Monthly Archives: November 2011

Win a One Year Boingo Global Account and Help Build a School in Zambia

Posted by on November 30, 2011

It is that time of year again. Time for the Passports with Purpose program to kickoff. Last year travel bloggers helped build a village in India. This year they will be building a library in Zambia.

The program is pretty simple. For every $10 donation you make to PwP you can get put into a drawing for a prize of your choice. (See website for complete rules) These include trips, travel gear and other great prizes.

I’m working with Boingo Wireless this year to give out a prize which is great for any world traveler: A one year Boingo Global account. This allows you to log on to any of the 400,000 Boingo wifi access points around the world.

This is a $708 value you could get for as little as a $10 tax deductible donation!

I’ve been using Boingo for over 4 years now. I’ve logged on to the internet in more countries than I can count via Boingo. I’ve pulled up maps on streets in Switzerland with it and checked my email in restaurants in Thailand. It is good with any wifi enabled device you have. I’ve logged on with my laptop, my iPad, my iPhone and even my old iPod Touch.

To win this or any of the other great prizes, just click here and fill out the donation form.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #162: Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau

Posted by on November 29, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #162: Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau

UNESCO World Heritage Site #162: Bauhaus and its Sites in Weimar and Dessau

From the World Heritage inscription:

The Bauhaus is an outstanding example of the Modern Movement, which revolutionized artistic and architectural thinking and practice in the 20th century, and in particular of the progressive architectural concepts of the Jugendstil.

In 1919 the Schools of Art and of Applied Arts of the Grand Duchy of Saxony were combined to form the State Bauhaus of Weimar. The building of the former had been constructed in two phases, in 1904 and 1911, to the designs of Henry van de Velde (1863-1957), replacing the original structure of 1860.

The new building is representative of the progressive architectural concepts of the Jugendstil, in the transitional phase between Historicism and Modernism. The building was decorated with murals painted by Herbert Beyer in 1923 following the internationally famous Bauhaus exhibition. Van de Velde was responsible for the design of the former School of Applied Arts (1905-6), also in the Jugendstil tradition. Oskar Schlemmer added wall sculptures in 1923, which had disappeared, but have been replaced by copies.

Was the Bauhaus movement important? Yes.

In fact, I dare say I like most of the things with a Bauhaus design.

That, however, does not mean it was easy to take photos of this site. The locations for the UNESCO sites are divided between Weimar and Dessau. I visited them in Weimar.

While the Bauhaus movement was started in Weimar, and Bauhaus University is currently in Weimar, that doesn’t mean there is a lot to see. There is a Bauhaus museum in the city center, but that isn’t technically part of the UNESCO site. The university building itself isn’t that special. If you pop your head inside however, you can see some great design work inside.

The photo above is from the main stairwell in the main building at the University.

This was the seventh stop on my November 2011 Eurail trip to European UNESCO sites.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #161: Classical Weimar

Posted by on November 28, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #161: Classical Weimar

UNESCO World Heritage Site #161: Classical Weimar


From the World Heritage inscription:

The high artistic quality of the public and private buildings and parks in and around the town testify to the remarkable cultural flowering of the Weimar classical period. Enlightened ducal patronage attracted many of the leading writers and thinkers in Germany, such as Goethe, Schiller and Herder, to Weimar in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, making it the cultural centre of the Europe of the day.

Weimar became the capital of the Duchy of Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach in 1572. For many years the painter Lucas Cranach the Elder worked in Weimar, where he died in 1553. This marked the start of a long period of growing cultural importance in which many painters, writers, poets, and philosopher lived in the city – Johann Sebastian Bach, Christoph Martin Wieland, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller, Franz Liszt, Henry van de Velde, and Walter Gropius.

You have probably heard of Weimar from the “Weimar Republic”, the name given to the German government between WWI and WWII. What you probably didn’t know is how this small city of 44,000 people played such an important part in German culture.

Weimar was the home to three of Germany’s greatest authors: Goethe, Schiller and Herder. Composers JS Bach and Franz List lived in Weimar for a time as did architect Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus School. Martin Luther preached here and reformation artist Lucas Cranach died here.

The above photo is of Goethe’s home in Weimar.

It is an amazingly remarkable city considering its size.

This was the sixth stop on my November 2011 Eurail trip of UNESCO sites in Europe

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Monday Travel Update – Holyhead, Wales

Posted by on November 28, 2011

Valle Crucis Abbey in Llangollen, Wales

Valle Crucis Abbey in Llangollen, Wales

The last week has been much less stressful than the previous week. I flew from Berlin to Liverpool where I stayed for three nights at the Hotel Indigo. I mostly spent my time catching up on work, enjoying the warm(er) weather and doing a bit of exploration of the waterfront area. I also got a tour of Anfield Stadium, the home of the Liverpool Football Club.

