Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Art in Hamburg

In the Hamburg Kunsthalle
After an unsuccessful attempt to sketch the fountain in the middle of the Inner Alster lake from a cold and windy seat to the north (my sketch equipment kept blowing away), a visit to the Hamburg Kunstmuseum (art gallery) was a welcome and warm relief. Most of the building is being renovated but a well curated selection of works was on display in the basement of the one building still open. Old and new work nicely juxtaposed.
Alster Lake with fountain

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


In 2007 building started on the Elbphilharmonie, a brand new concert hall for the Hamburg Philharmonic orchestra built in the Speicherstadt (warehouse area) on the River Elbe. It is still inching toward completion, with cranes atop and cloth swathing the brickwork of the lower stories.

It looks different from each side.  Viewed from a ferry on the Elbe, the building looks like a giant sailing ship. The brick warehouse buildings are a nice counterpoint to the glass sailing ship. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wifi on Sunday morning

The radio beside her is transmitting a church service but it is in German, an as-yet unlearned language for this 15 year old, so she checks her WiFi contacts undisturbed. One of the results of this history tour is that she is now keen to learn her mother's language.

Breathing deeply in Hamburg's green

After five days in the middle of Berlin the lush green of Hamburg sooths the travel weary soul.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bundestag ingenuity

Climbing the glass dome of the Bundestag is unforgettable. We hadn't pre-registered online so we lined up with others in the 'spontaneous visits' queue. 

Everyone is given the option of head phones in their own language and as you progress up the ramp of the dome the headphones tell you when to stop, which direction to look and then tells stories about what you are seeing. It is an ingenious system because the device seems to be triggered by your position so you can go at your own pace.

From the top you can look right down into the parliamentary chamber. A moveable sun screen made of metal bars (picture 2) follows the sun so the chamber is protected from the heat and doesn't cost as much to cool.

One thing I like about Germany is that although they have rules they are perfectly willing to bend them. We had turned up 40 minutes earlier than our allocated time slot but were waved through without a problem.

Bicycles rule

Berlin car drivers are quite a different breed to those in Sydney. In Berlin there are bicycles everywhere and cars slow down to let them move into the traffic. Sydney drivers would be more likely to step on the accelerator just to teach the bicyclist a lesson. I am finding Berlin a refreshing lesson in good manners.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

All museumed out

If you buy a three day museum card you feel obliged to use it, so for the last three days we have been to see more museums than you could poke a stick at and tonight we are too tired to move another inch.

This morning we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art ... huge spaces full of work by Joseph Beuys and others of his ilk which we found exhausting and boring, probably reflecting the mood of the people who made the art.  There were groups of students there but not many other people.

The Old National Gallery, however, was full of people looking at (and taking pictures of) the 19th century paintings. That says a lot about 'contemporary' art really.

My young companion whipped out her camera and snapped away.  In between we had visited the Museum of Communication and she had found telephones like those my patents had on their hall wall quite hilarious.
"And that wasn't so long ago," she marvelled, "because it was in your lifetime!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

History can be fun

I always imagine museums to be full of stuffed birds (which perhaps they were once upon a time) so I am caught by surprise when one captures my imagination. Today was one of those days.
The Museum of German History in Berlin is a fascinating place and my 15 year old companion and I spent more than four happy hours there, slowly making our way through the history of Europe and Germany in particular. I was interested to see a very early clock as I had once thought of making one for an art project before discovering that they are exceedingly complicated. 
My companion responded to anything about women and children but we had to make our way through centuries of religion and wars before women and children made much of an appearance.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Berlin: graffiti ... Anne Frank museum

Graffiti on inner courtyards (with bicycles) in the arty Berlin suburb of Hackescher Markt .... and a photo taken inside the Anne Frank Museum which is up several flights of narrow stairs off one of the courtyards.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Maribor Music 2014

The Maribor Music Festival is over for another year. Wonderful music as always and very appreciative audiences. Brava to Brigita and the organising team.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gypsy Devils in Maribor

The Gypsy Devils played in Maribor on Sunday night to a very enthusiastic audience. Two and a half hours of virtuosic music with no notes and hardly a pause. The first half they played alone, the second they played with the Festival Orchestra. We all left humming.

Stefan Banyak, vituosic violinist

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Music in wet Maribor

Maribor on the River Drava: taken on the only fine day this week
Town square in Maribor
Maribor is a city that captures your heart. There is something about the place that makes you want to return repeatedly, something that is hard to pin down.

The city is quaint, but lots of cities have picturesque quarters. Maribor is safe, but then so are many others. The citizenry are rather old worldly and conservative but they are very friendly and accepting. And they all love music. Perhaps it is the music that makes you want to return repeatedly.

I have been here almost a week and it has been a very wet one. But never mind, I am here for the music. The musicians are busy rehearsing and the concert halls are leak proof. What more could one want?
Rehearsal in progress

Monday, September 01, 2014

Koi carp and butterflies

You have to admire an airport that has fish ponds and rooms of butterflies to entertain their guests. Singapore airport .... if you have to have a stopover, this is the right place to chose.
Butterfly in Singapore