A WILDFLOWER TRAIL ALONG THE YUBA RIVER

My husband and I drove up to California’s “Gold Country” last week, specifically to hike a trail along Buttermilk Bend on the South Yuba River.

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The dog  scared us by running downslope to swim.  I had visions of throwing myself into the raging water to save him, but he was smart enough to find a pool and avoid the rapids.

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The wildflowers were fantastic – both in the abundance of display and diversity of species.

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For over a mile you could hardly take a step without discovering something.

Even the pipevine swallowtail butterflies were having a field day – they were everywhere.

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Pourquoi le Français ?

I went to France with Sue, my francophile friend last year. She is there once again studying French – as she is every year – and writes this (bilingually).
“A common icebreaker in French classes is to explain the motivation for studying French. The responses are as varied as the people. For some, it’s a love of French food and wine, for others, it’s because someone they love speaks the language and they want to communicate with them in their own language. Still others have a family connection with France.”

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Sue sur la Pont Neuf_

“Une entrée en maniéré courant dans les cours français est d’expliquer la motivation pour étudier français. Les réponses sont aussi variés que les gens. Pour certains, c’est l’appréciation de la cuisine et du vin; pour d’autres, c’est parce qu’on aime un français et on voudrait se parler dans sa langue maternelle. Encore d’autres ont un lien ancestrale en France.”

It’s difficult to explain my obsession with French. I love the sound of the language and the culture but this would be true of many other languages. Before I began my study of the language, I had no french friends, no french lovers, no french connection that I knew of.”

“C’est difficile d’expliquer mon obsession avec le français. J’adore la culture et la poésie de la langue mais ça serais le même cas de beaucoup de langues. Avant que j’ai commencé mon étude de la langue, je n’avais ni des amis français, ni des amants français, ni des ancêtres français.”

My (CCM) response: No other language has the melodic sound and poetry of French. This must be the reason why I have taken a class once a year for the last 8 years and meet a group of French speakers for lunch once a month.

la langue française

Ma réponse (CCM): Juste un point de désaccord sur “serais le même cas de beaucoup de langues.”  Il n’y pas autre langue avec son mélodique et la poésie du français! Ce doit être la raison pour laquelle je prends une classe une fois par an et rencontrer une groupe de francophones pour le déjeuner une fois par mois!

Are you a francophile, anglophile? (Are you a French speaker?  Feel free to take out your red pen and make any corrections!)  What other language do you speak or would you like to learn? Open the door to another culture and it will open your mind.

ENGLAND’S LAKE DISTRICT

My husband and I are visiting northern Britain – we are in the Lake Country for the next few days. The countryside dotted with sheep so reminds us of New Zealand – with the addition of picturesque stone walls and barns.

“Dry” wall constructed without mortar by interlocking the stones.  Occasional,  larger “tie” rocks span both sides to give the wall strength,  as do the perpendicular capstones.

These guys (below) were so cute peering at us end-to end as we drove by that I had to stop and photograph them.  The one on the right however studiously ignored me until I crept closer and then they were both up and off.

We based our selves in the small town of Keswick – pronounced Kes-ik. You drop the “w” on all the towns that end in “wick.” Likewise Leicester is Lester,  Gloucester is Glouster i.e. drop the “Ces.” We stayed at a special B&B, Howe Keld, impeccably run by a gracious English-Swiss couple; it was comfortable and well appointed, right down to the selection of artwork.

Typical Victorian homes, often converted to B&Bs.

People come to walk the lovely countryside.  One popular outing is a launch that travels around Derwentwater Lake. You can hop off at any of many stops, hike to the next one and jump back on the next boat.

 

A not uncommon sight is where walkers push coins into cracks in logs; if it is over 50p they are well hammered in to foil the village boys.

 

Waterfalls and babbling brooks are everywhere.

