You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Germany’ tag.

I recently watched the movie A Little Princess (circa 1995), and was reminded that “all girls are princesses.”  I ended up thinking about where I would want to live if I was a princess.  My decision is based on my heritage: France—although I’m not sure I would want to live in a castle because that may get lonely.

My roommate, Alyson, a 21-year-old journalism student, recently came back from a trip to Germany and France.  She brought back photos of castles in both countries.  The architecture goes beyond the blueprint plan of the castle I envision living in, but I can’t deny how amazing it would be to live in one.

These pictures should convince you that France and Germany are places to visit, especially if you’re studying architecture, history, design, etc., or if you’re like me and dream about being royalty!

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg (circa 12th century)

Located in the Alsace region of France, this castle sits an impressive 757 meters above the Alsace plain.  Looking out from the castle you can see the surrounding countryside: the Vosges mountains, the Black Forest, and on a clear day, the Alps.  Tours are offered daily, and you can hang out in the castle’s dining rooms, weapons rooms, chapel, and so much more.  Eight centuries of history have been witnessed by this castle, you shouldn’t miss out on this.

View from the castle's keep

Neuschwanstein (circa 1868)

Neuschwanstein Castle is situated near Schwangau and Füssen in the Allgäu (Southeastern Germany near Austria). The path to the castle starts in the village of Hohenschwangau, and this is also your last opportunity to park.  The castle is relatively new, but it is one of the most popular landmarks in Europe (1.3 million visitors each year).  After the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, the castle was opened to the public and now does daily tours.  In this castle, no photography is allowed inside, but the modern architecture outside is still worth your camera’s lens.

View from the path leading up to the castle

A common rumor about Europe is that Europeans hate Americans for, well, being American. But how true is this rumor? I myself have heard it on several occasions, and I’ve witnessed it firsthand during my travels to France. As far as I could tell, after being in France for a week, the French did not particularly like American tourists, at least not the ones that refused to attempt the French language.

My good friend Alasdair, a Natural resources major at the University of Connecticut, filled me in on what he thought.  He spent almost a year studying in Germany, and had some surprising things to say about the rumor. According to him, Europeans that he met were indifferent to the fact that he and his friends were American. He said that he didn’t notice any outright hostility from the citizens of Germany. He mused about the possible reasoning, “I feel that after Obama was elected, most Europeans sort of had a renewed faith in Americans.” His girlfriend Amanda accompanied him on his trip to Germany, and together they had some interesting experiences.

“While Amanda and I were in Brugge, Belgium, we were in a grocery store purchasing provisions when a little old lady overheard us speaking English. We got to talking and we asked her some good local places to see and do in town. She got so excited she invited us back to her house around the corner and was telling everyone in the streets ‘I’m with Americans.’ She was so adorable and excited to be hosting Americans. At her house, she helped us plan the rest of our Valentine’s weekend, treated us to a glass of wine in her finest crystal, and let us meet her adorable dog. She also gave us a teddy bear because it was Valentine’s Day.”

Since I know Alasdair to be very well mannered and educated, I couldn’t imagine that he would encounter a European that disliked him. And after reading his responses, I concluded that any hostility directed toward Americans was due to their actions, and not their nationality. “I came across a few more stereotypical Americans once in a jazz cave. They were pretty drunk and trying to bust their way on to the stage. I guess because it was a pretty loose jam, they thought it was open mic night or something. Everyone there got pretty upset about it and they were obviously American (baseball hats, jeans, etc.).”

Maybe it’s just Germany that contradicts the rumor, but either way, this rumor has a lot less truth to it than it’s given credit for.  When studying abroad, it’s even easier to make a fool of yourself as it is in America.  Be aware of the customs and the culture, and you’ll be just fine.

The magical and crazy world of Tim Burton’s newest film, “Alice in Wonderland,” was almost entirely computer-generated. Everything from the giant vegetation to the Red Queen’s castle exists only on top of a green screen. Yet there are a number of very real places that would have functioned well as the backdrop of an imaginary world like Wonderland. I chose a few of the most whimsical buildings that you can visit—without falling down a rabbit hole:

Photo courtesy of the "Works of Antoni Gaudi" sector of the World Heritage Collection

1. Pargue Guell. Any list of fanciful buildings would be incomplete without Antoni Gaudi, who built this site in 1914. A winding wall covered with colorful, recycled mosaic tiles surrounds his public park in Barcelona, Spain. The playful nature of the space is accentuated by the tiled dragon that greets visitors at the entrance of the park, as well as by the caretaker’s lodge, which resembles a gingerbread house.

2. St. Basil’s Cathedral. With its Candyland-inspired “onion domes” and central location in Moscow’s Red Square, this building is as much a symbol of Russia as the Eiffel Tower is of France. Legend has it that after Ivan the Terrible commissioned the Cathedral in the 16th century, he blinded its architect so that another equally beautiful structure could not be built elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of the Hundertwasser Non Profit Foundation

3. The Crooked House. Created by Szotynscy Zalesk in 2003, and inspired by a series of fairytale illustrations, this sagging “house” actually contains a number of restaurants and shops. It is located in Sopot, Poland, and has become the most photographed building in the entire country.

4. The Forest Spiral. This curving apartment complex is located in Darmstadt, Germany and was built by Austrian Friedensreich Hundertwasser in 2000. According to the author of the Armchair Travelogue blog, all 105 of the apartment units are accessible by a series of spiraling ramps, instead of stairs or elevators. Its façade is not only made up of eye-catching bands of color, but also features a garden of various trees on its “green roof.”

Read the rest of this entry »