Category: Europe

St. Anton am Arlberg

In 1931, the future Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl found film work as a seriously terrible actress in a seriously goofy comedy, Der Weisse Rausch (The White Thrill). The movie featured Hannes Schneider, a ski instructor in St. Anton am Arlberg, as a daredevil racing and jumping down one […]

The Sound of Music

There’s no pergola where Rolf promised to protect Joanna and the Baron declared his love for Maria. The modest main staircase is a creaky Austrian walnut without a hint of a grand spiral. The main sitting room would never accommodate more than a few dozen of Hollywood’s most […]

Braunau am Inn

In the 19th century, the tiny village of Braunau am Inn on the Austrian-German border gave the world the classic Christmas carol Stille Nacht (Silent Night), written by Franz Xaver Gruber for the guitar and sung by mournful German troops in the World War I trenches.   In […]

Remagen am Rhein

In 2000 years, the only invaders to cross the middle Rhein River were Caesar’s Romans and Napoleon’s French. Then on the afternoon of 7 March,1945, Sgt. Alex Drabik, a Polish-American from Toledo, Ohio, led his squad in a lunatic sprint across the creaking Ludendorff Bridge under withering German […]

11 x Père-Lachaise

Molière, Eugène Delacroix, Georges Bizet, Frédéric Chopin, Honoré de Balzac, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, Gertrude Stein, Colette, Edith Piaf, Marcel Marceau, Richard Wright, Yves Montand, and Jim Morrison all slept here… And still do.

Doel

The first thing you notice in this village on the Scheldt Estuary east of the port city of Antwerpen is the shops, restaurant, and hotel–there aren’t any. Anything that resembles a civic structure is boarded-up and ready for demolition. Then you notice that the only other human beings […]

Areopagus

For most of its existence, the Athenian law court that met on top of this outcropping, known as the Areopagus, was dedicated to trying cases of justifiable homicide. But around 400BCE, a famous prostitute named Phryne spent several hours here defending herself against the capital crime of impiety—the […]

Greek Gods

The Greek gods were nothing if not fun. And irrational. And capricious. And sometimes downright nasty. But at least they vaguely resembled the complete and complex human beings who prayed to them.

Cats

The islands of Rhodes and Malta have two things in common—their history with the medieval Knights Hospitallers and their huge feral and domestic cat populations. You’ll find hundreds of cats wandering all over the towns, religious monuments, and ancient fortresses of both communities.

Bastille Day

The mother of all Bastille Day parades stretches on the morning of July 14 from the Arc de Triomphe down the Champs-Élysées and up Rue Royale to the Place de la Madeleine on the Right Bank of Paris. For one day each year, the ultra-civilized French put down […]

Ghetto Novo

The word “ghetto” might have been the name of a pair of foul-smelling foundries located in the outer reaches of Cannaregio, a key Sestiere, or district, of Venice. When the Doge Leonardo Loredan and the Serenissima exiled their 700 Jews there on 29 March, 1516, the moniker stuck. From […]