A Virtual Mini-Break in Bamberg

Blogging challenges, Germany

This is not the week to get out and about with my camera looking for Unusual Points of View for Jude’s Challenge.  Here’s why: *

The view from the bedroom window.

She’d like us to shoot something often photographed, but choose a less usual point of view.  I thought I’d combine it with a mini-break for us all.

Let’s go to Bamberg.  The old town there, a UNESCO World Heritage site, largely built on the rivers Regnitz and Main, between the 11th and 19th centuries can easily keep you busy and charmed for several days.  You can visit the main sites here.

But we have a job to do – Jude’s challenge.

This week's assignment - take a picture of a frequently photographed subject like a flower or a person's face from an unusual POV. How can you create an out-of-the-ordinary shot?

We’ll wander along the river to get a different view of the much photographed Old Town Hall.

A view of the Old Town Hall from the riverside of the Old Town.

Another view of the Old Town, seen from the comfort of a bar.

Then we’ll stroll about in Little Venice.

Little Venice, seen from the opposite bank of the river.

In the afternoon, we’ll go out of town and take a trip to Schloss Seehof .  It was built as a palace and hunting lodge for one of the Prince-Bishops of Bamberg between 1684 and 1695.  I wanted to capture the idea of this stylish palace being very much a place-in-the-country.

A view from the parkland.

Some of the parkland has become a nature reserve, with ponds and wetland. That’s the side of the palace I wanted to show here.

A short trip, I’m afraid.  But with travelling being so difficult nowadays, short, sweet and virtual is probably the way forward.

2020 Photo Challenge #36

* To be fair, it’s no longer raining.  But it was then …

Tree House at the Berlin Wall

Blogging challenges, Germany, Politics

Today commemorates the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.  You’ll find plenty of posts celebrating this in different ways:  here’s one.

I thought instead I would share a tale I heard when we were in Berlin two years ago.  It’s an optimistic, positive story for unoptimistic times.

September 17th, 2017

The tale of a tree house

I love this story.  I hope you do too.

Quite suddenly and unexpectedly, one night in 1961, Berlin became a divided city. At first there was merely barbed wire fencing, then a wall. It was all done in such a hurry that mistakes were made. One tiny part of Kreuzberg that belonged to the Eastern sector got isolated in the West. The Americans – for it was in their zone – could do nothing about this unremarkable patch. It became an unloved and unlovely rubbish dump.

Then along came Osman Kalin, an immigrant Turk. He wanted a vegetable patch. He cleared the land and started to plant seeds.  As his patch became productive, he gave vegetables to schools, to the local church, to anyone in need. He cobbled together a rather ramshackle tree house.  He became something of a local hero.

Initially, the East didn’t mind. But when East Berliners successfully started to tunnel under his patch and escape he came under suspicion. The authorities came to interrogate him, and he welcomed them in his usual hospitable way. They gave up and left him alone.

In 1989, the Wall fell. A newly united Berlin City Council began to see Osman’s ramshackle domain as an embarrassment. They gave him notice to quit. The local and wider community was horrified. 25,000 people signed a petition demanding he be allowed to go on growing his vegetables.

He stayed. He’s 95 now, and doesn’t work so much on his vegetable patch, though his son does. He lives in a flat nearby rather than in the tree house. He’s still a much-loved local hero.

I heard this story on a walking tour offered by Alternative Berlin Tours, led by the remarkable and endlessly interesting Dave. Very highly recommended.

 An entry for Six Word Saturday. In her post, Debbie too has chosen to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall

A day at the hospital, and a Prince-Bishop.

Germany

We went to the hospital today, to buy some wine. Yes, that’s right …. let me explain.

In 1573, an exceptional young man, Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn was elected Prince-Bishop of Würzburg. He was well-connected and well-educated. By 1582 he had founded the University of Würzburg, which flourished and became a model for other seats of learning.

He was a skilled administrator who reduced taxes, improved the economy, and the administration of justice (unless you were thought to be a witch or a Jew: he fought hard for the purity of the church as he saw it).

But he had a lasting monument, aside from the University, and that was the Julius Hospital. Here is the legend.

When his niece married, he sent her a present: a casket, and three valuable fruits – lemons – symbolising the bitter, hard lives so many had, in contrast with her life of ease. Disgusted, she sent it back. He returned it. Three times in all. Then he gave up.

Silly young woman. Had she opened the casket, she would have found the deeds to lands and vineyards guaranteeing solid riches in perpetuity.

Julius used these riches rejected by his niece to found a hospital. This hospital was open to all citizens, rich and poor. It includes a poor house, an orphanage, an old people’s home. His clever investments have allowed the hospital to continue into modern times, though now it is a state-run institution.

But it has a restaurant, and it has a shop where the wine produced in its vineyards may still be bought. And that is where we went today, and tried a few samples before buying a few bottles. ‘Zum Wohl!’

Schlossgarten Weikersheim

Germany

Today we went to the Tauber Valley. We were off for kaffee and kuchen with Stephan and Gina’s family, and we planned to be tourists on the way.

Here is Weikersheim. It’s a mediaeval town. It’s a musical town: every summer it welcomes an international cohort of young musicians keen to work and play together.

It’s a town with a fine castle and gardens. And as we arrived, the long promised deluge arrived, so we only briefly glimpsed its fine Renaissance exterior, its Baroque statues, and its whimsical little dwarfs that populate the garden.

