Friday, October 28, 2011

Steve Jobs Memorial in Munich

I wanted to share with you something which I found to be very cool. 

At the Apple Store in Munich, which is located near the Marienplatz, the employess of the Apple designed a special farewell to honor Steve Jobs.

The massive mosaic was made entirely out of sticky tabs and was on display for a couple of weeks. 

Many people left personal messages to honor one of the greatest visionaries of our day. 

Have a look.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Make it Turkish

There is no secret.  I am not much of a cook.  In fact, I know of a few recipes and among them pasta is something I thoroughly enjoy making and eating.  However, I came across one recipe which is very similar to pasta, but with a Turkish twist to it.  

This past week my dear friend Bettina has been teaching me new recipes to add to my very thin cook book. One night, I was intrigued and delighted when she suggested that we create a Turkish dish and I was more than happy to give it a try.

The recipe is ridiculously simple and extremely tasty, but there is one ingredient which is absolutely necessary to complete the dish: Turkish Yogurt.

I learned that yogurt is a very essential part of the Turkish cuisine and it is used with meats, fish, rice and of course vegetables.  The very thought of using yogurt with pasta made me think a little deeper as my mind and taste buds tried to imagine the over-all taste.  Then I was told to imagine garlic, mixed in with butter and chili flakes. Wow.

The mantl is very reminiscent of ravioli.  They are tiny folded triangles made from dough which contain minced meat in the center. 

Here are the ingredients to make Mantl.

Yogurt  1 Cup "Ganzi Yogurdu"
Garlic 2 cloves
Chili flakes "Kirmizi Pulbiber"
Mantl (pasta)


Into a frying pan, add a half cup of butter, sprinkle some Chili flakes then add a pinch of salt. Keep the frying pan at a low heat until the butter turns a little brown. 

Boil some water and add the Mantl and wait until soft.
Using a separate bowl, add a cup of yogurt mixed in with 2 cloves of crushed garlic and stir.


With a sieve, drain the water out of the Mantl and place it onto your plate.  Now, take the yogurt and put a large helping on top of the mantl.

Take the chili butter and pour the contents on top of the yogurt.  

Ready to serve.

This meal was one of the best I have had in a long time.  There is a distinct zing you get when consuming the yogurt and the combination of garlic and chili flakes, really provides a delicious punch to the taste buds.

To add a little bonus, Bettina had some Turkish Beer chilling in the fridge to help wash down the delicious food.   We sat down and enjoyed our meals while listening to Turkish music which really made my Turkish experience authentic.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

World's Most Amazing Photo!

Since I only have a day or so left here in Munich, I decided to fill up my SD card with some memories.  My goal was to check out a very interesting place in Munich where one can find surfers riding the waves of a canal.  

This canal runs though a very popular spot in Munich called English Garden.  This massive park is 3 kilometers wide and serves a very tranquil place to have a picnic take nap or sunbath nude. 

No really!  

I had seen these surfers in action a few times before and these die-hards (who should be living in Hawaii) are all very entertaining and they always draw a lot of spectators.

Upon arrival, 7 surfers in total were lined-up on the concrete embankment, waiting for their turn to hit, what's called a "standing wave". 

But, because of the canal's limited proximity of space, only one rider is to enter the water at a time.  The average riding time for each surfer is about 20 seconds before the surfers get swept away by the forceful water. 

I took out my camera and started to take some wide angle shots, then I realized that I needed to get a little closer to the surfers so that I could capture "the world's most amazing photo ever taken".

perhaps the 4th world's best picture!

Photo after photo I tirelessly snapped the trigger at least 70 times, and I still wasn't entirely satisfied with my grabs, except for maybe one  (which is really the 4th or 5th best photo the world has ever seen! Trust me! )

I then proceeded to get a little closer to the water and to the surfers (5 feet to be exact) and continued to grab photos.  

For some stupid, ridiculous reason, I actually thought out loud to have one of the surfers spray only a tiny little bit of water upon my lens to give my photo a "dramatic effect".  

Oh and God responded immediately... 

Whilst snapping my photo, Surfer Dude drenched me from head-to camera-to toe.

"GOD AM I...ENTERTAINING!" I said in my head, laughing hard.

