Monday, August 16, 2010

EuroTour 2010, Day 48, Bonn to Paris to Los Angeles

Is today really the day?  The day that we fly home?  It is nearly an absurd notion.  Absurd but true.

This day begins with a special treat.  One last visit with Amanda, Gillian, and Charlie.  Then we are off to the airport.

When children wave good-bye through a window, part of your heart stays with them.

Düsseldorf airport.  From here, it is a short step to Paris.

Airport Candid, Düsseldorf.  August, 2010.

This is not a candid, because Barbie is looking directly at me from the center of that escalator.

A shorter trip often equals, gasp, walking up steps to get on the plane.  Where am I, Burbank?

I was amused by the trio of Air Berlin jets jockeying for the main runway.

Auf wiedersehen, Deutschland.

You know me.  The moment when the airplane clears the cloud-line is always worth capturing.

Soon we were on the ground at Charles de Gaulle.  Last year I bothered saying why this man was important enough for one of the world's most important cities to name their airport after him.  This year I challenge you to either look it up on the Waste (the search box works quite well) or google it yourself.  But I will tell you this, which I likely left out last year.  As a Brigadier General during World War II, de Gaulle lead a successful armored attack against the Wehrmacht during the fall of France.  In other words, the American impression that the French tossed their guns to the ground and begged the Germans to not scratch any of their buildings is both inaccurate and insulting.

While taxiing around Charles de Gaulle, you often get to pass this Concorde on display.  It made me wish I'd had the chance to fly on it just once.  I mean, that sucker took the eight hour flight from New York to Paris and did it in three and a half.  It also made me think that the French and British must have been awful proud while that plane was in the air.  To think that their top airliner was the fastest in the world, even if it operated at a loss, must have been a source of pride.

Okay.  Seriously.  I had to take this one and you have to click here and look at it full-size.  Like, you have to.  I bothered to not reduce the size of that picture for you, the Waste reader.

I was close to extremely miserable on this flight.  The truth is that I have not felt completely well since the Molli train's coal smoke attacked my lungs, and the dry, thin air of this flight made feel about as horrible as possible.  I could not eat or sleep.  I just laid there, my head aching, with a blanket over my head trying to capture the moisture in my expiration so that the air I was breathing would not hurt as badly.

When I saw that, my heart leapt with expectation.  Could we really be that close to home for the first time in seven weeks?


Los Angeles International Airport.  For the umpteenth time, I say that the eldest buildings here are the most futuristic.

That was our ride for I think just over ten hours.  We arrived very early, which means that some deity pitied my suffering and sent us a tail wind.

Let me tell you, we got our bags off the carousel, kissed my parents good-bye, walked out of the airport and only had to take maybe fifteen steps before we were inside this waiting taxi.

The Los Angeles sunset, through the tinted taxi window.

Anytime one is travels a great distance in one day, the math has to be done.  In this case, we woke up at 7:30 AM in Bonn, Germany.  That is 10:30 PM in Los Angeles.  We arrived in Los Angeles at 7 PM, and walked through the door of our home at 7:30 PM.  Add it up and that is 21 hours, door to door.

We are glad to be home.  I have often closed the Waste with Until tomorrow..., but today I leave you with Until I travel again or do something else Waste-worthy.  And guess what?  As much as I would like to say that after this seven week extravaganza I will be home for the next few months, next month I am apparently going to Hawaii for someone's birthday and Vegas with some of my oldest friends.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

EuroTour 2010, Day 47, Bonn

The day has come.  Our last day in Europe before we fly home tomorrow.  And my last day with my brother's family before not seeing them for a year or so.

Since it was raining, my brother texted me that he would come and get us at the hotel.  Truth is that we were going to take a taxi, but, hey, four decades of brotherhood saves you taxi fare sometimes.

Waiting in the Maritim Bonn lobby for the bro.

Bad Godesberg in the rain.  From a city planning perspective, I think that there is a lot to be said for having rail between cities, and then small bedroom communities around their own small town centers along the rail line.  Rail and town centers lead to pedestrian areas, and pedestrian areas are communities.  Back home, city planning is all about automobiles, traffic, and parking.  Except, of course, in our little enclave of Brentwood, where Barbie and I can walk to markets and restaurants and shopping.  No wonder we love our neighborhood.  If only I could hop on a train or subway to shoot over to Santa Monica next door.  Busses do not cut it, as they are stuck in traffic, but somewhere in the back of my head I wonder about giving them a shot.

No more city planning thoughts.

Rainy days are perfect for games.  As if we would not have played all day, even if there were sun.

Wii Boxing is such a fun spectator sport...  I took on the winner, and ended up a sweaty mess.

