July — August, 2010. Samantha collected pins from every city she visited. I collected pictures of doors. I’ve always had a fascination for doors. They symbolize grand entrances, and they also promise great exits.
Here’s a gallery of some ornate, some fantastical, and some unhappy ones I came across in Europe.
A knocker for giants in Barcelona
A stone doorway in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona
A cool entrance in Frankfurt
Yet another doorway in Paris
Doorway in Paris
Doorway to a French Appellate Court, formerly a palace
August 6, 2010. Berlin makes city planners in America look like small thinkers. It’s a sprawling city that also seems at odds with the scale of most other German cities.
The Berlin Wall did come down in 1989! On the east side of town, portions of the wall have been preserved as a canvas for the city’s artists. A great use for one of the most unattractive relics of history. The unadorned wall is seen near the Topographie des Terrors, which marks the site of Gestapo and SS HQs.
August 6, 2010. We started the day learning about Germany’s foreign relations initiatives from a spokesperson at the German Foreign Ministry. Later, we went on a private group tour of the Reichstag, a building with an incredible history. It is where the German Parliament convenes today. Angela Merkel occupies one of the purple-blue seats in the front just below the eagle in the pictures of the parliament chamber below.
The Reichstag is easily one of the world’s most stunning buildings, both symbolically and architecturally. Its interior had to be completely rebuilt after the country’s reunification. Art from many countries, including America and France, commemorate both dark and prosperous periods in it’s history. A new, large glass dome atop the Reichstag provides visitors with excellent views of the city in all directions.
During the day, we took a walking tour courtesy of the free iPhone app, City Walks. It took us from Bebelplatz and the Deutscher Dom to the Museum of Terror and Checkpoint Charlie. On the way, we also took in the Jüdisches Museum for a few hours. We all wondered about the meaning of the Superman sculpture by the entrance.
Nightlife in Alexanderplatz: Edited to avoid boredom. We did walk about 15 zillion miles that day.
Listening attentively to a lecture on German foreign affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lobby
The Reichstag from under an umbrella, in the rain.
Interior hallway view of the Reichstag
American artist showcased in the Reichstag
Soviet graffiti scrubbed and preserved as art in the Reichstag
The dents from many kicks to Adolf Hitler’s “box,” part of a French artist’s contribution to the Reichstag.
The German Parliament chamber from the viewing gallery
August 2 — 5, 2010.Prof. Ed Fallone taught International Criminal Law. He’s also a well-read blogger on Marquette’s faculty law blog. Read his latest blog post about the top ten reasons for participating in the Giessen study abroad program here.
Prof. Kotzé engaging his class in Giessen
Prof. Louis Kotzé from South Africa co-taught International Environmental Law with Prof. Marauhn from Germany. Both are eminent scholars in the field. Prof. Kotzé also had great tips on visiting Heidelberg and Munich.
Prof. Ghosh leading his class in Giessen
Prof. Shubha Ghosh from UW Madison taught International Intellectual Property. He had great tips on visiting the Murano glass blowers’ island in Venice.
July 31 — August 1, 2010. A two-hour journey on the Thalys from Brussels to Paris continued to deepen my fascination with European public transport.
Here, the mundane drone of the Paris metro is pepped up by a traveling crooner.
We wandered around in Montmartre and Le Marais, got chased off the footpath outside President Sarkozy’s residence, and hung out at cafés. But the most magical was the Eiffel Tower sparkling on the hour.
Check out a snippet of a philosophy debate in progress as we wandered by Bastille Place.
In the dining car from Paris to Strasbourg
In Le Marais
A castle in Le Marais
Street in Le Marais
Some still of Le Marais and, and finally, exhausted but thrilled in the dining car of the train back to Giessen from Paris via Strasbourg, Karlsruhe and Frankfurt.
July 30–31, 2010. We had our first group tour to Brussels, where we took in a tour of the European Parliament (video) and Commission in Brussels.
At the European Commission in Brussels
Two experts gave us deeper insights into how the EU functions and its historical context. Appropriately, it parallels the formation of the federal government in the United States during the time when the Articles of Confederation were in force.
July 29, 2010. One evening on the train back to Giessen, we met a young Belarusian who shared his thoughts on Obama, America, 9/11, the CIA, Britain, MI6. He studies sports and nutrition in Giessen. This video is an edited eight minutes from the original 30+. The first segment in the clip is about Obama.
I’m going to have to see if the Berlin Wall really did come down with my own eyes. That’ll be a new post soon.
July 29, 2010. . . . to Giessen what Chicago is to Milwaukee. A bustling and exciting city to its south in middle Germany. Samantha is still in search of the bull and bear in front of its stock exchange.
In the meantime, we managed to get in some amazing jewelry shopping, take in a few sites, hangout at a shisha bar, and have dinner with a Saudi sheikh and his wife at a Lebanese restaurant. That Samantha, she’s so friendly.
Opera House in Frankfurt
Celebrating the euro in sign
Brandon at L’emir in Frankfurt
What I accidentally ordered in a traditional German restaurant. Yum.