Laughter erupted from both sides of the canal as I slowly stood up from my back-catcher's position, blushing and wishing for a change of clothes and a towel.  My new Nikon suffered it's first splash bath and I vigorously wiped down the water.   

"You are all wet!!!" said the smart-ass spectator beside me who felt it was necessary to point out the obvious.

"Meh...what am I going to do?" I said with some courage while smiling.  

I then searched through my photos to find out if in fact my photo was "the world's most amazing photo ever taken".

"Here's the photo."  I said to the smart-ass spectator.

He took a look and just shrugged his shoulders.  Beh, what does he know anyways.  

You tell me if this is the "the world's most amazing photo ever taken".

Just nano seconds before the water turned me into a blushing jack-ass.

I left after wiping down my camera and left the park premises laughing.  I opted not to go home but let the sun dry-off my clothes.  After about 30 minutes of walking the, my pants were dry as a bone and I sat down to have a MASSIVE pizza from L'Osteria.  As I ate, all I could think about was what happened earlier; and for some reason it felt good to laugh at myself! 

Moral of the story? 

Next time go back 20 feet and use LONGER lens!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Dachau, Germany

I arrived in the mid-afternoon and hopped off 726 Dachau Bus to visit the famous concentration camp in Munich Germany.  Immediately, I could feel the dark energy emanating the surrounding camp ground as I stepped into the courtyard.  The warmth of the hot sun, couldn't outweigh the nervous chill which ran across my body.  Death was all around. 

The courtyard was large, and seemed endless. To right was the museum but I opted to have a look at the two remaining barracks which housed the prisoners on the left.

Inside, there was an acrid smell of dried wood which permeated the room and made me feel uncomfortable.  I could imagine the ghastly stench of disease and male sweat within the walls all 30 plus barracks, must’ve have been strong enough to kill a man. I paused a moment to rest my camera upon the dusty window sill next to me to jot down my thoughts.  In mid-sentence, I realized that I had been leaning haphazardly though, comfortably against the wall.  I stood at attention moments later out of due respect for the people who were literally crammed to all corners of the rooms.  How could I lean with such ease?  Instead, I stood motionless to absorb the past, and then allowed myself to emulate what those tortured souls may have felt long ago.

The feeling of terror and agony and the vision of being surrounded by walls and cramped people, punched my stomach, making me cringe with slight depression.  Nano-seconds later, and out of sheer anger, I wanted to set fire to the wooden bunk beds.  I wanted to cause an inferno to finally set-free of any of the negative emotions which still hangs in the atmosphere.

I could see the emaciated and weak prisoners, with wrinkled skin dangling from their bones.  At that physical state, was there any thought of rioting against their boorish, healthy oppressors?   Perhaps not, when one is so feeble and thinking only of nourishment…revolt is miles away.  Then I wondered if I was to be unwillingly thrown into room such as this, would I stand up and fight then die a quick death, or follow the herd towards severe depression and illness?

After taking a few photos, I walked to the museum and was greeted by the cold, grey walls, laden with its chalky, chipped plaster.  In the middle of each room, tidy banners stood tall describing the history of Dachau.  These banners displayed war propaganda, documentations and many faces of the dead.   I was soon to discover that many prominent, political figures were also victims of Dachau.  Status meant nothing to the Nazi regime.

Amongst the many photos, one stuck out the most.  After, the US gained control of Dachau, a photo featured a pair of American soldiers sifting through a pile of precious metals found at the camp.  The Nazi’s not only stripped their victims of their life’s worth, they also had the audacity to extract precious metals embedded within the prisoner’s teeth.  At that point, I left the building truly disgusted and I wanted to leave the camp ground for good, yet curiosity pushed me to continue on.

After a brief visit inside the museum, I was in search of the ‘main attraction’ which immediately made my stomach to churn.  To get there, I needed to walk the camp road which runs between where the barracks used to exist.  

What remained of the barracks were long, rectangular foundations covered with over-growth trying to bury the past.  Soon, I found myself walking towards the barbed wired fence and came upon sign entitled, Krematorium.  To my surprize, the building was squat in stature but the long chimney in the back made the crematorium look massive.  I walked up the wheelchair ramp towards the doors and instantly froze while examining the 4 ovens.  The heavy oven doors were wide open, offering a sordid welcome to the gates of hell.  As I stared down the barrel of the tomb shaped, shallow gateway I could see a thick layer of what I hope was dust inside.  Many visitors who were beside me staring at the ovens were wiping tear small tears from their cheeks.   

