Monthly Archives: August 2012


Dachau in Munich: Why I Went

Munich is a city of the wildly popular Weisswurst (white sausage), lively beer gardens (about 20 to choose from!), bustling street side cafes, significant architecture and stunning hikes courtesy of the Bavarian Alps. It also harbors a dark history. During the 1920’s, Germany was mired in economic depression, which offered a slice of sunlight to extremist political parties, one being the Nationalist Socialist German Worker’s Party or known worldwide as the Nazi Party. History is similar to karma, he weaves and sprouts with no set targets in mind. He just does. Munich is an unfortunate mistress to history. By 1923, the majority of Nazi Party members were concentrated in Munich. This is where Hitler chose to stage the famous Beer Hall Putcsh, a plot to overthrow the Weimar Republic. He failed at that time, but by 1933 the Nazi Party controlled all of Germany. Dachau is about 20 km from Munich, a quaint town with an 18th century castle and quiet, treel lined streets flanked by suburban homes to those who work in Munich. 51 days after Hitler seized power, an abandoned munitions factory near Dachau became the Party’s first prisoner camp. It opened on March 22, 1933 and was liberated by the U.S. Army on April 29, 1945. At first, Dachau was mainly implemented to eliminate Hitler’s political opponents and Jews, but soon expanded to rid Germany of undesirables – homosexuals, criminals, gypsies, Christian leaders or anyone deemed unworthy to exist under the Nazi regime. By the mid 1940’s, Germany was losing the war and the amount of foreign intakes to the concentration camp rose significantly. I suspect the Nazi Party was panicking and wanted to erase evidence by relocating and executing their captive enemies. Dachau is considered a prototype for other concentration camps that were built in eastern Europe, particularly Poland. The highest concentration of Jewish people lived in Poland at the time, so anything learned and crafted at Dachau contributed to Hitler’s Final Solution. It’s an awful concept to think about and you might wonder why I chose to tour Dachau during my stay in Munich when there are so many other lighthearted things to do. Thanatoursim or “dark’ tourism is not the latest fad in travel. As long as there’s been horror, there’s also been grief and the need to remember those who perished at the hands of evil. British scholar A.V. Seaton wrote about thanatourism in his 1996 academic paper titled,  From Thanatopsis to Thanatourism: Guided by the Dark, describing it as, “The ‘thanatourist’ being motivated by the desire for actual or symbolic encounters with death.” […]

By |August 29th, 2012|Culture, Munich|27 Comments

Vayama Reviews Travel Tips with Me: Ins and Outs

The greatest challenge people face with traveling is high airline costs — or so they say. I call these excuses and I hear that one a lot. Flying abroad will never be inexpensive, but it can be manageable. The likely culprit in airline travel are the hidden fees and taxes. Oneika the Traveller argued for paying a bit more instead of using budget airlines. She cites nine reasons. I certainly see her side of the argument. And I’m the first one to proclaim that airline travel isn’t my ultimate form of transportation. The reality for me is savings. I mainly fly low-cost and want my booking sites to be transparent. So, my list of sites grows. Some of my top sites are Skyscanner, Momondo and Vayama. Vayama is a recent find and since I discovered them this summer, a few epiphanies occurred to me about budget airline travel. Sorry, excuse inventors, you can live your dreams. It’s about being creative. 1.  Be Flexible One of the most effective ways to find lower rates is based on your own flexibility. Prices can go down depending on the day of the week and time of day you can book your flight. The more options you play with, the more likely you will be able to do it for cheap. 2.  Alternative Airports Look into alternative airports instead of the most popular ones. Some airports are cheaper to fly into and out of than others. If you can find one near your destination, you can often save money and then use ground transport (bus, train or tram) to get you to where you want to go. Two days ago I flew into Paris from Budapest and landed at Beauvais Airport instead of Charles de Gaulle. Buses leave for Paris frequently, about 20 minutes after each flight. It costs around €15 and takes 75 minutes to reach the city. Essentially, my entire flight was under $125  CDN. […]

By |August 17th, 2012|Travel Tips|11 Comments

Alhambra in Granada: Tactile Textures

Washington Irving sums up my feelings about Alhambra: “I gave myself up, during my sojourn in the Alhambra, to all the romantic and fabulous traditions connected with the pile. I lived in the midst of an Arabian tale, and shut my eyes, as much as possible, to every thing that called me back to every-day life; and if there is any country in Europe where one can do so, it is in poor, wild, legendary, proud-spirited, romantic Spain..” I’ve seen much in two years worth of expanding horizons. The Taj Mahal. Agra Fort. The intricate, never ending rooms and corridors of the City Palace in Udaipur. Lodhi Gardens in Delhi. Alhambra is a combination of all of these. Palace. Fortress. Gardens. Construction began in the 14th century, for the last Muslim Emirs to rule over the city during the Nasrid Dynasty. By 1527, the Roman monarchs had driven the Moors out of Spain and at least one palace, Palacio de Carlos V, was erected in a Renaissance style. In a creative writing capacity I’m all about the senses. As I explored each palace, gasped at the Generalife’s gardens, textures sang to me. I dreamed of having Alice’s ability to drink a potion that allowed me to grow bigger, so I could reach the ceilings and run my fingers across the patterns and carvings. Then I did along the walls – the curve of my index finger tracing the Koran in Arabic script. Nestled on al-Sabika hill, above Granada, Alhambra offers not only unparalleled architectural wonders, but stunning views of the city and surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains. As Irving suggests, simply close your eyes and slip into a past of legend, court intrigue and empires conquered and lost… […]

By |August 9th, 2012|Featured, Granada|29 Comments