Monday, November 29, 2010


A few more shots of S-bourg that escaped my eye the first time.IMG_3987 (683x1024) IMG_3976 (683x1024) IMG_3966 (1024x683) IMG_3983 (683x1024) World class beautiful in my book.

Keeping time, time, time (In a sort of Runic rhyme)

I was waiting for the kids to make a pitstop when the cathedral bells started to peal. Nice touch, no?

Christmas Market in the Christmas Capital

A couple of years ago, we arrived in Strasbourg on a freezing cold night just after the Christmas market had ended. We swore on then (although our lips were nearly frozen) that we we come back to see it in all its glory. Yesterday afternoon we headed back, and I can unconditionally recommend this wonderful city’s Christmas market. It’s the best we’ve been to, hands down.IMG_3948 (1024x657)The market itself covers a lot of ground around the cathedral. Most of the side streets and plazas are beautifully decorated.IMG_3915 (683x1024)IMG_3963 (683x1024)We left Walldorf at about 14:45 and arrived in about an hour. Surprisingly, there was no congestion on the Autobahn nor in Strasbourg itself. We parked at the Gutenberg parking garage, about as close as you can get to the cathedral (they closed the lot directly beside it).xmas markt 2010 2_3871 Panorama (509x1280)The streets were crowded, but not unbearably so. It was a bit cold, but we were dressed for it.IMG_3866 (1280x797) IMG_3867 (1280x839) We also caught a really nice sunset.IMG_3886 (1024x683)  There are a lot of sweets being sold and, of course, Glühwein. We missed the food they serve in Germany though. The kids enjoyed the carousels, but grew weary after a couple of hours and begged us to head home. IMG_3888 (1280x853) I took a lot of video that I haven’t edited yet. Here’s a quick clip to give you a Yuletide vibe.
We plan to hit a lot of Christmas markets this year, but it will be hard to outdo Strasbourg.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Moment of Tranquility for week ending November 26

Your mission this week? Be the duck…

Should have more stuff to blog about after next weekend as we plan to crash a couple of Weihnachtsmarkts. Last weekend was spent fading in and out of a food coma brought on by the incredible Thanksgiving meal our friend Heather cooked (for more than 30 people!).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Weekly Dose of Tranquility – Week Ending Nov 19

The self-flagellation (and that of my readers!) continues…

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hot teflon...

Last night we had the Kalsis and Harbachs over for a relaxed night of raclette and fondue, two of the most social eating styles I know of. As usual, B had the compound looking good with a table full of good wine and food. We even let the kids join in the fun, but at their own table. Only one minor burn that I’m aware of, so I consider it a success.IMG_3657 (1024x683) IMG_3648 (1024x683)IMG_3658 (683x1024)IMG_3673 (683x1024) Heather brought over chocolate fondue, which was probably the last thing I needed after tons of potatos, cheese and countless Hefes. However, it was delicious. My favorite was the creampuffs. Soaked in rich chocolate, I have to assume it’s one of the most calorically dense foods on the planet (in the same ballpark as Hefeweizen).IMG_3681 (681x1024)

Swans on the Neckar…

This weekend was unbelievably warm, around 20 degrees. Today was also sunny, so we headed to the Neckarwiese in Heidelberg, a recreation area on the north bank of the river a bit west of the Altstadt. I shot a little video to give you a feel for the place. It was overrun with families and young folk enjoying what is likely one of the last days of decent weather for several months.

As we walked to the playground, I had the opportunity to get up close with couple of swans that foolishly assumed we had the forethought to take bread with us.IMG_3699 (1024x683)I wasn’t in much of a mood to take pictures, but managed to get some nice ones anyway. Notice the detail in the cob’s face.IMG_3711 (1024x683)Their bravado cracks me up.IMG_3707 (1024x683)The pen had ducked her head in the water, so I was hoping the water droplets would be visible in the pictures.  IMG_3704 (1024x683)I know you’re probably sick of my fawning over image capture technology, but it still blows me away. IMG_3702 (1024x687)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekly Dose of Tranquility – Week ending Nov 12

I took this shot in the national park near B’s grandmother’s house. I use it as a screensaver at work, a place that benefits significantly from all things serene and natural.

BTW, if you pay attention, you’ll see that the image “floats” a bit in the frame. I learned that when my camcorder is on a tripod, its image stabilization feature causes image float. Unfortunately, I’m now thousands of miles from all that Brazilian beauty.

Oh, well. Live and learn.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ahead of my time (again)…

Since college, I’ve had the strong intuition that beer played a role in building the foundations of human society. Finally a little scientific corroboration. Wine is fine, but brew was the glue!

