We have arrived in Germany and St. Goar! Flip told us that German's have the lowest cultural pride in the world -- and I believe this. However, in my opinion, Germany is kind of like that weird kid at school that gets picked on for doing nothing (World War I and the Treaty of Versailles) and finally snaps (World War II), but is still found responsible for his actions.
Flip also told us how and why Hitler came to power, what happened to Berlin after the war, why the wall was built and why it fell in 1989. I learned all about this in history class and I know the majority of people lived through the falling of the Berlin Wall, so I don't think another history lesson is needed. After yesterday's rant, I don't think you'll want another lesson for a while.
Flip went over what we were doing the next few days in St. Goar, Munich and Innsbruck, Austria. We also got a copy of all he optional tours. The website didn't say anything about the group photo in Venice, nor the Venetian dinner we can have. We can also get our own t-shirts!
We arrived late into St. Goar but we were welcomed by a delicious meal of a spicy rice and chicken soup, two slices of tender roast beef, a scrumptious potato-cheese side-dish and optional boiled peas and carrots. And for vegetarians, there was a boring platter of cooked veggies that I heard it was very good. For desert we had a small piece of chocolate cake with alcohol-jelly inside.
Our hotel, Hotel Montag (sorry the link isn't the best), has an Internet Cafe in it. However, to use the computers, you have to pay. It costs €1 for 10 minutes, €2 for 20 minutes and €5 for an hour. The hotel also has a bar and smoking is allowed inside (Hitler outlawed smoking indoors, and since the Germans want to be completely different from him, it's legal).
The hotel is old but nice, just like the town. St. Goar has two castles in it and is surrounded by a massive stone wall, with a huge river cutting the two in half. It isn't beautiful like Amsterdam, but it has a very quaint charm to it.
Some of the tour members went for the optional wine-tasting excursion after dinner, but I and a few others went for a walk around town. We climbed the steep roads to the top of the mountains surrounding the town and took pictures of the distant lights. On our way, we found lots of old stone "doors" and "windows" in the old city walls. If someone had told me the town or the surrounding walls were haunted, I would have believed them.
Once we got back into town, another group of people from my tour were standing near the Rhine. I decided to join them right when they were daring each other to roll up their pant legs and go into the ice-cold water. I didn't, but I joined in with the laughter when they ran out of the water shivering.
The only downside about this place is the that the Rail Europe goes right through this town, so every 10 to 15 minutes there's a loud *whoosh!* outside for about 10 seconds or so. Besides that, the town is quiet, peaceful and nice.
Tonight is a night where we can go to bed early and wake-up semi-late (pre-7 instead of pre-6). I'm taking this advantage and I'm going to sleep soon too. My roommate is once again Ralph and has already fallen asleep, so I shall follow suit soon too.
Tomorrow should be exciting. I've always wanted to go to Munich!
See you then!
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
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Just over a year ago I wrote an article about the glockenspiel that once stood in downtown Regina. I had fond memories of the glockenspiel as a child and was sad when they took it down to renovate the park. I was even more sad when they didn't put it back up, and I was angry when I discovered it was sitting in a junkyard (sorry, outdoor "storage facility") for the past ten years. That article got a lot of attention, from both the public, the city and the press. Today, efforts are being made to restore the bell back to its original location.
I'm telling you this because preserving heritage – may it be a 25-year-old bell, or a fourth century building – is important. Without heritage, we lose who we are. Often, the desire to move society forward steps over the heritage and causes it to get lost. As impressive as tall glass buildings might be, nothing is better than a smoky red brick structure.
Saskatchewan is beginning to realize how important this is – and thankfully it's happening now and not in a few decades after everything is gone. But, our neighbours have been on the heritage preservation band train for several years now, especially in Alberta.
Ever since visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg last summer, I've wanted to include more about First Nations culture on my blog. Being of European descent, I often feel I am culturally blind to First Nations culture, and I noticed a severe lack of it in my writing. In fact, I feel in past articles a lot of my focus has been on European history in the New World, with only a side note regarding First Nations history. Now, I am trying for there to be more equal representation in my blog.
To finish off my #BucketlistAB series, I thought this article would be the perfect place to flip the tables, and instead focus on First Nations culture, with a European side note. Sometimes it is impossible to talk about one without the other, but I tried to focus more on the First Nations people and their story in this article. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.
Imagine the bustling streets of New York, then times it by ten. Add a dash of Chinese culture, a wallop of nature and half dozen fish balls that don’t actually contain any fish, and you have the beautiful city that is Hong Kong.
At 7.2 million people, Hong Kong is a dynamic city with an incredible history, towering skyscrapers and a unique mix of English and Chinese that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. While Hong Kong has existed for a millennium, it was officially founded in 1842 to solidify a truce between Great Britain and the Qing dynasty of China during the First Opium War. A decade after the British took control of Hong Kong, the Black Death swept into China, killing hundreds of thousands of people. It would remain part of Hong Kong’s life for a century.
During World War II, Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese. For three years and eight months the British-Chinese culture of the city was destroyed, replaced with Japanese text, language and art. The booming city of 1.6 million people was slashed to only 600,000. Japanese occupation was incredibly harsh for the Hongkongese, being the darkest part of their history. Japan ceased occupation on August 6th, 1945, in response to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For forty-two more years, Hong Kong was controlled by the British, with the reunification between Hong Kong and mainland China finally occurring in 1997.