Category

Europe

Getting the Shot: Big Ben

By | England, Photography | No Comments

Location

This photo was taken on the Westminster Bridge which crosses the Thames River in London, England. The location is popular for capturing the Palace of Westminster and the famous Elizabeth Tower (also known as the Clock Tower or, more erroneously, Big Ben). Daytime shots from this location require additional creativity, since the passing cars don’t really add to the composition of the image. At night, however, you can capture the light trails from passing double-decker busses which adds movement to the image and creates leading lines, drawing the eye towards the Elizabeth Tower.

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World Map - Favorite Cities

Ten Favorite World Cities

By | Belgium, Czech Republic, England, Greece, Hungary, Israel / Palestine, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United States | No Comments
Often times people ask us about our most favorite cities that we’ve visited. Believe it or not, coming up with only ten is much more difficult that you might think. Generally I answer by creating a diversified list that combines culture, excitement, variety, charm, and budget, but the reality is that a list of top ten world cities is all those things and so much more. I guess if I had to justify my choices by putting my finger on just one thing, I would say that there is something in the way each city makes us feel. While the beauty or charm of these cities may be up for debate, each of them has found a special place in our hearts. Read More

Devil's Footprint

The Church With the Devil’s Footprint

By | Germany | No Comments
One of the distinct landmarks of central Munich is the massive Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady. Aside from being the second oldest parish church in Munich and the seat of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Frauenkirche is particularly famous for one very odd distinction: it bears the devil’s footprint inside its hallowed halls. Read More

Storing Your Luggage at the Munich Train Station

By | Germany | 8 Comments
Munich is a beautiful city and one worth spending several days exploring. Chances are, however, if you are flying Lufthansa through Europe, you’ll end up with a long layover in Munich and only a few hours to see the city’s attractions. Since you won’t want to haul your luggage around as you explore the city, we recommend storing it at the central train station, the Hauptbahnhof, which is just west of Munich’s famous city center. Read More

Dachau Guard Tower

A Sobering Visit to Dachau Concentration Camp

By | Germany | No Comments
Dachau Concentration Camp was built in Nazi Germany as a “model camp” for other concentration camps. It mainly housed political prisoners, dissidents, and resistance fighters. The facility was designed to hold 5,000 prisoners. Population numbers fluctuated throughout the years, reaching peak capacity in 1944 at 78,635. When it was liberated in 1945, Allies discovered 30,442 prisoners inside. Read More

Jeweled Skeleton of Saint Munditia

By | Germany | No Comments

Just steps from Marienplatz (Mary’s Square) is St. Peter’s Church, home to one of Munich’s most bizarre relics. Inside the church on the left-hand side is a glass coffin containing the jeweled skeleton remains of Saint Munditia: the matron saint of matrons (or “spinsters”).  Her remains have been sewn into a transparent body stocking covered in gold and jewels, complete with unblinking glass eyes that stare eternally into the distance.

Literally the matron saint of “All the Single Ladies”. They liked her so they put a ring on her.

The skeleton is in repose, propped up slightly on cushions for optimal viewing.  Her bony hands grasp two items: a palm frond in her left, which is emblematic of her martyrdom; and a goblet in her right, which some claim contains dried blood.  A glass ossuary above Saint Munditia’s glass enclosure contains another relic: the skull of Saint Erasmus.

Not much is known about Saint Munditia.  She was believed to have been martyred in 310, beheaded with an axe. Her remains were discovered in Roman catacombs and transferred to Munich in 1675.  Her skeleton was concealed in a wooden shrine from 1804 until 1883, when she was uncovered placed on display in all of her gilded glory.

Saint Munditia is celebrated each year with a High Mass.  She even has a following on Facebook, if you’re interested.

St. Peter’s Church

While you’re in the area checking out richly adorned corpses, you might as well spend some time wandering around St. Peter’s Church.  St. Peter’s, or “Alter Peter” (Old Peter), is Munich’s oldest parish church, dating from before the city’s founding in 1158.

The interior of the church is decorated by gilded Baroque accents and a dominating high alter dedicated to the figure of Saint Peter.  The church also contains gothic paintings by German artist Jan Polack, as well as a series of frescos painted by Johann Baptist Zimmermann.

Alter Peter

The 91-meter high clock tower of St. Peter’s offers some of the best views of the city.  On a clear day, one may be able to see the Alps far in the distance.  Admission is €2, after which you climb the 306 narrow stairs that wind through the tower to the top.  Be aware that the entrance queue to the tower is not regulated, so depending on your time and day of visit the platform may be crowded.

View from St Peters Church tower in Munich

St. Peter’s Church tower affords 360 views of the city, including Marienplatz.

[message type=”map”]St. Peter’s Church on Google Maps[/message]

 

The Legend of St Frideswide

By | England | No Comments

Let me tell you a story about a woman named Frideswide who once lived a long time ago in far away England.  Before we go any further, I know what you must be thinking: why should I care about a woman with a sexy name like Frideswide who has long been dead? Read More

The Changing of the Guard

By | England | No Comments

So you’re in London and hitting all the must-see attractions, which obviously includes the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. You walk excitedly through St. James Park, with the beautiful Palace coming into view in the distance. But as you get closer, you realize that you’re mostly going to get only one view: the backs of people’s heads.

Despite the fact that changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace is free, it’s also crowded with tourist. Your point-of-view (if you have one at all) is very far from the actual guard and separated by a large wrought iron fence. In our experience, watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham is a lackluster experience and not worth the effort.

Fear not, however! There is a much better place in which to get the best view of all those guards in funny hats marching around and making a big show. Read More

Bruges’ Most Famous Citizen

By | Belgium | 9 Comments
Early scenes in the movie In Bruges showcase the beauty and charm of the medieval of Bruges, Belgium. We see the spire of Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) as it pierces the morning mist. Horse-drawn carriages laden with tourists clip-clop through Bruges’ main square. Medieval buildings are reflected in the River Dijver as boat tours gracefully sail past. And then the camera flashes to a quick shot of a dog lazily enjoying the sun through an open window.  What’s up with the dog, anyway? Read More