Friday, July 29, 2011

Top 10 Amy Winehouse Songs

Not an official Top 10 of her songs, just the 10 that have caught my ear.  She did have an amazing voice.

Amy Winehouse Died on July 23rd. The coroners report released October 27th determined cause of death to be too much alcohol in her system, hence "alcohol poisoning". She was 27 years old, such a pity. She now joins the ranks of the Forever 27 Club.

Link to Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse in the Studio "Body and Soul" with an interview of Amy Winehouse found on Youtube.

Latest news: Tony Bennett will appear at the M TV Video Awards August 28th and pay tribute to Amy Winehouse.
Update: August 4th Tony Bennett to release single "Body and Soul" duet he did with Amy Winehouse.  Proceeds will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation being set up by her father Mitch for drug addicts and children.  When I see a link to purchase, I will add it.

1.  You Know I'm No Good written by Amy Winehouse

2. Rehab written by Amy Winehouse

3. Back to Black Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson

4. Just Friends written by Amy Winehouse

5. Love Is A Losing Game written by Amy Winehouse

6. Me and Mr. Jones written by Amy Winehouse

7. Tears Dry On Their Own written by Amy Winehouse, Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson

8.Wake Up Alone written by Amy Winehouse, Paul O'Duffy

9. Addicted written by Amy Winehouse

10. Help Yourself   written by Winehouse, Jimmy Hogarth

List of awards and nominations received by Amy Winehouse

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Top 10 Uses of Vinegar

1.     Home remedy drain cleaners include boiling water poured into drain openings to clear soap and hair clogs; or, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) poured into a drain, followed by vinegar. Safety precautions, be careful with the boiling water.

2.     Substitute for fresh lemon juice, cider vinegar can usually be substituted for fresh lemon juice in recipes and obtain a pleasing effect although it lacks the vitamin C. 

3.     Soothing for Sunburn White vinegar applied as a spray to tissue draped over a sunburn helps restore the lost acidic level to the skin, and gives a cooling effect.

4.     Mad Science. Make a volcano.  When vinegar is added to sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), it produces a volatile mixture which rapidly decomposes into water, carbon dioxide and sodium acetate, which makes the reaction fizz. It is often used to illustrate typical acid-base reactions in school science experiments. 

5.     Unglue stickers, decals, and price tags Vinegar is an excellent solvent for cleaning epoxy resin and hardener, even after the epoxy has begun to harden.

6.     Wipe away mildew To eliminate heavy mildew accumulations, use it full strength. For light stains, dilute it with an equal amount of water. You can also prevent mildew from forming on the bottoms of rugs and carpeting by misting the backs with full-strength white vinegar from a spray bottle.

7.    Deodorize soak a slice of white bread in white vinegar and leave it in the malodorous space overnight. The smell should be gone by morning.

8.     Bites and Stings Take the sting and itch out of bug bites. Simply soak a cotton ball in white distilled vinegar and apply to the bite.

9.     Laundry Help Add Distilled White Vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine it removes soap and fabric softener residue. I have never tied this one but it looks interesting….To get dingy white clothes white again, add 1 cup vinegar to a pot, boil it and place clothes in the pot.  Let the clothes sit in the pot overnight.

10.  Jellyfish sting. Soak the area with vinegar, I just read that on WEBMD. Box jellyfish require immediate medical attention. It inspired the entire list. I had heard meat tenderizer but the box jellyfish like says “not a good idea”.

With any suggestions, ideas or tips found in my blog, do your own research,  I merely aim to plant the seed.
 I will share that baking soda, vinegar, dishwashing detergent and H20 recently did an amazing job on an area carpet and I was ticked, I wanted a new rug!

clean oven grease

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Top 10 Curious About Cologne Germany

1. Cologne was a Military Area Command Headquarters (for the Military District (Wehrkreis) VI of Münster, during World War II. Cologne was a major target during World War II. Th city endured 262 air raids by the Western Allies, which caused approximately 20,000 civilian casualties and almost completely wiped out the centre of the city. During the night of 31 May 1942, Cologne was the target of "Operation Millennium", the first 1,000 bomber raid by the Royal Air Force in World War II. 1,046 heavy bombers attacked their target with 1,455 tons of explosives, approximately two-thirds of which were incendiary. This raid lasted about 75 minutes, destroyed 600 acres of built-up area, killed 486 civilians and made 59,000 people homeless. By the end of the war, the population of Cologne had been reduced by 95%. This loss was mainly caused by a massive evacuation of the people to more rural areas.

