Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Things to do in Augsburg -- an Unplanned Stop

St Anna Kirche -- Often regarded as the first Renaissance church in Germany, the rather plain-looking St Anna Kirche contains a bevy of treasures as well as the sumptuous Fuggerkapelle, where Jacob Fugger and his brothers lie buried, and the lavishly frescoed Goldschmiedekapelle (Goldsmiths' Chapel; 1420). The church played an important role during the Reformation. In 1518 Martin Luther, in town to defend his beliefs before the papal legate, stayed at what was then a Carmelite monastery. His rooms have been turned into the Lutherstiege, a small museum about the Reformation. The entire complex was under renovation at the time of writing.

Dom Mariä Heimsuchung -- North of Rathausplatz you'll find the cathedral, Dom Mariä Heimsuchung, which dates back to the 10th century. Architecturally it's a hotchpotch of addition on addition, including the instalment of bronze doors in the 14th century depicting Old Testament scenes. The oldest section is the crypt underneath the west choir, which features a Romanesque Madonna. Other treasures include medieval frescoes, the Weingartner Altar by Hans Holbein the Elder, and - dating from the 12th century - the Prophets' Windows (depicting Daniel, Jonah, Hosea and Moses), some of the oldest stained-glass windows in Germany.

Fuggerei -- Built to provide homes for poor Catholics, the Fuggerei is one of the oldest welfare settlements in the world. Jacob Fugger financed the project in the 16th century and this town within a town is still home to 150 Catholic Augsburgers. Many of the 140 apartments have been modernised but the exterior is pretty much unchanged, with the original bell pulls beside each door. For centuries the rent has remained at one Rhenish Gilder (€1 today) per year, plus utilities and three daily prayers. Sound management means the Fugger Foundation is still going strong, despite the global economic downturn.

Maximilianstrasse -- Rathausplatz marks the northern end of Maximilianstrasse, a grand boulevard named for Kaiser Maximilian (1459-1519), which is lined by patrician mansions and graced with two impressive fountains. The Merkurbrunnen (1599), at the intersection with Bürgermeister-Fischer-Strasse, is by Dutch artist Adriaen de Vries and features the god Mercury as a symbol of trade. Further south, near Hallstrasse, is the Herkulesbrunnen (1602), also by de Vries, which shows Hercules fighting the seven-headed Hydra, representing Augsburg's commercial importance.

St-Anna-Kirche -- Founded as a Carmelite monastery in 1321, St-Anna-Kirche hosted Martin Luther during his stay in 1518. His rooms have been turned into the Lutherstiege, a small museum about the Reformation. There's a portrait of Luther by Lucas Cranach the Elder in the eastern choir, while at the opposite end is the Fuggerkapelle, the chapel where Jakob Fugger and his brothers are buried. Also pop into the lavishly frescoed Goldschmiedekapelle (Goldsmiths' Chapel; 1420).

GlasPalast -- The GlasPalast is an industrial monument made of iron, concrete and glass that houses two new art galleries. The Centre of Contemporary Art is cutting-edge while the State Gallery of Modern Art shows post-50s American highlights of the genre. Its public art library is open during visiting hours. Also look out for guided tours, concerts and films.

Rathaus -- Rising above the Rathausplatz are the twin onion-domed spires of the Renaissance Rathaus, built by Elias Holl from 1615 to 1620 and crowned by a 4m-tall pinecone, the city's emblem (also an ancient fertility symbol). Upstairs is the Goldener Saal (Golden Hall), a huge banquet hall with an amazing gilded and frescoed coffered ceiling.

Maximilianmuseum -- In a restored patrician's house (1546), Maximilianmuseum traces the history of Augsburg. It also has a large exhibition of gold and silver work from baroque and rococo masters. A second floor displays sculptures and architectural models.

Lechviertel district -- Rushing canals stemming from the Lech River traverse the mostly pedestrianised Lechviertel district (sometimes referred to as Jakobviertel). Playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht was born here, and his house has been turned into a memorial museum.

Mozarthaus -- Allow an hour to take in an audio-guided tour (in English) of the Mozarthaus , the house where Leopold Mozart - Wolfgang Amadeus' father, who was also his music teacher and creator of the acclaimed 'violin technique' - was born in 1719.

Die Kiste -- Kids will adore Die Kiste , a museum adjacent to the Augsburger Puppenkiste, which takes you on a journey through the marionettes' 50-plus-year career on stage, TV and film, and also has a painting corner and little movie 'cabins'.

