Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

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Who needs pads? This is rugby!

I’d never been to a rugby game before, but decided to check it out when a friend from my German class invited me to see his team play. March 27th, 2010 in Munich:  this was Stusta vs. Stuttgart!

Over the years I’ve sprained ankles and knees playing Ultimate Frisbee. (Ultimate photo gallery here). But I can safely say that rugby is a slightly more contact-oriented sport. Here are a few photos to demonstrate, along with my commentary on the game. Maybe I have some of the rules wrong, so just correct me if I’ve misunderstood something…

Players pile on top of each other until the weight of their bodies causes the ball to pop out from underneath. An unlucky player that was left out of the pile grabs the ball and hopes to be the base for the next pile.

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

When the ball goes out of bounds, it’s thrown back in, and both teams see who can lift their teammates higher in the air to snag the ball. Again, the winner gets to start the next pile.

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

Here’s an example of what happens when there aren’t enough players nearby for a pile. Turn the opposing player upside down and shake until he drops the ball.

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

I’m tied as to the best tackle I caught on film. Was it this one:

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

Or this one? (due to the angle it almost looks like #14’s left leg is twisted backwards)

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

By a nice trick of the camera (which often couldn’t focus fast enough, or I didn’t focus the right point)… the only guy looking at the ball is the only guy in sharp focus! (far right side)

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

One way you can score in rugby is by reaching the end zone. You do this by diving over the line, being sure not to touch the tripwire rigged to the sharks with laser beams on their heads.

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

One last HIT…

Stusta vs. Stuttgart Rugby

See below for an album with even more photos, where you can also see these choice shots in larger size. Rugby is a lot easier to photograph than Ultimate Frisbee!

If any of the players from Stusta or Stuttgart want one of the shots in a larger size, just leave me a comment, and I’ll email it to you.

Congratulations to Stuttgart, who won the match. But both teams played really well, and I can honestly say it was the best rugby match I’ve ever seen.

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Posted 7 years, 7 months ago at 4:02 pm.

4 comments

Hot Snowboard Carving

Bernd Snowboard Carving

Alright, you’ve probably seen a few videos like my latest craziness from February. For March I decided to put up some D-SLR snowboard carving photos taken with the Nikon D90 and 70-300mm VR lens. For all those riding hardboots, check these out! Raceboards are one major step faster than freeride boards, and provide superior stability and grip to carve serious trenches in the snow at high speed.

Here Peter shows off some really amazing turns on his Oxess snowboard… first the frontside,

Peter Snowboard Frontside Carve Oxess

And now the backside turn (I swear it’s not a mirror image of the frontside photo!),

Peter Snowboard Backside Carve Oxess

I think my body doesn’t turn far enough to be able to kiss the snow on the backside… heh. Here are a few shots of the author; you can see I’m not as practiced as Peter (and I wasn’t as confident on the bumpy/slushy snow we had later in the day when Bernd took these shots of me).

Dave Snowboard Backside Carve Virus

My Virus Xtremecarver snowboard grips like mad. I think I just need to learn to ride it better. The frontside turn, as always, is easier than the backside:

Dave Snowboard Carving Frontside Virus

If any carvers out there have some advice how I can improve my technique, please do leave a comment here! I have a feeling my stance may need adjustment, and I need to turn my upper body more on the backside turns.

Lastly, here’s Bernd on his trusty (~15-year-old) F2 Speedster SL. I’m curious how he’d do on a Silberpfeil, one of the most known factory-standard carving boards.

Bernd Snowboard Frontside Carve F2

And the tricky backside turn:

Bernd Snowboard Backside Carve F2

Below you’ll find a whole album with many more photos from all three of us. Enjoy, and leave a comment if you have some helpful advice about technique! (I’m the second rider).

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Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 2:29 pm.

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The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

One of the destinations I plan to visit on my round-the-world trip is Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. By lucky coincidence, I got in touch with a local resident who volunteered to write a guest post about this fantastic island: Jake Garrett from The Villas at Poipu Kai. Currently [month of Mar 2010] they are offering a promotion for a free helicopter ride to Waimea Canyon. On to Jake’s post, which includes details on a great hike I’ll definitely do!

