An International Day of Remembrance

Today, January 27, is International Holocaust Memorial Day. Memorials throughout Europe honor the memory of individuals who were killed during the Holocaust and serve as a daily reminder to be vigilant.

History and responsibility are very clearly taught here.

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Max Oster of Oslo, Norway; born 1884, deported and killed 1 Dec. 1942

Germany and many other European countries pave gold “stumbling blocks” into the sidewalks to draw attention and promote reflection. Engraved with a name, the tiles are placed in front of the person’s previous residence. The last names and birth dates included allow you to speculate about the relationships between the people – often parent and child or husband and wife. It has the arresting effect, in the middle of the day, to make you suddenly imagine the person or persons living at the address in front of you and then see them being taken away.

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Family from Bamberg, Germany; deported and killed between 1941-1943
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August Klotzbach of Wiesbaden, Germany; arrested for treason in 1935 and survived

Date and/or place of death is often marked as unknown. In those cases, any known information about the person’s deportation is listed. Cities that are listed are mostly in Eastern Europe (as all death camps were purposely located outside of Germany): Auschwitz, Poland and Riga, Latvia being among some of the most common.

Munich is apparently the only German city that doesn’t use the gold blocks, as they feel it’s disrespectful to have names of the deceased underfoot.

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Frankfurt’s Holocaust Memorial Wall

In Frankfurt, a memorial wall also stretches around the old Jewish cemetery. Similar to the gold street bricks, small plaques jutting out display the names and fates of former Frankfurt residents who perished during this dark period of history, including Anne Frank. Visitors pay respects to those lost by placing stones on the protruding plaques that stretch on for rows upon rows upon rows.

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Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

For more on how Berlin remembers victims of the Holocaust and the National Socialist regime, see Berlin Remembers.

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Neologe Synagogue in Brașov, Romania
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Old New Synagogue in Prague – oldest active synagogue in Europe
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Dohány Street Synagogue in Budapest, Hungary – largest in Europe
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Memorial in the Dohány Synagogue courtyard

Today, the oldest still-active synagogue in Europe is in Prague, Czech Republic and the largest synagogue in Europe is located in Budapest, Hungary. We happened to visit Budapest during Rosh Hashanah and saw many families on their way to services both at the Dohány Street Synagogue and a smaller synagogue in the same area.

 

Interestingly, the relatively new Memorial for the Victims of the German Occupation currently stands as a hotly contested source of criticism in Budapest. Intended to memorialize Holocaust victims, its use of symbols is intended to misconstrue history, according to daily peaceful protestors. Specifically, they take issue with the representation of Hungary as an angel being attacked by the German eagle. Protesters demand that Hungary not deny the complicity its government and some of its citizens took with the Third Reich during the Holocaust. Their goal is to replace what they consider a gross misrepresentation of history with a more fitting memorial.

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Budapest memorial in question
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Protesters’ issues explained
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Call to the Prime Minister: “Mr. Oban, Tear Down Your Monument!”
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Pictures, stories, and artifacts in front of the monument
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Stones, candles, and plants honor lost lives

Both the monument itself and the surrounding controversy serve as an important reminder that how we portray history becomes how we remember it.

Never again.

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Budapest: Memorial to people lined up and shot into the Danube 1944-45

European Feast

European Feast

In honor of not cooking this Thanksgiving, here are some of my all-time favorite food and drink pictures from all over Europe over the last three years. Guten Appetit & Happy Thanksgiving!

Note: I wasn’t too big on taking food pictures until recently. A few not pictured favorites include mussels in Belgium, Indonesian food in the Netherlands, Sacher torte (a kind of chocolate cake) in Austria, stuffed peppers in Romania, Scotch and shortbread in Scotland; Guinness in Ireland, fondue and Raclette in Switzerland, pasta-sauerkraut-cheese stir fry in the Czech Republic, smoked salmon in Sweden and Norway, and gelato, coffee, pizza, etc., etc. in Italy.

Enjoying the Quintessential German Vacation at Lake Constance

Enjoying the Quintessential German Vacation at Lake Constance

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Summer goes by fast in Germany, so it’s important to do it right. Lake Constance (the Bodensee) is a popular destination for vacationers of all ages to relax during this short-lived season. Being that there’s not so much coast in Germany (not to mention the other lake neighbors, Switzerland and Austria), the lake sort of fills the role of a beach vacation. Here’s how to do justice to a Lake Constance vacation.

