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It’s the weekend!

1200px-Cologne_-_Panoramic_Image_of_the_old_town_at_dusk

By Ahgee – Own work

 

And you’re spoilt for choice! A quick look at the event calendar for Saturday the 4th of June shows a good range of events lined up.

If your heart is set on checking out one or two of the amazing museums, you will have to discuss that with your guides, as most museums close on a Saturday at 5 or 6pm. Have a look at this overview – in English! – and get lost in modern and classical art, architecture, science, history, Carnival and everything else that has been part of our culture.

After the guided tour you will have a pretty good idea of the colourful history of the city and will look forward to discovering what the locals do after work. Depending on what your local guide has in mind, you might be able to check out some of the other activities as well.

 

Cologne Guitar Night

cologne guitar nightThe Cologne Guitar Night is held at the Rheinische Musikschule Köln which was founded in 1845 after the example of the Conservatoire de Paris. The school takes pride in delivering a great foundation in all traditional aspects of music appreciation as well as encouraging pushing boundaries and creating exciting and stimulating modern music. A perfect example for that is the guitar night, breaking down boundaries between old, classical guitar playing and juxtaposing or re-interpreting it within modern compositions. The five acts for Saturday night cover Latin Jazz Classic, Baroque and New music, World music with Sitar and piano, Venezuelan guitar and electric rock guitar and more from Belarus!

 

Being Refugee

being refugee2

Photos by hartmutschneider.de

This photographic exhibition is at the Mediapark and open til 6pm and is a chance to see how refugees in Germany see and record their lives and conditions in the refugee camps. While we are more than conscious of the often heart-breaking images in the main stream media of the refugees, one rarely gets to see into the inside of the camps and their minds. How do they see themselves in their new environment? How do they find a sense of belonging and understanding in a country whose language most have to learn from scratch? The initiative to let them document their lives has led to further projects, all aiming for greater understanding and support of each other. For current updates on all activities go and check their Facebook page out.

 

 

Echoes of Utopia – dance and politics

Das Echo der UtopienA different kind of exhibition that is open for viewing til 7pm, also at the Mediapark and curated by the Deutsches Tanzarchiv Köln. The German Dancearchive was conceived in 1873 in Berlin. After its destruction during WWII a new beginning was made in 1948 and in 1985 the archives were purchased by an arts trust of the Cologne municipal savings bank.  Today the archives do more than just document the history of dance, they are also a center for information exchange and research into classical and modern dance. In that capacity, this exhibition explores the connection between dance and politics, demonstrating that dance is more than ‘just’ for fun and pleasure. Through photographs, choreography drawings and videos you will be able to understand how dance is created, perceived and used as a physical tool to communicate a range of messages throughout time.

Hope you enjoy your time in my home town and do tell me what impressed you most!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

 

Kalkar in June

Explosion of colours

Fons vD2Once you’ve returned to Kalkar after your day trips discovering all about the Rhine and Romans in this area you might want to have a quick look at a current exhibition at the Beginenhof: “Explosion der Farben – Fons van Dommelen”. It is on the way to the Ratskeller, where you can enjoy your well-earned dinner afterwards.

Fons vD1The Dutch artist Fons van Dommelen has a distinct style using strong colours and sharp lines in his paintings and sculptures; creating energetic and powerful pieces of art, which are pleasing to the eye and stimulating for the mind. His figurines have a naïve appeal, while the abstract style of his other sculptures and paintings encourages a more critical approach. I hope you enjoy discovering him as much as I (Petra) had.

1280px-Kalkar_Northrhine-Westphalia_Germany_Moyland-Castle-01As your stay in Kalkar occurs during the middle of the week, it might be a bit quiet in town, but what an excellent opportunity to enjoy the views of the Rhine and the city center at leisure.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

Koblenz in May

Current activities

Koblenz GartenkulturFor the start of our tour in Saarbrücken we had some interesting suggestions of what else to see and explore there while enjoying a bit of spare time. We thought you might be interested to see what is on offer at the other end of the tour. Whether you’re spending an extra day here in Koblenz before joining us on the Rhine and Romans Tour or just killing some time before heading to other destinations, we found a few interesting things to do on 29th and 31st of May 2016.

