Twenty nine years ago my life changed forever. The Berlin Wall fell. We had been in Berlin the summer before and the wall looked permanent. We went back the next summer in time to see streets opening in the Wedding … Continue reading Walking the Line Between Hope and Despair.
We are onboard and underway, on our cruise to Iceland and Greenland. But we weren’t sure that this would happen. I had complications from surgery the week before we left for Amsterdam and I didn’t get clearance from the docs … Continue reading Rising to Sea Level, the North Sea Canal.
Here are the promised pics from Amsterdam’s Canals on an absolutely beautiful day taken from the hop on/hop off cruise. Continue reading Amsterdam Canals
Our Cruise to Iceland and Greenland leaves from Amsterdam. Given the vagaries of Alaska weather and our desire to avoid jet lag on the cruise we arrived in Amsterdam with four nights and three days to acclimatize. Amsterdam is … Continue reading Amsterdam Thoughts
This trip I decided to spend two jet lag nights in Munich, or rather Freisling, a small town near the airport. This time I decided to take the train from Freisling to Fussen and the onward bus to Hohenschwangu and … Continue reading A Train Trip through Bavaria.
This is the second part of a letter. For the first part see the post posted just after this one. The train pulled into Fussen and everyone ran for the 78 Bus to Hohenschwangu to visit Schloss Neuschwanstein and Schloss … Continue reading Neuschwanstein
The Lille Christmas Market is the first one I have attended in France. Lille bills itself as the most Flemish town in France. It’s thoroughly French in language but the architecture is more Flemish-Dutch. It is the heart of French Flanders … Continue reading Lille, France Christmas Market
Hasselt “Winterland” Market is, perhaps the most commercial Christmas market we have encountered in Europe. It reminds me of the tables under the grandstand at the Minnesota State Fair. There was a collection of kitchen wares, knives, trinkets, I half … Continue reading Hasselt Winterland, 2014
The last time I was at the Brugge (Bruges) Christmas fair, in 2007, it was a short visit. It was raining and cold. The skating rink in the middle of the main town square was more slush than ice and, … Continue reading Brugge (Bruges) Christmas Market, 2014
Valkenburg is perhaps the most unique, and possibly the most interesting, Christmas Market in Europe. I have been back to this market in The Netherlands three times now. The first two times with our friends Dave and Carol Lam. (The … Continue reading Valkenburg Christmas Market, 2014
We have been through Lille before, many times on the train from London to Brussels, but have never seen more than the railway station. This time we went with our friend Dave Lam and his daughter Rachel to visit the … Continue reading Lille “The Most Flemish Town in France”
Hasselt is the chief town of the Belgian commune of Limburg. It is near the Dutch border and there is a similarly named province in the Netherlands. Suzi and I visited Hasselt after Carol Lam’s Funeral with Dave, and their … Continue reading Hasselt, Belgium and the Begijn Movement.
Freising is a town near the Munich Airport where the airport hotels are located. But it is an old city. It had a cathedral before Munich, a brewery too. It is a place I lay over on trips to and from Tbilisi for jet lagging. I have posted from this delightful town before, including a post about the oldest continuously operating brewery in the world. These pictures are from an afternoon stroll around town. Suzi had never been here and I wanted her to see it. Continue reading Freising, Bavaria, redux
Domberg is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The current structure is a Romanesque building from the 13th century. When you go in, however, it is a shock, because the interior had been redone in Baroque style in the 17th century. It almost seems like a disconnect. I once had an architecture professor who called the Baroque “Eclectic clutter.” My reaction was “majestically bizarre.” Elaborate frescoes, pink stucco, gilt and an alter piece originally painted by Rubens (The one there now is a reproduction, the original was carted off somewhere.) The organ is really a baroque organ, the decoration is so … Continue reading Domberg, The Cathedral Church in Freising
My flight from Tbilisi touched down at 6. As I stepped out the shuttle at our airport hotel in Freising at 7 AM, after clearing customs and getting my bag, I heard the joyous “surround sound” peeling of church bells … Continue reading Palm Sunday, Freising, Germany
The taxi driver from Clontarf to the airport offered to take me a different route, around Dublin Bay, along the coast pass the fishing village of Howth and then into the airport. “It’s more miles but with school getting out it now may be less time. At Howth he said “You’ll be flying right over that when you take off.” (We did.) I think he wanted the longer ride so he could ask me what I “really” felt about Sarah Palin. He rather likes the idea of a governor named Sean Parnell. Aer Lingus charges bags by weight. 15 kg … Continue reading Sometimes flying becomes the theatre of the absurd.