Lindau

To Do:

  1. Stroll around with an ice cream

Gelato

Meersburg am Bodensee

Meersburg am Bodensee

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City of Meersburg

Italy isn’t so far away so there are gelato shops on every street corner in the quaint lakeside towns. Enjoy the traditional Fachwerk architecture of the guesthouses, restaurants, and stores – most of which are complete with colorful flowers under each window.

  1. Drink wine lakeside

Vineyard in Liechtenstein

Konstanz

View from Garden Terrace Restaurant in Lindau

If you go from town to town, you’ll notice rolling vineyards, in addition to orchards and hops fields. Most of the wine in this region is white. Be sure to sample a glass from an outdoor café so you can watch the sailboats, standup paddle boats, motor boats, ferries, cruise ships, Zeppelins, and hot air balloons. Try the local fish or seafood along with it. (Jump to restaurant recommendations here.)

  1. Visit a castle

Meersburg in Meersburg am Bodensee

Meersburg

Inside Meersburg

Meersburg, for example, provides a good amount of information on its layout and history. It’s the oldest privately owned and still inhabited castle in Germany – built in the 7th century! Beautiful views of the lake and surrounding area can be seen from its once-freestanding tower, possible for a small added fee that includes a short guided tour.

  1. Keep an eye out for festivals

Seenachtfest in Konstanz

Boat ride from Konstanz to Meersburg

This actually goes for all of Germany year-round, but is a nice plus on a vacation. Last weekend was the Seenachtfest (Lake Night Festival) in the city of Konstanz with concerts and fireworks, among the standard fest fare.

Whether you’re trying to reach a festival or not, try taking a boat ride from one city on the lake to another to enjoy the scenery (including the majestic Alps) from different perspectives.

  1. Drive to Liechtenstein

Prince of Liechtenstein's Home

View from Prince's Home

From where we stayed in Kressbronn, the small principality of Liechtenstein was only about an hour south. Check your route in advance to see if it involves driving through Austria and/or Switzerland as it did for us. In that case, you’ll need to stop at a rest stop to buy a Vignette, a toll sticker that attaches to the windshield.

What is there to see in Liechtenstein? A steep winding road from the center of the capital city Vaduz leads to the Prince’s home, which can be viewed rather up close from the outside only. The wooded hiking trail that leads here has a series of signs with information about the castle, the royal family, and Liechtenstein’s history. The Prince’s wine cellars are also nearby and open for the public to patronize (unfortunately closed on Sundays).

Post Museum

Beyond that, Liechtenstein is known for producing stamps and Vaduz has a tiny but free Post Museum. Not far from the capital is Gutenberg Castle. Tours are by pre-appointment but the chapel and rose garden are open on Sundays. If you’re lucky like we were, maybe you’ll chance across a small wine walk while hiking through the vineyards of the hill. This is also a great place to see the Rhein River, relatively close to its source.

Gutenberg Castle

View from Gutenberg Castle

By Gutenberg Castle

Rhein River

  1. Travel back in time and visit a prehistoric settlement

Pfahlbau Museum

Pfahlbauten

The Pfahlbau Museum in Unteruhldingen gives visitors the opportunity to interactively explore recreated homes on stilts built on the lake. The construction of the interconnected buildings is based on fossilized building and artifact remains dating back to the Stone and Bronze Ages. There are lots of hands-on activities here, currently a temporary exhibit of Stone Age “Olympics”.

  1. Feed popcorn to monkeys

Sleeping monkey

Monkeys

Tourists at Affenberg

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Yes! At Affenberg (Monkey Montain) animal reserve in Salem, you can do exactly that. Note that there are more animals to see than just monkeys here. Particularly striking are the flocks of storks that make their bulky nests along the eaves of the bordering buildings. But the main attraction is definitely the opportunity to wander along through the Barbary macaque monkeys’ free range forest habitat. The monkeys will pick popcorn kernels right out of your hand, barely grazing your palm in the process. (Obviously many instructions to ensure people and animal safety accompany the free handful of popcorn before entering this area.)

 

*Bonus* Lake Constance restaurant recommendations:

  • Kressbronn Seegarten Kressbronn Pricy but delicious seafood (among other options like schnitzel, wurst, and salads) by the lake with a gorgeous view.
  • Meersburg Hotel Wilder Mann Outdoor terrace along the lake set under a shady awning of trees. Standard and creative menu choices, relaxing live music and a dance floor.
  • Lindau Garden terrace of the Stolze-Spaeth Hotels – Fancy menu and hotel atmosphere overlooking the lighthouse and lion statue in the lake.

