Thursday, February 10, 2011

Moment of Tranquility for week ending February 11, 2011

Camboinhas: the gift that keeps on giving.

I am profoundly envious of the person in white walking on the beach.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Home brew in the Altstadt…

As the lady folk celebrated the eminent arrival of Thomas and Andrea’s son Jonas (due in a couple of weeks), we men folk headed to the Altstadt and partook of the some of the microbrewed beer thereof. We started at Vetter, a quaint little joint near the Hberg bridge that at one time held the record for the strongest beer in the world (the dark stuff below).IMG_5062 (1024x683)It’s even mentioned on wikipedia. How’s that for famous?Copy of IMG_5059 (683x1024)If I were forced to describe the place’s decor, I would have to classify it as “glassy”. Style has always been a function of one’s perspective. IMG_5079 (1024x683)Later, we moved to Kulturbrauerei, an upscale joint I had only been to on business outings.IMG_5088 (1024x682)The place is ancient but beautifully remodeled. It’s ever so slightly off the beaten path. If you haven’t been there, I suggest strongly you give it its day in court: The beer is great and the unrestored walls and ceiling are interesting.IMG_5104 (1024x683) IMG_5101 (1024x683) IMG_5115 (1024x683)The rest of the night is somewhat blurry. I remember a Döner on the Hauptstrasse, drinking some (delicious) tea with some Turkish guys there and finally swilling a couple of Franziskaners at the company outlet, also on the Hauptstrasse. We made it home fairly early with the baby shower still in full swing. From the looks on their faces, I’m not sure they had missed us much.

Massive assembly required…

We got Robert a foosball table for his birthday. Little did we know we would have to assemble its constituent molecules atom by atom (an exaggeration, but only slightly). It took a couple of weeks and intervention from a mechanically inclined friend (Thomas M.), but it is now ready for play. IMG_5457 (682x1024) I never played much in my formative years so am surprisingly bad. The kids are coming up to speed quickly. Have to admit I’m surprised at how much fun it is.IMG_5461 (1024x683)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Tough subjects…

A couple of weekends ago I decided to give the Little Lady some “me time” so packed up the kids and headed to Speyer, a city I have come to love. We walked down to the Rhine and found folks feeding a passel of swans.IMG_5226 (683x1024) IMG_5152 (1024x682)Turns out these fabulous fowl are tricky photographic subjects: the contrast of their bright white feathers against the dark water makes getting a good exposure a bit tricky. IMG_5171 (1024x683) IMG_5188 (1024x682) This was the shot of the day in my book. Probably a shot only a photo geek could love, but the detail in the feathers is hard to capture.IMG_5178 (681x1024)

Friday, February 04, 2011

Moment of Tranquility for Week Ending February 4, 2011

Last weekend I travelled back in time to Amsterdam in the late 19th century. The high definition video I brought back with me to Germany (and the 20th century) is the only specimen of its kind. The sepia-like tones are entirely natural – the video has not been edited. Sit back and soak in this bygone experience, preferably with the sound turned low (modern street noise was somehow bleeding through the wormhole I traversed to get there).

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Heat wave…

After a few days in the arctic wonderland that was Amsterdam, this Walldorf forecast for the weekend looks like a heat wave to my eyes (temperatures in centigrade).walldorf forecaset

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A solid 8 for Casa 400…

I stayed in a different hotel this time in Amsterdam and really liked it. The Hotel Casa 400 is clean, modern and about a 3 minute walk from Amstel Station, putting it about 10 minutes from the heart of Amsterdam by metro.hotel casa 400_5235 Panorama (1024x442) You can take a 15 minute tram to the museum district (Museumplein) from there too.amstel train staion 5293 Panorama (1024x389)Parking is reasonable too at 16 Euros per day, which kept me below 100 Euros per night. The view from my room to the left wasn’t stellar, but pleasant.  IMG_5232 (1024x651) The mud pit (soon to be a building?) to the right kind of grew on me…IMG_5233 (683x1024)By the way, our navigation system (Poposuda) blew a gasket on the way there. I used Google Street View to preview the exits I would have to hit on the way home. It helped tremendously.

Another one in the books…

As much as I love Amsterdam, I’m almost always ready to head home after a few days. So it was this time. Here are a few more pictures that stood out from the few hundred I took there.IMG_5266 (1024x682)IMG_5265 (683x1024) IMG_5264 (1024x683)Copy of IMG_5316If I had any artistic talent, I would recreate this picture (with warm tones enhanced) as an impressionist masterpiece.  IMG_5300 (1024x637)

Beer for buttons…

Upon entering the Heineken “Experience”, you get a rubber bracelet with two buttons attached that can be bartered for beer at the end of the tour. On the way to the bar, there’s a machine that will create a bottle of beer with your name on the label. Tempting, but I moved right along.IMG_5412 (1024x683) Since I had a long drive ahead of me, I only had one beer. The “kids” had a few and then we headed back to the hotel to pick up the Truckster.IMG_5413 (1024x683)IMG_5418 (1024x683) IMG_5422 (1024x683)

Now that’s a museum…

After a whirlwind tour of the Van Gogh museum, Marina wanted to go to the Heineken brewery/museum. Paragon of selflessness that I am, I agreed to go too. IMG_5350 (683x1024) (683x1024) IMG_5351 (1024x683) (1024x683)The brewery itself is about a 10 minute walk from the Van Gogh museum, but with the thermometer hovering below zero, it felt like an hour.IMG_5354 (682x1024)IMG_5356 (1024x683) (1024x683)One pays 15 Euros for a walk through the museum which includes a live lesson on making and then drinking beer.IMG_5360 (1024x683) (1014x669) IMG_5364 (1024x683) (1024x683) IMG_5367 (1024x683) (1024x683)  A short list of things I learned:
  • the most important beer ingredients are water and yeast
  • drinking beer doesn’t make you fat, it’s the food you eat with beer supposedly. Given the quantities I’m known to quaff, I find this to be only half true in my case
  • a glass of milk has more calories than a glass of beer
The area with the copper beer vats was interesting. I tasted wort, the malted barley cocktail to which hops and yeast is later added. I won’t say I loved it, but assume I could get used to it if the world ever ran out of hops and yeast.IMG_5386 (1024x683) (1024x683)IMG_5373 (1024x683) (1024x683)IMG_5381 (584x1024)There’s also a simulator-like ride that puts you in the middle of the brewing process.IMG_5397 (1024x683) On the way to the ride, I was instantly relieved to discover that it wasn’t the beer or wort that smelled like horse manure; it was horse manure!IMG_5392 (1024x683) After the ride, one proceeds to the Heineken bar to cash in the buttons affixed to the bracelet one receives upon entry. I’ll save those pics for another post.