 

One of the unexpected sights ( to us Outlanders) was Castlerigg Stone Circle erected almost 5000 years ago – as old as Stonehenge, but you’ll see more sheep than people. It is more in keeping with the mystical experience to have it (almost) to yourself. Samuel Coleridge, who visited with Wmm. Wordsworth, waxed poetic about the setting, itself encircled by mountains.

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I wandered lonely as a cloud… alas not the time of year to spot the daffodils.

There are more prehistoric circles in northern England than anywhere else; most date to the early Bronze Age (800-2000 ya). It is thought they were not only sacred sites, but also places where tribes gathered to swap goods and stories.

You will notice that it is cloudy in most of these pictures: I read somewhere that only 23%of the days are sunny so we were just happy that the rain was mild.

The Britons and other Europeans travel with their happy dogs and I couldn’t resist this bit of humor.

Off the Coast of Africa… Expat File # 18

I’m delighted to welcome my guest today, Julz Ma Poon who has lived in eight different countries – but who’s counting? A lifestyle not for the faint-hearted. Here is a buoyant account of an adventurous woman.
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I have been what one would call an expat my whole life – well not completely true… I was born in 1976 in a small town close to Copenhagen, and my first ever resident/visa stamp in a passport is from February 8th 1982. I moved to south of France in March that year. My parents and bigger sister had already moved and I stayed with my maternal grandparents at that time. I missed my sister dearly. I remember the winter of ’81-’82 I was waiting for them to arrive from France one night. There were no mobile phones back then, so we never knew when they would arrive. Of course I fell asleep on the couch waiting. I woke up in the middle of the night and my sister had gone to sleep in the same bed as me. We went to my GrandMa’s kitchen and had a cup of chocolate. I still remember the happiness of seeing her again. Fun memories.

Little Julz with her father in France

If you ask me where I am from (and many people do) – well I say Denmark. I am proud to be Danish. I speak it fluently (if a little old fashioned, my friends would say), I love the Danish traditions and I do my best to keep them with my own children today.

I have never thought of myself as being a Third Culture Kid – Denmark, France – there isn’t that big of a difference – at least there never was for me. I used to live in one and moved to another. That was that. I grew up in France and had a pretty normal life – except we drove to Denmark twice a year and I used to love all the places I would see from the car, the hotels and the restaurants on the motorway. The chocolates we would buy.

After studies in Switzerland and a few moves across the Atlantic – I finally settled down with my husband in the UK. In the early 2000’s nobody spoke about ‘expats’ the way we do today. I always considered myself an immigrant, until our first big move for my husband’s work. I suppose then we became expats.

Citadel in Amman, Jordan (the Roman temple of Hercules is on the far right)

That move took us to Amman, Jordan. We moved (as with all our moves) without having visited . We landed in the middle of the desert on a cold January evening, with a 5 month old baby. There were holes in the road and no lights on the highway – but people were friendly, very friendly. We spend 2 and a half years in that amazing country. Jordan has culturally, religiously and historically so many things to offer: the baptismal site of Jesus, Mount Nebo (where Moses looked out over the promised land); Petra, the famous Nabataean site (known from the Indiana Jones movies), and the largest Roman ruins outside of Italy in Jerash – just to name a few examples. We left Jordan with a soon-to-be 3 year-old and a little baby boy – grateful for all the things Jordan gave us, but leaving great friendships behind.

Temple of Mengwi, Bali, Indonesia

Then came a couple of years in Indonesia, with a move to Bali. The Island of the Gods – and it truly is. Never have I been in a place where Spiritualism is so widely present. If one doesn’t believe in spiritual matters, all that is needed is a bit of time with the Balinese – and everyone changes their minds. How can I say this? Everyone believes so strongly that things happen…

Julz with her children in the Maldives

Another move, another country. This time, life took us to the Maldives – the small island country in the northern part of the Indian Ocean. Beautiful islands, nature and amazing underwater wildlife. But a hard life: one small island, one hotel – and that’s it: no shops, no schools, no friends.  Thus when we stayed longer than planned, I decided to take our 2 children to Mauritius, my husband’s home country.  I had to leave my husband behind until he could join us and we could be together again as a family. That is where we are today, reunited and happy.

