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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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Travel

Sweden - Stockholm

by Kimp 29. September 2016 18:41

Welcome !!!

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Stockholm Fashion Week
Stockholm has two fashion weeks, one in the Spring and one in the Fall.

Their shows are considered the leading shows for Northern European fashion, showcasing clothes and trends that look great in cooler climates. Most of the events are in the heart of the city, located around Berns Salonger (1800’s restaurant and entertainment venue inside Berzelli Park) and Kulthuhuet Stadsteatern (Arts and Culture Center).

My favorite designer this year was the “House of Dagmar”. A fairly recent design firm founded by three Stockholm sisters, Karin Söderlind, Kristina Tjäder and Sofia Wallenstam. Dagmar was the name of their late Grandmother, who inspired them. They have solid roots in the Swedish Fashion Industry. Their designs are unconventional and focus on feminine sensuality and confidence. I can kind of see a modern interpretation of Grandma’s roaring 20’s, in some of their designs, which is attractive, sophisticated, and playful looking to me. Plus the sisters are all easy on the eyes.

They host one of the events at their house, it’s by invitation only and I didn’t rate (I’m probably about a thousand pages below the bottom of that short list), but if I had, I would have been the first one there, and would have been looking dapper. Black and white shined wing-tip shoes, wide collared white shirt, vest, 3/4 length coat, bowler, cane and all. Looking like a modern day Great Gatsby, arriving in a chauffeur driven 1920’s Mercedes’s Benz Limo. That’s actually a look I can pull off.

I stayed at the Grand Hotel Stockholm, within easy walking distance of either venue.  That’s the big name dropper 5 star Hotel, right on the water. Just across the water from the Grand Hotel, is the Kings Palace, which is on Gamla Stan Island (the old town city center). That wasn’t by design, what happened, was that I forgot to make a hotel reservation.

Many of the events that I go to, are planned and reserved 6 months to a year in advance. I almost always book everything at the same time. As I was assembling the travel documents a week ahead of my visit, I noticed I had forgotten to book a hotel.  When I looked, every hotel in Stockholm was booked solid except for that the Grand Hotel and one of their 5 star competitors. Wow, I really did not want to pay the price of admission for either of those.

So I did what any prudent person in that situation would have done. I social engineered the big name establishment. High end hotels are often overpriced and have lots of barter room. It’s very close to a big planned event, that most people book way in advance, and if they don’t move a room right now, they are unlikely to fill it. Better to lose a little money on a room then to lose all of it.

I called the front desk and told them that their competitor was offering me a room at a price I made up, which was way below what they were asking for their room.  Then told them that I really, really wanted to stay at their hotel, but since the price was so much lower at their competitors, I would probably have to take the other offer. I figured they would counter at some higher price, but the dude says, “Yes sir, Mr. Kimpel, let me see what I can do.”.  Clickety clack, clack, clack, Clickety clack, clack, clack, Clickety clack, clack, clack. “Yes Sir Mr. Kimpel, if you book now, we can give you a room here at that price.”. “Sweet, lets book it.”. The only thing better than a counter offer is an acceptance of my low bid.

It was pouring down rain when I arrived in Stockholm and I was going to have to wait a long time on Public Transportation, so I decided to walk to the hotel, but I under estimated the distance it is was a much longer walk than I had expected. By the time I got the Grand Hotel my pants where drenched from the knees down, and my jacket was quite wet as well, even though I had an umbrella.
 
I go through the Hotel door and see that the entire entry way, all of the lobby and all standing room in between are jam packed with dudes in tuxedo’s and models wearing long evening gowns and lots of jewelry. I looked like I had been out fishing all day, and had just rowed up the hotel in my row boat, after being out in the rain all day.

I was contemplating going somewhere else for a few hours and coming back when it had cleared out, but everyone was too into themselves and impressing the people around them to notice me, so I strolled on it, trying to be careful not to get anyone wet as I made my way to the reception counter. As I am slowly making my way to the counter I can catching parts of several conversations and am starting to notice that there sure are a large number of gay sounding dudes in this crowd.

While I am waiting for a few people, who were in front of me at the reception desk, I am listening to a few dudes who are talking behind me. Something about great food and a great time at some old ship named Patricia, that is permanently moored, not too far, from the hotel. They are talking about meeting up there on Sunday.  Man I’m starving, so that great food has me hooked and if comes with a great time as well, then I’m all in.

So I find my room, take a shower, decompress a little, get dressed for the evening, and head out to find something to eat very close by. I figured that I would try that ship experience another day.

