Colditz Castle (also known as Oflag IV-C)

If you happen to make it out to Leipzig then I recommend going out to Colditz Castle which is in the town of Colditz. It’s about an hour’s drive from Leipzig to Colditz and there are generally very few tourists who go out to this direction.

Tip: You have to rent a car to go out to Colditz Castle as it’s not a well-known location for tourists such as Berlin or Munich. There’s no known public transportation to and from Leipzig which is the closest big city to this location. All the more to go see Leipzig and see JS Bach’s house, RB Leipzig, and then his former POW camp/castle.

Colditz Casle prisoner of war castle prison world war ii 2 base german nazi base

If you were an Allied military officer who tried to escape a POW camp many times during World War II, then this would be your welcoming view to your new home, Colditz Castle.

Colditz dorf village town country Saxony street strasse

Walking through the town of Colditz… very quiet and more serene than the more popular tourist hot spots of Europe. But if you were a prisoner of war back in World War II, then this would have been a bad place to be in when escaping the prison because the townsfolk would have likely reported you.

Colditz castle was converted back in the 1930s during World War II into a POW camp (also known as Oflag IV-C) for Allied officers. It was selected due to being on a top of hill overseeing a small creek (which would vary in water levels during certain times of the seasons) which was supposed to deter the prisoners from escaping as if it really scared them (the Germans moved prisoners, who kept trying to escape other prisons and prison camps, to Oflag IV-C). Instead, it probably made the prisoners bolder in trying to escape.

One idea that the prisoners had was creating a glider in order to escape the castle! Such a glider was created but never used as the prisoners were rescued before they got to use it. And there was also the question whether the glider was for real or not but that was settled year later when a photograph of it surfaced which quelled the debate. So what happened to the glider then? People believe that a few years after World War II, the locals went to the castle looking for anything to burn because it was an unusually cold winter and one of the things they found was the glider which was probably cut up in pieces and burned for heat.

A few years back, a documentary team took up the task of using the approximately the same type of materials the prisoners had access to in order to re-create the glider and then later tested its flight capability. On its test flight, parts of the plane were broken upon impact but the glider did in fact glide in the air and would have safely transported 2 prisoners onto the grass plain across the river. The remnants of the glide are now stored within the castle which is now a museum and a hostel (yes, you can stay there if you wish!).

colditz schloss deutschland prison guards nazi prisoners allied troops officers soldiers airmen

It would have been intimidating coming into this castle which was the POW’s new home. But after figuring out what’s what and where’s where, the prisoners hatched plans to escape.

glider replica world war ii escaparse de carcel prison world war 2 prisoner of war guards prisoneros

This is a glider replica but shows how it would have been made behind a hidden wall. They never used the glider but the theory was actually put to the test, many years later on.

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Even though work was being done on Colditz Castle, this would have been the glider’s launching spot – right off of that roof. The documentary crew also used this spot to launch the glider.

creek arroyo stream green field campo cesped verde from pow camp

Here’s a great view of Colditz but the target area for the glider was that green patch across the creek. The documentary team launched the glider and did in fact get across the creek and onto the green field. So the glider would have actually worked!

It’s an interesting place that I recommend going to in order to see this place of a converted castle into a POW castle/camp during World War II.

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Leipzig, Germany – the composer Johann Sebastian Bach used to live there and so does the football club RB Leipzig

If you’ve heard plenty of classical music, then you will undoubtedly hear Johann Sebastian Bach (or just simply JS Bach for short) and his music. Although he was not born in Leipzig, he actually moved around quite a bit until he settled in Leipzig which was a small German country at the time, Saxony, until later it allied with Prussia and eventually became part of Germany. Unfortunately, he was not well-known during his time and like many artists and composers, he became more famous as time went on as people found more and more of his work. His grave was actually unmarked for many years until it was supposedly relocated and moved to the church he used to be play in. Who knows if they are his remains… or not?

church kirche js bach composer musician piano player music musik deutsche musica

Known as St. Thomas Church or Bachkirche (Bach’s Church) is where Jean Sebastian Bach used to play, teach, and compose in his later years at Leipzig.

js bach burial site final resting place leipzig church kirche

One section of the inside of St. Thomas Church. The metal slab on the ground by the yellow flowers is JS Bach’s supposedly final burial site after moving it from an unmarked grave.

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This church is surprisingly bigger than expected.

js bach statue estatua museo museum nearby composer musician history famous

A statue of JS Bach – his house which is also now a museum is near this church.