Although I never thought of myself as a Third Culture Kid, my children are exactly that: they have been exposed to more cultures than most people will ever be. I often wonder if I did (do?) the right thing as parent, with this very nomadic lifestyle. My daughter is now 7 and has lived in five countries, my son in 4. But then I look at my children and see what this has brought them. They have lived in Christian, Muslim, Hindu and multi-religious countries. People  have cared for them on (more than) four continents. They never refer to anybody per the colour of the skin (except the one time when my daughter tried to wash her Balinese nanny’s arm!), the financial situation, the religion or even the nationality – for them it simply does not matter – it’s the girl in the white dress or the boy with the red shorts, it’s our friends from Singapore or London, Melbourne or Doha. They have a thirst for adventure, a true will to protect nature, a need to learn about their environment or new culture and so much to give, to share. And for all that I hope I am doing the right thing.

The Ma Poon kids on beach in Mauritius

 I always wanted to see what was beyond the next mountain, across the river, over the ocean. I guess that what I wanted as a kid is what I have created for my own children. That’s actually very selfish and I hope they will not be too hard on their mother for the lifestyle I have imposed on them as children.

The world I grew up in, was already a world in movement. The world we live in today, as no real borders. It becomes harder to keep traditions, it becomes harder to say I am from Denmark or Mauritius, but I knew where I was from; for my children it is a little harder than that.

I (CCM) confess that I had to look at a map to confirm exactly where Mauritius lies.  I learned that it has retained some of its French heritage but was also settled by the Dutch and British – among others.  Leave questions and comments for Julz below. To learn more about Julz and Mauritius visit: https://wanderingexpatfamily.wordpress.com/

BEAUTIFUL BUDAPEST

The view of Budapest as we approached the city along the Danube one evening was jaw-dropping. As far as architecture this is my favorite city in Central Europe – perhaps all of Europe.

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Hungarian Parliament on the left.

 

It began as two cities Buda and Obuda (Pest) but was unified into a single city in 1873. The West side is Buda with Castle Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion; we stayed on the Pest (Parliament side).

It deserves one more picture - a close up.

It deserves one more picture – a close up.

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Strolling around Pest we came upon some street dancers. They would perform and then anyone could join in.

 

 

Any evening you can come across these strange, pedal-powered vehicles carrying noisy young people guzzling beer and listening to loud music. Foreigners can buy tickets too, tour the city  while partying at the same time.

Beer pedalers… (not peddlers)

 

Also on the Pest side is the Synagogue.  It is hard to get a great shot from the street but this gives you a glimpse I hope is worthwhile.

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Budapest  was the second capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire ( the first being Vienna). Hence the Baroque Opera House was modeled on the magnificent Viennese Opera House.  All the marble you see is faux i.e. painted – they did a fabulous job!

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Entrance to the Opera

Entrance to the Opera

Central stairway

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Opera boxes

Opera boxes

 

 

The Chain Bridge was built between 1839 and 1849. (Like many other Danube bridges, the Chain Bridge did not survive the ravages of the World War II; it was rebuilt in 1949.)

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Chain Bridge

We found it fairly easy to get around on the Pest side (it is flatter and more modern, but still plenty of wonderful old sites to see), both by tram and bus. Other places to go are the thermal Baths and Hero’s Square – there are museums, more architecture, statues, a lake and pretty grounds.

I will save the Buda side of Budapest with Castle Hill for next time. If anything it is even more fabulous! And I have a video – of a large fountain with music and a light show – I need to figure out how to post. Hope to see you then.

Please leave any “travel comments” for the next guy – or me! Has anyone gone to the baths? We missed the soak – would love to hear about it.

