Going Bananas in Cologne

The name Thomas Baumgartel may not be a household name, but his contribution to world art scene cannot be forgotten. He is affectionately known as “Banana Sprayer” in grafitti circles.

As you venture about Cologne, keep an eye out for Baumgartel’s handiwork. In 1987, he spraypainted a banana on the Museum Ludwig. Later that same night he was apprehended in a major sweep and spent the night in jail.

The banana tag is seen as a badge of honor, patrons could tell a museum was worth visiting if it had been deemed so by Baumgartel.

Want to learn more and see Baumgartel’s studio, click below…

Frohliche Weinachten

Winter in Europe is a beautiful and magical time of the year. A dusting of snow covers the narrow streets as people scurry about preparing for the holiday. The city of Hamburg, Germany was one of the most wonderful Yuletide celebrations that I had seen. The city is home to over 30 different Christmas Markets where one can shop for unique gifts, enjoy homemade treats and have a warm mug of Gluhwein in a specially decorated mug. You pay a small deposit that gets returned if you give it back or you can choose to keep it.

The largest of the Christmas Markets is in the City Hall Square. The ornate Rathaus serves as a backdrop for rows and rows of holiday booths and carnival rides for the children.

You can find everything from hand carved Nativities, decorated gingerbread cookies, handmade Kissing Balls and miniature replicas of the city’s famous buildings. The shops are laid out on different “streets”, Handwerskgasse for homemade crafts, Naschgasse for sweets and Spielzeugggasse for children’s toys.

Santa Claus is well represented in Germany at Christmastime. In most of Germany, Der Weinachtsmann is Father Christmas or Santa. He didn’t appear in Germany until the 1800’s but that doesn’t make him less important to the season. The Jolly Old Elf makes an appearance over the heads of the market goers on his reindeer driven sleigh.

There are other Christmas Markets throughout the city and it’s impossible to see them all.

Check out these links for more information.


Art on the Street

This little robot dude was standing outside a building near the Landungsbrucken in Hamburg.

“Out of Control” Building near the Fischmarkt

This very cool graffiti was in a parking lot of a Seafood Restaurant near the harbor.

The most unusual thing I saw was in the window of the White Trash Contemporary Art Gallery. I’m not sure how the monkey got a hold of the Pope’s duds but his bubble machine was broken.

The Magical Reeperbahn

I didn’t discover the Reeperbahn until a day or two before we were scheduled to sail out of Hamburg. The Reeperbahn is a street in the St. Pauli district and is lined with Casinos, theatres, bars, discos and even sex clubs. The Beatles played several clubs in the Reeperbahn during their climb to fame.

Police Station No. 15 is better as Davidwache. The building has been used as locations in German film and tv shows and Paul McCartney and Pete Best were held here on suspicion of Arson in 1960, when they set a condom on fire in a Reeperbahn club.

Christmas in July (in Germany)

Being in Germany around the holidays was alot of fun. There were several Weinachtsmarkts or Christmas Markets around the city and we hit every one.

Monckebergstrasse was lit with twinkling lights.

On Spitaler Strasse, a giant Weinachtspyramide took centerstage.

At the largest of the city Markets in front of the Rathaus, vendors sold everything from candles and leather sketchbooks to mistletoe.

On a side street, a carousel with some very familiar characters was set up.

A canopy of Christmas lights at the Rathaus Weinachtsmarkt.

Gingerbread Cookies to hang on your Christmas Tree.

Santas in every shape and size

The carousel at Rathaus Markt

The highlight of the Rathaus Weinachtmarkt was the arrival of Santa Claus. Santa rode a motorcycle across a wire while and Angle was suspended underneath in a cloud.

A trio of animated Santas outside St. Petri’s.

Underneath St. Michelis

St Michaelis also has a vast crypt- the largest in Europe- which contains the mortal remains of a number of illustrious people, including the composer Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The crypt is dark and the ceiling is low, so watch your step.

The Michel

A Statue of Martin Luther stands watch outside of St. Micheal’s. Unlike St Petri, St. Michael’s welcomes visitors and offers a stunning view of the city from it’s bell tower.

St. Michael’s victory over the Devil looms over the main entrance. If this statue doesn’t scare you enough to go to church, I don’t know what will.

If you take the stairs to the bell tower (Instead of the elevator) you get a great view of this work of art from behind.

A massive pipe organ dominates the main Church.

The main Altar

I would suggest you take the elevator UP and the stairs DOWN and not the other way around, it was one long climb.

From the Observation Deck there is another climb even higher. The view was worth the trip.

Looking out towards the ship yard and river.

The view towards the Old City. The Rathaus is the spire on the far left, next is St. Petri’s, St. James and St. Nikolia’s.

St. Petri’s in Monckbergstrasse

The Church of St. Peter’s in Hamburg dates back as far as 1195. Napoleon used the Church as horse stable. It survived WW I mostly intact. The bronze lion-head door handles, the oldest work of art of Hamburg, date from the foundation of the tower in 1342. Don’t try to go inside, unless you’re there for Mass, they have a sign telling sightseers to go to another church, St. Michael’s, if they only want to look around.

The Under Water Bridge

I found a short cut from the shipyard where we were staying to the city of Hamburg. Would you believe there is a bridge that travels underwater ? The old Elbe tunnel, opened in 1911, is one of the oldest still operating tunnels in Europe.

The tunnel features two 20 ft diameter tunnels 80 ft underground, the tunnels have matching elevators on both ends. The four elevators on either side are capable of carrying two cars at a time. From street level you can climb the stairs down to the tunnels or ride the elevator.

Unlike most urban structures, the tunnel remains clean and bright (or at least bright for being 80′ under water. Terra Cotta tiles depicting sea creatures, garbage and rats (all things you may find in the tunnels). If you’d like to spend private time in the tunnels, you can even rent the tunnel out for private events.

Random sights in Hamburg

Fire Exit Keep Clear

A Ram statue outside the Galeria Kaufhof on Monckebergstrasse

Colorful facades on Reichenstrasse – O Ren Ishii, a Vietnamese restaurant and Rackow Schule, a language school in Altstadt.

Clock tower on Bei St.Annen.

At the edge of Hamburg’s Counting House District (“Kontorhausviertel”) is Zippelhaus, one of the last of the old-style Counting Houses (“Kontorhauser”) of Hamburg.
Before the 20th Century, Hamburg’s Counting Houses were little more than modern variants of the old Merchant House, in widespread use since the 13th Century: a multi-story townhouse with shop/office space on the first floor or two, above which were several levels of living quarters.
Zippelhaus was one of the last of Hamburg’s old-style Counting Houses, modeled on the Merchant House and built to serve both commercial and residential purposes.
A few years after Zippelhaus was completed, the form and function of Counting Houses changed—they were to become the modern-day office building, pure and simple. After 1900, Counting Houses were built to serve purely commercial purposes, and were placed in purely commercial zones.
Today Zippelhaus (Onion House) is the home of an excellent restaurant.

Asia-Haus – The architect George Radel built this office building for the merchant Theodore Lind in two phases 1900 and 1909. Menacing-looking mask motifs in the richly ornamented facade refer to trade with the Far East.

This inscription on the Fire Station reads…To the glory of God,to the defense (against fire) of your fellow human being (of your neighbor).