Like many other German cities that suffered heavy bombing and fighting during World War II, there is not much to see in Leipzig as many buildings and other amazing things of note were lost to the explosions and war fighting. Of course, with the famous composer JS Bach’s house  and church being in Leipzig, the most hated football team in the Bundesliga is also located in the same city: RB Leipzig, the football club. The problem with Leipzig is like other cities in Europe, it got bombed quite a bit so you gotta find something else to do. As I stated before, visit, explore, and watch a football game!

red bull arena stadium rb leipzig football fussball spiel innerstadt deutch saxony

It’s a nice day for a RB Leipzig game in Leipzig. The nice thing about this stadium is that it’s close to the city center…. until of course, they build a new one in several years.

Many people including myself thought that RB meant Red Bull because the team is supported by the Red Bull Drink Company. Instead, RB actually means Rasenball (lawn ball) so its full name is Rasenball Sport Leipzig, all in order to get around the corporate influencing that Bundesliga has forbidden teams from doing so. Hell, their stadium is called Red Bull Arena which is a complete and obvious takeover by commercial interests. Their history was been called shady by many football purists as the Red Bull company tried to do a commercial sponsorship with various football clubs around Germany but it was more than that. They wanted to invade it and input their own commercialization of the team.

hamburger sv fans unterstuzten fussball opposing team's fans leipzig bundesliga game

As I turn my head, the opposing team’s fans were lighting up flares. Apparently, they are allowed to do so in these games!

striker forward rb leipzig german national team world cup team equipo aleman

Wearing number 11, Timo Werner is in the middle of the picture. He is considered one of the best strikers in Germany.

So instead of taking over a big name club, the company went into partnership with a small, local club called SSV Markranstädt and then later rebranded the colors, name, team, stadium, history, and everything to make it a powerhouse football club in a matter of several years. In my opinion, despite the break from tradition, I think it’s a good thing that the team became a powerhouse in the Bundesliga because very few teams in Germany can actually challenge Bayern Munich, the lone top dog. I think you need to have good rivals like the La Liga giants of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid so you don’t become complacent. Bayern so far has not done that great in the past 10 years as they’ve won 1 Champions League in contrast to Real and Barca have won the last 7 out of the last 10 years.

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What to buy in Jordan

Jordan has the bordering unique Dead Sea which claims has therapeutic, health properties. Whether this is true or not, the Dead Sea does have a higher salt content than regular ocean water does so maybe there is some truth to it. That’s why I recommend buying some Dead Sea products as they are a “one of a kind” type product out there. There is only one Dead Sea on Earth. Even the Great Salt Lake cannot compare in salinity levels. And supposedly, people have been going to the Dead Sea for centuries because of the supposedly healing powers that it has. It’s even referenced in the Bible about this so there might be some truth to it unless science does its thing and squashes that rumor.

dead sea products productos de mar muerto dead sea salt mud

There are all kinds of Dead Sea products for makeup, health, etc.

Another product that caught my eyeball attention was Jordanian coffee. Huh, that’s unique as well since I’m not sure if Jordan actually grows any coffee beans but still, worth buying to give to friends and family. They probably import the coffee beans and process them the way that they want to.

jordan coffee Kaffee cafe bebida de Jordania arabia arabian drink grounds

Coffee from Jordan. Ain’t that interesting? Might as well buy some.

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Petra, another world wonder

Ahhh yesss…. another world wonder is up for grabs with the eyeballs…. this one was probably one of the more difficult ones to reach because of the sheer distance to travel to get to Jordan. Not the most physical like hiking the Inca Trail to go see Machu Picchu, but it was more of distance and opportunity that created the obstacles. But it’s no matter to me as I don’t want any cheese with my whine. Better to go out and just do it if I had the opportunity, so I did it! Just note that Petra is not just one building or thing. It’s actually an entire ancient city that compasses a certain area so even though most people think of Petra as the carved building in the side of the canyon, it’s more than that.

Tip: Even though it’s not as crowded as some of the other World Wonders get like Christ the Redeemer, I still think it’s best to get a guide and go  there early in the morning so you can avoid the crowds that show up later in the day.

ruins el camino para ir a Petra sitio del mundo

The route to Petra involves some walking along this dirt road and there are some ruins along the way.

rocks big grande canyon arroyo petra jordania jordan

So the road to Petra also involves walking through this crevice valley or canyon. Just to show you how big and deep this is, just look at me in comparison to the rest of the rocks! Archaeologists believe that the original people of Petra did carve some of the route leading to the city which also included bringing in fresh water.

petra entrance rocks mountain canyon indiana jones scene movie la escena de la peli pelicula

If you look up while you’re walking through that canyon, you can barely see Petra or at least the beginning of it. The famous carved building called Al-Khazneh, which is the treasury. For some movie buffs, this might give you flashbacks of the Indiana Jones movie as they go look for the Holy Grail.

