Friday, October 31, 2008

Time of the Heroes - An Exhibition in Karlsruhe, Germany

I wanted to visit two exhibitions while in Karlsruhe, well, you know, two birds.....

The exhibition about the archaeology of Karlsruhe and its surroundings promised to be interesting on the internet, so I went there in anticipation of nice objects like this Neolithic axe:

Neolithische Steinaxt aus dem Rhein bei Maxau, 3. Jahrtausend v. Chr.

However, nobody was informed and apart from some posters with alltogether not more than 30 lines about the prehistoric time and a miniature photo of the above mentioned axe, there was nothing there.

After getting rid of my bad mood through bying birthday presents, C and I went to the exhibiton in Karlsruhe's castle:

Zeit der Helden (age of the heroes)
Die 'dunklen Jahrhunderte' Griechenlands 1200 - 700 v. Chr.

The Mycenaean civilization flourished betweenn 1600 BC and ca. 1100 BC, the late Bronze Age in Greece. It ended with the collapse of their Bronze-Age civilization. The last phase of the Bronze Age is also the setting of Homers epics and heroes, hence the name of the exhibition. But it wasn't so much about the heroes themselves, with the exception of a virtual pyre for Patrokles, where Achilles (Achill, Achilleus, they couldn't agree which version of his name they should use) offered his hair.

Here some photos of the exhibition:

We also were lucky and had the chance to attend a lecture by Prof. Maran from University of Heidelberg. He talked about his excavations in Tiryns. Here he is together with a piece of an ivory rod inscribed with cuneiform characters, mostly numerals.

There is also a cuneiform tablet with some scribbeling on it:

And here you can see how the megaron of the palace changed in size after the catastrophic horizon, however, it was still in use:

What has this got to do with heroes? Well, he didn't mention any heroes in his lecture, the nameless kings of Tiryns are heroes for their architecture, building a huge dam to divert a river, building sophisticated secret exits, or cyclopic walls. Maybe he should have mentioned that Perseus reigned in Tiryns, Hercules was supposed to be born there, that Hera stole the throne of Tiryns from Hercules, that it was also here, that Hercules in a bad temper threw Iphitus from the famous walls of Tiryns.

In any case it was fun and we wished we had more time to explore the exhibition.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Art intermezzo

I need to stop the Hawaii blogging for a day or so, as much as I like to share more wonderful photos with you. This is newsworthy and therefore I will tell you what I did today. In the 'Kurpfälzisches Museum' of Heidelberg is a special exhibiton called 'Die Welle', the wave. Art from more than five centuries under the topic of 'waves' were exhibited. My friend D and I thought it would be fun to go to this exhibition. I so much hoped that they would exhibit some Japanese woodblock prints and I was not dissapointed. There were works from artist all over the world, famous and not so famous ones.
Here some examples:

Gustav Klimt: L'Attesa (1905)
Wellen - Zauber der Bewegung

Oskar Kokoschka 'Schlafende Frau' (aus: Die träumenden Knaben) 1907/1908

Katsushiga Hokusai, The Great Wave of Kanagawa, 1832 (

If you have the chance to go there, by all means do this, we had a lovely afternoon there. And it's only 4.50 euros for students (including the normal ticket for the general exhibiton). One reason more to got there.

Still Kauai (6)

Oh my, time is flying and I should somehow manage to finish the vacational blogging. Ok, here it comes, more photos from the Garden Island:

This is the so-called Menehune ditch or Kiki a Ola ditch. Menehune are a kind of small but very eager people that can -like leprechauns or the German Wichtelmännchen- work a whole lot during the night but suddenly stop when someone comes near. However, they managed to finish the ditch, or rather aquaeduct, in one night for a Hawaiian king. Most of it fell victim to road construction. It was used to irrigate taro fields. The payment for this enormous construction was by the way a single shrimp that the king gave to the menehune.

Walter Duncan McBryde, a Scotsman who began cattle ranching in South Kauai, planted eucalyptus trees along the road about 150 years ago. The trees once formed a real tunnel through which the highway runs. But two hurricanes damaged the tops of the trees. Coming from Lihue to Poipu you can ride through the tunnel which still is beautiful. In the right corner you can see our rental, a nice and comfy HHR.

North from Lihue you can reach the Wailua Falls, though only 50 m plus high this is a very impressive waterfall. Maybe I upload the video, so you can hear it's roaring. Can you see the rainbow reflecting in the mist formed of water which is being sprayed up again?

At a peninsula further in the north is the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Actually it is the northernmost tip of the island. Apart from breathtaking views it forms a refuge for migratory birds, such as the albatross, different seabirds and the Hawaiian state bird (no, not the chopper) the nene goose.

The Kilauea Sugar Plantation started to build a lighthouse there, which was taken over by the National Coast Guard in 1939. A fire was lit until the end of WWII. What is left today, is only a historic site and tourist atraction.

On our way north to Hanalei we could see the taro fields down in the valley. And I was stupid enough to not try a wonderful purple taro smoothie, completely dairy free into the bargain. How foolish.

But more interesting than Haena Beach were the dry and wetcaves of the area. First we came across Maniniholo Dry cave, conveniently situated at the roadside:

And this is Waikapala'e Wet Cave:

A long came to it's end with another perfect sun set, this time in Princeville:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kauai (part5)

Near Hanapepe, on the western side of Kauai, is Salt Pond Beach Park, named after the traditional Hawaiian sea salt production in pools, located near the beach. For generations, Hawaiian families have evaporated seawater in the pans dug out of the red soil here to produce natural sea salt during the summer months.

