Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bruge: Quintessentially CUTE!

Bruge- it defines the word "cute"!  to the point that Rich has said I can no longer use the word- ever-again:-).  The city became rich from the cloth industry in the 13th and 14th centuries so the city built beautiful homes, monuments, churches, parks and canals.  Lucky for us, they sank into obscurity for centuries, where they remained unchanged.  Now, the city is the definition of cute.  Every turn on every corner; every movement of the sun; every change in the clouds; every stroll along a canal; every viewing from morning to night, brings something new to the city.  It must be seen to be believed!

Tomorrow morning we leave this beautiful city.  But coming here was something I have dreamed about for decades, ever since I saw photos in Junior High.  So I am fulfilled!  I hope these photos help you decide to visit!

 Roof line showing gables and spires.  They are everywhere in the city.

 At the Church of the Holy Blood, a relic!  Some of Jesus' blood!
 Stained glass in the Church of the Holy Blood

 Rich on one of the many beautiful bridges that cross the canals.
 Belgium is known for waffles!!!!!  They are delicious covered in chocolate:-)

 The Belfrie of Bruge!
 Row houses in the main square!
 A view of the main square
 The Belfrie!

Bruge has many canals, each with many bridges.  Homes and squares line the canals,and they are all beautiful!!!

 Rich on a canal
 The Jan Van Eyk square on the canal
 Another canal view!

 A main square view
 Our favorite beer: Zot dark!  Delicious!

Here are some buildings during the day and night.  The city has GREAT lighting!

We Ghent!

Ghent!  Just the name brings to mind.....well, nothing really:-)  It is the name of a city we read about in Junior High School when we studied medieval Europe.  But our guide book said it is worth a visit as it is a bigger version of Bruge, without the number of tourists.  Right they were!  Rich actually said he wished we were staying in Ghent and not Bruge.  There is merit to what he said, but I have always wanted to go to Bruge, so I am good with where we are.

Rich and powerful in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries from cloth.  Their riches are apparent with the beauty of the buildings, squares, and general architecture.  It is also a big university town, so has youth to give it vibrancy.

In short, it was beautiful!  Plus it has canals for boat rides, a castle, towers to climb, squares to sit in.  Just lovely and worth the visit!  It rained much of the day, and sky was grey, so sadly our photos came out washed out- so you will just have to visit in person to take in the absolute beauty!

 One of the many squares in the town!
 Some of the row houses in the main square

Throughout this part of northern Europe, towns and cities built belfries- bells were used for telling time, establishing work hours, notifying the people of events, etc.  Lucky for us, they are still here-and climbable!
 Selfie of the Ghent belfrie
 Night view of the Ghent belfrie
 The old dragon (a new one was put up in the 80's) still scares the dickens out of people:-)
 View from the top!
 The upper part of the belfrie with the dragon

The castle!!!!!  We could go in the courtyard, but the rest was closed.  It even has a museum of medieval torture- too bad we missed it!  (wink wink)

 St.Michaels cathedral- home of the Ghent Altar- Adoration of the Lamb. ( made by JanVan Eyk.  We went to see it, but mass was going on.  We saw it, but no photos- I don't think the parish priest would be understanding:-)
 Outside the church on the Bridge of St.Michael, is a column, with the Archangel Michael smoting a dragon.
 Canal view!
 Street view of the spires of Ghent
Ghent golden dragon beer view!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cologne!!!! Koln (in German) is the city that surprised!

We had an extra day between leaving Berlin and Arriving in Bruge, Belgium.  Originally we were slated to go to Hamburg.  Many Germans said to go there, but then our friend Dirk said not to.  We said to him,  "German's said to go there"  Then other Germans on the U-Bahn chimed in that the wrong German's told us to go there:-).  So Cologne it was!  Sadly, we only had one night:-(.  This is definitely a city that requires more than 1 day.  Of course there is the gothic Cathedral- the single most visited monument in all of Germany, and one of the largest (and most beautiful) cathedrals in Germany. But then there is the cute little old town, the Rhine river, bridges, pedestrian streets, and the non-tourist areas filled with some of the friendliest people in all the world.  We had read that people from Cologne were friendly, but we didn't expect FRIENDLY!  We loved it, and intend to come back for more:-).

 Front of the Cathedral!

