Posts Tagged With: geography

Vienna 2016 Revisited

One of the first things we did upon arriving in Vienna was head to Naschmarkt, yes, another public market, to find some food. While I apparently did not photograph the actual market I did take this where we ate:

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Which roughly, very roughly, translates to, “Why are we arguing? You are sausage, I am sausage… we’re both angry men (?) let’s eat well anyway!” (My German is marginal and my Austrian is even worse! Google Translate helped me make an educated guess.)

After lunch, satiated with wurst, we embarked on a short walking tour where we saw the ‘cabbage’, the opera house, and the Albertina museum. I did go into the museum and will touch on that in a bit.

During our tour a few things caught my attention including this:

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…this banana…

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…horses in pink hats…

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…and though I do know what the verb ‘fahren’ means I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this:

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Where’s Howard Stern when you need him?

(Story note: I started this several days ago, and have no idea where I was going with it, so I’ll pretend we went from here to….)

Schönbrunn was our next stop the grounds of which were beautiful and I played with some filters on my camera…

…ran to see this…(wasn’t sure I could make the walk to it in time and get back on the bus)…

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…got there and saw this…

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…snapped a few photos using filters again…

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…then headed back to the bus. Another quick note of interest before I move one is that we did get a tour of the palace and on that tour we received ear pieces to better hear our guide who was using a microphone. Awesome! Right? Well, yes, except when the Chinese tour guide and her group kept getting too close and her audio would interfere with ours. Our guide tried to rectify the situation but the Chinese guide either didn’t understand, or just didn’t care. We let them pass.

While in Vienna we ate good food…

…saw some sweet roman ruins…

…and some of us, for some crazy reason, decided to climb the 400 some-odd steps to the top of St. Stephen’s Cathedral…

…ok, maybe it was for the view.

At some point during our visit a few of us went to the Albertina Museum and saw some great pieces…

…and afterward I took this from the observation deck(?)…

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…and wondered, “What’s with the giant green rabbit?” Never did find out; that’s ok, after-all isn’t it better just to wonder sometimes?

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T minus 2ish

Part of living in the house you grew up in is that you put off sorting through the boxes of family photos, movies, and slides for extended periods of time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps you’re meant to go through the records of yours and your family’s’ life at the “right” times. The trick is to recognize those times.

Rummaging through one of the plethora of boxes documenting my family’s life I came across this:

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…which is apparently part of the record from my Dad studying at the Mozarteum in Austria one summer; note the tuition. Discovering this of course conjured up memories of the tales he would tell of that time including the time he taught his landlady how to make “American” hamburgers. Before he could he had to go to a butcher to explain how to grind the meat, then to a baker to describe how to make the bun. Too bad he didn’t have a cell phone; coulda just shown them photos!

Since one of our destinations this summer is Austria, I’ll be taking this with me so Pops can “travel” with me.

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Day 8: Atrocities

This day started with a visit to a concentration camp. The camp is called Sachsenhausen and is located in Oranienburg, Germany about 22 miles north of Berlin. We had to walk from the train station to the camp and along the way I was struck by how ordinary the town was. Some of the houses we passed very near the camp looked like summer homes and all were very neatly kept. I also found it interesting that there were markers posted every so often with stories of the camp. I had wondered how Germans dealt with the legacy of the Nazi’s, I felt it would be under the rug somewhat but I was wrong. Entering the camp was a bit surreal and seeing the “Arbeit Mach Frei” on the gate was unsettling. Again, nothing makes history more tangible than travel. I have taught about the Holocaust, but to see the actual places where the plans were carried out is powerful. This camp was smaller than I had expected then I realized it was built in a populated area. We had a limited amount of time there so I walked faster than I wanted but covered a lot of ground.

After snapping some initial photos I walked over to one of the barracks that is now a museum. Of the many photos and artifacts that were in the museum I was most affected by the actual logs of people who had been sterilized; it was a stack of journals about 4 feet high.  The fact that the Nazi’s kept such meticulous records is disturbing; no, it’s more than disturbing, it’s shocking, offensive, and unfathomable. I go to the end of the barracks and panicked momentarily because I couldn’t find the exit, I had to get out. Luckily I found the exit relatively quickly.

Following the barracks I walked over to the pathology building and mortuary where medical experiments were conducted.  They actually had to design and construct a building for that purpose.  I then wandered the grounds first coming across mass graves and a wall with commemorative plaques from other countries, and finally toward the memorial erected in the center of the camp.  Upon exiting the camp I briefly stepped into the main museum and was met by an actual Nazi uniform which shook me a bit.  Overall a sobering experience.

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Day 7

It was a fittingly rainy day to visit the Wannsee House and Potsdam.  The Wannsee House is where the Nazi’s planned the final solution.  It is now a museum and educational site. What struck me the most was the beautiful setting of the house; a country retreat overlooking a beautiful lake.  The juxtaposition of the setting and what occurred inside the house is, well, bizarre. It was also very unsettling to see photos of Hitler in Germany.  I had several ‘shaken to the core’ moments, very similar to seeing the Vietnam memorial for the first time, or seeing the planes slam into the twin towers; a very visceral recognition, understanding, and acceptance that this was real, it actually happened.

It was apropos for us to visit the location of the Potsdam Conference after the Wannsee House.  The place in Potsdam where the conference was held was at least equal to the beauty of the Wannsee House.  I spent my limited time wandering the grounds rather than taking the tour of the building inside. It was moving to stand on the same patio where Churchill, Wilson, and Stalin sat following the war.

 

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Day 6: Landscape of the Dead

We had several hours to hang out in Paris following our visit to Normandy. We decided to spend that time meandering through Père Lachaise Cemetery.  Our goal was to first find the burial location of Jim Morrison but as we wandered I was both awed and amazed at the grave sites we were passing through. The cemetery felt a bit surreal which is  not unusual, but at some points it seemed we were passing through an abandoned city. I wouldn’t have been surprised if we had seen the door to one of the tombs open and it’s occupant step out as if to pick up the morning paper.  This place definitely had conveyed the atmosphere of a Tim Burton movie. Many of the tombs/crypts showed extraordinary craftsmanship and artistry; they were truly amazing. We eventually found Morrison’s grave as well as Oscar Wilde’s and they had one thing in common, other than being burial places, barriers to keep the public away. The barriers are close to the sites so they are easily viewed but apparently people were endangering the sites with their attempts at showing appreciation/reverence. I can only guess what people were doing to Morrison’s grave, maybe leaving too many objects, maybe adding graffiti, the story for Oscar Wilde’s was more clear.  At some point for visitors to Oscar Wilde’s grave it became a tradition to kiss the headstone. (“Headstone” in this case is  a bit of a misnomer, as it is really a huge sculpture.) His descendants felt that the abundance of lipstick prints was both damaging and not entirely appropriate so they had the headstone cleaned and surrounded by a glass wall.  Intrepid fans have found ways to still smooch the stone however. This was definitely an unexpectedly pleasant and enriching experience.

 

 

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Day 5: Normandy

Day 5 started with a very early bus ride to Normandy with a smarmy bus driver, I’ll save further descriptions of him for another post.  One of the reasons I took this trip was to be able to go to Normandy.  As with most memorials I have visited, nothing really prepares you and you’re surprised by what affects you and how you’re affected. There is nothing that can convey the shear number of casualties other than visiting Normandy.  As I walked among the marble crosses and stars of David I began to think of my uncle who survived D-Day.  He was a bomber pilot who volunteered for extra sorties beyond his assignment.  While reflecting on his bravery and contribution to the war effort I was reminded of my dad who passed in March. They both led long, charmed, amazing lives.  I walked, bringing them with me, feeling the weight of the place; couldn’t help but weep.

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Netherlands Post Visit – Fini

Alas I have run out of pictures to share from the Netherlands so this will be my last post until I venture abroad again; hopefully in the near future.  I will be continuing to post on my other blog http://geowoodward.wordpress.com/ which has photos from my adventures in California.  I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites from the Netherlands.

One of my favorite ventures was to the ‘Heineken Experience’, not just because 3 beers were included with the admission price, and there was a horse that shared my name, but because it was  a great place to people watch and I got to personalize an actual bottle of Heineken. The end of the factory tour is set up like a club, disco lights, loud music and table games so people are behaving as if they’re in a club.  One guy in particular caught my attention because he was having his wife circulate around the room collecting all the unfinished beers and pouring them into his glass.  Yep, he was getting hammered.  I happened to be leaving the factory at the same time they were and they were trying to collect their free gift, which could only be collected by visiting the factory store in a different part of town.  Heineken provides a boat from the factory to the store but the last boat of the day had just left; Mr. Hammered had difficulty understanding this, I felt bad for the employee that had to try and help him understand.

Categories: Amsterdam, beer, Geography, netherlands, photography, Travel, Utrecht | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Netherlands Post Visit – Canals

What recounting of a trip to the Netherlands would be complete without mentioning canals?

I have some photos from adventuring in California on my main blog for anyone interested http://geowoodward.wordpress.com/

Categories: Amsterdam, anne frank, Geography, netherlands, Original post, photography, Travel, Utrecht | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Netherlands Post Visit – Cafe Culture

Why don’t we have a cafe culture in the U.S.?  Sure there’s a bar culture and a coffee shop culture, but it’s not the same as the cafe culture in many European countries. Cafe culture is just so casual, and relaxing. It is so enjoyable to have a seat, preferably outside, order a beer with some snacks or lunch, and lazily watch the world go by.

Categories: beer, food, Geography, netherlands, Original post, photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Netherlands Post Visit – Schema Check

Some of the most fun I have travelling is interpreting signs.  I enjoy seeing how other countries convey basic traffic rules, how they advertise their products, and really get a kick out of seeing how American products are portrayed. Here is an especially Dutch traffic sign:

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Very helpful, but there was another one for cars and pedestrians and sometimes they would not all be green at the same time even for people waiting to go the same direction.  Here’s one that made me chuckle a little

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He’s very focused and purposeful.  This one confused me until I used Google Translate

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I thought it meant no bikes or scooters, but it actually means do not enter “except” for bikes or scooters.  Clearly there are cars in the “except” area though, so I’m still a little confused, maybe it’s one way for cars?

This one I appreciated for the sentiment on the bottom, which I think was added by locals.

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“Non-violent zone”

Near this sign was this one on the ground which speaks to the sentiment I am trying to convey

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I found it amusing, or maybe ironic not sure which, that this was in a small square next to this

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But sometimes, you don’t need things translated especially if you’re hungry

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Though the offerings might confuse you.

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The translations can also make  you grin

Mc Drive?

Mc Drive?

Perhaps you’d like more choices? No problem

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No doubt Tony Stark would be pleased. How about some Vietnamese?

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Mexican?

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How about Chinese?

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Chicken and ribs?  No problem

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Now, if you need a caffeine fix and you know nothing about Amsterdam except that it’s located in the Netherlands you’re going to be confused if you go here

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Because they don’t specialize in coffee, they specialize in another plant.  (I originally took this photo because the mascot of the school I work for is a Bulldog, didn’t notice the ‘coffee shop until later.) If you want caffeine you can always go to a kaffe shop or look for the ever ubiquitous shop in this photo

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Sometimes eating at restaurants in other countries can be risky, unless they have this claim

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At first I thought this advertisement was clever because it was suggesting having a Coke with the artists

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Later in a supermarket I saw Coke bottles with common Dutch names on them; what a great idea, you could buy a Coke with your friends name on it!  While sharing a Coke with your friend you could shop here

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Though shopping at America Today you might run into this

Sad, and embarrassing

Sad, and embarrassing, though I’m glad it’s on a toilet.

I also got a kick out of graffiti, posters and stickers on poles

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That's a little harsh

That’s a little harsh

Arrrrrrrrr.......

Arrrrrrrrr…….

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I agree.  I’ll end with this one that made me laugh.

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In context

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Categories: Amsterdam, Geography, netherlands, Original post, photography, Travel, Utrecht | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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