Travel: Munich Residenz

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Leaving Vienna behind, I bypassed my original plan of Salzburg (due to limited hostel options) to southern Germany and the city of Munich. To be honest, at this point in my travels I was sufficiently exhausted of the exhausting routine of staying at one city for a few days, hopping a train, and continuing to make my away around and across Europe. However, Munich has a medley of fascinating sights, and a few of them provided my the additional motivation needed for my enthusiasm not to dwindle.

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The primary impetus involved a visit to the Residenz; On my walk through Old Town, I was able to pass through the Karlstor (one of four medieval city gates ), gape at the awe-inspiring Town Hall (a massive gothic-revival structure that dominates the square), and enjoy the machinations of the glockenspiel.

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Associated with the intricately detailed glockenspiel is a Myth. During the year of the plague, 1517, coopers are said to have danced through the streets to, “bring fresh vitality to fearful dispositions.” This dance became symbolic of the population’s perseverance  and their continued loyalty to the duke. As a result, this dance is traditionally performed every seven years, despite the current form not being defined until 1871.

Finally approaching the Residenz, one could not imagine the mysteries that lay within its walls. It is the former royal palace of the Bavarian Monarchs. The complex contains ten courtyards and encloses 130 rooms. Original builds were constructed in 1385, and financed as a sanction for the failed uprising against Stephen III and his younger brothers. Over the centuries it has been continuously developed, and after four hundred years, practically replaces the entire former city quarter. It now includes a large variety of styles such as Late-Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, and Neo-Classicism.

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I didn’t nearly expect to get suctioned into a black hole of wonder and history, yet the Residenz is one of the few former palaces that have achieved this. Each room is both unique and a surprise, as the former rooms give few clues about the what architectural secrets it may contain. The work is intricately detailed, and provides a foundation upon which I could imagine the richness and allure of holding the Bavarian Crown. 5 hours later, I was exhausted, and had completely depleted any energy I had.


Travel: Berlin

2013-05-06 05.16.26Don’t get me wrong. Berlin is still a culturally vibrant and thriving city. It may have  a dark past, but despite those shadows, it has managed to fight beyond the repression, and rise like a phoenix from the ashes. Sometimes it still gets a bad reputation as ‘the concrete city,’ but she bravely flaunts the lessons learned from the 20th century.

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For example, it has used former Nazi Locations such as the current Topography of Terror, Bebelplatz, and Fuhrer’s Bunker to educate the citizens about oppression, genocide, and the darker side of man. This allows for individuals to recognize the indicators of dictatorship, and provide hope for prevention of this power takeover be attempted again.

The museum about the rise of the Cold War at Checkpoint Charlie, and the international freedom memorial at the East Side Gallery, proclaim loudly to the world that freedom of expression is a basic human right. It uses vibrant color splashed along a long stretch of the former Berlin Wall to support individual thought, the legitimacy of homosexuality, and the power of expression.

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This is best represented through the glass dome of the infamous Reichstag; it is the 2nd most visited attraction in Germany. From above, visitors can directly observe the chambers of parliament while they are in session. For the politicians, this is a reminder that the population elected them into their positions, and can also take the offices away. As an official, it its their duty to serve the desires of their constituents, not individual and subversive agendas.

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What are your thoughts on these iconic wars? How have they impacted Germany, and furthermore, the governance of the world?

Travel: Cold War Remnants

It is hard to walk through Berlin without seeing the lasting impacts of the Cold War in its streets. In the aftermath of fall of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union had already positioned itself in power over the nations it had annexed, laying a foundation for the Eastern Bloc.  They effectively became Soviet Socialist Republics.

Early on, Winston Churchill expressed concerns that the soviet leader, Joseph Stalin was unreliable. It is during this, that he delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech, encouraging an Anglo-American alliance for defense. Germany was in no position to fend for itself against the onslaught of Allied disagreements over the best method of reinstating democratic governance.


The primary nations involved all formed alliances amongst themselves, effectively snatching up zones of occupation to prevent the further encroachment of communism. This eventually culminated in the creation of the Berlin Wall. East Germany was losing many of its young and educated professionals to the West. Despite an ultimate to restrict this exodus, the allied forces refused to accede, and on August 13, 1961, a barrier was erected over night. The wall divided families that were a mere 2 km apart, and permission to cross was difficult to obtain and rarely granted.

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This is not to say that certain reforms were ineffective. In speaking with local Germans, certain chains in the East were considered beneficial. One example is the mandatory care and check-ups of children; If a mother failed to bring her offspring to medical practitioners within a certain period of time, it would be documented, and officials would go for a consult at their residence. I concede that this may seem overbearing, however as in present, many children still suffer due to malnutrition, and stringent religious beliefs that reject modern medicine. Note that I am citing but one example.

