Tag Archives: history

Photo Friday: Frankfurt

The European Central Bank – I like the reflection of the historic building in the windows
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We arrived in Frankfurt by train from Berlin bright and early. We thought this would just be a quick stop on our way to the airport.

We were exhausted from all of our adventures, so we thought we would finally step foot on a tour bus for the first time this trip. We realized that we had not been in a car during the entire journey! How refreshing!

We took the train from our hotel near the airport, to the main train station, with the idea of hopping on a tourist bus. But when we got to the tourist information center, the woman informed us that Frankfurt is small enough to walk.

So, we set out on foot to explore the city. And we loved it!

We were too tired to go into any actual museums or anything, so we spent the day like locals.

We ate bratwurst from a stand outside the train station, walked through the city taking in the mix of old and new, ate pastries by the river, and finished the day in a residential neighborhood with one of the most authentic meals we had the entire trip.

The Bratwurst stand outside the train station where we had lunch
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We did not consult a guide book for the first time in weeks, and just enjoyed exploring the city without plans or agenda. It was decadent.

What struck me most about Frankfurt was the contrast of history and progress. Castles stand side by side on the same street with sky scrapers.

An Occupy Frankfurt demonstration outside the Central European Bank illustrated the ongoing debate about the European Union and Germany’s role in the Union.

It was delightful to experience the city without feeling like tourists. My favorite part had to be simply sitting outside in a residential area we discovered and watching the world go by. I hope we get to return and do more of that.

I feel so fortunate to have been able to take this trip. It was an extraordinary opportunity to visit places with such rich history. The museums and cafes and food and lifestyle were simply seductive. I must go back.

But for now, I will have to survive by looking back at some of my favorite photos. Here are my favorites from Frankfurt.

Castles next to skyscrapers – A great reminder that we don’t have to tear down the old to make way for the new
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The Occupy Frankfurt demonstration
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A cafe outside the Opera House
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One of the signs from the Occupy Frankfurt demonstration. I don’t know what it says, but I figure that anything with Millionaire and Democratic on the same sign is probably something I would be interested in
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The view across the river
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The Beer Garden where we had our last meal in Europe. It was a charming neighborhood restaurant where everyone knew each other. Such a perfect ending!
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Flowers from a neighborhood shop
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What do you think? Have you ever been on a trip and just decided to skip all of the tourist attractions and live like a local? When and where? What was that like? If not, does that sound like something that appeals to you or do you feel like if you are going to go somewhere, you have to see the most famous destinations in that location?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.      

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Business, Culture, Economy, Food, History, International, Photography, Photos, Policy, Politcs, Role of Government, Technology, travel

Photo Friday: Berlin

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Border between East and West Berlin, where the Berlin Wall used to stand. Most of it is torn down now.

After leaving the quaint, but bustling Amsterdam, we took an overnight train to Berlin. We stayed in East Berlin, just down the street from Alexanderplatz, which was really the heart of East Berlin.

After all of the beauty of France, Spain and Holland, East Berlin was striking for its lack of decoration. It was a fascinating place to visit for its history, but the sadness and anger were palpable.

From what we observed, the division between East and West Berlin still exists to this day. We spent the vast majority of our time in East Berlin, going to what we were told was the trendiest neighborhood for dinner and visiting the historic sites.

But it is striking to stand where the wall used to stand and to look to the East and to the West. The East is full of cranes and development, but I couldn’t help feeling that the West kept moving forward while the East was stuck in time.

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Construction in East Berlin

East Berlin feels like a savagely damaged city, just now showing signs of rebirth. The evidence is everywhere, showing a city devastated by war, and then severely restricted and terrorized during the Communist occupation. It is simply tragic.

There is a solemn beauty to the city, however, even in the midst of the melancholy. I share some of my favorite photos here.

For those who would like to read more of the history of Berlin, this 1963 speech by President John F. Kennedy is a powerful denunciation of the communist occupation. When you visit Berlin, you understand this speech much more.

What do you think? Have you been to Berlin? What was your impression? Do you think that East and West Berlin will ever truly integrate? What kind of impact do you think a history like this would have on a culture?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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This has to be one of my favorite photos from the whole trip! I snapped this shot at a metro stop.

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A watchtower over Checkpoint Charlie

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The view from our hotel. You can see the Soviet TV Tower in East Berlin and the tall hotel in West Berlin. The hotel staff told us this was done intentionally by West Berlin to show their strength and contrast.