Kressbronn

History Turns to Story in Ireland

Celtic crosses in Monasterboice cemetery
Celtic crosses in Monasterboice cemetery

Storytelling and folklore, Guinness and whiskey. It seems these features blend well together in Ireland, for the most part creating a rich and fascinating culture.

Northern Ireland

It’s interesting to see how history and fiction blend together. James and I spent most of a long weekend in early February in Dublin, but we took two memorable daytrips from there as well. The first was to Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom and at one time in heated conflict with the Irish Republic. We crossed the rope bridge Carrick-a-Rede as the wind tossed it and us along, climbed parts of the volcanic rock structure Giant’s Causeway, stopped to see Dunluce Castle which Belfast-born author C.S. Lewis used as inspiration for the Narnian castle Cair Paravel, and visited the architecturally mixed city of Belfast. Giant’s Causeway is so named because, according to many colorful variations of legend, the Irish giant Finn MacCool built it during a conflict with a Scottish giant.

Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge
Along the way to the bridge
Along the way to the bridge
Giant's Causeway
Giant’s Causeway
Giant's Causeway from the top
Giant’s Causeway from the top
Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle
Belfast
Belfast
St. Anne's Cathedral in Belfast
St. Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast

Celtic History

Our second tour further emphasized how hard it is to understand just how ancient the remains of Ireland’s history are. Here we explored Ireland’s Celtic history and literally stepped into the ancient past.

Our guide was one of the 10% of the Irish who consider themselves fluent in Irish Gaelic. In fact, English is his second language, although like the majority of Irish people, he is also fluent in English. Irish Gaelic is taught in schools and, as English and Irish are both official languages, all signs in Ireland are written in both languages. (In Northern Ireland, a noticeable difference is that only English is used.)

On this trip we visited two Celtic burial grounds: the Hill of Tara and Loughcrew. There are few burial mounds remaining today, as the stones from the mounds have been used over the course of history for other buildings. Incredibly, we were able to enter a 5,000 year old tomb in Loughcrew. Celtic writing carved in the walls and passage ceilings, coins and dried up figs placed between the stones could still be seen inside.

Hill of Tara
Hill of Tara
Trim Castle
Trim Castle
Loughcrew Celtic burial grounds
Loughcrew Celtic burial grounds
Celtic writing inside the tomb
Celtic writing inside the tomb
Irish coutryside view from Loughcrew
Irish coutryside view from Loughcrew site

Dublin

Back in the present, modern-day Dublin is exactly what you would expect it to be like. Home of many famous writers – James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker, etc. – the city is still full of friendly, loquacious people who take any question as the opportunity to tell a story. And, of course, Dublin has no shortage of cozy pubs.

Guinness ad in Dublin
Guinness ad in Dublin
O'Neill's pub
O’Neill’s pub
Inside O'Neill's
Inside O’Neill’s
Pub in Temple Bar district
Pub in Temple Bar district
Jameson's Irish Whiskey Distillery
Jameson’s Irish Whiskey Distillery
Glasnevin Cemetery
Glasnevin Cemetery

The highlight of Dublin this time for me though wasn’t the haunted history tours, the literary pub crawl, the Guinness storehouse, or the Jameson Distillery tour. It was the Book of the Kells and the Old Library at Trinity College. Like something out of a medieval mystery story, the Book of Kells is a biblical text handwritten and illustrated in an island monastery, stolen and lost or hidden away during its history. It eventually came to land in Trinity College where different sample pages of it and a few other medieval texts are on display daily.

The Old Library above the Book of Kells exhibit is the quintessential library: full of high rounded windows to light its dark wood interior, narrow wooden ladders to reach musty hardcover books in every section, a spindly spiral staircase leading up to the upper level, and quiet rustling. Crowds of tourists browsing open copies of historic books in display cases in near silence. We even came across a folktale of the Lorelei, a mythical character for which a rock on the Rhein near Sankt Goar, Germany was named. Once more example of folklore and history, past and present colliding harmoniously.

