Archive for May, 2014

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Day 1 (Part 9)

05.29.2014 - By
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I had a few goals when I started this trip to Germany: spend time alone, hang out with some of my long-term friends, speak German and challenge myself creativity with photography.  On this next part of my trip, I was by myself for almost three days.  It was just me and my Canon.  I drove from Ulm to Rothenburg ob der Tauber on a Wednesday afternoon.  At one point, I stopped at a McDonalds off the Autobahn to use their wifi and send a few messages over the iPad.  That was my only stop during the 1.5 hour drive to Rothenburg.  I drove 160 Km per hour the whole way (almost 100 mph).  My little gray rented Polo (smaller version of a VW Golf) wasn’t the fastest car speeding along the Autobahn, but I still drove this manual car faster than I do in the states on the freeway and it felt a little “dangerous.”

Once I got checked in at my centrally-located Reichsküchenmeister Hotel, I walked around the city all afternoon.  It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon and thanks to Rick Steve’s recommendation to visit here in his guide books, there were tons of tourists out walking around everywhere, even though it was late October and not high tourist season.  I overheard several Americans asking questions or making statements about the things they were experiencing in Germany.  Made me smile.  I loved Germany from the first time I visited there as a 16-year-old and have been enamored with it ever since.  A 20 year love affair really.  It’s HOME.  Even though I had never been to Rothenburg before, it still felt like home because I got to speak German and eat German food.  All the following photos were taken just steps from my hotel, located in the heart of this ancient walled city.



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I read some guidebooks that gave me some ideas of what things I should visit while I was in Rothenburg.  One of those was the St. Jakob’s church.  Here, you can see one of Tilman Riemenschneider’s famous wood carvings of the Last Supper.  While I found it interesting to look at, it was not as beautiful to me as the spectacular interior walls and stained glass of the church itself.  I loved the lighter interior (much different than the dark, gray interiors of the churches in Freiburg and Ulm) and large pipe organ.


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I didn’t spend much time inside the church because the main objective of my afternoon was to visit and walk up on top of the large wall that encloses the entire city.  There are a few different places you can access the wall climb itself and once you are up on the wall, you cannot get off until you reach another access point with stairs leading down to the street level.  This wall was the biggest reason I wanted to visit Rothenburg.  It is one of the only remaining walled cities left with most of the wall itself still in tact.  I wanted to see it.  I wanted to photograph it!

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After my afternoon of photographs, I went out to eat at a small, little hole in the wall pub called “Zur Höll,” which literally means, “to hell.”  I sat alone at a tiny table for one in the darkness of a small stairwell and ate one of the best filets I’ve ever had in my entire life at this place.  I remember thinking how I would give anything to have my husband, Greg, there to share this experience with me!  If you go to Rothenburg, be sure to visit this cool restaurant.  The food is well worth the price.  I also recommend taking a walk with the Night Watchman to learn more about the history of this beautiful city!

Ulm: Day 2 (Part 8)

05.20.2014 - By
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On my last morning in Ulm, I got up really early and had breakfast in the quaint little breakfast room on the ground floor of my hotel with all the rest of the hotel guests.  I had my photo gear with me and in my sleepy state muttered, “Malzeit” when I walked in.  In this area of the country, they speak a dialect of German called Schwäbisch and all of the people I worked with at Reich Baumaschinen spoke it.  Whenever I went to eat my lunch they would always say this same thing to me, a way of acknowledging that it was time for me to eat and wishing that I have a nice meal, all wrapped in one word.  Pretty cool.  In a way, that would be like me walking into a room and yelling “lunch” while you ate but you’d probably think I would be crazy for doing it.  Here it’s totally normal.  After my quick meal, I put on my favorite lens at the time, a 24-70mm, and walked toward the center of the city.  It was Wednesday and the local merchants were setting up for the weekly farmer’s market.  I took some photos at the market and then walked through the pedestrian zone with the rest of the workday foot traffic.  There were few people out at at 7:30 am and the city was quiet.  The photo of the Münster below photographed at morning’s twilight might be my favorite of the whole trip for personal reasons.  It’s not the most artistic, but every time I look at it, it sends chills down my spine and then I’m right back amidst all those special moments I experienced while living here.  You see, wherever I was standing in the city, you could always see part of this huge church.  It was just always there.

