Weimar and the Bauhaus

Weimar is a very popular spot for school kids on field trips. We have run into numerous groups of, perhaps, high school age teenagers. There is much history (literature, politics, philosophy, art and design) in the town, so it is a draw for educators. I think the Europeans have a much different view on field trips than Canadians. They just do it, whereas the liability thing holds back our education system.

Today we walk a bazillion kilometres following the Bauhaus. We view two different houses that Henry van de Velde built. He was the original creator of the arts and crafts school that eventually became the Bauhaus. One of the houses was Van de Velde’s own house and one was Nietzsche’s final residence before he died.

Lunch was Thuringia Bratwurst on a bun with mustard, eaten in the square on a bench in the shade with other hungry folks doing the same thing. The Bratwurst stuck out of both ends of the bun and it looks quite silly, but tasty! We are partaking in life just like the Germans!

Bauhaus University

Bauhaus University – one of the original buildings

The best part of the day is touring the Bauhaus University. The tour is totally in German, so we don’t get much out of the words, but we get into some places that we would not have gotten into on our own. We enter the Director’s Office, which was put together for the 1923 exhibition of the Bauhaus work. Each department was responsible for creating some part of the finished project, the furniture, carpets, wall decorations, lighting.

Bauhaus Director's Office for 1923 exhibition

Bauhaus Director’s Office for 1923 exhibition

We also see the art work in one of the stair wells done by a Bauhaus student (Herbert Bayer) that follows the colours of Kandinsky done for the same exhibition. There is a blue circle motif on the first floor, red square on the second and a yellow triangle on the third. It was very exciting to see these early Bauhaus creations.

Bauhaus artwork

Bauhaus stairwell artwork

Bauhaus artwork

Bauhaus stairwell artwork

The main stair was painted by the ‘Master of Form’ at the Bauhaus, Oskar Schlemmer. It was removed by one of the later directors of the Bauhaus for being to ‘bourgeois’, (he was a communist) but was restored and now adorns the stair once again.

Bauhaus artwork

Bauhaus stairwell artwork

After sushi for supper, we take in the first half of a free concert held at the Hochschule fur Musik Franz Liszt (a music school for young classical musicians). We hear these university aged students play Schumann, Bloch and Schostakowitch. Very complicated music, I don’t think it is easy stuff to play. They are exceptional and we wish we could stay for the second half but we have a hotel Dessau to book and a blog post to write. Duty calls!

Bauhaus artwork

Bauhaus artwork

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The Bauhaus Trail

For a long time I have wanted to go on this pilgrimage to follow the trail of the early 20th century design school, the Bauhaus. After a ride on the ICE train from Munich we arrive in Weimar at about noon. After we check into the Hotel Anna Amalia, a funky small hotel in the center of town, we head to the Tourist Info place to get a map and info on what Bauhaus sights might be about.

Weimar, Germany

Next year is the 100th anniversary of the first year the school opened and they are building a new museum to house the articles that had been collected over the years. Unfortunately for us they have already closed the old museum and the stuff they have is not displayed anywhere.

Haus Am Horn, Weimar

Haus Am Horn, the first Bauhaus building to be realized in Weimar

There are still bits and pieces to see like the first house designed on Bauhaus philosophies, Haus am Horn. Georg Muche, one of the school’s ‘Masters’, designed the house and construction was finished in 1923. So we amble off through the cities wonderful river park, across the river and up a wicked steep hill in search of our first real sighting of a Bauhaus work of art. Once found it is really not that exciting. It is fenced in but the gate is open. The building is closed for maintenance so all we can do is peak in the windows.

The Bauhaus is one of Weimar’s less known claims to fame. The city is know as the birth place of German democracy. After the first world war the German powers that be met here, rather than in Berlin, to put together the structure of the new Germany. After the emperor Kaiser Wilhelm had be ousted from office and representatives from all over Germany laid the foundation for a democratic state. From 1919 to 1933  Germany was unofficially named the Weimar Republic.

Weimar, Germany

Earlier than that, in the 19th century Weimar was a gathering place for cultural and intellectual giants. Johann Wolfgang Goethe lived most of his adult life here writing works that include Faust. Johann Schiller, a friend of Goethe’s and also a writer spent the last years of his live in Weimar. Franz Liszt and Johann Sebastian Bach both spent some time here, as did Carl Maria von Weber. All well know composers in their time and giants in the classical music field 200 year hence. A few years later Friedrich Nietzsche, a philosopher much studied over the last century, spent the last years of his life in Weimar.