2. Hohenzollern Bridge The bridge was constructed between 1907 and 1911 after the old bridge, the Cathedral Bridge (Dombrücke), had to be demolished. The Cathedral Bridge had been unable to handle the increasing traffic in Cologne. The Hohenzollern Bridge was one of the most important bridges in Germany during World War II; even under consistent daily air strikes the bridge was not damaged badly. On 6 March 1945, German military engineers blew up the bridge when Allied troops started to conquer Cologne. After the war, reconstruction was quickly organized; by May 8, 1948, the Hohenzollern Bridge was accessible by pedestrians again. Over the next eleven years the bridge was improved until by 1959 it was usable without any impairment. During the 1980s the bridge was renovated with two new tracks. The Hohenzollern Bridge now regularly has over 1200 trains pass through daily. The bridge is regarded as an important part of Cologne as it connects Cologne's central station with the major European cities on the other side of the Rhine.The total length of the Hohenzollern Bridge is 409.19 meters (1,342.5 ft).
3. Since 2008 people have placed love padlocks on the fence between the sidewalk and the tracks. Love padlocks (also known as Love Locks) are a custom by which sweethearts affix padlocks to a fence or similar public fixture to symbolize their everlasting love. They are most commonly placed on the railings of bridges. Custom of love padlocks has become internationally popular. First starting at the bridge Ponte Milvio in Rome the ritual of love padlocks has gained a significant presence in Italy, mainly inspired by a fictional event in the book I Want You by Italian author Federico Moccia, who later made it into the cheesy film-adaptation Ho voglia di te. In Florence, Italy, love padlocks have been affixed to the railing around and near the statue of Benvenuto Cellini located at the centre of the Ponte Vecchio.  If you hang in there with my tour of Europe, I spotted these locks in Florence not knowing what there were.  I have a photograph.

4. Severinsbrücke Construction of the Severin Bridge began in 1956 as a plan started even before the war of the intention to build two bridges to cross the Rhine.  Construction on this bridge was halted when an accident occurred during construction in September in which five people were killed. Construction was completed in 1961, in 1967 the At the turn of 1996/1997 was on the pylon of the bridge, an art installation Severin of Cologne bridge won action artist HA Schult assembled from fluorescent lights.  This was a globe, which was not massive, but according to the patterns of longitude and latitude only a delicate lattice design, mounted on fluorescent lights in the form of the continents in different colors.  In addition, projected out of the Cologne location on the globe emerged an outgrowth of a red glowing ball Neonfigure in a euphoric pose, in 2000 a revised this artwork was moved by helicopter from the Severin bridge to its present location on the roof of the left bank of the building located next to the Zoobrücke DEVK flown headquarters. I believe this  link shows the artwork OKO-Globe. Schult has resided in Cologne since 1990.

5. Cologne is a major cultural centre of the Rhineland and has a vibrant arts scene. Cologne is home to more than 30 museums and hundreds of galleries. Exhibitions range from local ancient Roman archaeological sites to contemporary graphics and sculpture. The Cologne Trade Fair hosts a number of trade shows such as Art Cologne, imm Cologne International Furniture Fair and the Photokina.

6. Cologne also became an outstanding centre of medieval pilgrimage, when Cologne's Archbishop Rainald of Dassel gave the relics of the Three Wise Men (photograph found on wikipedia taken by Arminia, in 2004) to Cologne's cathedral in 1164 (after they in fact had been captured from Milan). Besides the three magi Cologne preserves the relics of Saint Ursula and Albertus Magnus.

7. Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, until 1880 to complete, roughly 600 years. It is 144.5 metres long, 86.5 m wide and its towers are approximately 157 m tall. The cathedral is one of the world's largest churches and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. For four years, 1880–84, it was the tallest structure in the world, until the completion of the Washington Monument. It has the second-tallest church spires, only surpassed by the single spire of Ulm Minster, completed 10 years later in 1890. Because of its enormous twin spires, it also presents the largest facade of any church in the world. The choir of the cathedral, measured between the piers, also holds the distinction of having the largest height to width ratio of any medieval church.

