Monthly Archives: July 2014

The First concentration camp in Germany. …And a music festival!

Himmler himself began the Camp of Dachau. Built to house 6000 by 42 32,000 were somehow living inside the electrified fences.
I suppose it’s not possible to enjoy your visit to a concentration camp but despite being crammed onto a bus with as many other tourists as possible on the journey to the camp the camp itself was much less touristy (somehow it was possible..) than Auschwitz. Guests are free to wander the ground with an audio guide, I signed up for the english tour and was led through the camp by a german tour guide who related the place’s bleak history.

I almost took pictures here, I don’t know if the reason I didn’t was some sad feeling of superiority over the mass of people with canons hanging from their necks or if, like I tell myself it just doesn’t seem right to or even possible to document ones journey through such a place. I did witness a someone taking a picture which has me thoroughly confused but I’ll leave that until last.

We heard all the sad stories here; also we heard a few inspiring ones.
There was a man imprisoned in the camp from Luxembourg for refusing to fight in the German army. Deciding to fight would mean his release but for four years (until liberation) he refused to fight against people that were not his enemies.
There was also a duke (heir to the Austrian throne, I think), given the most demeaning job the SS could think of: cleaning the camp outhouses. He continued his work and retained his dignity inspiring his fellow camp prisoners to not lose hope.
Besides being the first camp Dachau was the camp that all priests were sent to. What faith made no difference, (although the pope paid for better treatment of the bishops? Doesn’t seem very Christian to me) the only thing that mattered was if you somehow pissed off a nazi (not really a hard thing to do).
In reality they were treated the same as the other prisoners and forced to build the camps new crematorium ( the first model becoming to small a short time after it’s construction.)

At the end of the tour our guide gave us the option of walking through the never used gas chamber and the much used crematorium. The thought of walking through that building was so repulsive I almost decided to wait outside. Then I asked myself: how can I refuse to look at this building? Every evil commuted in Dachau led to these rooms and it’s not right to just… Not go in. To not acknowledge what this is, where I am. After traveling through Germany and experiencing the way Germans accept and convey their history, remorseful yet facing it.
It was only some rooms. These are only buildings. But, if you look there is much more that can be seen.

This is not the right time to position yourself in front of the ovens and, albeit unsmiling, take a selfie.

I can’t understand what you would need that photo for. To remember thy you were there? Would you forget? To prove to your friends/family that you were there? Because the lighting was perfect?
Lucky for this chick I’m working on a “love all others” philosophy directed at strangers to try and improve my sarcastic and judgmental ways. Let you guys know how that works out.

Next up i headed into Munich to check into The Tent. as cool as it sounds. it’s like an entire summer camp campground squashed into one field. I had the best luck with the first person i talked to; the sweetest and self assured young traveler from Massachusetts. Turns out we both wear Birkenstocks, like yoga and hippie slanted music festivals. I’ve realized that somehow the world just puts things in exactly the right place sometimes (like hippie pants with elephant pattern and pockets) and its kind of freaky. oh yes, the love of chocolate a very important trait in a new friend.

We went to Tollwood, a free festival that was happening in olympic park.

20140725-140454-50694659.jpg As a vegetarian i’m revelling in Germany’s Bio craze. There were places with an equal amount of meat-free menu options! not to mention organic ice cream. We drank the organic beer which, okay, was a bit dissapointiong, while listening to the Beatniks. Imagine three guys, a sound thats a mix between arctic monkeys, the black keys and daft punk. imagine your joy when they say they’re going to add some disco and play their hit song “the guy in the pornographic T-shirt”. You don’t need to imagine any other words because thats the entire song right there.
People dancing barefoot, drinking beer, the sound of some kind of electric swing emanating from the giant concert tent providing a base line over every second of quiet. The topper: Apfel Kuhen. Literally deep-fried apple with cinnamon sugar topping. Bonus: it’s fruit so it’s healthy right?


A Medieval morning and other outings

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Note the historic importance of the costumes of this most nobel order.
Also, so fluffy!

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I was completely impressed by the detailed costumes, the amount of costumes and the beautiful wooden steins many people had hanging from their belts. I searched but sadly only found a rustic version with birch wood still attached as a grip around the outside. Perhaps I can find a crafty carpenter in vancouver-there really aren’t enough steins in that city.
Myself and my hosts walked around with their grandchild Maxi (now Robies -thats me-biggest fan) He’s a definite cutie. Always knows what he wants. mostly thats playing with his tractor or eating chocolate rice pudding.

