Madrid

• Friday, July 1, 2016

The Madrid symbol of a bear eating fruits from a strawberry tree.
This symbol originated from its coat of arms from the Middle Ages.
This statue is on the western side of Puerta del Sol.
Madrid is the capital of Spain and composes its own community. It is pretty much right smack in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula with the communities of La Mancha and Andalusia to the south and Catalonia to the northeast by the French border. It felt like any other European old city with its large park-like islands in the middle of wide tree-lined streets  and smaller shop-lined streets that lead from one plaza to another. There were many palaces, gardens, and churches to visit, and interesting neighborhoods or important main streets to walk down.

MUSEUMS///
I bought the Paseo del Arte tickets which includes the tickets to all three of Madrid's main art museums (El Prado, The Thyssen, and Reina-Sofia). You usually specify which day you want to visit one of the museums when you buy your ticket through the museum website, and you can enter the other two museums within a year of purchase date. You can buy this type of ticket through whichever of the three museums, but you must go to the museum you bought the online tickets off of first to exchange for a physical voucher that will get you into the other two museums. 

Most of the museums in Spain do not allow photos inside. This I found to be surprisingly refreshing in this selfie-taking age. Here I could not visit the museums simply as a means of boasting my seeing certain masterpieces. Instead, I had to enjoy the pieces of art for their own sake.

All the museums were hard to navigate because they were usually in large impressive buildings of yester years; this meant if the rooms were on a 3 by 3 grid or 4 by 6 grid, they were all connected. This makes for circumnavigating each room and visiting every room without back-tracking difficult.

The Prado from Phillip V Street side.
El Prado, or The Prado is formally called the Museo Nacional del Prado. It houses a ton of master paintings. I went to see one of its most prized paintings "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Bosch which they moved to a special timed exhibit as part of the 5th Centenary of Bosch's passing. There ended up being 53 pieces in the exhibit, some by his followers and his workshop; but there were many ink drawings and large triptychs by him! His colors are amazingly luminesce and the rendering sharp, that they feel very modern. 

I was also there to see my favorite artist, Pieter Breughel the Elder who has two (out of only 45 authenticated) paintings there. The problem with the Prado is that there are way too many masterpieces there. There are Raphaels, Goyas, Velázquezs, El Grecos, Titians, Tiepolos, Rubens', and more! Can you imagine?! It was an ecstatic experience walking through the museum and even recounting the paintings I saw leaves me breathless. I can't believe how lucky I am! It is hard to choose favorites, but I loved Goya's "black paintings" which made me like him all the more. There is something very emotionally honest about that series of dark paintings.

Museo Reina Sofia and Lichtenstein's Brushstrokes. 
Museo Reina Sofia and its other entrance.
Museo Reina Sofia is the one that houses more modern and contemporary art. I was too tired to see the entire collection so I tried to go straight towards Picasso's Guernica. I don't think it is Picasso's best work, but it certainly was striking in its size and subject. Though seeing that painting was the goal, I couldn't exit the museum without inadvertently passing by Dalís, Miro, and Serra. The ability to renovate buildings and add interesting new structures to impressive old ones is a skill that excels here. Every building has its own character.

The Thyssen
The Thyssen, or El Museo de arte Thyssen-Bornemisza is the museum I almost skipped. Since I already had the ticket, I decided to make it a few days later. As I walked through the collection, I kept saying to myself "JUST STOP IT ALREADY!" There was Hopper, Hall, Braques, Picassos, Degas, Balthus, Chagall, Delacroix, Magritte, and more. What was enlightening are early works by Picasso, Gaugin, Monet and their contemporaries that show the development of their content and style. The Thyssen did allow photos to be taken of the paintings inside, but oddly not the galleries themselves.

SEE///
Puerta del Sol
Puerta del Sol- This is only one of many large plazas around Madrid. With Palacio Real demarcating the western edge of the city and the Prado on the eastern edge, this plaza marks the city center with many streets fanning out from it. 

Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor is a large square plaza a few blocks southwest of Puerta del Sol. There are many other popular plazas like Plaza de España or Plaza de Oriente as well as innumerable smaller ones on corners of multi-street intersections.
Santiago Bernabéu as viewed from Zen Restaurant 
Santiago Bernabéu is where the ever popular fútbol happens! I didn't really visit the stadium; instead I was inside the fancy Chinese restaurant called Zen Restaurant that is actually inside the stadium. There are tours that will take you inside, or even better, go see an actual game! The Chinese food at the restaurant was good but over-priced for not being the fanciest Chinese food one can get.
Temple of Debod
Temple of Debod is a legit Egyptian temple that was gifted to Spain. It is set up in the middle of a park that isn't right beside any other points of interest. 

There are only two other places in and around Madrid that I would try to visit that I haven't already. One is Palacio Real which is the official residence of the Spanish royal family and the Escorial which is also a royal family retreat/monastery. The Escorial is hard to get to but looks amazing in pictures. Large tour groups to Madrid often only stop at the Prado and the Escorial.

BUY///
The interior of the  Casa Hernanz Alpargateria with woven grass soles lining the wall. 
The line outside Casa Hernanz Alpargateria by the time we left.

Espadrilles are traditional Spanish shoes worn in the summer, but bought now by tourist rather than locals. We went to Casa Hernanz Alpargateria around 16:20 and it wasn't to open until 16:30. We sat in a nearby cafe for a drink and saw from far away that a few people were gathering. The shop seemed to open a few minutes early and once we walked to the front door, we were already the 6th or 7th in line. It took half an hour for our turn and an hour before we had our purchase. But the time we got out of the store, a very long line had formed. It isn't a wonder why people would buy espadrilles as they are well-made, comfortable, and cheap. But I noticed almost all shoes made in Spain highlights comfort. I guess in a culture where walking is a necessity, comfort is non-negotiable.

EAT///
The view of Mercado San Miguel as you exit the southwest side of Plaza Mayor.
Fried seafood mix, assorted olives, and sangria at Mercado San Miguel.
Mercado San Miguel is a covered market that is a great for grabbing a bunch of different things to eat. You can buy tapas, seafood, olives, sweets, and everything you need for a satisfying meal. It may be hard to find seats during lunchtime, but having to stand at the corner of a table with others contribute to the atmosphere.

Acorn-fed Iberian ham.
Jamón Museums are everywhere and sell cuts of cured ham in paper cones. But the best of the best is supposed to be acorn-fed Iberian ham. Don't judge jamón by its hotel breakfast cousin.

Tapas for newbies.
Tapas seemed like an abstract concept until actually facing it on every street corner. I realized that tapas aren't any specific or set dishes, but is small-portion-eating very much like Chinese Dim Sum. They can be anything really and can be innovative in newer restaurant, but traditional tapas dishes are fried seafood, various potato creations, olives, or hors d'oeuvre-looking stuff-on-open-faced-bread.

Sangrias are a must. But I ended up questioning whether sangrias are popular with locals and therefore tourists drink it, or because tourists think it is popular with the locals, drink it and therefore it is popular. You can find it on every menu, individual-sized or as a pitcher to share.

Churros con Chocolate is something you can buy in many cafes and breakfast places. It is basically a cup of hot chocolate with a small stack of churros. Except these churros are not the straight, cinnamon-sugared things in the U.S. Churros in Spain are also fried star-tubed dough but looped and unflavored. You are supposed to take the churros and dip it in the hot chocolate before taking a bite. Dipping really makes a difference!

TRANSPORTATION///
This is front door of the Atocha Station.
 This entrance is not accessible except by foot and far from the platforms.
An inside view of Atocha from the second floor.
There are two main stations in Madrid: Atocha and Charmatín. When traveling to Barcelona, we left from the Atocha main station; We departed from the smaller Charmatín station for Segovia. Google Maps App is usually good for all my transportation needs, and it was so for the metro and bus in Spain; but for all the trains and times (AVE, AVANT) available to smaller side cities, download the Renfe App. 

Metro and Bus are €1,50 for each ride but you can buy a Metro-Bus pass for 12,50/10 rides to share. It's really easy to buy on the machines at any metro station and at newsstands. I used google to tell me what lines to take and what stops to get off. I was more certain of where I was going than even some locals are. 

