Darmstadt, Germany (December 2006)

At the Mathildenhohe, a park/courtyard/museum area at the top of a hill in Darmstadt. I have only seen these trees in Germany and there happens to be We went to walk around and just generally enjoy this day, but we would later return on New Years Eve to subject ourselves to a German tradition, lets just call it a fireworks war. Basically, all across Germany people buy fireworks, tons and tons of fireworks. Now these fireworks are not just your store brand bottle rockets, they are, well... they look like giant sticks of dynamite. These packs of fireworks all had really amusing names too, each was named after a city of the world, Toronto, Taipei, Buffalo. In Darmstadt everyone goes up to the Mathildenhohe, or at least the adventurous people do, and casually light them off. At 12 however, the place lights on fire. Everyone lights off their fireworks, throwing them at people, drinking, trying to outrun the ones at their feet, it was just wild. This goes on all across Germany at the changing of the new year. The joke is that the best place to be on New Years Eve is on a plane flying over Germany. It was quite the experience!

Dachau, Germany (December 2003)

This is the original entrance to Dachau Concentration camp. This guy happened to be standing in the right place at the right time. He cast a showdy figure that fit with the overwhelming feeling of the entire camp. The metal work in the door reads "work will set you free."
We took a train and then a bus to the camp where we walked the last leg to one entrance of the camp. The entrance above is now blocked off and overgrown, for example if I were to turn around and take a picture you would see a wall, trees and brush.
The camp grounds were mostly leveled, but a bunk house had been reconstructed, and they had an extensive museum (housed in the old guard housing) filled with artifacts, video and many pictures. There were numerous memorials throughout the camp grounds, The "bath house" was fully intact. Upon entrance there were many photographs of the days after the camp was liberated. The towns people were paraded through the camp so they could see what they had been living right next to. The pictures were very graphic. We went into the next room which was the "shower room," and I got an overwhelming sensation throughout my body. I could only stay in there for a minute before I had to leave. It was a sensation that had been growing ever since I had gotten to the camp. It had only ever happened to me one other time, on the battlefield of Gettysberg, I have a physcial reaction to the overwhemling sense death, or rather the knowledge of the overwhelming amount of death that has occurred in a place. (Does this happen to anyone else?) I digress. Needless to say it was very a very emotional day. My travel buddy and I didn't really say anything to each other until later that night. Nothing was important enough to say until we had processed some of the day.

Nuremberg, Germany (December 2003)

Pictures (above and below) from the Nuremberg Christmas Market, known as the Christkindlesmarkt. Small vendors packed into the square and all around the area sell food, crafts, gifts, candy, christmas items, and gluwein. Gluwein is a hot drink, basically a hot wine, that will warm you up in a second not matter how cold it is out, and it was cold! They serve the gulwein in adorable mini mugs that you can either keep or give back for your return deposit. My travel buddy and I decided to set a small limit and get each other a christmas present, so we took some time apart and bought each other small items here. It was great fun.
We tried all sorts of food, and wandered in and out of the streets of the market, in and out of churches and embraced the christmas spirit German style. By the time Christmas came around we were in Prague, but going to Nuremberg first really put us in the right spirits for the holiday.
Nuremberg wasnt all christmas cheer, we visited the courthouse where the Nazi trials were held, went to the Nazi "rally grounds", walked the "Great Road," and visited a museum with an exhibit on fascism. Nuremberg is full of history, reconstructed buildings and stories of survival.

Nuremberg, Germany (December 2003)
(Same as above)

Heidelberg, Germany (December 2003)

This picture is a remnant from my first trip to Germany. Heidelberg was classic old world Europe. There is no other way to describe it. The homogeneous architecture gives it that someone could step out into the street in lederhosen at any moment. The story goes that during WWII that the bomber pilots had orders to bomb the city, but couldnt do it because they looked down and saw how beautiful it was/is. Not sure if its true, but I like the story. We hiked up a rather large hill to the old palace, which had plenty of lore to go along with it. They had the largest drum of beer I have ever seen, empty of course, and a spectacular view of the city.

Frankfurt, Germany (December 2006)
A view from above of a central area in Frankfurt. The taxis lined up ready to go struck me. There were all white taxis so this picture in color is very similar. We climbed up this very interesting mall designed by a famous architect that I of course cannot remember, but the construction was fascinating. There were escalators up the middle of the building, about 8+ floors if I remember correctly, and then all around were ramps, not stairs, ramps. The shops all opened up onto these ramps. It was unlike any other mall I have ever seen. At the top there was a two level observation deck, where you could view the skyline and much of the city. Unfortunately it was a little cloudy when we were up there.