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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Warming up in Florida

Christmas time in Germany always includes rainy weather and people rushing through the city to get the last presents. Time to take some days off and take a flight across the big pond.

Dawn and Tobi were awaiting us, they just didn’t order the perfect weather. Okay it was still warm, but the first four days have been stormy and quite rainy. So what to do in the Sunshine State?

Shopping tours here and there, food tastings every now and then and there even had been time to visit a Peter Lik’s photography exhibition (something I highly recommend to do if there’s some spare time).

On the schedule this time as well: NBA Game time – and John Wall really showed off and Miami hot their limits. Of course, in Florida, another air boat cruise through the Everglades was a must do. Alligators and iguanas have been so close, almost within reach.

Florida’s west coast was inspected as well. Naples (city of the beauties and the richs) and Fort Meyers have been the highlights before heading back. Fort Meyers offered a spectacular sunset, enjoyable in calm scenery – the city has been empty, the quiet before the spring break storm.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

A week in Pars one more time

On Sunday, Antje and I were going to the airport. She had to catch the flight 2 hours before me. Everything good, so far, until I noticed that I had left some packages of sliced ham at the hotel's minibar. I just remembered, out of the blue. Damn it, Jamon Iberico Bellota, the best one, quite essential gifts to bring home. There were just two options. Leaving the ham behind and handing it over into the hotel's property or, and that's option B I decieded to do, risking to go back to the reception. First, I called them and luckily, they have found it and offered me to come to pick it up. Excellent!!! Thus, I went all the way back and ask for some packages of ham. The receptionist lady returned it with a big smile. That made her day, and mine as well.

Then, it was time to rush to the airport one more time, with a feeling having all things together now. Ready for take off. The flight to Paris was okay, I slept it away.

I decided to take another hotel this time, located in La Défene, named Tempolodge, more like a maisonette apartment than a hotel. Good choice, I proudly agreed with myself - under the roof in the 12th floor, i.e. a little skyline view included. Then, there hasn't been much to mention. Too much work, I rarely left the laboratory before 9pm. I tried a French Döner Kebab, tried to order in French, drifted to English and ended up speaking German to Turkish guy who lived in Düsseldorf for a few years. "Enjoy it!", he said finally, and released me into the night, but that thing hadn't been much enjoyable.

On two nights, I found some hours to head towards the city. Always worth it, everything is truely impressive, walking along the Louvre or looking up the Eiffel Tower. Here some impressions...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Delegation to Madrid

View across Puerta del Sol in Madrid's centre

Three weeks time in downtown Madrid. My work place was located a bit more north, in Tres Cantos, so just around the corner. That offered some time to explore the city's beauty. And the metro station was in 1 minute walking distance from the hotel in the capital's north. Excellent!

Catedral de la Almudena at night

Madrid itself is famous for its nightlife. People are going out to the restaurants, bars, clubs or lounges on every day of the week. Quite an impulsive life, in Madrid. As soon as the clubs close, the first bakeries and cafes open up already. And where every you go to have lunch or dinner, almost everything is worth trying. Taps, burgers, fish, just to name a few. A three course lunch menu always comes with a good red vine, if you allow yourself to have a glass or two.

View north-east from the hotel at sunset

One thing Spain is famous for: The ham! Stores can be found across the whole city, supermarkets are selling and almost every restaurant is offering the air dryed delicatesse. So I bought one of those 5 kg ham things and brought it home to have something for dinner.

Heaps of stores selling ham, so called "Jamon", in the city

I got some visitors, too. Jouni, from Finland, spent a weekend with me there. So did Antje during the last days and we strolled around, joining the Sandeman guided tours which took us through the cities' history.
In Madrid's north, you can find the hiking paradise "La Pedriza". Manzanares el Real is a good starting point to hit one of the numerous hiking trails, or to have a coffee.