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An old car in East Berlin

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A powerful holocaust memorial

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A pretzel seller

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Berlin Cathedral

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Chairs in an historic East Berlin Cafe

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You can see the bullet holes in the old buildings

 

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Checkpoint Charlie now

 

 

 

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Filed under Culture, Economy, History, International, Photography, Photos, Politcs, Privatization, Role of Government, social pressures, Stereotypes, Terrorism, travel, Uncategorized, violence, War

Make new friends, but keep the old: The Champs-Elysees

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Arc de Triumphe – Paris, France

There is an article in the New York Times this week about the Champs-Elysees and since, as you will read on Friday, Paris was my very favorite city on our European tour, I felt that I had to write a little bit about this article here.

The article discusses concerns that the Champs-Elysees is becoming too commercialized and mainstream and losing the Parisian joie-de-vivre that defines French culture.

We visited Paris last week and it was love at first sight. Our first tourist destination was the Arc de Triumphe and the Champs Elysees. We walked the entire length of the boulevard and were mesmerized by the luxurious shops and cafes.

We ate the most delicious pastry I have ever tasted – or seen. I wish I had a photo to share with all of you, but this gallery of sweets, which has been in operation since the 1800’s was off-limits to photographers. The word pastry simply does not do justice to this decadent delight.

The New York Times article examines the influence of new chain stores like H&M and Banana Republic opening on the boulevard.

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Champs-Elysees: Paris, France

We did a Rick Steve’s walking tour down the Champs-Elysees and learned that there was a lot of concern when McDonalds opened.

Steves notes that McDonalds was only allowed to open as long as they agreed to paint their arches white and maintain a café feel, including sidewalk tables.

I understand the concern over losing the artistic and luxurious energy of this iconic avenue. And I certainly saw some signs of this deterioration firsthand. But I also saw the future compromising with the past in a way that held some beauty.

It is hard to explain, but as an example, I was absolutely blown away by the Abercrombie and Fitch store. The outside of the store – we did not go inside – was as beautiful as any museum. We did not learn the history of that building, but I have no doubt that it is a place with great historic significance.

Frankfurt was another incredible example of the old meeting the new, where sky-scrapers share a block with castles, which I will share on my Photo-Friday about Germany.

I find myself wondering how I feel about this. It was wonderful to see historic buildings being preserved and put to use rather than destroyed like we are so quick to do here in the United States.

But is it OK to have a McDonalds in a place with such a rich history? Something doesn’t sit well with me about that. Perhaps it is the desire to slow down the rapid pace of change. But can we do that?

What do you think? Do you have issues with historic buildings being put to use for modern-day services? Would you have a problem if a castle turned into a Walmart, even if it maintained the architectural integrity of the original structure? Have you seen any positive examples of old things being repurposed for new uses that could serve as a model for others?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!

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Filed under Business, Culture, Economy, Ethics, History, International, Photography, Photos, Politcs, Privatization, Role of Government, social pressures, Stereotypes, Technology, travel

Travel Photo of the Year Contest and the Booker Award

Heather over at Bitsnbooks has presented me with the Booker Award, which is a little different from the other awards floating around. I love any award and am so grateful and humbled to be recognized by my talented peers. I hope you will take a moment to check out Heather’s blog.

This particular award is fun to accept for a geeky gal like me. The rules for accepting this award are to:

1. Nominate other blogs, as many as you want but 5-10 is always a good suggestion. Don’t forget to let your recipients know.

2. Post the Booker Award picture.

3. Share your top 5 books of all time

First, I will post my five favorite books of all times. This is a tough list to come up with, as I have loved many books over the years, but there are a few that have really stuck with me:

1.)    The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)  – I have shared some quotes from this book in past blog posts. This book may have just come into my life at the right time, but I don’t think there is ever really a wrong time to reflect on what is important to you. The messages in this simple story are potent and powerful at any time of life.

2.)    The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) – This book knocked me over. Again, a story with a very deep message. This book delivers a strong social justice message and you end up feeling like you know and love this family by the end. I have only cried in a very few books, but the last paragraph of this one will live with me always.

3.)    Roots (Alex Haley) – This book made me cry from the start. It is an important portrayal of one of the largest scars on the American history – the fact that slavery was accepted and justified by our government. It puts a human face on something that most people would rather not examine closely. A very moving read.

4.)    Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) – There is something about this book for me. The writing is so lyrical and beautiful, my blood pressure goes down with the first sentence.

5.)    The Elements of Style (Strunk and White) – Someday I will know whether a period goes inside or outside of quotes, but until then, this book will be on my desk.

I would like to present this award to the following bloggers:

Hugh Curtler

Musings of an Old Fart

Waiting for the Karma Truck

Carr Party of Five

Magnolia Beginnings

Analyfe

Life with the Top Down

Real Woman’s Health

Writing Your Destiny

The Healthy Warrior

The Jotters Joint

The Curtain Raiser

Talk to Diana

Third Eye Mom

The Bookshelf of Emily J

What do you think? What is the one book that has really impacted you? What is the one book you have read more than once and why?

