El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles

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As a historian, I am always intrigued to learn how a place came to be. Malicious gossip has it, L.A. is “ahistorical”. Not true! The exhibition “Becoming L.A.” walked me through the – kind of short – history of the city. Imagine that it was only founded a little more than 200 years ago and how much it’s developed! I spent a few hours going through what was a very carefully curated exhibition (with lots of really old things such as the very table at which the Mexican-American war was ended or the original crucifix the settlers brought to L.A.!) with what seemed like a strong focus on political correctness and inclusiveness to me. It could’ve been in Sweden, really. Anyone who says Americans are not aware of their historical and current societal conflicts…go there and reconsider.

I walked from the canoes of the Natives to the foundation of El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles (that’s the original name and they only kept the last part. It would be weird if we did that – I live in Orf? I was born in Erg? I studied in Ala and am moving to Urg?), through the incorporation into the U.S., the Gold Rush, the emergence of the dominant industries (not only movies, also aviation!), the Great Depression and the Post-War-Era. Population growth was insane! In 1850, there was a little more than 1000 people living here. Thirty years later, it’s 11,000. Just fifty years later, they had more than a millon in the city. Today, it’s four million only in the city (that does not include cities like Santa Monica). Angelenos did, however, entice the influx with some pretty professional PR: they (I guess that’s the local Chamber of Commerce among others) had journalists write reports about the area that advertised the great climate and overall benefits of living in L.A..

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Actually, there are exact records of who founded the town. 22 Spanish/Mexican adults and 22 children settled here first and the museum lists them with their names and everything.

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Outside the museum is the Edible Garden that teaches visitors about nature and food. Not only is it beautiful, it is also very well done and informative.

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In the museum shop, you could buy edible insects. For real. I checked the ingredient list.

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“As wealth increases, the colors blue and green increase in a neighborhood”

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During the Second World War, Japanese Americans were deported from L.A.

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The L.A. area is very progressive when it comes to certain sustainability issues. To reduce plastic waste, there are refill stations for your water bottle.

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On the bus home, I caught sight of poetry on the road. What a lovely initative!

 

Bloom town L.A.

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I am behind with blogging! The reason is mostly that jetlag has hit me really hard – I go to bed before Emily (which is a novelty for all of us) and I wake up, still feeling so, so tired. Did that keep me from walking 80,000 steps since I arrived? Of course not! (Anyone back at home who will ask me “So do you feel relaxed after your long holiday?” might be slapped, though…)

Just like last time I visited, my first day’s mission was to find the T-Mobile store to acquire a Sim-card that would work in this country. Millenials do not want to be roaming an unknown city without Instagram, eeeh, Google Maps. On the way there, I curiously observed how everyone was wearing long sleeves while I had just left both my cardigan and my jacket on the porch, feeling it was so warm. Also, people hung out in their cars with the windows open, talking on their phone which made me think several times someone was talking to me. I was highly alert, as you can tell, trying to not be run over by Mountain Dew trucks.

Most striking was and still is however the abundance of flowers everywhere. The city is blooming, giving it a very Southern feel. Colorful blossoms reaching over from people’s gardens to the street, almost like they’re saying “hi, tourist!”. I was in for a real flower surprise though when I was walking to the Natural History Museum to educate myself on L.A.’s past. Suddenly I was standing in the most beautiful rose garden. Well over 100 kinds of roses bloom there with funny names such as “Rainbow Sorbet”, “In the mood”, “Strike it rich” or “Tom Tom”. The rose garden, centered around a fountain, drew many parents with small kids but also elderly people enjoying the splendor of nature. Street vendors sold bouncy balls that had glitter attached, the ice cream man kept ringing his bell. Some students studied on the grass and couples picknicked romantically in the sunshine. As I sat on a bench by the fountain, I listened to the conversations sparked by the visits to the surrounding museums, heard babies crow with delight, children run to and from the fountain, their parents calling them. It was the perfect picture of a lovely spring day.

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These two had endless fun running to the fountain and get sprayed by the water that the wind cast in their direction. Then, they’d scream and run away, only the return 30 seconds later to repeat the fun.

