APRIL IN GERMANY

Photos from my April adventures!

Places you will see:

Münster (1st photo), then…

Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Paris

Schloss Nordkirchen, the Versailles of Münsterland

The Rhine Valley

Verona, Italy

The Teutoburg Forest with Steve Tatko

Sweden

I returned to Münster on Tuesday after four days in Sweden.  I was visiting my dad’s high school exchange student from the 70′s, who is now a forest real estate agent near Borås and a professional bird guide.  He gave me a tour of his small farm and we talked extensively about hunting (“Moose hunting,” he said, “Sweden is the place to do it!”).  On my first night, he fished around in his game freezer and brought out an (actual) Smörgåsbord of different animals he had harvested from his woods—roe deer, fallow deer, wild boar and, of course, moose.

Throughout the course of my four-day visit, we walked, talked and explored the woods and countryside around his house.  Southern Sweden looks like a strange cross between central Maine, with its low hills, small farms, stone walls, stubbly corn fields, and mixed, but mostly conifer, forests; Lincoln, MA, with its  beautiful, freshly painted farm houses and gravel driveways lined with new BMWs, VWs and Volvos; and eastern Germany, primarily because in the larger towns we passed through, many high-rise buildings had a pre-fabricated, government-funded look about them.  What I gathered is that, even though most people live out in the boonies, they enjoy an abnormally high standard of living.  This was, of course, apparent in the new cars that everyone had, but also in the tidiness of the farms that dotted the land, and in people’s attitudes.  Everyone I met was just nice.

If anything, my four days in Sweden were a wonderful retreat from city life—I really enjoyed being back out in the country.

Here are the photos I took, below:

The Fulbright Program turns 60!

I have just returned from a wild week in Berlin.  It was the 60th birthday of the Fulbright Program, and Fulbrighters from all over Europe traveled to the Park Inn Hotel on the Alexanderplatz to celebrate.  State officials were met, glasses of wine were drunken, and much networking was done.  And many new friends were met.  It was a wonderful week filled with wonderful people.  I don’t think I have ever met so many people in the same place who were both as smart and as different as the Fulbrighters who gathered in Berlin.  Throughout the course of the week, we heard presentations on a number of different research topics.  The variety was incredible.  From researching wool consumer habits in Norway, to 16th-century dramatic opera in Italy, to the interplay of climate change and human society, the Fulbrighters that shared their research astounded—one after another.  Here are some photos from the week:

Schalke 04, Göttingen, and Berlin!

I went to see a Schalke 04 game last night with my English friends Louis and Carl.  Watching top-class European soccer live is the modern Colosseum experience:

Tomorrow I travel to Göttingen—the birthplace of my life as an American Expat in Germany.   I’ll stay the evening on the couch of some old friends and explore the city for the first time after 2 years!

On Sunday morning I’ll travel on to Berlin, where I’ll stay for the week to attend a Fulbright conference.

More adventure updates to come!

Alles Halli Galli im Schwarzwald!

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Everything is okie-dokie in the Black Forest!

Early February in the Teutoburg Forest

I went out to my local bookstore last Wednesday and picked up a book on walking in the Teutoburg Forest.  I was told I should learn more about the forest if I wanted a place to hike because of its particular beauty and convenient distance from Münster.  The Teutoburg lies only about 1.5 hours east of Münster, covering the low foothills that eventually grow into the hills (Mittelgebirge) surrounding Göttingen, the city where I studied abroad in 2010.  If you continue another hour eastwards from the Teutoburg, you reach Göttingen, nestled in the Leine river valley in southern Niedersachsen.

As I approached the Teutoburg Forest, the flat, smooth topography of Münsterland dropped away and the change in landscape conjured up a certian, unidentifiable nostalgia within me.  That was when I realized—I haven’t been back to Göttingen yet this year! I’ll have to make my way back over there as soon as I get the chance.

The Teutoburg is a dense, dark forest—something straight out of a German fairy tale book.  The forest has witnessed thousands of years of human history, from Roman battles, to knights in shining armor, to the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century. In 9AD, a coalition of German tribes finally ended the Roman advance into Germania in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. In under a week, the Germanic army managed to kill three legions of Roman soldiers—around 15,000 men—in the forest.

Perhaps this legend, more than any other, caused me see to see flittering images of Roman cavalry charging through the conifer trees on Saturday, when I explored the Teutoburg.  As I walked down muddy cart paths, the forest exuded an ethereal glow in the snow and flat light.  Intermittent flakes drifted down through the trees and everything was perfectly silent.  I couldn’t help but think of the opening scene of the film Gladiator, in which Russell Crowe leads a Roman charge into an army of Germanic warriors:

The forest really does look like the one you see in the scene above, though the battle re-enacted is another (possibly fictional) one.  I did, however, find this very exciting depiction of The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in a Google image search:

Thus, with this slightly terrifying (yet thrilling) image in mind, I hope you enjoy my pictures from the forest!

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