Goethe's Garden House

Goethe’s Garden House

So even though one of this town’s highlights, at least for me, is not available to view, tomorrow should be interesting enough as we chase the ghosts of some very famous people.

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Weird Art and a Beer Garden

I, Murray and I drive downtown to go to the Haus der Kunst (House of Art) to see some modern artworks.  All I can say is WEIRD! I don’t understand modern art and it is not my definition of art. It must be someone’s (the artist’s??), but not mine. I cruise by the pieces looking at them and try to expand my mind and artistic sensibilities, but I am not sure the art will leave as lasting an impression as a Van Gogh.

In the afternoon, the four of us drive to Ammersee, a lake about 35 km outside Munich. We eat and drink at a typical Bavarian beer garden. It is a glorious hot day, and the lake, beach and beer garden are busy. Swimming, sailing, paddling and sunning are the enjoyment for this wonderful September hot weather.

Lake Ammersee

Lake Ammersee

We sit in the shade in the beer garden sipping on Cokes and beer. Murray and I eat Rote Currywurst and Pommes Fritz. Roasted sausage in a BBQ sauce with curry powder sprinkled on top with french fries. Pretty good for hungry folks. We chat with I&R and learn about Germany and Bavaria. We are discovering there are many similarities between Germany and Canada and their peoples

Bavarian Beer Garden

Bavarian Beer Garden

Tomorrow we must say goodbye to our friends as we are off to Weimar to follow the Bauhaus.

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King Ludwig

The general consensus is that King Ludwig was crazy. In the mid to late 19th century he set about to build three different opulent castles. The best know of the three is the one Walt Disney copied with the Fantasyland castle in California.

The Lake at Herrenchiemsee

The Lake at Herrenchiemsee

We set off in the morning to visit Herrenchiemsee.  It is located on an island on lake in Bavaria just south of Munich. We set out on the autobaun and travel along at pedestrian speeds for Germany because the Saturday morning traffic is so thick it holds the speeds down to around 100 or 110 kph.

We arrive in Prien, Chiemgau a touristy town. It is not overrun with people but it is busy. There are several lake size tour boats that ply the waters of Lake Chiemsee. One of the stops is at the island that King Ludwig bought in 1873. He had grandiose ideas for all three of his castles. His ‘hero’ king was Louis XIV of France. So Herrendhiemsee is full of references and innuendo to his hero. There are rooms that are copies of rooms in Versailles. There are portraits of Louis, with a sort of 19th century photoshoped image that made him look younger and slimmer then he actually was.

Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee

Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee

The castle decoration is in the Barque and Rococo styles, meaning quite fussy and curvy detailing. Tons of gold, 5 kg of gold leaf in total was used to decorate the rooms that were finished before he died. Every one of the  public rooms shone and glistened. His private chambers are still very fancy but he held back and not as much gold is on display. The great hall is jaw dropping. An audible and collective “aahh” could be heard as the group entered the room.

Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee

Maybe this king was crazy, maybe not, but he sure knew how to spend money. The palace was never finished. Ludwig died before he could deplete the money in the royal coffers but what is completed is very well preserved and is an attraction worth a visit.

Sorry there are no pics of the inside as photography is verboten.

Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee

Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee

It was quite a relaxing not hurried day as the trip is far and takes the entire day. The ride home was quite a bit quicker as the traffic was less and traveling, at times, up to 180 kph cuts down travel time considerably.

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Day 2 in Munchen

Clock Tower, Munich

Clock Tower, Munich

We found where all the tourists hang out. Yesterday we did encounter a few travelers moving in groups headed by tour guides as they wandered up to the cities sites or a few random folk at the galleries we stopped at. Today we stop in Marienplatz. It is the plaza from which to view the famous clock tower that has the moving figures as the clock strikes the hour. Every man and his dog is standing in the square as the bell tolls. Their necks are craned upwards and their cameras are ready. 15 minutes later the show is over an 3/4 of the crowd head to the market next door to search out lunch. We muse over the fact that many many people experience the clock through the lens of an iPhone camera and not with their own eyes. What happened to just watching and experiencing without feeling the need to get it all recorded?

Wittlesbach Residenz, Munich

Wittlesbach Residenz, Munich

We do go to another art museum, but the cool thing we did was to go to the Residenz Museum (a castle) to see the rooms that are done in the Rococo fashion of design. Gold, curly designs, over the top decorating. That is Rococo. It was fabulous!

