Greece - Olympia

by Kimp 9. April 2018 06:22

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Greek Gods

In my opinion, as long as intelligent humans have wandered the Earth, many have believed in some power that is greater than the whole lot of humans. One day a lightning bolt strikes a tree, starts a fire and burns their hunting grounds to a crisp. I must have done something that upset a higher power, and now they are retaliating. One day an Earthquake levels our stone abode to the ground, along with the trees around it. Same feeling. Crop yields for several years are great, then a drought wipes us out, same feeling. Lunar or solar eclipse, comet passing by, meteorite strike, and something is sending us a sign.

So we ask a Greek Elder, why the earth shook so violently. “Oh, it had to be greedy Theo that caused it. He plowed up 260 Hectares (1 square mile, 2.6 square km) of multi colored peacock anemone (a beautiful Greek wildflower), just to plant barley, so he could make and sell more beer. He upset the Goddess Gaea (goddess of the earth), so she brought the wrath down on everybody. Damn it, I told him not to mess with mother nature.”.

Greek families and Gods seem to fit the epitome of dysfunction. People lying to and tricking Gods. Gods committing all kinds of atrocities against each other and mankind. Entertaining characters when looking in from the outside. It seems that their ancient immortal beliefs may have been modeled after that their own family dynamics.

Ancient Greeks believed there were separate Gods that had very separate and distinct powers. Twelve in all. And that they all lived on Mount Olympus (the highest mountain in Greece). Olympus has multiple peaks each home to one of the Gods, with the summit being the place they would congregate to discuss political issues. Olympus shares a shoreline with the Aegean Sea where Poseidon (the Sea God), had a second home, deep in the sea. The only other God to have a second home away from Olympus was Hades, the God of the underworld (everything under the earth). I’ll bet that was the party house where they would all hang out for a good time. The other gods traveled for business on occasion, but Olympus was their only home.

Many of the Olympian Gods were part of the same clan having received their powers, after defeating the Titans. Titans were the gods who were worshiped by the people who were pagans, before the pagans who worshiped the Olympian Gods. The prior array of gods, whom held uncontested rule of the universe. Cronos was the leader of the Titan’s after gaining that title by castrating his father Uranus with a sickle. Cronos in turn, sired several of the Olympian God’s, and they defeated him to rise to power. Zeus (God of Sky and thunder), was the big dog on the bottom of the totem pole (the bottom of totem poles is what most people look at, so the chief carver does his work there). Zeus was considered the king of the gods, and Hera was the queen. Hera  represented the family as a whole. Zeus and Hera were siblings, but Zeus married and sired children with Hera. Zeus also a had a bit of a wandering eye, partaking in several extra marital affairs. One of which, produced his son Apollo. Apollo was the straight “A” student who became the god of knowledge, art, and the sciences.

In those days, climbing Mt Olympus would not even be considered. By today’s standard’s, it is a bit difficult. For one it’s all rock, and loose rock at that. Someone above is bound to knock a rock loose that could come your way. It rates at Class III on the YDS free climb system. Class III means that the climer will definitely need both feet and hands, should carry a rope just in case it might be needed, and while a fall might be survivable, it most likely will not be survivable. Class III also means it is about a full day to climb, so one is probably staying overnight on the mountain, and the decent is likely harder than the climb. Actually, it should probably be a class XII, meaning that you should get permission from all 12 gods before trespassing.

Some of the names of the twelve gods have changed over the years, probably due to misinterpretations from the listener. Kind of like when the CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) song, “Don’t go around tonight, Well, it’s bound to take your life. I see a bad moon a rising.”, gets repeated by someone just listing, then heartily signing later, “Don’t go around tonight, Well, it’s bound to take your life. I see a bathroom on the right.”, With me yelling, “Hell-llll Yeah!!! Sing it Marvin. That sounds just like CCR.”.

Olympia History

Recorded history does not state why Olympia was selected as a religious site, for worship of the Olympian Gods. But there have been many earthquakes there over the years (some destroying parts of the religious site), so that would be my guess. Build a nice place to worship the gods and they should be happy about that, and stop shaking the earth. Especially when the priest is slaughtering a prized lamb in honor of them, and offering them the best cut of meat (the best cut of meat was given to the gods, but the rest was ravished by the congregation).

The cow was/is a sacred animal in many religions, because they were very valuable to ancient and current humans, so they must have been put here to be honored and cherished. Cows are docile, only need field grass and water to live, their dung burns well, they are great haulers, great plow animals, and their milk is vital nourishment to the young. Cows must have been created to be the perfect supplement to humans. Greeks must not have gotten that memo, cause they had no problem slaughtering cows for sacrifice. One of the highlights of the Olympic festival was on the third day, then the priests slaughtered hundreds of cows and free cooked cow flesh was given to everyone. Cow’s taste great, so they must have been created for our consumption.

Artifacts were found in Olympia, signifying at it had been a religious site, that pre-dated the building of the stone temples there. There may have been wooden or earlier temples that were removed for the newer temples. The creation of the Olympic games occurred in 776 B.C., the middle of the 400 years between it becoming a religious site and the erection of the first temples that survived to date, which was about 100 years after the first Olympic festival was organized. They know it was 776, because someone had kept a list of all of the Olympian winner’s. Much later, some brilliant ancient mathematician, counted the number of winners on that list, multiplied by 4, then subtracted that from the current year and came up with 776 B.C. as the first one. 

In my mind, the creation of the games might have gone something like this. Chiefs from Tribe X, Tribe Y, and Tribe Z were all attending the Olympic religious pilgrimage event. Just after the massive cow flesh eating feast, the king of Tribe X introduces his best runner to the kings of Tribe Y and Z, and says, “This is Achille’s, our best runner. He can outrun a tiger!”. Chief Y says, “Then he can’t outrun my man Cleo. Cleo can outrun the gazelle that is being chased by the tiger!”. Chief Z chimes in with, “Yea, well, I’ll bet neither of them can outrun my man Dionte. He can outrun anything and anybody, anywhere and anytime !!!” The Chief magistrate listening in, says, “For a small fee, I know just how we can settle this dispute.”.

The first recorded race, was a single foot race that was won by a cook, named Koroibos.

One belief, is that chariot races were created in memory of a great Greek mythical figure named Pelops, king of Greece’s Pisa, which also controlled Olympia for a time. Pelops was a kind of dark figure that some Greek cults worshiped. The myth is that his father wanted to see if the Gods could tell the difference between Animal flesh and Human flesh, so he sacrificed his young son, put the flesh into a stew, and feed it to the Olympian Gods. But the first God to taste it, figured it out. This actually upset the other Olympian Gods, who reassembled the son, replacing the missing piece of his body with Ivory. Poseidon (God of the Sea), feeling bad about it, took him to Olympus and taught him to drive a divine chariot.

In manhood Pelops fell in love with Hippodamia, whose father was Oenomaus. But a prophet had told Oenomaus, that he would be killed by his future son-in-law. Eighteen dudes had already courted Hippodamia, but in order to gain her father’s acceptance for marriage, they had to beat him in a chariot race, with death being the penalty for losing that race.  Oenomaus had a palace with the heads of the eighteen dudes who had failed to win, affixed to the tops of its columns. And there was only one column, without a head on it. Seeing that last column, Pelops visited Poseidon to ask for help. Poseidon created two wild and winged horses to pull the divine chariot. On the way to the epic chariot race, Pelops driver dies. Pelops is distraught, and makes a temple out of earth, sacrifices the driver, and mixes the ashes with the temple mound (this becomes significant in their religion, as the alter of the temple of Pelops, is made of successive layers of earth, mixed with the ashes of the sacrifices that occurred there. And it just keeps growing over time, with the priests cutting steps in it, to get to the top of the alter.). The epic mother of all chariot races, between Pelops and Oenomaus ensues, with lots of drama during the race. Pelops squeaks out the win. Pelops, then takes on the role of organizing chariot races, for the god’s pleasure, as thanksgiving for-ever after. These chariot races became part of the festivities .

It was once thought that the ancient athletes were amateurs who had other professions in life. Most scholars these days seem to think they have evidence that they were professionals. Makes sense to me. A king is going to do whatever is necessary to help one of his athlete’s, win the competition over the other’s kings athlete’s. A king’s athletes are representing his kingdom as a whole, so of course he has a vested interest in his team winning.

Olympia Site in General

Over the course of 1500 years, the site was controlled by several different kingdom’s who had taken control of that area, but they all continued to host the Olympic Festival and Games on this site.

As time moved on, more and more activities were added to the site, requiring the addition of new buildings. The religious area was separated from the non-religious areas by a partial wall and structures that acted as a wall or at least significantly obstructed the view into and out of the religious area.

There were 4 major building periods:

The first period (started around 600 B.C.) was mostly for religious purposes and one building was used as a meeting place for political councils. A temple dedicated to the Goddess Hera (goddess of family) was built. Each city state that participated in the religious ceremonies had a separate small treasury structure that they built to house their religious artifacts, dedicated to their own heritage (similar to the relics related to Medieval Catholic Saints). In 560 B.C., the land was leveled, and a simple track was created . Over the next 60 years, several new events were added to the games.

The second (started in 500 B.C.) when slopping sides were created for spectators to better see the track. A workshop, for the top sculptor of the day (Pheidas), was created.  Pheidas created all of the massive Greek God Temple statues in all of Greece. Here, he created the elaborate statue of Zeus (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world). The grand Temple for Zeus (king of the gods), a small temple dedicated to the mother of Gods, who at that time, was probably Demeter (the goddess of earth fertility). A temple dedicated to Peolps was constructed. Pelops had a huge cult following, and he was the figure that was celebrated at night when the libations came out. A very popular night time festivity. The Emperor Philip (father of Hadrian) had won a battle, that united Greece, and he commissioned a memorial dedicated to his family, on the Olympia site. Stoa’s were built in the religious area for general religious meetings to take place. A temple dedicated to house the bones of a local hero was erected. These were in many Greek towns and were places where cult’s hung out to worship the local hero figure. The river Kladeos (named after the river God) was diverted to prevent flooding in Olympia (this engineering feature failed over time, as all of Olympia was covered in 12 feet (4m) of sediment, due to flooding, before it was located in 1875 by the German Archeological Society. Other additions were lodging for the important visitors, more government buildings related to the Olympic games (a kind of Olympic Committee), and a general meeting place for non-religious meetings to take place.

