Prescott, AZ

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We’ve been looking for an opportunity to return to Prescott, AZ, to visit our friends Tim & Dinah.  We took that opportunity in mid-September and spent a week with them.

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Oakland, CA

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Next up on our mini-vacation to the San Francisco Bay Area was a quick stop in Oakland to visit with Valerie’s cousin, Marcy and her significant other, Marc.  They have an apartment near Jack London Square in Oakland.  This part of the city is very lively with lots of restaurants, breweries and other activities.  Their apartment is in one of the recently completed buildings nearby.

Waterfront at Jack London Square

We started our visit with a stroll around Jack London Square and they treated us to a wine tasting at Rosenblum Cellars, a winery right on the Oakland waterfront.  Afterward, we had a terrific brunch at Fat Lady restaurant.  In the evening we went to a nearby brewery that was having a comedy night with 5 local stand up comedians.

We started off our Sunday with a nice hike in nearby Redwood Regional Park.  This a huge park with miles of hiking and mountain biking trails in the hills east of Oakland.  There are some nice spots with good views to the west to Oakland and the San Francisco Bay beyond.  After working up a good appetite, we had brunch at one of their favorite spots, the Chop Bar which very recently moved to a new location which is just downstairs from their apartment.  Quite delicious.

Our time with Marcy was all too brief but filled with fun activities, food and beverages.

Next:  Oakley, CA

Brussels, Belgium

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The official founding of Brussels is usually considered to be 979.  The town grew rapidly and extended towards the upper town (higher ground) where there is a smaller risk of floods.  In 1225 work began on the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.  The Grand Place was where Brussels traditionally conducted its business.  In 1407, they began construction of the City Hall at this location and eventually, the square was filled with a variety of Guild Halls representing all of the trades.

Grand Place

In 1695, during the Nine Years’ War, French King Louis XIV sent troops to bombard Brussels with artillery.  Together with the resulting fire, it was the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels.  Most of the Grand Place was destroyed (with the exception of the City Hall) along with 4,000 buildings.  The Guild Halls were all rebuilt within five years, an impressive accomplishment. Continue reading

Cologne, Germany

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Cologne, Germany’s 4th largest city, is located on the mighty Rhine River, historically one of the great rivers of the continent and among the most important arteries of industrial transport in the world.  As one example, while we were here, we saw 5 or 6 river cruise boats anchored in Cologne.  The city was founded and established in the 1st century AD as a Roman settlement.  When Cologne began building its underground transportation system they discovered extensive Roman ruins.  In the year 310 AD under the emperor Constantine I a bridge was built over the Rhine at Cologne.

Cologne Cathedral

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Munich, Germany

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Bavarian National Theater

Munich traces its founding to the year 1158.  In 1240 the city would pass to the House of Wittelsbach which would govern Munich (and Bavaria) for the next 700 years.  Munich prospered as a salt trading center but would be hit hard by the plague in 1349 and it would persist for the next 150 years.  The coopers (barrel makers) initiated a ritualistic dance in an effort to bring an end to the plague since their trade was suffering because people were afraid to leave their houses and therefore were not drinking as much beer.  This dance continues to be performed every seven years but it is reenacted 3 times daily by the little figures in the Glockenspiel high up on the main tower of the city hall.

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