Residenz, Munich

We meet I&R in Odeonplatz and walk through the English Garden, a huge park that rivals Hyde and Central Parks in size. Just on the edge of the park, near a bridge there is a spot in the river that has a natural standing wave. Surfers surf this wave. It is about 30 ft across and they take turns surfing back and forth along the wave. It is a short ride for some and then they are back in the cue for another try.

Surfing in Munich

Surfing in Munich

We walk to a typically Bavarian restaurant for supper and munch on snitzel, roast pork and steak. We share a dessert of pancakes mixed with raisins, almonds and sugar which is topped with apple sauce. Yummy!

Another full day in Munich!

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1,2,3 Munich

Copenhagen is not really busy at 4.30am. How do we know, you ask? Well, it is because we, on our very own, booked a flight from Copenhagen to Munich leaving at 7.30am so we needed to be at the train station at 5am. There are always a few silly folks up at that hour but for all intents and purposes the place is empty.

Munich on the other hand is very busy at 1pm. The flight arrives at 9am and we meet our friends I and R. We say our hellos, chat for a while, have lunch and seeing as how it is really a work day I and R have to buckle down and actually work so Debbie and I head of to downtown Munich to see what is up and take in a couple of galleries.

In the late 19th century and the early 20th century Munich had replaced Berlin as the cultural center of Germany and intellectuals and artists gathered here to talk technique and philosophy. This was a time of much change and the thoughts and ideas of those in the arts would have a great influence on the future. The art work of that era is my favorite. The impressionist, the expressionists and the groups in and around that time have always piqued my interested.

Today we see a good many works by Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider Group). A group of artists including, Macke, Marc, Munter, Jawlensky, Klee, and Kandinsky. The Lenbachhaus here has a vast collection donated by Gabriele Munter in 1957. She had many works she had collected when she one of the painters in the group.

The Neue Pinakothek has a collection of works from 1800ish to 1910ish. Again some of our favorite work is from this time period. Another gallery worth stopping in at. It is arranged so you progress through the gallery in a chronological manner and it is interesting to see the development of the painting styles. One or two paintings or sculptures will be slightly different from the others of the same period. Then a ‘movement’ forms and the artists are considered quite radical. Soon the public buys in and then the ‘style’ becomes common place. Just when we get to the era that interests me most the gallery is having climate control problems in a section of the gallery and three of the rooms are closed to the public for the time being. C’est la vie, I totally enjoyed the other sections anyway.

We got up early this morning so enough touring for the day. We head back to R and I’s house enjoy a Bavarian BBQ dinner, chat for a while and head to bed.

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Loose Ends

Last day in this run of Denmark’s biggest city. There are a few things we haven’t had time to do so this is a clean up day. Two galleries that are on our list do not open until noon and the last few days we had passed by them before opening. There are a couple of stores specializing in Danish designed furniture and products we most definitely want to walk through. I set out a route that would have us walking to the most distant gallery and then take the bus back. We need a little time to sort out what we are going to pack for the Germany leg of this trip. Without bikes and riding gear we should be able to get all we need into a shoulder bag each.

The first gallery has one exhibition we most definitely do not get. During the evenings it is a performance piece with actors that interact with the audience. In Danish, so it would not be of much use to us. During the day it is an installation with the remnants of the previous evenings performance. Only thing is it is all in Danish and we don’t get it either. The other exhibit is more accessible and we spend some time reading and wandering and analyzing.

Light/sound installations are popular in art galleries these days. Most are ho hum and I spend a couple of seconds in the area and walk on. The one in the second gallery we visit catches my attention and we spend 15 mins. or so in the room listening and watching. The other show is fascinating. With a single sheet of paper the artist depicts a 2 dimensional drawing and then by tearing the paper to construct another part to the composition and photographing it, the result is a 3 dimensional illusion. I found this really cleaver and spent a goodly amount of time looking at each and every picture.

In Copenhagen like any other big city, the variety of food available is vast. You can eat whatever your heart desires. I manage to try a couple of traditional Danish meals. The first is a roast pork sandwich. Not too unusual except the pork is roast with the rind on and the rind is very crisp. Tooth breaking crisp. It was OK. Today I had (sorry I don’t know if it an ‘a’ or if this is the general classification) Smorrebrod. Basically it is an open face sandwich. They are on display in a glass case and come with a variety of different toppings, shrimp and boiled egg, salmon and egg salad, roast pork, and, and, and. I had a smoked salmon with egg salad on white bread. Again, OK but not something I would search out on a regular basis.