The third (started in 300 B.C.)

The Gymnasium, Greek baths, and Wresting structures were built. The Priests quarters were expanded, and a vaulted ceiling (tunnel), was built over the entrance was to the stadium.

The fourth (started in 50 A.D.)

An Emperor’s villa was built for Nero’s visit in 67A.D, Roman baths and more temporary quarters were constructed.

Sacred Truce

The city states in Greece were often at war with each other. When the date of the Olympic Games was determined, messengers would be sent to each City State, declaring a truce for the purpose of competing in and spectating the games.

Despite this truce, city states still sent soldiers to the games to protect their best military assets, just in case. In 324 B.C. the city state where Olympia was located, attacked the games during the last Pentathlon event, in which two opponents were very close in score. Soldier Archers at the games, climbed onto the roofs of the monuments, to defend the games. Supposedly with fans cheering them on.

In 420 B.C. Sparta was banned from participating in and spectating the games, for having violated a peace treaty.

Summer of 480 B.C. The Persian Army attacked Greece. Greek City States allied together to mount a defense, but could not find enough males to build the defensive force. Most of the able-bodied men had refused conscription, on account of they were going to the Olympics. Once the games were over, they returned, and their grand Army was formulated.

Nero’s visit in 67 A.D.

Nero was one of the most colorful Roman Emperor’s. Hated by politician’s and the upper class, but loved by the middle and lower classes. Nero loved theater, so he raised taxes to build theater’s. Nero often acted and played music in public, which the ruling class, saw as activities unbecoming of someone in the ruling class. The economy tanked, their monetary system deflated, and Nero raised taxes to create many public service projects, keeping the common people employed. After the great Roman fire, Nero funded Rome’s recovery and assisted the homeless as best he could.

Nero also liked to spend money on himself like a lavish villa in Olympia, and to perform crazy acts. In 66 A.D. Nero performed a wedding ceremony, in which he was both officiating the wedding, and he was the bride. The groom was a young man. Probably would have been seen as OK had he took the role of groom instead, but a bride in those days would have been a sign of weakness on his part.

Nero bribed the Olympic Committee to move the 66 A.D. Olympics to 67 A.D. so that he could attend, he decreed that they add theater and music completions so that he could compete, and they allowed him to enter the 4 horse chariot race event, with a chariot that was pulled by 12 horses. Nero fell off the chariot during the race, yet was awarded the winner on account of, he would have won, had he stayed on. After Nero’s suicide in 68 A.D., his name was removed as winner of that event.

Olympic Traditions continuing since ancient times

Olympiad – Zeus decreed that the games should only be held every 4 years, and so they were, forever after.

Eternal Flame – The goddess Hestia was the goddess of the hearth, home, domesticity, family, and the state. An eternal flame brunt in Hestia’s temple or structure, that was monitored by priests to ensure that it never went out. Often times this was the priests quarters, probably to make it easier to monitor. When a new Greek colony was established, one of the first items to be built, was a hearth, where the eternal flame was kept, and that flame was initially transferred from the Hestia hearth in the nearest colony to the new colony. If that flame went out (by whatever means), a ritual ceremony had to be performed, before it could be relit. This was one of the most important items in ancient times, as fire was needed for heat, to cook and prepare meals, and later for making tools and weapons.

Ancient Olympic Games

The participation in, and the spectating of, the games, was open to any free Greek male, regardless of class status. Unmarried females were allowed to spectate but not participate. The only married female spectator was the statue of the goddess Demeter. Probably because Demeter was the god of sacred law (amongst other duties). A reminder to the athletes that they had better not be cheating, because Demeter is watching. Yet there was a female on the winner list of an ancient Olympic event. The chariot race event win, was awarded to the owner and not the driver. Kyniska, daughter of a Spartan king owned a chariot that won in two different Olympiads. There were running contests for women, but those were side events that were not part of the ancient games.

The winner of the first recorded race was Koroibos, who was a cook by profession. For the first 13 Olympiads, the only competition was a single foot race of 195m(640 ft or 1/8 mile) over a sand track. In those days 195m was called 1 stadia.

By 500 B.C. the games lasted for 5 full days and consisted of running, jumping, throwing, boxing, wrestling, pankration (mixed martial arts) and equestrian events.

The winner received a red woolen ribbon that they often tied around their head, and a palm branch for the big parade on the last day. There was a big closing ceremony, where a wreath, made from olive branches (cut from the tree of Zeus, which was at the end of the Stadium) was put on their head. The crowning ceremony was considered sacred and serious, which is probably why the ribbon and palms were given out in advance, to celebrate before the closing ceremony.  Second place and below got nothing.

Ancient Athletic Equipment

There wasn’t any equipment, and therefore no perceived[A1]  advantage from it. All athletic activities were performed in the nude. It was felt, that this was a tribute to the gods, and encouraged aesthetic appreciation of the male body. The word gymnasium stems from the Greek word gymnos, which translates to naked.

In ancient Greece, it was common practice to undress when exercising, but physical training was only allowed for males who were at least 18 years old. Exercise was termed as education for both the body and the mind. Greek gymnasiums also offered scholarly instruction in philosophy, mathematics, and other ancient education, which is where the exercise of the mind came from. Ancient Greek scholars often hung out and debated at the Gym.

Rules

Running – Both as an individual event and as part of the pentathlon event. Race length; 1 stadia, 2 stadia, and one long distance race (from 7 to 21 laps depending on the year). For races longer than 1 stadia, the participants ran around a pole that was placed at each end. Race in Arms was a 2 stadia race where the participants wore a helmet, shin plates, and carried a shield, but otherwise were naked. That reminds me of being at sea in the Navy. A combat ship’s munitions storage area was always guarded by Marines. Every once in a while, a spurious intrusion alarm would go off, in the ship’s munitions storage area, at like 2 A.M (0200). Marines sleeping, would be summoned to respond to that intruder alert. I always had to chuckle to myself, when I saw a Marine double timing from the berthing (sleeping) area to the munitions storage area, carrying an M-16, wearing a helmet and combat boots, but only in his underwear (no time to waste dressing). A skinny dude in white briefs, just doesn’t look very fierce, even if he is carrying an M-16.

Chariot Race – 4 horses, a wooden chariot with 2 wheels and 12 laps around a track which is 4 stadia (1/2 mile or 790m) long, with a stone and/or wood barrier separating its length into 2 halves. Owner gets all the credit and the award for the win. There was a rule about not deliberately running into another chariot, but it happened all of the time and there were no penalties for it. Deaths were common in Chariot races. Since everyone tried to get the lead, and the inside position, the start was staggered so the horses on the outside were started first. Actually, the most outside chariot started first, and when it caught up to the next, the next innermost started, etc. The starting mechanism was created by the architect Cleoitas and consisted of a dolphin weight that was dropped, and the rope attached to it, caused the lanes starting ropes to be dropped in succession, as the dolphin fell. The lap counters were individual dolphin statues, that would be turned over, signifying that a lap had been completed. No red light, a wrecked chariot is just like part of the track, that can be driven over. The driver was required to wear a full length sleeved gown (probably to hide the blood when killed), and the feet were strapped into the bottom of the chariot. That had to be a wicked ride.

Discus throw - Only part of the pentathlon event – No running start, and all participants used the same disc.

Long Jump - Only part of the pentathlon event – A large stone (about the size of a bowling ball) must be held in two hands at all times. It can be extended during the jump, but must be held onto. Standing long jump only. 5 jumps in rapid succession. Allowed to have a flute player present to help the participant keep their rhythm and balance during the event.

Javelin Throw – Only part of the pentathlon event - Allowed to have a short leather strap to give the javelin additional rotation when letting go. The rotation helps keep it upright during flight and these ancient javelins were probably not very well balanced.

Wrestling – An individual event and part of the pentathlon event - Smother the body with olive oil and a dusting of fine sand (this was to make it easier to garb hold). No punching, No gouging the eyes or face with fingernails, no tripping and no biting. In Kato Pale wrestling (ground wrestling in mud), the wrestlers will wrestle until one opponent raises a single finger to acknowledge acceptance of defeat. In Orthia Pale wrestling (standing wrestling), the first wrestler to be thrown to the ground three times, loses. Only two wrestling classes, men and boys. The boys class was 18 to 20 years old, and the mens was over 20 years old.

Boxing - Boxers bound leather thongs across their knuckles. These were modified over time, and at one time included metal straps over the knuckles. The match ends when one opponent concedes defeat.

Pankration (mixed martial arts) – Similar to wrestling but all that is disallowed is biting and gouging of the eyes. Matches ends when one opponent raises a single finger to acknowledge acceptance of defeat.

Penalties

Breaking a rule, was taking care of at the time of the infraction, by an official beating the individual whom created the infraction.

Collusion or Bribery to cheat, was taken care of by fining the individual(s) involved. The fines went towards the creation of bronze statues of Zeus, which carried the inscription of the individuals involved and the phrase “Victory is to be achieved by speed of feet and strength of body, not with money.”. These statues were called Zane’s and were erected on the walkway to the stadium. Sixteen where created and erected over the course of the entire Ancient Olympics.

Olympia Today

In 393 AD, the Christian emperor Theodosius I, forbade the celebration of pagan cults, which included the Games. Olympia was covered by up to 24 ft (8 m) of sediment, from a Tsunami that occurred in the Mediterranean around 600 A.D.

It was lost until 1776 when Englishman Richard Chandler, in search of antiquity items re-discovered it.

In 1874, the Greek state signed an agreement with Germany for an archaeological exploration of the Olympia site. The German Archeological Society started excavation and have been working on it ever since. The modern signs around the site are in three languages (Greek, English, and German).

In 1888 the first Archaeological Museum of Olympia was erected to hold the items that were found during the excavation.

