Germany - Rhine River, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Munich and Berlin
I went to Germany and Austria for 10 days in Summer 2006. You can see larger versions of these photos at my Pbase site's Germany and Austria 2006 gallery and at my locally hosted site's Germany and Austria gallery
Rhine River Valley
We started in the Rhine River Valley at Rüdesheim am Rhein and took a river cruise to hang out and observe some of the valley's medieval castles. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage site; there are something like 40 castles along 65 km of river here, pretty much all of them built in the 12 or 13th centuries and destroyed by the French in 1689 during the Palatinate War of Succession.
Nowadays some of these are hotels (one is a hostel) or are privately owned (but can be visited).Here is a good site to read up on the various castles along the river. Don't worry, it's in English (or maybe, "Sorry, it's in English," depending).
Castle Ruin Ehrenfels
Castle Burg Reichenstein
Castle Burg Sooneck
Castle Ruin Fürstenberg
We also visited and explored Berg Rheinfels, the largest castle on the river, but it was frickin' hot that day and we didn't get much exploring done or photos taken, unfortunately.
On my first trip to Europe (and basically my first trip anywhere) in 1988 I was a 27 year old engineer, dutifully working in the aerospace defense industry building a Doomsday machine for the US Air Force. I had a security clearance and knew lots of stuff about nuclear weapons and how to deliver them onto an "enemy."
I thought I knew about the Iron Curtain and that it meant that they were over there and we were over here and there was no intermingling. And then I drove on the autobahn in West Germany and was surprised to see trucks from Poland, Czechoslovakia and points further east. OK, so I was naive.
I had told my travel partner (my then future ex-wife and daughter of German immigrants) that I wanted to see two things on my European trip; a stage of the Tour de France and the Berlin Wall. I saw them both and took lots of photos.
This time, my third trip to Germany (but only my second trip to Berlin) I wanted to go back to the same places I was in July 1988 to see how they've changed in the 18 years since I'd been there.
Checkpoint Charlie has become a tourist attraction. Just as the Colosseum in Rome has the fake gladiators who charge for a photo, so does this landmark now have cute girls in replica US Army uniforms available for photo ops. You can also have your passport stamped with a DDR stamp by a guy dressed as a Russian soldier.
This is actually a replica of the original shack that was removed in the early 90's. The photo of the Russian Army officer is duplicated on the other side - same kid (and he is a kid) in a US Army dress uniform. You can see a bit of yellow fence on the right; that is former No Man's Land area, the shoot-on-sight barrier prior to the final Wall, the one we saw from our side.
This side faces the former East German side - the Wall line marker is about 50 meters behind me.
In 1988 I made a beeline from Zoo Station (what was then West Berlin's main train station) to this area - Wilhelmstrasse at the Prinzalbrecht Hotel on what was once called Prinzalbrechtstrasse. It was a vacant lot - the hotel , the former SS headquarters, was bombed to smithereens in the last days of the war. The only thing that was there was a small museum dedicated to Nazi victims called "The Topography of Terror." I climbed up onto the observation platform and took some shots over the Wall into No Man's Land.
When I returned this summer I went straight back here. This shot shows one of the last vestiges of the Wall. The people are walking on Niederkirchnerstrasse, which was the No Man's Land zone when the Wall was up. I was straddling the former East-West line in this shot and thinking about how much everything had changed. For everyone else it was no big deal; it's been 16 years, but for me, it was a revelation.
The quite new Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station).
The Berlin Wall at Wilhelmstrasse
Then: July, 1988
And now, same location, roughly.
In 1988 there was no Potsdamer Platz, unless you want to call a square mile large empty field a "platz." It had been bombed to rubble in the closing days of the War and left in No Man's Land since the Wall cut right through it. In 1995 though, Europe's largest redevelopment program began to rebuild this area (I was able to watch it on a webcam, a new invention at that time). Here are two panoramas of the new modern Potsdamer Platz.And
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber was on the itinerary because it is 1) on the way to Munich from Frankfurt and 2) a good example of a German Medieval town. Rothenburg is completely within it's intact town wall; you can walk around the entire town on it if you want. It is pretty touristy though, but I don't care too much; it's a convenient stop over.
This is the Markt Platz; it's a 6 image panorama that I stitched together.
One of the many towers strung out along the wall.
I don't know what it is about being in Germany but I can drink like a fish and not feel any effects the next morning, and I'm OLD! I had a mass of weisbeir (a liter of wheat beer) one night at the Englischer Garten's Chinese Tower Beer Garden and got up the next morning ready to go like it was nothing.
If I'd done that here I'd be flattened and severly hurtin' the next day. Also, Thürlinger wursts are the best.
Austria - Salzberg
Salzburg, Austria is a favorite city of mine but they push the "The Sound of Music" and the "Mozart" crap really really hard (because that's all they have, I suppose). My hotel had a "Sound of Music" channel - it played nothing but "The Sound of Music" 24 hours 7 days a week over and over and over.
I like this photo; taken near sunset the cloud cover opened and lit up the Hohensalzburg Fortress beautifully. That's the River Salznach in the foreground. It has that milky green tinge to it due to it's source in the Alps glaciers.
A different view of Salzburg's old city.
Die Getreidegasse, the narrow pedestrian street that is the core of the old city.
The Mirabell Garden. A scene from some stupid movie about Julie Andrews fighting Nazis was shot here, exactly right here, in fact. I think she gunned down 6 of them with her bare hands.