Taxis are very affordable in Spain and makes a lot of sense if there are 3 or 4 of you. It is a set price of 30 for the 30 minute ride to the airport. Within the city, it is usually within 10 to get anywhere you want to get to.

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España

• Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A rooftop with views of the Roman Aqueduct in Segovia.
I just came back from a work-cation with my parents in Spain, where my dad taught a seminar in Madrid to more than 90 TCM practitioners. During the 4-day stay in Madrid, between selling my dad's books and meetings with some of our collaborators, mom and I managed to visit museums and took a day-trip to Segovia. We were planning to go to Avila too but had to cut it out of our schedule. After Madrid, we took a tour booked through Viator because it took us to Cordoba, Seville, Granada, and Toledo in 4 days; something we couldn't manage ourselves in that time frame. Once that tour ended back in Madrid, we headed to Barcelona on our own.

I don't remember any expectations I had of Spain before visiting, but I find Spain a warm and welcoming country. As a traveler, Spain is well-priced, safe, clean, easy to get around, and with lots of food choices. The metro and bus system is well-connected, and taxis are plenty and cheap. Driving may be a bit difficult in the city with lots of large roundabouts, but you will never have trouble finding underground parking near your destination. There are many tapas bars, burger joints, pizza, kebob, Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks. Fruits, cured ham, fresh bread, and gelato seem to be everywhere.  I saw police presence every day and at every crowded place, so I'd say Spain in pretty secure! And checking-in at the airport required an interview similar to that in Israel. Though not everyone speaks English, I never had trouble communicating what I needed and understanding others. 

Apparently people the world over know how suitable Spain is for travel, as there are no shortage of crowds. Therefore to avoid wasting time standing in lines (and the sun), book tickets for trains and famous museums/castles/cathedrals if you already know your schedule. The only thing that may require a little getting used to is the late lunch/dinner hours and the long lull in between when many shops are closed. Restaurants open from 1:30 to 4:30 PM for lunch and then earliest after 7:30 PM for dinner. 

A corner in the Alcazar at Seville.

PLACES I VISITED///
  • Madrid
  • Catalonia: Barcelona, Montserrat
  • Andalusia: Seville, Grananda, Cordoba
  • Castilla-La Mancha: Toledo
  • Castile and Leon: Segovia

Israel & Jordan 2016

• Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My parents and I returned a week ago from spending 20 days in Israel and Jordan. It was a family friend's wedding that brought us there, but it was our love for Israel and desire to see Jordan that kept us away from home so long. While in Jerusalem, mom and I took dad to see a few places he missed the last time while he was working (e.g. Knesset, Mahane Yehuda, Garden Tomb). But we also went to many places that we haven't seen. That said, there are still many places in Israel we want to see (e.g. Safed/Tsfat, Negev, Jericho, Mt. Carmel). Maybe next time... DEFINITELY next time!

Since we were visiting Israel, hitting up Jordan seemed a sensible thing to do, no? We booked a driver and set an itinerary through an agency in Amman. I enjoyed Jordan overall; It is as much the Holy Land as Israel is, dripping with biblical history. But as the two Americans I met working for the U. S. State Department in Amman said: unlike Israel, Jordan is more akin to the rest of the Middle East than to western countries. This statement sums up my experience as well, though nothing I can give in conditionals.

While traveling in Jordan, I never felt I was in danger to crime or terror and I never felt particularly threatened as a woman. I enjoyed some local hospitality and I received some attention for my Asian face. But one thing I was uncomfortable with throughout my time in Jordan was an expectation that I had money to fork over. The relationship of the locals that rely on tourism to foreigners is one of economic exchange: no sentiment, no philadelphia. I was walking cash. 

Jordan's tourism industry and economy are suffering due to the instability in the surrounding countries. The suffering is no excuse for harassing tourists for money, but the surrounding instability is no excuse for travelers not to visit a safe haven in an unstable region. I believe more tourists visiting Jordan would provide economic security to the country, and in turn give Jordan the means to remain a stabilizing force in the Middle East. 