Although surrounded by water, albeit salt water, and in a country that has more than it’s share of rain therefore a lot of fresh water, water, even tap water costs in restaurants. I’m guessing that is why everyone drinks beer.

One thing Debbie noted on our touring about the last few days is the size of the cars in the big city. All throughout Denmark we noticed the people drove little cars. Here, although only one 1/2 ton truck, the cars are at least a size bigger. The roads are actually quite wide here and there is not much street parking so it is possible to maneuver the beasts around and they are still not on average as big as at home but they are definitely bigger.

When I was in architecture school it was generally thought that paving stones (cobbles) are preferable to concrete and/or asphalt. They are more in scale with humans, they provide texture, they break up the unsightly uniform expanse, yada, yada. It is easy to buy into the rhetoric. After all concrete sidewalks, and asphalt roads are not the most aesthetically pleasing surfaces. I mentioned riding on the cobblestones and how it is not very nice. Well, after spending 3 days on foot they are not all that great to walk on either. The unevenness of them makes for tough slogging. Each step you have to be sure to lift you foot high enough so as not to kick the stone that is laid next to the highest of it neighbours. The ladies with any kind of heel whatsoever have to tip toe for blocks. Every step, ones’ ankles have to be able to roll in any direction and at any angle enough so as to maintain balance. They are wicked slippery in the rain.As each step is uneven when they are wet, balance can be even more precarious. Again because they are uneven the dips collect water and there are small puddles everywhere. And when it snows, not too often here, they are impossible to shovel. The preachers of the gospel in architecture and urban planning schools around the world should spend some time on the streets.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens – Goodbye Copenhagen

Off to Germany tomorrow but we shall return for one last foray into the Danish world in a couple of weeks.

 

 

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Copenhagen Museums

Our first stop today is the Design Museum Denmark. There are extensive exhibits of early Japanese art, Toulouse Letrec posters, Danish chairs, modern Danish furniture,  and even a Ming Dynasty vase from between 1400 and 1600. Very interesting but boy, a lot to look at.

Copenhagen

The SMK National Gallery of Denmark is the next stop. Paintings mostly and a few sculptures. I am always enthralled to gaze at works of Matisse, Rembrandt, Picasso, Diego. These artists had such talent and it was not just in painting, but in sculpting or weaving or other art forms. I stop to admire a sculpture of a woman, my size, dressed for an outing, and so real looking she might just be frozen in time for a second.

Copenhagen

For something completely different, the next stop is Rosenberg Castle, Christian IV’s residence some 400 years ago. We stroll through most of the rooms, cranking our necks to see the cherubs in plaster on the ceilings. The best part was the Treasury with the jewels and gold. It is simply stunning, the various jewels set in rings, crowns, necklaces, earrings and goblets.

Lunch, we stop for a much needed break and food at a market more for locals than tourists. Noisy and busy, but good quiche and pizza.

Copenhagen

The Round Tower is next and we walk up and up not on stairs but an incline inside the tower until almost the top, where we troop up a short flight of tight circular stairs. Outside on the viewing platform we can see over the rooftops and pick out the landmarks of Copenhagen.

On the way down, we stop in at a small gallery showing large tapestries. A pleasant surprise as they are all exquisite.

Copenhagen

Our last stop of the day is Tivoli Gardens. We arrive at 5 pm just when the parade starts. It is a Disneyland sort of parade but much shorter. Cute and well done with smiley performers. We wander around Tivoli Gardens and through the amusement ride end. I can see the draw on a summer day, sitting on the lawn eating ice cream, but in the drizzling rain, I am not sure.

Five museums/attractions in one day. Tired feet but satisfied.

 

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Walking Copenhagen

Today is a day of hurt. We aren’t on our bikes but we have decided to walk as most of the things we want to see today are close enough. The last 3 weeks we have supported our body weight through our butts. Today it is homo erectus, biped support with our legs stuff. Don’t know how far we walked but we are on our feet from about 9am to 3pm.

We bought a ‘Copenhagen Card’ before we left Canada and it  gives us free access to most of the attractions in the city and surrounding area. It is quite easy really, we walk up to the till flash our card and we are in. By walking from place to place we get to see what the city is like and how it operates.

Copenhagen is quite a big city but by world standards it is quite small. The population is about 600,000. Smaller than Edmonton but it is sure one hell of a lot busier. Some of it is tourists and we are in the area tourists frequent but mostly I think people here don’t use cars as much and therefore there are more bodies on the street rather than in a small, wheeled tin box.

