Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Week Full of History

So come Sunday after the blizzard of the century decided to pass, we packed back up and drove back to Bologna. I spent the next four days exploring Bologna. What a city. The first morning I decided to get my haircut and get pointed towards a hair salon on a corner. I walked in and stamped the snow off my shoes and looked up. I had just walked into this very fashionable Asian hair salon. I dont speak Japanese or Italian.... After a lovely game of charades on what I wanted ( There is really only so much you can do with short hair right? ) I gave up and let them do what they pleased. 45 minutes later I walked out of there 12 euro poorer ( not bad for a wash, cut and style ) looking like I had walked out of a 60's magazine.

Bologna was built in a circle with a wall surrounding it. There are 12 gates still standing around the city from the original wall. That first morning I spent walking through the city, peeping into churches, making my way through courtyards and finding museums I wanted to go to. That afternoon I found a small ballet studio and took my first ballet class in Italian! The teacher was so kind and had a picture of LINES on the wall! The neat thing about ballet is that like math, its a universal language. Movement is something that everyone can understand. Its amazing actually.

The next morning I spent at the Musei Universitari Di Palazzo Poggi. The museum of science and art. The collection was fabulous and so old. The museums are all housed in historic buildings so not only do you see the collections but the history of each room the exhibits are in. The rooms in this museum were all completely different, from a room full of fossils and prints and bones to a room full of wax models showing the process of pregnancy which was used to help midwives. I also really enjoyed the Geography and Nautical Science room, full of huge globes, old maps and ship parts. The next museum I went to was the Accademia Di Belle Arti E Pinacoteca Nazionale. This was stunning. This holds paintings ranging from the 1300's to the 1700's. The amazing things about these pieces of art is not just the painting but the frames. Each frame a piece of art work in itself and at times depicting more beauty in my opinion then the paintings. One room was full of massive stone walls that had been found from a church that had once rested above bologna. The age was apparent and that they have taken a beating throughout time but to see these remains was jaw dropping.

The next morning after tackling another ballet class in Italian, I ran through Bologna to make it to an Art history class at the University Todd and Lorenza work at. It was so neat being able to hear about the certain era's of art I had just seen the day before.

My last morning in Bologna I spent at the Museo Della Musica. The museum holds part of the collection of Giovanni Battista Martini, a friar of Bologna whose passion was collecting scores, portraits of musicians, instruments. Not only did this man have one of the largest portrait collections of great musicians including Christoph Willibald Gluck, Mozart, and Bach but the first book of music ever to be printed. Both Mozart and Bach trained at the music school he had opened in Bologna as well.

That afternoon I took a beautiful ride through the Alps back to Germany to Munich. Munich is a fantastic city. Yesterday I spent my first day walking all through the city with some people I met at the hostel. We went to the English Garden where we saw people surfing in the river ( yes surfing! ) The English Garden is a huge park in Munich, it was beautiful covered in snow but I would like to see it in the spring or fall! Walking through the market we stopped to get Leberkaese, a Bavarian specialty. Germany is split into 16 states and Munich is located in Bavaria. ( Bavaria is known for the Liederhosen! ) Leberkaese is a thick slab of meat which consists of ground pork, bacon, corned beef and onions and baked in a loaf. It is then served on a thick roll with sweet or spicy mustard. My first bite into that sent me right to meat heaven... Walking through Marianplatz we saw city hall, and many historic buildings. I went into a church and was pleasantly surprised by this churches simplicity and spaciousness. You cant come to Munich and not drink beer, so at the hostel we signed up for the Munich Beer Challenge ( don't judge, sometimes you just gotta be a tourist ) It was actually historical as well as fun and tasty! They took us to three famous beerhouses around Munich, the Paulaner, Hofbrauhaus and Augustiners. How can you go wrong with a night full of beer and pretzels?


Today I spent the day at Dachau. I went on the tour. I have read so much about World War 2 and the holocaust and in 2008 when I was dancing at Chautauqua I was able to see Elie Wiesel ( Auschwitz survivor and author of "Night" ) speak. Seeing Elie Wiesel as a real human being began to put all the books I have read into a clearer perspective. Walking through the gates of Dachau and reading "Arbeit Macht Frei" on the wrought iron door put it into a perspective of absolute reality. Terrifying, nerve wracking, grotesque, horrifying, sad. Emotion after emotion was coursing through me.
  Dachau was built in 1915 as a munitions factory. It was turned into a concentration camp by Heinrich Himmler in 1933. Dachau was the only concentration camp to exist throughout the entire 12 years of the Nazi regime. It began as a political prisoner camp transitioning into imprisoning Jahova witnesses, gypsy's and homosexuals as well and near the end of the 1930's it became primarily revolving around Jew's although the other types of prisoners were still there as well. Dachau is the only concentration camp to be named after a town. The prisoners were not taken to the front gates of the camp but to the main train station of Dachau and were then forced to march to the camp. When the prisoners walked through the gate to the camp SS general Baronowsky said to them "You will not find anything to laugh t in Dachau. Only the devil laughs. I am the devil." The original barracks in Dachau were only made to last 15 years so there are only 2 barracks that were reconstructed and can be seen. The Bunker, which was the cell for prisoners still stands. Entering the first building sent a chill through my entire body. I saw where prisoners lined up for roll call, slept, went to the bathroom and were killed. I don't know how to describe most of what I saw. As I walked through the gas chamber and crematorium part of me inside was screaming for me to run away while the other half was even more persistent and telling me to look. The towers still surrounding the camp where the Nazis watched over the camp are the original towers and are not open to the public. When Dachau was made into a memorial ground the survivors insisted on keeping them closed so visitors are only able to see the camp the way the prisoners saw it. The most memorable memorial for me in Dachau was a simple garden with the Jewish star and a menorah built of stone in the center of the garden, the sign read, "Do Not Forget". There are memorials that say "Never Again" but it is happening again throughout the world. Memories are forever, "Do Not Forget".

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