Saturday, May 31, 2014

Photo Analytics and Fisheye Reveiw

Analytics
I finished editing and posting all the photos from my trip to Bavaria. You can see them here.  So now that all the editing is done I went and ran some analytics/metrics on the photos (included are some of my husband’s shots I edited) and noted a few things.  I mostly shot in manual or aperture priority mode using a shutter speed of 1/60s, an aperture of F11 and a 200 ISO mostly using a focal length of 18mm.  I also noticed I kept only 938 shots and of those only 28 were from the fisheye lens (which I review below).   I used a LightRoom Analytics plug in to get these results.


















The Fisheye Lens

For the trip, I rented a Cannon 8 – 15mm fisheye lens for the trip from BorrowLens. I did this expecting to have beautiful panoramic mountain views and nice weather. Since the weather did not cooperate, I did not necessarily get the large vistas I was expecting, so I did not use the lens as much as expected. However the lens worked beautifully, and the bubble look of a fisheye made some of the shots more interesting, even if I did warp people standing on the sides occasionally. (examples below)  It had nice clarity throughout its focal lengths and aperture range.  However, I do not feel the need to add this lens to my collection. While it was fun to work with, I do not see me using it on a regular enough basis to justify the purchase, so I will continue to rent it on an as needed basis.  I think next time I may rent a wide-angle lens that does not produce the bubble effect of a fisheye. 





Monday, May 26, 2014

Photo Editing Halfway Complete

I am about halfway through editing the photos from my vacation in the Bavarian region of Germany.   The long weekend is helping, since I can devote most of my time to it.   I have found doing all the basic edits like adjusting for lens aberration, and doing auto white balance in a batch process speeds up the editing process. Then I just go through and tweak the photos as needed.  I’m also editing my husband’s photos as well as my own which slows the process a bit since he does not do any editing except to pull out bad photos before giving them to me.  However this means there will actually be photos of me in the vacation photos, which normally there aren't any since I’m behind the camera. 


You can see the galleries of the photos that have been completed by clicking here. I hope to have all the photos completed by the end of the week. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Back Home, Let the Photo Editing Begin

We arrived back home today in the good old U.S.A today after a long trek through Southern Germany or Bavaria. Overall it was a good trip; I will provide a better summary after I don’t feel so tired and have time to organize my thoughts.

I must now go through and edit all the photos I took with my DSLR over the course of the trip.  I took a little over 1700 photos but expect to keep maybe 60%.  I will then edit the photos my husband took.  Now he will help me out by culling the bad ones before giving me the files to fully edit.  Both my husband and I shoot in manual in RAW to provide more flexibility under low light conditions. So I figure I have about two weeks of work ahead of me.  I will be posting the photos in batch galleries based on location so I’m hoping to post finals about every other day.  I hope you enjoy the photos when they go up.  

Note earlier photos pertaining to the trip were done with a point and shoot so I could quickly post some photos with the blog. My primary camera is a Canon DSLR.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Rhine Valley and a Castle

Sadly today was our last full day in Germany; tomorrow we head home. While it may be our last day it was still packed with adventure. Ok maybe not but we are staying in a castle tonight.  We drove from Rothenberg through the Rhine Valley to through Rudesheim to Kaub stopping in Oberwesel.  The drive along the Rhine was picturesque with castles and vineyards dotting the hillside. We saw the little Mäuseturm (Mouse Tower) were supposedly a greedy bishop was placed in 969 and was eaten by hoards of mice.  We stopped at the little beer garden across the river from it, and then continued our journey down the road to a ferry crossing stop.  We drove on to the ferry to cross the Rhine River to continue our journey up to Burg Rheinfels.  Burg Rheinfels is an old ruined castle. We explored the ruins and walked through narrow passageways. It was a wonderful castle ruin site to explore.  After our little archeological adventure we journeyed down a little back country road to Schönburg Castle for the night.  We get to sleep in a beautifully appointed medieval castle. Now there are only two little concerns with the castle and that is, one you really have to hike up a hill to get to it and two if you are taller than about 5’6 or 5’9 you will hit your head a lot.  Other from that is very charming. A little later this evening we will be treated to a four course feast, which will end our little tour of Bavaria.  You can see pictures here.