In 1936 the tradition of the Olympic Torch relay was created. It always originates at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, by lighting the first torch with a curved metal cauldron that focuses the sunlight at a point where the torch is lite by the natural light (not sure what they do if there is a cloud or rain delay). The torch relay then progresses on a journey to the location of the modern day Olympic games (Because of all of the protests, now that relay only occurs in Greece and the hosting countries, but traditionally it traversed through many countries on its way). After the Officials give a 60 minute long speech at the ancient stadium, there is a torch lighting ceremony in front of the temple of Hera, that consists of several women dressed in white Greek, full length gowns, and men dressed in white tank tops and white skirts that end at the knee (I am not making this up). They then summon Apollo (God of the Sun),by beating drums, knocking rocks together, and playing flutes, while fair maidens prance around the grounds.  When they finally have Apollo’s attention, a high priest requests his assistance in lighting the first torch. That torch is then placed inside of a metal cauldron that intensifies the suns rays, and lights it. Immediately a backup device is lite from the torch, this is used to relight the torch if it goes out during the relay, so the flame can always be traced back to Apollo, even if it goes out along the way. Same if the stadium flame goes out. The torch makes its way to the ancient stadium, where the dudes in white skirts are prancing around. A young boy appears holding up a palm branch.  The first runner appears, his torch is lit from the fair maiden’s torch, and he is handed the palm branch. A white dove is released, and then the runner takes off on his journey, with 30 photographers who run with him for about the length of the track, then fall over in exhaustion.

A statue dedicated to Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern day Olympics, was erected on the ancient grounds after his death in 1937.

There was a forest fire here, in 2007, that nearly damaged this site. The God Apollo, probably blew it out, as it approached.

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Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time,

Craig

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Travel

Switzerland - Lausanne

by Kimp 31. January 2018 17:51

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History

The Roman's built a military camp on the Lake Geneva shore, near current day Lausanne. When the Roman Empire fell, Lausanne was move to top of a nearby hill, because that was easier to defend.

For a time, French Protestant Preachers would seek refuge here, before returning to another part of France to work quietly on the reformation. If they were exposed, they would return to Lausanne to hide-out for a while.

At the start of the Napoleonic Wars, officials decided it was in the cities best interest, to become part of the Swiss Federation.

Modern day

Today Lausanne is surrounded by picturesque vineyards.

It is the smallest city in the world to have a metro urban rail transport system. Once you have walked from the Lake Geneva shore line, up the steep hill to Lausanne, you will know why the metro system has no problem meeting their yearly operating expenses.

During World War I, the International Olympics Committee moved its headquarters from Paris to Lausanne, and it has been here ever since. On the same grounds, is a very nice Olympic Museum, filled with art work, equipment, memorabilia, and a behind the scenes look at an Olympian’s life in the Olympic village.

Today there are 55 international sports organizations with offices in Lausanne, and it is home to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.

When Sport's entered the political arena, an arbitration court was needed to resolve dependencies between the athlete's and those upholding the rules. Arbitration is the process whereby both parties, agree to have a discrepancy, resolved by an independent and impartial arbitrator. Most recently many of the arbitrations seem to revolve around the issue of doping. In my opinion, it is very sad that international sports have evolved into yet another political quagmire of differing opinions. What happened to the sporting mentality in sport?

My History

The 1992 Summer Olympics was hosted in Barcelona. Paralympic Archer, Antonio Rebollo Liñán shoots a lighted arrow from the ground, through the pitch-black darkness, 60 ft (20 m) above, in what looks like a strong wind, to ignite the Olympic Cauldron, during the opening ceremony, and likewise, igniting a frenzy of interest in the Olympics. Not only did he light it, it was nearly a perfect shot.

The total distance from where Antonio shot the arrow, to the torch was about 230 ft. It is said, that feat is not a difficult shot, for a skilled archer. The difficult part, is doing it, in front of a stadium full of spectator's and million's a TV viewer's. Some 200 archers underwent psychological evaluations, and Antonio was the one that they felt was best suited to not let that bother him. Four were picked, and Antonio was chosen as the first alternate. Best suited, but because he was from Madrid, and Barcelona prides itself on being Catalonian, they really wanted a Catalonian archer to light the cauldron. Two hours before the event, the pressure didn't get to Antonio, but it did get to the organizers. They decided the best choice was to give the honors to Antonio instead. The attendant who handed the bow and arrow to Antonio was visibly shaken, but Antonio was solid as a rock. The drama is intensified by how methodically and concentrated he aims, draws back slowly, pauses slightly, then let's it fly, with great confidence and demeanor. two seconds later, whoosh, the cauldron is ablaze, the crowds bustout in cheers, and the organizers can finally breath again.

The organizers had a way to light it manually, had he missed. But he said, "No, I brought a second arrow. If the first misses, I guarantee the second will not.". There was no need for that second arrow and in 700 practice attempts over the course of several months before hand, he only missed twice. For months, once a week, he would fly from Madrid to Barcelona, to practice.

The pedestrian view of the high diving platform overlook's the city skyline below. A photographer's best dream. The motto that year was "Friends for Life". It just doesn't get any better than that, in both vision and feeling.

Bob Martin snapped a shot of Tracy Miles performing a straight back dive, off of that high dive. I think I saw it in Life magazine in 1992.

When I was in my early 30's, a next-door neighbor had a very nice in-ground pool. He was much older than I, his wife had died, and he had three daughters who would visit him from time to time, but nobody ever used his pool. He said that he maintained the pool, like his wife liked it to be maintained, when he told me I could use it anytime I wanted. I got the feeling that he liked my character, trusted I would not abuse his offer, and that it would make him feel better, if someone got some use from it. "Sure, that would be great. You sure are kind."

Not wanting to intrude on his privacy, I only used it when he wasn't home. Once I was at his pool, and a 10-year-old or so, female gymnast, aspiring to be an Olympian, came over and tried to teach me how to perform a straight back dive, off the side of the deep end of his pool. No board, just right off of the cement rim that was about at the same level as the top of the pool. I can remember her saying, "Craig, it's eeeeassssy!!! All you do is, bend your knees as much as you can, spring up as fast as you can, arch your back as much as you can, and It will naturally pull your feet way above your head. You will enter the water perfectly vertical and head first.". I think she sensed the skepticism, in the look that I gave here. Upon which, she proceeded to demonstrate a perfect looking straight back dive from pool-side. Perfect vertical entry with hardly any splash.Then while wading in the water, she urged me to give it a go. "Craig, come-on!!! it's eeeeassssy!!!".  She sure exuded a lot of confidence in me, and it started rubbing off on me. "Geeee, I don't know? Welllll?!?. That didn't look that difficult. OK, I'll give it a try.".

That was the last thing I said, before I nearly broke my back. One of the those classic, "What the hell was I thinking?", moments. Let's slow down and put it in perspective. That's the voice of someone who can perform an unassisted standing backflip off of a 4 inch (2cm) wide balance beam. And stick the landing, back on the beam, exactly where she launched from! I'm a dude who has never performed a gymnastics movement in his life. There is nothing at all that is natural about that movement. It takes a tremendous amount of spring to generate the needed hang time, a tremendous amount of back strength to generate the rotational movement, and a tremendous amount of inner core strength to pull your straight legs all of the way over your head. I was lacking in everything but guts. The only think perfect about my dive was the perfect tidal wave that it created. To my credit, I did somehow manage to get all of my body in the water. No-one was there to watch, but if they were, they surely would have been busting out laughing at me. "Here, hold my beer, and watch this !!!"

Hurt back and hurt ego. I said to her, "Thanks for the free lesson, but you are probably better suited to teaching real athletes.". To top that lesson off, as I was exiting the pool right after that miserable dive, via the pool-side ladder, I busted through the top rung, and my momentum carried me all of the way through the middle and bottom ladder rungs as well. Just another normal day, of nothing going my way. Embarrassed as well, I immediately removed the ladder, took it to a local pool shop, and had them replace the thick plastic rungs with stainless steel rungs. To this day, I always step on the side of ladder rungs nearest the rails, never in the middle.

Bob snapped a photo, just as Tracy reached the apex of her dive. Her front was facing the sky, with her back arched in a semicircle, directly over the famed Sagrada Familia (a famous Barcelona architectural landmark, created by Gaudi), as if she were a superhuman, shielding it from an Alien invasion. The quality of that photo was not great in my opinion, but it showcased the artistic supremacy of Bob, and made me a fan is his for life. If you have ever seen a high dive in person, the amount of time a diver is at the Apex, is probably around 1/1000th of a second. In fact, it happens so fast at real speed, most people don't even see it. He had to have both, the artistic vision to position himself in the perfect place to take that shot, and impeccable timing to pull it off.

Bob is from England, has photo journalized the last 15 Summer and Winter Olympics, and every top international athletic event in-between. He has been published in Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Life, and the New York Times. Bob holds the coveted National Press Photographers Association - Photo Journalist of the Year award (I think twice), and currently is a piad consultant, by the International Olympics Committee, to consult on photographic issues. I have never aspired to be a great, nor even a professional quality photographer, but I could not pass up the chance to spend a few hours listening to him talk about what he views as his greatest achievements. The equipment, the setup, the research, the day's events, the chance encounter's, what he had for breakfast. He remembers every shot, like it was yesterday.

I asked him if there was anything he missed about the photography of days long past? He said that he still misses the old school black and white film photograph's, because those are the only photos that still eclipse modern day electronics. (I agree, there isn't much better than an Ansel Adams Print. The color just gets in the way of the view.)

Do you post edit your photo's? In Commercial photography, any type of post editing is both allowed and expected, but sports photography has to be virtually as taken. The only accepted technique, is adjusting the contrast a bit. Sport's has to be true to life, to be acceptable.

Are there any great shot’s left? Sounded like he enjoys Paralympic events and athletes, and see’s that as the next level of great photography.

That experience was a special day for me.

Bob's Site

Photo Blog (click to view)

Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time,

Craig


Tags:

Sports | Travel

Germany - Nuremburg - Christmas Market

by Kimp 6. January 2018 22:10

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Welcome!!!

Christmas Market History and Tradition

Nuremburg's Christmas Market has been around since at least 1628. The oldest known documentation, is a inscription on a wooden box currently in Nurnenberg's National Museum, that was sent to the market.

It is called a traditional Christmas Market, because about 30 of 180 stalls date back to the 1800's, and they have kept the same theme. The planners also invite vendors from their 20 or so sister cities, to set up stalls at Rauthausplatz (Town Hall Square), to peddle their own traditional items. That Matryoshka doll's from Russia are pretty awesome (some have a face that looks like Madonna, and some like Betty Boop).