Here I've listed the places we visited and will try to post write-ups on these locations. Stay tuned!

ISRAEL
Frishman Beach, Tel-Aviv


  • JERUSALEM// Jan 2-5, 2016 Knesset, Mahane Yehuda (The Souk), Yemin Moshe, Garden Tomb, Kotel Tunnels, The City of David
  • ACRE// Jan 15, 2016 The Hospitaller's Fortress, Templar Tunnel, Market Street, The Turkish Bathhouse
  • HAIFA// Jan 14, 2016 Ba'hai Shrine and Gardens, Louis Promenade
  • TEL-AVIV// Jan 16, 2016 The White City (Bauhaus Architecture)
  • HEBRON// Jan 6, 2016 The Tomb of the Patriarchs

JORDAN
The Treasury at Petra, Jordan


  • Day 1// Jan 7, 2016 Crossing the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge Border
  • Day 2// Jan 8, 2016 Ajloun, Jerash
  • Day 3// Jan 9, 2016 Amman Citadel, Roman Theater, Dead Sea
  • Day 4// Jan 10, 2016 Mt. Nebo, Madaba, Kerak
  • Day 5// Jan 11, 2016 Petra
  • Day 6// Jan 12, 2016 Wadi Rum, Aqaba, Red Sea
  • Day 7// Jan 13, 2016 Crossing the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge Border

Würzburg

• Tuesday, October 6, 2015

View of Wurzburg, from Marienberg Fortress.
Mom and I took a day trip to Würzburg from Rothenburg. We planned to catch the first train in the morning from the Rothenburg station. We were worried about not finding the station but it wasn't as difficult as we imagined. From Rothenburg Market Square we went due East on the main road leading off Market Square (map). There was no one in the station office and we were worried because we haven't purchased our day tickets yet, and there was only one rail and no signs. Apparently there was only one train in the morning going off to Steinach and that is the one to take. Transfer at Steinach to Würzburg and get off at Würzburg Hbf, not Würzburg Süd. 

Once we got out of the station at Würzburg we were greeted by a lot of hustle and bustle. Würzburg felt like a pretty lively town where many people must commute to to work or to change trains. I was also markedly greeted by the smell of fresh pretzels. If you have a Würzburg map already, then you're off and running. If you want to get a physical fold out map and some tips, you can head over to the tourism information office, marked by "i" on the maps. The "i" office is not right where you get off the train, but Würzburg is very walkable. The "i" office is at the Market Square and there are bulletin maps at the station to guide you there. 

SEE & DO///
MARKET SQUARE
The Farmer's Market. (White asparagus seem very popular in this part of Bavaria. Unfortunately I did not get the chance to enjoy any myself. They are definitely a rarity in Southern California. ) PHOTO CREDIT: Mu Yu Young

The Square is surrounded by restaurants and a church. Once you get there you can't miss the "information" office. I don't know the operation hours or days, but there was also a lively farmers market in the square that day. There were vendors selling flowers, fruits and veggies, and food.


UNESCO World Heritage Site Residence Palace
The Würzburg Residence

The Site Palace isn't very eye-catching from the outside; it is very gray and formal. The large stone-paved lot in front acted as parking lot, but with no clear right of way. We weren't quite sure of where to enter as there were no clear markings. After some hits and misses, we realized the entrance is dead center of the building. Duh!

The establishment felt very mercenary as the first room you enter is the ticketing counters and then lockers for large items. But after that, we walked into a hall leading to a grand red carpet covered staircase. Walking up can make anyone feel like royalty! Above the staircase was a Tiepolo ceiling fresco! I first saw this image in my art history book (Janson, for those who know!) so seeing it in person was humbling. I didn't know there is no photography allowed until I took a few photos already.
Tiepolo ceiling fresco.
The interior was very à la Versailles. This is not to my particular practical tastes, but I can still appreciate it. I appreciate the attention to details and the use of colors, especially the monochromatic themes of each room. 

