Monday, May 31, 2004

Then I wandered by into Berlin for a few days. Went to the Bannat Sporting Goods store just off the Kurfurstendamn (or the Ku’damn as the locals call it), the big shopping drag in Berlin.


The Bannat is arguably one of the best sporting goods stores in the world and the only one I know of that has a wide selection of size 16 hiking boots (although I need only size 13s).

View on the Ku’damn

I also wandered by the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin, which features a lot of exhibits from the glory days of archeology when if you saw something you liked in some foreign country—a huge statue, a fortress wall, a whole building, or whatever—you just carted it home and put it in your museum.
For example:

Here is part of the Mshatta Palace built it Turkey c. 740 A.D. It was disassembled rock by rock, moved here to the Pergamonmuseum, and reassembled.
 Or how about this:

You will probably remember this as Ishtar’s Gate from Babylon, in what is now Iraq, 6th century B.C. Moved here piece by piece and reassembled.

Or this:

The interior of a merchant’s house from the Syrian city of Aleppo, 16th century A.D. No word on where the merchant moved to.

Or this:

Stone statues from Assyria, 12th century, BC

And finally:

Turkish carpets, 15th A.D. Suspiciously like the carpets I just recently bought in India.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

I can’t leave Germany without mentioning Munich. From the train station I walked down to Odeonsplatz (a square) where in 1923 the young Adolf Hitler staged the notorious Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler and his Nazi comrades marched down Residenzstrasse . . .

Residenzstrasse (Resident Street)

to the Feldhernhalle, a building fronting on the Odeonsplatz. Here the police opened fire on the marchers. Hitler was arrested and sent to prison, where he wrote Mein Kampf. The rest is history. Now on Odeonsplatz there is a San Francisco Coffee Company coffee bar so you can have a latte while pondering these historical events.

Residenzstrasse, where it debouches onto Odeonsplatz. The Feldhernhalle is on the right. This is where the police opened fire on Hitler and the nascent Nazis.

Friday, May 28, 2004

I am now in Marburg, Germany, an hour north of Frankfurt by train. Marburg's original claim to fame was the Church of St. Elizabeth, the first, or according to some sources second, purely Gothic Church built in Germany. Dating from the 12th century, it was built around the grave of St. Elizabeth, a Hungarian princess who devoted herself to serving poor people after her husband, Ludwig IV, died. She herself died at the age of 24. Instrumental in her canonization was the notorious Conrad of Marburg. See more about St. Elizabeth.

The Church of St. Elizabeth

Later the Teutonic Knights took it upon themselves to protect the Church of St. Elizabeth, which had turned into one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Europe. The Teutonic Knights headquartered themselves in the Landsgrafenschloss, an imposing pile which looms above the town.

The Landsgrafenschloss

Later Marburg became the site of the first Protestant university, and it remains a university town to this day, boasting of over 15,000 students in what is essentially a small town. Numerous luminaries taught, studied, or hung out here, including Alfred Wegener, who you will remember developed the theory of continental drift, the immensely overrated existentialist philosopher Martin (Being and Time, etc.) Heidegger, and the Brothers Grimm. Great Wi-Fi for free in the my hotel . . . even better than the Best Western in the beloved Alleghenies . . .

Sunday, May 23, 2004

We are fair and balanced here: another niece, Little Al, next in line for the title of Lady Guinivere.

By popular demand, my niece Tinkerbelle