St-Ulrich-Kirche -- The St-Ulrich-Kirche was a preaching hall of the basilica's Benedictine abbey and has been a Lutheran church since 1524. Its peaceful coexistence with its Catholic neighbour has long symbolised Augsburg's religious tolerance.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Things to do in Lindau (Bodensee)

Altes Rathaus -- The Old Town Hall is the finest of Lindau's handsome historic buildings. It was constructed between 1422 and 1436 in the midst of a vineyard and given a Renaissance face-lift 150 years later, though the original stepped gables remain. Emperor Maximilian I held an imperial diet here in 1496; a fresco on the south facade depicts the scene. The building houses offices and cannot be visited.

 Altstadt -- The old town is a maze of ancient streets with half-timber and gable houses making up for most of the island. The center is main street, pedestrian-only Maximilianstrasse.

Barfüsserkirche -- This church, built from 1241 to 1270, is now Lindau's principal theater, and the Gothic choir is a memorable setting for concerts.

Bavarian Lion -- A proud symbol of Bavaria, Der Bayerische Löwe (the Bavarian Lion) is Lindau's most striking landmark. Carved from Bavarian marble and standing 20 feet high, the lion stares out across the lake from a massive plinth.

Haus zum Cavazzen -- Dating to 1728, this house belonged to a wealthy merchant and is now considered one of the most beautiful in the Bodensee region, owing to its rich decor of frescoes. Today it serves as a local history museum, with collections of glass and pewter items, paintings, and furniture from the past five centuries, alongside touring exhibitions of an international standard.

Mangenturm  -- This former lighthouse at the end of the former city walls dates to the 13th century, making it one of the lake's older lighthouses. Although the structure is indeed old, its vibrantly colored rooftop is not so—following a lightning strike in the 1970s, the roof tiles were replaced, giving the tower the bright top it now bears.

Marktplatz -- Lindau's market square is lined by a series of sturdy and attractive old buildings. The Gothic Stephanskirche (St. Stephen's Church) is simple and sparsely decorated, as befits a Lutheran place of worship. It dates to the late 12th century but went through numerous transformations. One of its special features is the green-hue stucco ornamentation on the ceiling, which immediately attracts the eye toward the heavens. In contrast, the Catholic Münster Unserer Lieben Frau (St. Mary's Church), which stands right next to the Stephanskirche, is exuberantly baroque.

Neuer Leuchtturm -- Germany's southernmost lighthouse stands sentinel with the Bavarian Lion across the inner harbor's passageway.

Peterskirche -- This solid 10th-century Romanesque building is reputedly the oldest church in the Bodensee region. On the inside of the northern wall, frescoes by Hans Holbein the Elder (1465-1524) depict scenes from the life of St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen. Peterskirche houses a memorial to fallen German soldiers from World Wars I and II, and a memorial plaque for victims of Auschwitz. Attached to the church is the 16th-century bell foundry, now a pottery works. Also of note is the adjacent fairy-tale-like Diebsturm. Look closely and you might see Rapunzel's golden hair hanging from this 13th-century tower, awaiting a princely rescuer. Follow the old city wall behind the tower and church to the adjoining Unterer Schrannenplatz, where the bell-makers used to live. A 1989 fountain depicts five of the Narren (Fools) that make up the VIPs of Fastnacht, the annual Alemannic Carnival celebrations.

Schloss Montfort -- Another 8 km (5 mi) west of Wasserburg is the small, pretty town of Langenargen, famous for the region's most unusual castle, Schloss Montfort. Named for the original owners—the counts of Montfort-Werdenberg—this structure was a conventional medieval fortification until the 19th century, when it was rebuilt in pseudo-Moorish style by its new owner, King Wilhelm I of Württemberg. If you can, see it from a passenger ship on the lake; the castle is especially memorable in the early morning or late afternoon. The tower is open to visitors, and the castle houses a café-restaurant, which is open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, April through mid-October. The café is also open for Sunday brunch year-round.

Stadtgarten -- Ludwigstrasse and Fischergasse lead to a watchtower, once part of the original city walls with a little park behind it. If it's early evening, you'll see the first gamblers of the night making for the neighboring casino.

Wasserburg -- Six kilometers (4 mi) west of Lindau lies Wasserburg, whose name means "water castle," an exact description of what this enchanting island town once was—a fortress. It was built by the St. Gallen monastery in 924, and the owners, the counts of Montfort zu Tettnang, sold it to the Fugger family of Augsburg. The Fuggers couldn't afford to maintain the drawbridge that connected the castle with the shore and instead built a causeway. In the 18th century the castle passed into the hands of the Habsburgs, and in 1805 the Bavarian government took it over. Wasserburg has some of the most photographed sights of the Bodensee: the yellow, stair-gabled presbytery; the fishermen's St. Georg Kirche, with its onion dome; and the little Malhaus museum, with the castle, Schloss Wasserburg, in the background.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Things to do in Freiburg

Freiburg has a lot to offer-no matter whether you are interested in a stroll in the historic old town to learn about the culture and history of the city, whether you would like to spend some time in one of the many cafes and cosy pubs, or whether you would like to indulge in Badisch cuisine and hospitality. 

