Monday, October 26, 2009

Romanic Trier (oldest city in Germany)

Established in 16 B.C., Trier is a Roman and oldest city in Germany. Thus, considered by Germans as the 'Second Rome'. It is situated at the Northernmost part above Saarland state where I temporarily reside and is about 1 hour by land trip. In its west lies the small but beautiful country of Luxembourg.

Its rich Roman heritage is evident in the many Roman structures like the Century old churches and monuments which until now mightily standing still and attracting millions of tourists. Among them the following:

Porta Negra

The impressive "Black Gate" is a 2nd century Roman city architecture. It owes its survival to its use by a revered hermit monk and subsequent transformation into a two-story church. The gate dates back to a time (about A.D. 180) when the Romans often erected public buildings of huge stone blocks (here, the biggest weigh up to six metric tons).

Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen)
Going to the baths was an important part of Roman life: Over 1600 years ago, the Romans built one of the grandest and most impressive baths in the world: the Imperial Baths. Today you can visit this gigantic bathing facility: go back in time to the Roman era, descend into the subterranean labyrinth and get a feel for history!

Roman Imperial Throne Room (Konstantin Basilika)
Built in 310, this huge brick structure was the throne hall of Emperor Constantine the Great and other Roman emperors. This is the largest surviving single-room structure from Roman times. The Romans wanted the architecture to express the magnificence and might of the emperor.

Electoral Palace (Kurfuerstliches Palais)
Late baroque south wing (1757-1761) by Johannes Seiz. The Electoral Palace directly next to the Basilika is considered one of the most beautiful rococo palaces in the world. Among many other facets, a princely staircase in the present seat of the District Administration (ADD) reveals the splendour of the Electors and Archbishops.

Main Market (Hauptmarkt)
The Main Market became the center of medieval Trier with:
  • the Steipe, the city council's banqueting house, with immediate access to the city church St. Gangolf (through the little baroque gate on the south side, the church itself is completely surrounded by stalls and houses)
  • the official city yardstick (reconstruction) at the Steipe
  • the pillary (reconstructed on the south end of the market)
  • access to the Cathedral
  • access to the Jewish Quarter
  • as well as to six streets altogether.
Jew's Alley (Judengasse)
Shortly before the market, Jews' Alley (Judengasse) on the right leads into the former medieval Jewish Quarter. Locally produced weights with Hebrew inscriptions show that there were Jews in Trier as early as the first or second century. Starting with the eleventh century, a Jewish community in Trier was recorded, and in 1235 four Jews had four houses built on the left of the later Judengasse.

The cellars are still the original ones; in the Pub »Abwaerts«, you can still see the walled-up entrance to a flight tunnel leading to the Cathedral Close.

The Jews were expelled from Trier in 1418. Many Jews went east; Yiddish has preserved traces of Trier Middle High German up to today. When the Jews were called back after 1600, they settled in different parts of the city. After the Holocaust of the Nazi era, the Jewish community in Trier is quite small (the New Synagogue is located in Kaiserstrasse).

Karl Marx House
It may come as a surprise that Karl Marx was not born in an industrial city but in Trier, which at that time (May 5, 1818) had fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. The other surprise may be that the birthplace, today's Karl Marx Museum (Karl-Marx-Haus), is not to be found in Karl-Marx-Strasse but Brueckenstrasse 10 (the first section was not renamed in order to keep the historical address).

Old Cranes
On the banks of the Moselle, you can view two monuments to the remarkable technology of the past: two loading cranes, both bearing witness to the former lively trade on the river. The cranes have moveable roofs which move atop mighty round substructures. Inside each is an enormous treadmill which was driven by human muscle power to move the pulleys. The northerly crane was built in 1413, and the one nearer to the Roman Bridge was built in 1774. The area was inhabited over a long period by the families of boatmen and fishermen. Only later were the cranes turned over to various orders of the Church.
The Cathedral/Cathedral St. Peter (Dom)
In the heart of the city, the present Cathedral stands on top of a former Constantinian Palace, later the largest Christian church in Antiquity. Originally built by Constantine, this is the oldest church in Germany. It houses an array of artworks and a holy relic that still receives many pilgrims: the Holy Robe of Christ. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Church of Our Lady (Liebfrauenkirche), the oldest Gothic Church in Germany built in the 13th Century. It is however closed for a moment for some renovations.

With its very rich heritage, Trier is a recommended tourist site that one has to discover. There are a number of interesting sights and structures that I have not posted here. This entry is not enough to post them all.

Labels and descriptions excerpted and edited from:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Frankfurt and the Asia Connection

Are you a book worm?

If the answer is yes, then the International Book Fair (in German: "Internationalen Buchmesse") is for you. But if the answer is not, just like me, having fun looking around is not disgusting but rather fun.

Take my experience for example. Me and some colleagues attended this worldwide event of the geeks last October 18, 2009 in its usual venue, the Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The word "worldwide" implies the huge crowd of spectators that includes of course the exhibitors from the seven continents, book readers and collectors, dignitaries invited for speaking engagements, and the sight-stealing group of teenagers dressed in anime costumes.