The room to the left was a holding cell for corpses waiting to be turned to ashes, but the next room over was the real eye opener.  I was told by a friend that Dachau didn’t use gas to execute prisoners, but she was so wrong.

Above the green door was a painted sign which read, ‘Brausbad’ (showers).  I guess the Nazi’s felt it was necessary to manipulate the doomed one last time.  The gas chamber was less than 6’3” in height and the evidence of the many false shower heads was inches from my face.  Just looking at the sprinkler heads was enough to make me gasp for air.

Hundreds were herded into the dank, dark, diminutive room at once.  I could only imagine the naked souls screaming in agony, suffocating on the poisoned air as the gas burned their lungs - then the imminent slapping sounds of skin hitting the brick floor, with others collapsing a slow death. There were air vents on the walls which were only installed to allow for the Zyklon B gas to quickly escape once the execution was carried out.
I knelt in a corner envisioning everything which at the point, I promptly left the camp ground wanting to destroy it all.

I took the bus back to the train station and then rolled into the heart of Munich.  Along the way, I had no choice but to reflect about what I’d just saw and learned.  Yet, I also found myself needing to re-balance my mind so I began to breathe deeply for a few minutes.  During my trip back to reality, I could only summarize my experience with this:

“To be a victim, executioner or to be the one to close the door of the flaming oven…God allowed for all of this to happen based upon free-will.  Yet, God has provided us with a message that mankind has the cranial capacity and the ability to learn from our past; and that change for a better life is only one decision away.  I understand why it is imperative to maintain the prison camp.  It provides blatant reminders and lessons which could change ones out-look in life or even perhaps, could save it.”

 Some 200,000 prisoners from 30 different countries perished at Dachau.


Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm just a Grave Landscaper and a Semi-Floral Janitor.

It doesn't matter where you go in the world, there is always work to be done...even for travelers.  This is now my third day here in Alzenau and I couldn't be happier to visit this little town for the 4th time.  In the past, I would make it my duty to walk around Alzenau and enjoy it's very pristine character and jovial essence which vibrates so profoundly.

In fact, it is so easy to walk around the town with a camera, taking photo after photo, drinking endless cups of coffee while chatting with the locals or spend hours staring at a computer surfing the web.

No. Not this time around.

While traveling, why not try something different?  As much as I love to travel/write and take photos, this too can get boring.  Moreover, when the weather calls for poring rain, one is left stranded to figure out how to melt the time.

What to do?

Silke and her mother own and operate a small yet highly respectable Floral Shop called Blumen Roll.  Their shop is located directly below their apartment building and I am very grateful to share their space for the duration of my visit.  Although, it became rather clear that my friends do not have a whole lot of time to invest in me, since the pair are very busy with their business; and unfortunately for me "boredom" slapped my face.

To rid of my boredem I offered my friends my muscles to take some of the weight off of their shoulders.  Dora, could not have been happier.  Yesterday, she had me load a few bags of soil into her truck and the three of us drove out to the local cemetery to do a little landscaping.  Upon arrival she had me bring out the bags and help fill a tomb with some fresh soil, while she planted some new plants into the flower bed.  For my efforts Dora complimented me for my hard work by saying.  "Stark mann!" (strong man).  I could only blush and that's when I realized that for 20 minutes of my life, I was a Grave Landscaper.

Once we completed the task Silke, Dora and I drove off to visit one of Germany's oldest cities called Seligenstat.  What makes this city so vibrant are the colourful timber-frame buildings which were built in the 1700's.  Every building is uniquely and intricately constructed and seemly, by way to help home owners decipher between which building was which.

despite her wavy facade, she won't snap!

What also makes this town unique is the little ferry called Mainfahre (Main Ferry) which could be the world's smallest active ferry.  The mini ferry connects between the states of Bavaria and Hesse and crosses the Main river.  The ferry is open to cars and  pedestrians and according to my friend Heidi, a one way trip is roughly 80c.