Gardens that live

Bonsai KoblenzIn 2011 Koblenz hosted the BuGa and developed the motto that inspires its annual art, cultural and horticultural activities, “Koblenzer Gartenkultur”. For the last weekend in May there’s a couple of interesting things happening around the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress: throughout Sunday the local Tai Chi, Qigong and meditation groups have workshops and presentations throughout the day. To complement the Asian topic, the local bonsai club will have a display at the castle and you can find out all the nitty gritty details about this fascinating horticultural hobby.

Foreign shores

James-Webb_Ansicht-von-Ehrenbreitstein_1880_Öl-auf-Leinwand_M1990_1

James Webb: Ansicht von Ehrenbreitstein, 1880

If you’re more inclined to amble amongst artefacts, check out the city’s museum web site, in English! Lots to see and what got my attention was an exhibition titled “Are any British here?” An exhibition of the creative output by numerous British artists who visited the Rhine and Moselle valleys in the 18th and 19th century. The exhibition is at the Mittelrhein Museum, which unfortunately is not open on Mondays, so you might have to stay a day longer?! If not, there is one covering the history of military engineering in Germany or enjoy a guided tour through the local wine and sparkling wine maker cellar Deinhard. Monday seems to be the day-off for most other museums in Koblenz at the moment, so if you want to explore the culture and history you might need to stay for Tuesday as well. Unless of course you’re back on the road on Monday, discovering all about the Rhine and the Romans with our local tour guides.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

1280px-Reichsburg_CochemCochem celebrates its culture

Once you have emerged from the enchanting castle you will have the opportunity to discover how the locals celebrate their cultural heritage: during the week of the 25th and 29th of May the Mosel Wine Week is being held in Cochem.

The walk around the castle should have built up an appetite and strolling across the market you will be able to sample local food made to perfectly accompany the locally grown and produced wines and sparkling wines. Whether you’ll prefer to sit down at one of the vineyards’ stalls or wander from one to another, you will get a good a sampling of the different wines.

cochem wine weekLocal characters

Every place has their unique set of people that influence the feel and look of a town. In Cochem the local bands – ranging from modern covers to traditional German folk – provide the audio side of it during the festival, while you might be able to spot the Queen of Wine Charlotte I. and her Princess Isabel amongst the stalls and displays. The wine royalty symbolically represent the city and region of Cochem during tourism and other Cochem Majestaeteneconomic presentations, events and fund-raisers nationally and internationally. As ambassadors for a wine growing region, their motto says it best: visit Cochem to sample the care and attention given to the wines that make them so special, because the best place to try something is in its home town!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

Early start in Saarbrücken

Congratulations: you’ve decided to join us on our cycle trip along the Saar and Moselle this May and have arrived a day or two early in Saarbrücken. What an excellent opportunity to discover what the locals do on their weekends. As Germany is now well on its way into summer, a lot of outdoor activities are happening around the city. Check out some of the samples we have collated for you for the weekend of the 21st and 22nd  of May 2016.

Markets and other entertainment

Wochenmarkt SaarbrueckenSaturday is THE day to go to a farmers market and within a 3km radius of the city centre you can find three that sell local produce and crafty stuff. But mainly food: fresh fruit and veges, breads and cakes and everything else your palate can imagine. As it would have been in the good old days, usually these market are situated around a local church and you will find one at the Ludwigskirche and Sankt Johann. While you will be going on a guided city tour on Sunday, you might think about going on a boat trip on Saturday: whether just a short trip around the city area or even on a trip to France, have a look at one of the local transport companies’ booklets to get an idea. In the evenings the city has a variety of entertainment on offer as well: the local clubs present an eclectic mix of Oldies to modern pop music, theatres have productions of the Elephant Man, The Little Mermaid and modern dance/ballet from Czechoslovakia.