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Other exciting things include a campfire in our car park accompanied by my continued endeavours to not suck at guitar

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Also on a long walk to pfeffenhausen I discovered the grade school has the coolest half time toy

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Only ran into two awkward instances midway along the wall but man, it was so much fun. I’ve now added rock climbing to the things i want to start when i get home, I’m a chicken and was definitely concerned with the whole not being attached to the wall part of this expedition. it’s probably meant to be easier for children with tiny hands and feet. Damn you and your tiny apendages.
My other adventure was being invited along to a family birthday party. I got the privilege of sharing cake with Maxi and a group lesson on how to read a children’s book. Zeipt means when you pull on your hair while combing it. Rabe is raven. my language practice is obviously advancing at breakneck speed.


Goat milk smoothies every day

I now live with a women, her husband, 8 goats, 3 ducks and 2 lizards. We eat what we produce which, right now, means a lot of goat milk things, eggs and berries.

Currently helping out through workaway. I have my own room which I’ve thrown my stuff around in (very exciting being able to hang things up in the closet)

it’s a quiet little town with only a bank, a church and a kindergarden on the main st. the next town is 4km away and is home to the nearest train station Pfeffanhausen. one thing we have a lot of around here are crosses.

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maybe a medieval leftover? if not i’m lucky to be staying in one of the few religion free residences.

days around here are pretty quiet, after saying hello and brushing these guys in the morning theres a lot of time left for going for walks and playing guitar (Watch out scandinavia)

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On sunny days (5 so far!) all the local young folks hang out at the local swimming hole. and jump off this handy piece of abandoned farm equipment. I was pretty nervous setting up my lone towel at first along the row of cars booming club pop remixes and groups of friends but, well the water is free and it’s hot.

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Now, about the medieval fair..

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A few hours in Munich

>I didn’t really edit this; sorry if things hurt your eyes<
For most of july I'm picking berries and cleaning up after goats on a farm in Salgen. Farm life again. I have learned that goat milk is delicious and goat milk cheese is really easy to make.

I used A day off to hop on no less than three trains and head into Munich. It was a bit of a scramble but I made it to the city tour and got some culture and important sights seen like the astronomical clock. Dare I say, it could before entertaining than the one in Prague. (Prague clock is more pretty though)

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Blahblahblah:palace, church ect. old history in Germany is a mirage: most of the old buildings were restored (read: completely rebuilt) after the war.
A place we walked past that I found really interesting was the site of a nazi standoff with police. 14 Nazis were shot so, of course the nazis put up a memorial to the fallen “heroes” on the wall which all passersby were required to salute. The beautiful thing is so many Germans would evade saluting by cutting around and through an alley that the nazis put guards there to monitor if people went through the alley too often. The gold on the cobbles is munichs memorial to this sequence of events. >
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Hours walking around in the somewhat rainy city installed a great craving in me for a pretzel. I mean, I’ve been in cologne and berlin but neither of those cities felt like Pretzel cities, yes, it may have been watching people drink beer in the beer garden or just walking past all the wurst in the butchers windows or just realizing how attractive laderhosen can look on the right legs…anyway. A group of backpackers found our way to the most famous beer hall Hofbrauhaus for some beer. the smallest glass is .5 litre and thats only the weizen, alcohol free (hah!) or radler. 1 litre of beer it is. The two Aussies sitting in our group drank two..those australians, man.

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Also notice the classic german hipster to my right in the photo.


Singing in Salzburg

(Because sound of music, get it?)

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I swear I only broke out in song a couple times. Ok five. Whatever. The most awkward moment being outside the pavilion a middle aged guy asked where I was from and replied he was from Midwest u.s but not traveling he was on a mission. At which point my brain shouted “bolt” and I politely wandered away further into shloss (palace) helbrunn.

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In fact it wasn’t a prince who lived in the “palace”. It was a bishop with a very odd sense of humour. he belived in the healing benefits of water and created a sort of water-run theatre/park in the palace gardens. I can imagine it would be both exciting and terrifying to be invited for dinner at the palace. Drinking wine from a giant stone fountain outside sounds lovely…right?