Me and my husband in the castle garden


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The City of Rothenberg

Today we made the one hour drive from Nuremburg to Rothenberg were we are staying at a quaint little hotel with a bed and breakfast feel. They have a lovely garden in back and in front is a church, from which I can hear the organ music. 

View looking down from tower
The city of Rothenberg is small because it is a walled city with its original wall.  We did walk along part of the wall and in the old castle gardens. The castle is no longer there but the castle gate is which has a frowning face of a man from which hot oil/tar was poured out onto invaders. The gardens were nice and provided excellent views of the valley and parts of the city.  In the center of town we saw the Town Hall and Medieval Crime Museum. We climbed to the top of the Town Hall tower.  The tower is 200 ft. high and the climb up started with a nice stone spiral staircase, then turned into a bit steeper wooden stair case with switch backs, then a narrower steeper
View from garden wall
semi-spiral staircase. Then at the top you basically climbed an old wooden ladder to get out onto the narrow tower roof which had a bell. It was a wonderful view from the top, which provided sweeping views of the Tauber Valley and the city of Rothenberg.  The Medieval Crime Museum was interesting; they basically punished you for anything that the rulers or the church found offensive. I know a lot of people that would be wearing masks of shame if they still that now a days. Interesting pieces in the museum included male and female chastity belts, the masks of shame of which each was different depending on the offense, and several types of torcher devises.  This
made for a pretty full day of walking around.   

On a food related note we had Schneeballen, which resemble scraps of dough formed into a loose ball and possibly deep-fried.  Then they cover them with powdered sugar, chocolate or other types of flavored frosting glaze.  Apparently they can last up to 8 weeks without refrigeration, but they are too tasty to sit around that long.  Schneeballen are traditional Franconian pastries which have been around for at least 300 years. It is also the signature pastry of Rothenberg.  You can see pictures from the town here.

Tonight we are eating at a restaurant whose name translates to “To Hell” which serves traditional Franconian food.  Then we have the night watchman’s tour of the town. Then tomorrow it is off to the castle in the Mosel valley.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Nuremberg

Today we made the 3 hour drive out of the Bavarian Alps to Nuremberg. No the car GPS said it was going to take 3.5 hours because it decide we needed to the scenic route through town. So we used Google maps which took that extra half hour off the drive by using a more direct route to the autobahn. After we started the Google Maps route the car GPS placed us on that route as well. This insistence by the GPS to take scenic routes through town when set to quickest time to get to destination may be why it seems to take us longer then stated by the travel book.  Anyway, onto our adventures in the city of Nuremberg.

View from castle garden
Me in the castle garden
I have been Nuremberg once before, but for about 3 hours as a lunch stop on a bus tour. During that stop we did not get to tour the castle or truly explore the city. This time I got to see the castle, which is up a hill and provides a lovely view of the city.  After we checked into the hotel then started on our way to Kaiserburg (the Imperial Castle), which was on the other side of the old city from us.  On the way we stopped and got lunch from a falafel stand at the little city market (farmers market) in front of the Church of Our Lady.  The self-guided tour of the castle was nice; they had to restore/rebuild a lot of the castle after WWII.   But several of the inner rooms such as the throne room are well preserved.  They also had a collection of medieval and renaissance period armor and weaponry.  From there we wandered back down to the square and got some ice cream. There are ice-cream places everywhere (like Starbucks); the Germans do seem to love their ice-cream.  We then went into the Church of Our Lady, which I expected to be very ornate inside, based on the outside of the church. However the inside had a rather simple classic style without a lot of gilding or carving.   We then wandered around a little more which included us rubbing the gold ring of Schöner Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain) for luck, getting a Nuremberg sausage sandwich, picking up some lebkuchen from Schmidt oldest maker of it in Nuremberg. We also saw a very interesting and rather strange fountain which translates into the “marriage carousel” and is a representation of the poem “Das bittersüße ehlich Leben” (bitter sweet marriage) written by Hans Sachs in 1541.  After seeing that fountain we returned to the hotel, were my husband and I might just order room service.  You can see pictures from the day here