Museums and open days

640px-BobbycarAn interesting item on this weekend is the open day at one of the local fire brigades and the 4th anniversary of the youth section there. Not only will you be able to have a look at a German fire station, but can watch a Bobby car race there. Kind of like the Jaffa race down Baldwin street in Dunedin but on a kids toy, the Bobby car. If you prefer your entertainment a bit quieter, the local museums can give you plentiful insights into the local history, arts and crafts. A look on the city’s web site could make it easy, except there’s so much to see and so little time. Pick wisely or book a couple of days more and enjoy the sights and events around Saarbrücken at your leisure.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

Avantgarde and culture

School of sophisticated drinking bookBerlin always has been and always will be synonymous for a culture and society in motion. Artists – then and now – flock to the city to express their art and somehow make a living. Entrepreneurs with a gung-ho mentality open up boutique nightclubs, cafes, bars and whatever else they think might make a buck. Or they have a mission: bringing back the old feeling of underground rebellion, bringing back quality instead of serving the masses a quick rehash of the old favourites. Which is what the owners of the Victoria Bar set out to do when they opened their cocktail bar in 2001. Within two years they had established themselves as connoisseurs of traditional cocktails and set up the School of Sophisticated Drinking.

Spirits and their history

victoria bar berlinOnce a month the school offers with a fixed menu and price the opportunity to find out more about one particular bar spirit. For three hours the participants will be able to enjoy drinks mixed with the topic in question, accompanied by some consolidating finger food and increasingly humorous anecdotes relating to it. So far the ‘classes’ are held in German, but due to their popularity, they have finally published an English edition of their “text book’. And as every proper school does, they even offer school trips and field days!

If you find yourself spending some time in Berlin and you’d like to find out more about the history of your favourite tipple have a look at their schedules or just pop in to enjoy a good old fashioned well-made cocktail.

Bottoms up!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

 

Rinteln

Marktplatz_RintelnHaving left Hamelin and any pied pipers behind us, we gently bike north along the Weser. Along the river we encounter more examples of the famed Weser Renaissance architecture and countless ‘little’ waterways and lakes. These lakes are mostly quarry ponds turned into public swimming lakes and recreational parks. One of the more famous one is the Doktorsee, west of Rinteln. Rinteln itself is another well preserved example of the regional architecture and shows a city that had managed to procure city rights early on – Rinteln_Archivhäuschen_vor_dem_Münchhausenhofwhich meant taxing anyone and anything traveling on the Weser and through town – and maintain that profitable position for a considerable time. For two centuries – from 1619 – 1810 – it was even a moderately famous university town. Its adaptability was crucial for survival, as the politics, alliances and ownership changed frequently in those times.

Porta Westfalica

Porta Westfalica KanzelAs we continue towards Minden we come through Porta Westfalica, a city that was created in a communal land reform in 1973 and unites 15 local villages and communities. Its name comes from the central geographical feature of the region: the gorge between two mountain ranges, where the river Weser cuts through and enters the north German lowlands. This area has been called Porta Westfalica since the early 18th century, when it was fashionable for the elite to use Latin or French terms and means ‘gateway to Westfalia’. One could imagine this region having enjoyed a similar economic success as Rinteln, but because the only towns in this area with city and taxing rights didn’t have bridges across the Weser and were not connected to any major trade routes, they didn’t fare as well. This changed in the 19th century with the first bridge across the Weser in 1864 and the establishment of a railway connection to Cologne.

Minden

Minden RathausThe city of Minden has a colourful history dating back to the 3rd century A.D. Being located along the Weser and substantial economic rights being granted in 977 meant it became a prosperous city and the center of attention in the wars that ravaged the region during the 17th and 18th centuries. The 20th century proved equally difficult and the town sustained heavy damages towards the end of WWII, when bombings aimed at destroying underground war equipment factories destroyed large parts of the historic center. Unfortunately afterwards decisions were made to demolish damaged buildings and replace with modern structures. 800px-Minden_Windloch_1Despite that, a few of the more impressive buildings have survived and are now well looked after. Just a few examples: the reconstructed Minden Cathedral in the Romanesque/Gothic style; Minden old city hall, the oldest monumental Gothic city hall in the whole of Westfalia;  the smallest building in the city – ‘Haus am Windloch’ – was built in the 17th century as residence for the local city musician, who also maintained and played the churches’ organ. It was built so close to the church that the gap channeled very strong winds.  There are plenty of other buildings to admire as well on a quick tour through the city center.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens