Photo updates

This is where I post updates on the photos I upload.

2023 Europe Trip: Munich, 11 September

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Monday, our last being tourists in Munich. Our main plan for the day was to go visit the Deutsches Museum. We found a breakfast place near there called the Rosi Cafe. Salmon pancake (pfannkuchen), potato + cheese + eggs omelette-ish thing, spinach + lemon + mint smoothy and strawberry OJ…really good. On our way, we saw some kind of fancy old car and we waved at a Google Street View car, hoping we’d be able to find ourselves at that intersection later.

It was a fairly short walk from there to the museum, although the route to the actual entrance was a bit confusing. The museum, like so many places in Europe seem to be, was air conditioned to slightly below ambient, so it was still uncomfortably hot.

There was a lot to see in the museum, so go look through the pictures if you care. There were a number of interactive displays. Some highlights for me:

This was one of those “We need something to do, this is outside of our typical interest, why not?” stops that typically turn our interesting enough.

We went nearby to a place called Bosporus for doner kebap for lunch afterwards (good, but not meaty enough), and then went to Paulaner am Nockherberg biergarten. We had beer, and I gained a new grandma. I have no idea why she was so happy and affectionate about me. Maybe she was just laughing at the fat, goofy American. But she seemed very sweet. And she was really, really excited when I knew to say “prost” when we clinked glasses and “auf wiedersehen” when she left.

After peering at Paulaner’s shiny beer stuff, we wandered some more, finding more pretzels with obatzda, and visited a beer place, Die Bierothek, an actual craft beer store. I lured KrisDi in by showing her pictures on Google of Cantillon bottles on their shelves (this was a trick). We talked with the guy there — great English and knowledgeable about beer — bought a few things to go, and if I remember correctly I bought a beer to drink while walking.

More walking…went to a Rewe grocery store to buy water (at this point, we could tell the difference between “with gas” and “without gas”), eventually landing at another biergarten. We went back to the Viktualienmarkt for dinner, where I was underwhelmed by currywurst and KrisDi had a nice charcuterie plate.

We went back to the room and zonked out early.

That’s not quite the end of our German adventure, we still had to get tickets and board a train to leave the country, but that’s the next day.

In general, Munich was a pretty nice town. The locals were friendly (in a tourist-heavy spot, I’m not sure that’s a standard expectation), we always felt safe. They have some homeless/vagrants, but nothing like Seattle / Portland / Sacramento, and the ones they have are pretty subdued and non-aggressive.

There are tons of bars and biergartens, and most of them seem to be tied to one of the “big” producers. There is craft beer, but it’s pretty hard to find.

Very little is open on Sundays, and Munich is clearly not a 24 hour city, at least in the off season. Maybe that’s different during actual Oktoberfest.

There is beer everywhere. Every bakery and cafe, anything that serves any kind of food or drink will sell beer.

We felt like, unless we wanted to go see really depressing WWII era stuff or visit more biergartens, we kind of ran out of stuff to do by the fourth day. I’m sure this was incorrect, but that’s what it felt like.

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2023 Europe Trip: Munich, 10 September

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It was a Sunday. We got up and walked through Hofgarten on our way to Odeonsplatz. I don’t remember if there was a specific reason to go there or if it was just, “We heard it’s nice.” There were statues and grand buildings, but a lot of the area was obscured by construction and/or some sort of event.

We walked to the English Garden (Englishischergarten or something), possibly passing through part of that transportation expo Uli was talking about. We had a quick FaceTime call with the kids as they got ready for bed on Saturday.

We started wandering through the huge park — like 910 acres according to wikipedia. We wanted to go to a place called Koenigin 43, but it wasn’t open very early — when we got there, the cafe next door was open, so we went in for coffee and a pastry while we waited for our breakfast place to open. We got stopped by someone who thought we were professional photographers because of the size of our cameras. Breakfast was really nice.

Then we resumed our walk through the English Park. We went to see the Chinese Monument and the associated biergarten, which is also gigantic — it can seat 6,500 people. Apparently the largest biergarten can seat 8,000. Incredible.

Once the biergarten opened up, we had a beer (we did a good job of using perspective to make KrisDi’s 0.5L beer look bigger than my 1.0L beer). We decided to go from there to Paulaner’s Brauhaus, one of the first German breweries that really impressed me. We took a train to get most of the way there.

We had pretzels with obatzda and of course beer. From there, we went to Glockenbachviertel, the “gay district,” looking for gelato because it was really hot. I felt at home when I saw rainbow crosswalks.

