Geiranger and Geirangerfjord, Norway

A panorama of the deep blue UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord and the surrounding majestic, snow-covered mountain peaks, wild waterfalls and lush, green vegetation, Geiranger, Norway; phot

A panorama of the deep blue UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord and the surrounding majestic, snow-covered mountain peaks, wild waterfalls and lush, green vegetation, Geiranger, Norway; photographed at 1,500 meters (nearly 4,900 feet) elevation at the Dalsnibba utsiktspunkt (Dalsnibba outlook), south-south-east of the fjord

 

From the coastal town of Ålesund, Norway [see our previous blog post, Ålesund, Norway], our ship sailed a short distance to the southeast and entered the Sunnylvsfjorden, of which the Geirangerfjord (English: Geiranger Fjord) is a 15-mile long branch.  Norway’s visitor’s website has a poetic description of this spectacular natural environment:

“The deep blue UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord is surrounded by majestic, snow-covered mountain peaks, wild waterfalls and lush, green vegetation.  You would have to be exceptionally blasé if you failed to be impressed by this astounding creation of Mother Nature, emphasized by the will of man to maintain a foothold on the steep mountainsides and glean a living here.  Impressive waterfalls cast cascades of thundering water from almost vertical mountainsides.  The famous falls De syv søstrene (“the Seven Sisters”), Friaren (“the Suitor”) and Brudesløret (“the Bridal Veil”) tease the cliffs with feather‐light sheer veils of mist whose mission is to create a never‐ending display of changing rainbows to fill you with delight and wonder.” – www.visitnorway.com

 

We took a panoramic drive along the steep, winding roadway known as Ørnesvegen (Eagle_s Road), featuring 11 hairpin turns and some of Norway_s most famous vistas and stopped at the

From our ship, anchored in Geirangerfjord (in the lower right of the photograph), we rode in tender boats to a pier in the small village of Geiranger, Norway, at the eastern end of the fjord (center of photograph), where we took a panoramic drive along the steep, winding roadway known as Ørnesvegen (Eagle’s Road), featuring 11 hairpin turns and some of Norway’s most famous vistas and stopped at the Eagle Road viewpoint where this image was made at an elevation of 515 meters (1,690 feet)

 

From the Eagle Road viewpoint overlooking Geirangerfjord, the small village of Geiranger, Norway, and the snow-covered, rugged mountains fill the vista

From the Eagle Road viewpoint overlooking Geirangerfjord, the small village of Geiranger, Norway, and the snow-covered, rugged mountains fill the vista

 

The intrepid explorer and your blogger at the Eagle Road viewpoint, Geirangerfjord, Norway

The intrepid explorer and your blogger at the Eagle Road viewpoint, Geirangerfjord, Norway

 

A road sign on the Trollstigen mountain road that leads up from sea level at Geiranger, Norway, to the 1,500 meters (nearly 4,900 foot) elevation at the Dalsnibba utsiktspunkt (Dalsnibba

A road sign on the Trollstigen mountain road – opened in 1936 and a testiment to the superb engineering and construction skills of the Norwegians, using the simplest of tools from the 1930s — that leads up from sea level at Geiranger, Norway, to the 1,500 meters (nearly 4,900 foot) elevation at the Dalsnibba utsiktspunkt (Dalsnibba outlook), south-south-east of the Geirangerfjord, where we had the opportunity to take photos and hike around

 

A small vertical slice of the rugged mountain terrain visible from the viewpoint (“Skywalk”) at the top of Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway

A small vertical slice of the rugged mountain terrain visible from the viewpoint (“Skywalk”) at the top of Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway

 

Geirangerfjord and the twisting, winding Trollstigen mountain road viewed from the viewpoint (“Skywalk”) at the top of Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway [“portrait” (ver

Geirangerfjord and the twisting, winding Trollstigen mountain road viewed from the viewpoint (“Skywalk”) at the top of Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway [“portrait” (vertical) photograph]

According to Wikipedia, Magdalene Thoresen, Henrik Ibsen’s mother-in-law, said of the area:  “This fjord is surrounded by some of the steepest mountains on the entire west coast.  It is very narrow and has no habitable shore area, for the precipitous heights rise in sheer and rugged strata almost straight out of the water.  Foaming waterfalls plunge into the fjord from jagged peaks.  There are, however, a few mountain farms here [some of which have been abandoned], and of these one or two have such hazardous access, by paths that wind around steep precipices, and by bridges that are fixed to the mountain with iron bolts and rings, that they bear witness in a most striking way to the remarkable powers of invention which the challenges of nature have developed in man.”

 

Geirangerfjord and the twisting, winding Trollstigen mountain road viewed from the viewpoint (“Skywalk”) at the top of Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway [“landscape” (ho

Geirangerfjord and the twisting, winding Trollstigen mountain road viewed from the viewpoint (“Skywalk”) at the top of Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway [“landscape” (horizontal) photograph]

Glaciers (yes, small ones, but the snow does not melt during the summer) on the top of Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway

Glaciers (yes, small ones, but the snow does not melt during the summer) on the top of Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway

 

Our ship anchored in the center of the visible section of the fjord, Geirangerfjord, Norway

Our ship anchored in the center of the visible section of the fjord, Geirangerfjord, Norway

 

A close up of Geirangerfjord and the small village of Geiranger, Norway (tucked under the mountains and only partially visible, with the Ørnesvegen (Eagle_s Road), featuring 11 hairpi

A close up of Geirangerfjord and the small village of Geiranger, Norway (tucked under the mountains and only partially visible), with the Ørnesvegen (Eagle’s Road), featuring 11 hairpin turns, visible on the right side of the fjord in the sunlit area; the Eagle’s Road viewpoint is at the upper, leftmost section of the road overlooking the fjord

 

The rugged terrain atop Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway

The rugged terrain atop Dalsnibba Mountain, Geirangerfjord, Norway

 

On the drive back down from Dalsnibba Mountain, we stopped by the lake and Djupvasshytta (Djupvatan Lodge) at 1,030 meters (3,379 feet) elevation to enjoy the legendary landscapes before

On the drive back down from Dalsnibba Mountain, we stopped by the lake and Djupvasshytta (Djupvatan Lodge) at 1,030 meters (3,379 feet) elevation to enjoy the legendary landscapes before continuing the drive to Geiranger, Norway

 

The road passing by Djupvasshytta (Djupvatan Lodge) at 1,030 meters (3,379 feet) elevation is way above the tree line, so the scenery here was pretty stark, yet beautiful with the contra

The road passing by Djupvasshytta (Djupvatan Lodge) at 1,030 meters (3,379 feet) elevation is way above the tree line, so the scenery here was pretty stark, yet beautiful with the contrasts between the residual snow, the weathered mountainside and the low summer vegetation in the meadows, Geirangerfjord, Norway

 

Situated at the head of the stunning Geirangerfjord, the small village of Geiranger is a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site with some of the deepest, narrowest and most beautiful fjords in the world.  Geiranger is in the process of being certified as a Sustainable Destination, a seal of approval given to destinations that work systematically to reduce the negative impact of tourism.  In addition to providing visitors with enjoyable experiences, Geiranger wishes to preserve the local nature, culture and environment, strengthen social values, and be economically viable.