8. In 1996, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites. In 2004 it was placed on the "World Heritage in Danger" list, as the only Western site in danger, due to plans to construct a high-rise building nearby, which would have visually impacted the site. The cathedral was removed from the List of In Danger Sites in 2006, following the authorities' decision to limit the heights of buildings constructed near and around the cathedral.

9. The cathedral suffered seventy hits by aerial bombs during World War II. It did not collapse, but stood tall in an otherwise flattened city. The great twin spires are said to have been used as an easily recognizable navigational landmark by Allied aircraft raiding deeper into Germany in the later years of the war, which may be a reason that the cathedral was not destroyed. It has been claimed that in June 1945 American troops used the cathedral as a rifle range. The repairs to the building were completed in 1956. In the northwest tower's base, an emergency repair carried out in 1944 with bad-quality brick taken from a nearby war ruin (see German Wikipedia "Kölner Domplombe") remained visible until 2005 as a reminder of the War, but then it was decided to reconstruct this section according to its original appearance. The brick-filling can be seen in the image on the right.
Some repair and maintenance work is constantly being carried out in some section of the building, which is almost never completely free of scaffolding, since wind, rain, and pollution slowly eat away at the stones.

10. The Cologne Cathedral (Koln Dom) has a website of it's own and they actually diagram and list all the precious artifacts and artwork within this massive building. If you ever venture to Germany, it is a stop to put on your list and I recommend their website to do your research before you go. It is truly amazing.

This concludes my tour of Germany. As you can tell from the majority of my links, the information was obtained at wikipedia, I merely had the opportunity to see and photograph what others have recorded as facts and have shared them with you. I hope you enjoyed Germany, wait till you see Italy, Mama Mia!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top 10 Heidelberg in route to Mannheim, Germany

1. Heidelberg is located in south-west Germany. It is the fifth largest city of the German State of Baden-Württemberg after Stuttgart, Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Freiburg im Breisgau.  It is situated along the Nektar River off in the distance you are looking at France. The US Army has had a military base in Heidelberg since 1951.

2. Heidelberg is home to Heidelberg University, noted for its prestigious law school and student prison(check out the youtube link). It has been said that students have purposely spent time there as an alternative to a final exam, if they felt they were not ready. Students are everywhere in this city. Founded in 1386, it is the oldest university in Germany and was the fourth university established in the Holy Roman Empire. In 2010, U.S. News / QS World University Rankings ranked Heidelberg 1st in Germany, 14th in Europe, and 51st overall in the world, moving up six places from its position in the 2009 THE-QS World University Rankings.

3. The Church of the Holy Spirit is first mentioned in a manuscript from 1239. In 1398, the foundations of the current late Gothic church were laid on the site of a late Romanesque basilica which, in turn, had been erected in the place of even an older church. The current church is the third sacral building on the site.

4. Breathtaking views can be seen from atop the hill from the Heidelberg Castle. The Old Town Bridge  built in the 18th century, dates back to the Middle Ages – the original wood structures were destroyed by fire. The old stone bridge was erected 1786-1788. A medieval bridge gate is on the side of the old town, and was originally part of the town wall. Baroque tower helmets were added as part of the erection of the stone bridge in 1788.

5. Heidelberg Castle is the famous landmark in Heidelberg.
 American author, Mark Twain,  described the Heidelberg Castle in his 1880 travel book
"A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed. It stands upon a commanding elevation, it is buried in green woods, there is no level ground about it, but, on the contrary, there are wooded terraces upon terraces, and one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude. Nature knows how to garnish a ruin to get the best effect. One of these old towers is split down the middle, and one half has tumbled aside. It tumbled in such a way as to establish itself in a picturesque attitude. Then all it lacked was a fitting drapery, and Nature has furnished that; she has robed the rugged mass in flowers and verdure, and made it a charm to the eye. The standing half exposes its arched and cavernous rooms to you, like open, toothless mouths; there, too, the vines and flowers have done their work of grace. The rear portion of the tower has not been neglected, either, but is clothed with a clinging garment of polished ivy which hides the wounds and stains of time. Even the top is not left bare, but is crowned with a flourishing group of trees & shrubs. Misfortune has done for this old tower what it has done for the human character sometimes−improved it".