So Sunday come’s around and I am remembering that food/party ship, those dudes had been talking about. I head out in the evening and I can hear the music blaring from short ways off. I get there and there are not many people in the restaurant area. I am about to head into the restaurant, when I see some sparkles from a disco ball located below decks. Yea, I think I’ll check that out first, before I sit down in the restaurant. Maybe I’ll have a beer first and just hang out for a while. I head down to where the disco lights appear to be emanating from, and go through the open hatchway. Its wall to wall dudes, several without shirt’s on, some in tank tops, some older dudes in kind of normal casual attire. That’s when I realized that this is a Gay club. All of a sudden, that great food didn’t sound so great after all.

On my way back to the hotel, I did manage to find a really sweet, quiet restaurant that served Swedish dishes that I was very happy with. Swedish meatballs with light gravy and lingonberry jam, crispbread, lots of pastries, and great coffee. Swedish pastries seem to usually be heavy in either cream or custard. On average, Scandinavian’s drink two to three times more coffee per person, than any other ethnicity.

Someone told me later, that, the Patricia ship is only a gay club on Sunday. I guess I just happened to get lucky.

Stockholm Sweden

Stockholm is the natural capital of Scandinavia, since it’s the largest city, in the largest country, and it lies in the heart of Scandinavia. Stockholm has zero heavy industry and is consistently ranked at or near the top of the cleanest cities in the world list.
 
Around 1950, the Swedish visionaries predicted that the Service Industry was going to be the most prosperous industry in the next century. They guessed right, but unfortunately, one of the downsides of a very aggressive modernism approach, is that Stockholm has nearly wiped out its history prior to 1950. Large blocks of architectural history were knocked down to make room for Modern structures.  In that respect, it is more like America than Europe.

One of the benefits of pushing modernization, is that they now have the best Internet Infrastructure in the world. Ultra-high speed fiber optic networks all of the way from the provider directly to their homes and offices.

Stockholm has the largest ICT cluster (concentration of Information and Communications Companies) in the world. 25% of businesses there, are in the business consulting service sector. It also hosts one the of the largest Life Sciences (study of all living things) clusters in Europe.

Nearly everyone is dual lingual, Swedish and English. They speak English with an American professional accent. Mostly because that is representative of World Businesses and World Politics.  Nearly all of their Media programs are in American English as well. They embrace all of the Art’s with enthusiasm and, respect people’s opinions without any bias.

Sweden has a very interesting interpretation of “Freedom of Expression”.  Basically under Swedish law, people are allowed to publish or say whatever they want, so long as it is not defaming or publicly insulting to another person, and it does not threaten the current government. It protects against all forms of bigotry. During the 2010 political campaign, a TV station refused to display one of the campaigns ad’s on the basis that it bigoted non-ethnic nationalities. Then to be fair, they also didn’t display any other campaign’s ads as well, until a court ruled that they would not be prosecuted for displaying the potentially bigoted ad. When the Bigot won, the other party objected saying that foul play had been involved.

The Vasa Museum

From a history and navy perspective, this is off the charts awesome. I will never forget it. In my opinion, this can only be experienced in Stockholm Sweden.

Vasa was the family name of the first ruling family of Sweden. Before them, Sweden had been ruled by the King of Denmark. Lead by the noble Vasa Family, the people revolted, and the Vasa family became the first ruling family of Sweden in 1523.
They were war mongers, and were at war to the better part of 100 years after that. In 1628, they launched the Swedish Navy’s newest flag ship. Besides being very large and packing an abundance of cannon ordinance, it was one of the most ornamental ships ever made.  They commissioned Europe’s best wood sculptor’s and spent more money in the sculptures and lavish exterior painting, then they did on the entire rest of the ship. It was designed to showcase the immense wealth, power, and firepower of Sweden, and to intimidate all opposing vessels.

They hired the most experienced and reputable ship architect, of that time, to design it. This was about 100 years before the mathematics’ for ship buoyancy had been discovered. In those days, new designs would be created by an experienced architect, then they would sail it, figure out what wasn’t working and make whatever correction was needed. Sometimes, that might have involved taking of an entire upper deck. A very costly process, but all they had at that time.

This ship needed to be taller than normal, to be able to hold the crew and space needed for all of the armaments that they wanted. But they also wanted a shallow hull for maximum speed. In ship engineering those are contradictory designs. The taller the ship, the deeper the hull needs to be to stabilize it. Especially a ship driven by sail power, where the wind is attempting to tip the ship over.

The architect had died before the vessel was complete, so another had to step in, and ty to figure out, what was in the original designers head, while completing it. The captain that had been chosen as the first caption was changed at the last minute. The original captain had been around during the building and had lots of knowledge about both the vessel and the design. The new captain was not very familiar with the ship before setting sail.