____________________

In 1866 Mark Twain travelled to the Hawaiian Islands and gave the secluded tropical paradise a real place on the map. He was on assignment from the Sacramento Union and wrote 25 letters documenting his journey. During his time he never made it to the Garden Isle of Kauai, yet Kauaians are anxious to claim him as part of their history. The legend goes that when Twain visited the Waimea Canyon he dubbed it the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Well, the story is false, but it doesn’t require a folk hero to see that the title is well attributed.

The Waimea Canyon stacks up the Grand Canyon quite well in beauty and history. Two natural processes have formed the island over the last 5 million years – natural rainfall from the wettest place on earth and the collapse of the islands’ primary volcano. Centuries of cataclysmic events and continuous erosion give sightseers a breathtaking experience. The canyon is 10 miles long, 1 mile wide and 3,600 ft deep. The displaced sediment over the years forms the entire plain of the southwest portion of the island.

Waimea Canyon

All these facts make Waimea Canyon a must see when visiting Kauai. You can make the trip to the canyon one day long or a week long. If you are going to make it a day trip be sure to bring a long sleeved shirt. The temperature up the canyon is 10-15 degrees cooler than the rest of the island. Also, you should go on at least a small hike. While the lookouts are nice and the vistas spectacular – there is nothing like walking down through this immense canyon and forest area. There are a number of hikes that you can choose. A great day hike is on the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls. The trail is 2.4 miles one way. The trailhead starts at the Pu’u Hinahina lookout between mile markers 13 and 14 on Waimea Canyon Drive. The hike should take 2-3 hours depending on how long you linger.

Waipoo Falls

The stories that you will be able to tell will give Mark Twain his biggest regret – not visiting the Grand Canyon of the Pacific!!

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Thanks for the great post, Jake – this canyon is somewhere I’ll definitely spend a few days during my trip in May!

Map picture

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 7:39 pm.

6 comments

Porch Breakfast Season

It’s that time of year again, when those of us in the northern hemisphere can enjoy breakfast and a latte macchiato on the porch! I’ve also included a few tips on how to make the finest latte macchiato ever.

Porch_breakfast

Blair’s Death Sauce is fantastic on eggs. This one is the tasty Pure Death, but I recommend Salsa de la Muerte – in my opinion, it is Blair’s best mix of flavor and heat!

Latte macchiato tricks I’ve learned:

  • Get a Bodum coffee French press. Pour in hot milk and froth it by pumping the coffee screen up and down for 30 seconds. [insert dirty joke here.] This foam will be very strong and float as its own layer for a long time (>30 minutes… however long it takes you to drink the coffee). Pour the milk/foam into the glass now.
  • If you want a separate layer of coffee and milk for presentation (or to take good photos), pour the coffee (in this case a double espresso shot) slowly through the foam using something with a spout, like a mini restaurant milk pitcher. If you use a normal cup, coffee will spill all down the side unless you pour fast – which would destroy the layer effect.
  • Sprinkle some sugar or cacao powder over the top of the foam. Use a cocktail spoon that has a straw-tube as its handle, so you can stir with the spoon end and drink your coffee through the straw.

Eventually I plan to do a photo shoot of a latte macchiato in the making. However I’m still waiting to get my second flash (a Vivitar) back after repair. At the moment I do NOT recommend that you ever buy any Vivitar product! Their customer service is basically non-existent. The people in India answering the phone are unhelpful, and the local US division (where I sent the flash) has yet to acknowledge receipt (though I have a tracking confirmation they did). Probably I wasted $125 on that flash. /end mini-rant

So… assignment time, let’s see those latte macchiato photos? Alex and Walt, I’m looking to you guys… hehe.

p.s. a nice German expression: “Kaufst du billig, kaufst du teuer.” This means, if you buy cheap, you are really buying expensive. In the end you’ll throw out the cheapie product and buy the high-quality item, spending even more than if you’d bought the expensive one to start with.

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 11:32 am.

4 comments

Can there be TOO much snow?