The Exploded Tower was blown apart in 1693 during the War of Palatinate Succession. It apparently held the gun powder for the castle. It is amazing how is just sits there stuck in the ground as it fell so many years ago.

6. The Student Prince a 1954 musical featured Philadelphia born Mario Lanza performing on the soundtrack, the actor in the lead role,  Edmund Purdom, mimed the songs. The Drinking Song Drink! Drink! Drink!  The Student Prince gives a peek at college life, not so uncommon in the United States. You may recognize the song. It is the story of a young Prince, Karl, from a small sub-kingdom of the German Empire near the turn of the 20th century. He is sent off to get a university education in Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg. His grandfather was one of a handful of petty kings within German and Austrian central Europe. Fictional Karlsburg was small but very proud of their nationhood and traditions.

7. Elizabeth of Bohemia (19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662) was the eldest daughter of James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland, and Anne of Denmark. She married Frederick V, then Elector of the Palatinate in Germany, on 14 February 1613 and took up her place in the court at Heidelberg. Frederick was the leader of the association of Protestant princes in the Holy Roman Empire known as the Protestant Union, and Elizabeth was married to him in an effort to increase James ties to these princes. Despite this, the two were considered to be genuinely in love, and remained a romantic couple throughout the course of their marriage. Fredrick has this arch "Elizabeth's arch built in her honor and as a profession of his love for her. Elizabeth is buried in Westminster Abbey. It seems all royalty in Europe is related in one way or another.

8. This is a picture of the city of Mannheim where we spent the evening. Mannheim is the second-largest city in the Bundesland of Baden-Württemberg

9. Wasserturm (water tower) is the city's landmark.   The world’s first bicycle was built in Mannheim by Karl Freiherr von Drais in 1817. The world’s first automobile was built in Mannheim by Karl Benz in 1885. Mannheim is also the location of both the start and the finish of Bertha Benz Memorial Route. Since it was such a major industrial center, Mannheim was heavily damaged during World War II by aerial bombing by the R.A.F. and the U.S. Air Force. Besides bombing the important factories, the R.A.F. razed the city center of Mannheim with nighttime area bombing. Some sources state that the first deliberate "terror bombing" of German civilians by the R.A.F. occurred at Mannheim on December 16, 1940. Mannheim was overrun by the U.S. Third Army on March 29, 1945, and removed from the control of Nazi Germany.

10. This is how the Germans tuck you in at night.  I thought they were sleeping bags.  It is funny or should I say, different to experience the various customs of diverse countries.

Early morning in a typical neighborhood in Mannheim was quiet and serene.  Note the bicycle is not locked.  How many places in this world would you see that?

There have been many horrific tragedies that have occurred in this country, yet there are people and places to visit that hold much charm. When will we ever learn to appreciate all people as equal and significant; value each other and recognize our similarities rather then our differences. I did not visit any concentration camps but I did find a partial list of destructive Nazi detainment centers if you are interested. This is not something the German people are proud of. The sale, distribution and possession of anything which promotes or glorifies the NSDAP or the Nazi Regime is illegal in Germany. I am told that the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C. is a very educational and disturbing experience. When I was young, there was a candy store up the street from me, they also sold soda, milkshakes, comic books.  I was a frequent customer. I would purchase Archie and Modern Romance comic books, Tiger Beat Magazine and when I had the extra cash, I loved their milk shakes. I am not sure if the couple owned or rented the space.  Mr. Whishner was always suspicious when you entered his store always keeping and eye on you.  Mrs. Whishner was one of the kindest ladies I ever remember, always pleasant and welcoming.  In the warmer months, when they were not wearing long sleeves you could see the number tattooed on their arms.  My parents had told me, that indicated they had been in a Nazi concentration camp, being just a kid I never realized the trauma they must have gone through but I do remember seeing their branding.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Top 10 Cicada Sighting and Visit.