Swedish people filled the area to get a look at it, as it was launched. Bands were playing, festive celebrations were planned around the launch. The government wanted to showcase all of the armaments on the initial launch, so they had all of the cannon doors open, even on the lowest decks. It was customary to allow family members of the inaugural sailors aboard, during the initial launch. In Navy terms, if you are on the ship when it first launches, you are forever called a plank owner of that ship.
There wasn’t enough wind to move the ship from the dock, so they towed it out into the middle of the bay where the currents would be strong enough to move it without wind, and released all of the towing lines, but had left the sails up during this process. The last tow rope was dropped, a huge gust of wind filled the sail’s and pushed the ship over on its side. Far enough, that water came gushing in through the open cannon doors. Water started filling the lower decks. The sails where dropped, but it was too late, as it had already taken on enough water to start the sinking process.

The captain had stayed with the ship until it was underwater. Almost a little too long, since strong currents from the sinking, nearly killed him. He and the architect and several other key people were immediately arrested and jailed. The trial went on for months, but in the end, nobody was found guilty of negligence and they were all freed. The Swedish Navy was still a powerhouse, even without that ship, they were soon considered a world power.

That Vasa ship sat on the bottom of the bay for over 300 years, before it was raised to the surface. Raising it, moving it and preserving it, is now called Sweden’s Apollo program. In the 1950’s they made a huge investment, into technology for all parts of this process.

Now it is inside of its own museum and is an awe inspiring sight.

It hit me as soon as I got in through and saw the first glimpse. Took me right back to that time. Impressive and mind boggling, how such a huge portable wooden structure could be designed and built.

Stockholm History

The Vikings were the first civilization to settle in what is now, Stockholm. That section of Sweden has a cluster of thousands of Island’s. In the Northern Baltic Sea, ships and boats were always needed to transport people, supplies, and good’s throughout the area. Out of necessity, Viking’s became expert ship builders, building many types of ship’s. They were also very hearty people. A necessity to coupe with the day to day elements that they faced.

Stockholm is where the Baltic Sea meet’s Lake Malaren. A very large lake that gives access to Sweden’s interior. Stockholm’s old town is a small Island named Galma Stan, in the center of the main passageway, with four nearby Islands making up the Modern City Center. Fourteen islands total, make up greater urban area. Lots of water and not many hills, which simplifies land transportation.

The Viking’s probably would have been a peaceful entity had it not been for the existence of their unrelated neighbor. The Saxon’s who occupied what is now Northern Germany. The Saxon’s were also a hearty civilization. The conflict came when they both wanted to control the trade routes throughout the Baltic region. Tensions where always high and one side or the other was going to do something that escalated it. The expansion of the Viking Empire mostly had to do with them looking for a place where they could live without conflict.

Vikings were a three class society. Thrall’s were the enslaved peasants, Karls were the free peasants, who were allowed to own land and scratch out a living. The Jarl’s were the wealthy upper class. My Swedish grandfather was named Carl and I was nearly named Carl after him. Carl probably would have been a fitting name for me.

When Charlemagne conquered the Saxon’s, he also Christianized them. He had a simple rule for the Saxon’s, accept Baptism or Die. When that worked, he set his sights on the Vikings, not because he wanted the trade routes or Scandinavia. He just wanted to get rid of paganism. It took 400 more years for that, but eventually they succumbed.

Sweden was one of the first countries to embrace the protestant reformation. While the concept was born in Germany, the Swed's where the first to implement it on both a small and large scale. Today, Sweden has more registered Luthern's than any other country, but that is misleading. Swed's prefer to worship nature and the outdoors, so they don't attend church that often. The reason the number is so high, is because up until 2000, a person born to at least one Luthern parent was registered as Luthern. Africa actually has the highest Luthern population that regularly attends services.

Sweden was under Danish rule for a long time, until they rebelled and broke away in the 1600's. From 1648–1718 they had a strong ally in France, and were considered a world power. Years of fighting against, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, and German left them with both a strong Navy, and a strong Army. After the Napoleonic wars, they turned to peace and have preferred to stay neutral in most conflicts.

Old School Jazz Club

Stampen was one of the best times I’ve had in a long, long time. It’s kind of a small, old school tavern with several rooms, and three different bands playing.  It’s mostly older people, like my age, which looks like the crowd that it caters too.
In the basement was an Old School Rock Gut Blues band, that complimented the beer I was drinking. They looked like they all had about 40 years of experience in the business and were still enjoying it.

A floor up was a Rock a Billy band what had the people hopping to their high energy beat. They looked like they have been doing that since the 50’s. All old equipment, upright bass, 50’s microphone. Great at Jamming. They fit right in with the Stampen moniker.

