Things I’ve done today:
- ate cake and coffee in local cafe
- read a chapter of das Kunstseidene Mädchen
- watched Amelie
- went grocery shopping
- watched The Lives of Others; cried a little
- made tea
- applied for a job
- watched the Third Man
- made guacamole
- did English corrections for fellow teacher
Anyone who says I do nothing with my time on this scholarship is a damn liar.
Back in October my dad came to visit for a week. We saw Bavaria in the fall, which is beautiful in its own way. This trip included a trip out to Lichtenfels, a four-hour train journey each way from Munich, because my dad wanted to see the Basilika Vierzehnheiligen. Nestled in the northern hills of Franconia, near the state border between Bavaria and Thuringia, this church was built in the Rococo style and served as a pilgrimage stopover point for passers through on their way to Spain. It is famed as an architectural masterpiece by Balthasar Neumann, someone you’ve probably never heard of before. Neither had I, but my dad seemed to know who he was. I’m sure this journey was more spiritually fulfilling for my father than it was for me, but I enjoyed the church and got some nice photo ops from it. This is the scenery surrounding Vierzehnheiligen.
The church itself (not my photo, but it is pretty stunning to see, just sitting on a hilltop overlooking the valley where the town of Lichtenfels is):
And of course, since it’s Rococo, the inside looks pretty cool. It’s like a wedding cake on aesthetic cocaine. The central altar, blurry on account of no flash photography:
My father also wanted to see the staircase at the Residenz Würzburg, again designed by Balthasar Neumann, and with a fresco by Tiepolo. I couldn’t take photos myself, and none of the photos online really do the staircase justice. It is just really friggin’ cool. If you’re ever in central Germany, it is worth a look. A photo of Würzburg on a beautiful fall day:
And of course no trip for my father would be complete without a visit to the Olympic Pool of the Munich 1972 Olympics. We went for a swim, and I have to say as a former swimmer: this is a really nice pool and the architecture on it is just cool. Needless to say, dad was happy:
And what with wine being the cheap prices it is in Germany, we were able to have a nice breakfast in my apartment for next to nothing. A photo of the spread:
Having seen how my dad travels and the sort of destinations he values, I have to say he’s onto something. Impeccable taste, and a wonderful trip.
Well it’s almost May, and with that comes the German tradition of Walpurgisnacht. Named after Saint Walburga (an 8th Century abbess), this festival is celebrated throughout Northern Europe as the coming of May. Historically, there is a great deal of witchcraft attached to the event, although these days that has less of an influence on the celebrations to be witnessed this weekend. In a phenomenon that clearly reflects the cultural values surrounding celebration in Finland and Germany, vappu or Walpurgisnacht is celebrated quite differently between the two countries.
In Finland it is a giant students festival that gets celebrated in parks and through festivals in the streets. Late at night there are giant bonfires and more celebrations continue into the first of May.
In Berlin it was celebrated with the Maifest riots in Mauerpark. This was a day when my roommate once told me, “You have to remember to take your car off the streets because if you don’t it might get set on fire.”
Munich, on the other hand has totally different customs that are, in accordance with its city character, much more sane than Berlin’s. They set up the traditional Maypole and apparently welcome May in with the May dance. I have yet to see this happen, but I’ll be sure to post pictures if I do. One has to suspect that this dance does indeed occur, since Maypoles are a big part of the local architecture, and found in neighborhood squares almost everywhere.
Istanbul pics and more, coming soon!