Manzanares el Real and La Pedriza in the background

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Spaghetti Napoli along the Amalfi Coast

One week holidays, with lots of thoughs where to go, but no final decision. A long time I was not sure to travel at all. Home sweet home, why not?!?! Heaps of things that could have been done there as well. But yeah, not acceptable after all. Thus, I booked a flight to Naples, less than 24 hours before departure. I've found a bike store, too, offering racing bikes for rent. So it happened I got this Bianchi machine! Cool man. After 5 kilometres, I've just been outside the cities centre, I've got a flat tire. Damn! What a start - perfect! Thanks god they gave me the puncture and toolkit. From then on, no more challenges, except the mountain itself. I made it, found my way through hundreds of tourist, and foot climbed the last metres to the summit. Time to relax and chill out, before going down to Sorrento.

The next day, I had the highlight ahead - the coastal scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast with its rugged coastline and small villages built up in the mountains. A scenic look of exceptional rarity. Thousands of Chinese tourist must have think the same. I've found a place to stay in Maiori and had the so far best clambs ever. Thumbs up! On the last day, I had more than enough time to ride back to Naples and exploring the city with its chaotic, hectic rubbish-strewn life. But still, it had a certain flair which said: "Look here, I'm interesting on my own way!"

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Four nights in Paris

Rue d'Anjou and Rue de Surène

It's been some years ago. Now, I was sent once again - to Paris! I picked a hotel near Place de la Concorde and took the metro to La Défense every morning and evening. The trains are full of people, and even if no space is left, more are coming and trying to squeeze themselves in. Hard to catch breath, though!

The Eiffel Tower in details

But at the end, I got out alive. And spent too much time working at the laboratory. Luckily, I still was able to shoot some pictures.

View from Sacré-Coeur

Notre-Dame Cathedral

View from Pont Neuf

Saturday, August 15, 2015

It's time to move forward

Time to say "goodbye Erli". After living in Erlangen's beautiful suburb Bruck (locals, tenderly, call it Brucklyn) it was time to leave it behind and move forward. It didn't take me far, thus, I considered Nuremberg to be my new hometown. With the best company imaginable.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

1142 metres above sea level

Every once in a while it's time to climb the highest mountain in Middle Germany, this time - cousin power. Gathering in Thale was offering a perfect option to race against each other. There was just one thing in the way: the Brocken mountain.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Just going somewhere else quickly

Split overview

While Antje had to work and thus, was not able to spend a long weekend abroad, I was packing my stuff and took a flight to Split. I joined a colleague who was organising the whole trip and everything. That made it quite easy and enjoyable for me. We spent a night in Split before renting a car and heading south, along the coast, had a stopover in Omis and followed the river Cetina. It offers spectacular views into georges and rough vertical cliffs. Some freeclimbers are trying to find their way up to the top.

Omis and its river

We crossed the border - Bosnia and Herzegovina. There was just one city to visit without going too deep into the country: Mostar. The centre still overwhelms withs its historic charm. Little stone houses and streets made of small round-shaped rocks. If you'd have some Euros left, hand it over to one of the guys on the bridge, the stari most. They will just jump for you, more than 10 metres down into the Neretva river.

Mostar's stari most

Last stop on our roadtrip: Dubrovnik. The city impresses with everything which is inside the city walls - it's like you've been thrown back a few hundred years. Stroll along the tiny narrow alleys and climb the big wall to get an overview how big the historic inner part really is. Lot's of restaurants and cafes are opening their doors to pause a while.

Dubrovnik, seen from the city wall

Sunday, May 17, 2015

High up in May

Summit near the Hochsteinhütte

Time to ride the bike again. Haven't done that for a while in the Alps. This time, a 4 day trip around Lienz, Austria. My cousin was with me, and right after getting parked in Oberlienz, we had to go uphill without any warmup. The cottage Hochsteinhütte was still closed, unfortunately, but we've found a perfect stay in Abfaltersbach - residence Mitterdorfer. Clompletely renovated, the re-opening was just a few weeks ago. Pure luxury!

The drink to toast to the day

The next day started rainy. We extended the breakfast as much as possible. But there was coming a time where we had to leave. It was just too rough that day, and we didn't get far. Maybe only 30 km later we arrived in Obertilliach soaked to the skin. Positive side effect: Enough time for a good dinner.

