Me and Martin Luther

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I recently returned from a quick tour of LutherCountry  to visit the places in Germany where Martin Luther lived and worked. Though I’ve been to Germany a half a dozen times, all of my previous trips were to the west (Rhine River valley) or to the south (Bavaria). Here in the Lutherlands, primarily located in the former East Germany, things were a little different. Mostly in that Soviet brutalist architecture…but certainly in the culture as well.

Luther statue number, I lost count
Luther statue number… 4? Or maybe 7? I lost count.

But no matter their particular inclination toward speediness of service, there is no denying the German people’s general appreciation for Mr. Luther. In case you haven’t heard (which would be quite unlikely if you live anywhere near LutherCountry), 2017 marks the 500th Anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The actions of Luther and the other Reformers certainly changed the church, but they also had a tremendous impact on the German language, music, art, architecture, politics and social life. Today, it seems like every town has a statue of Martin Luther (which, by the way, are great for selfies!)

selfie with Martin in Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Case in point: selfie with Martin in Lutherstadt Wittenberg

The Germans have been preparing for this important year for some time now — nearly a decade, in fact. Playmobil even released a Martin Luther figurine last year to commemorate the upcoming anniversary, and the first run of 34,000 sold out in less than 72 hours.

Me and giant Playmobil Martin
Selfie with giant Playmobil Martin

All of this Anniversary hoopla seems to have encouraged the local tourist boards to get creative as they link their communities with the Great Reformer. There is a long list of cities with official connection to Luther, and many more with lesser claims. For example, even Nuremburg made the cut on our Luther tour. While the sausages of Nuremburg alone are worth the visit, the closest connection I could determine is that their printing houses encouraged the spread of Luther’s ideas, while his Protestant thought influenced their sacred architecture. A stretch, I think, but the sausages were great!

On tour with fellow Luther enthusiasts in Nuremburg
On tour with fellow Luther enthusiasts in Nuremburg.

So if you’re interested in being a part of the historic celebration in Germany next year– let me know, as I’ll be leading a group.  (And if you’re one of the few that doesn’t have a “Little Luther” Playmobil in your house – well, I can hook you up.)

 


Dan Hermen is the Director of Sales for Witte Travel & Tours. This blog post is the first part of a series that will focus on Martin Luther and the Reformation Anniversary.


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Guest Post: Upcoming Tours with John and Lynda Witte

John & Lynda Witte
This post was originally written by John Witte on March 23, 2016


Hello All,

Lynda and I want to update you on the tours on which we still have space for 2016, and give you some preliminary information on our 2017 plans.

On April 7, we are leaving with a group of fellow travelers to explore the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. After a summer break we will be on tour in Spain and Portugal, September 15 – 29. That tour is full but we are accepting people on the waitlist.

During October 17 – 22, we will be in New York City. I lived on Long Island for four years and traveled to the City regularly to see plays, visit museums, and just wander. Since moving away from Long Island, there have been almost yearly trips to the City and sometimes more. Lynda and I love NYC, and we put together a tour showing you some of the main sites– but also some places not generally included in other tours.

We will start the tour by crossing the George Washington Bridge and taking you into Washington Heights to visit Fort Tyrone Park for a great view of the New Jersey Palisades and the GW Bridge. You will also see the point where the Hudson River splits, creating the East River. Afterwards we will see some highlights in Harlem, stroll through Central Park, visit the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and eat dinner at Sylvia’s– one of Harlem’s most famous soul food restaurants. The following day will include a walk through High Line Park, once an elevated train route along the west side of Manhattan. That same day we will spend time in Chelsea, SoHo, and Chinatown, and we’ll enjoy dinner in Little Italy.

new york city tour
Another day will be spent in mid-town Manhattan where you will see St Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Plaza, Fifth Avenue, Grand Central Station, NYC Library and Bryant Park. We will take a break in the afternoon to take in a Broadway show and end our evening with dinner at the Carnegie Deli, across from Carnegie Hall. We will also spend a day in lower Manhattan to walk part of the Brooklyn Bridge, visit the St. Paul’s Chapel, the 9/11 Memorial site; Trinity Church, Federal Hall where George Washington was sworn in as our first President, Wall Street, and Battery Park for a great view of the Statue of Liberty.

After dinner on your own we will attend another Broadway show.  Our last full day in the City will be a special treat.  My friend, Daniel Meeter, pastor of Old First Dutch Reformed Church in Brooklyn, will join us for a tour of some Brooklyn neighborhoods.  Our evening will end with a dinner cruise on the Hudson and East Rivers; the ship will also pass closely by the Statue of Liberty.  You will have a free morning on the day we are scheduled to fly home.

new york city tour
There has been a lot of attention in the news about Cuba. I am hosting a Cuba tour November 1 – 9 which still has space for ten persons. Besides spending time in Havana, we will explore the lush botanical province of Pinar del Rio, the World Heritage city of Trinidad, and the colonial city of Cienfuegos. This tour will be repeated November 8 – 16, which both Lynda and I will host. That tour is almost sold out, but we are accepting waitlist applications.

Cuba tour destinations

Our tentative plans for 2017 include a tour of Costa Rica during late January into early February, which we will both host. This will be my sixth tour of Costa Rica; it is one of the most beautiful places in the world! We are also finalizing the details for a cruise (February 25 – March 8) which will begin and end in Fort Lauderdale, and will include stops in Aruba, Grand Cayman, beautiful Cartagena in Columbia, and Costa Rica. We will even travel through part of the Panama Canal to Colon, Panama, and will come through the same section of the canal on our return.

Costa Rica cruise tour

During September, we will be doing a Southern Italy tour focusing on Sicily, the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Pompeii, and possibly Rome. Our final adventure will be to Australia during the first half of November.

Let me know if any of these trips interest you, and I will send you more detailed information as it becomes available. And we always appreciate it if you share this information with others!

Sincerely,

Johannes and Lynda Witte

(616) 304-0504


Passionate about expanding their own horizons and those of others, Johannes (John) and Lynda Witte have been leading tour groups to destinations in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia since 1985. John and Lynda’s knowledge and experience have earned them a reputation as top-notch tour leaders, and group members appreciate the way they cater to each individual’s needs and interests. They especially enjoy leading small groups.

Island Route Tours

Island Routes is a Caribbean Tour operator and a member of the Sandals Group of Companies.  It was founded by a group ofCaribbeanpeople whose mission is to showcase the culture, beauty and natural resources that define each unique island destination.  Currently, Island Routes operates over 140 tours inJamaica,St. Lucia, Antigua, theBahamas, Turks and Caicos, andBarbados.  Island Routes recently received the 2010 World Travel Award for “World’s Leading Caribbean Attraction Company” and has set the tour industry standard by becoming the only tour company to receive a prestigious Six Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences.

 Islands Routes has tour desks in all of the Sandals and Beaches properties as well as the Grand Pineapple locations; however, guests staying anywhere on the islands (or cruise passengers visiting the islands) can book tours with Island Routes.