Saturday, June 25, 2016

Postcard: Time Travel

Rather than take you through my recent river trip city by city, I thought I’d talk about it using themes. 

One thing that's always fascinated me in Europe is how different villages/towns/cities handle the past vs. the present. With so much rich history around, this is no easy task. 

On this trip, it was interesting to see some places that really cultivate a celebration of their past, some that isolate it, and others that find a way for it to coexist with the needs of the present. 

Here are just a few examples.

Bamberg, Germany

Fun Facts: The entire old town area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Bamberg is also known for its lace and a special variety of smoked beer.
Typical architecture in Bamberg old town

View of old Bamberg up to Michaelsberg Abbey

The old Rathaus in Bamberg
Feelings: While the old town area is a nice capsule of 11th-century architecture, to me it seemed just like that--a capsule. It was isolated from the rest of Bamberg, so it felt populated by too many tourists in too small a space. 

Embracing my tourist status, however, I did have a sip of Larry’s Rauchbier (tasty) and now have a small fan made of Bamberg lace.

Koblenz, Germany

Fun Facts: Koblenz sits at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers, and dates back to a Roman fortification in 8 BC. (!) It is also the origin of Max und Moritz (forerunner to The Katzenjammer Kids) and Struwwelpeter stories.
Lovely architectural details in Koblenz
The Church of Our Lady in Koblenz deliberately
reflects very different architectural styles,
and part of it sits on an old Roman fortification. 

Example of a functional old architectural detail in Koblenz--images of a home's
residents grace buildings so those who can't read know who lives there. 
Feelings: I think of Koblenz as “that quirky” town we visited. To me it had the most seamless blending of old and new, and a great sense of humor represented by many statues that told the tales of characters throughout the town’s history.

The video below is an example of that humor. The clock face represents Johann Lutter von Kobern, who was falsely executed as a robber in the 1500s. Lutter's eyes roll with the movement of the clock, and each hour he sticks out his tongue when the clock chimes.

Vienna, Austria

Fun Facts: “The City of Music” is actually an island, surrounded by the Danube, Old Danube, New Danube, and Danube Canal. It’s also home to Wiener schnitzel, Sachertorte, and the world’s oldest Ferris wheel.
Vienna: An imperial palace!

Vienna: A 21st century skyline!

Vienna: a city straddling very old and very new.
Lovely Viennese architecture

Feelings: After being immersed in so much history along our river trip, sailing into Vienna was a jolt. The river bank opposite our ship was all glass skyscrapers, curves and concrete, but a trip into the core of the city revealed beautiful old churches, architecture, and palace grounds. 

It felt like there were two Viennas, both beautiful in their own right. But my heart belonged to some of the more modest and decidedly less modern cities and towns along our route.

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