As soon as one band stopped the other would start. I stood through two sets of each and was smiling ear to ear the whole time. I don’t even remember the band up front, cause I was having such a great time with the other two bands.
I was enthralled watching a dude about 70, who was trying really hard to impress a women who was probably in her late 50’s. I could read the body language and tell what was going on. She was kind of paying him attention from time to time, but then brushed him off and left.  I saw him in the rest room washing the sweat off of his face, primping himself up, putting some cologne on, and looking fairly depressed. I guessed he had struck out again. I said to him, “Dude, that women ain’t good enough for you. Just move on. There’s another somewhere, who will see you for what you are, and appreciate all that you have to offer.”. That's the voice of experience talking.

Story of my ancestors emigration from Sweden to the USA

This story is told in my grandfather's (on my mom's side) own word's. His father emigrated to the USA first, then earned enough money to send for the rest of the family.

Karl Gotfried Ostling

He was born September 23, 1875 and worked on the baronial estate in Smedby, a suburb of Kalmar Sweden. During the summer months he worked 20 hours a day and it was customary to have 4 meals a day. He was a very strong man, loading 20 haycocks a day. He also worked in the white clay. This was used to make white bricks. Smedby was known as the white brick center.

On these baronial estates a Swedish flag always was flown. He like this ide, the USA flag was always flown on the 116 acres (he purchased) in Tuscarawas Country, Ohio. He also worked as a molder of steel castings in Lynn and Cleveland.

Anna Sofia Ostling

She was born February 7, 1880 in Kalmar Sweden. Worked as a milk maid over at Oland, an island near Kalmar. One time she milked 16 coes at one sitting. We lived in Temperance Hall and she was housekeeper and chaplain. Also laundered stiff white starched collars for students at the nearby University. She was industrious. In Lynn (Massachusetts), she worked as a winder of electric works, in the same steel foundry as Karl. She was ambitious throughout her like. It was through her efforts that the married name was changed from Pererson to Ostling.

Karl Arvard Ostling

I was born September 24, 1897 in Kalmar Sweden. I was the oldest of 3 brothers born in Sweden, Ranger and Berger were the others. When I was about 6 years old we moved to Smedby. We lived in the center of village and got acquainted with strawberries where we lived. We we not permitted to pick out own. Now I like to pick my own. A frozen strawberry in ice cream is my favorite.

We moved to Temperance Hall and I got acquainted with red raspberries and price is no object when I can get them. They grew in Sweden near and on stone fences built from stones picked from the barley meadows. There was a train station at Smedby and cherries were sold to passengers at 5 ore per cone. We children looked for money dropped between the boards of the station walk.
Where was a picnic grounds near where we lived and a music band came out from Kalmar with a dance group and we always listened to the band. My father was a good dancer and always thanked the ladies for dancing with him. A very polite man.

(My grandfather's father had come to America ahead of the rest of the family. To earn enough, to send for the rest of his family. The following is my Grandfather's, brothers, and mothers trip from Kalmar Sweden to Boston, Massachusets in 1906.)

Emigration Trip

We left Smedly on September 26, 1906 on the Kalmar Emmoboda Railway. This was a narrow gauge rail for passenger and freight. I could see this train from where we lived and wished I could oil the engine, which was done while still in motion. This track in Emmaboda changed to a larger track which crossed Sweden to a seaport named Gothenberg.

My mother, myself age 9, my two brothers Rangar 7, and Berger 4, left Gothenberg and sailed across the North Sea to Hull, England. It was very stormy and the boar rolled with very high winds. I was very curious about the boar and went up to the top in the middle of the boat to avoid high winds like others had. Mother was very anxious about me and wanted to see me. She told an officer to find me. He didn't believe mother. He said she already had her two boays, he thought she was seasick. But she prevaile, and the officer found me on the top of the boat. We were soaked from the high waves. I told mother that I wished she left me alone. Everybody was seasick!

As we came into the Harbor at Hull, England, a man fell overboard but his large coat saved him from drowning. We traveled by train across England to Liverpool. In Liverpool buses took us to a large boat, the Saxonia. I was amased at the size of the ship. At the bus stop, Ragnar and I held hands, and we jumped on the bus and waved (bye) to mother. She was holding Berger. Mother immediately took the next bus, and we were reunited in this strange town.

The Cunard liner, Saxonia (Steam Powered Cruise Liner), was full of passengers. There were dining rooms and state rooms. A storm ame up and the dining chairs were tied together by ropes to the wall of the room. A man died at sea and was buried by using large weights plunged in the open sea. I saw a shale spouting in the Atlantic Ocian. I walked from our stateroom and was stopped by a sailor from going on deck.