Ask anyone in the Eastern US, and they will say YES. But that’s only because I’ve moved away; I would never vote for “too much.” How can a skier/snowboarder have too much snow? Here’s a house I lived in near Lake Tahoe for a couple months when I worked at Northstar-at-Tahoe:

Lake Tahoe House

The garage opening is about 8 feet, so you can see the (hard-packed) snow is at least that high. The altitude (around 6,500’, over 2000m) and the weather meant over a foot of snow a week (30cm) while I lived there.

A short story about one of the women living in the house: she had a bit of a problem with cars. This all occurred in a period of 6-8 weeks.

#1 First, she totaled her nice Mazda MX-3 by backing quickly out of the driveway without putting a warning “STOP” sign in the road. You couldn’t go slowly because the car would slide on the icy driveway. She slid into a Volvo, if I remember. Good night, sweet MX-3.

#2 Next, there was a… Ford Taurus?… an old clunker donated by a family member. That lasted about 2 weeks before she drove it into a curb and completely messed up the suspension.

#3 Finally, there was her boyfriend’s brand-new, shiny red Jeep Cherokee. One day when my buddy and I were at work, she parked the borrowed Jeep in MY parking space: outside, just to the left of the garage (hidden by the 14 foot mound of snow by the curb). It would’ve been too much trouble to fit that big Jeep into her garage space. That was lucky for me: you see, the hard-packed, frozen snow (piled up by front-end-loader for the whole winter) gave way that day. There was a little avalanche of ice boulders that crushed the Jeep’s hood and smashed the windshield. I’m glad the Jeep was there instead of my little Integra GS-R!

Okay, I’m reconsidering. Perhaps it’s possible to have too much snow. But then you just have to transport that white gold up to the ski hill where it belongs! If the snowless Vancouver Olympics had taken place that year, I could certainly have upped the ante Stephen Colbert-style and mailed a lot of snow to warm, sunny Canada. Heh…

What was your most snowy experience? Share with a comment…

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 12:53 pm.

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Frostbite and the Captain Morgan Twins

The snow this winter isn’t that bountiful, so I’ve been quite often to nearby glacier ski resorts. I’ll give a few details later about the charming town of Lanersbach in the Zillertal valley. But first you have to see the temperature at the top of Hintertux Glacier on our first day:

IMG_4417_sm

“Heiter” usually means fair, clear, or bright. But in this case the sign was WRONG. Outdoors it was cloudy, snowing lightly, and the wind was blowing at 40-50km/h (up to 30mph). –22C equates to –8F… and the wind chill, well, that was around –38C (–37F). Keep in mind that’s before accounting for the speed we were moving downhill (directly into the wind). I got a bit of frostnip on my ears, so I wore a liner cap under my helmet on the following days. “Gefrorene Wand” was quite accurate on this trip: Frozen Face!

It wasn’t all snow and frostbite. One evening we went to Kleine Tenne in Lanersbach, and found that Captain Morgan Austria was there with the Captain Morgan Twins and their bikinis! Paul was kind enough to pose for a photo with the twins.

IMG_4421_sm

Good music, a kicker (foosball) table, and Zillertal Pils made it a great night, although we were a bit too tired from the cold to party like rock stars. We made it back to the Kleine Tenne one more night, when the Bavarian party band Chari Vari was there… although none of our group was a big fan of the folky-rock style with double accordions.

The rest of the trip was all about skiing and snowboarding. Here is a choice view from the quad chairlift above Sommerberg, where you can see the neighboring T-bar:

IMG_4472_sm

And, on the last day, this beautiful view of Hintertux greeted us upon arrival. You can just see the moon over the peaks toward the left side of the picture.