 Dwarves!  This is a totally cute bas-relief of dwarves working.  This is one of the two panels, plus stone sculptures of other dwarves working and lounging around.  There is also a stone sculpture of a young woman.  Possibly Snow White?  We are not sure if the idea came from German folklore or not.  This is quite old, though, and definitely pre-dates the movie.

 Cathedral gargoyles!
 Another view of the front of the Cathedral!
The spires from the front door.  They are the second highest in all of Germany (after Ulm), and very difficult to get in a photo due to their height.

 Another view of the spires, with a model of one of the filials topping the spires (massive, they are!)
 St. George is always there watching over us!
 The old town from across the river, at sunset.  One the right is the cathedral, on the left, the town hall (Rathouse in German)
 Another view of the city from across the river- beautiful!  The building with the blue lights is the Opera House.
 Rich with the Hard Rock Cafe pin we bought- it is of a lock.  In Koln, lovers engrave a lock and then place it on the fence of the bridge that services the main train station, then they toss the key into the river.
 A view of the train fence with locks!  Thousands have done it!
 Me with the Cathedral in the back ground.
Cologne has this awesome beer: Kolsch.  It is only made in Cologne, and is delicious!!!!  Rich is here modeling two glasses of Kolsch we were about to devour:-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Berlin- Part Drei: a tearful farewell to a city we love

Today, August 26th, 2014, is our last day in Berlin:-(.  Sad we are to leave this city we love so much.  Sad we are to leave Pension Knesebeck, our home for the past 6 weeks. Sad we are to say good-bye.  But our Adventure continues!!  Off to Koln tomorrow for one night, then to Belgium.

The past 6 weeks in Berlin have been incredible!  We had friends visit us, we took German language classes, we met great people, and we felt at home with Frau Kalinowski, Doreen and Emma here at Pension Knesebeck.  

We explored this great city on foot, bike, bus, street car, subway, and boat.  We drank coffee, wine, beer, and the best bubbly water.  We ate Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi, and German food- all good!  And we explored some great neighborhoods- many we would want to live in, like Prenzlauerburg, Kreuzburg, Mitte, and our favorite, Charlottenburg.  Even after 6 weeks, there is so much more to see, so....we'll be back!

Here are some parting shots:

A wall painting showing the Berlin Skyline!

 Alexanderplatz!  The heart of old East Berlin- the tv tower and Alexanderplatz S-Bahn station.

The Wall is probably the most known item in all of Berlin.  It defined the city for a generation!  Large segments of the wall remain as a testament to the division of East and West.  Much of it is graffiti, but also much of it is painted as art.
 Hal and Debbie at one of the painted wall segments

 The city created this symbol in the city to mark the location of the wall.  You can follow the entire length of the wall.
 Rich goofing off at one of the many paintings.
 One of the paintings on the wall: the flood of people yearning to be free!
 A long view of the East Side Gallery, the largest segment of the wall that remains.

Potsdam: the Imperial City of the Kaiser and the capital city of the State of Brandenburg
 One of the great buildings of the New Palace
 The New Palace
 Hal, Debbie, Byron and Rich (with their audio guide) in the New Palace- it is beautiful!
 Sansoucci palace- very beautiful!

 Gedachtnichkirche- the bombed Cathedral remains as a memorial

The city symbol- the bear- is decorated and painted with all the iconic symbols of the city throughout Berlin.
 Rich and the bear painted with the statue of the Segeseule (victory column)
 Rich and Dirk with the Picasso bear

 City scape from the river: left to right: dome of the cathedral, church, tv tower, with the iconic bridge in the foreground
 Molecule man sculpture located in the river Spree- about 100 feet tall.  

The Soviet Memorial for fallen (Soviet) soldiers.  Germany signed a treaty with Russia to maintain the Soviet Memorial/gravesite for fallen soldiers.  It covers 25 acres, is beautifully manicured, has lines of trees and markers with bas-relief representations of the war, all leading up to massive memorial.

 The memorial is of a soviet soldier rescuing a child.  This memorial is a testament to Germany keeping its treaty.  The downside is it perpetuates the myth of the soviet army rescuing the civilians.  the soviet army went on a rampage of rape and murder in the city of Berlin.  

Burgers!!!  Only Berlin would convert old rest-rooms into a burger stand:-)
 Rich, Dirk, and Byron at a bear at the wall
Doreen, Emma, and Frau Kalinowski- good-bye and thank you for your hospitality