Old Library at Trinity College
Old Library at Trinity College

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Twelve Days of Christmas Markets

Christmas pyramid with the Weihnachtsmann
Christmas pyramid with the Weihnachtsmann in Munich
Christmas Market in Prague
Christmas Market in Prague

Days have been short and cold in Germany, but fortunately the tradition of Christmas markets seems to have everything you need to warm the body and soul: fried foods, hot mulled wine, and camaraderie. Over the past month, we’ve visited markets in Mainz, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt, Rüdesheim, Köln, Würzburg, Munich, Nürnberg, and Bamberg. Not far beyond the borders of Germany we also visited Strasbourg, France; Prague, Czech Republic; and Valkenburg, Holland. While the markets are similar, they’re great fun to visit again and again. Here are a few of my favorite things from the Weihnachtsmärkte (sing to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”):

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the markets gave to me…

12 Chestnuts roasting

As if out of the Christmas song itself, you can smell Heiβe Maronen even before you see them. In my opinion, this is the best part. The chewy texture mixed with a smoky, meaty taste is a little too strange for me.

Roasted chestnuts
Roasted chestnuts

11 Skaters skating

Mainz, Munich, Köln, and a few other markets have small ice skating rinks and skate rentals available. Köln even has additional curling lanes.

10 Bratwursts grilling

While Bratwursts are a staple at any festival, there are many other choices from the grill or oven: steaks, mushrooms, Spätzle (noodles), and Flammkuchen (pizza-like flatbread).

Bratwursts on the grill
Bratwursts on the grill

9 Toys a-clacking

Traditional toys and other crafts at the Christmas Markets are hand-carved works of art. In addition to wooden toys, you can find blown glass ornaments, beeswax candles, and knit sweaters and hats.

Wooden toys and decorations stand
Wooden toys and decorations stand

8 Kartoffeln puffing

Kartoffelpuffer, also known as Reibekuchen = potato pancakes. This is my favorite Christmas Market food made in the greasy deep fryer and served with applesauce.

Potato pancake stand
Potato pancake stand

7 Hearts a-baking

The smell of Lebkuchen (gingerbread) hearts mixes with the equally sweet candied nuts that they usually share a stand with. The hearts are frosted with “Ich liebe dich” (“I love you”) and sappier messages, or holiday greetings.

Lebkuchen hearts and other treats
Lebkuchen hearts and other treats

6 Krampuses prowling

In Munich and Prague, we encountered this Santa Claus counterpart who is a tradition in parts of Bavaria, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Krampus travels with St. Nick and takes the bad children away in a sack (or at least scares the hell out of them).

Krampus Run in Munich
Krampus Run in Munich

5 GLÜHWEIN MUGS

Glühwein (hot mulled wine) is undoubtedly the highlight of the Christmas Markets. Each market or, in some cases, each area or stand in the market has its own mug that you pay a deposit for. And you don’t have to buy wine to get a mug. You can also order a hot chocolate, coffee, or rum punch in a festive mug.

Goblet from the Munich medieval market, 25th anniversary of Germany unity mug from Frankfurt, boot from the Munich Chriskindl market, light blue mug from Rüdesheim, and gnome mug from Köln
Goblet from the Munich medieval market, 25th anniversary of Germany unity mug from Frankfurt, boot from the Munich Chriskindl market, light blue mug from Rüdesheim, and gnome mug from Köln

4 Chocolate fruits

Apples, bananas, pineapple, grapes… if it’s a fruit, you can buy it covered in chocolate. Usually the fruit is sold in kebab form for easy festival eating, but sometimes it’s arranged in the shape of an animal.

Chocolate covered fruits on a stick
Chocolate covered fruits on a stick

3 French crêpes

Crêpes are usually served with your choice of Nutella, chocolate, or cinnamon and sugar. This year we also discovered Baumstriezel, which are rings of fried dough also available with these toppings.

A fresh crêpe
A fresh crêpe

2 Christmas caves

In addition to a regular Christmas Market, Valkenburg in Holland has two other markets in caves. Besides a slightly muggy atmosphere and a more commercial feel to many of the stands, this was amazing to experience.

Christmas Market in a cave
Christmas Market in a cave

And mistletoe straight from a tree

‘Tis the season for mistletoe to grow like floating orbs in nearly every tree you pass here, and to be found for sale in every market. While mistletoe has a romantic use at Christmas time, it’s actually a parasitic plant that attaches to its host tree. Think about that next you kiss someone under the mistletoe.

Mistletoe

 

Frohes Fest aus dem Weihnachtsmarkt!/Happy Holidays from the Christmas Market!

The Truth About Dracula’s Castle and Other Things I Learned in Romania (and Bulgaria)

Vlad the Impaler (?!)
Vlad the Impaler

“Is it usually so foggy this time of year?”

We rode in a van through the Carpathian Mountains in what was once Transylvania, one of three former kingdoms that now comprise Romania. We had just passed through a gypsy village and more than once had seen a horse and cart on the road carrying logs or hay.