Spirit of Seligenstat

We concluded our day at Seligenstat and headed to Hanau, to visit a palace by the name of Philppsruhe Palace of Hanau.  Immeadiately after arrival, the heavens drenched us with pouring rain and Silke and I managed to take only a few shots of this magnificent structure.
Philppsruhe Palace

Our day ended when the 3 of us met up with Heidi at an Italian restaurant.  To my joy, I manage to speak to some of the employees in Italian and I even ordered in that language.  We ate some really fine, thin personal pizzas and chatted for the next two hours.

After dinner, I spoke with Heidi for about an hour or so to get caught up.  Sadly, the next day she left for a small vacation which meant that I won't be seeing here for quite sometime.  It was really great to see her again.

The next morning, I woke up to the sound of rain against my window.  Which evidently meant that photography was simply out of the question.  Instead, I once again offered my services to all 7 employees at Blumen Roll.  Dora, didn't hesitate and she put me to work by helping her move a few heavy items around the store.  She then suggested for me to go with her to make some deliveries and help pick-up 80 plants.  I happily obliged and took the trip with her.

Hours later, I was free to walk the town and take more photos of this picturesque city.  The rain had sub-sided and I took my time to find houses which are painted with some interesting colours.  Here is a sample of those vibrant houses.

It was nearing 5pm and I decided to walk back to Blumen.  Immediately, boredom took over  and rather than chat with Silke, I made myself available for some more grunt work.  What I didn't mention earlier is that Silke had been translating everything to me whenever Dora gave me a command.  This time, Silke had me deal with Dora directly since she figured I would understand her mother.


Adjacent to their workshop is a garage and Dora beckoned for me to follow her into it.  She handed me some clippers and I waited for her to give me the details.

This is what I think she said to me.

Dora: "Cut here, here and here.  Put this over here and put the rest of this into this satchel."

Me: "Huhhhhh?...Yeah...ok...sure!" I responded with blatant uncertainty with my eyes and jaw wide open.

Actually, it was rather easy to understand her. All she wanted me to do was cut the branches from the stems and then put the waste into a bag.  Though it's funny that one can learn simple directions just by reading simple hand gestures.

Minutes, later I had made a mess of the branches and I asked Dora for a broom by making a sweeping gesture.

Dora "Ah...besen." (broom)

I took the besen and I practically swept the entire garage and then moved into workshop to give that once-over.  

I figured, why stop now.  Nothing wrong with being a Semi-Floral Janitor for a day...except I am disappointed that I wasn't given an apron.  HA!

When the work day ended, Dora took us out for some dinner at a restaurant close to home.  I ate some sausages with some sauerkraut (which was brilliant!) and quenched my thirst with some beer and schnapps!

I am having a wonderful time here.

Tomorrow a soccer match and then the Wine Festival!

have a heart.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One-Way to Alzenau Germany

"Why did you buy a one-way ticket?"

I can't really answer that question without providing you with a very long winded answer.  Although, I will say this - $372 (Cdn) Vancouver direct to Frankfurt.  Deal.

Despite the fact that I have done this before...there is something very different about this "trip" to Europe and quite frankly, it was a little harder to say good-bye to my loved ones.

At this point I am not sure where I will end up and whole idea of of not having a plan is VERY daunting.  However, the following quote makes the whole trip justifiable for me.

"If you are not living on the edge, then you are taking up way too much space." unknown

It is my discipline and my way of life.

I am very, very blessed to be among great friends Heidi and Silke here in Frankfurt and there will be more friends to see in the near future.

To all of my friends in North America, I will miss you all and I will keep in touch with you.

Alzenau, Germany

Silke picked me up at the airport and it was great to see her again.  We fled from the airport and went out for a quick lunch within her little town.  After devouring my German meal consisting of pork sausages and mashed potatoes (oh and the brilliant beer) Silke and I decided to take our cameras and go for a long walk around the town.  She felt it would be better to keep me active rather than have me crash on the bed and take a nap.  Good thing I did too because I needed to relax and learn how to take photos with this new camera.  Apparently, Silke's camera is better and...longer than mine!

Hours later, we met up with Heidi and Silke's new boyfriend at Hotel Gasthof. We have been going to to this place for dinner for the last 4 years; and what was nice is that we always sit at our "usual" spot in the corner of the restaurant.  Furthermore, we concluded the night by drinking our traditional shot(s) of German Schnapps. It tasted like...burning!

Dora, Silke's mother was kind enough to buy us all dinner.  Danke Dora!

Silke kissing Phil.  "I miss you Pumpkin!"