Friday evening was still brutally hot so the house was sealed up and the a/c cranking high. Not often do we get a knock on our back door, so at first we ignored the repeated thud.  It was a little like a horror movie.  The woman, of course notices first, "there is something out there!"  The man nonchalant takes another sip of his beer, portraying clogged ears. Being the dutiful wife, she kept at it and notices there is also a strange blinking light out there. she insists, "You are going to have to go out there". Not being a big believer in martians, she won't dispute anyone with proof, something was definitely going down on that back deck. It's not the first time she has gotten the sigh reply, so she knows how to handle it.  She glares back. He heads out the door and in flies this humungus miniature helicopter. What the.....

1. There are over 100 species of cicada in North America, and over 2000 species around the world. Cicadas exist on every continent but Antarctica.

2. In North America there are two main types of cicadas: periodical (which belong to the genus Magicicada) and annual. The Tibicen is the most common genus of annual cicada in North America.

3. Magicicada white-eyed cicada looks like the one we had stop by.  I found a picture at photographed in May 2011 in Tennessee.

4. There are seven species of Magicicada. The 17 year varieties: septendecim, cassini, septendecula, and the 13 year varieties: neotredecim, tredecim, tredecassini and tredecula. Each species is slightly different in coloring, song or other attributes. 

5. According to the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology website , periodical cicadas are harmless. They do not bite or sting defensively, nor do they attack people. If a cicada lands on you, it is only because it finds you to be a convenient place to land. They are not known to transmit disease. Once inside the house, after erratically spinning around the lampshade, our visitor landed on my husband's shoulder. Every body likes Dave.

6. The dog day cicada emerges in mid-summer. Dog-day cicadas, Tibicen , are mostly large, blackish insects usually with greenish wing veins and appear every year from mid-July through mid-September. Friday July 22, 2011. They are no doubt a sound of summer we all take for granted.

7. Cicadas have been eaten in China, Malaysia, Burma, Latin America, Germany, the Congo and in the United States. In North China, cicadas are skewered, deep fried or stir fried as a delicacy. According to an article found on National Geographic web page, Cicadas are said to make good eating because they are low in fat and high in protein. They are considered a delicacy by many people around the world. The European settlers in North America observed the Indians eating them. During the last emergence of Brood X cicadas in 1987, a number of people in Cincinnati and Illinois were reported to have tried deep-fried and stir-fried cicadas. There was also talk of cicada pizzas and cicada candy, and local newspapers printed cicada recipes.

8. After mating, the female cuts slits into the bark of a twig, and into these she deposits her eggs. She may do so repeatedly, until she has laid several hundred eggs. When the eggs hatch, the newly hatched nymphs drop to the ground, where they burrow . The crazy part about this is, we have always had a problem with carpenter bees enjoying our above lattice on our deck an the sawdust falling to the ground, this year is has been a yellow goo.

9. Scientific research, wikipedia, a couple of bug research sites and the national geographic website has led me to believe, our mysterious stranger was not a periodical cicada but an ordinary annual one but it has been well over 13 or 17 years for that matter since I have seen one bold enough to charge into my home and spend a little hang time.

10. The insect's amazing lifestyle has been a source of fascination since ancient times. Several cultures, such as the ancient Chinese, regarded these insects as powerful symbols of rebirth. I can attest that they do make quite an entrance.

I wish I had my own picture to share but once this creature was discovered sitting on my husband's shoulder.  He was quick to action and wasn't letting it hang around for a photo session.  I was ready with my camera on Saturday and Sunday though.

Here's a link to a google search of images of cicada's.  I would argue and say our annual cicada was just as special as any other one out there because he knocked on our door.

If you don't lose any sleep over bugs at night maybe I can plant another vision in your head. July 31st is the beginning of Shark Week 2011.....

I do not claim to be an entomologist (bug specialist) and I can't identify the bug in my pictures.  I can only claim that by following the David Attenborough amazing cicada life cycle video on YouTube, I snapped my fingers and this is what I attracted the following day.  I was told by my husband, I lost my girl scout naturalist badge when I screamed while this bug dive bombed me.

