On our way back to South Lake Tahoe following our mini-vacation, we stopped off for one night in Placerville, CA. More or less midway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, Placerville is on Highway 50 in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains. They describe their location as “above the fog and below the snow line” which gives them something of a four seasons climate.
Berlin has an incredible history just within the 20th century. This makes it an appealing and fascinating destination for people from all over the world. It’s a history that feels accessible to us since only 90 years ago, Adolph Hitler was making his move in Berlin with the rise of the Nazi Party and the Third Reich. The subsequent war ended with a crushing invasion of Berlin by 1.5 million Soviet troops and Hitler’s suicide in his bunker here. Then the city, and all of Germany was divided up by the victorious allies, kicking off the Cold War with the Soviets eventually building a wall that would divide Berlin. When the wall came down in 1989, Germany was reunified and there was a huge rush of development in the former East Berlin.
Frankfurt is unlike any other Germany city. It is a finance and business hub, home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges as well as the new headquarters for the European Central Bank. Its airport is the third largest in Europe. Due to its soaring skyline and the Main River that runs through it, Frankfurt refers to itself as “Main-hatten”.
Mentioned in historical documents as far back as 794 AD, Frankfurt was an important center for the Holy Roman Empire. With the election of Frederick I in 1152, the city became the customary site of the selection of Emperors and German Kings. A stock exchange began operating in Frankfurt in 1585.
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.
Geneva is surrounded on three sides by France and its Lake Geneva is shared with France. The primary language is French but Geneva is a very international city with approximately 46% of the population being foreign born. This is mostly due to the raft of international organizations that either make their home here or have a substantial presence, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the headquarters for the International Red Cross which was founded here in 1863.