Zwetschgenmännle - Wireframe figures, with Prunes skewered on them, a wood head, and dressed up, are a tradition that started here in the 1800's as well. It is said to have originated from a poor man who wanted to give his children something for Christmas, but he only had some wire, and prunes from the prune tree in his yard. Today these are figurines that whimsically mimic figure's in everyday life. And they are usually sold by a dude wearing a cool looking Barviarian Farmers hat.

Lebkuchen (Gingerbread) was invented in this region in the 1400's. In the old days, it was more like cake, and was sold in commemorative tin's (easier to export and looked more exotic). It can still be purchased in tins, or as the more familiar extra large decorated cookies.

The label "Original Nuremberger Rostbratwurst (grilled sausage)" dates back to the 1500's and must be made in Nurmenberg. That label pertains to both its size and to the spices that are in it. Marjoram being the predominate flavor. In medieval times only a few butchers were allowed to make it, and they had to that take it to the "Council deputation of the butchers" for inspection before they sold it. Any sausage that didn't meet the specifications, went in the river. Today, the City Council dictate's the specifications, which include, size, meat quality, spices and meat preparation. Only medium coarse pork, no other sausage meat, and a maximium of 35% fat.

Several artisan's still make toy's by hand, and sell them here. Nothing is quite as awesome as a homemade toy, at least to many adults who only want them as decoration trinkets.

Nuremburg History

Nuremburg was on a busy trade route for goods that traversed the Holly Roman Empire. It was chosen as the place where the Imperial Diet (assembly/congress) of the Holy Roman Empire would meet to discuss issues (may have been, due to it's sort of central location within the Holly Roman Empire). As such, one of the most formidable castles and fortresses was built there.

The Holy Roman Empire did not have an established capital, the capital moved as the Holly Roman Emperor moved from castle to castle, or when a new one was coronated by the Pope. However, many Holly Romans Emperor's choose to live here, so it became the defacto capital of the Holly Roman Empire and thrived for about 800 years.

Nazi Party Rally Grounds

Nazi is the English word for the NSDA Party (National Socialist German Worker's Party). The swastika was an ancient religious icon that represents the rays from the sun, and to them was a symbol of success and good luck. The Nazi party turned it 45 degrees, tainted it, and now many people in Western civilizations, see it as a symbol of great evil.

The Nazi party Headquarters was in Munic, but when Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933, he declared Nuremberg the "City of the Reichsparteitage (Reich Party Congresses)". Drawing a parallel between the Nazi movement and Nuremberg's prominence during the Holly Roman Empire's Imperial Congress meeting place. This played well into Nazi propaganda (Make Germany the center of European political control again). 

The parts of the original architectural plan, that were was somewhat completed are:

Congress Hall (partially completed) - a U shaped building with a roof over the interior and seating for 50,000 people in the courtyard.

Zepplin Field - The large party assembly grounds, often seen in films of the time. A grand stand on one side where party leaders would give speeches, a large parade grounds in the center, and bleachers around the perimeter.

Great Road - 2 km (1.2 mi) road connecting everything, to be used as a parade road.

Deutsches Stadion (German Stadium) (only dug the foundation)  - was to be a 400,000 seat U-shaped stadium, The foundation has since filled with water and is now called Silver Lake.

The money to complete it, was diverted into funding for WW II. As soon as the war started, construction stopped. The current structures are protected as great works of architecture, of that era.

WWII
During WW-II Nuremburg was the headquarters of Wehrkresis XIII (military district 13), and the site of several vital military production facilities. Manufacturing engines for many of the military machines.

It was heavily fortified, its citizens were heavily armed, and they offered a lot of resistance.

In January of 1945, 90 percent of the old town was destroyed in about one hour of bombing. In April of 1945, 4 days of intense street-by-street and house-by-house fighting took place, as the residents were determined not to give up.
 
Nuremberg was chosen as the place to hold the WWII war crimes trials, known as the Nuremberg Trial's. It was chosen, since it was so prominent to the Nazi Party congress and the Palace of Justice there, incorporated a large prison as part of it. 24 people were tried in Nuremberg and 12 of them were sentenced to death by hanging. The American military asked for a volunteer to be the executioner, and Master Sergent John Clarence Woods raised his hand, stating that he had past experience in that field. It is suspected that he lied, since some 100's of the hanging's he performed after volunteering, were botched.

There were to be, more military tribunals in Berlin, after Nuremberg's completed, but the cold war interferred with that plan. Interest in the last war had changed to the passively fighting the current war.

Today

90 percent of the old fortress walls are still in tack. Heavily damaged (as was all of Nuremberg) during the air raid's of 1944-45, they have been rebuilt and patched. They still have much of their splendor and are very scenic.

Nuremberg castle was almost completely demolished, and it took about 30 years to rebuilt it.

Much of the old town was restored to its pre-war appearance.

Nuremberg is a prominent industrial manufacturing location. Amongst the largest are Siemen's, one of the top manufacturers of Medical equipment, and Man, manufacturing of Heavy Trucks and large Marine engines.

Nuremberg is also home to many German Market research companies and is the location of many hi-tech fair's.

Photo Blog (click to view)

Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time,

Craig

Tags:

Tradition | Travel

Italy - Venice

by Kimp 9. April 2017 01:00

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Welcome !!!

History

The main island in the Veneta Lagoon is called Venice. It was formed by an ancient river, that formed a river delta (dumped its sediment) in the lagoon. At one time, Venice would have been connected to the main land, but parts of the delta washed out, leaving it an island. Venice's Grand Canal, isn't a canal at all, it is the remains of the ancient river that flowed through it.

In 400 A.D., when the Western Roman Empire was starting to fall, the people of Northern Italy sought refuge from the barbarian's, on the Islands in the Veneta lagoon.

Over the next 50 years, they tried to go back to the mainland, but when "Attila the Hun" was on his way to take Rome, he was destroying everything in Northern Italy. Atilla failed to take Rome and left, but by that time, Venetian's had built up enough infrastructure to make Venice a nice place to live, so they stayed and other's joined them.

The Veneta Lagoon is full of a large variety of fish and lots of salt, so that became their first Industry (still thriving today).

Being avid sailors, they built a very large merchant sailing fleet, at a time when most Army's were land based, and could not easily get to them. To protect their merchant fleet from pirates and small navies, they trained all of their merchant sailors in combat.

Each time they built a large merchant vessel, they would also build a combat ship. The combat ship would sit in port during peaceful times, and during times of attack or war, half of their merchant fleet would be keep in port, and the combat ships would be manned with those merchant sailors. A formula that worked for over 800 years.

That lucrative trade business brought immense wealth to Venice that can now be enjoyed by all.

Today

In my opinion, Venice falls in the category of to much tourism for its size. The romantic feel left many years ago, and it sure isn't headed back there any time soon. If I were the Mayor of Venice, the first thing I would do is limit the number of Gondola's. The once quaint canal's, are busting at the seams. The next thing I would do is limit the number of cruise ship's that dock there. Just keep raising the fee, until the number dwindles to something that is reasonable. Venice is great in the morning and evening, when the big ship's aren't there.

Many of the building's along the Grand Canal appear to be abandoned and very run down. It's an ugly image that just keeps staying ugly. It's can't be modernized, or Venice would lose its ancient charm, but left untouched, it just keeps getting uglier.

The best part is just walking around and getting lost. That's really easy to do. There are lots of beautiful and quiet outdoor restaurant's tucked away in a corner, that only local's know about.

Walking around can get a bit tiring, because all of the foot bridges crossing the canals are arch shaped, with several steps on each side to allow the boat's to go under and the people to go over them. Riding in a boat, be it a Gondola or a private taxi is nice, but bring lots of money, they are both very, very expensive. The public transportation boats are inexpensive, but not that great of an experience. Their just isn't any middle ground experience that I could find.

Some of the canals have been filled in, to make nice pedestrian super highways. I'm indifferent about that. Convenient, but like closest space, they always fill to capacity no matter how big nor small. Nothing is really gained.

The Best Time I Had

One night, I ate in an upscale restaurant. About two waiters per table, plus a manager of a group of waiter's, and the mafia looking enforcer dude, who walks around and asks you if everything is alright. The patron's all looked like they were dressed for the Opera.

Italy has the worlds best service. Italian's take great pride in giving excellent service. So what they want is for a person to tell them exactly what they want, then they will go and do exactly that.

The first thing they do when you sit down, is to bring out an aperitif drink. An alcohol beverage that cleanse the taste buds and helps bring out the aroma in the meal. I think it was a generous portion of Brut Champagne. Usually that is not by choice, it is complimentary and customary, and sets the tone for a great dining experience.

Usually an upscale restaurant does not stock 1/2 bottles of wine, I was a little tired and did not feel like a whole bottle of wine, but at the same time I felt like I kind of needed a whole bottle of wine. It turns out that they did stock one wine, in 1/2 bottles, but when he described it to me, it didn't sound that great. So I asked the waiter what his favorite wine was. This freaked him out. He didn't know what to do. I'm supposed to tell him what I want, so he can just do that, not ask his opinion. "Sir, this 1/2 bottle is a very good wine, I assure you.". "I didn't ask if it was very good, I asked what is your favorite?".

After several minutes of me asking, and him not telling me what his favorite was, if finally said, "Dude, just bring me whichever wine is your favorite.". The table next to mine was two Russian women, dressed to the nines, thoroughly enjoying the show I was putting on. They were laughing so hard, tears were starting to show.

The waiter comes back with 5 glasses of wine. Not 5 tastings of wine, but 5 full glasses. He say's, "Here, you choose!!!" I take a sip of each and pick one (of course it was a wine that only came in a full bottle). ut I can't just leave these full glasses on the table. I stayed long enough to finish those 5 glass and the whole bottle.

I am about to leave, and the waiter brings me a complimentary after dinner liquor, designed to get rid of any after tastes. I sure didn't need that, but I drank that just to be polite. He did get an awesome tip, both for putting up with me, and for solving a very difficult service problem.

On my way out, I don't ever remember being that drunk. I had to be extra careful, not to run into someone's table.