Please don’t forget to vote in the Bucket List Publications Travel Photo of the Year Contest! There are 18 finalists and I have some stiff competition. I would love your help!

Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina
Copyright JC Politi Photography

You can vote every day for the next few days. All you have to do is go to see all the finalists and click on this picture and click “like” or share to mark it as your favorite! You can send it to friends and family to encourage them to vote though Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and lots of other ways. It would mean a lot to get your vote!

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you so much for reading!

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Filed under Awards, Blogging, Books, Culture, Education, History, International, Love, Photography, Photos, travel

Our Disposable Culture and the Gentle Giants of Music

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Who would throw away a piano? And why does the mere thought of this make me sad?

There is an article this week in the New York Times called “For More Pianos, the Last Note is a Thud.” The article explores a new trend, in which pianos are being abandoned or destroyed at an alarming rate.

Some of the more disturbing excerpts from the article include:

 “Instead of spending hundreds or thousands to repair an old piano, you can buy a new one made in China that’s just as good, or you can buy a digital one that doesn’t need tuning and has all kinds of bells and whistles,” said Larry Fine, the editor and publisher of Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer, the industry bible.

“In wintertime we burn them,” he said, pointing to a round metal stove. “This one has eaten many pianos.”

Maybe it’s because I played the piano when I was young. I remember countless hours sitting at the piano, staring at the picture on the wall wondering when my practice session would be over or sneaking into the kitchen to change the timer that was set to document my 30 minute practice.

But there is something that makes me melancholy when I think about these gentle giants turned into firewood.

Learning to play the piano takes work. But the relationship between a pianist and her instrument is special – if a person puts in the time on the piano bench, the piano rewards her with the beautiful gift of music which she is free to share far and wide.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Edwige Lombardi-Munhoven (cat called Gina)

We have become too cavalier about destroying our history. I am reminded of neighborhoods across the country where people tear down gorgeous historic houses to build McMansions. It is heartbreaking.

And the people building those McMansions with three bedrooms for each occupant can’t find the space for a piano?

What is this world coming to?

What do you think? Does this story make you sad or do you think I am just being nostalgic and resistant to progress? Are there other items that you grew up with that are now being disposed of that you hate to see discarded? Do you see any hope for reversing this trend?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.

If you liked this, you might also like:

Piano Adoption (A great resource from the article noted above, where people can post pianos for adoption or can adopt a piano)

Romance in Paris: Why Do French Bookstores Continue to Thrive? (newsofthetimes.org)

Times Are Rough – I’ve Got Too Much Stuff!  (newsofthetimes.org)

The Importance of Slowing Down in a Busy Bee Culture (newsofthetimes.org)

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Filed under Culture, Economy, Environment, Ethics, Love, Music, Relationships, Technology

Tunes Tuesday: We Didn’t Start the Fire

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I received a lot of encouragement and support from last week’s Tunes Tuesday, so I think we will keep the series going. Again, this series will be exploring lyrics that tell a story as well as any poetry ever could.

This week, I have chosen the song “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, by Billy Joel. Each Billy Joel song tells a different story, so I am sure this will not be my last Billy Joel song.

But the lyrics to this particular song have always made me think the man is an absolute genius with words – the song provides a complete history lesson in under five minutes!

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What do you think? Did Bill Joel miss any important events or people during the time-span covered by this song?

Your challenge this week, should you choose to participate, is to come up with a few lines to update the song, since it stops in the year 1989. Don’t worry if it doesn’t rhyme, unless, of course you want it to! Just think about what you would include in a two minute song to encapsulate the past 20 years.

My best attempt at a start:

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter feed
Home foreclosures, Corporate greed…

We Didn’t Start the Fire
Billy Joel

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnny Ray,
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television,
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenberg, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye,

Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen,
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiov,
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron,
Dien Bien Phu Falls, Rock Around the Clock

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team,
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev,
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac,
Sputnik, Zhou Enlai, Bridge On The River Kwai

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball,
Starkweather Homicide, Children of Thalidomide

Buddy Holly, Ben Hur, Space Monkey, Mafia,
Hula Hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy,
Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, Stranger in a Strange Land,
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatle mania,
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex,
J.F.K. blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again,
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline,
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal suicide,
Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law,
Rock and Roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning since the world’s been turning.
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on…

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire…

This is a great video that shows the song with the year identified – again, a great history lesson:

Thanks so much for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Filed under History, Music, Uncategorized