The strange blinking light btw was the answering machine reflection in the window. The American Red Cross was looking for blood, true story.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top 10 All About Doors

Doors enable you to go in.
Doors enable you to go out.

Folklore has it that it is bad luck to leave a house through a different door that you entered through.

The direct alignment of two doors is considered bad feng shui. Instead of the energy flowing through a space it will be able to make a quick exit.

An entrance doorway should be open and welcoming.

An exit should be clearly marked given the choice to leave  with an indication of where exactly you are invited to leave.

A closed door in many circumstances represents privacy and should be respected.  It can also  block your view to the outside world. I say, keep you options open and never completely close your door.

A knock on a door represents an opportunity, a persistent knock many go unanswered, in that case you should try the door bell at least once then simply walk away. : )

When opportunity knocks on your door, answer the call, the window of time my not last forever.

 That magic door is out there for everyone and you hold the key.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Top 10 Places and Things Worth Experiencing in Germany

1. Olympic Tower (The Olympiaturm) in Olympiapark, Munich Germany has an overall height of 291 m and a weight of 52,500 tons. At a height of 190 m there is an observation platform as well as a small rock and roll museum housing various memorabilia. Since its opening in 1968 the tower has registered over 35 million visitors (as of 2004). At a height of 182 m there is a revolving restaurant that seats 230 people. A full revolution takes 53 minutes. The tower has one Deutsche Telekom maintenance elevator with a speed of 4 m/s, as well as two visitor lifts with a speed of 7 m/s which have a capacity of about 30 people per car. The travel time is about 30 seconds. The tower is open daily from 09:00 to 24:00 hrs.

2. Olympic Stadium was the site site of the 1972 Summer Olympics. The stadium was built by Bilfinger Berger between 1968 to 1972 in a pit made by bombings Munich suffered during World War II. The design of the stadium was considered revolutionary, with sweeping canopies of acrylic glass stabilized by metal ropes, used on such a large scale for the first time. The peaks were to illustrate the Alps. The 1972 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad had many memorable events.  Mark Spitz set a world record winning 7 gold medals in a single Olympics, a record that stood until 2008 when Michael Phelps topped him by winning 8.  Olga Korbut, the Soviet gymnast became a media star and household name after she fell and failed to win a team gold medal came back and won two individual gold medals. The men's basketball final was the most controversial game in international basketball history.  Doug Collins, current coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, made two free throws with three seconds left.  The US was leading 50-49 despite the horn going off during the second attempt. The Soviets frantically asked for a time out, additional time was added with mistakes made to the time clock. Te Soviets scored in the last second of the The U.S. team voted unanimously to refuse the silver medal, and to this day still has not accepted them. They remain in a vault in Lausanne, Switzerland. HBO has a documentary called 0:03 Seconds from Gold about it.

3. The 1972 Summer Olympics were the second Summer Olympics to be held in Germany, after the 1936 Games in Berlin, which had taken place under the Nazi regime. Mindful of the connection, the West German Government were anxious to take the opportunity of the Munich Olympics to present a new, democratic and optimistic Germany to the world, as shown by the Games' official motto, "the Happy Games." The emblem of the Games was a blue solar logo (the "Bright Sun") by Hungarian artist Viktor Vasarely. The Olympic mascot, the dachshund "Waldi", was the first officially named Olympic mascot. The Games also saw the introduction of the now-universal sports pictograms designed by Otl Aicher. Soon, however, the killings of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian gunmen in an event known as the Munich massacre took center stage. A video found on youtube tells the horrible story of that day.  Another youtube of that chilling statement from sports newscaster Jim McKay, "They are all gone". It is the first time in my life that it wasn't just a created movie on television, terrorism was a "real" threat to our society and it was live.