We went to a beer shop named Bierkiste, finally the first actually craft-beer-focused place that we found. We had some beer, had a short chat with the folks at the table next to us, bought some beer to take back to the room and/or take home. We stopped at a department store to get lederhosen for Chilkoot (which was a bit of an adventure, with help from staff who didn’t speak much English).

We headed back to Schneider Weisse for dinner, looking for a mulligan schweinhaxe for me – this was successful. We also had cucumber soup (cold like gazpacho, and delicious) and pork belly. And of course beer.

Then we finally made it back to the hotel, and talked to the kids again (this time is was Sunday morning for them).

Some commentary:

  • Most German beer from the traditional breweries is pretty well-made, and it feels weird to not group it in with craft, but I don’t. It’s too narrow. Schneider Weisse gets close — they have a number of interesting styles and exhibit some experimentation. Anyway, it’s hard but not impossible to find craft beer in Munich, and very hard to find craft beer centric places, and those that exist have limited hours.
  • And nothing is open on a Sunday in Munich except biergartens.
  • We saw some fancy-ass cars, like a Wiesmann GT (never heard of it until I saw it) and a Bentley and a classic Porsche.
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2023 Europe Trip: 9 September, Munich

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Saturday morning. As usual, coffee was hard to find. Best option was a bakery near the hotel. Our plan was breakfast at Schneider Weisse‘s brauhaus. We walked around the surrounding area (I think it was called Marienplatz, but it might have been Odeonsplatz) for a while. Lots of old buildings with towers and clocks. There was a big clock with animated figures that “danced” around a couple times a day.

We saw what appeared to be a drinking team, a group of loud youngish men wearing lederhosen (and I think drinking beer and stumbling at 8 AM). They eventually came to Schneider Weisse for breakfast, too.

Breakfast was good. They just assumed we’d be having beer with breakfast (so we did). We specifically had wanted to try “weisswurst,” a white sausage that apparently is only served very fresh. We learned after the fact that you’re not supposed to eat the casing. We didn’t die.

We went to visit some grand, glorious cathedrals after breakfast. Peterskirche, Asamkirche, Frauenkirche. Asamkirche was gaudy and occasionally amusingly macabre. Frauenkirche was plainer, and was so big it felt very open. During our wandering, we discovered a row of seven side by side butcher shops, which was pretty interesting. There were more butcher shops on the same block, but there was a break in the streak.

We went to Hacker Pschorr and had some beer, and talked to a couple from Boston. This was in a square with a huge clock with “dancing” figures, and we happened to be there at the right time to watch them “dance.” It was underwhelming. Things started getting really crowded around this time, as lunch approached.

From there, we walked quite a bit to get to Muffatwerk, a smallish biergarten, whose thing I think was being “greener” than other biergartens. Anyway, by this time, we were hot, it was muggy, we were thirsty, KrisDi was starting to develop blisters on her feet, and we wanted to rest. I got a beer and KrisDi got a radler, we sat in the corner where we thought we would get the most shade for the longest time, and we met a guy named Uli and chatted with him for some time. He was a recruiter for Aptiv, his English was basically perfect, and he was excited about some kind of car show or transportation show or something that was in town. We are now connected on LinkedIn. As we neared the end of our lunch (boeuf bourgignon for me, roast pork for KrisDi, pretty good but not great), some apparent LARPers started filming something just outside the garden, but apparently I decided none of those photos were good enough to keep.

We walked to a little beer shop nearby where I found actual local craft beer, and picked up a rotbier to drink while we continued to walk (remember that whole thing about Germans being okay with drinking in public). We walked through a park along the Isar River. Some of the same grandiose buildings were visible from afar. Some new ones cropped up. We wanted to go see “Eiswave” — a standing wave park where people can apparently surf, but I guess it was closed.

So, we walked back to the hotel to rinse off, try to cool down, and rest.

We went to Augustiner’s bier hall for schweinhaxe and schnitzel. It was sweltering inside, the food wasn’t very good — the skin on my schweinhaxe was rock hard. Also, the waiter dumped sauce on my foot. The beer was good, of course.

From there, we just went back to the room for an early bed. KrisDi was in the throes of jetlag, and I think I was just at the tail end of it. On the way back to the room, we saw a classic car, a Griswold car, and a pink limo. Oh, and another gigantic clock/cathedral. And a panda.