We landed October 2, 1906 in East Boston. Dad was very happy to see us. We were examined for trachoma, an eye disease prevalent in Europe.

We rode by street car from East Boston to Revere, Massachusets where Dad rented an apartment above a grocery story. Ragnar and I went to school and came home one day with mumps. The landlady was scared of mumps. I can still remember her saying MUMPS!!!

(Much more, but for another BLOG, when I write up Boston)

Thank you for reading. I'll see you next time.

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Travel

Montenegro - Kotor

by Kimp 13. September 2016 14:15
Welcome !!!

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Modern Kotor

Small by today's standards, but very nice and not so expensive, given all that it has to offer. Located in the fjord's of Montenegro, the crystal clear and nearly wave-less Bay of Kotor, connects it to the Adriatic Sea. Carved out by a prehistoric glacier, it now has 240 days of sunlight each year, with a mild Mediterranean climate, in addition to all of that Fjord beauty. 

History

Founded by the Roman's around the time of Christ, it was taken over by Bulgaria around 1000, then given to Serbia shortly after.

From 1400 to around 1800 it was ruled mostly by the Venetian's, except a few times when the Ottomans managed to seize it for a short time, before the Venetians mounted an offensive and regained control.

In 1797 the Austrian Habsburg's took control, then gave it to Napoleon who held it, until he was defeated by Russian Soldiers who occupied it. The British Navy then mounted an offensive and took it from the Russians.

During WWII, Italy Annexed it, until Tito, the future founder of Yugoslovia, liberated it from the Axis powers.

When Yugoslovia dissolved, it went back to Serbia.

It became independent in 2006, when Montenegro was granted independence from Serbia.

Venetians

In the beginning, the Venetians were primarily merchant ships carrying trade good in the Mediterranean, at a time when the Ottoman's Navy ruled the Mediterranean. To defend themselves against attacks, the Venetian Merchant fleet started arming their merchant ships and training the merchant sailors in Naval warfare. 

Eventually Venice started building Military ships, but would not fully man them during peaceful times. During conflicting times, they would anchor some of their merchant vessels and transfer the sailors to their Military vessels. This allowed them to maximize income during peaceful times and minimize losses during times of conflict. That strategy and flexibility, allowed them sustain one of the strongest Navies in the Mediterranean for several hundred years. 

The Venetians needed a good port in the Eastern Adriatic sea, to house their huge fleet of boats that serviced the Eastern Adriatic Sea. That became the town of Perast in the Bay of Kotor, with Kotor being the fortress where their port and shipbuilding workers could seek refuge, if attacked. The Venetian's built a very complex system of walls up the mountain behind Kotor, all of the way to another fortress at the top, allowing Kotor to be well protected from both land and sea attacks. The sea wall around the port is 30 meters (100 ft) thick in places, and is both slanted and rounded so that cannon balls would ricochet off of the walls instead of penetrating them. The main sea gate was built to allow only one ship to have access to the city at a time. That way they could minimize and control a surprise attack, from a ship disguised as a friendly vessel.

The 4.5 km (3 mi) of walls have been very well preserved, since they were seen as vital for a long period of time. Solid granite and very well constructed, they still look about like they always have. Most of today's visible damage came from an Earth Quake that occurred there in 1979. I would say that walking the walls is one of the best parts. A bit steep and strenuous, but well worth the effort.

Bay of Kotor

The Bay of Kotor has a very unique shape. It looks like two bays separated by a mountain range and only connected by a small straight of water between the two bays, with a backdrop of another mountain range. Any view of the Bay, is beautiful, making for a pleasant walk or drive around it. 

Fish

The Adriadic sea is Brackish water, which means that it is somewhere between fresh water and salt water. The quality of fish there is low, but the variety is high. To me, any fish that was swimming earlier in the day, tastes pretty good in the evening, and the lessor known varieties are usually a great price for the consumer. Also, local's always know how to prepare their fish for the best taste experience. Overall, Kotor is a great place for the price. Crystal clear water, great weather, great scenery, and not a lot of people.

Casino Royale

The original "Casino Royale" movie in 1967 was the one that made James Bond famous. The location was the casino in Monte Carlo, in the French Riviera, and it had all of the effects that created the formula for most James Bond movies that followed. Convert operations, difficult missions, fast cars, exotic locations, gadgetry, and beautiful women. The original movie was about an aging secret Agent, that was pulled out of retirement to determine why so many spies were being killed.