Petra with camels

And finally Petra! Another World Wonder visited! This is the treasury called Al-Khazneh. There have been some debates why the treasury was the first thing visitors in the ancient world – maybe to impress and wow foreigners that this is the beginning of the magic?

petra cerca desert tan color colorado all carved tallado jordan famoso

Here’s an up-close view of Al-Khazneh. Again, movie buffs might think of another film that showcases Al-Khazneh/Petra – Transformers as the main character was looking for the Matrix of Leadership.

left side izquierda auf linken seite Petra tallado

I took a up-close photo of the left side because my guide was saying there are some indents where people might have stuck something on there before time took its took as looters broke them off back in the times of history.

looters ravages of history time carving famoso famous place for movie scenes

You can see indentations on the right side as well which makes me think that there was something attached on both sides of this carving into the sandstone rock.

Obviously due to being a victim of time where the original people who built this place are long gone which also includes the history and reasoning why Petra was built in the first place. When Petra was re-discovered, they tried to interview some of the Bedouin people who tried to tell them whatever stories that they had known and passed down to them over the generations. But obviously, the majority of it all was lost in the sands of time so who knows how the whole thing worked. In my opinion, it was a temple of sorts and those indentations that you see on the sides? I think they attached a snake statue or a snake made of metal, gold, and silver on both sides. Almost like the stone snake statues of Chichen Itza. But that’s just my guess.

Tip: You can do this trip from Israel as tour companies will actually say that Petra is in Israel when it’s really in Jordan. Best not to bring this up with the Jordanians.

 

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Archaeologists believe that the people lived in Petra by living in the nearby carved homes of the canyon and mountains. That’s how they supported Petra.

romans in jordan Raqmu Nabataean Kingdom

Roman ruins occupy Petra which contributed to the city’s expansion until an earthquake and seafaring trade routes lessen Petra’s importance.

Arab Nabatean Kingdom Romans romanos empire rome boundaries to jordan

Even the Romans contributed to Petra by conquering the Nabatean Kingdom where others failed due to the mountainous terrain being an issue.

El Deir The Monastery petra jordan

If you walk around Petra, there is a citadel or better known as El Deir or The Monastery. When Christianity spread through this region, a monastery built as part of Petra. So like Al Khazneh, the people went to work on building it or more like carving it out of the mountain.

A lot of people just go to Jordan just to see Petra which might be their thing, a one day. But if it is, then at least they saw the country’s crowd jewel despite ignoring the other jewels and artwork the country has to offer.

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Dead Sea – it’s salty! So salty, that you can float without any effort!

If you’re going to be in Jordan, might as well as go see one of Earth’s natural wonders – the Dead Sea. This place has quoted or referred to a lot in the Christian and Jewish religion due to its extreme saltiness that no organism can live in it since it’s 10 times saltier than an ocean! That’s why people can float on the Dead Sea without any effort to tread water.

I had a teacher who spoke about how he went to the Dead Sea and used to float in it easily, without any issues, that he would read a book out on the water for fun. I never believed the stories until later, the photos started showing up. So it became one of those “I won’t believe it until I see it and try it.” So going to Jordan to see the Dead Sea and float on it was a life goal… and I had the will to go achieve it! So I did it!

low point punto bajo de tierra agua saltada Jordan's dead sea israel west bank

Interesting sign telling you information about the Dead Sea. It’s one of the low points that is not in the ocean.

salt sal salz sel поваренная Мертвое моресоль Иордания Jordania Jorden middle east arabs christians jews biblical reference

First step for me into the Dead Sea. If you noticed the white stuff – it’s all salt. It’s that salty that it compiles itself onto the beach.

chill out beach place jordan middle east resort tourist turista lugar sitio para pasajeros extranjeros

I was getting a feeling for the Dead Sea. When I went, it was relatively warm so the water wasn’t cold. Even the tourists around me were all in shorts and t-shirts or even bikinis.

lying on the water dead sea s'allonger sur l'eau dormir en el agua

Once I got comfortable, I started to lay back and just chillax.

vacation in Jordan middle east my fun time beach sunbathing tomar el sol en arabia

Just gotta be careful with the occasional wave. They can actually push you around and splash you in the face to where your sunglasses get ruined due to the extreme salt.

Tip: Try not to taste the water. I had a wave throw some water in my mouth and it was very bitter. Had to buy a coke to use it as mouthwash.

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Gotta have the legs up! A view of what it looks like when you cannot swim down but the water keeps you upright floating.

dead sea view vista Mar Muerto

Make sure you come during a time that is not high season. You see how there are people on the beach? During high season, you will see 10-20 x more people!

Tip: You can do this trip from Israel since the Dead Sea is shared by Israel, Jordan, and the West Bank. I recommend renting a box to put your stuff in and then going out to the Dead Sea to float for about 20-30 minutes which is a good amount of time to freshen up your skin and let the parasites get choked up to death due to the bitter saltiness.

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