General observations:

  • There are a lot of humongous clocks in Munich, and their bells can be heard throughout town. But, they go off at seemingly random times. You hear the bells and you think to yourself, “Oh, it must be a time!”
  • Drinking while walking around or sitting on the street or on the train is ubiquitous. Also, the low drinking age (16, if I understand correctly) means you see lots of very young people drinking.
  • Smoking seems more popular and also seems more accepted in restaurants in Munich than in Japan, which surprises me.
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2023 Europe Trip: 6-8 September

This month, I had a business trip to Oberndorf am Neckar in Germany. KrisDi and I met in Munich afterwards to commence a two week, five city, four country European vacation, to resume our pandemic-interrupted “let’s have a travel vacation every other year” pattern. I’ll start posting about this covering my business trip and the day I met KrisDi, and then I plan to do a post for each day. I also do not plan to filter the photos very much, so expect tons of them. I will link in the posts to the photos I think are best, or illustrate whatever I’m saying.

My trip started with a 45 minute wait in the TSA Precheck line. The sign said to expect a 3 minute wait at that location, and a 15 minute wait at the other one. The guy behind me’s wife made it through regular security faster than we did. I therefore did not have time for a beer and a sandwich before my direct flight to Amsterdam.

In Amsterdam, I had what felt like a three mile march to my gate, interrupted by a ~45 minute passport control line. There were several food options and lots of shopping. One of the few regular sit-down type of places there was a Dutch airport imitation of an Irish pub, and I thought why not. I had a full English breakfast (very mediocre) and a Murphy’s Irish Stout (very nice). While I was there, a guy who looked military was there with someone I thought might have been his younger brother…the younger brother wasn’t even able to stumble out unassisted, he was half carried. It was something like 10 AM.

The most positive thing I have to say about this airport experience is that I didn’t need to retrieve my checked bag and take it through customs/passport control — it just went straight to my plane.

I connected to Stuttgart. I was supposed to be on the same flights as my boss, who was renting a car and was going to drive me to Oberndorf. His flights got changed so that he could get an upgrade. This meant I waited at the Stuttgart airport for a couple hours for him to arrive. They had a full blown, 24-hour grocery store (Edeka) there, with a respectable beer selection, and Germany is pretty open minded about drinking in public places. So I had a beer while waiting in the airport, and then found a biergarten and had another beer.

The drive to Oberndorf wasn’t very notable (aside from trying to figure out how to change the in-car GPS from German to English). When we got there, there was some strange thing about having to check in at another building that was several kilometers away, but our hosts just checked in for us and brought our keys to a fairly large welcome dinner — we arrived a bit late for that, had food and beer, and went to our rooms.

Oberndorf is not a big town. It doesn’t seem to have big chain hotels or anything like that. All three times I’ve stayed there have been smallish hotels, seemingly privately owned, in renovated old buildings. My room had a huge, dangerously placed beam in it, and sure enough, I clonked my head hard enough that I went down on hands and knees. This worried KrisDi, since I sent her a message saying it happened and then went to bed and didn’t respond to any further messages (because I was unconscious in my bed, not because I was unconscious on the floor). The hotel also had a creepy basement, and a cooler full of beer with an honor system payment scheme. But zero capacity for customers to have coffee in their rooms.

Coffee when I travel is often a challenge. Hotels usually have shitty (or no) coffee making capability, and apparently the US is the only place in the world where coffee shops are open early enough for freaks like me that are up before 5 AM. Luckily, I found a bakery nearby that opened at 6 or 6:30, which is not bad.

Day of meetings, then a little bit of time before dinner — I walked around town, looking for beer places. Not many options aside from a grocery store, but it was a long walk. I didn’t buy anything. I discovered there are still plenty of open-air cigarette vending machines.

The next day, I went back to the same bakery, but I couldn’t get coffee because they had been robbed, and the polizei had blocked off the room where the guy needed to go to turn on the water for coffee. Interestingly, my colleague got trapped in the elevator, which requires a little bit of explanation about the elevator itself, which is kind of strange.

I mentioned before, it was a renovated old building. I think it was four stories, and they sort of tacked an elevator onto the side of it. Without some special keycard or something, the elevator would not go up when controlled by the passenger. We did not receive special keycards or anything. I learned this when we arrived at the hotel, couldn’t figure out how to make the elevator take us and our bags up to our rooms, and then we dragged our suitcases up the stairs.

I learned later that you can make it go up by using the call buttons on the floors above the elevator. But, it will only go up *while* you are pressing the call button. To make it go all the way up, you have to press the button until it arrives. Once it gets to your floor, you can get in, and you can press a button for one of the floors below…but again, it will only move while you are pressing the button. To get off at the ground floor, you have to hold the button down until you get to the ground. Additionally, the doors are not typical elevator doors — they’re more like regular, hand-operated doors, and they only unlock to open when the elevator is at the proper position at one of the floors.

