Munich Germany and Dachau

The two hour train ride from Salzburg to Munich was scenic with the snow covered the landscape. I looked out the window while eating my lunch made by my kind host Jasmine, at the Sishaus-View at Mozarts. A lady across from me plugged in her tea kettle and made a cup.

Munich is the capital of Bavaria, in the southern part of Germany. It’s history is extensive. To know all of it could take a good part of a lifetime to study. You have the occupation of the Romans, the settlement of monks, Charlemagne as the 1st Holy Roman Emperor, various familial dynasties such as the Hapsburg’s, Kings such as the Ludwig’s and the Maximilian’s, and Chancellors such as Bismarck, Schleicher, and Hitler to choose from in your studies. The cultural studies of art, sociology, language and religion influenced by these rulers and others, for example Martin Luther, is another facet. The sources seem endless.
Within a short walk from the train station, Wombats hostel in Munich was the perfect place to stay. The staff was friendly. The rooms circled around an atrium, where socializing took place, but quieted down after 10 pm.

After making my bed, I ventured out into the night in search of the Tollwood Winter Festival. It was located in Thereienwiese, home of the Oktoberfest in Munich since 1810, and next to a U-Bahn stop
with the same name. There were bright lights, tents with various displays, and so many people enjoying the night with good food and drink. After a short walk around I hopped on the train and headed to Marienplatz to see the market and find dinner. A trip to Munich would not be complete without a meal in a biergarten (beer garden.) These originated in Munich. They are festive places, for good beer, food and company.

Once back in the room for the night I befriended an Australian who happened to also be Russian, after assisting him with the use of the locker;having just learned how to lock and unlock it myself. After comparing stories of life and travel, we decided to go to Dachau concentration camp the next morning.

Sergei and I boarded the train for a short ride to Dachau. After assuming we had another stop, we missed the correct station, but picked up the next train to head south again, with the help of a young business man who overheard us talking about the mishap. Sergei was excited to see a MacDonald’s at the station as we arrived back to our station. He educated me on the Australian term for the fast food restaurant; Maccas.

In 1933 Hendrich Himmler, a Nazi in charge of the SS and the death camps, opened Dachau in 1933, after Hitler came to power. Dachau was a camp for political prisoners, Jews, Romas, Gays, and communists. According to the visitor site, out of the 200,000 housed their between 1933, and 1945, 41,500 were killed. Prisoners were forced to work in the factory in town. They were housed in closed quarters. In 1965 Dachau was opened as a memorial to remind people of the atrocities that took place. The SS used this place as a training ground. Their building is used by Munich’s swat team today. As we walked around on this cold December day the grounds were covered in a blanket of fresh snow. The snow added to the somber feel of the place. Today one barrack still exists to show where the prisoners lived. Only the foundations of the multitude of others still remain. At the far end of the memorial there is a Jewish Synagogue, a Catholic Chapel, a protestant chapel, and a Russian Orthodox chapel. As you continue on past the chapels you come across the crematorium and the equally horrifying gas chamber. A smell of disinfectant permeated from the walls as I walked through the chamber. The train used to stop at the entrance of the camp, but only a cold slab portion of the platform remains, and the track no longer has a connection.
There are various tours out there, which I am sure are informative, but we elected for the free tour on our own. The German people could have built over this ground, but they chose instead to memorialize it so this blatant disregard for human beings, based on religion, race, sexual orientation or political beliefs, could not be forgotten.

That evening we made our way to Marienplatz to see the Christmas market,the Neue Rathaus (New Town Hall), and to have dinner in the biergarten. As the market was closing we made our way back to the room for a good night sleep. I would head home in the morning and Sergei would make his way around Europe for Christmas and New Years.

The next morning we met up with Sergei’s travel companion for breakfast at the train station before saying our goodbyes.

Salzburg Austria

I left Nuremberg and headed to Salzburg on a bus. For the last couple of vacations I have used The app is efficient, the fares are cheap, the bus is comfortable and it is clean. It is one of the best modes of transportation I have used other than driving myself.