Tomorrow we head to Rothenberg.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lake Königssee and Sunshine


We thought today was going be like all the other days on our trip, rainy and dreary since it was raining when we go up this morning. However the weather turned in our favor and the sun actually broke through the clouds and chased the rain away. Believe it or not we actually had a sunny day today.

Looking at second boat house of Lake Obersee
We went to Lake Königssee which involved a 2 hour boat trip (round trip). Our first stop was Salet were I did the 45 minute hike (one way) over to the little boat house on Obersee and the rest of the group continued on for another 30 minutes (one way) past that point to see Röthbachfall (a waterfall). On the hike to Obersee there were Bavarian cows, wearing traditional cow bells, scattered along the mountain trail.  The cows didn’t seem to mind people and one of the cows came up to me and licked me.  I was licked by a cow.  The trail to Obersee was pretty flat to the first boat house on the lake however the trail leading to the second boat house was very rocky
with slippery rocky steps that went up for a bit then down. I was glad they had railings on both sides of that part of the path.  Near the end of this part of the trail, the trail split so you could go another 30 minutes to the waterfall or 5 minutes to the boathouse. Our group split at that point with some going to the waterfall while I went to the boat house then headed back to the original landing point at Salet to wait for the rest of the group. The view across towards the first boat house was beautiful.  On my return trip, back at the Salet landing point I managed to get a couple nice shots across Lake Königssee and some more cows.  Once the group was back together about 90 minutes later we had lunch at the beer garden before heading to St. Bartholomä via the boat.  We did the 30 minute loop trail and poked our heads into the very small church. It was a very tiny church.  From there it was back on the boat, to our starting point the town of Königssee. You can see pictures here.

Lake Konigsee
Lake Obersee

Overall it was a decent day. I’m happy the sun managed to finally make an appearance. Hopefully it will stay with us for the rest of the trip. Tomorrow we make the 3 hour drive to Nuremberg.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Eagles Nest, Cows and Cake

Today we traveled from Oberammergau to Berchtesgaden. We arrived at the hotel a bit after 11, checked in then went for lunch before going on our tour of the Eagles Nest.  We at Restaurant Waldhauser, I had a potato, dumpling and ham dish that had a fried egg mixed in. It felt like a breakfast bowl but was lunch food.  Good thing the tour departure point was close to the restaurant because fast meals really don’t exist.

The Eagles Nest in the distance
 After eating we went to the tourist office to check in for our tour. Sadly we were informed that we could not travel all the way up to the Eagles Nest since it was snowing up there and it was closed to possible avalanches.  So we had to settle for only the tour of the documentation center (history museum) and the bunkers.  The tour guide was very informative and explained that the Eagle’s Nest is actually a tea house with three rooms and was not were Hitler lived. He actually lived a little ways down the mountain in a beautiful 30 room home that was bombed at the end of the war then completely destroyed by the German Government in the 1950s.  On the mountain were the Hitler lived were also residences of his closest advisers, SS barracks and additional building belonging to the regime.  Many of those building were destroyed.  The documentation center was recently built by the German Government to inform the German people about this part of their history since much of it is never discussed in Germany. The center was actually interesting; I like the doll house for little girls modeled off Hitler’s own home.  Also women could earn bronze, silver or gold crosses depending on the number of children they had (10 kids got you the gold cross).  Then we went down into the bunker system, while the system is huge and has over 8 km of tunnels we only saw a little bit of it.  The bunker was only open to the US military till the late 1990s then was slowly opened up to public tours in the early 2000s.  Overall it was an interesting tour that lasted 3 hours. A lot of good history and interesting little factoids you don’t necessarily learn in school.  After the tour we headed back to the hotel. You can see pictures from the Eagle's Nest here.