So, my colleague called the elevator up to his floor, got in with his bag, and pressed the ground floor button until he thought he was at the right spot to open the door, but it didn’t open. He must have been slightly above the correct position. So he pressed the button until it stopped moving…and the door still wouldn’t open. Best guess is he hit some weird point in the position detection system. But, he was then unable to go up, and unable to get out. So he called our boss on his cell phone, we tried (in vain) to explain the situation to our hostess, and I went to the elevator on one of the upper floors and called the elevator until he could get out on my floor. And then he carried his bags downstairs.

We got out of work early, and my colleague drove me to the train station in Stuttgart, which was an excellent adventure because Google Maps first took us to an industrial train station, then we had to spend an extra 20 minutes driving to the passenger train station. I still got there early enough that I decided it was worth buying a ticket for an earlier train and abandoning my pre-purchased-online ticket for 8:15PM. The ticket machines were either incomprehensible or I just couldn’t find Munich/München as a destination (possibly because I wasn’t using an umlaut). I got on the website on my phone and bought one that way. I had a beer and a shitty sandwich at the train station. I did have a much nicer beer on the train, served in a very classy paper cup. The top speed that I noticed on this train was 199 km/hr.

KrisDi had already arrived in Munich via airplane (similar connection experience in Amsterdam, except passport control was not so bad). She had no problem with the local train or the hotel. She checked in, showered, and went to nearby Liebig for dinner – a Schwabian spaetzlepan and liver dumpling soup (and a dunkel). I didn’t have any big problem with the local train, either, and I met her there, and ate some of her leftovers. We went back to the hotel, I showered, and then we went to Hofbrauhaus’ biergarten.

We each had a maß (1L of beer in a big stein; pronounced “mass”), we saw a brass band play some music, and we wandered around a little bit. It’s a cool building; spacious and touristy.

Then we walked back to the room and went to bed.

Posted by snaotheus in Photo updates, 1 comment

June 2023 Part II

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I’m on a plane to Japan in real time. Internet sucks, but theoretically this should be a pretty low bandwidth activity, and since I have somewhere around seven more hours before I land, I can try to be patient.

KrisDi’s birthday occurred. I pretty much failed at making it special. We did take her out to dinner at a new-to-us Italian restaurant (Marianna’s, I think). The food was good, and the kids were self-centered obnoxious brats, for the most part. Totally normal for kids this age to be shitheads, but I look forward to the day when they realize and appreciate how incredibly well KrisDi takes care of them.

We went to see the White Sox at Mariners. It was fun — even though the Sox suck a lot of dick in general this season, they won that game. More notable, in my mind, was that the Mariners’ mascot (a moose whose name I don’t remember) came into Elysian’s taproom where we were pre-partying, and came to our table to hobnob before realizing we wanted the Mariners to lose, which was pretty funny.

Father’s Day was the next day, I think, and it was also the first chance I had to bake KrisDi’s birthday cake. This year, she found a cake that required me to not only make a cheesecake (pushing the limits of my abilities), but to somehow place it in between to regular cake layers (pushing the limits of physics).

The kids did make me breakfast in bed — French toast, bacon, eggs, and a bloody mary.

Chilkat had her recital, associated with the voice lessons she’s been doing with her KPA director. She’s very much going through a “everything sucks” phase, and it took forever for her to pick a song, and eventually KrisDi introduced her to Give Up Your Dreams from the movie School of Rock with Jack Black. It tickled her sense of humor and was deemed worthy of her attention. She’s also going through a phase where she doesn’t want her parents to be involved with practice (possibly because we might tell her something she could improve, or make her stay on task, both catastrophic events worthy of vengeance by genocide). She did great — she sounded awesome, she forgot/messed up some of the words, but I was really impressed with how she recovered and continued despite clearly being rattled by that. Very nice.

Last day of school — Chilkoot’s photo, and Chilkat’s photo. Through bewildering scheduling, the last day of school was like two hours on a Tuesday after a three day weekend or something equivalently moronic, and almost all the kids skipped it, but not ours. Our friends’ kid came home with Chilkat to hang out until she could get a ride home, which allowed my to send my Alaskan math teacher’s birthday present home with his 12-year-old.

Camping at Cape Disappointment takes up pretty much the rest of the month (and at least half the photos). Three nights again, this time it was pretty cold, with highs in the 50s and lows in the 40s the first night, if I remember correctly. We burned a lot of wood.

Fun and or notable camping stuff:

Aside from all that…I have no photos to support this, but Chilkoot fell off a slide or something and hurt his wrist, and spent a week or so with an ace bandage (and whining).

Posted by snaotheus in Family, Photo updates, 1 comment