When that movie was reworked for a young Daniel Craig, the plot was completely changed, however it is still loosely based on the 1953 novel of the same name. This one featured a newly trained 007 on this first mission. Somewhere in there they decided to change the location of the casino to a Hotel Splendid (a fictional hotel) in Montenegro. The script writer had never even been to Montenego and the film crew never set foot in Montenegro. Most of this was filmed in the Czech Republic.

There just happened to be a Hotel Splendido on the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, that many people mistook as the one in the movie. All of a sudden their business was booming. This was followed by a Hotel Splendido in Budva, Montenegro. Budva is on the Adriatic Sea, but is much farther South than Kotor. Budva has a nice beach area, that the Montenegro Government had been promoting development of, and had been marketing as a great vacation location, That Hotel Splendido also has an entire floor devoted to a casino, named Casino Royale.

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Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time.

Craig

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Switzerland - Lugano

by Kimp 14. August 2016 02:43

Welcome !!!

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History

Lake Lugano was formed by a glacier. Glacial lakes are the most beautiful because of the mountains that appear to rise out of them. Normally glacial lakes are only found in the places like the Fjord's of Norway and Alaska, but this one is in Southern Switzerland.

In the 1400's, the Duke of Como and the Duke of Milan often battled over Lugano. Eventually the people of Lugano claimed their independence and then merged with Switzerland.

Today

Lugano and its region are bordered on the East, West, and South by Italy, therefore the language spoken most here is Italian, though most native Swiss people are multi-lingual, speaking Swiss, Italian, German, French, and English.

Home to the largest net (300 km/190 mi) of Mountain Biking Trails in Switzerland.

Home of "Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research", which is one of the top 10 Artificial Intelligence Labs in the world (top 4 in biological AI).

Logano also hosts the Swiss National Super-computing Centre, funded by the Swiss government and dedicated to research of all types.

This is one of the most relaxed places I have visited. There are isn't much here, other than good old wholesome relaxation and music. They favor both Classical and Jazz with yearly festivals that are open to the general public. There is a ferry that visits the small villages along the banks of Lake Lugano (just get off and wander around to see what you can find) and there are funicular's that go to the top Mount Bre and Mount San Salvatore.

I have read that there many museums in Lugano, but I didn't visit any, so I can't give any advice on what they entail.

I would like to go back and see it in winter, when snow covers everything but the lake.

Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time.

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Tradition

Switzerland - Apenzell

by Kimp 23. July 2016 06:21

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History

Apenzell is the name of both a region and a village in Switzerland.

For the most part, the region consists of rolling hills that never seem to end. There are cave systems in this region where Neanderthal's lived from about 90,000 BC until their extinction around 30,000 BC.

It has always been very peaceful in Apenzell and the people here have always lived a very simple and clean country lifestyle.

The name Apenzell means estate of the Abbot and there is still a fairly large monastery within the village.

They are known for being the finest cattle breeders in Switzerland. Their cattle are very healthy.

Voting Process

They have always maintained their tradition's and culture. Every year, on the last Sunday in April the people of Apenzell meet in a public square to vote on local issues. They vote the same way they always have. An issue is read, then people raise their hands to vote yea or nay, and someone counts the vote live,

In 1991, women were finally granted the right to vote in Apenzell.

Apenzeller Cheese

They have been making their own brand of cheese here, for the last 750 years. It smells really bad, but tastes great once the taste is acquired. It comes in three flavor strengths, mildly spicy, very spicy, and extra spicy, and has a fruitful flavor from the wine that is used during the curing process.

Hotel

The address of the hotel we were staying at, was just listed as Apenzell. We knew it was outside of the small village, so we figured it would probably be easy to find, even without an address. Surely we would see some kind of sign on the road, near the village. Wrong!!! We drove around for a while, then stopped at a hotel that was near the road to ask if they had heard of it.

They sure had, but did not know how to give us directions that we could understand. "Well, you go down the road a ways, until you get to the big pine tree in Noah's yard, then you turn left and go up past Liam's place", just wasn't working out well for us.

Finally she say's, just go ask Finn if he will take you there.

Who's Finn?

So she takes us out back, and tells Finn to take us to the other hotel. Turn's out Finn was the owner of this Hotel, and he was just now, loading his milk jug's into the back of his truck to take them into town. I didn't want to impose on Finn, especially since we weren't staying at his place, but he said, "Oh that's OK, it's only about 10 km (6 miles) out of my way, really it's no big deal.". I said, "I don't want you to go that far out of your way, if you could just get a little close, and then point the way, I'm sure that will be fine."  That is exactly what he did, and I couldn't have been more impressed at his kindheartedness. These country folk, live a much slower life, then I am used to.