 

A close up of the small village of Geiranger, Norway, photographed from our last viewpoint driving back down the winding Trollstigen mountain road from Dalsnibba Mountain

A close up of the small village of Geiranger, Norway, photographed from our last viewpoint driving back down the winding Trollstigen mountain road from Dalsnibba Mountain

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Ålesund, Norway

A panorama of the new harbor side of Ålesund, Norway, with Mount Aksla on the left (the white building on the crest is a restaurant and bar with spectacular views)

A panorama of the new harbor side of Ålesund, Norway, with Mount Aksla on the left (the white building on the crest is a restaurant and bar with spectacular views)

 

Ålesund is a sea port town on the northwest coast of Norway, at the entrance to the Geirangerfjord.  The city is spread over several islands, stretching into the Atlantic Ocean with the spectacular Sunnmøre Mountains as a backdrop.  It’s known for the Art Nouveau architectural style in which most of the town was rebuilt after a fire in 1904, as documented at the Jugendstilsenteret Museum.  With a population of around 50,000, Ålesund is the 9th most populous urban area in Norway.

 

A residential neighborhood climbing from the Aspevågen (sound) up the side of Mount Aksla, Ålesund, Norway

A residential neighborhood climbing from the Aspevågen (sound) up the side of Mount Aksla, Ålesund, Norway

 

Jugendstilsenteret (The Art Nouveau Centre of Norway) -- on the left – is a national interpretation center where visitors can learn more about the town fire, the rebuilding of the tow

Jugendstilsenteret (The Art Nouveau Centre of Norway) — on the left – is a national interpretation center where visitors can learn more about the town fire, the rebuilding of the town and the Art Nouveau style, Ålesund, Norway

 

The Brosundet channel separates the two main islands of Ålesund, Norway; the white and pastel buildings are all in the Art Nouveau architectural style in which most of the town was reb

The Brosundet channel separates the two main islands of Ålesund, Norway; the white and pastel buildings are all in the Art Nouveau architectural style in which most of the town was rebuilt after a fire in 1904

 

“In the night of 23 January 1904, the town was the scene of the Ålesund Fire, one of the most terrible of the many conflagrations to which Norwegian towns, once built largely of wood, have been subjected.  Practically the entire town was destroyed during the night, a gale aiding the flames, and the population had to leave the town in the middle of the night with only a few minutes’ notice.  Only one person died in the fire, the 76-year-old Ane Heen, but more than 10,000 people were left without shelter.  Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany had often been on vacation to Sunmøre.  After the fire, he sent four warships with materials to build temporary shelters and barracks.  After a period of planning, the town was rebuilt in stone, brick, and mortar in Jugendstil (Art Nouveau), the architectural style of the time.  The structures were designed by approximately 20 master builders and 30 Norwegian architects, most of them educated in Trondheim and Charlottenburg, Berlin, drawing inspiration from all over Europe.  To honor Wilhelm, one of the most frequented streets of the town is named after him.  The town has an unusually consistent architecture, most of the buildings having been built between 1904 and 1907.” — Wikipedia

 

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 - 1907, #1

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 – 1907, #1

 

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 - 1907, #2

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 – 1907, #2

 

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 - 1907, #3

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 – 1907, #3

  

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 - 1907, #4

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 – 1907, #4

 

Fiskerimuseet (the Fisheries Museum), Ålesund, Norway, is located in this sea house at the entrance to the old harbor; through the years the sea house has been used for fish processing

Fiskerimuseet (the Fisheries Museum), Ålesund, Norway, is located in this sea house at the entrance to the old harbor; through the years the sea house has been used for fish processing and the production of medicinal oil

 

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 - 1907, #5

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 – 1907, #5

 

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 - 1907, #6

A Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) building in Ålesund, Norway, circa 1904 – 1907, #6

 

A building restored in the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) style in Ålesund, Norway 1845 - 1907, #7

A building restored in the Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) style in Ålesund, Norway 1845 – 1907, #7

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Bergen, Norway

Founded more than 900 years ago, Bergen, Norway – with roots to the Viking Age and beyond – today is Norway's second largest city and lies clambering up the mountain sides, overlooki

Founded more than 900 years ago, Bergen, Norway – with roots to the Viking Age and beyond – today is Norway’s second largest city and lies clambering up the mountain sides, overlooking the sea on the west coast of Norway

 

“Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, and lies clambering up the mountain sides, overlooking the sea [on the west coast of Norway]…  It is the gateway to the Fjords of Norway.  On a Norwegian scale, Bergen is a large city, but one with a small-town charm and atmosphere.  Its passionately patriotic inhabitants are proud of their many-sided city and its history and cultural traditions.  Many are only happy to direct visitors to their favourite local attraction, coffee-shop or restaurant.

Around 10 percent of the population [which numbers about 275,000] in Bergen are students, which adds a fresh and youthful mood to the city’s vibe.  Alongside its offerings of museums, art galleries, cultural events and dining opportunities, as well as the possibilities offered by its accessible sea and mountains, this contributes to making it a lively and vibrant city.

Founded more than 900 years ago, Bergen has roots to the Viking Age and beyond.  As one of the main offices of the Hanseatic League, Bergen was for several hundred years the centre of prosperous trade between Norway and the rest of Europe.  Bryggen (“The Hanseatic Wharf”) is the most obvious remnant from this time [a UNESCO World Heritage Site], and is today home to many of the city’s restaurants, pubs, craft shops and historical museums.

