Tag Archives: Germany

The IG Farben Building

Friday 10th May 2019, 5.55pm (day 2,815)

IG Farben building, 10/5/19

At one point during the conference I was attending at the Goethe University in Frankfurt today, there were vague references to ‘our famous building’ that drifted through my Friday consciousness but didn’t take hold. Then, on my way back into the city centre afterwards, I saw the building.

The IG-Farbenhaus has had a chequered history to say the least. HQ to the eponymous company, when built in the 1920s it was the biggest office building in Europe and remained so for thirty years. IG Farben manufactured the world’s first antibiotic — and also the gas that was used in the Nazi concentration camps. After the war the USA used it as a military base — the ‘Pentagon of Europe’; following German reunification ownership passed to the state of Hesse who renovated it and then helped the Goethe-Institut build a new campus around it from 2001 onwards. And all set in parkland (kept free of development by the Americans for security reasons) right in the city centre.

I’m sure this photo doesn’t do the architecture full justice, but what the hell, the sun looks good too.

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Frankfurt

Thursday 9th May 2019, 7.30pm (day 2,814)

Frankfurt, 9/5/19

Left Zagreb, with regret when it comes to the people and the general pleasantness of the place, but with no regret when it comes to the weather which was dreadful today. Further chewed up my CO2 allowance and hopped back to Frankfurt, which is one of the worst airports I’ve ever been to but at least you get a good view of the city on the way in. I’m here for just over 24 hours. This is about as intimate with the place as I’ll probably get.

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Entrance to the cathedral

Sunday 25th November 2018, 11.00am (day 2,649)

By Regensburg cathedral, 25/11/18

I claim that this blog is apolitical but it is hard to avoid touching on certain subjects sometimes. Why does this kind of thing still happen in a world where there are enough resources to lift everyone — and certainly, at least, everyone in a very rich country like Germany, and a very rich part of it, like Bavaria — out of poverty? We become inured to it, it becomes normalised, until we don’t even see it any more. Maybe that’s all I can say with this photo: here it is, still.

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The way out

Saturday 24th November 2018, 12.45pm (day 2,648)

Simbach station, 24/11/18

This is one of those shots that works if one gets the symmetry right — so it’s a shame both trains were not the same. But with this station, Simbach am Inn, lying right on the German/Austrian border, the one on the left goes into the first country, the one on the right, the latter. And who doesn’t love a bit of good old-fashioned Century Gothic font.

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Reni in virtual reality

Friday 23rd November 2018, 11.45am (day 2,647)

Virtual reality, 23/11/18

The reason I came to Germany was to come to a conference here, at the University of Passau, right in the bottom right-hand (south-east) corner of the country. The best experience I had at it was to get plugged in for ten minutes to an amazing virtual reality rig — created by students — which replicated, and rather well, the experience of being in a zero-gravity environment, specifically an abandoned space station. Once I got over the dizziness and tried to forget that my legs were relevant in this place, it was very effective. I wish I could somehow have photographed my own immersion, but that didn’t prove possible, so here’s fellow delegate Reni playing with it, after me.

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Munich Bierkeller

Thursday 22nd November 2018, 3.30pm (day 2,646)

Munich Bierkeller, 22/11/18

And so off I go to Germany for the second time this year, after Berlin in August. Munich was not my final destination, but I passed through this afternoon while changing from plane to train. It seemed appropriate that my best chance to take a representative picture came in this beer hall, for after all, that is probably the city’s most famous product. However, being honest, I don’t particularly like Munich — a couple of previous visits have suggested to me that the place is rather overrated, I just don’t find it a very interesting or exciting city. Anyway — that’s why I was just passing through.

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The Garden of Exile

Friday 24th August 2018, 11.50am (day 2,556)

Garden of Exile, 24/8/18

The building which houses the Jewish Museum in Berlin is one of the most brilliant pieces of architecture I have ever experienced. Even if it were empty of exhibits — and at the moment, due to a renovation, it nearly is — it would make you think. There are these great vertical voids throughout the building, including the ‘Holocaust Tower’, a vast blank space illuminated only by a sliver of light coming in through the top. Another is covered with these metal sculpted faces, representing the innocent dead, that you must walk across in order to traverse the space. Then there is this garden, the ‘Garden of Exile’ — its plants placed high up on these stone pillars. Walking around it, other people appear and disappear randomly from view. This is architecture of genius, and well worth visiting. Though don’t expect to come out of it feeling any happier about the world — except, perhaps, that it has been built in Berlin. That fact alone gives me some hope.

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By the wall

Thursday 23rd August 2018, 12.20pm (day 2,555)

East Side Gallery, 23/9/18Some parts of the old Berlin Wall remain in the city. Probably they could have been demolished back in 1990 but the authorities realised — correctly — that they were valuable as memorials and/or tourist attractions. Or, as in the case of the East Side Gallery, which runs beside the Spree for about a kilometer near the Ostbahnhof, an art installation; this long line of concrete has been decorated by a range of murals, including this one of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, who seems to disdain the busker beside him, playing as he is on a load of old water pipes, or something.

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It’s the Wurst

Wednesday 22nd August 2018, 5.50pm (day 2,554)

Wurst stand, 22/8/18

The next burst of summer holiday is taking place in Berlin, where Clare and I travelled today. We didn’t arrive until late afternoon and I feel I managed to do little, photographically, with the various opportunities offered: a few stereotypical shots of the Brandenburg Gate, which everyone snaps (our hotel is only a few minutes’ walk away). But this sausage stand nearby did capture the attention. As anyone who’s been to Germany knows, if you want a roadside sausage, this is the world epicentre. And that German word always gives scope for some dreadful pun or other.

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In transit, Munich airport

Saturday 28th March 2015, 2.45pm (day 1,311)

Munich airport, 28/3/15

This was just my transit airport, not my final destination. Bearing in mind where I have travelled to, going via Germany seemed rather bizarre, but ask my travel agent. Twenty years ago I once spent one of the worst and longest nights of my life trying to sleep in Munich airport (again, for reasons I can’t remember now), and I don’t like the city’s principal football team either (with apologies to their rivals 1860); so it’s not one of my favourite places. But today’s transfer was problem-free.

 

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