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Bahahaha the bishop strikes again!
Our guide had a lot of tricks up his sleave as well so I figured it was a good time to stash my phone in my bag.

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My next venture involved taking a lift up to the modern art gallery which is perched on top of a cliff providing some great views over the city.

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there’s also modern art there. much of it documenting performance art pieces from the 60s. some pretty odd stuff, think of crazy boundary breaking artists. now make them naked, make sure paint is spilled over something add some self mutilation or kill an animal to complete the piece.
What next? climb a mountain. I could not get enough of the beautiful landscape around salzburg. Vienna was all about the city, in salzburg the buildings are more simple but the houses are built against the cliffs straddling the city and everywhere i looked i was greeted by the familiar sight of mountains in the distance. It only took me ten minutes to get to the top of Untersberg so i figured i should hike around up top, look at some flowers. the view was ok. only trouble with hiking it makes apparent the fact that although while backpacking I walk basically all day I seldom actually exercise… So it was a fun but depressing hike.

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Welcome to Bratislava

Why are you in Bratislava robin? Why the heck am I anywhere? Sometimes plans are made based on opportunity more than research or schedules.
Hop on the train in Vienna and in one hour you’re in a new city, new country. Why would I not go?

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I’m so glad that I did.

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Coming into Bratislava as usual, I basically had zero idea about what to see, where to go or what to expect. Well, it’s in Slovakia so I did expect cheap prices and unpronounceable strings letters in street names. No surprises there.
I was surprised by how welcoming the small centre feels. Old town is like a tiny Prague since unlike in the Czeck republic when the soviet government was in charge here most of the city was nocked down and repurposed to be more functional. Or whatever. So the prettiest buildings all live in an easily walkable cluster. The real charm here is that you can still walk around old town and see locals and alleyways empty except for the nightclub posters on the walls.

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Actually, it’s so relaxed that the only nightlife during the week is every students favourite bar- KC danaj and the local pubs showing the football matches. If you do some research there are a lot of music venues which look really cool

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But for most of those you have to be willing to sacrifice the three beers worth of money for the cover (3 euros in this case). The nightly mangy bar crawl my hostel went on was more interested in the beer money.

Daytime activities mean a walk up to the castle. Built somewhere around 900ad the fortress had a good run until some teenagers trying to smoke cigarettes burned half of it down. The partially demolished castle was rebuilt in 1950s. So it’s a new castle… With old foundations. I didn’t notice any no smoking signs around but I did find a man playing today’s popular hits on 4 instruments.

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On my last day I made time to head into this really cool cafe/bookshop situation I’d walk past. Everything about this joint made my day. Sometimes I wonder if I have a sixth sense for these places or maybe my nostrils are just wired to detect the slightest smell of pampered arabica beans.

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I mean, there was also the romantic sunset I spent with myself at Slav tower but I’m so accustomed to my romantic ways it’s barely out of the ordinary anymore

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More Vienna

School trips aside I was both over and underwhelmed by what vienna offered. for starters, although i stumbled across a beautiful ROA there was a suspicious lack of street art. As if Vienna is overfull of Renaissance paintings leaving limited breeding ground for young art. I did find a ROA though

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Other good stuff i did find was scattered across the walls on the shores of the danube in between and behind the bars and restaurants set up for summer.

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Vienna is the home of Klempts “the kiss” located in Belvedere palace amidst a fraction of viennas collection of 19th-20th century art.
it was too difficult to take pictures with all the security stalking about but I saw this and had to risk the reprimand

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a separate wander brought me past some vintage shops. I may have to accept that although old things re plentiful here so far the vintage prices have been a little bit outrageous. 27 dollars for a collard shirt? you must be kidding me. flea markets are an option. I mean, I could put that 27 towards a new chandelier or a lovely gramophone

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Or i could spend 8 euros on salty vegetables full of cheese, decide they’re gross and throw them in the trash then go to a classic coffee shop for lunch serenaded by classical piano tunes and expertly ignored by the equally classic indifferent waiters.

The closest things to a night out involved: a long journey to a very smokey room to catch the end of a jazz performance; an afternoon of buying 2 dollar cans of beer at the island festival and listening to endless covers of pop songs; meeting a few people outside the kebab stand at the metro, searching for the football and instead finding the outdoor movie screen playing a classic and wonderfully racist film.
never mind the chilly rain, the theatre gave out fashionable ponchos.

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