Monday 28 January 2013

Wintry Schwarzwald (Black Forest)

Snow and sun in Saig which is about 1,192 m. above sea level

Sunrise and the view of the Alps from our hotel Alpenblick

Titisee, a natural glacier lake near Feldberg. Feldberg, the highest moutain at


Schwarzwälder Maedels as souvenirs from China

Wintry Urberg

Lots of spirits at Hotel Hochfirst

Cuckuroo-cuckoo, Cuckoo clocks

"Geschnetzeltes" sliced chicken with Rösti (fried grated potatoes)

From Freiburg, take the train up to Titisee. Regional buses served the region.

The friendly staff at Hotel Cafe Alpenblick in Saig

Hmmmmm, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte at Cafe Alpenblick

Man in Black in Snow in Saig

Fried Liver, one version

A piece of Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte as breakfast. Glorious!

Lake Schluchsee, the largest lake in Black Forest

From our hotel, viewing the Alps

Alpenblick Apartments for rent
If there's one place we really love to go back and spend short holidays in summer or in winter, it will be Schwarzwald or Black Forest known as one of the biggest and best known holiday regions in Germany. This year, it was a constant -8° C stay which we took as a great excuse not to do long walkings but chose to stay indoor and enjoy food which is the most elaborate German cuisine according to one info for tourists. We enjoyed the best versions of cooking liver in three different restaurants, tasted the best wine coming from the region and gave into temptation of eating Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest gateau) in every chance we saw them on display. I almost bought myself a Bollenhut hat as I need it for a costume for the coming Carnival season. When I asked for a bigger hat, the salesman told me it was only meant as decor on the wall and not to wear. Uuups, tourist on the loose in Titesee! No cuckoo clock for us this time. The last time I bought it, I sent it back to the Philippines where they discovered it was made in China. 
For a detailed, original info on Schwarzwald, please read further below:
The Black Forest covers a triangular section of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany, roughly 145 km (90 miles) long and 40 km (25 miles) wide. The Feldberg as highest mountain in the southern part reaches about 1493 m (5000 feet) - excellent for skiing in winter and hiking or mountain climbing in summer. The name "Black Forest (Schwarzwald)" is a little wrong, as the forests are no darker or blacker than anywhere else in Germany. In fact, the whole area receives considerably more sunshine than the overall average for the rest of Germany. It is a bright, open land of tree-covered mountains, intermittent pine and birch forests and mountains alive with fairy-tale villages. There is hardly a section of the Black Forest that is lacking in beauty and charm. Weathered great farmhouses dress the landscape. In the Black Forest you will find ski resorts and well-equipped spas, as well as ordinary mountain towns that are small, rustic, colorful, and often tucked away in valleys of stunning peacefulness and beauty. People from all over the world come to the Black Forest to rest and enjoy the beauty of nature. In the 19th century, for example, just about everyone who mattered in Europe gravitated to the Black Forest: queens, kings, emperors, princes and princesses, members of Napoleon’s family, and the Russian nobility, along with actors, actresses, writers, and composers. Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy were among the Russian contingent. Victor Hugo was a frequent visitor. Brahms composed lilting melodies in this calm setting. Queen Victoria spent her vacations here. Today it’s a favorite vacation setting for average citizens and travelers. Source:

Friday 18 January 2013

Der Film - Hannah Arendt

A film on the life of the philosopher and political theorist, Hannah Arendt who reported for The New Yorker in 1961 on the war crimes of the Nazi Adolf Eichmann. Regie: Margarethe von Trotta
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)
"There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous."

For a review of the film, please read below. Source:
                                                                                                                                                                   A Real Gem!
18 September 2012 | by Ray Lahey (Canada)
Few movies based on historical figures manage to combine a good sense of character with a first-rate story. Hannah Arendt is an exception. It is directed by Margarethe von Trotta, who had focused on such diverse (and strong) women of history as the nun and mystic Hildegard von Bingen and the leftist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg. Her latest film is the story of one key episode in the life of Hannah Arendt, the German-American philosopher and political theorist. But Hannah Arendt transcends the bounds of "feminist" filmmaking. It is a work that puts before the viewer key questions about the nature of evil, about acceptance of authority, and about personal responsibility. At the same time it is a fine piece of storytelling.

Arendt was a German Jew who had studied under the noted philosopher Martin Heidegger, and who had a romantic relationship with him that soured when the Nazis came to power and Heidegger publicly supported them. She soon left Germany for France but in 1940 was imprisoned by the Vichy regime in the detention camp in Gurs. Escaping after a few weeks imprisonment, she fled with her husband to the U.S. Throughout and after the war she was active in Jewish causes, including the Zionist movement. In the 1950s she began a career of writing and teaching, which included appointments at such universities as Princeton, Yale and the University of Chicago. She became noted for two popular books, The Origins of Totalitarianism and The Human Condition.

