Fotoeins Fotopress

One photo at a time – one journey to last a lifetime

Posts from the ‘Travel’ category

Steveston’s seafood bounty from the Salish Sea

Inside out: ICE599, Berlin to Frankfurt

It’s only been thirty minutes since leaving the nation’s capital. I can’t sit still and chill for the four hours on the I-C-E.

I’m on board the InterCity Express train from Berlin to Frankfurt. The information monitor is helpfully providing friendly reminders and relevant details, including the next station and the train’s present speed. I’m traveling at 200 kilometres per hour: “look, you’re moving quickly!” But it feels like I’m standing still.

The world outside approaches quickly along a straight stretch of track, and what appears closest rushes by in bunches and blurs, filled with sinuous streaks of colour. My eyes sweep across the landscape and beyond to the horizon. Leaning against the window, I bring my camera up then down, with intermittent presses of the shutter button. As soon as I’ve figured something out in the distance, it’s gone in an instant. I can only spare a moment to mourn the loss, because there’s something new to come along in the next minute.

The constant gentle “clickety-clack” accompanies the regularity of the scenery: green pastures and fields, gentle rolling hills, forested valleys. Maybe I’ll freeze something of value, another memory solid enough to take away with me when I fly out from Frankfurt to the North American side of the big eastern pond.

This I-C-E route passes close to the geographical heart of the country. But I’m afraid it’s my own heart that’s getting cold. Every moment takes me farther away from her, missing her intensely that grows with increasing distance.

This is my place, she is my home. I’m going to come back; I promise.

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Deutsche Bahn’s InterCity Express (ICE) route number 599 is a high-speed train service from Berlin to Munich via Frankfurt. The train begins in Berlin, with stops at Braunschweig, Hildesheim, Göttingen, Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe, Fulda, Hanau, Frankfurt am Main, and beyond to München. The stretch between Berlin and Frankfurt lasts just over four hours for a distance of about 580 kilometres. The listing represents the most recent update for April 2014.

I made the photos above in March and September 2011. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Germany’s urban G-E-M-S: München

Gems: precious stones, sparkly and shiny on sight, cool to touch, and generally very expensive to own. To view these jewels in a museum or gallery, for example, the approach would be done quietly and carefully, behind a variety of security screens.

“Hidden gems” at a given location describe special or unusual activities, sights, or restaurants visitors may not initially be aware. Truth is, “gems” are known to residents, they’re easily accessible, and they’re out in plain sight. As long as you’re paying attention, those “hidden gems” can become something entirely different.

I’ve converted “gems” into acronym G-E-M-S: a Green space (Grünanlange), a place to Eat (Essen gehen), a Museum, and something Special (Sondertipp) to discover. I’ve described urban G-E-M-S in Frankfurt am Main and Köln (Cologne), respectively, the 5th and 4th most populous cities in Germany.


München (Munich)

Marienplatz, Munich, Germany

Frauenkirche and Neues Rathaus, Marienplatz (HL)

I once protested:

There’s nothing wrong with the raging keggers and oom-pa-pa at Oktoberfest or the beautiful city that is München. But there’s a lot more to Germany than Oktoberfest. Besides, there’s always the months-long Karneval on the Rhein …

It’s only fair to show some love for München (Munich)!

Munich is the capital city for the state of Bavaria and is Germany’s 3rd largest city with a population of 1.4 million. It’s easy to feel at home, surrounded by the distinctive Bavarian ambience (“bayerische Gemütlichkeit”) that’s relaxed, friendly, and cozy.

You’ll see the ubiquity of the state’s blue-and-white-diamond flag; drink plenty of beer in big glass mugs; eat Brezeln, Sauerbraten, Haxen, Weisswurst; and like some residents, dress up in Lederhosen or Dirndl, even outside Oktoberfest season. You’ll visit Marienplatz to see the Glockenspiel play at the Neues Rathaus, attend Mass in the beautiful churches, examine the produce at the farmers’ market at Viktualienmarkt, shop to your heart’s (and credit cards’) extent at Fünf Höfe or Maximilianstrasse, and yes, you might even drink some more and party hard at Hofbräuhaus.

