Porphyry Column of Constantine

My life story – I walk up to famous, tall thing only to find it scaffolded (see Freiburg Münsterturm).

This elaborate scaffolding surrounds Constantine’s Porphyry Column, now known as the Burnt Column – Çemberlitas in Turkish (and I can’t get the little thingy to come out on the final s, sorry). From a distance I could see the porphyry surface, at least.

The Romans carefully placed it on the main street, running along a ridge top, from forum to forum. The elevation – along with it’s own enormous height something like 110 feet – means that it is visible from the Sea of Marmora and the Golden Horn. Constantine topped it with an enormous statue of himself as the Sun. That’s Constantine all over.

I walked around it several times, then finally spotted the inconspicuous entrance to the Çemberlitas Hamam. Gosh that was pleasant, but it was all for knowledge – Sinan designed the building! Click here and look at the images of the dome.

Freiburg Tornadoes




Freiburg Tornadoes

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

The weather has gone to hell here – no tornadoes other than sculptural ones, but it’s suddenly chilly again and rainy. Oh, well – I flee to Italy soon.

Click on the picture to go to the flickr stream to see a top view, taken from the spiral staircase, of this Tornado. It’s slowly filling up with bottle caps, gum, and small change.

Carl Schurz Haus




Carl Schurz Haus

Originally uploaded by Michael Tinkler.

My life is not all whining about German grammar. I’ve also been walking around some interesting post-WWII architecture in Freiburg. Not everything was recreating the bombed out Altstadt with reinforced concrete in historical styles. In fact, down the occasional alleyway there are great little modern adaptations of late Medieval houses, as though the stylistic rules were mainly enforced on front streets.

I have a couple of buildings that I just photographed – the downtown post office here and the French headquarters building – now the University Rectorate. Both are worth looking at.

Have I mentioned that I hate German syntax?

Hate is too strong – but gosh, German word order is rigid and counter-intuitive for this English speaker.
Yes, my final exam is Monday. Our teacher got a look at the test and told us that the verbs with obligatory prepositions we’ve been slaving over for the last 2 weeks* get ONE question. As someone who had to make final exams for high school Latin, I can sympathize – but still!
Ask me next month how much I think I’ve learned.
*you know, sich freut (auf/über), träumen von, sich erinneren an, that sort of thing. And yes, I know that English is just as annoying – we fight with our mothers but against enemies. When I was learning to speak Italian we always knew we were getting near the end of a book when we suddenly started reviewing the prepositions, which are hatefully idiomatic in Italian, too. I’ve gotten to the point in Italian that I just don’t worry about them all that much – and strangely I seem to get them right a good bit of the time. Quantity always pays off in language – read more, speak more, and you’ll do better.

Is that Wasserspeier looking at me?

It certainly seems so!

I made it to the upper levels of the Münsterturm today and the views of the cathedral itself and out from the building were fantastic – click and see.

One odd thing I noticed – the late 15th C east end doesn’t quite line up with the 13th C nave – click here and look at the roofs – the fact that the choir is higher isn’t the problem – but it doesn’t line up exactly!

A suitably wintery evening

It’s nothing like the March snow storm I’ve been reading about in America, but it’s snowing hard right now.
I watched the snow, had supper, and read a ghost story in German – one of those great turn-of-the-20th-Century ghost stories where in the end the Benedictine monk provides the naturalistic explanation – it was a scorpion in the bed linens all along, not a ghost! The monk killed it with a brick from the wall the count had, in desperation, had thrown up across the door to the haunted room. Problem solved.
You know, one of my hidden talents is finding restaurants where the half of the clientele is also reading something, so there’s no officious rushing of those who aren’t eating or drinking. Then I go back a time or two until they recognize me; I’ve found the place in Freiburg – Auerhahn – an utterly ungemütlich and slightly foodie Lokal. You know, some aggressively local ingredients and such, but good schnitzel, good beer, good service! Tonight I had a turkey Schnitzel – yum!
So far all non-specialty salads in Freiburg are the same – an salad with discreet, untossed elements in different quarters of the plate. I finally asked what the vaguely pickled sliced white things were; I was sure they weren’t beets – that would be against the Tinkler Code. The waitress told me they were radishes, but they would have to have been bigger than the average American radish. I’ll find out!

My little piece of the Schwarzwald

What a beautiful day! I’m feeling sickly, so I took a nap. This was my view when I got up – there on the horizon, the Schwarzwald! This afternoon if I feel up to it I’m going on a wine tasting, but I predict more napping. And I’m reading a detective novelette (yes, it’s a graded reader with quizzes at the back, but hey!). I’m going for unstressful.

Generationed Gapped Again


So I’m sitting here reading blogs and kind of half-heartedly studying German nouns and across the common room all the young-end-of-their-20s girls go Ohhh-ah-oh — They took the credit for your second symphony or some reasonable facsimile thereof for non-native speakers who are, after all, singing THIRTY YEARS after the release date.
Gosh I’m feeling middle aged.
I realized this year that I can say things like “I was last there 25 years ago” while referring to something I did while in graduate school.
Well, there you go. In the immortal words of Gregory of Tours, Things keep happening – some of them good, some of them bad.