Freiburg Minster – Every visitor who comes to Freiburg always heads straight to the cathedral as soon as he catches a glimpse of the open-worked pyramids of the slender tower over the rooftops of the old town. Then he will stand, astonished, in front of the most beautiful tower Christianity, just as the famous historian and author from Baden, Carl Jakob Burckhardt had referred to the tower. Whilst many churches from the middle ages were completed only in following centuries, the tower, which is 116 meters high, was already completed by 1330. 

Old town hall – It was assembled from 1557 - 1559 from many old houses. The façade was originally completely painted. Since 2007 tourist information centre can be found in this building. 

New town hall – The new town hall was only created from 1896 to 1901 due to modification of a semi-detached house from the Renaissance. For many years, it served as Kollegiengebäude (university building) and administration building of the university founded in 1457; later it was then an anatomy and polyclinic. A glockenspiel tower bells chimes daily at 12 o'clock from the turrets of the new mid-section. 

Historical store – Between 1520 and 1532, Lienhart Müller constructed the department store located on Münsterplatz for the municipal market management. The emblems and the statues on the main façade created by Hans Sixt von Staufen depict a reverence to the house of Habsburg. 

Schwabentor (Swabian gate) – Due to the oldest crossing of the river Dreisam and the Oberlinden road junction, the Obertor or the Schwabentor gates were of particular importance which was also demonstrated with the weir system. 

Martinstor (Martin Gate) – The Martinstor is the oldest of both of the surviving gate towers from Freiburg's first fortification, which were built at the beginning of the 13th century. 

Breisacher Tor (Breisacher gate) – The building situated on the corner of Rempartstraße and Gartenstraße is the only surviving gate construction of the entire fortification which was built in Baroque style under French occupation in 1677. 

The Freiburg Bächle (Small canals) – The Freiburg Bächle are an integral part of the historical old town. Originally they were most likely used for the provision of water for industrial use and as sewers. Today the canals cater for a pleasant climate and are a popular play area for adults and children alike. But watch out. It is said that visitors who come to Freiburg and who step into one of the canals have not visited Freiburg for the last time. Haus zum Walfisch [House of the Whale]The Haus zum Walfisch, with its magnificent, late Gothic doorway, is located in the Franziskanergasse where you can find several beautiful historical buildings. The famous scholar Erasmus von Rotterdam lived in this house for two years. 

Augustinermuseum – The new Augustinermuseum houses a renowned art collection with works ranging from the Middle Ages up to the Baroque period, as well as paintings from the 19th century.  

Museum of Modern Art – The biggest art movements of the last 100 years are represented in the Museum of Modern Art by masterpieces ranging from Classic Modernism to the present day.  

Colombischlössle Archaeological Museum – From South Baden’s oldest art works to medieval Freiburg: the Archaeological Museum, built in the Colombischlössle manor house in 1859/61, invites its visitors on a journey through time.  

Museum of City History – The museum in the late baroque residence of the artist and benefactor Johann Christian Wentzinger (1710 - 1797) displays treasures from 900 years of city history.  

Museum of Natural History – The Museum of Natural History is currently being redesigned to create an entertaining and educational experience for the whole family.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Short Weekend in Denmark (Part 2)


I was up early as usual with no hangover but of course everyone else was hungover. I watched some American news programming and then showered. I was OK with relaxing and waiting for everyone to get up. Lotte and I had breakfast and went into the city together where she showed me around.

I saw this tower which looks normal on the outside but was built by a crazy king so he could take his carrage up to the top. There was a beautiful platform at the top that allowed us to see the city from above too!

King Frederik II (1534-1588 – ruled Denmark and Norway 1559 - 1588) was the first Danish King, who became interested in astronomy due to the scientific work of Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) - a famous Danish nobleman and astronomer, who developed the “Tychonian” system - which was a complicated astrological model of the solar system.

The Round Tower -- The Kings original idea from the start was to build an observatory identically like Tycho Brahe’s Stjerneborg on the top of the Round Tower with the exact diameter like Stjerneborg’s, 15 m.

The Tower was completed as an observatory with a little planetarium in 1642 and has a height of almost 40 m including the obsavatory. The Round Tower is built with a 210 m long spiral ramp, which leads to the top - and on the uppermost facade of the tower there is a gilded inscription like a rebus. The rebus can be interpreted in the following way: Lead God - the right teaching and justice into the heart of the crowned King Christian IV - 1642 - the year when the tower was completed. King Christian IV's draft of it, written with his own hand - is kept at the Danish Record Office.

The Round Tower is the oldest functioning observatory in Europe. Until 1861 it was used by the University of Copenhagen - but today - anyone can observe the night sky through the fine astronomical telescope of the tower in the winter period.