View from our room.
At the hotel we had cake (the cake was not a lie) because they offer free cake from 3:00 to 5:00 every afternoon.  Yay for cake! There were several varieties of cake including cheese cake and pie.  We also have cows wearing bells outside our hotel room.  We have been seeing a lot of cows but really no sheep. Tomorrow we head to Lake Konigssee.  

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Fairytale Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle from Mary's Bridge (it was very misty)
Today we went to the most famous castle in Germany, Neuschwanstein Castle, better known as the fairytale castle. (Also the one Disney used as the model for the Disney World Castle). We had a private tour of the castle, before it was open to the public for the day. The castle was never completed, due to the king’s death.  However he did stay there for 127 days during the construction then returned to Linderhof Palace.  We saw the completed rooms which included the bedroom, the throne room, the study, a few ancillary rooms and the theater room.  Most of the castle is done in a Gothic style except the throne room which used Byzantine styling and architecture and done in bright royal blues and golds with a mosaic floor. The throne room resembled in my mind a church with the pictures of the Apostles, the Saints and Christ around the throne. The bedroom was definitely Gothic styling with dark wood paneling and ornate wood carvings. The one of the most interesting parts of the castle wasn’t a room but the telephone in the castle, which rang only the post office at the bottom of the mounta
in.  The other interesting item is that they have pictures of the castle being built; which surprised me until I realized construction started in 1868.  So it the castle is relatively new.
Once we finished the tour we found something to eat for breakfast before doing the hike around the castle. Since the tour was so early we did not have a chance to eat breakfast at the hotel. We had hot chocolate and a piece of berry strudel; it was good and not overly sweet.  Now it was raining/misting during our hike over to Mary’s Bridge to get a better view of the castle. Then we walked down to see the waterfall and the base of the castle. That bit of the hike included a metal walkway that was cantilevered out over the river from the rock face. It the walk way was not there you would be walking in very cold mountain glacier river water.   After that we found lunch in the little town at the base of the mountain hill before heading over to Füssen for a little bit.  We went to see their small castle before heading back to the hotel via Austria and Lake Plansee.
Overall the castle is generally impressive and beautiful. However, I was a bit of letdown, like when I saw the Mona Lisa. Everyone talks about how magical it is, but I did not get that magical feeling. Was it worth the 30 minute hike up the very large hill (the castle is at about 3,000 feet above sea level) to see it, generally yes. But if I ever visit again I want to take the horse carriage.  I would agree it is a must see thing if you are in Bavaria region of Germany.You can see pictures from the castle here.

Tomorrow we leave Oberammergau and head to Berchtesgaden to see the Eagle’s Nest and Königssee.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

München (Munich)

Today we slept in, well the rest of the group might of slept in I woke up with the 6:00 AM church bells.  We had a late breakfast which included a sweet waffle but with the sour berry compote worked just fine. Afterwards we took the hour drive via the autobahn to Munich.


View from the New Town Hall
Munich was completely destroyed during WWII, however they chose to rebuild using the historic architecture, which is why the still have an old looking town center. We walked around St. Mary’s square and went up the new town hall tower (which looks older than the actual old town hall) and got nice views of the city. Mind you it was still cloudy and drizzling off and on.  Then went to the Viktualienmarkt (Victuals Market) and had sausage and beer in a traditional beer garden.  We then met our guide who gave us a walking tour of the city. We toured the Residenz (Royal Palace) which is now a museum.  The Residenz was mostly destroyed during WWII however they had pictures of what it looked like inside, so were able to restore it to look like the original.  It is a very large palace with several tiny, in my opinion, rooms. From there we went back to St. Mary’s square to watch the glockenspiel clock tower figures move. The glockenspiel performs at 11:00 AM, Noon and 5:00 PM.  From there we had dinner then headed back to the hotel.  Tomorrow we get up early for the highlight of the trip, a private tour of Neuschwanstein Castle. I’m hoping the weather will be nice.