White Hall


THE SITE RESIDENCE COURT GARDEN
Court Garden
There is the garden behind the the Site Residence. The garden is free to enter and great for your morning jogs if you live in Würzburg. It is quite a formal garden but not stern, as I feel some formal gardens can be. What made the garden seem unceremonious are variations in scale and the fun-loving sculptures by Johann Peter Wagner. I honestly can't believe such wonderful, varied sculptures are subjected to the elements and potential destruction at the hands of nature or vandals. But I read in the guide book that "the originals were all replaced by copies at the beginning of the 20th century." I hope this means the originals are either stored away or they have the original casts from which to make more copies. 

Cast Sculptures by Johann Peter Wagner. So fun!


ALTE MAINBRÜKE
Alte Mainbrüke looking east into town.
Domstraße is a main street headed by a cathedral and lined by restaurants and vendors. As you walk towards the end of the street, you come to the Old Bridge that takes you across the river to the hill where the Fortress sits. The Old Bridge is reminiscent of the Charles Bridge in Prague, but about 100 times less spectacular. 

Looking west to Marienberg Fortress from Alte Mainbrüke.


FORTRESS MARIENBERG
A gate inside the Marienberg Fortress
The Fortress was the old residence of the prince-bishops of Würzburg until the Site Residence Palace was build. It can be accessed via public transport but we approached from the wrong direction, so we had to walk. I climbed 37 floors that day according to my iPhone! It was entirely tiring but still worth it. The view of the entire town is spectacular there. You also get a good view of the Käppele from the side of the Fortress.

By the time we got up to the palace, we were too tired to explore every nook and cranny. Therefore, I do not know how much interior is open to the public to check-out. But just walking around the grounds gave me all the Medieval feels! I could imagine a princess in a tower here and a horse drawn carriage there. 

EAT///
STERNBÄCK

There are many eateries along the Market Square and the road to Alte Mainbrüke. We chose one at random on Domstraße that looked like a German pub as we are always in the mood for sausages when in Germany.  Just don't order water. I ordered a hot water and was charged for it. Might as well have gotten a tea.

If I were to do lunch over again in Würzburg, I would go to the vendor in front of the supermarket Kupsch Markt Luksch. There they sell different hot meats. You choose what you want, with or without bread, and eat it on the go. It's the original fast food.

REFLECTIONS///
Würzburg is not a tourist town with a small town feel, but a city where people live and work. It feels more commercial and spread out for this reason. There are more places to explore if desired but it would take more than the 6-7 hours we were there. We did hit all the highlights and it was enough. My favorite part was the walk from the Hbf to the Site residence and the view from the Fortress. The walk to the palace through quieter streets gave me a sense of everyday life in the city. While the view from the fortress allowed me to take in the whole breadth of Würzburg. 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

• Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Plölein ("Little Square"), a favorite photo spot south of Market Square.
I was in Rothenburg this past May. There is apparently more than one Rothenburg in Germany so it is imperative that I say that we visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the one along the Tauber River Valley. There are no direct flights into Rothenburg, so we had to fly into Frankfurt and take a 2 hour taxi ride via the autobahn southeast to the city.

Rothenburg is one among others (Würzburg & Bamberg) strung together into the scenic Romantic Road (Romantic as in Roman, not romance), a term coined by the tourism industry some time back as a means of promoting the area. The drive was indeed beautiful in May with the raps (canola 油菜) fields at the height of bloom. The stripes of bright yellow that surrounded the highway diminished the thrill of speeding down the autobahn and passing the landscape by so quickly.

Rothenburg is known for being a well-preserved Medieval town. The town consists of the old fortified city in the middle still enclosed by the town wall on all sides with gates for entry. The rail, supermarkets, and other newer buildings are to the north and east, outside the old town. To the west and south of the town is the valley with a few random buildings and some farm lands.

Reichsstadhalle.

The conference my dad spoke at took place all over town. Shops had special welcome signs and town bulletins posted events for the conference, which has been meeting in Rothenburg for over 10 years. My dad spoke at the largest venue, reichsstadthalle,  the town tithe barn built in 1699 and renovated in 1975. 