FFIF.  Forward Facing iPhone Fun.  Amanda and I posed for a series of pictures, and then we messed around with Photoshop Mobile on the iPhone and created the rainbow & dot-border masterpiece in the lower left.  To the lower right, I used the app Glowing Art to place a sort of anti-matter burst between our frightened faces.  I know it is a tad high-concept, but if anti-matter suddenly defied the laws of physics and clustered in front of your face and began growing, swallowing the matter of your universe, you would, in fact, place your hands on your cheeks and scream.  The upper right picture is an emboss effect I did to complete the 4x3 grid.  Note to self.  When taking pictures with your niece, take enough to make a nice, even grid.

A while later...
FFIF.  Forward Facing iPhone Fun. Gillian and I had a little fun, and since there were six pictures and I wanted to do another set of twelve, I did a Photoshop tweak next to each.  My favorite might be the bottom right, which is supposed to look like it was done with charcoal.  And, yes, I am a sucker for a nose touch.  Nothing beats when the other person ends up with one eye.  Barbie and I did this on an elevator in Stockholm in front of my mother, and I believe it warmed her heart.

A while later...

FFIF.  Forward Facing iPhone Fun with Charlie, Uncle Jeff, Gillian, and Amanda.  Talk about self indulgence.  I took all these pics and played them on the iPhone for the kids as a slideshow.  I thought that it looked so very cool dissolving from one to the next that I bothered to recreate this slideshow for you, the loyal Waste reader.  My displeasure with silence lead to my adding a musical selection.  I nearly chose a hoe-down-banjo-song from the Beastie Boys, but since these pictures were taken in Europe I turned to Dmitri from Paris.  Honestly, I kind of want to do a second version with the banjo music, but I shall resist.  One can only indulge oneself so much.  (If I get get requests for the banjo version, it may magically appear.)

And with that... the rainy day of play has come to an end.  I fortunately got some time with my brother and his wife as well, but I am clearly a photographic ageist.  Pictures of adults?  Pish.  Children are more fun.

Until tomorrow...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

EuroTour 2010, Day 46, Bonn

Here we are, our first day waking up in Bonn.  The agenda is as simple as can be.  We slept in, now we hop over to my brother's house and play with the kids.

My brother wanted me to see 5 year old Charlie's throwing and catching.  Time to walk to the park.  Barbie and the girls were chilling at the house.  (Girls includes my mother, two nieces, and sister-in-law.)  I turned around on this walk to see Barbie and the eldest Amanda a few blocks behind us.  Those pics did not come out so well.

Action shot!!!  Yes, the picture would have been better had Charlie been in the sun.  Waste readers aside, I would never ask a kid to move from the shade to the sun just for a picture.  I kept looking for when Amanda and Barbie would pass by us, and they never did.  The young ladies are off on their own walk.  I found out later they went around town and even had some nutella crepes.  I was a little jealous of the crepes, but delighted that they got in some woman-time.

After baseball, Charlie insisted on showing me how fast he is on his bike.  Matt let him win this one.  I raced him, too.

Right after I shot this video, Charlie stated the clip title that you see above.

Back to the house...

I was a bit surprised.  These tech-savvy kids were well aware of the iPhone 4 and its capabilities.  They all ask, "Is that the 4?"  I had to show them all the tricks that I have.
Any iPhone can do this, but Polarize is always fun.  Odd that the kids appreciate it even if Polaroid cameras never existed in their lifetimes.  The names come from this; Amanda said that of her one-hundred-forty-eight nick-names, one is Shman, which derives from truncating Amanda to Manda to Man, then adding the comforting Sh in front.  So, when it came time to type a title on Polarize, I converted "Amanda & Gillian" to "Shman & Shmil.

Games were played and fun was had...  then it was time for dinner.  We are excited, because for sister-in-law Lisa's recent Birthday my parents are taking her to the Italian joint that they loved last year.

I insisted on playing with the forward-facing camera.  That is what the "city center" of a small town/suburb in Germany looks like.  It serves the role of a mall, while still feeling like a town.  I believe this is the sort of area some Americans bemoaned that we lost when our country became Wal-Mart-ized. It is a shame.  Of course, in Los Angeles we only have streets and malls, no public squares and no Wal-Marts.  Santa Monica has the only pedestrian street that I know of, which is probably why all Europeans adore Santa Monica.

The restaurant is directly to the right, but Barbie and I looked up to the castle we have never visited and decided that we would burn off dinner with a walk up there after dessert.

If you are wrapping your head around the Italian-food-in-Germany concept, check a map.  Not far.

Barbie's starter... the last prosciutto and melon of the trip.  

My starter... a bizarre soup with egg and parmesan.

Barbie's dinner... veal I think?

My dinner... nothing simpler or better than spaghetti bolognese.  (Anachronous comment.  I am home now, finishing the Waste on my real computer.  This entire trip, I have looked at every picture on a 9-inch netbook.  Now I am looking at them on two 19-inche monitors.  That spaghetti, simple as it is, is an amazing picture when it fills the screen.  For upload I shrink every picture to 1/3 its original size.  My apologies.  I had no idea how cruel this was.  You should SEE the originals.  You can, on a 52-inch TV, if you schedule a visit to Casa Howard Brentwood.)