You can see pictures from Munich here

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Mountain, Snow, and a Palace

Today was cold, wet, and rainy with bouts of ice and snow. I really blame this on the curse I inherited from my mother, but I digress. Even though mother nature was being moody, we carried on like the postman or like determined tourist.

At the top of Mount Zugspitze we look so European
Our first stop was Lake Eibsee, which was pretty except for the fog and the rain. We might of walked around it was raining and slowly turning into slushy rain. It also did not help that our traveling companions did not pack rain gear. So we headed up the mountain. We took the cog railway up to the top of Mount Zugspitze, which is Germany’s highest mountain peak. There is a gondola that will take you to the top in 10 minutes compared with the trains 30 – 40 minutes, but the gondola was undergoing maintenance. The only down side of the train is you spend about 20minutes in a tunnel and pop out right before the peak. At that point you get out wander around a bit and look at the glacier then take a 2 minute gondola ride to the peak. On the train ride up the mountain there are some beautiful views of the Lake Eibsee and you can watch as the terrain becomes more and more snow covered. I ended up having the snow song from a White Christmas stuck in my head because of the snow.  At the top of the mountain, where they didn’t clear the snow away it was about 2 feet deep and still snowing.  Sadly it was so cloudy at the top of the mountain all we go were pictures of clouds and a few birds.  On a clear day apparently you can see out about 150km or more.  So we headed down the mountain, and of course as we headed down the mountain the clouds cleared.  From the mountain we headed over to Cloister Ettal, mostly so I could pick up brandy, since that is what it is known for.


Looking at the back of Linderhof Palace
The last event of the day was a private tour of Linderhof Palace, which is where Ludwig II (Mad King Ludwig) actually lived. (Mad King Ludwig also built Neuschwanstien, the model for the Disney World Castle, and the most famous of his three residences.) The guide was very informative, lively and fun and pointed out many of the palaces interesting features like the 300 vases and the dinner table that disappears into the floor so the servants never have to enter the room.  The place is small in place terms with only 6 main rooms however those 6 rooms have a total of 13.2 lbs of gold plating in them except for the silver room which is of course plated in silver.  We then exited the place and walked up to the mobile house (if you call 300 pieces mobile) with the bejeweled peacock and then to the grotto. The grotto is one you always see in pictures with the swan boat in the underwater cave. Well the whole grotto is man made with tiny iron bar nets covered in plaster and stone. It is impressive.  That ended our tour of Linderhof Palace and thus our day.  Tomorrow we head up to Munich for the day. 

You can see pictures from Zugspitze here and from Linderhof Palace here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One Long Drive

Today we left Baden-Baden and traveled to Oberammergau via the Black Forest. The trip was only supposed to take five hours, but that didn't seem to happen.  When we left Baden-Baden it was slightly raining as we left the city and entered the Black Forest. Then it got very foggy and started pelting us with slushy rain drops. We attempted to see Lake Mummelsee, but all we saw was about 5 feet of it because it was so foggy and rainy. We might have walked around but it was also cold, so we just wandered around the little shop (tourist trap) and picked up a Smokey (like a SlimJim) and some liquor and a hat.  The Smokey is pretty good, but sadly I don’t think I could get them through customs or I would bring some home.  After eating in a little town along the way we rejoined the actual autobahn to travel to Oberammergau.


View from our hotel room in Oberammergau
The car’s GPS indicated it would take about four hours from our lunch location, but with traffic and construction it took a lot longer, closer to five and half hours. I was hoping the GPS would have routed us down the romantic road but it routed us through Munich which was basically going out of the way and then angling back down.   We got to the hotel around 6 PM checked in and ate dinner. Dinner was good, though the best part was the cake. (Jim got cake).  Desert was a small chocolate with sour cherry pie filling, cherry sorbet and whip cream; basically a stylized Black Forest Cake. That desert did not last long; we basically inhaled it just to ensure we each got our fair share.  But now we are tired after a long drive, which wouldn’t have been if there was no construction and the weather didn’t constantly decide to go from sunny to rain.


