Friday, September 28, 2012

Flowers for Gino

Over the last week I have been painting small pictures to hang in Gino's Italian Cafe here in Rissen. Gino is a real gem, an Italian who migrated to Hamburg a long time ago but who still has a real Italian flair.  I have a gallery wall in his Cafe and this year I have painted a series of flower pictures to hang there.

Vegetables in glass jars

I seldom buy canned foods nowadays because the inner lining of cans often contains the toxin bis phenol and tests have shown that the uptake by canned food can be very high. Here in Germany a lot of foods are preserved in glass jars instead of cans. Why can't we buy vegetable in glass jars in Australia?
Jars of veges in a Hamburg grocery store

Thursday, September 27, 2012


This shop (chain actually) has got marketing down to a tee. It is a coffee shop; grinds and sells various coffees - all own brand. But on the side Tchibo sells other things - each week a new selection that is timed for the market. They are currently selling children's autumn clothing, rain gear and gumboots. Their coffee is good (they have switched to 100% Arabica coffee) and their products are good quality and always displayed with style; the individual clothing pieces are designed to match and compliment each other - and it is often cheaper than elsewhere, though not always.
Bei Tchibo in Rissen

Shoppers come into Tchibo for a coffee, then buy something , or come in just for a look, or come in to shop but not buy coffee. I have been wondering when I will see the first Tchibo store in Australia. I think they would make a killing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Market in Uetersen

The stall holders at the Sunday market in Uetersen last weekend wore traditional dress and their stalls, full of  baskets of  fresh and beautiful fruit and vegetables were very picturesque.
Market in Uetersen

Normal lemons and avocado
An odd shaped citrus fruit was on display, a lemon that was all skin and no juice - especially good if you want lemon zest.
This is a citrus fruit - lemon zest without the pulp.


After living in a country where cigarettes must be kept under the counter it is a bit of a shock to find baskets of cigarette packages placed right next to the checkout in Hamburg Aldi stores
Aldi checkout with cigarettes

Friends tell me that a lot of people have stopped smoking here but you wouldn't know it by looking at the outdoor cafes.
Smoker at an inner city Cafe in Hamburg

Wikipedia says 26% of Germans smoke. In most other European countries over 30% of the population smokes (in Greece 43%) so perhaps the peak has passed.  The lists of side effects is long (and includes erectile dysfunction) which makes you wonder how many brown paper bags are passed from cigarette companies to law makers. Those lists of side effects  (the link is to the German Wiki site has more info than the English version ) make me pleased I have a weakness for chocolate not cigarettes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I do like escalators that have all the 'up' stairs on one side, so you don't have to walk around to the other side on each floor to continue your journey. I think shops that alternate up and down stairs which force you to walk through their store to get to your destination hope you will buy something on your way. They make me want to leave the shop altogether.
As it should be: stairs coming down (right) and continuing down  (left) . Im AppelrathCüpper auf der Mönckebergstraße     

Uetersen Rosareum

Uetersen (just north west of Hamburg) is one of the world's most important rose breeding areas and the Uetersen Rosarum is worth a visit at any time of the year. A lot of roses are still flowering there in September and I am told that in winter it is a wonderful place to tramp through the snow.
Lake at the Rosareum in Uetersen, Schleswig-Holstein

Monday, September 24, 2012

Human Statues in Hamburg

These mid-air actors in Hamburg were attracting attention on Friday. Some people walked straight past without seeing them but then someone would stop and a crowd would gather; standing, watching, scratching their heads and wondering how the figures stayed in mid air.
When some one put money in the box they did a slow thank you routine. Very clever!
Mid air performers from the front

Mid air performers from the back

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ugg boots

Australian Ugg boots seem to be popular in Germany. I have seen them in Hamburg (below) and Munich (below that)! The ones I saw in Hamburg yesterday cost Euro 220 so perhaps they are one of the few things that are cheaper in Australia than Europe.
Ugg boots in Hamburg shop

Ugg boots in Munich shop
Perhaps they are the current 'must have' fashion item?  Walkin' along in your Ugg boots usin' your EyePhone...

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hamburg on Water

It was cold and threatening rain in Hamburg this morning so I went into the city center, getting out of the train at Jungfernstieg to a typical Hamburg view. The main shopping street looks out over the smaller of two lakes, the inner Alster which is divided from the outer Alster by a road/rail line. (You can see the road/rail bridge mid-right in the photo below.)
Inner Alster with fountain and tourist boats

There are a lot of waterways leading from the Alster to the River Elbe and they are all built up. There are more bridges in Hamburg  than Venice.

Hamburg Town Hall

How nice to see the Hamburg Rathaus (Town Hall) appear at the end of the street.

Hamburg Rathaus
It is such a pretty building with its clock tower and copper roof. I had a coffee in the Cafe opposite and watched people go by.
"Is there glass in these windows?" I wondered and lent over to touch them to see. There was.
Very clean glass.
Very clean windows

The power of marketing

In Hamburg this afternoon there was a very long queue of people waiting to buy an iPhone5. Pedestrian managers in yellow jackets were keeping order and letting groups of five into the shop.