But when I’m in the “Millionendorf” (village of millions), I’m always looking for something else, something more.


Green space : Englischer Garten

Englischer Garten, English Garden, Muenchen, Munich, Germany

Gentle breeze at the English Garden (HL)

There are many green spaces throughout the Munich area, but the English Garden is a big part of that conversation. With an area reaching over 400 hectares (4 million square metres), there’s more than enough space to find a corner to call your own and spread out for an afternoon. When I’m in town, I’m on a train to Münchner Freiheit for a bite or a coffee, and that fuels my slow meander through the park. If you like people-watching, you’re sure to find surprises and spontaneous moments, from the northern reaches, to the Kleinhesseloher See, down to the river-surfers at Eisbach creek.

Website: English Garden.
Transit stop/station: U-Bahn Odeonsplatz, U Universität, U Giselastrasse, or U Münchner Freiheit.


Eat : Schnitzelwirt im Spatenhof

Schnitzel mit Pommes/Fries, Wiki

Schnitzel example with a wae nibble (Eikus89 on Wiki)

I love schnitzel. I may never find that perfect veal Wiener Schnitzel I once had in Vienna. But discovering this restaurant in central Munich satisfies my Schnitzel cravings. At Schnitzelwirt im Spatenhof, they offer schnitzel made with veal, pork, or turkey; they also have fish and vegetarian versions. Meat that’s pounded thin, lightly breaded, and fried just right is a serious art, and these folks are serious about schnitzel in all its glorious forms.

Website: Schnitzelwirt im Spatenhof.
Transit stop/station: S-/U-Bahn/Tram Karlsplatz (also known as Stachus).


Museum : The Three Pinakotheken

Alte Pinakothek, Muenchen, Munich, Germany

Classic afternoon glow, Alte Pinakothek (HL)

I’ve set foot in Munich dozens of times, and I always come “home” to the Pinakotheken. The Old, New, and Modern Pinakothek contains, respectively, collections of European Art from the 13th- to the 18th-century including Old Masters paintings, European Art from the 18th- and 19th-century, and “modern” and contemporary 20th- and 21st-century art. The Pinakotheken form a part of the large Kunstreal or art district in Munich. Do take note of the different days the three Pinakotheken are closed, but don’t forget that all three are open Sundays with the New and the Modern Pinakothek each charging a special Sunday-admission price of 1 Euro.

Website: Pinakotheken: Old, New, Modern.
Transit stop/station: U-Bahn Theresienstrasse. Alternatively, tram 27 or bus 100 (stop “Pinakotheken”). Bus 100 is known as “Museenlinie”, or Museum line, serving major museums between Hauptbahnhof and Ostbahnhof.


Special : Gärtnerplatzviertel (Isarvorstadt)

Staatstheater, opera house, Gaertnerplatz, Muenchen, Munich, Germany

State Theatre at Gärtnerplatz (HL)

People of all ages come here for the cafés, shops, boutiques by day, and they’re still here for the pubs, bars, and restaurants at night. You’re at the Gärtnerplatzviertel (Gärtner Square Quarter), whose central point is Gärtnerplatz (Gärtner Square) and the Staatstheater (State Theater). There’s just as much activity in neighbouring Glockenbachviertel (Glockenbach Quarter). The Isar is just steps away to the east, if you want to relax by the river’s edge. Rainbow flags fly proudly with the active gay and lesbian scene centred here, too. It’s a great neighbourhood to hang out and chill with friends in a fun, welcoming, and engaging environment.

Website: Gärtnerplatz (in German).
Transit stop/station: S-Bahn Isartor, or U-Bahn Fraunhoferstrasse.