Two of my favorite women in the world.

Three of my favorite women in the world.

Yes, the words, "You can live with us if you go to UCLA," are always halfway out of my mouth.
My father's Tiramisu, with the loveliest lighting from the sun one could request.

What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?  (If you knew how I felt about Elvis Costello, you would shun me for hypocritically quoting him.)  Amanda wants peace for all, yo.

My chocolate mousse.  I swear to you, the lighting and the detail of this sucker full-screen is food-art.

After dinner, Barbie and I shared our plan to walk up the hill to the castle.  We almsot got both Amanda and Gillian to come, but by the time we were walking out of the restaurant we just had Gillian.

I should have pointed with a finger.  Instead, you must settle for arrows.  No capitalized, "Here."  That is for fingers only.  Check the rule book.

Not too hard to find your way around a small town.  Technically a "municipal district of Bonn," Bad Godesberg strikes me as a town.  Maybe even a village.  By the way, though the village was founded in 722, the fortress was not built until 1210.  This being Europe, it was destroyed by Bavarian troops in the Köln War, which happened because the local Archbishop converted to Protestantism.  

Before we get all "religion is bad" up in here, allow me to share a thought.  Before you hear it, know that I am not a believer in anything, really, except that all the world's religions were created by men for various reasons and more often than not these religions are meant for good.  However, on the whole religious war front, I will stand up for the faithful and state that Ten times out of Ten religious wars are political wars, over power and resources, with religion used as a justification.  Just my opinion.

In 1792 Godesberg became a spa resort, but it was until 1925 that Godesberg became Bad Godesberg, identifying itself as a spa.  We learned at the spa town on the Baltic that the Molli train took us to how strict the Germans are about the Bad moniker.

At the top of the hill, a tad sweaty, I got this shot of Godesberg Castle's remaining tower.  Happy accident that the iPhone made this upside down.  The Hackintoshed netbook knew to fix it on import, and I had to flip it back.  Happy accidents do not need correction.

Barbie, Jeff, and Gillian, at Godesberg Castle.

A view of the town from above.

The ladies posing by the ruins.

The owner, who I hear inherited this place, has built a high-end restaurant up here.

The stroll back down the hill could not have been lovelier.

Back at the house came Wii playing and general fun.  Enough fun that my phone stayed in my pocket.

Until tomorrow.

Friday, August 13, 2010

EuroTour 2010, Day 45, Berlin to Bonn

The time has come for us to leave Berlin.  The rest of this trip is all about my brother and his family, and you can forget about anything insightful or interesting from here on out.  Unless, of course, my twelve year old niece teaches me some cool slang to share with you.

Today we fly from Germany's capital city to the former West Germany's capital city.

Berlin Tiegel Airport.  The cab driver let us know that it is closing in a few years.  It might be the strangest airport on the planet, where each gate has its own arrival and departure door and its own security screening.

The bags of four people who spent a combined 10 weeks in Europe.  And, as Barbie and I tell every person we come across, the tan garment bag on the lower left is the formal wear for the wedding in Paris that we attended on July 3.  We have essentially lived out of two smaller carry-on bags since that event.

Our ride to Bonn.  

I was sitting on the plane, looking at the little screens all showing the same image, and I had to take a picture.  Maybe I should have cropped it?

Here you go, cropped in extra-contrast black and white because some people have been asking for more of that.

One of my last views of the city of Berlin.  A genuine world-class city.

My first view of Bonn.  Bonn, as you know, was the seat of government for West Germany from 1949 to 1990.  And it actually remained the official seat of government for reunified Germany from 1990 to 1999, when the capital was rightly moved back to Berlin.  (I bet that took some planning.)  Still, Bonn remains a political center and a hub for the headquarters of international organizations and corporations.

This picture is for you die-hard Wasters.  I know that you all remember when I took a picture of that sign last year from inside the airport.  No?  

You are so high maintenance.  Here...

Inside the Köln Bonn Airport, July 19, 2009.

Airplane Candid, waiting to deplane.  Köln Bonn Airport.  August 2010.

Last year the jetway had orange sides.  This year the panels paint the light inside green.  Look closely and you will see a Barbie.

Mother-Son Hug at the airport.  I just realized that this is technically a candid and should be black and white.  Rats.

(Fixed.)  Mother-Son Hug Candid.  Bonn, Germany.  August 2010.

My brother lives in Bad Godesberg, the district of Bonn where the majority of foreign embassies were located.  Atop the hill is Godesberg Castle, which Barbie and I have yet to visit.

You can tell how old a kid is by how blurry he or she is in a picture.  

Excuse me, but the next few days I plan to play with them quite a bit.  The Waste will be a tad less cultural, methinks.

Until tomorrow...