So we get to our hotel and all of the lights are off (the Swiss are very energy conscious), but the door was unlocked. So we go inside and are kind of wandering around the place looking for someone, or at least a light switch. We are in the completely dark kitchen, when someone walks in and finds us. It would just happen to be a person who didn't speak any English. She went and got someone to either check us in, or kick us out.

After getting checked in,  a tall young dude was summoned to show us to our rooms. This hotel had an extremely slow elevator that we all crowded into. The kid didn't speak much English, but he managed to ask us where we were from. Speaking very slow and broken English. Jason said he was from New York (Syracuse, but he left that part out). The kid says in the freakiest way, with the freakiest smile, "Ohhhh, the Bi-iiiiig Cit-tieeeeeee". I felt like I was in the movie "deliverance", I couldn't wait for that elevator door to open.

So we get to the rooms and they look like they are set up for a photo shoot for Country Living Magazine.  Light pine furniture and the drapes were made of red and white checkered.cloth. I felt like I was at Aunt B's in Mayberry RFD.

I slept with my window open and at 6 A.M. I am awakened by the barn next door. About 10m (30 ft) from my window is a huge manure pile. What woke me up was the smell of the fresh manure that we being put on the pile after the milking was complete.

EbenAlp

EbenAlp is the northern most Alp in the Apenzell Alps. It is where the Alp's end and flow down a cliff into the valley. This is a favorite spot for hikers because there are many mountain cottages (some built into the side of a cliff) along the hiking routes. That means that only light packs are needed for covering long distances, which makes the hiking trip much less rustic.

EbenAlp is also a favorite for paragliders, because there is lift that goes all of the way from a parking space in the valley, to the top of EbenAlp, making it easy to paraglide several times in the same day.

Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time.

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Craig

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Travel

Germany - JacobsWeg (The Way of St James)

by Kimp 16. June 2016 20:51

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Welcome!!!

Camino de Santiago - The Way of St James

The apostle James was very close to Jesus. Some believe that the mother of James, was the Virgin Mary's sister, which would have made Jesus and James, first cousins.  After Jesus was killed on the cross, the apostle James set out to spread the teaching's of Jesus, throughout Israel. When he felt that was complete, he sailed to Iberia (Spain), to spread the word there as well. While he was in Iberia, a vision of the Virgin Mary carried by angels appeared to him. She gave him a small statue and the vessel (Pillar of Jaspar) that the angels used to carry her, to Saint James, and told him, "Build a church upon this spot and place these items on the alter. Then return to Israel."

St James complied, however when he returned to Israel, King Herod decried him, beheaded him, and pronounced that James could not be buried in Israel. The Students of Saint James, then carried his body to Spain to be buried in the city of Compostela, which is in North-Western Spain.

In 711 A.D. the Moor's conquered most of Spain.

Then in 778, the Roman ruler, Charles the Great (Charlemagne ), took an Army into Northern Spain and reclaimed that part of Spain, as part of the Holly Roman Empire. When Charlemagne discovered St James tomb, he decreed that a church be built on top of those remains, and that large pilgrimages from the rest of the Holly Roman Empire, should be made to Santiago de Compostela. Santiago is the Spanish name for Saint James. 

For hundreds of year's, the pilgrimage on foot from a Holly Roman's front door, to Santiago de Compostela, was considered a rite of passage into Christianity. In those day's, pilgrims would stop at churches about a days walk apart, along the way, seeking shelter and boarding.

In the 1900's there was an Irishman, by the name of Walter Starkie. He was very interested in Gypsies, so he traveled extensively with Gypsy tribes, and wrote about his experiences in a whimsical manner, as only an Irishman can do. His writings became very popular, and Walter soon amassed a wide following. In 1957 he wrote a book named "The Road to Santiago" subtitled "The Pilgrims of St. James". That book started a revitalization of "The Way of St James" Pilgrimage. Today, it ranks high in Christian pilgrimage locations, prompting a republishing of Walter's book in 2003.

It is customary for pilgrims to attach a scallop shell to the back of their backpacks. The scallop shell is native to the Galatia area of Spain, where the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is located, and it is said to symbolize the many paths that pilgrims take, from all over the world, to get there.

Modern day pilgrims (about 200,000 per year) usually start at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France (close to the North-Eastern border of Spain), then walk across the Northern part of Spain, ending at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral (which is close to the North-Western coast of Spain). That walk takes about 30 days at a moderate pace. Many inexpensive hostels, are maintained all along the most traveled route, ready to take in pilgrims for a night. These hostels, usually include a modest dinner, served to all pilgrims, at a the same specified time. It is kind of a bonging time, for strangers all sharing in the same goal.