Despite this, many still sought to escape the oppression of soviet communism, and the limitations put on individual freedom. For example, the wall  divided families that were a mere 2 km apart, and permission to cross was difficult to obtain and rarely granted. Families were divided.

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I would have made the same choice. Some individuals were successful, coming up with inventive ideas such as secret compartments, flying contraptions, tunneling, or even fake identity papers. Some were not; an estimated 600 people died during their attempt, or after due to sustained injuries.

On 12 June 1987, Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev, then the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to tear down the wall as a symbol of increasing freedom. In late 1989, “Peaceful Revolution” a non-violent protest sparked. Since no one wanted to take responsibility for issuing violent action, the police stood by. Eventually, the Politburo voted to allow migration of Germans from East to West; On November 9, 1989 thousands of citizens began climbing over, and tearing down the wall.

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Today, the East Side Gallery is possibly one of the largest, and oldest, open-air galleries in the world.

It stands as an international memorial for freedom, rejecting the stigmas of oppression,  restrictions of rights, and emphasizing the expression of individualism.

It was some breathtaking artistry.

I particularly liked the statement expressed here.

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Travel: Childhood in Hamburg

Trust me, you will appreciate this post when you read the posts to come. I feel a deep need to lighten the mood at this point in time, since the bulk of my future travels have an air of darkness about them.

I went to Miniatur Wunderland!! 😀 It is currently the largest in the world, and seeks to present a geographical, atmospherical, and socially accurate “mini-world”. It also holds the current World Record for the longest model railway tracks. Although it is not yet complete, 8 sections were available for me to scrutinize.

Honestly, I did not think I would be so fascinated, but the program allows for little secrets hidden within each world that you have to find. Like a dead body in the river, or a skiing accident, or a couple making love in a field of daisies! (I didn’t have all day, so I didn’t nearly use such precise scrutiny for each region). It’s like I got to travel the world in 2-hours without leaving the comfort of the building!

Here’s a game!

  • I will list the regions that are currently on exhibition:
  • I will provide one iconic picture for each nation:
  • First two to pair all 8 correctly, I’ll send you a postcard from my next destination ^_^ (Provided I have an address of course :P)














A) United States

B) Austria

C) Germany

D) Hamburg

E) Knuffingen

F) Switzerland

G) Bayern

I then embrace my tomboy side by going to the Prototyp Museum to gawk at famous cars from Formula One racing history. (One of the many sports I wish I had time to pursue as a hobby, not to mention my bucket list includes restoring an old car and tricking it out).

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Travel: Hamburg Friends

Having taken an international and cross-disciplinary class that involved video conference calls across time zones, I managed to accumulate a variety of friends scattered around Europe. Unfortunately, the only country that my travel plans have been able to accommodate (given the time constraint) is the vast and diverse Germany. The first friend I visited is working now, so I did not approach Germany in a geographically efficient manner, and arrived on a sunday morning so I could spend the day with him.

It was amazingly relaxing to be shown the city by a local as I had no prior itinerary for Hamburg. We walked and caught up, and witnessed some pretty memorable sights along the way.

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After the old city hall was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1842 (You will hear more about this later), it took 44 years to rebuild the current city hall. Seven architects who were led by Martin Haller designed it in the neo-renaissance style, and it cost an estimated 80 Million Euros.

The building continues to beguile the population even today, because a secret room was found in behind a file cabinet in 1971, so the room count is estimated t 647, but it is speculated that the Rathaus continues to keep some secrets.

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Saint Michaelis is one of the five main Lutheran churches in Hamburg, and certainly the most famous. While the exterior is subtlety conservative, when you enter the doors, rare protestant opulence greets you. It dominates the city Skyline with its 132-meter spire that exemplifies classic Baroque architecture. Furthermore, it is hard to miss the iconic bronze statue that towers of the main entrance showing the Archangel conquering Satan in all his glory.

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Hamburg did not used to have a lighthouse; it was therefore necessary that a lighted boat guide the ships to safe harbor. Every night, this boat would venture into the darkness of the endless sea and light the way for weary travelers.




We relaxed at the end of our day by strolling along the Reeperbahn, so named because the older ropewalks were relocated in the 1620s to this region. This is distinctly demonstrated by the Low German phrases of Reep, meaning rope, and Bahn, meaning track.

It is also Hamburg’s district for nightlife with Bars and Clubs on one street, and the Red Light Distract just a mere street over. A large variety of strip clubs, brothels, and sex shops line the street in a blatant manner. This is also the historic area for some of Europe’s oldest and most renowned brothels, such as Dollhouse, Luxor, and the Eros Center; although all have closed down due to the economy or the 1980s aids scare.

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I enjoyed a local Hamburg beer called Astra. Beer is not normally to my taste, but when in Germany. 🙂