We’re happily parked at our friend’s house in Paderborn. After a few welcome drinks, a tasty home made lasagne and some more drinks, we awoke this morning a tiny bit worse for wear.
Bruce and Andrea had the answer: a thunderous breakfast of various fresh breads, meaty slices, beautiful strong cheese and pate. Fortified, we played with the kids, sat and chatted, drank coffee and generally shot the breeze.
Bruce had a 20km bike ride in mind. He’d even gone to the lengths of borrowing bikes for us from a neighbour. A darkening sky thwarted that plan, to the detriment of our waistlines, and instead we headed off to Das Hermannsdenkel.
Das Hermannsdenkel is, basically, an enormous statue of a German who, after becoming a Roman citizen, returned home and successfully thwarted the empires attempt to push across the Rhine. He managed this by uniting disparate German tribes, using his knowledge of Roman war tactics, and pulling off a surprise ambush. Looking out from the heights of the statue over surrounding woofland, we imagined the starting scenes of Gladiator, where the Romans defeated Germanic tribes in a forest battle, but that fight actually took place years earlier around Vienna. Three legions destroyed and their Eagles nabbed, he was a hero for a while before eventually being killed by his own tribe, for getting too big for his boots.
The German’s name was Arminius, or just Hermann, meaning ‘warrior’. Why was this mass of metal moulded? Much the same reason as the Walhalla hall we saw in Regensburg, the German states were edging towards unification around 1870 (yep, Germany as a nation has only existed for 150 years, same for Italy). Monuments like these helped focus Germans on their historic collective victories and achievements, pulling them closer.
We loved the monument, staring up at it from below the passing clouds had us wobbling and disorientated. From the viewing platform at his feet, you get a wonderful 360 degree view outwards, and looking up, can see Arminius, his sword triumphantly spiking the sky and his foot masterfully pinning the Roman eagle, magnificent!
Tonight, babysitters are booked and a walk into Paderborn calls for a beer, maybe a dram of whiskey and a few triumphant ‘prosts’ (cheers!) of our own. I’ve also had a bath, my first since Bruce’s parents loaned us their villa in Portugal. I’m heavily indebted to the Napier family for my overall cleanliness and pampering on this jaunt, thanks guys.