“Yes, usually in the mornings over the farmland,” our driver/tour guide answered. I don’t know why I was surprised. While we had waited for him to pick us up at our Home Away apartment a couple hours earlier, a black cat had loitered a short way ahead of us on the sidewalk. “First we’re going to Peleş Castle and at the end I want you to tell me which you think is better.”

I’ll let you decide for yourself about the castles, and the rest of the highlights of the trip as well. What follows is the rest of our long weekend of sightseeing.

Peleş Castle

Extravagant is the best way to describe the first castle we visited before the main event. It had been commissioned by King Carol I of Romania, who was originally born in Germany. The outer design particularly retains a lot of German style, while the inside is filled with carved wooden wall decorations, Italian marble, a Turkish smoking room, and so on and so on. I imagined this being built after a consultation that went something like, “I have virtually unlimited money and want to showcase my wealth. What can you do for me?” The result was truly gorgeous and awe-inspiring.

Peleş Castle
Peleş Castle

Bran Castle (“Dracula’s Castle”)

The four of us had prepared for this visit by taking turns reading aloud from the opening of Bram Stoker’s Dracula on our balcony in Bucharest on the evening we arrived. Bran Castle, having belonged to Queen Mary for much of its history, is built directly into a foundation of sheer rock. It stoically served as the gateway between the former kingdoms of Transylvania and Wallachia. Compared to Peleş Castle, its unornamented wooden rooms make it look like more of a practical living space.

The truth is that this castle is only loosely tied to the (anyway, fictitious) story of Dracula. It seems that Bram Stoker had at one point visited Bucharest, collected stories from Romanian history and folklore, and spun them into a tale whose tremendous popularity is to blame for a good deal of tourism in this area. The tyrannical Vlad the Impaler’s father was named Vlad Dracul, and the Impaler’s grandfather had owned Bran Castle for a few years after it was given to him as a gift. So the family name Dracul, the briefly owned Transylvanian castle, and Romanian folklore about “strigoi” (vampires that could be warded off with garlic, etc.) has since breathed a new and mysterious life into the scenically located but otherwise ordinary Bran Castle.

Side view of Bran Castle
Side view of Bran Castle
View from Bran Castle
View from the top of the castle
Inside Bram Castle
Rooms inside

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Religion

We visited many churches on this trip as well and learned a lot about religion in Romania. The vast majority of Romanians are Christian Orthodox, with some Catholics in Transylvania and a smaller percentage of other religions. The first thing we noticed in the Christian Orthodox churches was that there are very few seats and that these usually line the walls. That’s because church-goers stand for services. Note: A typical Sunday service is three hours long, while a holiday service can last closer to five hours. Smaller services take place twice a day. And Wednesdays are somewhat important church days too. And Fridays. And we even saw a roadside church where people can take their new cars to be blessed.

Christian Orthodox church
Christian Orthodox church
Paintings outside the entrance
Paintings outside the entrance

In a small town called Braşov we also saw a beautiful historic synagogue. Post-WWII Romania has a small Jewish population as well.

Synagogue in Braşov
Synagogue in Braşov

Bulgaria

We spent the following day with the same guide on a trip to Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria. Bucharest is about an hour from the Bulgarian border and from here we traveled another two hours to this scenic city, crossing the Danube and winding our way through the Balkans. Although both countries are part of the EU, they each still use their own currency and have a toll booth-style customs office you have to pass through on the border. Once in Veliko Tarnovo an older gentleman behind a counter exchanged some Euros for Bulgarian lev (meaning “lion” like the Romanian lei) with a calculator and stacks of money. In the meantime, signs had switched over into the Cyrillic alphabet. Romania had once used this alphabet too but changed over to the Latin alphabet we use, with the addition of many types of accent marks.

Bulgaria has changed hands many times in its history: It was ruled by czars, it belonged to the Ottoman Empire, part of it belonged to Romania, it was under Communist rule, and is currently a democracy. Unlike Romania, it apparently achieved democracy without a revolution. As you can see, we saw a town-enclosing fortress that was rebuilt under Communist rule, a beautiful church hidden inside an ordinary-looking farmhouse, and a Turkish-style (Ottoman Empire period) house.

