Archive for the 'Germany' Category

Germany: Munich has Beaches

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

The Isar River flows through Munich. There are many beautiful bridges spanning it. If you get hot while touring, why not take advantage of the many beaches along the shore of the river. There’s even a public bath house which you can use for only 4 Euros. If you get hungry, there’s a cafe there too.


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Cosmos Tour: Prague Vienna Budapest – Danube River

Friday, December 26th, 2014

The Cosmos Tour through Prague, Vienna and Budapest criss-crosses the Danube River.  The river flows from the Black Forest to the Black Sea for 2,872 km, and passes through or touches the borders of 10 countries: Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine, and Moldova.

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Cosmos: Prague Vienna Budapest – Smart Car Beginnings, Swatchmobile

Friday, December 26th, 2014

In Europe the Smart Car is thought of as a vehicle that fits 2 persons and a case of beer.

The Smart car idea started with Nicolas Hayek, the SMH CEO of the Swatch watch company. He saw the potential for an “ultra-urban” car, a small and stylish city car; it became known as the “Swatchmobile“.

First there was some backing by Volkswagon, but the first model was produced by Daimler-Benz (Mercedes) in October 1998, calling the original model “Fortwo” – love that name!


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Germany: Munich: Michael Jackson Memorial Here

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Michael Jackson wanted to live in Munich in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof.  He never got to do it, but the people of Munich have set up a memorial spot to him on the base of a statue of composer Orlande de Lassus (a Renaissance composer) in the grassy median facing the hotel. His loyal fans have put up photos of him and leave flowers, candles and handwritten notes.


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Germany: Munich Hotel Bayerischer Hof

Friday, August 15th, 2014

The Hotel Bayerischer Hof was opened in 1841 because King Ludwig I wished to have a comfortable place for his guests to stay. (What – no extra rooms in his gi-normous palace?). Today it is still a gorgeous 5-star hotel, but we think the best places are on the roof and in the basement.

Palais Keller, situated in the old salt cellar from the Middle Ages, is an inexpensive but delicious place to dine on traditional Bavarian food. Go down the stone steps to this bustling restaurant with waitresses sporting frilly aprons, carrying big mugs of Lowenbrau beer and wearing big smiles. The folkloric atmosphere only adds to the taste of the veal in cream sauce with spaetzle, potato salad, sauerkraut, bread dumplings, weiswursts and cheese wursts, along with pretzels with mustard.

After you’ve dined head for the roof, to the Blue Spa Bar & Lounge. Have a drink in the sky and take in the birds-eye view of all of Munich before you.

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In 1897 Herrmann Volkhardt bought the hotel, and today Innegrit Volkhardt, the fourth generation, is the General Manager.  It was bombed in WWII; Falk Volkhardt, the son of Hermann  made an amazing discovery under the ruins of the destroyed hotel – the Spiegelsaal (Mirror Hall) had survived almost intact.  In October 1945, this was where he opened the first restaurant in the centre of Munich after the war.

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Germany: Munich’s Door Handles

Friday, August 15th, 2014

When you’re walking around Munich, make sure to notice their great door handles. The city is known for them.


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Germany: Munich’s Traitor’s Lane

Friday, August 15th, 2014

In Munich, during his reign a giant Nazi swasttiker hung on Feldherrnhalle building. Hitler ordered that eveTraitorsryone passing by it had to give the Nazi salute. This was in honor of Nazi sympathizers who had been killed there during the Beer Hall putsch in 1932.

Many people practiced a kind of passive resistance by turning down Viscardigasse, a small street next to it. Therefore, they didn’t have to do the salute. The street was called “Drueckebergergasse” by the locals as “drueckeberger” is a German slang expression for someone who tries to avoid his duty.

In the mid-90s, a wavy stripe of gold metal pieces were set in the cobbles on the road in the Viscardigasse in memory of this civil resistance.

Cosmos Tour: Prague Vienna Budapest – Oktoberfest

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Oktoberfest began as a wedding party.Oktoberfest

On October 12, 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig, who later became King Ludwig I, married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen,  all the citizens of Munich were invited to the wedding!

The festivities were held in the fields in front of the city gates. The fields were named Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s meadow”) in honor of the Crown Princess, and have kept that name ever since. Locals have since abbreviated the name simply to  “Wiesn” which is what locals call the festival.

Oktoberfest is not a German national event. It is a local Bavarian festival, held in Munich.

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Germany: Munich Residenz

Friday, August 15th, 2014

The Wittelsbach dynasty ruled the German territories of Bavaria from 1180 to 1918 – that’s 738 years,  pretty impressive.  Munich Residenz,  their former royal palace, is  located right in the center of Munich and very much open to the public. After 4 centuries of building it, the giant palace is made up of  many styles: late Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Neo-Classicism.PalaceMunich

Though spartan on the outside, it is very opulent inside. You can tour it for its architecture, over-the-top room decor (130 rooms), and displays from the former royal collections. After WWII, the Cuvilliés Theatre was built into the Festsaalbau wing. You can also catch the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Hercules Hall. In his time, Mozart performed in this palace.

The Treasury houses the jewels of the Wittelsbach dynasty and spans 1,000 years, from the early Middle Ages to Neo-classicism, and includes: crowns, swords, golden objects, rock crystal, ivory, goblets, icons, tableware and toiletries.

The palace suffered huge damages during WWII, but the curators managed to store furnishings, art and  details of its architecture in mines. When you are wandering around the 10 PalaceStatuecourtyards, see if you can find this fountain with statues of  fire, water, earth and air on its corners.

The Wittelsbach family’s head, since 1996, is Franz, Duke of Bavaria, and he still hangs out in Munich. During WWII, the Wittelsbachs were anti-Nazi and were arrested when Franz was 11. He spent time in several Nazi concentration camps. After the war, he studied at the University of Munich and became a collector of modern art. Some of his collection is on loan to the Pinakothek der Moderne Museum (see other post).

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Germany: Surfing in Munich

Friday, August 15th, 2014

While walking through the massive English Garden in Munich we were wowed when we came across people surfing at the southern edge of the park, next to the Haus der Kunst. Sure it  is a tiny part of the artificial river which had a wild current in it, but there were people of all ages and all degrees of competence with their boards and gear ready to give it a try. And a huge crowd watching –  be careful, you may get wet!

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