On Friday, I hopped on the train and headed to Wales for the first time as a guest of Visit Wales. I went canoeing on a 200 year old aquaduct and visited several of the castles built by Edward I during his conquest of Wales. Both the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the Edwardian castles are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I also paid a short visit to the train station with the longest place name in Europe: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. (no, I cannot pronounce it) (more…)

UNESCO World Heritage Site #160: Wartburg Castle

Posted by on November 27, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #160: Wartburg Castle

UNESCO World Heritage Site #160: Wartburg Castle

From the World heritage inscription:

The Castle of Wartburg is an outstanding monument of the feudal period in central Europe. It is rich in cultural associations, most notably its role as the place of exile of Martin Luther, who composed his German translation of the New Testament there. It is also a powerful symbol of German integration and unity.

The legendary creation of the castle is attributed to Count Ludwig der Springer. The first steps in its construction were taken in 1067, and it became one of the key points in the early years of Ludovician sovereignty. This sovereignty grew more firmly established during the first half of the 12th century. Raised to the dignity of Landgraves, the Ludovicians supported the policies of the Stauffen emperors. The building of the palace in the second half of the 12th century illustrates their status as Princes of the Empire. In 1227 Heinrich Raspe IV, the brother of Ludwig IV, succeeded him and, espousing the pope’s cause, was appointed King of Germany on the initiative of Innocent IV. His death in 1247 ended the Ludovician dynasty.

Wartburg Castle seems to be a crossroad for much of German history. It was important in medieval German history as a fortification of the Ludovicians, it was where Martin Luther hid and translated the Bible into German, it was important in the 19th Century unification of Germany, and Wagner used it as the backdrop for his opera: Tannhäuser.

If you arrive in Eisenach by train, you will probably need to take a taxi to get to Wartburg Castle. It is less than a 10 minute trip, but it is located on the top of a small mountain and is a fair walk from the train station.

This was the fifth stop on my November 2011 Eurail trip of European UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site #159: Cologne Cathedral

Posted by on November 26, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Site #159: Cologne Cathedral

UNESCO World Heritage Site #159: Cologne Cathedral

From the World Heritage inscription:

Cologne Cathedral, constructed over more than six centuries, has an exceptional intrinsic value and contains artistic masterpieces. It is a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe.

Christians met for worship in a private house in Roman Cologne near the city wall. Following the Edict of Milan in 313, when Constantine proclaimed religious freedom, this building was enlarged as a church. Alongside it were an atrium, a baptistry and a dwelling-house, possibly for the bishop. This modest ensemble was extended and enlarged in the following centuries. This immense building, known by the 13th century as ‘the mother and master of all churches in Germany’, was consecrated in September 70.

Post-Second World War excavations, as well as contemporary documents, provide evidence of its form and decoration – a basilica, with a central nave flanked by two aisles and a large atrium in front of its western facade. A two-storeyed Chapel of the Palatinate, in the style of Charlemagne’s chapel in Aachen, was added to the south transept at the beginning of the 11th century, and later that century it was connected by two lofty arcades at the east end with the Collegiate Church of St Mary ad Gradus.

The Cologne Cathedral is one of the most iconic symbols in all of Germany and certainly the most well known important religious building in the country. It towers above the city of Cologne as one of the largest and most important gothic cathedrals ever built.

The moment you walk out of the Cologne Central Train Station you are immediately struck by the enormity of the cathedral staring at you. The fact that it is on a hill and the train station is situated below it only adds to the effect.

Thankfully, the cathedral escaped any serious damage in WWII. It has been in a state of almost constant renovation ever since.

The cathedral was originally built as a resting place for the remains of the three wise men who were stolen from the cathedral in Milan. Today, the city flag of Cologne has three crowns on it, representing the three wise men. The reliquary of their bones in the the back of the church behind the altar.

This was the fourth stop in my November 2011 Eurail trip of UNESCO sites in Europe.

View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Sour Toe Cocktail Club

Posted by on November 26, 2011


Drink it fast or drink it slow, your lips must touch the toe – Recited before entry into the club

I carry only a few things in my wallet: a credit card, my drivers license and some of my frequent flyer cards. There is one other thing I carry with me. Something that I’m extremely proud of and which puts me in an elite group of people, so small that less than 0.0005% of the world’s population can claim membership. (more…)