4. BMW, (literally English: Bavarian Motor Works) is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also owns and produces the Mini brand, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. . BMW is known for its performance and luxury vehicles, and is a global leader in premium car sales. BMW Headquarters is a Munich landmark.  The Tower was built between 1968 and 1972 and was ready just in time for 1972 Summer Olympics. Its inauguration followed on 18 May 1973. The building stands 101 m (roughly 331 feet) tall, is located in direct proximity of the Olympic Village.  The large cathedral exterior is supposed to mimic the shape of a tire in a race car, with the garage representing the cylinder head. Both buildings were designed by the Austrian architect Karl Schwanzer. BMW entered existence as a business entity following a restructuring of the Rapp Motorenwerke aircraft engine manufacturing firm in 1917. After the end of World War I in 1918, BMW was forced to cease aircraft engine production by the terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. The company consequently shifted to motorcycle production in 1923 once the restrictions of the treaty started to be lifted, followed by automobiles in 1928–29. The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel is portrayed by BMW as the movement of an aircraft propeller, to signify the white blades cutting through the blue sky. BMW along with Mercedes-Benz is the car of choice that I saw driving along the Autobahn.

5. The Autobahn is your typical highway, expressway, roadway, freeway.  Well, not exactly.  The Autobahn has no set speed limit in most places and drivers appeared to be safe and to have a handle on the high rate of speed, there was no evidence of reckless driving. As is typical in the United States, we ran into road construction and delays. Something unique in Germany with road construction we are told, is that they are very careful when they dig, on numerous occasions they have unearth bombs from WW II and those situations have to be handled very gingerly by special squads.  After the war, in order to rebuild and start over many of the town people drug all the debris out of the towns and the sprawling hills and mounds you are looking out are many times just a cover up for the sins of war. That I just couldn't even imagine so I googled it and found several situations that are still occurring when these bombs are discovered. Here are a couple of links to stories and

6. The only official remnant of the war that I saw, was what I believe is called a Flak Tower. This one stands just outside the Olympic Stadium area in Munich. With concrete walls up to 3.5 metres thick, flak towers were considered to be invulnerable to attack with the usual ordnance carried by Allied bombers, though it is unlikely that they would have withstood Grand Slam bombs which successfully penetrated much thicker reinforced concrete. Aircraft generally appeared to have avoided the flak towers. The towers were able to sustain a rate of fire of 8000 rounds per minute from their multi-level guns, with a range of up to 14 km in a full 360-degree field of fire. However only the 128 mm guns had effective range to defend against the RAF heavy bombers.

7. I am a proponent of trying the local cuisine whenever I go to a new area and I found Germany to be a pleasant surprise.  The scrambled eggs in most European countries, I found were a little too watery and running looking for me so I experimented at breakfast.  The cheese, I can't identify the type was delicious, the roll or biscuit was most flavorful, the salami was different but I ate it.  Yogurt in a miniature ice cream come?  I am coming back for more. Putting a pickle on your plate for breakfast even if you are not pregnant is just different so I went for it and the butter cake, out of this world with that magic ingredient "butter".

8. Of course the worse case scenario would be to come home from Germany and have some one ask, "how was the beer?" and not have a good answer. "Das bier is gut", the beer is good and you should absolutely try the wurst.  I went with the bratwurst but there are many types of German sausage, study before you go. The salad was delectable as well with a homemade dressing also gut. We were in Germany incidently during the suspected "sprouts scare", fortunately not one of our meals contained any nor did we suffer any food borne illness.  The food was great!

9. Traveling through these different country there were subtle hints that you were not in the United States anymore.  Typically these names Henrik, Jorg, Ingo, Markus, Raif would not be available on souvenirs in our country.

10. Rest rooms are common all over the world, however in some European countries you must pay to use the facilities and the common name and sign to identify just where your intended destination is would be the WC.  I am assuming that means "water closet".  The first country that charged to use the bathroom was Belgium. We were forewarned before leaving the bus to have change ready.  In Belgium, there was a very pleasant young lady sitting there just before you entered the area for the men's or women's room collecting the fare.  It was her responsibility to keep the facilities clean and clean they were no complaint here.  You definitely got what you paid for.  So what is the obsession with the toilet in the above picture? I was hoping to have a video of this, another one of my fellow travelers had the foresight to take it.  I have however yet to receive a copy.  I will plug it in if  I receive it at a later date.  The motion is the tell tale. As you rise the entire seat rotates and that blue-green gizmo circles the area with a sanitizer.  A bit of a winding gear sound incurs.  If you are new to this practice you might wonder what you have done.  It is just the toilet doing its job and it is clearly a fascinating procedure to watch and they also recycle the water. It is all hands free. You receive a ticket when you make your seat selection and depending on how much you pay you can use that amount towards a purchase in the gift shop.

