Saturday, January 14, 2006

Shipping News

We have been on quite a history roll the last couple of days. Yesterday we took my mother-in-law, who has a thing about docks, to visit the riverside docks in Bremen. We paid a visit to the harbour museum, which documents the development of the docks with an absorbing and interactive display. Going up the ship's gangway which led to the upper floor reminded me vividly of the scene in Kong Kong where Ann Darrow embarks on her voyage. The children loved the aerial photo of Bremen and the river Weser which covered one floor and which they were able to run around on. You can see it if you go to this page and click on Rundgang at the right. We were able to see, touch and smell the various types of cargo which was commonly unloaded at the port in Bremen.

Today we drove up to Bremerhaven to see their even more spectacular docks and ended up at the German Maritime museum. Five year old Leo, who loves looking at model ships, was spoiled for choice and the children all enjoyed climbing around on the reconstructed steamer and watching its moving parts (which were behind perspex).

Ships are not my thing at all but even I was quite fascinated. I was entranced by the cog on display there, a piece of living history. Looking at a leather shoe that had been recovered with the cog made me wonder about the person who had worn it - what he or she looked like, what kind of person he or she was. There is something about the thought that a real person who lived over 600 years ago wore that shoe that really freaks me out. I had the same experience looking at an original Van Gogh painting and thinking that those raised splodges of oil paint had been put there by his own hand. This kind of experience is what makes history meaningful for me. At leaving time I spotted an original enigma machine, which I intend to gaze at properly the next time we come.

We didn't see the whole exhibition (nor did my mother-in-law and I have our customary coffee stop at the museum cafe!) as we went in late but we will definitely be back to see some more, such as the open air section, as well as revisiting our favourites.

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