Showing posts from 2013

More pics with tiny stories

One of the best things about pictures is the stories they prompt, but here are very short ones, often one sentence. Let me say again that nearly all the photos were taken by Mark. He has a simple pocket camera and doesn't use Photoshop. He just has a good eye. 

Cannot say I really understand the French penchant for subduing trees and forcing their conformity.

We went to the museum of the City of Paris. This vase stands about 4 feet tall and commemorates the 1934 Paris Olympics.
   Happened across this wee shop in a courtyard that sells old copies of newspapers, but as it says on the door, it fancies itself both a shop and a museum of the press. 
Quaint was everywhere in the small towns of Germany.

Destination weddings have become very fashionable among the Japanese. It was a very cold day for this petite couple at Heidelburg Castle, an oft chosen location.
Shutter holders in Heidelburg.
The castle and the gypsy caravan. The huge migration of the Romany people into the more prosperous par…


Some final words on Amsterdam. 
It's a city of great juxtaposition where, for instance, you might have a corner gambling casino next to an apartment building next to a law office, next to the motorcycle shop, which we noted while waiting for a tram.
Even more startling, at least to me, is the prostitutes on the right, the cities oldest church on the left and down where the people are walking is a day care center.

Amsterdam is a city on built on a human scale and, because of the canals, a city whose center has changed little for centuries. It is a very easy city to walk, very compact with many streets too narrow for cars. An easy city to bike, of course.

 I read that 78% of Amsterdamers have bikes. No one wears a helmet and their fatality count is usually 5-6 per year, which means the death per kilometer pedaled is tiny. Bikes get their own lanes everywhere, which no doubt helps tremendously, but the bike lanes constantly cross streets and sidewalks. And the riders must contend with cl…

Steeple Chase

I have mentioned my favorite church in a previous post. Now, the bigger picture.
We visited many churches. What struck us is:
Churches in France are in worse condition that others we saw. They were all Catholic and they were often run down and felt dank.  The price to light a candle was between 2 and 10 Euros. There were constant signs and plenty of opportunities to buy and light.

In Switzerland and Germany the churches were in excellent shape and asking for a donation of .50 Euros with smaller, less frequent signs. The lighting was good and the places seemed warm, not only in temperature but in life.

The big churches of Amsterdam were often no longer churches, having become simply tourist attractions or museums, and thus charged admission. 
Don't get me wrong- I don't begrudge any church that lets in tourists trying to recoup some money for their hospitality. I'm not a candle lighter, but I never left a church with dropping some euros in the box. (We scorn freeloaders.)
The Colog…

Derde Zondag van de Advent

We have seen many impressive churches in Europe but I think I have found my favorite: Sint Nicolaaskerk in Amsterdam.
Facing the Central Train Station, just north of the Red Light District and "coffee shops" east and west, St. Nick retains its beauty amid the detritus of modern Amsterdam. Fittingly,  the walls are covered in wonderful paintings and gorgeous tiles. The stations of the cross are each huge scenes of about 10x15 feet painted onto the wall and the painter, Jan Dunselman, labored on them for 40 years.
St. Nicholas is the patron saint of seafarers and the fate of this city has always been tied to the sea. 
Tonight we attended vespers there. The 11 monks and priests came up the main aisle in their plain white robes and chanted, in Latin, the evening prayer. It was lovely.

Stuff we didn't buy


These are Russian meteorite chunks, they claim. They are also trying to sell moon rocks, which is illegal in this part of the Solar System.  (Paris)

    A shoe you can't refuse. (Strasbourg, France...which has been part of Germany off and on several times during the last couple of centuries, incidentally.)
    All creatures, great and small. (Germany)

    Did he really say "I am a jelly donut?" 

   Watch bands, scissors, CDs and tubes. (Amsterdam)


   Was tempted by the MJ/RIP sox. (Amsterdam)

    The spray paint comes without tips. We don't know if that is the law or if connoisseurs simply prefer       their own.  (Amsterdam)
   Das Racist!
   There is so much wrong with this we don't know where to begin.