Twelve Gates to the City…

Edited to Add: Howdy and welcome, Instapunderati! Thanks for stopping by.

Old-World cities had walls. That was part of what defined a city – it could defend itself. Its residents had a duty to defend it as part of their being citizens. (And I’ll note that this applied to women as well, at least in some of the Imperial Free Cities. Women who had the right to do business on their own also had duties for defense.) A city without walls wasn’t a real city, it was just a place where a lot of people lived at the mercy of any group of armed men who happened to be passing by.

Wismar and its walls during the Hanse years.

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Boats! (And Ships, and Engines, and Fish-in-a-Jar, and Letters, and Art, and…)

Edited to Add: Welcome, Instapundit Readers! Thanks for stopping by. And the diorama question has been answered in the comments.

Not everything in northern Germany is creepy. Honest. The Maritime Museum in Hamburg is fascinating, spectacular, and enormous. I had two and a half hours there, and could have spent all day. I ended up skipping two whole floors, more or less*. I also managed to see it backwards, which seems to have become a habit on this trip. You are not supposed to take the elevator to the top floor and walk down. You can, but if you don’t know maritime history, you may be a little lost. Anyway…

Five bonus points to the first person to identify what this diorama shows.

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The Varusschlacht – A Dark and Bloody Ground

Some people believe that places where events of great emotional or spiritual power occurred are forever marked by those events. I’m not certain that I entirely believe all the claims, because I’ve crossed paths with a few too many New Age wanna-be psychic nuts and flakes over the years. However, go walk the battlefield at Kalkreise on a dark, rainy day. There’s something creepy there.

The red dot.

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The Old Grey Widow-Maker

Into the teeth of a rising storm on the North Sea, standing on a sea dike near Husum, Germany.

Kipling’s “Harp Song of the Dane Women” was right. The North Sea is not to be trusted. The day before had been sunny, light winds from the sea, and the seal-spotting boats had been going out, taking tourists to see “Seelöwe.” Not this morning. The wind pushed me so hard I almost lost my footing, and the wind was not kind. Continue reading

Initial Impressions and Thoughts after Travel

You cannot get anywhere fast by road in Germany, not American West-style fast. Especially around Hamburg on Fridays or on Sunday afternoons. Frankfurt is probably just as much fun, but I wasn’t in that area this time. The Autobahns are great so long as there are no staus. (Stau – n. Traffic jam. Stoppung – n. A non-moving stau.) Then you go from no speed limit (in some areas) to three or four kmph. The 19 km Stoppung was on the north side of Hamburg as we were trying to go around the south side, thanks be.

Herring is a lot better than I remembered. Lots, lots better. Wonderfully better. Being on the North Sea coast and Baltic instead of Rhineland probably had something to do with it. Tinned fish is just not as good as fresh when you can get it.

Smoked salmon for breakfast is wonderful. Continue reading

Back Home

Howdy all. Got in last night. I’m doing wash and sorting mail and books (more of which are coming from Germany via book-rate mail).

The Importance of Hope


When I teach the period of Soviet history between Khrushchev’s retirement and 1985 or so, I tend to sum it up as grey. Brezhnev, Andropov, their successors kept watch over a grey country where concrete was the building material of choice, where the snow turned grey in the cities, where conditions slowly grew worse as things went unrepaired or were patched and mended but not really replaced. Individuals fared better, or worse, and had their own stories with color and joy, but as a collective whole? Grey.

Why grey? I’d argue that grey is what is left when hope goes away. Continue reading

Almost Home

Good lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be back on the real computer tomorrow. Right now my brain is saying “Why are you functioning? It’s 0230 vacation time!


Because it is 18:30 layover time. And the sun is way up in the sky.