The film deals with one short period in her life, Arendt's reporting on the 1961 Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem for the New Yorker magazine, coverage she later turned into a book. In here account she spoke of "the banality of evil," evil done without thinking, because people were "following orders." Arendt's suggestion was that Eichmann was evil not so much because he was a monster, but because he was a mindless bureaucrat. Although she did not disagree with the guilty verdict or Eichmann's hanging, she was critical of the conduct of the trial. Even more controversial was her submission that some Jewish leaders contributed to the magnitude of the Holocaust by their complicity with the authorities. While she recognized the futility of open rebellion, she suggested that less cooperation would at least have saved more lives. Such suggestions, especially coming from a prominent Jew, provoked a firestorm of criticism, and threatened both Arendt's career and lifelong friendships. The movie becomes not just about a single life, but about freedom of expression - the sometimes harsh clash between ideas and fixed opinions - and the great personal costs this can involve.

Still, a movie that focuses so much on one individual requires a superb piece of acting. Director von Trotta gets this from Barbara Sukowa, who played both Hildegard and Rosa Luxemburg in her earlier films. Sukowa brings to the screen not only a supremely intelligent woman, but a very principled and determined one. At the same time she portrays a woman who can be tender and compassionate, and understanding even of her detractors. To blend such widely divergent qualities is no easy task, but Sukowa succeeds in anchoring them securely in the character she plays. Axel Milberg as Heinrich Blücher, Arendt's husband, more reserved, but supportive and protective, is equally credible. Another solid performance comes from Janet McTeer as the political activist, author, and Hannah's steadfast friend, Mary McCarthy. Included also among her inner circle was her secretary, Lotte, played very sympathetically and competently by Julia Jentsch. Two longtime Jewish friends, one in New York, Hans Jonas, and another in Jerusalem (also her former teacher), Kurt Blumenfeld, are very well represented by Ulrich Noethen and Michael Degen. And a very unrepentant and unapologetic Martin Heidegger is played by Klaus Pohl.

In addition to good acting a film that deals with the realm of ideas also requires a finely tuned screenplay and talented direction so that it does not just show pictures of "talking heads." Director von Trotta cooperated with Pam Katz on the script, and what they produced is obviously a labor of love. The situation of ideas against the background of such horrific concrete acts as genocide, and in particular against the showpiece trial of Eichmann, brings them into contact with the very real world. That reality is heightened by the decision not to dramatize Eichmann himself, but to show the genuine article as he appears in the TV footage of the trial. There is such genuine horror there, and yet such obvious banality, as to give Arendt's musings real weight.

In the end the film obliges the viewer to confront the questions Arendt is trying to raise. Are the roots of evil obvious or can they be far more subtle? Where does responsibility begin, and who in a society must take responsibility for the acts of the whole body? The film does not preach, but it certainly raises vital questions. A real gem! Hannah Arendt premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2012. The movie will go into general release on January 17, 2013.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Windmills of Holland in Kinderdijk-Elshout

The Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout is part of the list of  The World's Heritage of UNESCO in 1977.  

 The Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout
The contribution made by the people of "the low countries" to the technology of handling water is enormous, and this is admirably demonstrated by the installations in the Kinderdijk-Elshout area. Hydraulic works to drain the land for agriculture and settlement began in the Middle Ages and have continued uninterruptedly to the present day. The site contains all the relevant elements of this technology - dikes, reservoirs, pumping stations, administrative buildings, and a series of impeccably preserved windmills. (Source:
Ideal place to run or do your powerwalk but choose a day when tourists are not invading this cozy village.

Yes, was there on the first day of the year, the first non-raining day of my stay in NL. Lucky with the weather although it was a bit windy and wintry cold.

View of the village of the windmills

The Netherlands is famous for its windmills. Today there are still more than 1.000 mills. Nowhere in the world you will find as many windmills as near (the Dutch village) Kinderdijk. Around 1740 no less than 19 sturdy mills were built here. They have been well preserved to the present day. The mills drain the excess water from the Alblasserwaard polders - which are situated below sea-level - after which the water is sluiced into the river Lek (the Rijn).The powerful mill sails serve to transmit the force of the wind on to large paddle-wheels which scoop up the water. Nowadays power-driven pumping engines do the job, including one of the largest water screw pumping-stations in Western Europe.
(For detailed info, please see