Bergen is famous for the seven mountains surrounding the city centre, the Hanseatic Wharf, the fish market, and one of Norway’s biggest cultural events, the Bergen International Festival, which is held there each year.” — www.visitnorway.com

 

The inner harbor of Bergen, Norway -- Vågen Harbor -- is where the city was founded around 1070 A.D.; the long, brown-tiled warehouses on the right center of the photograph are a serie

The inner harbor of Bergen, Norway — Vågen Harbor — is where the city was founded around 1070 A.D.; the long, brown-tiled warehouses on the right center of the photograph (the eastern side of the harbor) are a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings famously known as Bryggen and our ship is docked at the pier (right-hand side) in the upper right hand corner of the photograph

 

Små Lungeren (Lake Lungeren), also known as Lille Lungegårdsvannet, viewed from the top of Mount Fløyen (we hiked up the 320 meters-1050 feet elevation trail, although there is a ve

Små Lungeren (Lake Lungeren), also known as Lille Lungegårdsvannet, viewed from the top of Mount Fløyen (we hiked up the 320 meters/1050 feet elevation trail, although there is a very popular tram) – the large building at the back of the lake are the four KODE Museums, where we had a delicious shared plates Norwegian luncheon with friends in restaurant Lysverket (in KODE 4)

 

Bergen residences viewed across Små Lungeren (Lake Lungeren) from the outside of KODE 2 Muesuem, Norway

Bergen residences viewed across Små Lungeren (Lake Lungeren) from the outside of KODE 2 Museum, Norway

 

A panorama of of Bryggen (the dock) -- a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the Vågen Harbor in Bergen, Norway -- since 1979 on the UNESCO list for Wor

A panorama of of Bryggen (the dock) — a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings lining the eastern side of the Vågen Harbor in Bergen, Norway — since 1979 on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites

 

“The very first buildings in Bergen were situated at Bryggen, which has been a vibrant and important area of the city for many centuries.  Bryggen has been ravaged by many fires, the great fire of 1702 in particular.  It reduced the whole of the city to ashes.  The area was rebuilt on the foundations that had been there since the 12th century, which means that Bryggen is basically unchanged despite the passing centuries.  Bryggen is now part of our common heritage and has a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, and the city of Bergen is a designated World Heritage City.  The world heritage site consists of the old Hanseatic wharf and buildings, and one of the best known urban areas from the Middle Ages in all of Norway.  In 1360, the German Hanseatic League set up one of its import and export offices at Bryggen, dominating trade for almost 400 years.  To stroll through the narrow alleyways and overhanging galleries is to step back into the mists of time and a bygone era.” –  www.en.visitbergen.com

 

The seventeen restored, extant Bryggen gabled, wooden warehouses, Bergen, Norway

The seventeen restored, extant Bryggen gabled, wooden warehouses, Bergen, Norway

 

A close up of several of the brightly painted Bryggen gabled, wooden warehouses, Bergen, Norway

A close up of several of the brightly painted Bryggen gabled, wooden warehouses, Bergen, Norway

 

“Around 1350 an office of the Hanseatic League was established there.  As the town developed into an important trading centre, the wharfs were improved.  The buildings of Bryggen were gradually taken over by the Hanseatic merchants.  The warehouses were filled with goods, particularly stockfish from northern Norway, and cereal from Europe.  In 1702, the buildings belonging to the Hanseatic League were damaged by fire.  They were rebuilt, and some of these were later demolished, and some were destroyed by fire.  In 1754, the operations of the office at Bryggen, ended ‘when all the properties were transferred to Norwegian citizens’.  Throughout history, Bergen has experienced many fires, since, traditionally, most houses were made from wood.  This was also the case for Bryggen, and as of today, around a quarter dates back to the time after 1702, when the older wharfside warehouses and administrative buildings burned down.  The rest predominantly consists of younger structures, although there are some stone cellars that date back to the 15th century.  Parts of Bryggen were destroyed in a fire in 1955.  A thirteen-year archaeological excavation followed, revealing the day-to-day runic inscriptions known as the Bryggen inscriptions.” — Wikipedia

 

19th and early 20th century brick and stucco buildings on eastern side of the Vågen Harbor in Bergen, Norway

19th and early 20th century brick and stucco buildings on eastern side of the Vågen Harbor in Bergen, Norway

 

The reindeer sausage tasted the best at the fishmarket at the eastern end of the harbor – we bought some to take home to our apartment on the ship, Bergen, Norway

The reindeer sausage tasted the best at the fish market at the eastern end of the harbor – we bought some to take home to our apartment on the ship, Bergen, Norway

 

Fish in Norway means cod and salmon – here is just a small section of one fishmonger_s selection of salmon at the fishmarket at the eastern end of the harbor – we bought several va

Fish in Norway means cod and salmon (and, formerly, sardines) – here is just a small section of one fishmonger’s selection of salmon at the fish market at the eastern end of the harbor – we bought several vacuum packed bags of sliced smoked salmon to take home to our apartment on the ship, Bergen, Norway

 

Also synonymous with Norway are trolls – here the whole side of an apartment building in Bergen celebrates the 2017 UCI (International Cycling Union) Road World Championships with a tr

Also synonymous with Norway are trolls – here the whole side of an apartment building in Bergen celebrates the 2017 UCI (International Cycling Union) Road World Championships with a troll; the 2017 UCI Road World Championships, held in 2017 in Bergen, Norway, were the 90th UCI Road World Championships

 

Beautiful painted homes from the 19th century in the Nordnes neighborhood atop the peninsula on the west side of the inner harbor (Vågen Harbor) of Bergen, Norway

Beautiful painted homes from the 19th century in the Nordnes neighborhood atop the peninsula on the west side of the inner harbor (Vågen Harbor) of Bergen, Norway

 

The view looking toward the east from the Nordnes neighborhood atop the peninsula on the west side of the inner harbor (Vågen Harbor) of Bergen, Norway; the steeple, dated “Anno 1761

The view looking toward the east from the Nordnes neighborhood atop the peninsula on the west side of the inner harbor (Vågen Harbor) of Bergen, Norway; the steeple, dated “Anno 1761” is part of Nykirken, an 18th century church that was damaged during World War II in an explosion in 1944 and subsequently fully restored, reflecting the local architecture of the 18th century