It was really hard walking back to the hotel. It was raining and slippery. Many of these canals, don't have any guard rails, so one miss-step or slip and I would be swimming. All of those foot bridges, with the stairs up and down were a recurring struggle. Then I got hopelessly lost, and people were too scared to talk to a big drunk man. Luckily, a very brave, very petite, local women took pity on me, and helped me out. If it wasn't for her, I might have ended up sleeping outside in the cold rain.

Keeping Score

Overall I give Venice a B-, but that waiter definitely gets an A+.

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Thank you for reading,

I'll see you next time.

Craig

Tags:

Travel

Sicily - Monreale

by Kimp 16. March 2017 03:54

Welcome !!!

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History

After the Western Roman Empire, headquartered in Rome, fell in 500 A.D. Sicily became under the control of the Eastern Roman Empire, headquartered in Byzantium (Modern day Constantinople), which continued to flourish for about another 1000 years. Around 825 A.D. a new Byzantine governor of Sicily was appointed to Sicily. The new governor wanted to strengthen the Sicilian Navy and he trusted it's command to a Sicilian Admiral named Euphemius. Euphemius was a very wealthy Sicilian land owner, and he was well liked by the Sicilian Population.

Apparently Euphemius had an obsession with a young nun, and word got around that he had abducted her and forced her to marry him. Michael II, the emperor of Byzantine, ordered him to be arrested and put on trail, and if found guilty, his nose was to be cut off. Euphemius, then requested assistance from the Muslim leader Ziyadat Allah I of Ifriqiya (Modern day Tunisia). At that time, Ziyadat Allah I was upset at a local Judge, named Asad ibn al-Furat, whom often critized Ziyadat, for his luxurious and ungodly lifestyle. So Ziyadat appointed Asad, to lead the expidition over Sicily (an Army of 10,000 foot soldiers). Asad on his way to siege Syracuse, was stopped by the government of Syracus, who wanted to offer a payment to not siege Syracuse. While negotiations were taking place, the Army's advance was put on hold. In the meantime Euphemius, who would have lost out in that deal, convinced the Syracuse government not to pay them anything. A plague broke out in the Muslim camp and Asad died of plague. A new Muslim leader was appointed and the siege was started, but by that time a massive Byzantine fleet had showed up. The Army tried to retreat back to Tunisia, but the Byzantine fleet had them cut off, so they burned their ship's and marched in-land towards a city in the center if Sicily, named Castrugiuvanni (now Enna). The council of Castrugiuvanni asked to open negotiations with the Muslim's. Euphemius and this escort'showed up to negotiate on behalf of the Muslim Army. During those talks, Euphemius and his escorts were all killed. The Muslim Army sieges Castrugiuvanni and waits. In the meantime, a great Byzantine Gerneal named Theodotus and his Army was sent to Sicily. They attacked the force besieging Castrugiuvanni and were initially defeated, before mounting a counter-attack that was successful in driving the Muslim Army away.

Eventually the Muslim Army moved to the North West and was able to take the Sicilian Coastal City of Palermo where they home based, and over the course of the next 40 years, expanded their effort to take all of Sicily.

When the Muslim Army gained control of Palermo and overtook the government there, they moved the Arch Bishop of Palermo to a small nondescript chapel in Monreale.

250 years later, the Norman Knights conquered Southern Sicily, then set their sights on Sicily, and over the course of another 40 years,  managed to overtake all of Sicily. The Norman government decided not to change the Byzantine nor Muslim influences that were already in place. They incorporated positions in their government that were represented by both cultures and tried to create an integrated society that included and incorporated all three mindsets.

100 years later, King William II took the throne at the age of 11. The crown was under the guardianship of his mother until he came of age.
The adult King William II liked to party and didn't care much for the military. Instead of fighting, he stayed at home and mastered in diplomacy. The Kings palace was in Palermo, but the valley near Monreale was their favorite hunting grounds.

Cathedral Santa Maria la Nuova

As soon as his mother's guardianship was over (1172), King William II built the Cathedral at Monreale, as a testament of the splendor of his Kingdom of Italy..

The architecture includes characteristic signs of Norman, Byzantine, Muslim architecture. William hired the best Sicilian Byzantine artists to create 120 Mosaic panels inside of the cathedral, each depicting a story from the bible. Four years after the cathedral construction started, 100 Benedictine monks were relocated here and a Benedictine Monastery was added.  The cloister of the monastery is very large and consists of 106 column capitals each sculpted with a picture narrative, depicting a notable story from the bible.

Roman Cathedrals often have a cross shape in the floor plan, with the high alter positioned near the intersection of the cross and a dome high above it. Byzantine Cathedrals are kind of a hybrid between a Roman Cathedral and a mosque, without the cross floor plan and with the high alter positioned inside a nitch at one end, which is topped by a semicircular dome.

The cathedral and monastery were nearly completed in only 17 years, when construction came to a halt.

In the mid 1500's the elaborate mosaic marble floors were installed, along with marble on the lower walls. .

In 1596, the Chapel of saint Castrense, dedicated to the patron saint of Sicily, was added. By that time architectural tastes had changed and it was built in a Renaissance style that was popular at that time. A funny story, it was commissioned by Arch Bishop Ludvico, who wanted to be buried there. But he died on a visit to Rome, and was buried in Rome (Whoop's).  Below the Marble alter there, are the relics of St. Castrense, which were given to King William II.

In 1686, the Chapel of the Crucifix was added. As with the previous chapel, it was created in the popular style of that time (Baroque). It's conceptual design was articulated by Monk Giovanni di Monreale, but it built by famous Jesuit Angelo Italia, who was a very famous Sicilian Architect. This is the finest master masonry work, that I have ever seen. Words can't describe and pictures can't really capture it. This inlaid Sicilian marble work is masterpiece quality. It's simply awe inspiring. centerpiece is a crucifix, that was a gift from William II to the church, in the late 1100's when the cathedral was built.

I did not go inside of the chapel of Saint Benedict, but from the pictures I have seen of it, it looks Baroque as well and was probably built around the same time as the Chapel of the Crucifix. It has a theater like appearance and is very vibrant and colorful.

I also did not go inside of the chapel of Saint Placido (Saint Placidus was a disciple of Saint Benedict), which now houses museum quality religious art. Since he was one of Saint Benedict's students, I believe this was built much later, but from pictures it resembles the later Baroque period. The pictures I have seen of the Art there, look great, I wish I had gone to see it.  

In 1811, a fire destroyed the original carved ceiling, the organs and the high alter and severely damage several of the mosaics. They were all restored/reconstructed trying to reproduce the original. The new alter was built in Rome.

Monreale

The town of Monreale, is very warm and relaxing in appearance. The valley that the church overlook's is full of Orange, Olive, and Almond trees. A beautiful sight all by itself.

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See you next time !!!

Craig

Tags:

Travel

Germany - Esslingen - Christmas Market

by Kimp 21. December 2016 22:21

Welcome !!!

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Christmas Market History

Christmas decorations and markets started in Germany during the times of the Holy Roman Empire. The first mention of a Christmas market was in 1310 in Munich, Germany. 

They commonly go by two names; Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) or Christkindlmarkt (Christ Child Market). 

They consist of open air stalls for vendors selling local items in the town square, and feature festival food, Gluehwine (hot spiced wine), local traditional song and dance, elaborate Christmas decorations, and sometimes a live nativity. 

They are usually kicked off by an opening ceremony that centers around an angel like woman figure(which  probably represents the angel Gabriel, who told the virgin Mary that she would bring Jesus into the world), and lasts for the entire advent season (4 weeks, starting at the end of November) and go up until at least the day before Christmas Eve. Some are also open on Christmas. A few carry the festival for a week after Christmas, but usually that isn't considered part of the Christmas Market, it's just some additional activities that people who were busy for all of advent, can kick back and partake in.

Esslingen Christmas Market

With lots of competition, some Christmas Markets have created a unique brand to set their experience apart from the others. Esslingen is one of those. It is a Renaissance/Medieval market, with several artisan's, hand crafted items, and a more artistic experience.  It's my personal favorite.

Off Market 

Strasbourg France is experimenting with a new concept called the Off-Noel Market or Off-Market for short. They still have their traditional Christmas Market, but in Place Grimmeissen. It is kind of an alternative adult minded market, where you can enjoy live music, adult story telling, DIY Workshops, tasting session, afterwork drinks, conferences and topical discussions. Kind of a place to unwind that is a little more intellectual and a little less Christmasy.

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Thank you for Reading,

Craig

Tags:

Travel

Germany - Tubingen - Chocolate Festival

by Kimp 15. December 2016 13:25

Welcome !!!

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Sorry for the lack of and low quality of the photos. There were just too many people and not enough light to make any of them work very well. Too difficult to get any head-on photos and even the distant photos seem crowded. I found it best just to holster the camera and savor the experience without it.

Every year Tubingen is host to the world's most prestigious Chocolate Festival. ChocolArt, which will see master chocolatiers from five continents, competing for the title of the best cocoa-based products. More than 200 thousand visitors of ChocolArt judge the artworks prepared during the festival. About a hundred chocolatiers from Africa, South and North America, Europe, Asia meet here to put on live performances and showcase of their talents.

One of the products I tried was chocolate beer. A novelty item that will probably not be sampled by me again. Other than that, everything got an A+ on my rating system.

Tubingen History

In 1261, Pope Alexander IV, created an Augustinian Monastery here. A Latin school was founded in 1370. In those days all papal and medical books were written in Latin. The Canon of Medicine was written in 1000 in Persia and remained a medical authority for eight centuries. It set the standards for medicine in Medieval Europe and the Islamic world, and was used as a standard medical textbook through the 18th century in Europe.

This lead to the founding of St George's Collegiate Church in 1470. A collegiate church is a church were the pastoral body is made up of a group of people, as opposed to just one person, usually overseen by a Provost (person in charge of education). In 1477 a University was founded here, which quickly became the most prestigious Theological University in the Holy Roman Empire.

Martin Luther started the most prominent push towards Protestantism in 1517. St. George's Collegiate Church was one of the first churches to convert to Protestantism and in 1535 the Augustinian Monastery was converted into a seminary which served to prepare the first protestant pastor's for duty. These early reformation leaders were very highly educated people.

in 1620 the Protestant Union signed a treaty with the Catholic Counter-Reformation leaders to no longer militarily support protestants in Bohemia, in exchange for peace in the rest of the Protestant Union. However, this also lead to the dissolution of the Protestant union in 1621 since the Protestant Union's leader was the King of Bohemia and he had to seek asylum in the Netherlands. In 1622 the Catholic League occupied Tubingen which was on the Southern Boarder of the old Protestant Union. That lasted until 1638 when Swedish troops conquered Tubingen and returned it to protestantism. 