STAY///
WILBAD
The Wilbad.
The accommodation for the conference is a building to the south and outside of the old town wall. It has its foundations going back to medieval times and was originally the site of a wild bath (bath outside of the main building) below a hospital. It was then transformed into a spa into the mid-1800s and now owned and run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria. The river runs along the Wilbad and wilderness surrounds it, making it great for a retreat center. I don't know whether it is usually open for booking to the public, but it is a wonderful place to stay right outside the old town.

SEE///
Rothenburg is a very walkable town. There are many corners to discover and much history behind each wall, each plaque, each building. The Rothenburg tourism site provides information on most of the important buildings. Even after 5 days there, I realize there are treasures that I didn't see and discover.

RAMPARTS, or town wall
The Ramparts at dusk.
The ramparts run almost all the way around the entire circumference of the old town. It is very walkable with few steps, good flat paving, and wide. You can walk a length then come down to explore another section of the city. The entry points to the wall are usually around one of the gate towers.

MARKTPLATZ (MARKET SQUARE)
View of Market Square, approaching from the South corner.
The Market Square is the main square at the center of old town. It seems to anchor the town with all gates and main roads leading to it. The Town Hall is the large building that flanks the west side of the square. The tower attached to the town hall can be climbed for a breathtaking view of the town. There is an astronomical clock on the facade of the adjacent building with a door opening on the hour. But the animatronics here is not much to look at.

Bird's-eye view of the Market Square from the Town Hall Tower.
The town hall tower, according to the Rothenburg site, has 220 steps from the main door of the Town Hall leading up to a 52 meter platform. The steps however may not be as imagined. The path spiraled up a stone staircase up the town hall, led across the top floor, then resumed into wooden steps that got narrower as we reached the top, by which it became more like ladders than steps. The platform made for a great vantage point, that is unless you are afraid of heights.

ST. JAKOB'S CHURCH
The view from the High Altar to the back of the church.
St. Jakob's is a Lutheran church. It is the most prominent church in Rothenburg. It houses some town treasures in the form of altarpieces and statues. Its beautifully carved wooden pews date back to 1514!

FRANCISCAN CHURCH
View of the front of the church.
This is a smaller church with lots of interesting reliefs in the back and rows of coat-of-arms on its walls. This church is easy to overlook from the outside but holds its own once you walk in.

ROSSMÜHLE (HORSE MILL)
This looks like a building out of Wes Anderson's movie.
This building is now a youth hostel, but apparently it used to be a horse-drawn mill. The windows look like rows of eyes!

CASTLE GARDEN
View of the Tauber Valley and the southern part of Old Town..
The Castle Garden is a little strip of land that extends west out of the fortified town. From the garden, you can see below to the Tauber Valley and see the town walls to the North and South. The garden is basically a little park with a chapel here and a memorial there.

TAUBER VALLEY
The Tauber Valley and view of the fortified town on the higher plain.
The valley to the West of the old town is occupied by farm lands and some B&Bs. There is a road that takes you into town near the castle garden but it is difficult to walk. There is also the Tauber Bridge in this area, as well as some other farm buildings to explore.

EVENTS REHEARSAL
Men in costume waiting for rehearsals to begin.
Children in costume playing before the rehearsals.
The few evenings spent in Rothenburg, my mom and I sat on the steps of the Town Hall waiting for my dad and his student (Michael) to join us for dinner. As we sat there, townsperson after townsperson, young and old, appeared in the Market Square in full Medieval costume. They gathered at the square to the point where, if not for the tourists and occasional vehicle in the background, I would have thought I was taken back in time. It was very fun! They were rehearsing for an event or reenactment later in the year. I'm not sure when the event is, but it seems a common occurrence here and every townsperson has a costume on the ready!

SHOP///
KÄTHE WOHLFAHRT
The "Christmas Express" parked in front of the shop to attract customers.
Germany is known for its Christmas markets and this shop made up for my not being there in December. When I entered, it became Christmas in May. No photos allowed inside but believe me--it was A LOT of Christmas.