 

A contemporary statue celebrating life on the quay on the western side of the inner harbor (Vågen Harbor) of Bergen, Norway; across the harbor are the Bryggen gabled, wooden warehouses

A contemporary statue celebrating life, on the quay on the western side of the inner harbor (Vågen Harbor) of Bergen, Norway; across the harbor are the Bryggen gabled, wooden warehouses

 

The northeastern side of the inner harbor (Vågen Harbor) of Bergen, Norway, with the tram stop and restaurant atop Mount Fløyen visible in the center top of the photograph

The northeastern side of the inner harbor (Vågen Harbor) of Bergen, Norway, with the tram stop and restaurant atop Mount Fløyen visible in the center top of the photograph

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

St. Swithun’s Cathedral (Stavanger Domkirke), Stavanger, Norway

Located in the center of the city, across from a large plaza at the end of the harbor, the Stavanger Cathedral, also known as St. Swithun_s Cathedral [Norwegian- Stavanger Domkirke], i

Located in the center of the city, across from a large plaza at the end of the harbor, the Stavanger Cathedral, also known as St. Swithun’s Cathedral [Norwegian: Stavanger Domkirke], is the oldest cathedral in Norway

Stavanger Cathedral, also known as St. Swithun’s Cathedral [Norwegian: Stavanger Domkirke], is the oldest cathedral in Norway.  The bishopric was established in Stavanger around 1125, at which time it is assumed that the City of Stavanger, Norway, was also founded.  Located in the center of the city, across from a large plaza at the end of the harbor, the Cathedral serves both the parish and the diocese of Stavanger.  Construction of the Cathedral was started around 1100 A.D. by Bishop Reinald, who may have come from Winchester, England.  The Cathedral was completed around 1150 A.D. and dedicated to St. Swithin as its patron saint.  Bishop Reinald brought to the Cathedral its most important relic, St. Swithun’s Arm.

The Cathedral was originally built as a Roman basilica in Anglo-Norman style.  After a fire damaged the Cathedral in 1272, it was rebuilt with the addition of a larger choir and vestibule in Gothic style (see photograph, below), an interesting juxtaposition of architectural styles.

The most notable feature of the interior is the Pulpit that is post Reformation and dates back to the 1650s, made by Andrew Smith.  The Pulpit spans the complete history of the Bible, starting with Adam and Eve (see photograph, below) at the foot of the stairs, finishing with the triumphant Christ crowning the top of the canopy.  Stavanger Cathedral has been in continuous use for 900 years and is well preserved. Its Middle Age ambiance is for the most part still intact.

 

The Stavanger Cathedral was originally built as a Roman basilica in Anglo-Norman style; after a fire damaged the Cathedral in 1272, it was rebuilt with the addition of a larger choir an

The Stavanger Cathedral was originally built as a Roman basilica in Anglo-Norman style; after a fire damaged the Cathedral in 1272, it was rebuilt with the addition of a larger choir and vestibule in Gothic style — an interesting juxtaposition of architectural styles, St. Swithun’s Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

 

The most notable feature of the interior is the Pulpit that is post Reformation and dates back to the 1650s, made by Andrew Smith, Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

The most notable feature of the interior is the Pulpit that is post Reformation and dates back to the 1650s, made by Andrew Smith, Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

 

The Pulpit spans the complete history of the Bible, starting with Adam and Eve at the foot of the stairs, Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

The Pulpit spans the complete history of the Bible, starting with Adam and Eve at the foot of the stairs, Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

 

Scenes of the life of Jesus Christ carved on the Pulpit, Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

Scenes of the life of Jesus Christ carved on the Pulpit, Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

 

Angel wall lamp, Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

Angel wall lamp, Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

 

The Hiermann epitaph was carved and painted by Andrew Smith in 1664; it was made in memory of Jens Pedersøn Hiermann. The epitaph is very rich in imagery and perhaps the finest example

The Hiermann epitaph was carved and painted by Andrew Smith in 1664; it was made in memory of Jens Pedersøn Hiermann (Bishop Humble’s son-in-law), his wife Catharina Nicolaisdatter and their 5 children. The symbols are from the Old and the New Testaments. The epitaph is very rich in imagery and perhaps the finest example of such work in Norway; Stavanger Cathedral, Stavanger, Norway

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Stavanger, Norway

Situated on Norway_s southwestern coast, Stavanger_s city-center harbor is surrounded by historical buildings reflecting its past as a shipping, shipbuilding, and fish canning center

Situated on Norway’s southwestern coast, Stavanger’s city-center harbor is surrounded by historical buildings reflecting its past as a shipping, shipbuilding, and fish canning center for the country, along with the Stavanger Cathedral dating back to 1125

 

“Stavanger is a city in southwestern Norway. Stavanger counts its official founding year as 1125, the year the Stavanger Cathedral [in the center of town] was completed.  Stavanger’s core is to a large degree 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses that are protected and considered part of the city’s cultural heritage.  This has caused the town centre and inner city to retain a small-town character with an unusually high ratio of detached houses, and has contributed significantly to spreading the city’s population growth to outlying parts of Greater Stavanger…  The city’s history is a continuous alternation between economic booms and recessions.  For long periods of time its most important industries have been shipping, shipbuilding, the fish canning industry and associated subcontractors.  In 1969, a new boom started as oil was first discovered in the North Sea.  After much discussion, Stavanger was chosen to be the on-shore center for the oil industry on the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, and a period of hectic growth followed.”– www.Wikipdeia.com

 

Restaurants and retail stores now occupy the ground floor of the older buildings along the east side of the harbor in Stavanger, Norway

Restaurants and retail stores now occupy the ground floor of the older buildings along the east side of the harbor in Stavanger, Norway

 

“There’s a reason this coastal town has been twinned with Houston and Aberdeen: it’s sometimes known as Norway’s ‘Oil City’ for its importance in oil exploration in the North Sea since the 1970s (Norway’s largest oil company, Statoil, is based here).  But while much of the outskirts are modern, you won’t find too many skyscrapers – Stavanger’s old centre has some of the most beautiful and best-preserved wooden buildings anywhere in Norway, many dating back to the 18th century.  It’s all very pretty, and in summer the waterfront comes alive in the best port-town style.” – www.lonelyplanet.com

 

Along the cobblestone streets of the Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) district are about 170 buildings (mostly private homes) from the late 18th century that are the best-preserved wooden

