The European Alps, that tiny slice of Central Europe where Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Italy, and Slovenia meet up, is arguably the most picturesque landmass on the continent. Snow-capped peaks tower over rolling pastures that, in turn, back up to peaceful villages with thatched-roof houses and wooden bridges over mountain-fed streams that flow into green sub-alpine lakes. In the summer, mornings are cool, afternoons are sunny, and evenings are lazy. In the winter, lakes freeze over, snow drifts pile up against farm tractors, and ski runs open for business!
There are dozens of charming towns and villages competing for your hard-earned tourist dollars. If you can manage to leave busy Switzerland, Germany, and Austria for quieter, less expensive Slovenia, you may find that Lake Bled, a lake and town that you may have never heard of before reading this post, offers as much bang for your buck as Zermatt, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and Innsbruck.
Continue reading “Photo Locale of the Month – September 2017”
This past November 9th marked 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. That historic day in 1989 saw the reunification of a divided country following three decades of Cold War hostilities. The transition wasn’t perfect, but it was a non-violent and triumphant event for a small corner of Europe that, throughout much of the 20th century, had seen (and often instigated) more than its fair share of violent, non-triumphant happenings.
I was a freshman in high school when the Wall came down. My German I class was the last of the day, if I remember correctly, and although it was my favorite class, I nevertheless was an ADHD-addled teenager without much interest in actually learning. My German teacher, Frau Francik, entered the classroom, beaming, and said that something very important had happened. She spent the entire hour explaining the history leading up to the day’s monumental event. She shared her memories of leading a class trip to Germany and crossing Checkpoint Charlie, the designated border crossing for Americans between East and West Berlin. We were impressed and not a little bit scared.
It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that our class had the opportunity to visit Germany over Spring Break. Frau Francik decided to focus on just Bavaria this time around, saving a still-in-transition Berlin for another time perhaps. Alas, I didn’t have the money to go, but I promised myself that one day, I would make it to Germany.
It was a promise I kept…many times over.
Continue reading “Germany: A Love Affair”