A few more beer factoids:

By the way, the last link is to The Economist, by far the finest news magazine (or “newspaper” as they refer to themselves) I’ve ever read. If you haven’t ever checked it out, you should.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Fall reflections…

The dark Main was reflecting objects on its banks beautifully. I loved the reflected geometry of this bridge.IMG_3301 (1024x683)IMG_3310 (671x1024)IMG_3303 (683x1024)The prize though goes to this this classic German building and the bright fall foliage in front of it.  IMG_3273 (683x1024)

Another ship trip…

The day was so beautiful in Würzburg, we couldn’t resist taking a 90 minute cruise down the Main (and then back up again!). IMG_3202 (1024x683)Having become something of a German river cruise expert  of late, I got us on the ship as early as possible to ensure good seats. Soon, all the seats on the upper, open deck were occupied. Early into the voyage, the hazy horizon blended almost perfectly into the river, creating an interesting effect.IMG_3243 (1024x661)  IMG_3236 (1024x683) The vineyards on the banks of the river were particularly beautiful.river tour hotel_3227 Panorama (1024x325)IMG_3374 (1024x683)These ships have rearview mirrors! That bridge was closer than it appeared.IMG_3385 (683x1024)We ended up not needing the lifeboat, although there would have been a hell of a brawl figuring out who got to row it the 20 meters or so to shore.IMG_3252 (683x1024)We turned around at a little village the name of which I never discovered. IMG_3325 (1024x683)I got a great shot of the dock and Würzburg’s many steeples upon arriving, my favorite of the day.IMG_3398 (1024x683)Here’s a little video to give you the experience in motion. I taped the entire trip and will attempt a DVD later this week.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Rock lock…

The Main in Würtzburg has a lock through which we saw a few barges quickly pass. I haven’t seen another built in quite the same way, with a long, sloping rock break.IMG_3432 (1024x683)I didn’t have the patience to film a ship being lowered, but took a few clips of the rocks, which make a loud but soothing sound as the river passes over them.

Here’s one from a bit closer that has become a favorite of mine.

And another of the cutwaters on this beautiful bridge.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I Heart Würzburg…

When my parents told me that they had made plans to visit Würzburg, I was a bit suspicious. Although a co-worker of mine was dating someone there (they’re now married), I’d never heard of Würzburg, a city about an hour and a half from Heidelberg, referred to as any kind of tourist Mecca. After spending the night in Rothenburg on Saturday, we took the 45 minute or so drive up to Würzburg. What can I say? I LOVED IT!

The rich red steeple of the Marienkapelle can be see throughout the city. IMG_3020 (683x1024)IMG_3023 (683x1024)The Faulkenhouse next door is a beautiful example of Roccoco on overdrive. IMG_3030 (677x1024)IMG_3021 (1024x683) IMG_3029 (683x1024)We quickly made our way to the Main, the same river that runs through Frankfurt. We then walked onto the Ludwigsbrücke, which in my opinion is at least as beautiful as the bridge in Heidelberg. IMG_3121 (1024x683)

It is even overlooked by a lovely palace on a high hill. The morning sun and a bit of mist made getting a shot challenging.IMG_3108 (1024x657)

Video from the top of the tube…

I mentioned in another post that Jerry and I ascended a tower in Rothenberg’s Marktplatz. The final opening onto a narrow walkway around the bell brought back suppressed memories of my birth (it was ridiculously narrow and quite bright at the other end). I also took a little a little video that I haven’t had time to edit correctly. Anyway, those with acrophobia should think twice about clicking play.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

White imbalance…

Monday was a holiday in our state in Germany (All Saints Day), so that morning I took Jerry and my stepfather to the woods in Walldorf, where I usually run. I started taking pictures immediately but struggled mightily to try to capture the beautiful hue of the fall foliage. Jerry asked me about the white balance setting I was using and I (almost) instantly discovered the value of this heretofore overlooked setting. Notice how my camera’s automatic white balance setting turns fall (left) into summer (right).

IMG_3513 (1024x683) IMG_3442 (1024x683)

Why must I learn all photographic lessons the hard way (after years of torturing myself trying to get a good exposure with slightly odd lighting) ? Regardless, the woods were absolutely gorgeous.  IMG_3534 (1024x683)IMG_3553 (683x1024)Some of the trees appeared to be ablaze. IMG_3539 (681x1024)Every wood worth its salt has a graffiti tree.IMG_3555 (683x1024)The pond was beautiful, as usual. The colors continue to become more vivid with each passing day. fall pond 2010_3484 Panorama (1024x273)IMG_3486 (1024x683)A little video that I play when I need to go to my “happy place”.