Along the cobblestone streets of the Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) district are about 170 buildings (mostly private homes) from the late 18th century that are the best-preserved wooden homes in Northern Europe, Stavanger, Norway

 

“The Norwegian Canning Museum [Norsk Hermetikkmuseum in Norwegian] is housed in an old cannery: it’s one of Stavanger’s most entertaining museums.  Before oil, there were sardines, and Stavanger was once home to more than half of Norway’s canning factories.  By 1922 the city’s canneries provided 50% of the town’s employment.  The exhibits take you through the whole 12-stage process from salting through to threading, smoking, decapitating and packing.” — www.lonelyplanet.com

 

This drawing for a sardine can label was on display at the Norwegian Canning Museum [Norsk Hermetikkmuseum in Norwegian], housed in an old cannery in one of the wooden buildings in the m

This drawing for a sardine can label was on display at the Norwegian Canning Museum [Norsk Hermetikkmuseum in Norwegian], housed in an old cannery in one of the wooden buildings in the middle of Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger), Stavanger, Norway

A room in the Norwegian Canning Museum [Norsk Hermetikkmuseum in Norwegian] displaying the turn-of-the-century (1900) and later equipment made for seaming sardine cans that were hand pac

A room in the Norwegian Canning Museum [Norsk Hermetikkmuseum in Norwegian] displaying the turn-of-the-century (1900) and later equipment made for seaming sardine cans that were hand packed (foreground) by numerous women on an “assembly line”, Stavanger, Norway

Two of the wooden homes in the Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) district, Stavanger, Norway

Two of the wooden homes in the Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) district, Stavanger, Norway

 

Valbergtårnet (Valberg Tower) was the watchtower for the city_s guards until the 1920s, Stavanger, Norway

Valbergtårnet (Valberg Tower) was the watchtower for the city’s guards until the 1920s, Stavanger, Norway

 

Shops in the Øvre Holmegate (Upper Holmegate) district that are painted in bright colors, Stavanger, Norway

Shops in the Øvre Holmegate (Upper Holmegate) district that are painted in bright colors, Stavanger, Norway

 

The view from our ship at dock in Stavanger, Norway, looking to the east where the islands are interconnected by numerous bridges

The view from our ship at dock in Stavanger, Norway, looking to the east where the islands are interconnected by numerous bridges

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Situated in the historic harbor neighborhood of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, fronting on a canal, restaurant Hemelse Modder serves delicious Dutch-European dishes for dinner

Situated in the historic harbor neighborhood of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, fronting on a canal, restaurant Hemelse Modder serves delicious Dutch-European dishes for dinner

 

A couple of years ago when we visited Amsterdam we tried a local Dutch restaurant with a European sensitivity that was highly recommended by a friend who used to visit the city frequently on business.  We and our friends had an excellent dinner and we decided this year to bring some new friends to join us for dinner back at Hemelse Modder, located only a 10-minute walk from Amsterdam Centraal (the train station by the Amstel River).  To our surprise, the weather was unseasonably warm and dry, so the restaurant was offering a few tables out back on their terrace.  We had another delicious, leisurely dinner made from excellent fresh local products, prepared in modern adaptations of classic Dutch recipes.  We also enjoyed wine pairings selected by the chef that nicely complimented our various dishes.  All in all, another wonderful evening in Amsterdam.

 

A first course salad at Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A first course salad at Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

A first course of local fish (a "Halibut Bombe") and seafood, Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A first course of local fish (a “Halibut Bombe”) and seafood, Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

“On a short city trip it is hard to find a restaurant which represents the feeling of that city – one that makes you feel welcome, offers good food and terrific wines.  Hemelse Modder is that restaurant in Amsterdam.  You can find us close to the Central Station in a quiet neighborhood, and situated on a beautiful canal.  The bright and open space exudes the spirit of the times, and the warm atmosphere attracts a mix of local and international visitors.  Guests can enjoy seasonal dishes in three, four or five courses.  The ingredients list is motivated by love for good food and for everything that lives and grows.  We’re open for dinner, seven days a week.” – www.hemelsemodder.nl/en/

 

A first course of herring tartar with sliced red beets (a classic Dutch combination), Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A first course of herring tartar with sliced red beets (a classic Dutch combination), Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

I also had a soup course, here the local fish soup (reinterpreted from France) with rouille, Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I also had a soup course, here the local fish soup (reinterpreted from France) with rouille, Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Local plaice with mussels and local greens (samphire), Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Local plaice with mussels and local greens (samphire), Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Dutch fries with mayonnaise (more like aioli), Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Dutch fries with mayonnaise (more like aioli), Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Fresh local cod with a vegetable “crust” served on greens, with potatoes, Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Fresh local cod with a vegetable “crust” served on greens, with potatoes, Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

The post sunset view along the canal in front of Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as we walked back to Amsterdam Centraal for a ride back to our ship

The post sunset view along the canal in front of Hemelse Modder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as we walked back to Amsterdam Centraal for a ride back to our ship

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Shop local: Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

With 260 stalls, Albert Cuyp Market [Albert Cuypmarkt in Danish] in Amsterdam is the most famous market in the Netherlands and sells clothing, flowers, plants, textiles, jewelry, fresh f

With 260 stalls, Albert Cuyp Market [Albert Cuypmarkt in Dutch] in Amsterdam is the most famous market in the Netherlands and sells clothing, flowers, plants, textiles, jewelry, fresh fish, fruit and more

 

“There’s no place like the Albert Cuyp street market to discover Amsterdam’s typical sense of humour and laid back atmosphere.  The Albert Cuypmarkt is the largest and most popular outdoor market in the Netherlands, with 260 stands operating six days a week selling everything from Vietnamese spring rolls to freshly made stroopwafels.  Since 1905, the ‘Cuyp’ has fascinated Amsterdam’s residents, home cooks, tourists and anyone looking for a bargain.  The market provides hours of entertaining shopping and browsing, with stands selling everything from shoes and luggage to fresh vegetables and fish.  You’ll also find typical Dutch treats like raw herring or warm, freshly made stroopwafels.  The market is situated in the heart of the De Pijp district, one of Amsterdam’s liveliest areas, filled with (ethnic) shops, cafés, restaurants, and cozy bars.” – www.iamsterdam.com

 