The standard backpack for the Camino is fairly small and lite. Since there are many hostels along the main route, one does not need to carry tent's nor bedding, and only needs to carry a single day of supplies. Supplies can easily be replenish each evening, before the next leg. Most people rise early, get the hike out of the way, then relax and enjoy the evenings, maybe doing a little sight seeing in whatever town they are in.

Pilgrims usually pick up a Camino passport in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. It is stamped at several church locations along the route, to certify that a person made the entire trip, then turned in at the end, for a certificate. Actually a certificate may be obtained even if the entire distance is not covered. The only certification requirement, is to walk for a minimum number of kilometers along the route. A person could start at the minimum point before the Cathedral, finishing at the cathedral, and still qualify for the certification. Most people start in France, because it is in the mountains, and the walk down the mountains into Spain, gives a person an early feeling of accomplishment.

The most traveled years are Jubilee Years (Years in which St James Day, July 25th, falls on a Sunday). A jubilee year is designated by a church, to signify a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. The future Jubilee Years will be 2021, 2027, 2032, and 2038. The pattern of 11-6-5-6 years between Jubliee Years, then repeats.

This pilgrimage has been on my bucket list for quite a while. I am hoping to make the trek in April 2021, health permitting. If not on foot, then probably via bicycle. By bicycle it takes about 7 days. 

History of Germany

The real name for Germany is Deutchland, which was derived from the word duit. In the language spoken by Southern Germanic people, during Martin Luther King's day, Duit meant race or nation. Therefore Deutchland means the land of our race or the land of our nation. In my opinion, that has a really nice sound to it.

In Julius Caesar's time, there were hundred's of tribal nations occupying the land that is modern day Germany. Those tribes were continuously harassing and causing problems for Caesar. The tribes spoke different dialects of a language known in Rome as Germanic. So Caesar generically referred to that region as Germania.

Over a thousand years, in order to survive in the changing times, the tribes merged and merged again and again into successively larger tribes. In 1815 there were 39 separate countries that loosely formed an alliance, called the German Confederation. By 1870, that loose confederation had strengthened into a Northern half that shared somewhat tighter bindings, and a Southern half that shared its own, somewhat tighter bindings.

France feared that the Confederation would form one one strong country. Prompting France to declare war against Prussia (the strongest of the Northern alliances). This was an attempt to break them apart, but It backfired. The Southern alliances immediately joined with the Northern alliances to defeat France in 1871. After that, the German Confederation became the Country of Germany.

Germany Today

Since Germany developed slower than many other large countries did, and since it's population was always spread out. Today, many of it's cities feel small (Many cities are more like several villages that just happen to be in close proximity to each other) and the country as a whole, still feels like many, many small interconnected, independent villages, each with its own flavor. .

Usually each village has something that it specializes in. For instance, one village might have the awesome bicycle shop, another might have the awesome dive shop, another might have the awesome horse stables, another might have the awesome agriculture university, and another the awesome medical facilities.

The other unique property that Germany has, is that they have always maintained their ancient paths, between these village's. Germans have always enjoyed spending time outdoors, in socially engaging atmosphere's, so they respect and care for the nature that supports their favorite pastime.

It appears to me, that when someone purchases a piece of property in Germany, any path's on it, remain open to the public. A person can randomly pick any two points in the current country of Germany, and always find a way to walk unabated between them, via these ancient highways.

While walking on any trail in Germany, we are likely to pass close to a village, about every 5 kilometers. This means that we can effectively walk very long distances, over many days, and all we need is a very basic backpack, containing a few changes of clothes, some foul weather gear, and enough room for one day of provisions.

That coupled with the gently rolling hills, which make up most of Germany,  makes it a great place for moderate long distance hiking, with minimal planning. Enough visual changes to make it interesting and visually pleasing,  and enough exercise to make it moderately challenging without wearing a novice out.

The more I hike in Germany, the more I want to hike in Germany.

When we hike a trial in Germany, we are walking the same path that people have walked for thousands of years, and we are seeing the same beautiful things that those people have seen, over thousands of years. One creator, one path, one current enjoy'er, many past enjoy'ers. Awesomeness at its finest.

JacobsWeg

Jacob is the Latin name for the apostle named James (English name). Therefore, in Germany, the trails that were used for "the Way of St James" are named JacobsWeg.

Someone took the time, energy, and initiative to research and map out a special section of trails in Western Germany, under the moniker JacobsWeg. They link the village of Speyer near Frankfurt, with the village of Kloster Hombach, which is very close to the border of France.

One winter, I walked the red route which is 137 km (75 mi)  total from Speyer to Kloster Hombach. Loving every minute of it.

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Thank you for reading.

I'll see you next time.

Craig

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