Long live the Great Human Adventure!

Europe around 1740. Go back or forth in time and you will find all sorts of different maps. This teaches you that your precious "Nation" is not more than an arbitrary concept to organize things.

Europe around 1740. Go back or forth in time and you will find all sorts of different maps.
This teaches you that your precious “Nation” is not more than an arbitrary concept to organize things.

One of woodpeckers numerous hobbies is the study of history.

Although ignorants consider it nerdy or boring, there is a lot to gain from this occupation.
So I let it take up increasing parts of my spare time, which luckily is ample due to downshifting and reducing superfluous occupations of my past (like excessive money counting, or pointless anonymous discussions in the internet).

The study of history is a very worthwhile endeavour, especially when you live in Europe, an area where every country, every city, and virtually every square meter is soaked with history, where virtually all peoples and nations had sky-high moments and times of darkest night in their past. A place where our fates are intermingled to a point such that people without history knowledge will never be able to understand what is going on today, why it is going on and what will happen next.

To polish up the image of history as an occupation, I have a few benefits for you to consider:

  1. You gain a much broader view on life, on your own existence and the tininess of our daily worries and fears compared to the “whole thing” in space and time
  2. You understand that we all are only small parts in the huge chain that I’d like to call the „great human adventure“, a development that leads our race from the caves of the stone age through the rise and fall of empires, rulers, nations, to where we stand today
  3. You understand how we all, and all our actions are influenced by the power of the past. How the experiences, traumata and fates of our ancestors somehow live within our collective thinking and influences our actions and feelings as a society
  4. You see that the same holds true for the societies around you and their relationship towards the group you are part of
  5. You understand that you are not part of one group, but of groups on multiple levels. E.g. in Woodpeckers case, I am Franconian, Bavaria, German, European and World-Citizen, depending on the situation, and depending on the way I want to see myself
  6. You can see how errors are repeated and you can try to avoid them, or even predict the future to some extend. You can also see how things are done to avoid errors (yes, that happens! See bullet 9)
  7. That all makes you much more mild and relaxed towards all the hustle and bustle around you. You get an understanding that the great human adventure, that we are all part of, was always a chaotic and non-linear mess, with ups and downs, with distractions and confusion. Nevertheless, we are still here! 🙂
  8. Alias, from that higher perspective, you will clearly see that, overall, the human adventure constantly makes progress. Despite all errors and cul-de-sacs, despite atrocities and terrible mistakes, it is amazing how our race moves on, how it was (and still is!) able to tackle and overcome even the largest and most fearsome problems that it encounters on it‘s way
  9. You will better understand politics.
    Politicians are not all stupid or the always selfish pack that minor mind think they are (in typically projecting their own selfishness on them). Of course they are sometimes, but very often, you will just not understand the reasons why they are doing certain things. Because many, if not most, decisions of our so-called rulers are not as free as they seem, but they are embedded in the course of history, they are forced by the strong and ever-pushing current of history and by the state of society, that pushes humanity forward. Politicians mostly do (and did) just mirror the society they live in. The good politicians are the ones that know history well and are able to see beyond their time. They will be criticised a lot by their people, but only later be called genius.
    Many short time unfavourable decisions might turn out brilliant in the long run, many clever short-term gains turn pale in the bleaching light of time going by.
    By studying history you will be better able to understand the forces and the currents in the river. You will see when it is worth an effort to reach the shore or when you’d better not swim against the current.
  10. For me, seeing how humankind overcame so big confusion, chaos and catastrophes in the past, makes me very confident that humanity will be able to master the future too, no matter what comes.
  11. This is a precious insight in times where most people seem to agree that the future will be grim.
    It ist not! It is just different. And always was.
    Future might look grim from our daily “ant” perspective, but difficulties are nothing new to humankind. They were always there, and we always mastered them.
    We can and we will master them again!

I seldom do book recommendations, but in this case I have a book that is almost too good to be true.

It is of interest for German readers mostly, but also for all European neighbors:

„German History of the 19th and 20th century“ by Golo Mann.

Mann writes the German (and European) history of the last two centuries not in tables and maps, but as a continuous tale and from all different perspectives without any bias. It can be read like a novel and is much more fascinating than most of them. Imagine: A history book as a pageturner! You just want to read on and on and see what happens next.

If you are German, please read this!

If it does NOT change your view on the world and on your country, let me know and I’ll spend you a beer in Munich!




Sweden – A Treasure for Sailers and Nature Fans

The beauty of the Swedish "Schären" is unique to this world.

The beauty of the Swedish “Schären” is unique to this world.

From Berlin and Sylt, the Woodpecker summer tour continued to Sweden.

More specifically to Gothenburg and Stockholm, two equally interesting cities in amazing water settings.

When travelling, I always look out for the “special” in a city, in a country, in a region or in the people.

The unique thing, that makes this part of the world un-exchangeable compared with other spots.
That is why I typically prefer small and old spots in less developed areas over large “modern” cities. The former, due to their history and specific circumstances, mostly have something unique to them, the latter are becoming more and more similar in today’s globalised world, especially if they are young cities, lacking the flair of more diverse past times.

So, how does Sweden fit in?

From a pure city-and culture view, it has a medium attractiveness I would say.
The country of Sweden does not have a very long history compared to other, more central or southern parts of Europe. For very long stretches of its past it has been a poor agricultural country with low infrastructure. Thus not many ruins, old castles, medieval cities or something.
Both Stockholm and Gothenburg show obviously a few exceptions, and they have great settings on the sea, but they are not able to compete to larger German cities (like Berlin, Munich), not to talk of Vienna, Paris, Prague, Florenz, Istanbul, etc.

Sooo....how does the "Black Pearl" from Pirates of the Carribean compare to the stern of "Vasa"? Like a paddle-boat I'd say. :-)

Sooo….how does the “Black Pearl” from Pirates of the Caribbean compare to the stern of “Vasa”? Like a paddle-boat I’d say. 🙂

Swedish cities are more…american. To me, this is a bit less interesting, because with american cities there is seldom anything “unique” to explore. All is very tidy, clean, ordered…and a bit more boring than the chaotic places in the world.

But now enough of the criticism, let’s see what is great about Sweden:

For me, as a maritime lover, it is the Vasa-Museum in Stockholm, a three-hundret-year old sunk ship that was preserved in the harbour mud and makes the”Black Perl” look like a rubber boat.

And it is the “Schären”, an island archipelago typical at the Swedish and Finnish coast and outright unique throughout the world. The Schären were produced by glaciers in the last ice-age and form a labyrinth of thousands of small and larger granite islands along the coast.

It is just amazing to ship through this natural wonder, I just wished I had a sailing-boat instead of using the system of public ferries!

We even stayed a few days in a hut on one of this islands and it is just amazing how beautiful nature is there.

Woodpecker clan's hut on an Schären island. Of course on water, washroom or other mollycoddled stuff!

Woodpecker clan’s hut on an Schären island. Of course on water, washroom or other mollycoddled stuff!

You can stroll for hours in the beauty of the islands forests (Sweden has the most lovely forests in the world, open, green, full of food to pick), you can climb round granite rocks and jump in fluffy, knee-deep pillows of moss. You can explore lonely little bays and take a swim in ice-cold but crystal clear water.

Thus, if you go to Sweden, I recommend to see it from the nature side, preferably in the “Schären”.
Go out, rent one of this secluded huts, and explore the beauty of this unspoilt nature.

Relaxation guaranteed!