Tubingen Today

Boasts both the youngest population average and the highest standard of living in Germany. University is the dominant industry here.  With a student population of 22,000, one in three residents is a university student. The high standard of living comes from the building of a people friendly infrastructure, which includes well designed and integrated bike paths, incorporation with nature, good public transportation, and cafes and pubs filled with intellectual and stimulating conversation.

On the side of relaxation and romance, are the punt (Stocherkahn) boats in the Neckar river that circle the forested island that divides the Neckar, near the old town. A punt boat, is a small flat bottom raft, with a square front, what is powered and steered by a punter (a person with a long pole, who jambs it in the mud and pushes it in the desired direction).

The university is one of the leading medical and chemical research universities in Europe (with several Nobel prize winning Laureates), as well as one of the leading theology universities. They are the creators and maintainers of the German Language, like it or hate it, and are almost always recognized as the leader in German Studies (German History, Language, and Culture).

Thank you for reading.

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I'll see you next time.

Craig

Tags:

Travel

France - Capbreton

by Kimp 10. December 2016 11:31

Welcome !!!

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Short old dude walking slowly down the boardwalk, wearing a beret, stopping occasionally to take a bite out of a fresh baguette that he just bought at the bakery. Check! Overweight old dude wading in ankle deep water wearing nothing but a speedo. Check! Women who are saving money by only buying bikini bottoms, occasionally ask me to take a picture of them and their friends, using their camera. Check! Yep, I must in France. One of these days, I am going to swap their camera for mine (Gee I know that dude took several pictures of us. He was even posing us! I wonder where those pictures are?).

The reason we see so many men in speedo's in France, is because French public pools do not allow any other attire to be worn in their pools. So that is all they buy, and all are comfortable wearing the same thing in the Ocean. It has to do with personal hygiene. The French do not allow anything to be worn in a pool that could have been worn as general attire before or outside of the pool area. Nobody would wear a speedo outside of the pool area, so it fits the bill. They do not want any dirt or contaminates to be washed off in the water, so if they let someone in the pool who was wearing fashionable swim shorts, they run that risk.

My History

I have never been a surfer myself, but my best friend from the Navy, Paul, moved to Oceanside California after he got out of the Navy and took up surfing as a hobby. Oceanside is a perfect location, about mid-way between San Diego and Los Angles. Every day has a high of about 80 degrees and a low of about 60 degrees. Some cheap type of heating is needed for some of the cooler nights, but no air conditioning is needed, because there is always a cool breeze blowing in from the ocean.

The Pacific Coast is much cooler than the Atlantic coast. The water on North America's West coast flows down from the Arctic, and the water on North America's East coast flows up from the tropics. Surfing in Southern California, often requires some type of wet suit to stay warm.

Paul always seemed to maintain a fairly simple and high quality of life on a tight budget. His surf mainstay was the popular San Onofre beach location, that draws 400,000 surfers per year, but he often traveled to the bluff's in Baja and the big waves in Oahu and Kauai. He was big in pre-computerized social media, maintaining a free surf paper that he published, about what was going on and where, what he had done, and where he was headed next. Surf comics and all. My favorite part of my post Navy time with Paul, was the hammock on his covered side patio in Oceanside, that was perfect for napping in the middle of the day. Then there were the Eddie Money concerts on the beach there, and a bachelor party on the bluffs in Baja that Paul and I were invited to, that were special in their own way too. 

Surf Slang

Boardshorts - a special type of shorts that surfers wear. They usually only have one pocket (a single back pocket with a flap), are straight legged, are worn mildly tight and have some type of built in belt or pull tie.

Hodad - A person who doesn't really surf, but pretends to, and hangs around great surfing places.

Kook - Person who wants to be a surfer, but has been trying for a long time and still has limited skill.

Grom - a surfer under the age of 16.

Front side - Surfing with your front facing the wave.

Back side - Surfing with your back facing the wave.

Natural foot - When the right foot is farthest back on the board.

Cross step - Crossing one foot over the other to move up on the board.

Gas chamber - being inside of the tunnel on a breaking wave.

Switch back - Surfing a figure 8 on the front of the wave.

Reentry - Hitting the top lip of the wave with the board vertical, then reentering the wave on the drop.

Aerial - What makes the crowd go Ohhh - Ahhh. Riding up the wave until airborne, then turning and landing right on the break.

Stall - Riding very far back on the board and putting a hand in the wave to slow down and stay in the pocket.

Floater - Riding on the very top of the wave, then eventually turning down.

Wave Breaks

There are several different conditions that cause a wave to break. Most common are underwater obstructions, such as coral or the peak of a large underwater rock. Consistent Beach Breaks are fairly rare, that is when the water over the shallow water in a beach. It takes a lot of water power to cause a beach break.

Hossegor

Every October, Hurricane's stir up the Atlantic Ocean in about the same location, about 100 miles off the coast of France. The water transfer's that energy all of the way to Hossegor.

Hossegor beach is considered the worlds best Beach Break, with waves of up to 20 feet. These vary from day to day. 10 feet is considered good at Hossegor. Not sure, but I think they still compete if the waves are 6-8 feet high. Every morning an official observes the wave action to determine if they are going to compete that day and exactly where the surf lane will be. The surf lane is marked by large black and white floating cubes anchored to the bottom so they don't move. Hossegor is a beautiful location, and some professional surfer's choose this as their permanent home.

This WSL event held here every year and is prefixed with the sponsors names. Quicksilver Pro 2015 was the one that I was at.

World Surf League Rules

To get the most out of watching it is handy to know a little bit about the competition. WSL is one of the surf leagues, they have their own rules and for the most part are fairly simple.

There several tours each with a qualifying series to get into the tour:

1. Championship Tour (CT) - A tour consisting of all wave types. 

2. Big Wave Tour (BWT) - A tour where the waves are a minimum of 30 feet high (typically greater than 50 feet).

3. Longboard Tour (LT) - Longboards are more stable and easier to maneuver, but are also slower to maneuver and slower to pick up speed. Therefore, they are on a separate tour schedule. More grace, but less excitement in my opinion.

Contestants - consist of the top 36 male surfers and top 18 female surfers of the current year.

Tour - A tour is made up of several events (usually 10 or 11) that are spread out throughout the surf year (March - December). Mens events are in different location's then the Womens events are (They have separate schedules). Not every location on a given tour is surfed every year, some locations are changed from year to year, but are always announced before the surf year starts.

Event - Each event is split up in to many rounds and can last several weeks in length.

Ranking - Each event awards a number of points based on the surfers position in that event (10,000 for 1st, 8,000 for second, etc). Those event points are added together to create an overall tour ranking for each surfer.

Round/Heat - Each round consist of grouping of surfers (2-4), called heats, that all surf at the same time. The winner of a heat advances one or two rounds ahead, and the losers battle it out in each round until eliminated. In the later rounds, it is single elimination, with only the winner advancing, until one surfer is left.

Scoring - The max score for a single wave is 10. There are 5 judges, the highest and lowest scorers are thrown out and the middle three are averaged together. The score from the top two waves of a heat are the only ones kept, and they are added together for a maximum heat score of 20.

Interference - On any given wave, only one surfer in the water has priority. If they stand up on a wave, the others must abort and get out of their way. The priority position changes when the priority person stands up on a wave. The penalty for interference of priority, is that surfer only gets to count one wave in that heat, which most certainly will result in a lose for that heat.

Photo Blog (Click to view)

Thank you for reading,

I'll see you next time.

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Travel

Germany - Bad Durkheim

by Kimp 20. November 2016 01:57

Welcome.

Photo Blog (Click to view)

Bad Durkheim Germany

The Durkheimer Wurstmarkt (Sausage Market) is Europe’s largest wine festival, accommodating about about 600,000 people each year.

This is where wine meets relaxation and great times. The standard size glass at most wine festivals is 250 ml (1/3 of a bottle), here it is 500 ml (2/3 of a bottle). This isn’t cheap low grade box wine, it is of the highest quality, and is poured straight from the bottle that was vinted in.

It is held in the spa town of Bad Durkheim, which is in the Rhineland-Palatinate region in Western Germany, near the Rhine River which is known for producing some of the world’s greatest wines. All of the area around the town, is vineyard. It looks like a town sprouted in the middle of a massive vineyard.     

The first one was held in 1417, and it has continued every year since, this being the 600th festival. I think the reason, is that there this is a very popular spa which has a very large paved parking lot.  A perfect place that can accommodate lots of rides and booths.  Not to mention the park like atmosphere in all areas near the spa, and the quaint town that it spills into. The festival booths continue to spill into several of the town’s streets, making it seem very comfy. Topping all of that off, with many great local restaurant’s, in support of the year around spa atmosphere.

The German health care system has identified a human syndrome that they call, “Burn out Syndrome”. It is recognized as by their health care professionals, and a person exhibiting its symptoms, is given a doctor’s prescription, to live at a spa until it has been treated. The normal amount of recovery time is a few months, but I have heard of people who have taken two years to recover from “Burn out Syndrome”.

The Roman’s may have invented spa’s, but the Germans have perfected them. They can be found all over Germany, some being the main feature of a town and some blending in with a larger city.

Vintner’s villa

I stayed at vintners villa about 2 miles across the vineyard’s from the festival. It was a long, but beautiful walk through the vineyards, and well worth the effort. Beautiful and peaceful. Like going back to a time before automobiles and heavy machinery. They gave me a cold-cut meat, cheese, and fresh bread platter, that perfectly complimented their wine. I felt at home with a large family there, just hanging out and lounging, most of the time.

All of Germany has an open land culture. So long as a person respect the owner’s property that they are on, nobody cares that we are on it, nor what you are doing on it.  I have never seen a “no trespassing” sign’s nor a locked fence around any property in Germany. Several people bring their small trailers and mobile homes, and park them overnight for free, on the small roads that are in the vineyards. Same with automobiles.