EAT///
There is plenty of German food in town and I love no nonsense German food; none of that fancy dainty stuff.  But there are also some interesting selections in town, including a popular Japanese restaurant and more than one Chinese restaurant. Just remember to make a reservation if the restaurant is small. Reservations only require you to tell them its for lunch or dinner, and they will hold your space indefinitely regardless of whether there are customers waiting out their door.

WURST
Meat Shop window.
There are a few meat shops in town and there's no missing them from their window displays. Most of them sell sausages anytime of the day. Just go in, look around, and point. The sausages usually come with bread and mustard.

SCHNEEBALLEN
A schneeballen display.
Schneeballen, or snowball, is a pastry Rothenburg is known for. We did buy and try a classic one, dusted in powder sugar. It is made of strips of airy dough mushed into a ball, 3 inches in diameter, and deep fried. It tastes crunchy and sweet while fresh, but after awhile the oily taste soaks through.



REFLECTIONS///

A stork making its nest atop a tower in town.
Rothenburg is really a lovely town. The people there have done a great job preserving their history and developing their town for tourism and for hosting events; I got no sense of the town catering only to tourists or waning from its age. It is filled with life all day, peaceful in the evening, and people there are thriving. The community works together and knows each other well. In this sense, it didn't just look Medieval, it felt Medieval (and I mean this in the best way). This is a town that is worth any day-tripper's time, but a longer stay will reward you with treasures.

Rothenburg & Amsterdam

• Monday, August 24, 2015


Town Square, Rothenburg.
I went with my parents to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany this past May. My dad was a keynote speaker at this year's Rothenburg Kongress, the largest annual European conference on Traditional Chinese Medicine. We arrived a day and a half before the conference so my dad had a chance to get over jet lag and to explore the town before lecturing for 4 days. Between talking to potential collaborators, meeting contacts, and supporting my dad at a few sessions, my mom and I managed to squeeze in 2 day-trips to nearby Bamberg and Würzburg along the Romantic Road. 

Amsterdam
When the Kongress came to an end, we packed up for a week in the Netherlands. We stayed mostly in Amsterdam with a few days in Rotterdam. The beauty of the Netherlands lie undoubtedly in its ever-changing skies and abundance of water to which light can constantly play off of. I remarked on a photo that "besides the trashy main streets, Amsterdam is just like a painting" to which a friend replied "Right?!" 





We spent a total of 15 days in Europe before making our way home. Here is our itinerary and the activities we packed in. I will post on these places later and link them for whoever would read this for reference. 
  • Day 1//  May 10, 2015 Frankfurt to Rothenburg. Rothenburg: Ramparts Walk. 
  • Day 2//  May 11, 2015 Rothenburg. Saint Jakob's Church. Town Hall Tower.
  • Day 3//  May 12, 2015 Rothenburg: Castle Garden, Franciscan Church.
  • Day 4//  May 13, 2015 Wurzburg: Market Square, Site Residence Palace, Fortress Marienberg.
  • Day 5//  May 14, 2015 Rothenburg
  • Day 6//  May 15, 2015 Bamberg: Old Town Hall, Domplatz, Neue Resident'z Rose Garden, St. Michael's Monastery, Little Venice.
  • Day 7//  May 16, 2015 Taxi transfer to Frankfurt Main Station. Amsterdam Main Station.
  • Day 8//  May 17, 2015 Keukenhof Gardens / Zaanse Schans / Marken. 
  • Day 9//  May 18, 2015 Rijks Museum, Van Gogh Museum. 
  • Day 10// May 19, 2015 Amsterdam to Rotterdam: Rotterdam Market, Markthal, Walk along the Nieuwe Maas River.
  • Day 11// May 20, 2015 Ferry to Kinderdijk & Dordrecht. Eindenhoven.
  • Day 12// May 21, 2015 Hague: Peace Palace & Mauritshius Museum. Amsterdam: Leidseplein, Flower Market, Begijnhof. 
  • Day 13// May 22, 2015 Kröller-Müller Museum at the De Hoge Veluwe National Park
  • Day 14// May 23, 2015 Frankfurt: Ebbelwei Express, The Danube. 
  • Day 15// May 24, 2015 Flight to US. 
 

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