Belgian-style waffes with a variety of toppings, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Belgian-style waffles with a variety of toppings, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Local Dutch cheeses, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Local Dutch cheeses, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Brightly decorated wooden clogs (shoes), Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Brightly decorated wooden clogs (shoes), Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

A portion of the 260 stalls that line Albert Cuypstraat in the outdoors Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A portion of the 260 stalls that line Albert Cuypstraat in the outdoors Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Fresh fruit, including local strawberries, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Fresh fruit, including local strawberries, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

This stand had a vast selection of nuts, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

This stand had a vast selection of nuts, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Small pancakes, a Dutch specialty, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Small pancakes, a Dutch specialty, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Fresh flowers are abundant all across the city – there were several stands with very inexpensive selections in the Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Fresh flowers are abundant all across the city – there were several stands with very inexpensive selections in the Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

A stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel syrup filling in the middle and are popular in the Netherlands, where they were first made in the city o

A stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel syrup filling in the middle and are popular in the Netherlands, where they were first made in the city of Gouda, Albert Cuyp Market, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2018)

Alongside tulips and windmills, the global image of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is one of a city entwined with water -- in 2010 the Amsterdam Canal Ring was added to UNESCO_s World Her

Alongside tulips and windmills, the global image of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is one of a city entwined with water — in 2010 the Amsterdam Canal Ring was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List

 

Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, legacies of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age. Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk. Cycling is key to the city’s character, and there are numerous bike paths.

 

In the center, fronting on the Amstel River, is the A_DAM Lookout that opened in 2016, built on top of the building originally used by the Shell Oil Company, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

In the center, fronting on the Amstel River, is the A’DAM Lookout that opened in 2016, built on top of the building originally used by the Shell Oil Company, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; this year a frame was added on the top floor, outdoors, enabling visitors to swing out OVER the Amstel River (but there’s no bungee jumping)

 

One of the few remaining (restored) historic buildings fronting on the Amstel River, to the east of Amsterdam Centraal (the Amsterdam central train station), in Amsterdam, The Netherland

One of the few remaining (restored) historic buildings fronting on the Amstel River, to the east of Amsterdam Centraal (the Amsterdam central train station), in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, – now home to several restaurants

 

“From its humble beginnings as a 13th-century fishing village on a river bed to its current role as a major hub for business, tourism and culture, Amsterdam has had a strong tradition as a centre of culture and commerce. Alongside tulips and windmills, the global image of Amsterdam is one of a city entwined with water. Since its development in the 17th century, Amsterdam’s Canal Ring has grown to be one of the world’s most unique urban landscapes. And it not only remains a historic and beautiful water network through the city, but a stunning backdrop for fantastic cultural and sporting events throughout the year. Built during the Golden Age of the 17th century, Amsterdam’s Canal Ring, known locally as the Grachtengordel, is comprised of a network of intersecting waterways. These were developed through the drainage and reclamation of land for new development. Yet what was initially a practical feature, allowing the city to grow beyond its fortified boundaries, subsequently evolved into the area’s characteristic gabled canal-side estates and spectacular monuments thanks to financial enrichment from the booming maritime trade. The most famous trademarks of this new canal belt became the concentric loop of the Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Singel canals. Since 1999, the city’s distinctive canal landscape has officially been protected, and in 2010 the Amsterdam Canal Ring was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. In 2013, the Canal Ring also celebrated its 400th birthday.” – www.iamsterdam.com

 

By contrast, replacing many old waterfront buildings are these modern structures with the Sea Palace Chinese Restaurant in the Oosterdok channel and the striking NEMO Science Museum rese

By contrast, replacing many old waterfront buildings are these modern structures with the Sea Palace Chinese Restaurant in the Oosterdok channel and the striking NEMO Science Museum resembling the prow of a ship (the green building behind the Chinese restaurant), Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Along the canals in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, many old narrow former homes have beams cantilevered out over the street – in former times there was a pulley mechanism and ropes to hoi

Along the canals in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, many old narrow former homes have beams cantilevered out over the street – in former times there was a pulley mechanism and ropes to hoist up furniture to the upper floors (through the street facing windows), as the stairs were too narrow

 

Across the Amstel River on the far left, the A_DAM tower offers a contrast to the older buildings along a canal in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Across the Amstel River on the far left, the A’DAM tower offers a contrast to the older buildings along a canal in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

The canals in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, are home to a large variety of boats and watercraft – here a rather large sailboat is berthed next to a private home

The canals in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, are home to a large variety of boats and watercraft – here a rather large sailboat is berthed next to a private home

 

Bicycles are ubiquitous in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, parked here near a statue outside the country_s most famous market, Albert Cuypmarket

Bicycles are ubiquitous in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, parked here near a statue outside the country’s most famous market, Albert Cuypmarket

 

While in most cities sidewalks are for pedestrian passage, in Amsterdam, many sidewalks serve as parking spots for bicycles; the city has more bikes than inhabitants and some 12,000 bicy

While in most cities sidewalks are for pedestrian passage, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, many sidewalks serve as parking spots for bicycles; the city has more bikes than inhabitants and some 12,000 bicycles are fished out of the canals every year

 

An Amsterdam canal at sunset, with De Oude Kerk (The Old Church), consecrated in 1306, visible in the distance

An Amsterdam canal at sunset, with De Oude Kerk (The Old Church), consecrated in 1306, visible in the distance

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Birkenau (Auschwitz II – Birkenau), Oświęcim, Poland

The main railroad spur line led directly into and through the administration building (housing the Nazi SS officers and guard) at Birkenau (Auschwitz II) concentration-death camp in Oś

The main railroad spur line led directly into and through the administration building (housing the Nazi SS officers and guards) at Birkenau (Auschwitz II) concentration/death camp in Oświęcim, Poland

 

 

ALWAYS REMEMBER (part II)

The Auschwitz concentration and death camp is actually comprised of three sites.  Auschwitz I (generally referred to as Auschwitz) is the original concentration and death camp that operated from 1940 through 1945 and was featured in our previous blog, “Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland”.  A few years after Auschwitz I began operation, the Nazis greatly expanded the scope of the overall Oświęcim site with an additional camp, primarily a death camp – Auschwitz II (generally referred to as Birkenau), well known for the infamous train track that leads into and trough the main administration building.  It was here that the majority of newly arrived detainees (mostly Jews) were separated from their belongings and their family members and marched to their death in the “showers” (gas chambers).  Auschwitz III is a much smaller camp, slightly removed from the first two Oświęcim camps, located in the village of Monowice, Poland, and is not open to the public.  Called Monowitz (in German), the Auschwitz III camp was built as an Arbeitslager (workcamp) and held about 12,000 prisoners (mostly Jewish).