First glimpse of Tsaravets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo
First glimpse of Tsaravets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo
Fortress up close
Fortress up close
Execution rock
Execution rock
Beautifully painted church hidden inside this house
Beautifully painted church hidden inside this house
Konstantsalieva House
Konstantsalieva House
Turkish-style living room inside
Turkish-style living room inside

…A Few of My Favorite Things – Part 2

And the travels with family continued the other week! So here are the continued highlights – one more post to sum up this set of adventures coming soon.

Schloss Biebrich in Wiesbaden faces the Rhein River
Schloss Biebrich in Wiesbaden faces the Rhein River
  • Wiesbaden: Featuring an unexpected medieval festival

A short distance from downtown Wiesbaden stands the illustrious Schloss Biebrich with a tidy park area that flows out behind it. With long pedestrian trails and a small lake, the Schlosspark makes the enormous palace look small by comparison. Today the castle itself contains a restaurant and hotel and is used for events. The park is enjoyed by many, and we even saw a few people practicing tightrope walking between two sturdy trees.

Spring festival in Kochbrunnenplatz
Spring festival in Kochbrunnenplatz

Our visit to the Kochbrunnen (thermal springs) in a downtown square, happened to coincide with a Historical Spring Festival. In this case, “historical” translated to “medieval,” so the festival featured many people in medieval costumes, dolls and other crafts made out of brooms, archery games, and mead and dried meats.

 

Residenz palace in Würzburg
Residenz palace in Würzburg
  • Würzburg: Amazingly reconstructed palace and quaint college town

Würzburg was so enjoyable, we ended up visiting it twice during the week. About an hour and a half southeast of us, this small city is a true blend of history and modern-day. The most impressive sights are the Residenz palace and the Festung (fortress) Marienberg, both originally homes of the prince-bishops of Würzburg. During World War II, the furnishings of the Residenz were moved to the fortress high above the town for safekeeping. The Residenz, as predicted, was then severely damaged but has been entirely rebuilt. Even the showy mirror room, a spectacle of foreign-themed paintings on glass covering mirrors on all four walls and the ceiling, was reconstructed based on slides of the room taken before the damage.

Old Bridge in Würzburg
Old Bridge in Würzburg

Würzburg is home to a university of the same name, and the town reflects the university life. The old bridge leading over the Rhein from the Altstadt (old town) to the Marienberg fortress, is lined with small bars and restaurants. We enjoyed a riverside lunch on the patio of an old mill at the Gasthaus Alte Mainmühle.

 

Luxembourg City with the Casemates along the right
Luxembourg City with the Casemates along the right
  • Luxembourg City, Luxembourg: Two-hour drive to a new country

Much of Luxembourg City sits in a bowl surrounded by the Bock Casemates, a defensive wall with passageways built into the cliffs. This provided storage areas for cannons and other equipment, soldier barracks, and escape routes both over and under the bridges.

The country of Luxembourg has its own language, Luxembourgish, though French and German are also commonly spoken here. The food served in the cafes leans more toward French cuisine, with quiches being popular lunch fare. We did, however, see a band of chefs with the typical tall white hats carrying baskets of pretzels to a town square. Luxembourg City has an extensive American cemetery, mainly the resting place of World War II soldiers, and is the headquarters of many European Union offices.

Symbol of Luxembourg City:  the red lion
Symbol of Luxembourg City: the red lion

A visit to the Luxembourg City History Museum provided some artistic insights into societal changes in the city (languages, politics, household appliances, commercialism, etc.). The museum also has a multimedia exhibit featuring a Luxembourg City legend of the mermaid or siren Melusina. A count had supposedly fallen in love with Melusina in human form and, when he discovered her true identify, she disappeared forever. The elusive mermaid is said to still be hidden somewhere along the Alzette River.

 

Frankfurt
Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt: Birdseye view

This trip to the modern city of Frankfurt consisted of a walking tour with sights such as the Altstadt reconstruction project, Goethe’s house, and the Alte Brücke (old bridge). The tour culminated with a visit to the top of the Main Tower, providing a view of the whole city.

 

Hohenzollern from afar
Hohenzollern from afar
  • Hohenzollern: Prussian kings’ castle, still family-owned

Atop a hill about two and a half hours south of here, near Stuttgart, sits Burg Hohenzollern. This castle still belongs to the family of the former Prussian kings. The current “Prince of Prussia” is Georg Friedrich, who studied economics and works for a marketing company. He and his wife Princess Sophie have twin sons, but only the oldest son will succeed him in the family’s nominal title.

Hohenzollern from the inner courtyard
Hohenzollern from the inner courtyard
Statues on the surrounding wall
Statues on the surrounding wall