[Frankfurt am Main (Main pronounced as 'mine' after River Main) fifth largest city in Germany and is the second largest metropolitan area. A part of early Franconia, the inhabitants were the early Franks. The city is located on an ancient ford on the river Main, the German word for which is "Furt". Thus the city's name receives its legacy as being the "ford of the Franks".

Situated on the Main River, Frankfurt is the financial and transportation center of Germany and the largest financial center in continental Europe. It is seat of the European Central Bank, the German Federal Bank, the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Trade Fair, as well as several large commercial banks. Frankfurt Airport is one of the world's busiest international airports, Frankfurt Central Station is one of the largest terminal stations in Europe, and the Frankfurter Kreuz (Autobahn interchange) is the most heavily used interchange. Frankfurt is the only German city listed as one of ten Alpha world cities. Frankfurt lies in the former American Occupation Zone of Germany, and it was formerly the headquarters city of the U.S. Army in Germany.] -Wikipedia

And because I am not a bookworm, I am not going to talk about books from here on. But on my playful side.. ANIME and its by-product: Cosplay!  I was amazed with the Asian influence, especially of Japan's renowned manga, to the European youngsters.

Being the number 1 Naruto fanatic in the world, i quickly recognized the first teen dressed in Akatsuki costume that i saw passing by. The first thing that came to my mind is to take photo with him but I realized i was there for a more serious purpose, so i stopped the urge. Upon seeing a couple of others loitering around, i bother to ask if they are part of the event. But they said it was just for fun.

And so i also have fun. Never mind the books, i don't have the money to buy and the time to read it anyway.
So, here goes the fun...

Classical but very artistic.

Definitely loved the Akatsuki costumes. These guys acted like a pro.

This one is so cute. She can mock the costume she puts on. Looks like Britney Spears though.

This young couple are real sweethearts. The girl, Claudette, is a Fil-German whose mother hailed from San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. Though a fluent German, she admitted she still understands some Visayan and Tagalog words and can converse a little bit. What got us so amused was her French-looking but German boyfriend who was more than fond of talking to us like an OFW excited to have found a fellow Filipino abroad. He recalled few words that Claudette's mother oftenly used like "Ano, ano? Siguro...", "gwapa and gwapo", and he even know what is going on in the Philippines like the devastation caused by typhoon Ondoy. Very conversant. He was even the one who noticed the Ako Mismo dog tag i wore and recognized the Philippine flag. That was amazing!

Another Akatsuki costume in a great pose.

A Naruto Picnic.

So... who says Book Fair is boring?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Germany: The Departure

October 5, 2009 marked the very special day where i make the first step in a foreign land. (Sounds moon landing, right?) It was never a dream. All I wish was just to reach the four corners of the Philippines. But God gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. Here i am... in Deutschland!

Photo op before leaving the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Looking back 6 months ago, i was just taking my chances.. read the scholarship invitation referred by my mentor Uriel, received encouragement from my boss Jake to apply, then i find myself accomplishing all the forms and submit to the InWEnt Office in Manila (i heard they will be moving to Jakarta soon).

The months after receiving the confirmation of acceptance to the scholarship program was hectic and time bound. Everything is planned and scheduled. That was starting April of 2009. So as anyone may notice, there has been no update in this blog for quite a long time. But only few knew the going ons, not even my family knew that i will be going out of the country for a study. I only indirectly informed them few days before my departure. Well, they were already accustomed to my attitude of not informing them wherever i go as i always make travels. They just get used to it.

So much for the storytelling, The Islander goes international this time. Might as well blogging international. This time about my new home for one year... the home of the cars, beers, and sausages --Deutschland!

Our connecting flight was in Amsterdam, Netherlands, aboard the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The 15-hour travel was quite tiring but for the new experience, i never felt it.

Aboard the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines having fun -watching movies, listening to music, playing games, and taking pictures (while our butts were aching in pain)

We were astonished at how extravagant the foods served. The packaging always says a lot.. q-u-a-l-i-t-y.

The busy Schipol (Amsterdam) Airport Terminal

The Amsterdam Terminal is so big but with plenty of signages around one cannot get lost.

From Amsterdam we boarded a smaller aircraft, with like 100 person capacity, to Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurt has two terminals, the old and smaller one in Berlin that is now for use of smaller planes for cargo and the am Main in Frankfurt used for commercial flights.
Pose before boarding the train next to the terminal exit. Imagine how huge the terminal is for a connecting train to exist.

From Frankfurt am Main Airport, we were fetched by a fellow from InWEnt who drove us to the Carl Duisberg Haus in Saarbrucken for 2 hours. Saarbrucken is located at the Southwestern part of Germany bordering from France. This will be our home for a month before transferring to another place in Germany and will serve as a briefing house to orient us about the culture, lifestyle and living in Germany.

Arrival at the Carl Duisberg Haus also known as the Reception Center for scholars from other countries.

Posing at the CD Haus marker.

The welcome midnight snacks: fruits and yoghurts.

One word to describe the experience: Astonishing!