Weihenstephan Abbey, the oldest brewery in the world

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


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

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Metz

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

Soft Borders, Belgium and the Netherlands at Baarle.

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.

“A Mighty Fortress” The fortified churches of Thierache, France.

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.

Freising, Bavaria, Germany

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

Reichstag, Berlin, 2013

To visit the German Bundestag housed in the Reichstag building you need an invitation.  We applied, sending our passport information and addresses, on line.  I got our PDF invitation letter just before we left for Warsaw.  Our appointment was 9:30 Monday evening.  We got off our train grabbed a cab, dropped our stuff at the hotel and went on to the Reichstag.  The building was burned as Hitler came to power.  Hitler blamed it on the Communists.  Others blame it on Hitler as an excuse to grab more power.  The building was largely unused just on the western side of … Continue reading Reichstag, Berlin, 2013

Rundfunks Berlin

March, 21, 2013 This week Suzi and I attended Radio Days Europe and got to tour some different radio stations. A highlight of the sessions was the tour of Haus des Rundfunks, or Radio House.  The Funkhaus was designed in 1929 in the Bauhaus style and went on-air in 1931.  It claims to be the oldest purpose built radio station building in the world.  The Funkhaus is the home of Radio Berlin and Brandenburg (RBB), which operates 6 radio services.  While it was built as a national headquarters, right now it serves Berlin’s local public radio. The building is a … Continue reading Rundfunks Berlin

Travel from Sitka to Tbilisi.

March 3, 2013,  Tbilisi, Georgia Historically travel has always been arduous.  But for a brief period, for a certain social class, travel was glamorous.  “Getting there is half the fun” Cunard crowed in mid-century ads.  Flying, jet setting had a certain cache.  Super Graphics from the airports in early 70’s had fashionable young people in shades and Italian designer cloths smiling as they walked to planes.  Today, at SeaTac there is the graphic of a cartoon character, sweating, lugging a suitcase, looking completely harried.  It’s an honest, and funny, presentation of flying today and brought more than a few chuckles.  … Continue reading Travel from Sitka to Tbilisi.