“Life in Russia” meets “A Place in the World” – Expat File #10

Our guest post today is by Steve Hague, an expat who married a Russian and shares with us his views on life in Russia today. He and his wife live in the large and interesting city of Kazan on the banks of the Volga River.2007-01-02 10.39.50

Pursuing the Purple Magic Liquor

In my last post I finished with “pursuing a dream is very important”. In the States I always felt as if I was in a slumber. Like Rip Van Winkle I pursued the purple magic liquor of success never quite reaching it. Chasing the dream and living the dream are two very different things. Being brought up in America we are taught success is everything, and fail to recognize the important things in life. As if (I’d been) living in a cave, I feel like I’ve emerged into a very real world called “Russia”. I’m not Washington Irving but I’d like to share with you my story. A story about waking up and living my “Life in Russia”.

Life is Hard in Russia

So what is life really like in Russia? I’d like to say it’s like living in a fairytale but everyone would know it isn’t true. The reality is life is hard in Russia. Yet when one looks close………really close something different appears. Repairing shoes isn’t easy, selling a few onions doesn’t feed the family, the lonely elderly gentleman selling a single bunch of flowers doesn’t bring in much. Yet the fisherman can give directions from his smart phone and the open market is full of vegetables. Each of them from the youngest to the oldest found something they could do, no one stops them from being productive. They all know their place in this world and are not ashamed to walk in it.

 The Third Capital of Russia

What can I tell you about Kazan. Well, the Kazan Kremlin, the heart of more than a 1000 year-old city, is a World Heritage Site. We also have the second oldest university in Russia, Kazan Federal University was founded in 1804. In 2009 was officially branded as “the 3rd Capital”and also as the “sport capital” of Russia”. Living here is very much like living in any big city in America. We have our Mega Malls, fast food restaurants, theaters, and the list goes on. One of the major differences are the sidewalks, did I surprise you? Yes we have them but here you have to constantly be paying attention to were you are walking. Otherwise you might find yourself doing a face plant or much worse. Interestingly enough I’ve felt safer here then when I lived in America. When I first came we walked down dark alleys, and places one would never walk in a big city in America. No one has ever bothered us.

Bridging the divide between faiths

Kazan is a very fascinating place, it’s one of the few places were Christianity and Islam live in peace with one another. Tatarstan is an unusual example of a Russian region where the majority of the population is Muslim, but where inter-ethnic and interfaith strife is rare. Back in 2009 Hillary Clinton visited Kazan in an effort to discuss how to bridge the divide between faiths. In my own experiences I been able to gain a greater understanding and respect for those who practice Islam and the Russian Orthodox religions. The top left picture is the Temple of all Religions which really isn’t a temple but a mission, a “temple of culture and truth”.

This is only the Beginning

So to sum up my life here I’d say it’s been quite interesting. I’ve been able to travel to Israel, Cyprus, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Vladimir, Suzdal, Bolgar and many other places. I’ve meet wonderful people along the way that have enriched my journey and have changed my life. This is only the beginning and hope to spend much more time exploring this incredible country.

Pictures of BAROQUE Austria along the Danube River

Starting at the end of the 17th century this region of the Danube experienced many decades of growth and stability. Roads, trade and architecture flourished. Many buildings were erected – or rebuilt in the ornate Baroque style and nowhere is this flamboyant style more prevalent than along the Danube River in Austria.

Courtyard of the Melk Abbey

Courtyard of the Melk Abbey

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Cathedral

A stellar example is the Melk Abbey (Stift Melk) a famous Benedictine abbey located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River adjoining the lovely Wachau Valley.

 

 

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View of Melk from the Abbey


This wonderful spiral stairway is actually plaster painted as faux “marble.”.

Spiral stairwell

Spiral stairwell

I couldn’t resist seeing what it would look like had the painters gone wild with color – this really looks more like a painting than a photograph don’t you think?

Photoshop colours

Photoshop colours

 

 

 

 

The abbey was founded in 1089 when a member of the ruling dynasty gave one of his castles to Benedictine monks. A monastic school founded in the 12th century (which now caters to nearly 900 pupils of both sexes) and library soon became renowned for its extensive manuscript collection. Today the library still houses countless medieval manuscripts, including a famed collection of musical manuscripts.