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Rhine Romantic

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“The river Rhine is flowing happily and waiting for you”, my choir friend from Hamburg wrote to me when I moved to D√ľsseldorf. Almost four years later, I finally appreciate this stream that Germans call “Father Rhine”. A and my very first trip was to Koblenz, where Rhine and Mosel meet, and I’ve been wanting to go to K√∂nigswinter for a long time, too. Both cities are made for Rhine Romantics – majestic mountains rising up behind the water, picturesque old towns with half-timbered houses and wine restaurants and the occasional ferry transporting tourists up and down the river. Simply “a poet’s dream”, as Heinrich von Kleist described the Rhine region.

K√∂nigswinter had two strong arguments for me: it is just an hour’s drive from home (more time to explore, less time to travel) and it has the Drachenfels mountain with a castle that is referred to as the Rhineland’s Neuschwanstein. Traffic slowed us down a little but we were immediately enchanted by this little town (that is actually not that little, I researched K√∂nigswinter has 30,000 inhabitants!). We started with strolling down the river promenade and having lunch. In the 1920s, this was a swanky resort to which not only Germans but also many British travelled. A little bit of that atmosphere is still reflected in some of the buildings.

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We looked through a nice interior store and as a Riverdale fan, I of course had to take a photo of this

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A pub that didn’t look very inviting had this hilarious sign saying, “Small Party Corner International Music”. We passed the place four times, always peeking in to see if the party corner was in use.

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I not only appreciate the Rhine now, I even appreciate Rhenish wisdom. One of my favorite sayings is “Jeder Jeck ist anders”, meaning “It takes all sorts to make a world”, and expressing a wonderful sense of tolerance

 

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Königswinter has lots of pretty little cafés and stores

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“This is the little pub in our street”

Always seeking knowledge, we followed the signs to the Siebengebirge Museum that recounts the history of the region. Such a modern, interesting museum! It even had augmented reality parts. We learned that

the mountains were used as a stone pit,

that Lord Byron made Königswinter famous with his poem about Drachenfels (and they dedicated a square to him a couple of hundreds years later),

that there is a Königswinterer oven, a special kind of oven that apparently was a huge innovation, and

that the donkies that used to transport stones from the mountains were repurposed as tourist attractions when the stone pit was discontinued. A called this donkey structual change.

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Look at the world/ Everything all around us/Look at the world/ and marvel everyday

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A memory game of paintings and poems of the Rhine

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The famous oven

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Donkey!

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This fellow sat down with a glas of wine telling us about the history of the Rhine. He almost felt real!

When walking around in Königswinter you also see a mountain top with a large building on it: Petersberg. The Petersberg is a very historcial site as the Allies signed an agreement, the Petersberg Agreement, in 1949, granted Germany extended rights and led the Federal Republic away from occupation towards sovereignity. Feel the breath of history! Even today, the Hotel Petersberg is an official guest house of the German state. Queen Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela and Queen Margarethe of Denmark have stayed there.

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On Sunday, we went up the mythical mountain Drachenfels. It’s 321 meters high and we took the Zahnradbahn (rack railway), something that particularily excited A. It wasn’t any rack railway but the oldest still functioning one. From 1883! The mountain became a popular tourist destination thanks to the poems of aforementioned Lord Byron and German poets and legends surround the “Dragon’s Rock”. Its name stems from the most well known legend of The Nibelungs’ Song’s Siegfried who slayed a dragon here.

In 1883, a ridicuously wealthy banker came up with the idea to build a magnificent Disney castle halfway on the way to the mountain top. He never even lived there, he only had it to impress important friends that he received there.

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After continuing up the mountain, we reached the top where the ruins of a castle from the 1100s is located. The view is majestic. Absolutely stunning. The photo cannot do the landscape justice.

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You can see the Cologne Cathedral when you are up there! That’s 75 kilometers!

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I was also excited about the Zahnradbahn

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You could even buy a cake pan that shaped your cake in the silhouette of the Drachenfels

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And, of course, fika!

You know how D.C. and Kungstr√§dg√•rden are hyped for their cherry blossoms? Apparently, we have that too here! We went to Bonn, the former capital (and a charming international city), has two streets that are lined with cherry trees. Spectacular! It’s like a roof of pink flush. The downside? Everyone was there. All ages, all nations, all with smartphones. Some with high-end cameras and selfie sticks – those were the Instagram models I assume. The most awkward sight was maybe the young man going down on one knee amidst hundreds of tourists to propose to his girlfriend. But…she said yes!

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