Mud pools on the way Obertilliach

The less kilometres we had the day before, the more we needed to go the following day. We passed the Porzehütte and the summit "Tilliacher Joch" at 2094 metres above sea level. The ridgeway was leading us, finally, to Casera di Sesis before going down once more to Avoltri. Albergo al Sole - our place for overnight. The excellent food is definitely recommended.

Tilliacher Joch, 2094 m above sea level

The last stage was as well the longest. The track up to Rifugio Marinelli had a debilitating effect on me. I made it to the top, more than exhausted, and needed a break. The Mauthner Klamm was making up for any agony before. Riding along the Drau river towards Lienz was meaning our tour to be going to an end.

Rifugio Marinelli

Monday, April 13, 2015

Easter Wellness Part II: Welcome to MiaMi

That trip was long time scheduled; and it finally worked out – visiting Tobi in Florida. At the airport in Frankfurt I’ve won a special security check. Their system is choosing some ticket numbers randomly, this time, it was me, and a guy from Chile I had a chat with while being checked. The flight itself was on time and 2 meals, 2 movies and a little sleep later I arrived in Miami. The usual standard procedure entering the US takes longer (1 ½ hours) than my special treatment back in Frankfurt, a thing I didn’t try to understand. But here I was, Miami!!!

Tobi was picking me up from the airport and we headed back to Fort Lauderdale, having a few beers at the beach while feeling the warm breeze coming from the ocean – something you can get used to. On the way back home we stopped by at Five Guys, a burger fast food thing I heard so much about. I had to give it a try. From the nowadays perspective, those burgers are alright, but far from best ;)

The next morning I slept long, way too long. I started to feel the jetlag. Tobi picked me up for lunch. We went to Tap42 with his colleagues where I was told to try, guess what, the burger. Alright then, 2nd burger, bring it up. It was a good one, juicy, which excellent French Fries.

Then I picked up my car and spent the afternoon in Miami Beach, walked through the Lincoln Road Mall and strolled along the Art Deco District with its colourful hotels, bars, clubs and pubs. Good spot for chilling out.

The next morning, I slept longer once again, before risking to get stuck in that heavy traffic when going to Miami downtown. I rented one of those city bikes to get from A to B a bit faster. Unfortunately, the route I took wasn’t that spectacular. I passed little Havana before returning the bike at the station where I got it from. 

I spent the afternoon in the Sawgrass Mills Mall – an area so big you really have to figure out where to go before entering. And of course, every single shop is selling on sale.

On Thursday, I passed Miami to go further south. I first stopped at a nature reserve north of the Florida Keys. It was offering a 3 mile return walking tour through the bushes and mangroves. Lizards, butterflies and birds everywhere – luckily no alligators. At least I didn’t see any. 

Numerous miles and bridges later I stopped at Duck Key where some of the moneyed people are parking their boats and sports cars. Pretty cool place. On the way back I had a dolphin fish steak at the highly recommended Hungy Tarpon Restaurant.

Friday was Tobi’s first day off, and it had to be used. After a perfect self-made sandwich breakfast (toasted bread with scrambled eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes) we headed east to Highway 41 which crosses Florida horizontally. An artificial water channel was running aside the street and a few alligators could be spotted while driving along. And rarely, baby alligators on the street – dead! I guess Americans don’t break for anything stepping on highways. 

We picked a water airboat travel agent a bit further away from the main touristic ones. Wasn’t the best choice ever. The guide wasn’t the smartest, and had no interest in serving a mind blowing tour. No stats and figures. But at least some alligators could be sighted – baby and mother alligator. Impressive indeed, especially those stories about ‘em.

We went straight home after the tour, preparing for the food festival where had my third burger from a food truck called “hot stove”. I got used to burger already, and they were getting better and better. So there has come the perfect time for hanging out while having a marshmallow bonfire at the beach house.

The last day had come and Dawn organised a boat cruise through the channels including some snorkelling in the ocean. For lunch, guess what, I had another and final 4th burger at Charm City – a burger hard to beat. As well as the fancy beers we had in the evening at Funky Buddha. Crazy people; they added everything they can find: chilli, ginger, coffee, …