The impressive  abbey you see today was rebuilt in the Baroque style between 1702 and 1736. Particularly noteworthy are the frescos. The abbey managed to survive wars (it was confiscated by the Nazis during WWII) and other threats through the centuries.

Fresco on a flat ceiling looks domed due to

Marble Hall: skill of artist gives this fresco a domed look on a flat ceiling .

This ceiling is flat but painted with perspective illusion (trompe l’oeil) to appear higher and arched.

 

Following the Danube River downstream you arrive in Vienna.

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Vienna at edge of the Danube

 

 

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Schönbrunn Palace gardens

If you are a fan of Baroque-Roccoco style you would not want to miss Schönbrunn Palace the 18th century summer residence of the imperial family, the Hapsbergs.

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Empress Maria Theresa  chose Schönbrunn in 1740 as her permanent residence; Mozart played for her. Emperor Franz Joseph was born here in 1830. We wandered the huge park gardens (replete with fountains, statuary, monuments and a zoo).

The  fabulous Viennese Opera House was the model for the opera in Budapest.

Entrance to the Opera

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Opera boxes

Opera boxes

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Have you ever seen better examples of the extravagant Baroque style?

Me Talk Pretty One Day – Difficulties in Learning another Language

I am reading David Sedaris’ funny personal essays « Me Talk Pretty Someday .» I know everyone else must have read it years ago, but I had no idea it was about an American struggling to learn French while living in France, or it would have made it to the top of my reading list long ago.   Reading in bed the other night I let out a whoop and startled my husband; another time I laughed so hard I almost cried. The following are excerpted from his book (my asides are in these shaded boxes).  CM

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David Sedaris

David Sedaris

 

 

 

Meaning to say “Do you understand me?” instead Sedaris says:

“You will understand me” (and) the citizens of France responded with blank stares. I picked up a few new words, but overall the situation seemed hopeless. Neighbors would drop by and I’d struggle to entertain then with a pathetic series of simple nouns. “Food, ashtray, drink?”

“Yes,” they’d agree. “That is an ashtray all right.”

CM:  It reminds of MY  first trip to France when my back went out and I could not sit in those white plastic chairs ubiquitous in European cafes. Upon entering a restaurant I proceeded to explain that I was “mal de dos” and could I please have different “assiette?”

This made sense to me as a seat or chair is an “asiento” in Spanish, but the maître looked puzzled and asked me to repeat my performance. I took a deep breath and repeated “mal de dos” and “autre assiette SVP?”

He told me “We  have only these assiettes,” while gesturing to a set table… with assorted chairs.The whole restaurant is watching now as I point to a nice wooden chair across the room.  “That one?” I asked hopefully.

After a pregant pause he replied, “Mais Madam, that is not an assiette,” and bringing me a dinner plate – c’est une assiette and…that (pointing to the chair)  c’est une chaise.”  The diners looked away hiding their smiles, while I slunk to my chaise.

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une chaise et une assiette

 

(Back to Me Talk Pretty One Day):  I’d hoped language might come on its own the way it comes to babies, but people don’t…hypnotize you with bright objects and fuss over you when you finally say “wawa.” It got to the point where I’d see a baby in a bakery… and instinctively ball up my fists, jealous over how easy he had it. I wanted to lie down in a French crib and learn the language from scratch.

I returned to Normandy the following summer and resumed my identity as the village idiot. “See you again yesterday!” I said to butcher. « Ashtray, food ! »

Village in Normandy

Village in Normandy

I found words in the dictionary and typed them onto index cards, and committed them to memory. By the end of the month I’d managed to retain 300 nouns, none of which proved the least bit useful.

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On my fifth trip I limited myself to words that people actually use. From dog owners I learned “Lie down,” “Shut up” and “Who shit on this carpet?” …The grocer taught me how to count… I’d learned a total of 1,564 words and kept my vocabulary in a wooden box… and worried that if the house caught fire, I’d be back to square one with “ashtray” and would lose the intense pleasure I felt whenever I heard somebody use a word I’d come to think of as my own.

