Members of the Golden Happenings senior citizen group all received special passports on Monday, Feb. 5. Their tour guides for destination Germany were Richard and Annette Kiehne.

The Kiehnes toured the Rhine River Valley in Germany as part of the Pilgrim Choir under the Winona Diocese. The choir had four places to sing, but also sang in cathedrals which were mostly empty, but as tourists came through they stopped to listen.

“It was hot and dry,” Richard stated, “when we came, but the next week it was cool and rainy.”

Cities visited included Cologne where the choir sang at a school; a Catholic gymnasium which has ties with Cotter in Winona; plus a tour through a beautiful cathedral and treasury.

They also visited Trier, a city where the Romans were busy building buildings and a bridge still in use today. In the afternoon, they were in Belgium/Luxembourg at the sight of the Battle of the Bulge.

In Koblenz, they sang for an evening church service followed by a fund raiser supper for the church. On Sunday the choir sang at the Church of Our Dear Lady.

They spent the afternoon on an interesting cruise down the Rhine.

This area of Germany had many vineyards, castles —some lived in and some just shells — and towns with red roofs. They visited Worms, where Martin Luther was on trial for defying the pope. Heidelberg was found to be a beautiful town with a castle for touring. Their evening meal was at the Red Ox Inn, which has been owned and operated by the Spengel Family for more than 175 years.

A tour of the city, Schwabisch Hall, was interesting as was the farmers market the next day.

Many on the tour flew back to the states on June 29, but the Kiehnes’ daughters, Heather and Alicia, had flown in on the June 28. 

The last week in Germany was spent on their own without a tour guide. Ludorf, Germany, was a very important destination. This is the town where Bill Kiehne, Richard’s dad, was raised until he immigrated to the US at the age of 13.

They toured the area where his home was, the church where he was baptized and other areas of the town. The church is over 1,400 years old and the baptismal font over 1,000 years old.

Berlin was the next destination, but first they toured a concentration camp on a gloomy day, which was even more gloomy after the tour.

Berlin is noted for Check Point Charlie, Brandenburg Gate,” the Berlin wall and other points of interest.

Their final day of touring was spent in Wittenberg. They commented this was the highlight of their stay in Germany. Martin Luther was born 500 years ago and there were signs all over Germany proclaiming this fact. They attended an English speaking service at Castle Church where Martin Luther preached often and where he is buried. 

Both Richard and Annette stated they enjoyed their time in Germany. It is a beautiful country. There were roses and other types of flowers everywhere and seldom did they see any abandoned buildings. They both commented it was wonderful to have their daughters with them and only wished their sons could have been there too.

Richard also commented “I never dreamed I would go on a singing tour in my father’s home country.”

Golden Happenings will continue on a world tour, including informational journeys to France, Africa and Japan this year. Grab a passport and make plans to attend