Broomstick Restaurants

Besenwirtschaft  (Broom pub) is the German Name for one of the finest traditional German experiences, that I have taken part in. They can only be found in the wine growing region of Germany.

 Around 1400, German laws allowed winemaker’s to sell their own wine, tax free, during early Spring and Harvest, for only a short period of time, in limited quantities, to individuals. Like two weeks, twice a year. This was to allow the small winemakers a chance to earn a meager living and stay in business. That tradition is still alive today.

They are usually only open for a few weeks out of the year, but some are open for a bit longer, usually at the very beginning and very end of wine season. You know you are at a Besenwirtschaft, when you see an old witches broom hung above the sign or next to the front door. Often times, it is in the proprietors own house. But could also be an event room on a farm or even a small restaurant.

They remove the furniture from their living room and put up makeshift tables, to accommodate as many people as they can. They serve homemade food that that goes great with wine, and their finest wine vinted the year before (It takes an entire year to make wine, starting with the picking of the grapes).

Usually the food options are minimal, but I can assure you, that if you like homemade sausage, cheese, homemade noodles, and fresh German salad, that is probably one of the standard options. Whatever is on the menu, will taste great with their wine. These are very proud small winemakers, carrying on their family business.

For me, I have to make sure I’m not going to spill any wine, and ask them to kindly move any family heirloom items away from my general area, cause my body is big and is not always fully under my control. 

It is very easy to order the wine. Just ask for either red, rose, or white. They are only likely to have one or maybe two varieties of each of those types. It will come is a viertele , which is a 250 ml (1/3 bottle) clear glass cup, with a green handle. Usually with some type of grape decoration on it. Not sure, but maybe that is to disguise it, like during the prohibition. It is probably, cause it is harder to spill in that type of glass.

They don’t advertise much, because they don’t need too, but there are many, many Besenwirtshaft’s in the wine regions of Germany. You just need to train your eye to look for the broomsticks. That is one fine piece of German Culture,  that can only be found in Germany.

My History

I grew up near the wine making region of Ohio. There are some great Ohio wines vented near Lake Erie. I owned a home two miles from Lake Erie for several years, and my grandfather used to visit me every year at grape picking time.

A women who owned a vineyard a few miles from my house would call me when it was the perfect time to pick the grapes. She sold all of her product to a large company, so she did not make any wine herself. The company would send a person to the vineyard to test the sugar content in her grapes, then schedule the picking time around their test results and their knowledge, showed that their sugar content was at a peak. She would call me, and my grandfather and I would get there a few days ahead of them, to pick enough to make about 10 gallons of wine (5 gallons each).

The process is very simple and inexpensive, but a bit time consuming and takes a lot of attention to detail. Basically, the only difference between Red, Rose, and White is the type of grape. Red wine has an initial two week fermentation with the skins, Rose is red but fermented without the skins, and white is always fermented without the skins.

The chemical process is all natural. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and produces alcohol and carbon dioxide as a by-product. When a wine is very dry (no sugar taste), it started with about 25% sugar or less. 25% sugar produces 12.5% alcohol (which would be 25 proof. Proof is the starting sugar content). It is difficult to get wine with an alcohol content higher than that, because the alcohol eventually kills the yeast that is making it. It takes a special kind of yeast to get a higher alcohol content. Less sugar, means less alcohol, but will also be dry. More sugar, makes a sweet wine, or sometimes another fruit juice is added that has higher sugar in it.

Grapes have yeast on the outside of the skins naturally, but to ensure a good product, start with the best wine yeast.

The grapes are crushed and the seeds are always removed before fermentation. Deseeding the grapes is the most manual, boring, and time consuming process. A single seed will ruin the wine.

Not all grapes, make good wine. Another chemical that is natural in grapes is called tannin. Too much tannin, gives the wine a bitter and acidy taste. Some tannin is good, but not too much. There is a chemistry method to test tannin content, and it can be adjusted slightly if needed, but the best wine starts from the perfect grape. Concord grapes make the best table grapes, but the worst wine. Start with a good wine grape.

The only other piece of knowledge needed it the exact sugar content. That can easily be measure with a specific gravity meter. The more sugar in the juice the higher the bobber will rise in the glass, because the sugar increases buoyancy. That is just need to determine how dry the wine is going to be, and it’s final alcohol percentage.

The making is easy after the prep. The initial fermentation is in open air, and lasts about three to five days.  After that, the skins (if the skins were left in) will have floated to the top. The wine is siphoned from the open container, into a large container (I use glass, but wine producers probably use barrels). The juice must fill the container to the top, because after this, air spoils wine and turns it into vinegar. Air contains living micro-organisms that will spoil the wine (before this, there is enough carbon dioxide exiting to keep air from entering). A simple device called a bubbler is used to stop the top of the container. It allows the carbon dioxide to escape without letting any air inside. A few weeks to a month later (when the bubbling is nearly gone in the bubbler), it is bottled (sooner if a sparkling wine is desired), corked, and stored for the remainder of a year. This is also done via siphon, since the yeast will be at the bottom of the container. Sulfites are always added as a preservative for long periods of storage.

The ideal conditions for wine making and storage is about 55 F and slightly moist. That keeps bad aromas and flavors from effecting the wine. The moister, is so the cork does not dry out. Wine is usually also stored on a rack, at a position that keeps the cork moist with wine as a precautionary measure, but that is not really a requirement. The requirement is that the cork not be allowed to dry out, allowing air to enter it.  

Learning German

I have been slowly learning Deutsch (German). Many of the words are derived from English and are similar, but there are a several unique words as well.

The most difficult is that the article “The” has three different conjugations. There is a masculine version, a feminine version and a neutral version. What confuses most people is that they tend to think that masculine or feminine has to do with the word that it accompanies. Like, one would think that a Bikini is feminine, and not masculine at all. It is because the word Bikini has a very masculine sound to it, so the “the” that goes with “the Bikini”, is the masculine sounding,  “Der Bikini”, instead of the feminine sounding “Die Bikini”. If the word Bikini had a soft sound to it, then it would use the feminine “the”. Once I figured that out, it all started to make sense.

Their use of plurals is more difficult in my opinion, but that starts to make sense after a while, as well. It is the ending of the word that gives it a masculine or feminine sound, and often times the plural ending changes it from a masculine to feminine sound, so the article changes as well. Plurals almost always sound feminine. Like Der Student (very masculine sound), becomes Die Studenten (a much softer feminine sound). The plurals have one of the following endings e, en, n, er, r, s or the exact same word, but with the article changed to feminine (just to follow the pattern, I am sure).

Also, most people pronounce German in very staccato manner, but there are parts of Germany, where a more legato and softer approach is used. There are people who speak it in a very soft sensual manner, and make it sound beautiful. In fact there is one women who speaks it soft enough to make my heart go pitter patter even when I don't understand what she is saying, and I call her buttercup. Well, maybe that isn’t completely due to the language.  

In any event, I have a long way to go, but am feeling more comfortable every day. I know if I learn it too good, that will be the last day I spend in Germany, so I’m not working that hard at it. It might have something to do with the eye contact.

German language also has a formal version and an informal version. The formal is what is taught and the informal is what is usually spoken among friends.

German culture never small talks. They just speak frankly. Like, they would never talk about nothing for several minutes just to butter someone up and then ask to borrow their truck for a move next weekend. They would just ask to borrow the truck, right up front. In American culture, if you don’t small talk up front, you are perceived as insensitive. So that is a shift as well.

Cake and Coffee German Tradition

All German’s traditionally have cake and coffee at 1500 (3:00 P.M.). Not 5 minutes till 3, nor 5 minutes after 3, but at 3 exactly. That’s one break that is a constant throughout Germany. Everyone takes the same break and the Café’s fill up. Most German cakes are a little dry, not very sweet, and are meant to be consumed with coffee. I happen to like that, but some people don’t. Like any food product, a person has to know what it goes best with, to get the most out of it.

Fest

This wine fest has all of the tell tale sign’s of German Ocktober Fest. Tents and all, except the beer has been exchanged for wine. It has great time written all over it.

Some of the tables are probably reserved at night time, but it is mostly wide open during the day, so I stopped in the largest tent to sip on a 500 ml glass of white wine and take in the festivities. The day time has many of the same activities as night, except it is light out and the crowd is sparse.  However, the die-hards, come early, in order to stake out a great table, for the whole day, including the night.

I was not planning on staying too long. Just an hour or so.

Several tables in front was an entire table of German’s, obviously an entire family and friends, and one caught my eye right away. A women, probably in her 40’s or maybe 50’s. She is was what a Norwegian friend of mine calls, “butter face”. Meaning everything but her face looks like she is in her twenties. She was wearing “DameHosen”. 

DameHosen are the buck shin short’s with Bavarian suspenders. The female shaped version of LederHosen. Very few German woman can rock that look. Most German women are tall and have chicken legs, which do not look good in that attire. It takes a women with Tina Turner legs to rock DameHosen. The blouse is usually the traditional women’s dirndl blouse. The Authentic look is with off-white socks that end just below the knee, and low heeled shoes. The Americanized version is leather hot pant’s, with white thigh stockings and stiletto’s (we won’t see those in conservative Germany, and to be honest, I favor the more conservative look anyway).

With them, was a dude who strongly resembled Willie Nelson (American country music star, now in his 70’s). Tall, slender, old dude, with long white hair, a great smile and the appearance of being three sheets to the wind at around 12 noon. German’s do not like drunken people, so they were more or less just ignoring him, but hey, he’s part of the family, so it’s cool having him around anyway.

There came a time when Willie was looking around the room and he set his sights on me. He see’s someone sitting alone, smiling, appearing to have a great time, and sipping on a large glass of wine. He is probably thinking, gee that looks like someone in need of a friend, and I could use a friend too. So he comes over and I think he was trying to bum a cigarette. Maybe to strike of a conversation, or maybe he was out of money and desperate.

So I gave a sympathetic look, shrugged my shoulders, and said “Kein Rauchen”

(no smokes)

“Ich lernt Deutsch. Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut!

(I’m learning German. My German is not good.)

Willie moved in a little, put an arm around me and smiled. We stood there for a few seconds as I was looking for something simple to say. I muttered “Sind ie mit Drei Kase hoch?” as I motioned in the direction of timeless beauty.