Mont St Michel, Normandy

Mont Saint Michel, Normandy

My confidence hit a new low when my friend Adeline told me that French children make mistakes, but never with the sex of nouns.  “We hear the gender once, and then think of it as part of the word. There’s nothing to it.”  It’s pretty grim world when I can’t even feel superior to a toddler. Tired of embarrassing myself in front of two-year olds, I’ve started referring to everything in the plural, which…has solved a lot of problems… in saying the melons, you use the plural article which does not reflect gender… Ask for two or 300 melons and you are off the hook. I use the plural when shopping… the problem is finding a place (in the refrigerator) for 4 lbs. of tomatoes, two chickens and a pair of pork roasts.

 In Paris David Sedaris takes a French class with a bunch of immigrant students from a sarcastic teacher. When asked a question he writes:

The teacher’s reaction led me to believe these mistakes were capital crimes in France… She (scolds), “Even a ticiwelmun knows that a typewriter is feminine.”

I absorbed as much of her abuse as I could understand, thinking that I find it ridiculous to assign gender to inanimate objects incapable of disrobing…  these things could never live up to all their sex implied.

Tour EiffelThe teacher proceeded to belittle everyone… German, Japanese, Thai, Dutch, Korean and Chinese – we all left class foolishly believing that the worst was over…but my fear crept beyond the borders of the classroom. Stopping for coffee, asking for directions… these things were now out of the question… I was convinced everything I said was wrong.  My only comfort was that I was not alone. Huddled in the hallways and making the most of our pathetic French, my fellow students and I engaged in the sort of conversation commonly overheard at refugee camps.

“Sometimes me cry alone at night.”

“That be common for I, also, but be more strong, you. Much work and someday you talk pretty…maybe tomorrow okay.”

 Have you read Sedaris? Do you have a story to share about learning a language?

The Danube River

The Danube River is the longest river in Europe, running almost 1,800 miles from the Black Forest to the Black Sea – it flows by eleven countries. My husband Tom and I traversed its route from Regensburg and Passau (last weeks’ post) through the lovely Wachau Valley, and cruised from Vienna to Budapest (then we take the train back to Vienna – more pictures coming in the weeks to come). Because of canals, the North Sea (at the port of Rotterdam ) is now connected via the Rhine, the Main and the Danube Rivers to the Black Sea.

Canal connecting Main River to Danube

Canal connecting Main River to the Danube

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Once a northern border of the Roman Empire –  called the Danubius (in German it is the Donau) – it was also the northern border of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. Its location made it important from earliest times and its beauty makes it one of the most romantic rivers in the world. The river attracted the Vikings and the Romans the Mongols and the Turks and has been center player in European history on through the Hapsburg Dynasty to the present.

Danube at Regensberg

Danube at Regensberg

The Old Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke)was built 1135-1145  during the early centuries of the Holy Roman Empire and was the only crossing of the Danube for 800 yrs. The Crusaders used it to cross the mighty river on their way to the Holy Land.

 

Old Stone Bridge

Old Stone Bridge ( german.places.com)

The building attached to the gate is the “Salt store.”  Regensburg’s monopoly on salt made it  rich during the Middle Ages.

 

View of Regensburg from under the bridge

View of Regensburg from under the bridge

The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) was a huge amalgamation of territories in central Europe that developed (900’s) during the Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806.  Bavaria was part of this Empire (which my history teacher liked to point out was neither holy nor Roman) of which Charlemagne was the most famous emperor. The Hohenstaufens and the later the Hapsburgs were both HRE rulers; the Hapsburgs later became the Austro- Hungarian Empire (Marie-Theresa (1772-1807),  her daughter Marie-Antoinette  and Archduke Ferdinand  were all Hapsburgs) .

A folding smokestack allows this vessel to slip under the bridges

A folding smokestack allows this vessel to slip under the bridges

 

Below the lovely town on Passau on the Danube near the southern German border.

