[…Arcadenhotel im Kloister, Bamberg…]
I am staying at an old Carmelite monastery now turned hotel, about 600 meters from the city center. The room is more than adequate, and when I look out the window I see a courtyard – almost empty except for a few potted plants, and rows of arches and pillars lining empty hallways. Outside the room is a long dark corridor, its red carpet filled with fleur de lis patterns, and its walls – which hold paintings of the Stations of the Cross – let you know this is not your typical hotel for the night.
This reminds me of my old school days when we used to take spiritual retreats down an old seminary or even in the classrooms of our nun-runned high school. So I feel at home in this hotel. When was the last time you’ve slept in a monastery? – a question you don’t get asked too often, right? But I can proudly answer that. Because today I’m sleeping in a monastery. Now how cool is that?
Sitting here on the bed with a bag full of Saltines and typing on my new iPad, times have surely changed. Many years ago during our spiritual retreats after the supervising nun would call lights out, I would sit up and lean against the headboard rail of a metal cot kicking down dusty white sheets which smelled of bleach and humidity. By the light coming from the window, I would scribble notes on my pocket ruled notebook with a ballpoint pen. Sometimes the ink would dry up, so I’d lick the tip of the pen and then it starts to write again. Gone were those days. No more pentip-licking anymore. Now all I have to worry about is WiFi and getting all my paraphernalia hooked up and charged, and then in the morning, I’d wake up to a spaghetti coil of cables coming from camera battery, iPod, laptop, and cell phone. Then I have to figure out how to untangle them and decide which one to unplug to give way to my hair dryer. Ah, sometimes I miss the simple life. 🙂
The old town of Bamberg is listed as one UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites because of its well-preserved medieval houses. It is also best known for its smoked beer and is home to 8 traditional breweries. The monks who used to live here were, in fact, among the first to brew beer. I thought that was quite an interesting bit of trivia, and having known that made me appreciate staying at this hotel even more. The picture of stone-drunk monks trying to get up the flight of stairs to the bell tower with a killer hangover makes for a very amusing thought.
There’s not many photographic landmarks here in Bamberg. I came here mostly for the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) that I’ve seen a lot in photos. Built in a combination of three styles or architecture – rococo, baroque and gothic – the Old Town hall is built on a small island on the river Regnitz. It contains three unrelated structures in an 18th century building decorated with frescoes, a gothic structure through which the bridge runs, and a timber framed house almost hanging out on the river.
Bamberg wasn’t even planned for the weekend. I really was hoping to go to Zurich, but I have been monitoring the weather there and it has not been looking good. I have been to Zurich before but would like to re-shoot it, but for now that has to wait for a better day. Being a slave to the weather sure does narrow down a photographer’s choice of location. These days, I don’t only chase the light, I also chase the sun!