Saturday, July 29, 2006

5 cities in photos

Bern, Switserland

The story goes that the founding fathers of Bern didn't know what to call their new town. They decided to go hunting, and name the town after whatever animal they successfully hunted. Things could have gone very differently if they'd come across chickens. In any case, the Swiss word for "bears" is close to "Bern". So the obvious thing is to chuck some bears in a bearpit in the centre of town (incidentally right next to my "local" in Bern, die Alte Tramdepot, where I sampled three different beers in the space of six days).

Salzburg, Austria

The castle in Salzburg. This is a proper castle, and looks like castles should. Way too many castles in Europe just look like churches.

Even in Austria, who didn't even play in the Football World Cup, the crowds turned out to watch on the big screen in the square. The Sound of Music was just on TV, and I'm pretty certain the Von Trapp family skipped past this fountain dressed in curtains. Salzburgers don't think much of The Sound of Music. Oh, and apparently at the end of the movie, when they flee over the mountains, they're heading straight for Hitler's summer house. Apparently.

Berlin, Germany

The Berlin wall at East Side. The dudes kissing are Honecker and Brezhnev. Below the painting it says, in German, "My God, help me survive this deadly love". Below you can see part of Checkpoint Charlie - a painting of it, that is. I didn't make it to the real one.

Brandenburg gate - formerly part of the Wall. Imagine my delight at walking down Unter Den Linden towards this iconic symbol of Berlin, only to be confronted by a giant football. Stupid World Cup.

And this is just a really cool sculpture on the Spree. I think in East Berlin, but could be West. It should be irrelevant now, but sadly the difference between former East and former West is still quite marked.

Potsdam, Germany

Potsdam is in the former East Germany. Its university is housed in the Sans Souci palace grounds. That's pretty cool. There's also lots of impressive gardens, statues, and this Chinese tea house.

This photo was taken as we were rowing down the river Spree in Potsdam. I like the reflections. Luckily I managed to keep out of shot the two naked guys who were sitting in the shallows of the river drinking beer, and who stood up as we rowed around the bend. Ewwww.

Prague, Czech Republic

Czech Republic was my new country this trip. I actually worked out that I had already been to 35 countries without counting Czech Republic, so now I'm one up on my age. That takes the pressure off, phew. I absolutely adored Prague, and took way too many photos to put on the blog (one of these days I'll get around to getting flicker). This is a view of the city and Vltava river from the castle (Hradcany).

And this is a cool random angel hanging from a tree - somewhere in the Old Town, I think.

Prague also has some awesome clocks, like the clock in the Jewish Quarter that goes anti-clockwise (huh?). This is an zodiac clock, pointing to Cancer.

Next installment: Rapperswil, Brighton and Vientiane (the only photos I took in Bangkok were of family...)