(“Are you with three cheese high?”, Three cheese high is a derogatory German phrase for a short person. Something that a person would only say in a kidding manner, while smiling sincerely.).

Willie smiles bigger, turns and heads back to his table, then with his back to me, he motions for me to follow him back to his table. Willie knows why I’m asking. This is part of the international subliminal dude language, that doesn’t need any translation.

I hesitated slightly, then found the courage to pick up my glass and join him, at the end of their table. Me and Willie are each living in our own world’s, where everyone likes us, and everyone one else at that table is pretty much ignoring us.  

Willie told me her name was Ulrike, which at the time I could not even come close to pronouncing. German r’s are rolled, which throws off my speech rhythm. Ulrike is the female version of Ulrich which means ‘Smart and Powerful’.  To me, she exuded both of those qualities, so she was named appropriately. Wille and I were talking a little, so I think they figured out that Willie had found a friend and invited him over.

Eventually, the mighty one turns to me and says, “Wer bist du?”

(The informal version on “Who are you?”)

I immediately came back with:

“Ich lernt Deutsch. Mein Deutsch ist nicht gut! Ich bin die Party-Maus. Ich koche Kirschkuchen in der Kirche Küche. Du bist schon Buttercup. Wir Machen spass!!! Morgen die Katzenjammer.”

(“I am learning German. My German is not good! I am the Party Mouse. I cook cherry cake in the church kitchen. You are beautiful buttercup. Together, we make fun!!!” Tomorrow morning the cats wailing.)

German sentences are ultra simple, frank, and to the point. She probably thought that the buttercup reference, was about the flower that makes peoples skin glow. The early spring flower that fills a spring meadow and looks great against the tall green grass and a women in a white spring dress nestled among them.

Really it was a reference to the cartoon character Buttercup in the Power Puff Girls. The Power Puff Girls was an American carton in the 90’s representing three sides of most women. Bubbles was the sensitive one, who always looked at the positive side of things, Buttercup was the tom-boy who always wanted to use power to solve all of the problems, and Blossom was the mastermind, who got between the two opposing forces and manipulated them into a happy medium.

I cook cherry cake in the church kitchen, is a German phrase to practice while learning German. It has all of the difficult and confusing K sounding German words in it. Kirsch is cherry, Kirche is church, Küche is kitchen, and  Kuchen is cake. These are really easy to mix up. The look of the bakery person when I order ‘kichen church‘ is really puzzling to them. What do you mean you don’t know what cherry cake is?

Cats wailing is the German phrase for hangover.

I got a slightly delayed smile, so I guess that meant approval. Maybe or maybe not, but that was the best I could come up with.

German’s never small talk and they always wait for the person carrying the conversation to ask them a question before talking, which signals the transfer of the conversation onto them. Unfortunately I could not think of any simple question to ask, with my limited vocabulary. So I just picked up my glass and said “Prost” (Cheers). Her body language sent me a sign of approval.

A while later buttercup was collecting two Euro’s from everyone. I didn’t have a clue what for, but if that is what Buttercup wants, sure I’m fine with that.

She gives the total, about 50 Euro’s to the table service dude, and he brings back a huge hand written reserviert (reserved) sign and puts it on our table. Then we all head out of the tent. The mystery destination was a restaurant that must have been a fairly popular place, cause there was a long line outside.

Buttercup then asked everyone for two more Euro’s. Sure.

German lines are unlike anywhere else in the world. They don’t line up in a straight line. It is a method that I call “Crowd the counter technique.”, meaning that they just kind of stand around and take up all available space. If you are Closter phobic, or you need personal space, Germany is not the place for you.

Buttercup sees my hesitation, then grabs me by the hand and starts pulling me behind her, attacking the mass of people blocking our way.  She is like a broken record saying “Entschuldigung! Entschuldigung! Entschuldigung!”, which means Sorry or Excuse me. Fine for her, cause she is like 5 foot tall, with tiny feet, maybe a 120 pounds wet, and good looking. I am just trying to go slow, to make sure I don’t crush someone’s feet, and leaving a little time for people to open a hole big enough to get my ugly body in. She is yanking my arm out of the socket the whole way. I finally figure out that she wanted me right behind her to open a big enough hole for everyone else to slither in behind.

These people are looking a little upset, but no one is saying anything. So we get inside, she hands the 50 Euro’s in coins to the waiter, and I think she said, “Here is your tip. Where are our tables?”, on account of he sat us right down and we had quick service after that.

After we sit down, she turns to me and says in decent English. “I am surprised none said a word to us on the way in. I know, if I was waiting in that line, and someone did that to me, I would have had lots of words to say.”.  Somehow I don’t have any problem believing that. Maybe that is why she wanted some big dumb looking dude with her the whole way.

We eat, pay the bill, and head back to our table at the tent. The sun sets, and the big party is on. It had all of the characters and sounds of an authentic German Oktoberfest.

Six more hours of great time and it is still going strong, but Craig was up late the night before, he has a two mile walk up hill to get back to the villa and is beat.

I tell buttercup and Willie:

Tschüss! Die Party ist vorbei für Craig.“

(Bye, the party is over for Craig.)

And hit the road on foot.

Heino (Hi-No)

Heino, was Germany’s top pop star in the 70’s. He had a beautiful baritone voice, and he took old German folk songs and made pop versions of them. A massive hit in Germany. He had very full white hair and an eye condition that required him to always wear sun glasses. People thought he was albino which added to his mystical look. He was quite the ladie’s man, and I have often wondered if Mike Myer’s Austin borrowed part of the Heino mystic for his Austin Power’s character.

Heino performing a medley of his hits from the 70’s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqvtLoKzP2c

Usually there is a paid actor character, at the Oktoberfest who jumps up  on a table, sings a song, and kind of flirts with the Lady’s, that I call Heino. Not sure if that is who they are modeling their character on, but it is definitely a 70’s look that they have, and they are definitely singing and attempting to flirt.

His stage name comes from his sister Hannelore's difficulty pronouncing his given name "Heinz Georg".

 

In February 2013, Heino released a new album, called "Mit freundlichen Grüssen" (A standard letter closing meaning, Sincerely Yours, or with best regards), which topped the German album charts. It is cover versions of pop, hip-hop and rock songes, and at 80 something, Heino is on the cover wearing some getto bling.

 

Songs

Besides the traditional German songs, there are some American songs that are very popular at Oktober fest. Any song that is easy listening, would not be offensive to anyone, and has that feel good vibe to it, is very popular.  Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” is at the top of that list. Everyone, from every country in the world, knows every single word, and they all sing it as loudly as they can. There are times when it is so loud, you can’t even hear the band anymore. In fact, I think if the band stopped playing, the people would just keep on singing and not even notice that they band wasn’t playing anymore.

In 1976, a British band named ‘Smokie’, came out with a song called, “Living next door to Alice.”. It is about a dude who grew up next to a girl named Alice. He had a huge crush on her for the last 24 years, but never told her (the line in the song is something like, “for 24 years, gee, I wish I had the chance”). One day Sally calls him and ask’s if he heard about Alice. He looks out his window, a Limousine pulls into her drive, she gets in, and he never see’s her again. The rest of the song is about him being bummed out, cause he never told Alice that he loved her, but then Sally tells him that she loves him and was just waiting until Alice was out of the picture before telling him. However, he is still bummed out about Alice leaving.  The song and the melody have that easy listening, Partridge Family type vibe to it, but more of a somber feel to the melody. In 1995, the Dutch band  “Gompie” remade that song and added a large group of people yelling, “Allice? Who the fuck is Alice.”, in a convenient break in the song. It was a massive hit in Germany, and today whenever that song is played, the entire German population from 2 to 92 all yell, “Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?”.  It’s a huge hit at any family gathering in Germany.

Original version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6qnRS36EgE

Another crowd favorite came out in 1957.

Ein Prosit, ein Prosit                (A Toast, A Toast)
Der Gemütlichkeit                    (To feeling comfortable and at peace)
Ein Prosit, ein Prosit                (A Toast, A Toast) 
Der Gemütlichkeit                    (To feeling comfortable and at peace)

Eins, Zwei, Drei, G’Suffa!        (One, Two, Three, Drink Up!)

 

This is often follow by one of the following call and responses:

Call->  Prost ihr Säcke!"          (Cheers you prick’s)

Response -> Prost du Sack!    (Cheers you prick!)

 

Or an old military call and response:

Call-> Zicke zacke, zicke zacke (Military meaning ‘He who eats the cow, shits the cow!’)

Response -> hoi hoi hoi!         (Hey, Hey, Hey!, or I agree wholeheartedly)

 

Cheers !!!

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Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time.

Craig

 

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Travel

Scotland - Edinburgh Military Tatto

by Kimp 14. October 2016 04:30

Welcome !!!

This entry was from my visit in 2014.

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Tattoo was the name of the military bugle call, used to signal the bartender's, to stop serving to Military members and to send them back to the base. Kind of a Military curfew. Today it's an elaborate show, involving theatrics and musical performances. 

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was started in 1950 and has been an annual event ever since, featuring about 10 military bands from different parts of the world, dancers, light shows, narration, military in action, fireworks, and lots of smiles.

The performance takes place on the castle esplanade, rain or shine, every weekday evening, and twice on Saturdays throughout the month of August.  

Besides the great music and professional bands, one if the nicest treats is that they show usually incorporates cultural dances from different countries that are in the tattoo.

Each year commemorates a particular organisation, anniversary, theme or event. The theme for 2014 was "Our Home, Friends and Family.". It portrays a going away party for military members, several different countries the military members visited while away, then the homecoming. 

Over 1,000 performers, 35 Zulu warrior's, 40 fiddlers, 45 steel drummers, and a multitude of UK Commandos. 

The level of professionalism in each act and dance was top shelf. Very impressive. There was a display of the UK's commando's with some pyrotechnics in the middle, and ample fireworks towards the end, capped off with a parade down the Royal Mile.

This show is televised to about 100 million viewers, but I was glad to be in attendance. Even if it was very cold. A Scotland Evening in August gets a bit brisk, and while it threatened rain, the rain held off. I was told, that usually isn't the case. Dress warm and bring a decent rain poncho (Rapmac in UK lingo), as umbrella's are not allowed.

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Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time.

Craig

Tags:

Travel