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Passau waterfront

 

The sights along the Danube River are spectacular  (wait until you see the Budapest waterfront next week). Below is an ancient castle downstream in Austria’s Wachau Valley.

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A castle on the Danube River near Melk, Austria.

 

Next week Vienna and – if room – Budapest.  Someday I want to visit other rivers of Europe since they are cradles of civilization and history and this journey has been extraordinary.  Plus rivers can be so soothing (unless they are in flood!).  Have you been to the Danube or tried fashioning a trip around a river?

REGENSBURG and PASSAU: our trip continues along the Danube River

Even before medieval times Bavaria, Germany’s largest state, had an interesting history. In the last post I mentioned the numerous Paleolithic discoveries; the next known inhabitants were the Celts whom the Romans subdued. The Roman centre of administration for this area was Castra Regina: modern-day Regensburg – one of the best preserved old cities and the oldest on the Danube. The following picture is the remains of the Roman gates built in 179 AD. In use into the 1700’s they were then plastered and built over until they were rediscovered in 1885.

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The only remaining Roman gate in Europe. The steps still lead into town.

 

A history professor we met on this trip told us that it is speculated the name Bavaria comes from the Romans calling the Teutonic tribes on the “other (northern) side” of the Danube “Barbarians” and this later became Bavarians. (The Latin is Latin Baiovarii)

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Oskar Schindler saved over 1200 Jews from certain death during the Nazi terror. He lived here in 1945-1950. (The apartment itself is hardly photo-worthy – thus I contented myself with the plaque.)

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The maze of alleys are fun to wander – this one is near Schindler’s apartment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regensburg is still a residential town.

This 500 year old kitchen, located right on the river bank of the Danube, has stood through centuries of wars and floods.  We didn’t get to try any of the famous sausages however, as when we came back hungry a couple of hours later, the rest of the world had the same idea.This 500 yr old wurst kuche is said to be the oldest restaurant in Germany.

This 500 yr. old wurst küche is said to be the oldest restaurant in Germany.

The Alte Rathaus – built in the middle ages was used until baroque times as the seat of the Reichstag government –  almost 150 yrs.

Regensburg Rathaus.     You can see the pulpit in the centre where the mayor or the bishop used to address the towns people.

Regensburg Rathaus. You can see the pulpit in the centre where the mayor or the bishop used to address the towns people.

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Passau lies at the confluence f the Inn, Ilz and the mighty Danube Rivers near the Czech and Austrian borders with Germany.

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Passau surrounded by the Danube (foreground) and the Inn Rivers (in back).

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(note: the map orientation is opposite of the photo above)

 

 

 

Passau waterfront

Passau waterfront

 

It is pleasant to stroll the narrow streets – with little traffic.

Alleyway leading to the cathedral

Talented singers in the square.

Talented singers in the square.

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Hallway of the Bishops’s Palace

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Entrance to the palace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passau’s history also encompasses the Roman and medieval periods,but its architecture is decidedly Baroque.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We listened to (a surprisingly – and somewhat disappointingly –modern) organ concert in the over-the-top baroque of St Stephens Cathedral. I think I was expecting Bach!

Europe’s largest church organ.

Europe’s largest church organ.

Passau has a large museum devoted to glass made from 1600- 1950’s. I was taken with these painted stemwares.

glass factory_ps 0321 glass ps_e0317

 

 

This tower looks like a relic of the middle ages – you almost feel you are walking back in time. Note watermark from the floods of 2013.

PAssau water mark_auto e0311

The Danube River reached its highest level in 500 years and people had to be rescued from their homes. Amazing that structures like this tower and the old sausage kitchen (above) have survived for centuries on its banks!

Passau flooded 2013 (thetimes.co.uk)

Passau flooded 2013 (thetimes.co.uk)

Have you been to either of these towns? What do you think of the Baroque style? How would you like live in charming Passau – surrounded by rivers that could flood with rainstorms upstream?