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I think part of the reason I love Germany so much is the little details.  I saw these cool hanging lights on my way back to my hotel this Wednesday morning.  I love the bits of modern mixed in with the ancient and antique parts of the city from centuries past. Like this cool wood framed building that is now occupied by a store of some sort.  I stayed at Hotel Bäumle (little tree) in a little room just for one.  I had a TV, but never watched it.  I don’t think I spent any time in my room other than to sleep really.  I wanted to experience everything I could out and about with the limited time I had.

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I repacked all my things once I was back at the hotel and headed out, dragging my suitcase and gear for a few miles to get a rental car.  I just had to drive in Ulm again as I did so many years ago.  That was part of my experience then and it would be part of my experience now.  Later that morning before leaving Ulm completely, I got to meet with one of my oldest friends, Thomas, for some coffee near my old student residence in Neu-Ulm.  Thomas was a delivery driver years ago at my company and is one of the kindest souls you will ever meet. He had just had a baby a week before and was not sleeping much and I was still jet lagged, so the strong coffee did both of us good!  We met for a few hours discussing everything under the sun and caught up from having not seen each other since 2002.  By the end of our time together, my head hurt from speaking so much German.  Up to then, I had been alone most of the time and had no need to be speaking to anyone other than myself.

When I lived in Neu-Ulm, I lived in a small student complex called Wiley Nord.  It was part of the old American army base from WWII and I literally lived in its deserted barracks for almost 6 months.  I had a single room with a view of a busy highway and shared a bathroom with a German student.  During my spring and summer months here as an intern, I met and hung out with people from all over the world: Canada, the US and Spain mostly.  We grilled all types of meat and had fun student parties in the parking lot of this complex.  I parked my car here every night after work.  Back in 1998, these buildings were a tan color and not as colorful as they are now.  Back in 1998, we had a very primitive form of email and I had limited access to computers at the time so I did all my correspondence by snail mail.  I spent many hours every week writing letters to friends and family.  My old mail box was still there.  Still the same ugly rust color.  It still brings me joy to see it, though, as it reminds me of all the mail and sentiments that I received while living there.  My next post will feature a drive on the Romantic Road and my visit to a few new places in Germany that I had never been before.




Ulm: Day 1 (Part 7)

05.18.2014 - By
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On my first day back in Ulm, I spent most of my time just walking around the city.  One of my most memorable walks of my entire trip was in the late afternoon through the Fischerviertel (Fishermen’s Quarter) and along the banks of the blue, blue Danube.  The skies were still pretty overcast and hazy and there was a slight chill in the air.  Since it was a work day, I had many of the streets all to myself.  I popped in my ear buds, stuck on my warm wool cap and walked for a few hours, listening to music, only stopping to take photos or say hi to some of the local retired folk out for their mid-day walk.

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The Fischerviertel has several little canals and waterways with little bridges over some of them.  It is fun to “get lost” in this area and find the unexpected.  This area was the first “touristy” place I visited as a new resident to Ulm several years ago.  This little walk on a Tuesday in October 2012 took me right back to my first days in Germany in April 1998.  I was 2o then and knew no one.  I spoke some German, but not a lot, just enough to get around really.  I missed home.  I wondered what the future would bring.  I wondered if I could really stick it out and live there all by myself.  I did stick it out for almost two years and I did learn German.  I still speak German very well and I’m proud that I stayed long enough to gain fluency, something that will never leave me no matter where I am.