Following our tour of the Auschwitz I site, we went over for an extensive walk through of Auschwitz II – Birkenau — with our guide from the Auschwitz museum.  Note that a lot of the Birkenau camp is now open fields, as the wooden barracks were either torn down or burned down.  The vastness of the site is incredible, as described below.

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland (#2)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum, Birkenau (Auschwitz II), Oświęcim, Poland (#2)

 

View from the top of the administration building at Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland, showing the train tracks splitting inside the camp into three lines for the simultaneous unloading of

View from the top of the administration building at Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland, showing the train tracks splitting inside the camp into three lines for the simultaneous unloading of detainees from the railroad cattle cars; Birkenau contained 300 barracks and buildings on a vast site that covered 175 hectares (432.4 acres)

 

“Having completed the long tour of Auschwitz I, some visitors decline the opportunity to visit Auschwitz II – Birkenau, however it’s here that the impact of Auschwitz can be fully felt through the sheer size, scope and solitude of the second camp.  Added in 1942 Birkenau contained 300 barracks and buildings on a vast site that covered 175 hectares [432.4 acres].  Soon after the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, when Hitler and his henchmen rubber-stamped the wholesale extermination of European Jews, it grew to become the biggest and most savage of all the Nazi death factories, with up to 100,000 prisoners held there in 1944.

 

One of the Nazi railroad cattle cars used to transport detainees from cities all across Europe and as far south as Greece into Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland, where 70% of those who arri

One of the Nazi railroad cattle cars used to transport detainees from cities all across Europe and as far south as Greece into Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland, where 70% of those who arrived were herded directly into gas chambers where they perished

 

“The purpose-built train tracks leading directly into the camp still remain.  Here a grim selection process took place with 70% of those who arrived herded directly into gas chambers.  Those selected as fit for slave labour lived in squalid, unheated barracks where starvation, disease and exhaustion accounted for countless lives.  With the Soviets advancing, the Nazis attempted to hide all traces of their crimes.  Today little remains, with all gas chambers having been dynamited and living quarters levelled.  Climb the tower of the main gate for a full impression of the complex’s size.  Directly to the right lie wooden barracks used as a quarantine area, while across on the left hand side lie numerous brick barracks which were home to the penal colony and also the women’s camp.  At the far end of the camp lie the mangled remains of the crematoria, as well as a bleak monument unveiled in 1967.  After a comparably brief guided tour of the camp, visitors are left to wander and reflect on their own before catching the return bus to Auschwitz I.” — www.inyourpocket.com/krakow

 

A view from the top of the administration building of the wooden barracks used as a quarantine area, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

A view from the top of the administration building of the wooden barracks used as a quarantine area, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

 

From the top of the administration one can gain a perspective on the enormity of the Birkenau concentration-death camp, Oświęcim, Poland; most of the 300 barracks and buildings on th

From the top of the administration one can gain a perspective on the enormity of the Birkenau concentration/death camp, Oświęcim, Poland; most of the 300 barracks and buildings on the vast site in the background were destroyed

 

Bunk beds inside one of the barracks, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

Bunk beds inside one of the barracks, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

 

The very long barracks buildings had no side windows (to prevent escapes) – the only light was provided during the day from the clerestory windows; Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

The very long barracks buildings had no side windows (to prevent escapes) – the only light was provided during the day from the clerestory windows; Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

 

A latrine building served many barrack buildings, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

A latrine building served many barrack buildings, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

 

A 1943 photograph by the SS of Crematorium III, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

A 1943 photograph by the SS of Gas Chamber and Crematorium III, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland (#11)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum, Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland (#11)

 

The ruins of Crematorium III at the western end of Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland; the Nazis destroyed the crematoria towards the end of World War II to “erase” the evidence of the d

The ruins of Gas Chamber and Crematorium III at the western end of Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland; the Nazis destroyed the crematoria towards the end of World War II to “erase” the evidence of the death camp’s true purpose

 

The English version of the memorial plaque on the steps of the International Monument (there are multiple plaques in various languages) at the west end of Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland,

The English version of the memorial plaque on the steps of the International Monument (there are multiple plaques in various languages) at the west end of Birkenau, Oświęcim, Poland, between Gas Chamber and Crematoria Buildings II and II where detainees (estimated to have been 95% Jewish) were gassed – located at the end of the mile-long railroad track into the concentration/death camp

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

The entrance to Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland, is marked by the infamous sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” ('Work Makes You Free'); note that the one photographed is a replica, as the origi

The entrance to Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland, is marked by the infamous sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” (‘Work Makes You Free’); note that the one photographed is a replica, as the original was stolen in 2009. The lie that detainees were entering a work camp was part of the Nazi deception hiding the fact that the site was the largest death camp in the history of the world.

 

 

ALWAYS REMEMBER

“For centuries the town of Oświęcim [about an one hour drive southwest of Kraków] was a quiet backwater community, largely bypassed by world events.  That changed with WWII when Oświęcim, known as ‘Auschwitz’ under German occupation, became the chosen site of the largest death camp in the Third Reich.  Between 1.1 million and 1.5 million people were exterminated here, etching the name of Auschwitz forever into the history books and countless films, documentaries, books and survivor accounts have since burned it into the collective consciousness.” — www.inyourpocket.com/krakow

For many visitors to Kraków, the question they ask themselves is whether or not to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.  In designing our trip, we added Kraków (following visits to Budapest, Vienna and Prague) specifically in order to visit Auschwitz.  We wanted to pay our respects to several family members who perished at the site.  We also wanted a sense of completion in seeing in person the largest of the Nazi killing “factories”, having been “prepared” for our trip through years of visits to Holocaust museums around the world (particularly several visits to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Israel), extensive reading and watching a large number of television programs and movies, particularly Schindler’s List (directed by Steven Spielberg).

We were overwhelmed by the enormity of the site(s).  It’s one thing to read about several thousand people arriving by train daily (70% of whom were immediately murdered in the gas chambers), but until you walk among the brick buildings and, mostly in Birkenau, the empty fields where the wooden barracks buildings stood during World War II, the numbers are just that – numbers.  We had an excellent guide from the Auschwitz Museum (who now mostly trains teachers, including many from Israel) take us through the site and she explained in detail the operation of the death camp.  She, along with excellent museum (Państwowe Muzeum Auschwitz – Birkenau) signage outside and inside the many buildings that are open to the public, really brought alive the day-to-day life in the camp for those who were not gassed on arrival.  One knows about the proclivity for “man to practice inhumanity on fellow man”.  What we were not prepared for was witnessing many sites where the Nazis (particularly the SS guards) were malevolent, brutal and sadistic to those who were not gassed to death immediately upon arrival at the camp.  For example, one building’s basement has about 21 brick-walled vertical cells measuring considerably less than two feet by two feet (0.6 m x 0.6 m) where detainees were given solitary confinement – the cells are so small (we entered one…) that an individual cannot squat nor sit down and there was no water nor toilet facilities.  We heard the story of one woman who was given three days and nights in a cell for catching one apple that was thrown over the camp’s barbed wire fence by someone from town.

“NEVER FORGET” is a very well-known expression that is particularly important now that there are few living survivors of the Nazi concentration and death camps and they are in their 80s and 90s – against a backdrop of some leaders and segments of the world’s population working to spread the lie that the Holocaust never happened.  While at Auschwitz, another visitor expressed a more powerful admonition, “ALWAYS REMEMBER”.  And with that, continue ensuring that the true story of the Nazi’s brutal genocide activities before and during World War II continue to be told, especially to children and young adults.

 

Some of the older, former brick barracks on the site that became Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland – established by the Nazis in 1941

Some of the older, former brick barracks on the site that became Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland – established by the Nazis in 1941

 

“[A] tour of Auschwitz I begins by passing beneath a replica of the infamous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (‘Work Makes You Free’) entrance gate.  [The original sign was actually made by inmates of the camp on Nazi orders and is no longer on display after it was stolen in December 2009 and found in pieces in northern Poland a few days after the theft.]  From the entrance gate, the prescribed tour route leads past the kitchens, where the camp orchestra once played as prisoners marched to work, before starting in earnest inside Block 4.  Here an overview of the creation and reality behind the world’s most notorious concentration camp is given, with exhibits including original architectural sketches for gas chambers, tins of Zyklon B used for extermination and mugshots of inmates.  Most disturbing is over seven tonnes of human hair once destined for German factories, which does much to demonstrate the scale and depravity of the Nazi death machine.

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#3)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#3)

 

As the Nazis expanded the initial site, wooden barracks (cheaper and faster to construct than brick buildings) were added, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

As the Nazis expanded the initial site, wooden barracks (cheaper and faster to construct than brick buildings) were added, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#5)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#5)

 

Luggage (emptied of personal effects that were sorted and “recycled” by the Nazis) from arriving detainees, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

Luggage (emptied of personal effects that were sorted and “recycled” by the Nazis) from arriving detainees, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

 

“Transported to Auschwitz in cattle trucks, newly arrived prisoners were stripped of their personal property, some of which is displayed in Block 5 including mountains of artificial limbs, glasses, labeled suitcases, shaving kits and, most affectingly, children’s shoes.  Block 6 examines the daily life of prisoners with collections of photographs, artists’ drawings and tools used for hard labour while the next set of barracks recreates the living conditions endured by prisoners: bare rooms with sackcloth spread out on the floor, and rows of communal latrines, one decorated with a poignant mural depicting two playful kittens.

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#7)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#7)

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#8)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#8)

 

If you remove the guard tower and the double barbed-wire fences, the scene could be a leafy college campus – giving no clue to the barbarity, brutality and death that was the “busine

If you remove the guard tower and the double barbed-wire fences, the scene could be a leafy college campus – giving no clue to the barbarity, brutality and death that was the “business” of the Nazis at Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

 

“Block 11, otherwise known as ‘The Death Block’, is arguably the most difficult part of the tour.  Outside, the ‘Wall of Death’ – against which thousands of prisoners were shot by the SS – has been turned into a memorial festooned with flowers; it was here that Pope Benedict XVI prayed during his ground-breaking visit in 2006.  Within the terrifying, claustrophobic cellars of Block 11 the Nazi’s conducted their experiments with poison gas in 1941 on Soviet prisoners.  Here the cell of Father Maksymilian Kolbe, the Polish priest starved to death after offering his life to save another inmate, is marked with a small memorial, and tiny ‘standing cells’ measuring 90 x 90 cm – where up to four prisoners were held for indefinite amounts of time – remain intact.

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#10)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#10)

 

Painting “Roll-call in 1941” done in 1972 by a Polish Auschwitz survivor Mieczysław Kościelniak, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

Painting “Roll-call in 1941” done in 1972 by a Polish Auschwitz survivor Mieczysław Kościelniak, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#12)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#12)

 

Construction drawings and model of gas chamber and crematorium II at Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

Construction drawings and model of gas chamber and crematorium II at Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

 

Used (empty) canisters of the poison gas, Zyklon B, that the Nazis dropped through holes in the roofs of crematoria (disguised as large community shower rooms), Auschwitz, Oświęcim,

Used (empty) canisters of the poison gas, Zyklon B, that the Nazis dropped through holes in the roofs of crematoria (disguised as large community shower rooms), Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#15)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#15)

 

A former munitions bunker that was reconstructed as a gas chamber and crematorium (used as such until 1943), Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

A former munitions bunker that was reconstructed as a gas chamber and crematorium (used as such until 1943), Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

 

“The remaining blocks are dedicated to the specific suffering of individual nations, including a block dedicated in memory of the Roma (gypsy) people who perished. The tour concludes with the gruesome gas chamber and crematoria, whose two furnaces were capable of burning 350 corpses daily. The gallows used to hang camp commandant Rudolf Hoss in 1947 stands outside.” — www.inyourpocket.com/krakow

 

“HALT!”, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

“HALT!”, Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland

 

A corner view of the barbed-wire protected barracks at Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland, as seen from outside (near the location of the crematorium in the photo above)

A corner view of the barbed-wire protected barracks at Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland, as seen from outside (near the location of the crematorium in the photo above)

 

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#19)

Text on sign from Auschwitz Museum; Auschwitz, Oświęcim, Poland (#19)

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.