After arriving to my stop on the edge of the city, I picked up a local bus to my accommodation. The Sishaus-View at Mozarts is a guesthouse/Airbnb/Hostel rolled into one. The host was delightful. If you do not have breakfast, Jasmin, the owner, will leave a packed lunch in the refrigerator, outside of the room. I took mine on my train the next day. She rents a couple of floors in a beautiful building where Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, of the Doppler effect, was born. I almost always use to make my reservations, because of the free cancellations, the reviews they offer, as well as the opportunity to pay at the time of my stay. http://www.airbnb is also very convenient. Just type in the Sishaus-View at Mozarts at 1 Makartplatz, Altstadt, 5020 Salzburg, Austria, and Jasmin will make your stay delightful. It is just across the street from the State theatre, and the Mirabell Gardens.

Salzburg is a beautiful city no matter what time of the year. It is the birthplace of Mozart, the backdrop to “The Sound of Music,” and a perfect example of Baroque architecture at it’s best. I decided to go back for a visit, after having been there in 2013 during a flood. Fortunately because of the rising water of the river, after 10 inches of rain that weekend, we stayed just outside of town in the real Von Trapp House, that is now a B&B. You can find it on
Christmas in Salzburg is a treat. Snow blanketed the ground. The views along the river were picture perfect.

The Hohensalzburg Fortress is perched above the small city, and the views from there are a sight to behold. Tickets can be bought prior to arrival, or the same day. I took the funicular, a cable car to the top, but you can also walk up. The castle/fortress dates back to 1077. It is a must see, not only for the views, but for the fortress itself. The preservation of it is astounding. At the end of my tour there was a small museum of puppets. Austria, and Germany are known for these shows of the past, when children could enjoy a little show of folk music, costumes of the period and whimsical stories passed down through the years.

The Christmas market is throughout the city centre, with stalls full of gifts to be bought, as well as something for yourself. http://www.sternadventat Shops are decorated for Christmas as well.

Mozart was born in 1757, and would live in Salzburg, his birthplace, for half of his short life. Though he is one of my favorite composers, I did not have time to visit his home in this city. This will be on the list next time.

A stay in Austria is not complete without a Wienerschnitzel. I sat down to a nice meal and a hot tea across the street from Sishaus, in a café inside of a grand hotel. I will be back to this quaint little city; that is a promise I made to myself.

Check out the gallery for more wonderful pictures of this enchanted place.

A Mournful Memory of Notre Dame

I remember stepping into Notre Dame feeling complete awe. It was 2016, and I was there for vespers. There was a chill in the air from the light rain that evening. Despite being vast in size, I felt a comfortable warmth about it. Now I wish I had walked in there the other two times while in Paris. The lines were long and there was so much to see elsewhere. Tonight as with most who love Paris, I am sadden by the devastation of such a beautiful, historic, iconic place. My heart goes out to the people of France, and to the firefighter’s who fought the fire. As a firefighter I know what it takes to be ready for such a task, but this was I am sure, truly daunting. We will all mourn the loss.

Nuremberg Germany

After a short plane ride from London I landed in Nuremberg. The first thing on my agenda was to buy a Nuremberg card that would give me access to public transportation for the next two days as well as entrance to the museums throughout the city of Nuremberg and the neighboring town Furth.

My stay was in what was once the stables of the Imperial castle, but is now a grand hostel; the Jugendherberge Nurnberg. After a ride from the train station on a tram I walked toward the castle. A concrete bridge now takes the place a draw bridge, crossing over what once was a mote, surrounding the castle as motes do. I shared a comfortable room with two others overlooking the street that led to the Christmas market. The hostel accommodated families, kids traveling with schools, and single travelers, such as myself. After leaving my baggage with the place, until my room would be ready, I made my way over the museum of the castle. The view alone from the castle was amazing. The Imperial castle is rich in History. The city takes you back in time to medieval days seen through architecture.