Stylized Black Forest Cake


Tomorrow we get to go up the highest mountain in the region and have a private tour of Linderhof Palace. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Castle and a Naked Bath

Today we drove up to Heidelberg, to see Heidelberg Castle and to Konigstuhl (Kings Throne) which is 1,800 feet above Heidelberg. We rode the funicular, which is a cable up to the castle and then to Konigstuhl. Out first stop, was at the castle which dates back to the 15th century and is part ruins and partly being resorted. We did not take the tour so did not get to see the inside of the area that has been resorted.  However, there were several photo opportunities around the outside of the castle, which was rather interesting. We walked most of the grounds and visited the apothecary museum inside the castle.  We also go to see the view from the top of the largest wine barrel in Germany, made of 130 oak trees and holds 58,500 gallons of wine. If you’re wondering why they needed a wine barrel that big it is because they used wine to pay taxes and had to hold it somehow. On an interesting side note we had a random person from Kent State talk to us while on the castle grounds because my friend was wearing her Akron University shirt.   Then from there, we rode up the historic funicular to the Konigstuhl. The ride was kind of slow and at a minimum of 28% grade. The most disturbing part of the trip up was seeing the other funicular car coming towards us until the track split to let them come down as we went up. Once we go to the top it started to cloud over, and threaten rain. We had enough time to walk to the overlook and look out one of the scopes and get some pictures before the rain started. Then it started to hail for a few minutes. By then we were ready to go down the mountain (or rather big hill) back to the car and head back to Baden-Baden. 



Back in Baden-Baden we decided to go the spa, since it is a spa town. We also determined we needed to go big or go home so we went to Friedrichsbadspa (look at the link) where you bathe nude.  The Friedrichsbad spa is based off of the old Roman spa tradition were you go through several stages for relaxation and cleaning, in this case 17 stages which takes about 3 hours.  You start by disrobing and taking a shower (you shower a lot during the process) then go to two different saunas to get your temperature up. Then shower and go for your brush massage, which is where they scrub you down using soap and a brush. If it is your first time go for the soft brush.  From there you shower again then head to the steam room for 15 to 20 minutes. Shower again then go to the cooling pools.  The first is like a warm swimming pool then to the bubble pool (it has cold air bubbles) then from there it is then to the mixed (both sexes) relaxation pool. I was ok with the mixed nudity until the old guy started walking laps around the outside of the pool, instead of floating in the water. Then from there into the plunge pool a whole 18C, basically I got a foot in and said, nope not happening. That ends the water treatments, so you get a warm towel to dry off with then you get lotion yourself up. Once you are sufficiently lotioned you move to the as my friend and I termed it “the human burrito room” were they wrap you in a warm sheet and blanket to rest for 30 minutes. After that you are done and can dress and return to the outside world.  Overall, the nudity at first was a bit disconcerting, but you get over it really quick since everyone else is. However, I’m glad I went with a friend the first time, on a slow day and on a day the sexes were segregated except for the one cooling pool.  I think I would do it again, because it was a truly relaxing experience.  Definitely worth it.  After that we went for dinner at a little hole in the wall wine tavern with excellent German Maultaschen (German ravioli).

You can see pictures from the castle here, not from the baths. 

Tomorrow it is off to the Black Forest and on to Oberammergau.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Viva La France!

