Trip 2017 Photo Round-Up

Because I am not quite ready to let go of summer and remembering our fun trip, here are some snapshots that didn’t make it into another blog post.

Church on left is where Dietrich Bonhoeffer was minister in Berlin. The house on the right is a vertical garden, also in Berlin.

Two interesting/strange art pieces at the König Galerie in Berlin. But free.

Leipzig. Making the city crest out of bottle caps, salsa in the streets, and a monument to Luther.

A relaxing Sunday in Mauer Park in Berlin.

Little Niki de Saint Phalle Nanas for sale

Niki de Saint Phalle Nanas

Dubuffet sculptures outside the Rijksmuseum.

Dubuffet Amsterdam

Our friend’s dogs waiting outside the chocolate shop in Delft.

Dogs Delft

And bikes. How can I resist taking pictures of bikes.

Until next time, good-bye Europe!

Next week, back to the regularly-scheduled Claremontography. Thanks for reading about our trip!



Bridge Amsterdam

Our vacation ended with a few days in Amsterdam where the forecast predicted lots and lots of rain, but we ended up with only a little. The last time we were in Holland was during a record-breaking heat wave, so we were happy to wear jackets this time.

During our wanderings, we noticed many buildings which appeared to be falling over. Since Amsterdam is built on land reclaimed from the sea, the foundations are not rock solid, but the engineers have kept the buildings still standing these many years.


Despite the wind, we decided to take an open-air canal boat tour, and actually, when below street level, the wind was unnoticeable. Besides, there were only nine people on our tour and we had no windows to obstruct our views as these cruisers did.IMG_6937

Many canals look the same, but the bridges have greater variety. The bridge on the top right was in the James Bond film, Diamonds are Forever. The bridge on the lower left was inspired by a bridge in Paris, and the three X’s on the bridge below the James Bond bridge are on Amsterdam’s flag, signifying what? Read here to find out. Our guide told us they are for three perils: floods, fires, and the Black Death. Who knows?


We got a close-up look at some of the thousands of houseboats.


Not all buildings are old, historic charmers. Some buildings are quite modern.

I would still like to go to Holland during tulip season. That will have to be a sabbatical trip since it’s during the school year in Claremont.


A Perfect Day in Delft

Delft BikeOur entire trip was so relaxing and fun, but I think we both agreed that the day we rode bikes in and around Delft, Holland, was our favorite day. I don’t know if it was because it was so much fun to ride bikes on flat paths, if it was the nice weather, if it was the beauty of the landscape, or being with our friend that made it the best, but it was certainly a high point on our vacation.

The day started with heading to the train station to pick up rental bikes. These are the fun one-speed bikes where you brake by pedaling backwards, just like I did when I was a kid.

Under the train station is a huge bike parking lot for commuters. This is just a small part of it.

First stop was a five minute ride away to stop for coffee and pastries at a little French cafe.

Then we rode out into the countryside outside of the city.

All that biking made us a little tired, so we stopped to look at the modern view of this Vermeer painting, View of Delft. It looks a little different now than it did in his day.

Delft view Vermeer

This view happens to be close to a great place to get a cold drink.

Delft Drinks

We were told we were only halfway done with our tour, so we headed off again seeing some cute little churches in the country.

Delft Chuch

By this time we needed lunch, so we had some sandwiches in this lovely place that looks like a greenhouse.

Delft Restaurant

The last push of our ride took us to the cheese shop and fresh vegetable shop for dinner ingredients.

Delft Cheese Shop

If I lived in Delft, I could easily have a blog with a photo a day because there is endless inspiration for pictures. Delftography?

Art Museums: Hannover, The Hague, Amsterdam

Spoiler Alert: After leaving Germany, we headed to Holland (Delft and Amsterdam).

We weren’t very excited about going to very many museums on this trip, but we did manage to enjoy three modern art museums.

Sprengel Sculptures

In Hannover, the museums are free on Fridays, and it turned out that the Friday we were there was a rainy day, perfect for indoor activity. Niki de Saint Phalle (creator of the Nanas along the river) embraced Hannover and had become an honorary citizen. The Sprengel Museum not only contains a a number of her works, but the special exhibit showcased some of her many letters. These letters are contain many small drawings, and this was our favorite part of the museum.

I’m always happy to see a Caulder mobile, and the Sprengel has two.

Our rainy day in Delft took us on the tram to the Hague (not far) to the Gemeentemuseum which has quite a bit of Mondrian’s art. First of all, I always thought he was French, but before he changed the spelling of his name, it was Mondriaan. Second of all, he painted quite a lot of traditional landscapes and still lifes as well as his more-famous black and white rectangles with primary colors.

The exhibit ends with his final work which was left unfinished, even after two years of work. It’s called Victory Boogie Woogie.

Looking closely at it, you see all the electrical tape which was used to make the rectangles. That’s one of the reasons it’s better to see art in person.

It was supposed to rain in Amsterdam during our entire visit, but it didn’t. We went to an art museum anyway. (Our friends may disown us, but we’ve been to Amsterdam twice and have not been inside the Rijksmuseum.) I saw this ad in various parts of the city and knew I wanted to go to Moco.

Amsterdam Moco Poster

Amsterdam Moco

Moco in Amsterdam is near the Rijksmuseum

Although, I wondered. If Bansky is a street artist, how is it that his art in a museum? Turns out that Bansky has also created works on canvas. If you have not seen the movie Exit Through the Gift Shop, I recommend it, especially if you are interested in street art (as my readers have figured out that I am).

Not all of the art in the exhibit is on canvas. Some was chipped out from buildings and walls.