The Christmas market, Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt, dates back to the 1600’s. The market is situated in front of the gothic church, Frauenkirche; Church of Our Lady. A choir sang Christmas carols, in German and at times American. The cold 25 F did not deter the loads of people buying the wares vendors sold or the food that was plentiful. The Nuremberg market is famous for its blueberry mulled wine, gingerbread, sausages and potato cakes. The warm potato cakes with garlic sauce were especially delicious. I fell in love with the dark chocolate covered mandarin oranges on a stick.

I visited various museums the day after arriving. I happened upon a dollhouse museum. The dollhouses on display show what life was like during the time period in which they were made, through examples of the furniture, china, and other kitchen wares, as well as the construction of the dollhouse itself. The German National Museum surrounds what was once a monastery dating back to 1381. I especially enjoyed the history of hiking section of the museum.

A dark side of Nuremberg’s past relates to the time period of the Third Reich, and the Nazi Rallies. I did not visit the rally grounds, but I did go to the site of the Nuremberg trials, where those who committed the atrocities had their judgment before a court of law. The actual court is still an active courtroom so it could not be seen this day, but I did see the holocaust museum on the top floor. It was a fitting memorial of those who suffered under the regime of Hitler.

Two days is not enough time to see everything Nuremberg has to offer, but I made the most of my time there. I will definitely return some day. I do recommend free walking tours of any city in Europe. The guides are extremely knowledgeable. They work on tips, so at the end of the tour you give what you think they deserve. I have never had a bad tour. Sandemans has been my favorite group.

Last Day in London

My last day in London started with a walk to Selfridges Department Store. The department store was founded in 1908 by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The multilevel department store, taking up a city block on Oxford Street in London, was a marvel to behold when it first opened, and still is over 100 years later. People of London could walk in and socialize, as well as see the goods right before them instead of ordering from a catalog.
The windows, as well as the displays on the floor, were all designed around the concept of Santa and his rock and roll Christmas. All the name brand goods are represented there, for example: Prada, Versace, and Gucci, to name a few, as well as more reasonably prices items.

After leaving Selfridges I continued to walk around Oxford Street, coming upon a free exhibit on Bob Dylan. I had a chance to see bob Dylan in 1988 at the University of Virginia. Having always been a fan of his music, I thought I would take a look at the exhibit I already knew him to be a great poet, but he is also an artist of a different nature. He had made sketches to go with his songs; written in his own handwriting. They were framed throughout the various rooms. He is also a painter and a sculptor.

I walked on to the West End for lunch and a matinee of the 66 year running of “The Mousetrap,” by Agatha Christie, in St Martin’s theatre. The show is worth a see, and did not disappoint.

After the show I went back to Palmer’s Lodge Swiss Cottage to pick up my luggage before heading to a hotel next to London Stansted Airport, for an early flight the next morning to Nuremberg Germany. My stay at Palmer’s was relaxing and cheap; saving money for great food, shows and more.
December in London was truly a treat.
As I leave London for now, I share one of my favorite pictures of London. It is across from St James Park, in the evening from a trip in 2017. I will revisit London in the future on this site; sharing past and future trips there.


My friend Janie, who graduated from Oxford, suggested I visit the University’s Bodleian Library to do research for my book. I went online and found I could apply for a library card that would be good for week; if only I had that much time. I boarded a train at Paddington in the morning for a little over an hour ride to Oxford. The main Library was a short walk, and would be where I would have to present why I wanted to do research there. The history faculty’s library located in Radcliffe Camera, was also accessible, which was really exciting to me.
Oxford University was founded in 1200 and boosts having the world’s largest academic library according to a guide book I found while walking up High St at the end of the day. For hundreds of years after being founded colleges would be added to the University. As of today there are 38, as well as an online component. If you get nothing else a out of this post, maybe you can enjoy the architecture of the University. As I walked around I wished I could have attended there. Maybe I will take an online class one day or a seminar one summer.

I took a break from research to eat lunch across from Radcliffe Camera at St Mary’s Church café. The food was warm and delicious.é

After seven hours of research in the libraries I made my way toward the train station for a night ride back to the city, vowing to myself to visit again when the weather was warmer. Spring in Oxford might just be a good idea.