One of my first distinct memories of Ulm was attending an opera and eating dinner with some of my new co-workers at the restaurant Wilder Mann (the “wild man”).  I remember thinking this was a really funny name for a restaurant and that the prices for food were really high (I was a student back then and anything over $5 was expensive, right?).  Next stop on my photo walk was the Schiefes Haus (steep house), a historic residence converted into a hotel.  It was built in 1406 and over time, part of it sank into the water.



Ulm is situated right on the Danube River and is part of the state Baden Württemberg.  If you cross over the river, you will find yourself in Neu-Ulm, which is where I lived as a student, and that section of the city is part of the state of Bayern (Bavaria).  I’m so glad I had my ear buds in and was “tuned out” to the surrounding noises of the city.  It was just me and God and some really great worship music.  I’ll never forget the peace I felt as I walked over the river and along its tree-lined banks.

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On my only night in Ulm, I ate alone in a little pub and waited for it to get dark.  I really wanted to take some night photos of the magnificent Ulmer Münster (described in detail in my last blog post, Ulm: Day 1 (Part 6)), and the surrounding buildings in the same square occupied by the church.  The weather was still very foggy and cool at night.  If you look closely, you can see the spot lights shining on the top of the church’s steeple.  The color of the sky was really this ugly brown color from the reflection of the lights in the fog (no filter or edits here).  My hotel was so close to the church that I could hear the bells ringing every hour.  I did this on purpose.  I love church bells!  These photos were taken around 7:30 pm at night and I was back at it taking photos again in this same spot the very next day at 7:30 am, which will be the highlight of my next blog.

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Ulm: Day 1 (Part 6)

05.03.2014 - By
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Ulm.  Ulm is special and dear to my heart, much like Freiburg is in so many ways.  In April 1998, I boarded a plane by myself, arrived in Frankfurt hours later and then took a train to my new temporary home in Ulm.  Here I worked for a concrete pump manufacturer, Reich Baumaschinen, for four months as a intern and did all sorts of exciting jobs at the company like translating manuals or delivering machine parts.  I also got to use a company car my entire stay in Ulm and took it on several adventures to nearby cities.  When I arrived in Ulm in October 2012, it felt like coming home.  Some things had changed, but not much.  On this fall morning I took an 8:00 am express train straight from Freiburg to Ulm and arrived in the early afternoon with enough time to check in to my pension and walk around the city some before a pre-scheduled Skype call with my boys.  As I walked from the train station to the middle of the city where my pension was, I took photos along the way.  Street acts on the pedestrian street performing for money. The local police station. Beautiful in black and white and a place I never discovered until this trip.

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But, the creme de la creme of Ulm is the Ulmer Münster (church) with the tallest steeple in the entire world (530 feet).  It is literally awesome to just stand and look straight up at it.  You can see the steeple from miles and miles away and its size is breathtaking.  The church sits in the middle of the city and has shops and restaurants encircling it. I’ll show you several external shots of the building in my next post, but for this point, I am focusing on the inside of the steeple.  I ran up most of its 768 steps as fast as I could since I was limited on time.  I wanted these photos, but I wanted the call with my boys even more!  Construction on this Gothic style church was started in 1405 and ended in 1890.  So, take a journey with me up the steeple and see what I saw through my lens on this fabulously foggy fall day.  Just looking at these photos brings me back to the moments I took them and I can’t wait to finally frame a few of them so I can see them all the time.

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Rumble the Buffalo

05.01.2014 - By
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In one of my favorite newborn sessions to date, I got introduced to Rumble, the mascot for the Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA).  His parents, Anne and Ted are die hard Thunder fans and really wanted a photo with their favorite buffalo and newborn son, Jon Albert.  We took all my normal type session shots and then got to pose him free form with Rumble at the end.  Rumble was not a super pliable animal by any means, but we made it work and the results were fantastic.  Here are my favorites shots with Rumble and a mini OKC jersey!  So cute!