After a good night’s sleep in Freising, Germany (on my way to Tbilisi) fueled with two double espressos, I took off to see the oldest brewery in the world, Weihenstephan. This brewery has been in continuous operation since 1040. People have been brewing beer a lot longer than a thousand years and there is evidence of brewing at this site since the mid-700s, however the monks in this monastery kept records of their beer going back to 1040. In 1802 the Bavarian Kingdom nationalized the monastery (before Marx had the idea) and it is now part of Bayerische Stattsbraueri. I … Continue reading Weihenstephan Abbey, the oldest brewery in the world
This is another trip through my archives to Reims, France. The cathedral has some nice stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. These pictures are from 2001. Continue reading Reims, France
Strasbourg is one of the “Capitals” of Europe, every year the European Parliament packs up from Brussels and heads for Strasbourg, which is also the home of the European Court of Human Rights. I suppose it is appropriate, being on the border between France and Germany, and having changed hands several times in the past two centuries. We visited in 2001. I found these slides going through my archives. Continue reading Strasbourg
Modernist Marc Chagall, cubist Jacques Villon, and tachist Roger Bissière are all there, mixed with art from the Gothic, Renaissance and Romantic periods. It’s the play of light on the works that I find so fascinating. They are the stained glass windows in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Metz. Gothic does away with the need for structural walls, allowing artists to work in walls of glass. The cathedral soars with light coming through colored glass, creating shadows and shafts. Outside the light plays against the exposed structural members, the flying buttresses. At night the outside is floodlit to stunning effect. Pictures from … Continue reading St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Metz
Our friends Dave and Carol Lam took us to Baarle when we were working in the Balkans. We wondered about the possibility of ever being able to draw borders that reflected ethnic realities. Dave said he had something he wanted to show us, the municipality of Baarle in Belgium, or is it the Netherlands? The map of Europe has many geographic anomalies. But one of the strangest borders runs through Baarle. The town is divided between the countries, Baarle-Nassau is Dutch and Baarle-Hertog is Belgian. The dividing line is anything but straight, or rational. The border was set in the Treaty … Continue reading Soft Borders, Belgium and the Netherlands at Baarle.
In Eastern France there are several war related “roads” to follow, the “road of the fortified towns,” “The road of the battlefields” linking battlefields of the two world wars, and “The road of the military cemeteries.” Wars happened here with alarming regularity. The road I found most fascinating was the “The Road of the Fortified Churches” celebrating about 65 churches (God’s castles someone called them) built in the Thierache region for the protection of the civilian population. These towns sat on the border between Champagne and Picardy near Flanders. They could not afford to wall themselves. Many did not have … Continue reading “A Mighty Fortress” The fortified churches of Thierache, France.
“God made the earth, the Dutch made Holland.” But they didn’t need an environmental impact statement. During my day long layover in Amsterdam my friend Dave Lam drove up from Brussels and we went to visit two old (you could say former) Dutch fishing villages, Marken and Volendam. Eighty years ago both towns sat on salt water, the Zuiderzee, a 60 mile long inlet from the North Sea. Then they sat on the Ijsselmeer, the freshwater lake formed when a large dyke closed off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea. Now they sit on the Markermeer, another freshwater lake once … Continue reading When the Sea Goes Away, Marken and Volendam, Netherlands.
Freising, the town closest to the Munich Airport is a nice place to lay over between two overnight flights. Pictures here are from this winter and this summer, different views at different times of the year. It has, that it claims to be the oldest brewery in Germany, a friendly Marriott airport hotel and shops and cafes that allow for a restful stopover between flights. Continue reading Freising, Bavaria, Germany