Been on the road for the past few days so been unable to send out the travelogues. So I decided to group them all together rather then send seperately, please take your time to read them and enjoy.
All those years of watching Holocaust films, visiting the Museums and memorials being surrounding by all the images of the horrors of Hitler and the camps, and still I was not prepared for the emotions that would well up inside of me as I stepped upon the compound of the Dachau concentration camp.
Just the emptiness of the “roll call” space was enough to bring tears to my eyes as I crossed alone in the cold. Surrounded by what was once the Barracks, barbed wire electric fence, and gate stating “work makes you free.”
What especially moved me to tears was seeing all the large groups of students visiting the site. For years the German Community was in denial of the Camps, and yet here they are now educating their youth to remember and not forget. Yet I could not help but feel disgusted by their brashness and teenage attitudes towards the experience. They seemed to be not taking it as seriously as I thought they should, laughing and playing with each other as they made their way past where barrack after barrack once stood, over-packed with prisoners in three tiered bunk beds.
After just an hour of the place and its visitors I could not take anymore, I began to feel sick and had to leave. for the rest of the day I was in shambles. Exhausted and wasted, just coming to terms that despite all the positive experiences I have been having here in Germany, there is still always this not too far distant past to contend with.
Time Travel 12/10
I feel as if I have stepped back into the Middle Ages with all the comforts of the 21st Century. Cobble stone streets, short squat houses with painted designs and gingerbread roofs, Gothic churches, fountains and the sheer magnitude of the German Alps rising from all around nestled in with cars, lights and cell phones.
I am currently staying the night in Fussen a small Alpine village just west of where King Ludwig II built two of his fantasy castles. I just took a ride to see one of them at night, and it is the Historical image of what Disney based Cinderella’s castle on, Yet Ludwig built it in the 19th Century near the ruins of at Medieval Castle.
When I first arrived I found myself driving through streets that were just meant for walking and shopping, I was caught in a maze of cobblestones, fountains and cute little shops. I even came upon a manhole cover with a unique design of a three legged figure with a triangle in the middle, which after I took a photo looked up to the towering Abby and noticed a place to get on the internet at the same time that the church bells were ringing throughout the town.
Finding it hard to drive as I wish to photograph so much for my work and memory. Rode down on a highway called the “Romantic Road” at moments it sure was, but then dotted along the way were signs for McDonalds and Burger King, Oh well so much for Romance in the 21st Century, while looking for the 15th Century.
It is a joy to be back in the mountains, and even though there is not as much as what just fell in NY I also came upon some snow. The sky is absolutely clear, leaving wide-open space for the moon to cast its glow over all. Tomorrow the castles and more landscape.
Oh man am I beat.
The middle of my back, the area just between my shoulder blades is just killing me. I need to invest in a super duper massage when I return, to work out the kinks of carrying around my backpack all day.
Well I am settling in for the night with a cup of chamomile tea and a linzer torte in a boarding house in Regensburg. Spent the day as a typical tourist seeing one of Ludwig the II’s castles, and then driving from the southeastern tip of Bavaria to directly the opposite direction toward the northwest.
The castle is located way up the mountain, teetering off the side like a fortress. To get up to it you have three options. Shuttle bus, which does not run in winter, a horse carriage that you pay for, or walking. I chose the latter, and while on the way up I had another lost in time experience. Just like Finney wrote in his book, Time and Again, the object of going back in time is to place yourself within the context of that time with as little distractions as possible. For his character to go back to Victorian NY, he had him live in the Dakota high up so that he could not see the traffic lights and only see the vastness of Central Park. The magical moment of his time travel occurred while in the snow filled park with no electric lights or the sound of cars and the sound of a horse drawn sled going by set him back. I came close to this moment when walking up the hill to the castle and I had the view of Ludwig’s Schloss Neuschwanstein ahead of me and his father’s Schloss
Hohenschwangau in the distant and with the sound of one of the horse drawn carts going by I looked out into the woods and slightly closed my eyes feeling the crispness of the morning to recreate the feeling of walking through time back to the 19th century. Magical.
Once up at the castle it was just me the loley American amongst a throng of Japanese and and young French tourist groups meandering through the 19th century version of a medieval castle. to be honest I found the experience quite a let down. I much enjoyed better the real medieval castle Olivier and I visited in the Loire Valley then the “Mad King” Ludwig’s version. Too much Wagner.
But it was worth seeing the view and being enveloped by the Alpine skyline.
I have been basking in the light of the moon each and every night.
While driving northwest I spent a lot of time taking more pictures. over 200 today. Using a digital camera with loads of memory can be real addictive. Lots of images to play with when I get home.
After arriving in Regensburg I got myself out to the City center for a cold evening stroll through the Roman streets in search of a quiet restaurant. found the perfect German one finally on the back streets, where I had authentic German Potato salad and the hot mulled wine with my fried fish. The City central is a real gem, more cobble stone streets, but I swear it was not the wine, but the buildings all seemed to bulge outward from the bottom to the second floor then slant back inward as they worked their way up the floors. You could feel you were walking through a traditional Romanesque village, not a Renaissance version. All seemed solid, and thanks to the German’s desire to brighten up the long winters everything is painted in yellows, oranges and pinks.
Tomorrow’s plan is to drive through the Bavarian Forest.
The Bavarian Forest 12/12
The main thing this three-day excursion has taught me is how to better appreciate the process of getting to a place versus just trying to get there.
Which ironically enough is the main point of my work. To emphasize the Limen or space in between from one place to another.
The problem is that I have tended to forget this when I am driving long distances. I have driven across the country 5 times and yet I always just kept on driving as fast as I could to just get to my destination, not really stopping and enjoying the places in-between.
This trip has brought me closer to better appreciating what one can discover along the way since the main purpose of this drive has been to photograph the passing landscape. For the first time I really feel like I am taking my time to really see what I am driving past, studying the views, stopping to compose and turning around to double back to a good spot. And being that I have been on back roads versus the Highways, finding a place to eat and use a bathroom has taken much patience and time to discover the right ambience. For instance an English tea cafe where I sat alone amongst a portrait gallery of Queen Victoria and her court drinking Tea and having a Tomato soup. Sometimes I was unlucky and found myself in a smoke filled bar/cafe, which was not inviting at all.
The weather was back to fog and mist, and at one point while riding up into the pine covered mountains the road got a bit treacherous with a fresh layer of snow where I could barely see 10 feet ahead of me due to the fog. What made the ride bearable yet awkward was the uncertain moments of looking up at the pine trees on the sides which as they slowly came into focus out of the mist their branches seemed like frost covered fingers slowly reaching out toward the road. A reminder of what Fantasy and the living woods is made of.
I am spending this night in Passau. Another Romanesque town, on the confluence of three rivers, The Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. Like Pittsburgh the old center is at the Peninsula. I am staying in a hotel that was once a monastery, so the rooms are long and narrow, sparse save for the Romantic rustic furniture. The streets are cobble stoned, narrow twisty to the point of where you are not sure if there is an exit at the end or not since it is blocked by the side of another house. They say this place is similar to Salzburg, the colors are the yellows, oranges and pinks again like Regensburg. I feel so overwhelmed by the similarity of all the buildings, how they flow to and from and in and out of one another, not like NY where the new is built right on top of the old. And what amazes me even more is that I am seeing the exact same architecture that I saw carved into the stone walls of Petra, Jordan. Incredible the influence of the Roman Empire throughout the Middle East
Tomorrow I head back to Munich, for some last minute work on preparing the show and to hang out with my new friends. And then back to NY on Monday.