Earlier, we’d visited Tauberrettersheim, a town boasting a bridge designed by the architect of Würzburg’s Residenz, Balthazar Neumann.

After hail and driving deluge, we visited a church high up on a hill, the Bergkirche at Laudenbach, a pilgrimage destination for those en route for Compostela in Spain.

Later still, there was cake in excellent company. Three kinds of cake. A good day.

Snapshot Saturday: a peek at a peak

Germany, Walking, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This bulky cliff of long thin fang-like rocks that we could see last week from our Black Forest hotel while on our European Escape piqued our interest.  So on our last afternoon, while Malcolm was having a rest, I set off to explore.

I had only the most basic of maps: but this is Germany, land of the Walker’s Waymark.  Once I knew I was off to Falkenstein, there was no problem.  I yomped up to the woods outside town, turned right, and set forth.

I even tried to get a little lost, but however hard I tried, I was never far from a reassuring sign pointing me onwards to my chosen destination.

Once there, I found I couldn’t have more than a peek at a time.  That solid mass of rock visible from our hotel was never once in full view.  Instead, one, two, possibly three peaks at a time pointed skyward from my path below.  Here they are.

This post is in response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: Peek.

Baden-Baden. Not twinned with Harrogate …

Gardens, Germany, Harrogate

… but it ought to be. Both are – or were – spa towns. Both attracted a better class of visitor keen to cure ailments by drinking and bathing in the health-giving waters.  In my opinion, Harrogate should have won hands down in attracting visitor numbers. Its sulphurous waters, reminiscent of bad eggs, are truly horrible, and must therefore do you good. The waters of Baden-Baden are without taste, though hot. No pain, no gain.

Baden-Baden welcomed visitors to this splendid railway station, now a concert hall. 

Harrogate station is nothing to write home about.

Harrogate has the Pump Rooms and the Turkish Baths. Baden-Baden’s two thermal baths are extensively elegant affairs. After taking the cure, Harrogate can offer the Promenade in the Valley Gardens, while visitors to the German city can enjoy their promenade at the Trinkhalle.

Finally, Harrogate is girdled by magnificent green belt of the Stray.  Baden-Baden’s visitors have instead the equally delightful Lichtentaler Aller.

We had a mere four hours in Baden-Baden today. It deserved longer. But it’s Strasbourg tomorrow, and the European Parliament. We can’t wait.

Off to the EU

England, France, Germany

We’re in mainland Europe again, briefly. Our two Labour MEPs for Yorkshire and Humberside host a group visit to the European Parliament every now and then. So we had to sign up. Last chance saloon.

And after a night on the high seas, a day in a coach, here we are. Not in Strasbourg, not even in France, but nearby, in Germany, in the Black Forest. Watch this space.

Approaching the port of Rotterdam at dawn yesterday.

Snapshot Saturday: Street art for pedestrians

Germany, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Berlin is the home of street art and creative graffiti.  If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll already have glimpsed the East Side Gallery: though that is planned and curated.

Away from the city centre, street art is so much a part of Berlin life that walking tour companies vie with each other to show visitors the edgiest and grittiest current manifestations of this vibrant art form.  Even big companies climb on the band wagon.  Back in the early years of this century, Nike paid for this piece.

I didn’t realise this is a Nike advert. So that didn’t work then…..

Somehow, global companies making use of a movement powered from the bottom up seems slightly to be missing the point.

Using spray cans; re-purposed fire extinguishers; transfers from images shot in night clubs, applied to city walls then doused in glitter, street artists come out at dead of night to brighten up favourite haunts. Bands of graffiti artists have thousands of followers on YouTube.

You, like me, can simply be a curious pedestrian in the streets of Berlin. Can you spot the example of yarn bombing?

This is a response to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge: ‘Pedestrian’.

The tale of a tree house

Germany

I love this story.  I hope you do too.

Quite suddenly and unexpectedly, one night in 1961, Berlin became a divided city. At first there was merely barbed wire fencing, then a wall. It was all done in such a hurry that mistakes were made. One tiny part of Kreuzberg that belonged to the Eastern sector got isolated in the West. The Americans – for it was in their zone – could do nothing about this unremarkable patch. It became an unloved and unlovely rubbish dump.

Then along came Osman Kalin, an immigrant Turk. He wanted a vegetable patch. He cleared the land and started to plant seeds.  As his patch became productive, he gave vegetables to schools, to the local church, to anyone in need. He cobbled together a rather ramshackle tree house.  He became something of a local hero.

Initially, the East didn’t mind. But when East Berliners successfully started to tunnel under his patch and escape he came under suspicion. The authorities came to interrogate him, and he welcomed them in his usual hospitable way. They gave up and left him alone.

In 1989, the Wall fell. A newly united Berlin City Council began to see Osman’s ramshackle domain as an embarrassment. They gave him notice to quit. The local and wider community was horrified. 25,000 people signed a petition demanding he be allowed to go on growing his vegetables.

He stayed. He’s 95 now, and doesn’t work so much on his vegetable patch, though his son does. He lives in a flat nearby rather than in the tree house. He’s still a much-loved local hero.

 I heard this story on a walking tour offered by Alternative Berlin Tours, led by the remarkable and endlessly interesting Dave. Very highly recommended.