Niedersachen Adventure: Bremen

Another German folk tale, another Niedersachen Ticket. Bremen, at the north end of Niedersachsen, beckoned. We heeded the call and bought another Niedersachsen ticket for two. We wore our rain jackets and took umbrellas, and while it did rain on us for a little bit when we arrived, we mostly had to contend with gray skies.

I didn’t remember much about The Bremen Town Musicians, the Grimm Brothers story, but this website refreshed my memory. The city has one famous statue, which legend has it that if you hold the donkey’s legs, your wish will come true. It actually seems to me that tourists think if you have your picture taken with the statue, that might happen. I snuck in a quick shot without additional characters.

Bremen Town Musicians

Then there is this more modern, and colorful, take on the animals.

Bremen Town Musicians Statue

Walking into the town from the station, I felt as though this was Germany, but perhaps with some Dutch or Danish flavor. Nice. Here’s the town square with a Town Hall and Big Church, and Germany’s largest statue of Roland.

Someone had put a chair on this horse statue, as well as Neptune in his more modern fountain.

I rather liked the fountain.

Right off the main square is the quaintest little shopping street called the Bottcherstrasse which was conceived by the decaf (!) coffee magnate, Ludwig Roselius. The short street is almost like its own museum of expressionist art. We avoided the rain for a bit in a restaurant here which served some delicious potato soup (and decaf cappuccinos!).

Moving back in time to the oldest preserved quarter of the city, it was just another charming place to walk in the Schnoor district.

Here in the very north of Germany, people spoke (or still speak?) Low German or Plattdeutsch which is the language of my ancestors. We saw this in a window and tried to figure out how much of it we could read. Some of it.

Platt Duutsche

Niedersachen Ticket Adventures


Lower Saxony is on the train

In each German Bundestadt (like a state in the US), one or more people can travel on any public transit for a day with a special ticket. Hannover is the capital city of Lower Saxony, or Niedersachsen. One person can purchase a Niedersachsen ticket for 23 euros and each additional person (up to 4) can ride along for only 4 additional euros. You can substitute one (and only one) dog for one person, but all of these riders must stick together. These days you can buy these tickets on your smartphone, and the conductor can scan one qr code for the group. Too bad we only had the two of us. But, oh, well.


You may remember the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Hameln Rat SidewalkThe town has a rat problem, the man with the flute (and hat and costume) comes along and arranges a deal to get rid of the rats for a fee. He does, but the town reneges on payment, and then the children disappear. Apparently this is based on a true story where all but three of the town’s children disappear and are never found. In any case, the town is crazy for rats.

You can see it in the paving stones, in the trinket shops, on the walls, in the statues – it’s rats or the piper, in various forms.

Several times a day the glockenspiel plays some tunes, and a few of those times there’s a little show with figures who come out of the building. Here are some photos, but you can see a youtube video of the show here.

It’s a cute German town with lovely decorations and half-timbered houses and worthy of a day-trip.


A look at the map showed us that we could hit up another adorable town, Hildesheim, sort of on the way back to our Hannover AirBnB. Why not?

Hildesheim Square

If Hameln is crazy for rats, then Hildesheim is crazy for roses. Apparently there is a 1,000-year-old rosebush, but you have to pay to go into some little museum to see it, so we just enjoyed walking the town.

Since this was towards the end of the day, we didn’t pay much attention to which church was which, or the special significance of anything, but we really loved the feel of the town, and I would be happy to return one day.

Before taking the train back home, we had some of the very best apple torte ever, but we ate it way too fast to remember to take a photo. Another reason to return.



Hannover: The Red Thread and Then Some

Hannover Rathaus MaschteichHannover (Hanover in English) Germany is not much of a tourist destination. When telling a German friend we were headed there, she wondered why forever for would you ever go There? Well, you go there because other friends who go there every summer have plenty to recommend it, the Budget Traveler had a lot of good things to say, and the city sits in prime territory for some great day trips. Plus, Hannover is supposed to be the place where the purest High German is spoken (and the AirBnBs are pretty cheap).

The first thing to do is get an English copy of The Red Thread, a little guidebook to accompany your walk through the highlights of the old city while following a red stripe on the ground.

Hannover Red Thread

In no particular order, here are some of the highlights of the tour. These three statues are some of Niki de Saint Phalle’s Nanas. We first learned about this artist by her angel in the Zürich Hauptbahnhof, and we have been a fan of hers ever since. These three Nanas are named (l to r): Sophie, Charlotte and Caroline.

This archer points straight to the Rathaus (city hall), and it’s worth a stop inside, even if you don’t go up to the top. The main foyer has four models of Hannover through the ages, from the Middle Ages, Before WWII, after the bombing and present-day Hannover.

Hannover Rathaus

Click on each individual picture for a larger view. The bombed Hannover on the right is especially thought-provoking.

The Aegidienkirche was a medieval church, bombed during the war, and left standing as a memorial.

The Leibniz House stands in a lovely neighborhood of half-timbered houses, not really seen anywhere else in the city. Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician, and though his residence was bombed in the war, it was rebuilt and now serves to house visiting professors.

We always look for the Markthalle in a town – a collection of international food booths with reasonable prices, and Hannover’s did not disappoint. Here in the Belly of the City we enjoyed a heaping plate of curry over rice for 4 euros that kept us going for the rest of the day.

Hannover Markthalle

Like many European cities, Hannover has a lot of public sculptures, and here are some.

Also like most European cities, many modern buildings punctuate the skylines. We thought this building quite interesting.

Hannover modern building

We didn’t let the rainy days deter us from enjoying our stay in Hannover.

Hannover rain umbrellas