You can find the reddish Hawaiian sea salt for sale in some shops. I still have some in my kitchen, bought before I even knew about Salt Pond Beach.

On our way back we stopped at the Kauai Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji, a Buddhist Temple in Hanapepe. When Japanese workers were brought to Hawaii to work in the sugar cane fields, they brought their Buddhist religion and many temples were built throughout the islands.

Although Kauai is only 26 miles across and 21 miles from north to south Kauai owns one of Hawaii's natural wonders, the Waimea Canyon. The canyon measures 10 miles long, 1 mile wide and 3500 feet deep and when Mark Twain visited the canyon he referred to it as the 'Grand Cayon of the Pacific'.
Deep down in the valley runs not the Waimea River, but the Poomau River, which is Kauais longest river.
Following the main road, the Waimea Canyon Drive, we could hike along trails, or just wonder about the majestic views one has from the numerous lookout. One day is certainly not enough to explore of all the canyon's beauty.

The Waipoo Falls can be seen from the road:

The Kalalau lookout is the highest elevation most people reach in Kaua‘i by road, about 4,000 feet high and it's also one of the greatest views you can ever have, Na Pali. The Na Pali coast featured in several movies like the original King Kong movie, Jurassic park and so on. Understandably, it's just so beautiful.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kauai (part 4)

A bit further south of the Waimea River, where it joins the sea, is another complex of heiau. The Hikinaakala is one of them. It served as a place to worship the sun. It was constructed around 1300 and served as a refuge for people who had broken kapu (taboo).

Not far from it, close to the shore is huge rock with several motifs. This is a very eye-catching one, pecked and incised, and therefore post-contact:

We also visited the Kauai Coffee Company. Starting as a sugar plantation, it diversified after it was bought form the Kauai Coffee Company and after the hurricane Iniki destroyed most of the crop they decided to concentrate on coffee. Since 1996 it has been the biggest coffee producer of all the Hawaiian islands.

So you can visit, walk through the coffe garden with different coffe plants, gaze at old coffee roasting machines and try out different coffees, with or without addes flavours. But to be honest I like the Kona coffee much much more.
There are also lovely flowers in their garden like this Bougainvillea:

Quick! What colour are the flowers of the Bougainvilleas? You are probably wrong ;). I'll tell you at end.

I then wanted to find some rock art, but the book I have is horrible. The guy that wrote it was never there and just cited sources from the 30s and 50s. He gave me a really hard time. We didn't find the rock art, however, we landed at Glass Beach. The beach is in the middle of an industrial zone with petroleum tanks etc. So not a nice place to swim, the current is so strong here that you would probably be smashed at the rocky shore anyway. Besides, it was used over long times as the garbage desposal area. But exactly this is what makes it so interesting. Smashed glass bottles and containers were shredded and roundes by the sea, which looks like this:

On close look you can see green and brown 'sea glass', but also rarer colours like blue and aquamarine:

The area was quite interesting, too. It looked a bit creepy:

And some people are still offering at the cliffs, like this offer consisting of three animal skulls:

PS the flower is white, have a close look. The colourful ones are bracts (Hochblätter wie beim Weihnachtsstern).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Kauai (part 3)

Along the Wailua River are seven known heiaus. Settling of the riversides was reserved for the Hawaiian royalty, the ali'i. The Poliahu heiau is further up the river, not far from the Opaeka'a Falls:
The heiau is built high above the lands below and granting a good view of the river and even of the ocean. Although it's named after the godess of snow, Poliahu, it was probably dedicated to the god of war. It was accesible only for the ali'i and once a month the deities gathered here at the night of Kane, the day dedicated to the god Kane, the father of all living creatures, who by the way was dark, with black curly hair and thick lips.

Today mere mortals are obviously allowed to vist and worship at prominent stones of the heiau ;)
The second largest heiau on Kauai, it was of enormous importance and the chief's children were born here. This is a socalled birthstone (the upright one in the front):
And here a look of one of the heiau's enclosures from above:
On top of the heiau is an abandoned modern cemetery:

We then drove back along the Waimea river watching people waterskiing:

We were rewarded with a wonderful sunset (happens nearly daily, not really a reward therefore):

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kauai (part 2)

Today it's all about flowers and our trip to ferngrotto.

Hawaii harbours the most fantastic flowering plants, well, in least imho. I don't know the name of this shrub/tree but it's beautiful in its simplicity...I think. We took a ride with the Kauai plantation train, that's where I took this and the next pics.

This is the map of the ride, you are passing a lot of different fruits and veggies that are cultivated on Kauai today.

Now look at this one, the fruit is growing right out of the trunk:

We stopped so you can feed pigs and goats and we could see piglets, only a couple of days old. Cute, aren't they?

Since 1946 the Smith family brought tourists up the Waimea river to Fern grotto. They started with a rowing boat but today it's a very touristy amusement boat. Nevertheless we enjoyed our trip up the Waimea river, wich is the only navigable river in all Hawaii. This is the pier from which we left for our tour to Fern Grotto.

The hurricane Iniki devastated the Fern Grotto in 1992 and the fern has still to reclaim all of the grotto:

I think it's still beautiful and a lot of wedding ceremonies are held here in fromt of the lava grotto.

Since there was no hiding in front of the grotto we had to get over and done with the musical outpourings of the Smith family:

On our way back we met more of Hawaii's beautiful flora. I wish I had payed more attention in my botany modules, because I hardly know these wonderful flowers.

And more:

and bananas:

and somtething yellow:

Kauai is also called the garden island, and justifiably so.