Today we traveled into France to see the Maginot Line and visit Strasbourg (yes it is in France).  The Maginot Line bunker we visited was interesting we walked 3km (~2 miles) of tunnel to see everything in that particular bunker to include the living area, power plant, hospital area and of course the munitions and guns.  It is about a constant 15C or around 60F in the tunnels and bunker. To transport items they used electric powered mini trains which ran down track inside the bunker tunnels.  The living quarters were kind of tight especially if you were not an officer.  The power generators were huge and used multiple large inline 6 cylinder engines (the cylinder were close to a foot in diameter) to produce the power needed.  The counter weights to move the turrets up and down are impressive and still contain all the necessary the gears to move the turrets.  I also determined that medium caliber munitions racks would double nicely as a wine rack (I need to get some).  Overall, it was a very interesting experience.  From there we traveled to Strasbourg.


Strasbourg was nice. We at a local café and confused the waitress because we didn’t order wine with our meal and were happy with our original drinks.  I visited Strasbourg back in 2003 with a friend but did not see a lot of it, because we went on a river tour, which was nice but didn’t give us a chance to experience the city. This time we walked around and visited the large church. The church was pretty and had impressive stain glass windows and two pipe organs.  From there we walked around some more and saw a double decker carousel, we did not ride it though (cost too much). We also sampled some really good apricot cookies in a little store.  After we got done wandering through the city we headed back to Baden-Baden via the autobahn. Monday we head up to Heidelberg to see our first castle of the trip. 

You can see pictures from the Maginot Line here and Strasbourg here.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Germany - Very Tired

Unfortunately I did not sleep at all during the 8 hour flight over to Frankfurt, so I have been awake for over 24 hours and I’m tired.  The flight was smooth and arrived a little early, and we made it through customs without any problems.   We were met by the travel agent after clearing customs and baggage claim. It was nice to see someone holding a sign with our name on it and also nice to meet the person I have been coordinating with for the past few months. She went over the whole itinerary, any questions we had then got us to the train station and proper plat form. I think that is where our journey really began.

We had first class tickets (a separate compartment) for the high-speed train to Baden-Baden. There we were met by the second travel agent who picked us up, gave us the rental car, an overview of German traffic signs, and a quick driving tour of Baden-Baden before taking us to the hotel.  We are staying at a nice four/five star hotel. The room is huge compared to what we are used to, we also got complement bottles of water and wine, which will be coming home with me. Also a plate of fruit randomly appeared while we were out finding lunch. We have a separate bedroom which can be closed off from the main sitting area and a very posh bathroom. The bathroom has a two and half person tub, a toilet, beday, and a spiral walk in shower with one of those large rain heads, and two sinks and a lot of counter space. The other feature of the room which is interesting is the blackout blinds that come down with a push of a button.   

We checked in then went and found lunch we ate at beer garden/café restaurant and had sausage, potato salad, wine and beer.  The wine was excellent, the pinot gris from Franken region is crisp and not sweet. We then walked around for a bit then headed back to the hotel to shower.  Since it still was around 3:00 PM local time we went back out to wander some more and grab a light dinner. Now it is time to crash and catch up on all the sleep I have missed.  Sunday we start early with breakfast at 8:00AM to determine if we are going up to the castle or possibly visit the Maginot Line.

Below is the view from our room, we look out over one of the more modern spas in the area.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Packing

I love travel. Let me be a little more specific I like seeing new things and going to new places. I don’t like necessarily having to pack or the whole airport process.  I think it was possibly easier to pack when travel was supposed to be luxurious and people were treated like people not cattle being hulled around.  Now you have weight restrictions for your luggage as well as limits on the number of free bags (international) or you paying to take your stuff (national).  Then there is the process of checking in and getting to the gate which really makes you feel like you are being herded, moo.   But in the end I suppose it is all worth it, to see and explore new places.  So I will continue to mutter to myself as I pack, and trying to take the right stuff and fit it in small bags without going over weight. I’ll put my liquids into little zip lock baggies and smile at the people at the airport.  Because while I sometimes worry it is not worth the cost, anxiety and hassle in the end it is and I’ll be thinking about planning another trip before I finish the laundry from the last one.

Waterfalls and Parachutes

Bonus image: Focal length 18mm, Apeture F7.1, Shutter 1/200s I went up to Ohio a few weekends ago for my class reunion, and figur...