The word is that the iphone5 is not much different from its predecessor so there must be other factors at play. Apparently one person had been waiting in front of the store since Wednesday. His 5 minutes of fame?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

To Hamburg

I was in a bit of a zombie state after painting hard for two weeks then doing the tourist thing in Munich so I snoozed on the train to Hamburg or watched the scenery whizz past. Others around me were busy on their computers ... but not me. Now I have had a couple of sleeps I am feeling more human.

I have just taken a picture with my laptop web cam ( first time) of the window in front of which I am sitting. It is 6:45pm and the sun is low in the west but still lighting the tree tops. Two clocks in the room are ticking but otherwise there is no sound. It is very peaceful.
Picture of the window behind me

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Munich Inner city

"There must be more to Munich than this," I said to myself as I drank my espresso looking out the cafe window.
Munich Street
I had taken a shortcut to the city via an underground walkway and had popped up in a nondescript area that looked nothing like the brochures. My little YMCA map showed what appeared to be a long pedestrian street a couple of streets away, so I re-entered the tunnel and made for the opposite side, walked up the moving staircase and suddenly I was there, in the Munich of the brochures with old and ornate buildings.

Munich City Gate

Munich inner city
Munich inner city 2

The main shopping street in the center of Munich extends several city blocks. It is closed to traffic so it is peaceful and you can look at the historic buildings on either side at your leisure. There were few people about at nine but by 10 o'clock there were a lot of other tourists wandering about and taking photos. By lunch time people were sitting by flower stands resting their feet.
Sitting by the flowerpots
Munich inner city building

Dirndls and Lederhosen

Dirndls dirndls everywhere. .... Well after all, this is Munich and Octoberfest is around the corner. In every shop window there were dirndls and lederhosen - also lederhosen for women, which seem to be popular judging by what the people on the train were wearing.
Dirndl shop

Dirndls in every shop window
Child's dirndl

What you wear under your lederhosen

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Churches in Munich

As you walk along Munich's pedestrian street from the station you come to a building site covered with scaffolding . You don't see the facade and only when you come from the other direction do you you realise the sheeting over the scaffolding has a photograph of the building printed on it and is quite impressive.
Sheeting with printed image of St Michael's Church
I could see the glimmer of gold in the gaps between the scaffolding so I walked in underneath and discovered a very impressive and ornate church. This is Munich's St Michael's church.

St Michaels Church in Munich

I had been making my way to Munich's Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) and once I had seen St Michael's I thought the Frauenkirche might be similar but bigger.

The Frauenkirche is just off the pedestrian street: it is a tall church and you see it peeping out above other buildings as you walk  towards it. One tower is currently being renovated (there seems to be lots of building work in Munich at the moment.)

Frauenkirche in the background
You turn into the small street towards the church and find that it is too tall to fit in a photograph.
Side street leads to Frauenkirche

A large carved wooden door leads into the church and inside there is a foot impression in the marble floor. If you put your foot there you can look down the church and not see a single side window. When the church was built the end window was obscured by a statue and it is said that the devil came to see the church as it was being built; he stood there and looked, didn't see a single window and thought that the church would be a failure with no light.

Inside the Frauenkirche
It is completely different to the Church of St Michael and much less ornamented. The overwhelming impression in the church is height. The arches soar high above and are equally as difficult to photograph inside as they are outside.

Monday, September 17, 2012

YMCA Munich

There are 15 people here in the Munich YMCA breakfast room, all of them either young Asian folk or mature-to-elderly locals. What did I expect? Well probably not so many of the mature age .... but then again, it is close to the station, the sheets are wonderfully crisp, the personnel very friendly.
Showers are spartan and miniscule though so it is not the place to stay if you are here for more than a night.


We should enjoy THIS life said the woman at the table by the door to her companion as I passed her on my way out of the restaurant. My feeling exactly, I thought to myself. I had just finished a plate of the most delicious tagliatelle with pfifferlinge mushrooms that I think I have ever tasted. The hostel where I am staying had recommended the Italian restaurant and it was excellent. After a long train journey the wheat beer tasted wonderful too!


Austria looked like a picture postcard from the train today. Blue skies, snow capped mountains, farmers mowing hay, cows grazing. The train stopped at little towns and lots of peple got on and off wearing national  costume. There was apparently a festival in Graz.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Goodbye Maribor for 2012

A last look at Maribor before catching the train to Munich.
Plague Monument
The main town square (though not the one where most people take their coffee)is dominated by a large memorial to victims of the plague which must still be part of the city psyche.
Town Square with Plague Monument
It has been a wonderful visit - hopefully not the last.

Bridge over the River Drava

This sketch of the bridge over the River Drava at Maribor was drawn from the Vinotek on the riverbank.
The bridge over the river Drava at Maribor

One thing about drawing is that you can select the bits that inspire and leave out those that don't, like the new but unmemorable building in pale blues and greens next to the bridge. A local woman who lives in a house on the river bank told me the people from Maribor are angry that old buildings are being destroyed and replaced with buildings like this one which was, she said, designed by a 'famous' architect.
The view - with new bluish building