It is the biggest city in Denmark and therefore by default the biggest city we have been in. I had mentioned how clean I thought Denmark is. Copenhagen is a city and does have its share of trash on the streets but it is still very tidy by any standard. There are not an overabundance of trash cans or anything but I presume the culture demands that garbage be stowed as opposed to tossed.

Copenhagen

Rush hour here has three distinct elements. At home rush hour is strictly automobiles. Sometimes it is faster to walk rather than sit in a traffic jamb at 5pm. Here this morning there is action on the roadways. There are numerous vehicles on the streets but there is no gridlock. The bike roads are flush with commuters. People biking in their work duds. Racing along in peletons headed for work. The sidewalks are very crowded. The downtown and surrounding area has a lot of housing and people live close enough to work they can walk the distance easily.

Amalienborg Palace

Amalienborg Palace changing of the guard

The changing of the guards at the royal residence is on our list. We arrive a 1/2 hour early expecting crowds. We sit on a chair fence and more and more people amass. At 11.55 there is a rush to the black lines painted on the pavement outlining the edge of the ‘performance space’. We miss the cue by about 5 seconds and are in the third row of viewing. A polite lady moves over a little so Debbie can see. Very nice these Danes. The actual implementation of the change of the guards is quite boring, really. The uniforms are quite flashy but the process falls flat as far a entertainment goes.

Copenhagen

We then board a boat and go for a 50 minute tool about the Copenhagen canals. It is always interesting to see a city from the water. It is lower than any of the land and you can get a distant view of the streetscapes that line the shoreline. The tour guide gives us a little history of the city we are not likely to pick up on our own.

Copenhagen

There is a section of Copenhagen called Freetown. It is an area taken over by ‘hippies’ in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. There were some unoccupied buildings about and the young travelers squatted in them and eventually made them into a permanent residence. I think the authorities just plain gave up trying to get rid of them and the area is now established as a pretty much anything goes kind of place. Really I think it has grown well beyond its original counter culture experiment and is now one of the main tourist attractions in the city. We were accosted by a pair of cruise ship folks and accused of being one of them, heaven forbid. They had specific instructions on the ship not to take pictures and were wondering why I had my camera out. I took a few shots and no one seemed to care too much. The thing that made me think the place had become more than utopia was the cost of the food at one of the mini restaurants. Looking at the menu, which was posted at the entrance, not exactly hippy stuff, the prices were higher then we had noted in the downtown area. Rather suspect.

Freetown in Copenhagen

The last place we see is the ‘Danish Architecture Centre’. It is a nice display of architectural stuff. The message behind most of it is how we have to change our view of the built environment or the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I had to chuckle because it is the exact same stuff preached to me when I was in architecture school 40 years ago. Almost to the letter really. One would think the world could turn a corner in 40 years but it does not seem to be the case. I guess we are doomed.

We need to build our walking stamina up over the next few days as we are going to spend the next two weeks on our feet. Although tomorrow we may sneak in a train or bus ride.

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We Ride into Copenhagen!

Our ride starts out with a flat tire. And then my bike computer starts to act up, so our mileage for navigating gets thrown out. But we progress towards Copenhagen and ride down country roads and forested bike paths along most of the way.

We realized yesterday that we will be riding right past the Arken Museum of Modern Art, so we stop. There is a Van Gogh exhibit on. It is an extensive collection of his work from a particular collector.  I am always thrilled to see works from one of the masters. There are also other artist exhibits in the museum which were very interesting, especially one of 45 clowns showing 45 emotions. I think that after the museum is closed they come alive and dance and frolic until the first security guard shows up in the morning, and then they sit back down again all in different places.

We reach our hotel in Copenhagen after getting lost at the least twice. The bikes are packed away and our bike suitcase is packed with the bike gear. We are ready for a few days of exploring Copenhagen.

Here are some statistics about our ride through Denmark.

Kilometres ridden:  890

Kommunes (like counties) crossed:  at least 36

Ferries taken:  3

Trains taken:  3

Cars ridden in 0

Large Bridges crossed on bikes:  8

Total days / days riding / rest days:  23 / 16 / 7

Hills climbed: Too many!

Islands visited:  8

Rainy ride days: 2

Hostels / B&B / Hotels nights stayed in:  4 / 7 / 12

Tubes of Danish Voltaren used to ease sore bodies:  1

Numbers of tired legs after all that riding:  4

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