining room heated by a wood-burning stove with our nostrils being savagely attacked by the wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen behind the wall, Roland entertained me with stories of what he has found on the property. More than once my mouth fell open, and it was not just from hunger. It was excitement at the thought that we were sitting on top of more than 2,000 years of history.

Roland casually pointed out a broken but still useful pot in the corner. ‘Used for cooking meat,’ he explained. They found animal bones and rocks inside. It now serves as a planter. He brought out a tile with wiggles scratched into its surface. ‘This was used to hold plaster,’ he explained. The Romans made these square tiles and attached them to the walls of houses with a concrete mix. Then they plastered over the wiggles, and the wiggles held the plaster in place. This ingenious system is copied today all over Europe with wallpaper that acts as an adhesive for paint.

Holding a Roman invention for applying plaster to a wall so that it would stick.

Holding a Roman invention for applying plaster to a wall so that it would stick.

But the most valuable thing in Roland’s collection, his ‘precious,’ is a broken tile in two parts with a faint etching on it. It could be a name. Yes, it probably is a name. ‘S, and then a very old e, the kind of letter used in the capital until about the year 1 and then in the provinces until around the year 100 AD,’ Roland pointed out as the wind was sucked out of my lungs by the thought that I was holding a piece of history in my not quite steady hands. ‘Then we have here a v, an i and an r and another i.’ The name ‘Seviri’ etched into the tile by the tile maker who needed to keep track of who had ordered which stack of tiles. Like attaching a sticky note, except one made with materials on hand. For this tile maker, it was a tile.

The name 'Seviri' is easily seen once the tile has been moistened

The name ‘Seviri’ is easily seen once the tile has been moistened

Roland sent images of the tile into the ether and soon had an answer from a professor in Madrid, who confirmed the purpose of the tile and the age.

Later Roland took me up into his barn where there are boxes and boxes of finds, many of them absolute treasures to the history nut. More fragments of the wiggly wall tiles. Pottery fragments from Roman and medieval times. All found in his garden, his parking lot, below his 17th century house which itself is a treasure worthy of another story.

Just a bunch of Roman stuff. Really? The heart starts to beat when one sees boxes of fragments of history in the attic of the Geiger home.

Just a bunch of Roman stuff. Really? The heart starts to beat when one sees boxes of fragments of history in the attic of the Geiger home.

Fittingly, Roland Geiger is an accomplished genealogist and excellent researcher who has helped many of our clients dig deeper into their family histories in the Saarland as well as in Rheinland Pfalz and surrounding areas of Germany.
Roland can be reached at [email protected] or through his web site at www.hfrg.com

Through the Tyrol to Berchtesgaden

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

October 17 from a visit on October 12

The morning after the big snow which blanketed the region around Innsbruck, Austria with more than 10 inches of snow dawned bright and cold with just a little morning fog which had lifted by the time we were ready to begin our journey from Lans to Berchtesgaden. What a visual treat ahead! Snow-covered mountains, roofs heavy with fresh, white snow and best of all, dry roads on which to travel. We zipped around urban Innsbruck and headed east, up and over the mountains at Worgl and on past St. Johann in Tyrol, passing numerous ski resorts along the way. We even saw people golfing out on one course, cleared of snow, with huge alpine peaks hovering overhead. On we drove past Reit im Winkel and to our home base for the next three nights, a spa hotel in pastureland outside of Berchtesgaden, Germany.

The church of Lans, Austria across from our lodge. This was taken the evening after the big snow.

The church of Lans, Austria across from our lodge. This was taken the evening after the big snow.

Jim and Denise go for a walk down the side of a mountain near Kitzbuehl

Jim and Denise go for a walk down the side of a mountain near Kitzbuehl

This homeowner has decorated using an old wagon wheel along with potted flowers near Kitzbuehl

This homeowner has decorated using an old wagon wheel along with potted flowers near Kitzbuehl

Walking in the woods near Ramsau, Germany

Walking in the woods near Ramsau, Germany

Denise and Jim enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery near St. Johann in Tyrol

Denise and Jim enjoying the beautiful weather and scenery near St. Johann in Tyrol

Nearly getting arrested at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Happy to have seen St. Peter's Basilica, together.

April 12

Travelers know that major tourist sites have a lack of available toilets, especially for women, who seem to always have to stand in a very, very long line in order to use the scarce facilities. So it was at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome recently, when my guest had to go and the only option I could think of was a toilet located outside the church near the Vatican post office. Leaving her husband to wander around the massive church, I escorted my guest past security and out to the W/C, letting her know that I would inform her husband of our whereabouts and set a meeting point and time. Finding Rick inside the massive church was not as difficult as one might imagine, due to his height and the fact that he was wearing a colorful shirt. We set a meeting point and time, and I left the church again, passing security. Now came the hard part. Finding Linda, I walked with her back to the exit and there we were stopped by two earnest security men who refused to allow us to enter through the out door. I explained the situation, but the steadfastly refused to let us in. I asked “what was the alternative?” They told me there are W/Cs near the exit from the Sistine Chapel. Frankly, and I’ve been to this location a dozen times, I didn’t see them. Perhaps they were obscured by a huge line. In any case, here we were, trying to get into the world capital of religion and we were being stopped cold by two very hard-hearted guards. Now, I can understand crowd control and how difficult it can be to control many thousands of people. But to let a petite Canadian and her guide back through the line after a much-needed break? What is the harm in that? Will it cause St. Peter’s to come crashing down? Exhausting all of my skills, I asked the guard “Who will go into the church and retrieve her husband? Do you know what he looks like?” I announced, “I’m going to get him. Arrest me if you need to.” Linda was resigned to not seeing St. Peter’s on this go around. One of the guards hustled to catch me, taking me lightly by the elbow and indeed, I thought as we approached a uniformed officer, “I am going to see the Vatican jail.” The tall uniformed officer listened to the security guard’s rapid explanation, which was probably something like “this insistent SOB wants to go into the church through the out door and he won’t be discouraged no matter what I say or do.” I explained the situation to the captain, and he walked with me back to the line. Linda was waiting patiently as floods of tourists streamed out past her. The captain softly said in my right ear, “Just apologize to the guard, tell him he is right and you are wrong.” And so, in a mixture of Italian and English, I did just that. Groveling while standing up is a skill I learned in the U.S. Navy.
The guard relented, Linda was let in to see the incredible church of St. Peter and this time, just this time, I avoided a tour of the Vatican jail. I guess there’s always time for that on the next visit.

Comments (0)
Categories : Italy Tours
Tags : , , ,

The choir section of the church

The choir section of the church


The church of St. Clemens (12th century) in the hamlet of Marklohe, near Nienburg an der Weser, Lower Saxony features some of the best-preserved ancient paintings in Germany. One of only 10 churches with a complete and undestroyed mural dating from pre-Reformation (1522) times, the mural depicts scenes from the Bible with an emphasis on what happens to you if you’re “bad.” After all, in those days, people couldn’t read and so they had to be shown vivid depictions of devils showing sinners into the mouth of Hell. Scary stuff, especially by candlelight.
Come in where it's warm - going to Hell

Come in where it is warm - going to Hell


Not all of the scenes are terrifying

Not all of the scenes are terrifying

We stopped and visited Marklohe on Sunday, August 2nd during our extensive tour of Germany in celebration of Jim and Carol Rosenwinkel’s Golden Wedding Anniversary. The entire “crew” came along, for a group of 13. Here’s the family outside the ancestral church.
familyoutsidestclemens

Comments (1)
Guiding tours in European for over 20 years