If you are planning a trip to Germany, I hope I have pointed out just a few of the many places and things worth seeing.  As the Germans would say....

Have a good trip!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Top 10 Visions Along the Rhine River In Germany

The Rhine River was formed by melting snowcaps high in the Swiss Alps.  It carves a channel through the heart of Europe and empties into the North Sea in the Netherlands.  It is one of the longest rivers in Europe, important for transportation, trade and defense. In 2010,the Dutch Rijkswaterstaat confirmed the length as 1,233 kilometres (766 miles). You can spot many castles as you cruise along the Rhine.

The Upper Middle Rhine Valley section of the River Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen in Germany was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in June 2002 for a unique combination of geological, historical, cultural and industrial reasons.

Sterrenberg Castle sits high above the town. Records first mentioned it in 1034 and claim it to be the oldest Rhine castle still preserved today.

The two castles sitting on top of the ridge of the Rhine River, the Sterrenberg and the Liebenstein are known as the" Hostile Brothers" according to folklore.  I was unable to confirm the exact age of the castles from various websites. Apparently some disputes last a very long time.

Liebenstein Castle is only apparently 150 meters away from the Sterrenberg Castle. There has never been any documented proof of any war between the two neighboring castles, however, the folklore does involve a woman, Hilgegard and two brothers Henrick and Konrad.

Katz (Cat) Castle. Burg Katz is a castle above the German town of St. Goarshausen in Rhineland-Palatinate. This magnificent castle stands on a ledge looking downstream from the riverside at St. Goarthe. It was first built around 1371 by Count Wilhelm II of Katzenelnbogen. The castle was bombarded in 1806 by Napoleon and rebuilt in the late 19th century, between 1896-98. It is now privately owned, and not open for visitors.

Maus (Mouse) Castle, which is actually called Thurnberg. Burg Maus (meaning Mouse Castle in German) is a castle above the village of Wellmich (part of Sankt Goarshausen) in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It lies on the east side of the Rhine, north of Burg Katz (Cat Castle) in Sankt Goarshausen and opposite Burg Rheinfels at Sankt Goar across the river.

 Rheinfels Fortress. Burg Rheinfels is a castle ruin located in Sankt Goar, Germany overlooking the Rhine. It was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen and was partially destroyed by French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. It is the largest castle overlooking the Rhine, and historically covered five times its current area.

Mittelrhein (or Middle Rhine) is a region (Anbaugebiet) for quality wine in Germany.
A vertical vineyard on a very steep slope is a common sight along the Rhine.

Railroad Tunnels with a castle facade are deceiving at first glance you think they are actual castles. I don't wish to misquote anyone but I believe we were told by out tour guide that they were built during conflict to deflect attention away from the castles and protect them. Some of the towns along this route were also spared during World War II because they had no industrial value and posed no threat.

The Gutenfels Castle. The Burg Gutenfels (also known as castle Caub) is a castle 110m above the town of Kaub in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It was build in 1220

Pfalzgrafenstein Toll Station. Burg Pfalzgrafenstein is a toll castle on the Falkenau island, otherwise known as Pfalz Island in the Rhine river near Kaub, Germany. Known as "the Pfalz", this former stronghold is famous for its picturesque and unique setting. Its keep, a pentagonal tower with its point upstream, was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. In 1477 Pfalzgrafenstein was passed as deposit to the Count of Katzenelnbogen. Later additions were made in 1607 and 1755, consisting of corner turrets, the gun bastion pointing upstream, and the characteristic baroque tower cap.

The Loreley (also spelled Lorelei) statue is located at the narrowest and deepest part of the Rhine River. In the Rhine fairytale of 1810, written by Brentano, Loreley ( Lorelei ) appears as the distraught woman Lurley, sitting on a rock combing her long golden hair and luring the bargees into their destruction.

(apparently she makes quite an impression)

Additional websites packed with inforation on this region and helpful to me in identifying the castles: