Lost Photo Post: Vaduz, Liechtenstein

It is once again time to add to my series of photo posts where I took a bunch of photographs, intending to make a blog post out of them, and then never got around to actually writing the post.

On April 24th of this year, I joined two colleagues from our German office for a car ride from Regensburg Germany to Zurich Switzerland to attend some meetings.   The gentlemen in the car with me were kind enough to allow me to persuade them to detour very slightly, around lunch-time, into my 28th country visited: Liechtenstein.

The Principality of Liechtenstein is a tiny landlocked country that sits between Austria on the northeast and Switzerland on the southwest.  The entire country is roughly 62 square miles in size, with an estimated population of about 37,000 people.  That’s one-eleventh the population of Miami, Florida!

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The fact that Vaduz wasn’t a very lengthy detour helped me to persuade my colleagues.  Also beneficial to my request for a detour is the fact that both of them are fond of a good restaurant.  We set out to Vaduz to dine.  The choice was between Vaduz and neighboring Schaan, and I pushed for Vaduz.   The food at Restaurant Adler was just ok, but the decorations were fascinating.

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I preferred Vaduz to Schaan because Vaduz is the capital city. In this case, the city is less than seven square miles in size, with a population of a little more than 5,000 people.

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Liechtenstein is a very wealthy city, and while walking through the city center, we saw several banks, a Superdry store, and this Botero sculpture:

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Lest you think it was all ritz and culture, there was also this giant Weber grill.

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Liechtenstein is also a constitutional monarchy, and the most prominent landmark in Vaduz is Vaduz Castle, home of the current reigning prince.  The castle is sitting on a steep hill overlooking Vaduz, and you can see it from just about anywhere in the city.

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Here’s a slightly more zoomed photo of Vaduz Castle, taken after lunch and just before we continued our drive into Switzerland.

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Have you ever been to Liechtenstein?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

Osaka

In the second weekend of my time in Japan, I did some very intensive travel.  I started in Hiroshima, and on Saturday afternoon, I hopped over to Osaka.   I took the rail directly into the center of town, dropped off my bag at the hotel, and immediately set out to see stuff.

One of the first things I checked out in Osaka was the Castle.  On my way there, I walked past this building and I really wish I had paid more attention to what it is.   All I know for sure is that it’s attached to the Osaka Historical Museum, the curved building to the left.

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Osaka Castle is in a very large green space with ascending walkways spread out over fifteen acres.  I wasn’t expecting the way to the castle to be quite so twisty.  You walk through several large gateways to get there, and this was the first one.   This is Otemon gate.

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This charming fellow with the Samurai’s top-knot is Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the founder of the Edo period.  He’s the ruler who built Osaka Castle.  The original version of this statue was destroyed during World War II, and this one was remade in 1943.

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I quite like these little Samurai guys.

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This is the castle itself.  According to local legend, Godzilla destroyed it in 1955 by pinning another giant monster against it.  It has since been rebuilt.

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Every once in a while, I have to stick myself in here so you can see that I was really there.  Truly!

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I kept walking through the grounds, past the keep, only to discover that the walkway to the castle from the other side was significantly less shorter.  Much less scenic, however, until you get to this side, just past the moat.

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With my mission to see Osaka Castle completed, my next task was to find Amemura, or Little America.  “Amerikamura” was founded in the 1970s in Shinsaibashi, where it was a central place for the import of fashion from the United States.  It has since become a place with a trendy nightlife, and a rather interesting blend of American culture into the area.    I knew I was getting close when I saw this giant kitchsy bowling pin.

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The most well-known landmark of Amemura is arguably a scale model of the Statue of Liberty atop one of the buildings.

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This is how I knew for certain that I was in the right place, because there’s not really much else to indicate that you’re in Little America.

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Before returning to the hotel for the evening, I had one more thing on my to-do list.  I wanted to go to the Umeda Sky Building, sometimes referred to as the Floating Garden even though it isn’t really a garden.  That tall building with twin towers in the center is the building in question.

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When you get closer, you can almost see why it’s called the Floating Garden.  Two tubes contain the escalator up to the very tall observation level.

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At the top side of those escalator tubes is a round open-air observation deck with amazing views of Osaka’s skyline.  While this isn’t taller than some of the other places I’ve been on this trip, it’s still pretty nifty.

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“Over Macho Grande?”  “I don’t think I’ll ever get over Macho Grande.”

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I’ve pointed out Love Locks in Regensburg, Cologne, and Paris, and here they are again in Osaka.

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I digress.  Here’s the amazing view to the other side of the observation deck.  If you look carefully, you can see my reflection near the center bottom, as I took this photograph.

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Osaka contains over 19 million inhabitants, which makes it one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.

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It’s still not as crowded as Tokyo, though, or at least that’s how it feels.

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I want to say that this is the Dojima-gawa river, but I have no clue if I’m reading the maps correctly.    Pretty view, though, don’t you think?

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By the time I was done at the Umeda Sky Building, I went back to my hotel room near the train station.  I had a very nice room, and the view from my hotel room window was pretty nifty.

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In the morning, I took a little side trip before getting on the train to the next destination.  On that side trip, I happened upon a giraffe made of Lego.    The building over the giraffe’s shoulder is the Osaka Aquarium, but that will be the next post.

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Have you ever been to Osaka?

Hiroshima

On my second full weekend in Japan, I bought a ticket for a Shinkansen ride to Hiroshima.  By high speed rail, the trip takes a smidge over four hours.  My plan for this weekend was aggressive and exhausting, but totally worthwhile given my limited time in Japan:

  • Friday, go to Hiroshima.  Stay there overnight.
  • Saturday, stash my bag in a train station locker and then see as much as I can before late afternoon.
  • Saturday before dinner, take another two hour Shinkansen ride to Osaka.
  • See as much as I can in Osaka before it’s too dark, and stay there overnight.
  • Sunday, see more of Osaka, including the aquarium.
  • Sunday afternoon, take a very short train hop over to Kyoto.
  • In Kyoto see two very specific things before taking one last two hour train back to Tokyo.
  • Profit.

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The weekend didn’t go entirely according to plan, but I did get to see most of what I wanted to see, starting with a lovely fast train ride through the Japanese countryside after leaving work on Friday.  Have I mentioned lately that I love trains?  I really do.

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Arriving in Hiroshima shortly before sunset, I saw that a baseball game was in progress at the Mazda Zoom-Zoom stadium, which probably has another, more accurate name that I haven’t learned.  I never had a chance to see a baseball game in Japan, but I’m told that they’re very entertaining.  Fellow blogger Adam has written about baseball in Japan quite a few times.

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A momentary aside about the station in Hiroshima-  this waterfall statue thing looks a great deal to me like a pair of mushroom clouds.  I’m quite sure that’s not the intent, but I can’t be the only person who sees that image, can I?

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After checking into the hotel in Hiroshima, I was delighted to find that housekeeping had placed a tiny paper crane on the bed.

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Once I dropped off my bag at the hotel, I set back out to have some dinner.  I ate some junk food near the station, delighting in how much the city has been rebuilt since the bombs 70 years ago.  I don’t know why I was surprised about the rebuilding-  70 years is a very long time.  It’s not as if the land is irradiated.

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I spotted this German restaurant after I had already eaten dinner.  I rather wish I’d spotted it beforehand.  I would have been thrilled to try German cooking in Hiroshima.

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On Saturday morning, I found the Hiroshima sightseeing loop bus, with its adorable pudgy moose mascot.  When traveling through multiple cities on an abbreviated timetable, it’s important to research things ahead of time.   For example, it’s excellent to know that a single fee for the day will take me to all the things that I most wanted to see:  Hiroshima Castle, the Peace Memorial Park, and the Genbaku Dome.

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First up, Hiroshima Castle, sometimes known as the Gokoku Shrine.    Terumoto established this castle in 1589 at the delta of the Otagawa River.

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The original castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb blast in August of 1945, and was reconstructed in 1958 as a museum to exhibit historic artifacts.  I didn’t take many photos of artifacts.  I never really do.  I do like the reconstruction of living quarters though.  I find it interesting.

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I’m also thrilled by the view of Hiroshima from the top of the castle.  I like tall places.

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The castle structure is built next to a shrine.  I saw several weddings during my journeys; this was one of them.

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The castle and shrine together are surrounded by high walls and a moat.  The whole arrangement was really very pretty.

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From the castle, it was less than a mile to walk to the Peace Memorial Park, which is preserved as a remembrance to the atomic bomb and the people killed or wounded at that time.  I have misplaced my notes about the sculptures in the park, but I believe this one was about the families killed in the blast.

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I think this one was about the teachers killed in the blast.  There are about a dozen different sculptures and monuments in the park.  I should have taken better notes.

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This one, at least, I’m sure of.  This is the Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students.  During World War II, more than three million students over age twelve were mobilized for labor services in Japan.  As a result, more than 7,000 were killed by the atomic bomb.  This tower is twelve meters high and gradually widens as it rises.  The sculpture depicts the Goddess of Peace accompanied by eight doves perched around the tower.

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This one is well documented on the Internet-  the Children’s Peace Monument.  The top depicts a girl holding up a crane, a symbol of longevity and happiness.  The monument was inspired by the story of a young victim who believed that she would recover from her radiation poisoning once she made 1,000 paper cranes.

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This structure is the Cenotaph.   It is dedicated to all the victims of the bombing, and it embodies the hope that Hiroshima will forever stand as a symbol of peace.

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The building behind the Cenotaph is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and I went inside after I was done in the park.  I took almost no photographs inside this museum, because it felt like sacrilege.

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Looking back through the Cenotaph, you can see the structure of the Genbaku Dome, the lone building to remain standing after the atomic bomb blast.

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This is the Cenotaph courtyard as seen from the museum-  this is a better view of how the entire park is laid out.

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The Atomic Bomb Dome was once the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall.

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At 8:15 AM on August 7, 1945, the atomic bomb designated “Little Boy” was detonated over the city of Hiroshima.  The bomb missed its target by about 240 meters.  It was supposed to detonate over a bridge, but instead detonated almost 2000 feet over a hospital.  This red sphere signifies where the explosion occurred.

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Because the bomb was almost directly overhead, this building’s dome and columns were able to partially withstand the downward force of the explosion.  People closest to the center of the explosion were vaporized instantly.  The pressure wave from the explosion reduced this portion of the city to rubble in moments.  Roughly 70,000 people were killed immediately, and tens of thousands more succumbed to burn injuries from the blast or to radiation poisoning soon after.

Here’s what the Genbaku Dome looked like immediately after the blast.

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In 1966, the Hiroshima city council adopted a resolution to permanently preserve the dome in its current state.    It has been structurally reinforced and fenced off, but is otherwise unchanged from the way it looked in 1966.

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Visiting this dome felt similar to visiting Auschwitz, somber and sobering.  It’s important for us to remember places with massive death tolls, in order to prevent destruction of this magnitude from ever happening again.

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Have you ever been to Hiroshima?

Away from keyboard…

I’m sorry that I’ve been away again. I have a bunch of posts from my short trip to Minneapolis that I need to finish up.

There’s also this: 

Yup, I’m in Japan!  I’ve been here for two weeks, and I have another three to go. I’m here for work, but that still gives me the weekends to explore.  The picture above was taken at Osaka Castle.

Once I have some down time to sort my photos, I’ll talk a lot about what I’ve seen while I’m here.   Be seeing you!

Have you ever been to Japan? (Charlotte, you skip this question.) How about Minneapolis?

Luxembourg City

My trip to Belgium concluded with a one night stay in Luxembourg City so that I would have a little bit of time to check out the place.   My hotel was directly opposite the train station, and I already posted a night-time view from this vantage point, because this was the night of the Sport Lisboa e Benfica win.   It was much quieter in the daytime.

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The topography of Luxembourg City is kind of amazing-  the entire city is constructed around gorges and ravines.  If you’re a fan of interesting bridges, this is the town for you to visit.  If I’m not mistaken, this one is the Passerelle, also known as the Luxembourg Viaduct.

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This is Luxembourg’s Notre-Dame Cathedral.  I knew there were a few Notre-Dame cathedrals, but I didn’t know before I looked it up that there are actually more than thirty.  I’ve seen three of ’em now.  I’m gonna collect the whole set! (Kidding…)

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In Constitution Square, as you’re heading into the old city, there’s a war memorial called The Monument of Remembrance.  The locals have nick-named it Gëlle Fra, which is Luxembourgish for “Golden Lady.”  The monument is dedicated to the Luxembourgers who served in the armed forces of the Allied Powers during World War I.

Interesting side note:  The first time I heard someone refer to Luxembourgish as a language, I thought they were joking.   Luxembourgish, I have learned, is a derivative of Franconian German which is spoken by about 400,000 people worldwide.    Most of them, naturally, are in Luxembourg.  Fascinating!

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Walking through the city, I found myself in a large square called the the Place d’Armes.  There were many restaurants and shops around this square, but there was also, somewhat randomly, a band visiting from Britain!  The Young Ambassador’s Brass Band of Great Britain.

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After I enjoyed the live music for a little while, I kept wandering.  I found the Grand Ducal Palace without much difficulty.  Large crowds of people make things easier to spot.

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When I got closer to the Grand Ducal Palace, I noticed a lone guard marching back and forth in front of the gate.   There were two of these blue guard boxes, and I wonder if the Luxembourg guard does as the Queen’s Guard do at Buckingham Palace:  Two sentries when royalty is in residence, and one when royalty is out of town.

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Walking further, I found a  theater with a nifty set of drama statues out in front.  Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the part of the trip where I got completely lost.  Despite my travel experience, this still happens to me sometimes.   When I’m in the heart of an old city, my sense of direction isn’t always the sharpest and I can get pretty turned around.    This never happens to me when I’m in Florida, even when I’m in an unfamiliar part of the state.   I don’t know precisely why this is.  In any case, I kept walking in the same direction, because I thought I was heading back toward Constitution Square.

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By the time I realized I wasn’t where I thought I had been going, I was several kilometers away from the place where I knew which way was which.   Lucky for me, this was also the point at which I found one of those Hop-On/Hop-Off bus tours.  I Hopped On.

Most of the bus tour was uninteresting to me, but I did quite like seeing The Tall Banker.  The Tall Banker, set in front of the Deka Bank, has the waist of a normal person, but he’s eight meters tall.

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From the bus tour, I also saw the Walking Flower sculpted by Fernand Léger in 1951.  I don’t know if this is the original one, because I saw the exact same sculpture two weeks later in the Hague.   This statue (or copies of it) have traveled the world, and one was even displayed in Manhattan.

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After I Hopped Off the tour bus, I walked back to Pont Adolphe.  I had actually been trying to find this bridge when I got turned around and subsequently lost, and it turned out to be very close to where I started out in the first place.  It was also closed to traffic for repairs, but that didn’t stop me from wandering out onto it.

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Have you ever visited Luxembourg City?