We then toured some churches and other buildings then we embarked on a canal tour with a less than enthusiastic tour guide who gave the tour in both Danish and English but also another guide from a private tour group who gave the same tour (with what I can only assume was much more detail) in either Russian or Polish. 
We took the tour a bit further than we should have, slightly more than the full circle, and slightly more than the one hour we paid for.
 The tour starts from Holmens Church. We pass the old Stock-Exchange and sail through a canal called "Børsgraven". We arrive at Nyhavn, a pictoresque canal with atmosphere, many old houses and sailships. Nyhavn is one of the oldest parts of the Copenhagen harbour and dates back to 1673. At the end of Nyhavn there is a large anchor, which is a monument for 1600 Danish sailors, who lost their lives during the second world war.

We now approach the area of Holmen which was the naval base of Copenhagen for more than 300 years. Holmen is situated on 4 islands. On Frediriksholm we have The Danish Film School, The Drama School, The Academy Of Rhythmic Music and The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Architect School. To the left you can see "Dokøen" (the Dock Island) and "Frederiksholm" and to the right the Arsenal Island. We sail past some of the 250 years old bastions or powder magazines, one of which – Frederiks Bastion – has been restored and converted into a small art gallery. Leaving the area of Holmen you can see Nyholm, the fourth island of Holmen, where there is still a naval college. To the right you can see the old Mast Crane from 1748, which was previously a well known landmark at the entrance to the Copenhagen harbour. Finally you can see the Battery Sixtus built in 1736 – 1744.

We are on our way to The little Mermaid illustrating one of the fairy-tales written by the Danish fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Andersen. We pass the royal residence called the Amalienborg Palace and enter the picturesque Christianshavn’s Canal with Our Saviour’s Church with the famous, twisted spire. Leaving Christianshavn’s Canal we see the Royal Library on the water front, cross the inner harbour. We enter Frederiksholm´s Canal with the Royal Arsenal Museum and the National Museum. To the left after the bridge you can see the old Fishmarket and the Thorvaldsen Art Museum. On our way back to Holmen´s Church we sail past Christiansborg Palace, the seat of the Danish parliament. [here]
We stopped and got off at Nyhavn where we had some tea we bought from a small kiosk / car  and relaxed by the water. When we were on our way back, we took our time and stopped to see the Marble church and a park but we were both hungry and decided to walk to the house again for dinner.

Lotte, my host, her boyfriend and I ate left overs from the night before and then just relaxed on the couch to watch a movie. We wound up watching Ocean's 11 and then we all went to bed.


I was up early again and I had breakfast with Lotte's boyfriend and we talked about America. They will visit the America's for three months during the spring and wanted tips on what to see and do from an American perspective.

I had to leave around 10:00 AM to go back to the train station by bus and I arrived at Noerreport St. where I caught an S-Bahn to Copenhagen Central Station. I was early but better early than late! I had to wait for about 45 minutes for my train to arrive but luckily, the track work was finished and I had a direct route this time to Hamburg Hbf.

I got on to the train but I couldn't find a seat open so I sat again in the dining cart. There, I met two young girls from southern Germany who were visiting Sweden for ten days and were on their way home to Germany. We talked for most of the trip and finally found seats together where we could sit and talk easier.

The train, like my last one boarded a ferry and we all had to get off and go to the top deck. I took the 45 minutes to read an article for my co-op and take notes so that I could respond to it when I was home again. Finally after what seemed like an eternity, I arrived in Hamburg Hbf and said goodbye to the girls and went to find a train that would take me to Hannover Hbf.

There were delays on all the trains going in that direction so I waited and waited and finally departed on a train going to Munich that would stop in Hamburg. It seemed like I chose the slowest train possible to get there even if it was an ICE train so it would travel quite quickly and luckily didn't stop at every- single- station. I didn't meet any new friends on this train but rather, I read a book and sat in the small hallway area with no seat reserved.

When I arrived in Hannover, I had to wait but eventually caught an S5 going directly to Paderborn. Well, I say directly because it ended in Paderborn but it was a train that stopped at every- single- station. Finally after all my travels I only wanted to sleep so when I got to Paderborn, I waited for a bus to take me home where I stayed up to some obscene hour of the night talking on Skype with my family and looking at the news to see what's changed.


Luckily, I took Monday off of work as well so I was able to sleep in a bit. Though at 8:00 AM I was awoken by the birds outside making a rukus and someone inside the hall or maybe in the kitchen making some really loud noises as well. I finally shook it all off and rolled over to wake up at 12:00 PM greeted by the church bells from town.

I guess I should get up anyways, right? 

I walked into the city and did some grocery shopping then went home and did laundry. My day seemed so busy, even if it wasn't at all, and I wound up back in bed by 8:00 PM.