About these ads

Morning photo: Fountain festival in Munich

Serendipity in the Viktualienmarkt

asdf

Playing with the big boys!

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Finding a bustling market packed with fresh fruit and veggies is always a treat, and when it’s located in the heart of a major urban area, it’s a real score. Such is the case with the Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany, where city residents mingle with tourists for shopping and even sit-down meals amidst the many vendor stalls.

Offerings at the market include mushrooms from near and far, wild forest strawberries from the Balkans, Greek cheeses and locally made sausages. Some locals bring their own white and blue-checked table cloths to decorate the tables under the shade of old chestnut trees. Sausages and pretzels are close at hand and big-handled liter steins of beer are ubiquitous.

Our visit this summer coincided with a festival held to celebrate the heritage of the many fountains in the market, erected to honor some of Munich’s cultural heros — poets, musicians and storytellers. At the peak of the summer harvest season, each fountain is lovingly decorated with bright flowers, and local singers and bands perform traditional songs nearby. It’s not really marketed as s big-time tourist event. We found out about the festival by reading the local newspaper, and for many market visitors, the event simply added a nice backdrop to their daily shopping or lunch routine. Continue reading

About these ads

Germany’s shift away from nuclear energy yielding measurable environmental and economic benefits

The Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant surrounded by the flooding Missouri River. Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Experts say policy shift has decoupled energy and economic growth

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Germany was moving away from reliance on nuclear power long before the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The country has a history of civil confrontations over nuclear reactors and processing facilities. So the decision by the German government to phase out nuclear power didn’t come as a shock to anyone.

What is more surprising is that the shift in policy has fundamentally altered the traditional equation of energy and economic growth.

“It has actually decoupled energy from economic growth, with the country’s energy supply and carbon-dioxide emissions dropping from 1990 to 2011, even as its gross domestic product rose by 36 percent, according to Lutz Mez, co-founder of Freie Universitӓt Berlin’s Environmental Policy Research Center. Continue reading

Morning photo: Postcards to myself …

Note to self: Travel again — soon!

On the approach to Frankfurt we flow low over the Rhine River. The river figures big in Teutonic mythology, and the morning mist hugging the gorge was a nice touch for our arrival.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — I love taking pictures and telling stories, but ultimately, many of the images are really most valuable as personal mementos of journeys and adventures I’ve shared with my loved ones. This most recent trip was no exception. Many of the pictures will never be published anywhere, but cherished all the more for the personal moments they reflect. But others are fun and help interpret the places we visit, along with evoking emotions every time I look at them. To me, there’s almost nothing better than the anticipation, after a long flight, of setting foot in a new place, even if it’s a place where I lived for many years and where I have family history. The picture above brings back the tingly feeling of starting a new journey. Continue reading

Germany: Full speed ahead on renewables

Germany forges ahead with ambitious renewable energy plans

Germany’s rail corridors are lined with medium-size photovoltaic installations.

A cluster of wind turbines is barely visible in the lower righthand corner of the image.

By Bob Berwyn

MUNICH, GERMANY — It’s been a whirlwind week of travels here in the ‘old country’ where I grew up, but as I scan the news from back home in the USA and Colorado about the politics of renewable energy, I’m still thinking about what I saw as we flew into Frankfurt a little more than a week ago.

The U.S. Senate is playing politics with wind power, and presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he would do away with even the most harmless way to promote renewable power, the so-called wind energy production tax credits.

Meanwhile, even from 30,000 feet, the change in the German landscape is striking — hundreds, and even thousands, of power-generating wind turbines dot the countryside, in small clusters near villages, in lines along ridge tops, and in seemingly random clumps around some of the larger cities.

It all adds up to about 29,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply 8 percent of the industrial country’s needs, and Germany has been adding new wind capacity at a healthy rate. Continue reading

Alpine grouse decline linked to winter recreation

The decline of Alpine wood grouse may be linked to growth in winter recreation. PHOTO BY RICHARD BARTZ VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

Conservationists call for restrictions on winter recreation in core habitat areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In research that might of interest to Summit County leaders as they mull over recreation and development plans, Swiss scientists say they have linked burgeoning winter recreation activities in the Alps with a severe decline of wood grouse populations.

The study, published in the  journal IBIS,  shows how the growth of human recreation may be a key factor in the rapidly declining population of these iconic alpine birds.

The wood grouse, sometimes called the Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), is the largest member of the grouse family and is renowned for its mating display. It is most commonly found in the alpine regions of Germany and Switzerland.

“Alpine habitats across Europe remained relatively undisturbed until the beginning of the last century, but today human outdoor recreation areas coincide with the winter habitats of many shy and endangered species,” said lead author Dominik Thiel, of the Swiss Ornithological Institute. “The Western Capercaillie has suffered rapid population declines during recent decades. However, little is known about their susceptibility to human recreation activities.” Continue reading

Oktoberfest, a global touchstone, comes to Frisco

Ein Bayerischer Bierhimmel …

A blue and white Bavarian beer sky greeted revelers Saturday at the Frisco Oktoberfest.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The blue sky and puffy white clouds over Frisco matched the checkered tablecloths at the Frisco Oktoberfest perfectly. It’s so classic, there’s even a German saying for it: Der Bayerische Bierhimmel, loosely translated as the Bavarian beer sky.

And with a spired beer tent mirroring the shapes of the nearby Tenmile Range, and guests sprawled on the green grass nearby, day one of this year’s local edition of the seasonal beer bash also captured some of the feel of the traditional Bavarian beer gardens, where the scene is somewhat less hectic than at the full-blown version in Munich each year. There was music, leg-wrestling, face-painting, along with plenty of schnitzel, roast pork, sauerkraut, apple strudel. Of course, the beer flowed freely, which is a good thing for the Summit Concert Band, which will benefit from the proceeds.

The fun continues Sunday (Sept. 5) at the Frisco Nordic Center, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Prost!

SEE MORE AFTER THE BREAK … Continue reading

Travel: Let’s help break down totalitarian walls!

Today's sleek, high-speed Intercity trains criss-cross Europe with impunity, but it wasn't always so easy. In 1989, thousands of East German refugees waited desperately for a train that would take them from Prague to the freedom of the west.

Story of German ‘freedom trains’ a good reminder of why we shouldn’t take our freedom to travel for granted

By Bob Berwyn

Speeding through a rainy German night aboard an Intercity train last year I got a quick reminder on why we should never take travel for granted. An article in the railroad magazine focused on the “refugee trains” that, in October 1989, carried thousands of East German fugitives from the German embassy in Prague to freedom in the west.

It’s hard to believe more than 20 years have passed since the Berlin Wall crumbled, but during our autumn trip to Europe, all the magazines and newspapers were full of reminders. The images are unforgettable. East and West Berliners reached across the wall to touch hands, and then worked from both sides with sledgehammers to demolish the concrete barricade.

The Communist regime of the former East Germany did not build the wall to keep potential enemies out. They had to seal the Iron Curtain to keep their own people in. Had the totalitarian dictators let people out, it’s a sure thing that many of them would have never returned. The simple and powerful desire of East Germans to come and go as they pleased played a big role in the dismantling of the totalitarian regime, something worth keeping in mind as we all blather on in our travel blogs about things that are, in the bigger picture, really quite trivial. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,396 other followers