With the location of the city’s primary train station included, the map below shows the following G-E-M-S in Munich:

  • G: Green Space (Grünanlagen) – Englischer Garten,
  • E: place to Eat (Essen gehen) – Schnitzelwirt im Spatenhof,
  • M: Museum – The Three Pinakotheken,
  • S: Special (Sondertipp) – Gärtnerplatzviertel, in Isarvorstadt.

Local transport authority: Münchner Verkehrs- und Tarifverbund (MVV), available in English.

Approximate trip durations to Munich by train are 6.5 hours from Berlin, 3.5 hours from Frankfurt am Main, 6 hours from Hamburg, and about 4.5 hours from Köln.

To see how the city provides fantastic examples of hotels, beer, and great food with some glamour, check how Leah spends a glorious 24 hours in the Bavarian capital.


Germany’s Urban G-E-M-S

  1. Frankfurt am Main, 0.7 million
  2. Köln (Cologne), 1 million
  3. München (Munich), 1.4 million

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

First time sweetness at Heidelberg’s Café Gundel

Moving to Germany

In 2001, I moved across the big Atlantic pond from Canada to Germany. Knowing only “bitte” (please) and “danke” (thank you), I flew sight unseen to Frankfurt am Main, followed by a shuttle-bus to the German university town of Heidelberg. I would live and work in Heidelberg for two years, and I couldn’t have known the experience would change my life.

Heidelberg is one of my favourite “hometowns” in Germany, my adopted country.

1st Time in DE, 1st Time in HD

An early memory is a stroll down Heidelberg’s Hauptstrasse (“main street”). I spend a long afternoon up and down streets, through small cobbled alleys, learning locations of stores and services, and getting an immediate lay of the town.

At the eastern end of the Altstadt (Old Town), I step into an attractive and brightly lit Café Gundel and sit down at one of the tables. My eyes are bigger than my stomach. I decide to do the sensible thing, and order the first reasonable thing that comes to mind: Apfelstrudel and a latté macchiato.

It’s relatively quiet in the café, and I’m quickly served “coffee and cake”. The strudel has large chunks of apples, surrounded by very light flaky pastry and topped with a fine dusting of powdered sugar. The cake isn’t too tart or sweet, and there’s a generous mouthful of cinnamon and nutmeg. Did I also mention there’s fresh whipping cream (Schlagsahne) on the side? That’s not spray-on stuff from a can, which, as I learned later, is sacrilege of the highest order.

I walk up to the counter to pay and I express my gratitude. With hand gestures and attempted English, I ask to buy an additional selection of cookies, small cakes, and sweets. I’m sure the lady behind the counter thinks I’ve completely lost my mind. In broken English, she tells me there’ll be more tomorrow, and plenty more the day after that.

This memory has served as an introduction to both Heidelberg and Germany, and has stayed with me over the years. I’ve returned many times to Heidelberg since leaving in 2003, but I’ve returned to Gundel only twice.

Guess it’s time to go back “home”, back to Gundel, and make some new memories …

Cafe Gundel, Hauptstrasse (Karlsplatz), Heidelberg, Germany

Café Gundel

Cafe Gundel, Hauptstrasse (Karlsplatz), Heidelberg, Germany

Do I have room for these? Why yes; yes, I do …

If you’re in Heidelberg, walk to the eastern end of Hauptstrasse to Café Gundel. Press your nose up against the window, and look, drool at the sweets on display. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head inside, relax, and enjoy your “Kaffee und Kuchen” (cake and coffee).


Café Gundel is both Konditorei (pastry shop) and Bäckerei (bake shop), making a wide assortment of sweet pastries and hearty breads. The main and larger Gundel is located at the eastern end of the Hauptstrasse at Karlsplatz (Charles Square). The smaller version, der kleine Gundel, is located at Universitätsplatz (University Square).

You can easily walk the mile-long Hauptstrasse. Alternatively, you can take a bus or tram from the train station to Bismarckplatz, and transfer onto bus 31, 32, or 33 into the Altstadt.

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Vancouver embraces spring in grand style

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