IMG_4478_sm

Getting to Lanersbach:

  • Here’s a Google map of Lanersbach. I highly recommend Lanersbach if you’re going to Hintertux for an extended trip. It’s about 10-15min drive to the mountain base by car or ski bus, and you have a much wider selection of nightlife and restaurants than in Hintertux itself. The town is about 2h drive from Munich, and a little less from Innsbruck.
  • There is a Spar grocery store in Lanersbach, but beware, in Austria the stores close very early (6:00pm I believe).
  • Restaurants are plentiful, and we went to several on the one-way street (north of the main street). Hermanns Klause restaurant (associated with a bed & breakfast) had tasty food, but was smoky. The restaurant at Hotel Jaeger had a non-smoking area, salad bar, and excellent food. As one of our party was sick at home, they even made a “to-go” entree and gave us a real plate & silverware with it. Of course, one night we went up the hill to Madseit to our favorite: Alte Huette at Hotel Berghaus. I had a fantastic lamb schnitzel, a dish I’d never seen before.
  • Kleine Tenne had a good number of people on both Friday and Saturday nights. We were lucky that it wasn’t too smoky, but don’t expect a non-smoking nightclub in Austria. There was another nightclub next door that we didn’t try out, so clearly there is some party potential in Lanersbach if you’re there on the right week/weekend.
  • Skiing possibilities abound: you can ski Eggalm right in Lanersbach, try Rastkogel or Finkenburg a few km down the valley, go up the valley to Hintertux, or even drive 20min down to Mayrhofen for a larger-town experience (and Austria’s steepest prepared ski slope “Harakiri” with 78% grade!).

If you give Lanersbach a try, I hope you enjoy the trip, and come back here to tell us about it!

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 1:09 pm.

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Mainau Butterfly House

On the island of Mainau in Bodensee, one can find a multitude of flowers. It’s known in German as the Blumeninsel, and lies just across from the German town of Meersburg on Bodensee. There are probably millions of flowers scattered around in thousands of gardens on this botanical island. Here’s a favorite shot of mine from the butterfly house:

This was one patient butterfly as I took several pics of him.

This was taken with my Nikon D90 and a 70-300 VR lens, which does a great job of shortening the depth of field.

A few more shots of flowers on Mainau will be coming up eventually! If you want to be notified, just subscribe to the blog with the orange RSS / Email buttons in the left sidebar.

Getting to Mainau:

  • Here’s a Google map of Mainau. I arrived at the ferry terminal on the right side of the island, coming from the nearby town of Meersburg. But you can also arrive there by car and park easily in the large parking area.
  • One tip: if you arrive at Mainau later in the day, you can get the Sunset ticket (1/2 price compared to the normal €15.90 entry fee). It’s good after 17:00, which in the summer is no problem! Winter prices are much cheaper at €7, but then you can’t see many flowers, so I wouldn’t recommend it. If you do the sunset ticket, make sure you still have a way home, as the ferries from Mainau may stop running early (I had to take a bus to another town, then ferry back).

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 11:00 am.

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The World’s Best Beer

Everyone likes something different when it comes to beer. For some, it’s no beer at all. For Germans, it’s beer made only with water, hops, yeast, and barley. But for me, it’s variety and flavor. And, as I like-a the sweets, Belgian beer fits the bill perfectly: cherry beer, forest fruits, coconut, dark, light, strong, sour… every combination is possible.

In August 2007 I visited Brussels with my buddy Pete for a Belgian beer festival called the “Belgian Beer Weekend.” This is a yearly event in the main square, where almost all the craft brewers in Belgium come to exhibit their wares. We tried 27 beers each over a (4?) day weekend, at various restaurants, alley pubs, and beer stands.

We took a tour of the Halve Maan brewery in Bruges. This was one of my favorite photos of the weekend, with a nice, short depth of field:

CIMG3377

Notable moments: we wrote down all the beers we tried on Pete’s expired TAN list because it’s the only paper we had. (Except one, which was written on his arm after forgetting the TAN list.) One dude had a bachelor party at the festival – it was 5c to paint a stripe of baby blue paint anywhere on his body. We saw him later on, and he was completely blue. Best quote from an old-time beer poster in French: a mother holds a beer while her baby nurses. “Beer is nourishment! She buys her beer at the brewery, but makes her baby’s drink herself.”

The beers we tried, in order of consumption:

  • Hoegaarden
  • Mort Subite Kriek
  • Petrus Tripel
  • Kasteelbier Donker (CRAZY SWEET!)
  • Kwak
  • Duvel / Belle-Vue Gueuze
  • De Silly Abbaye de Forest
  • Deus Brut des Flandres
  • Hoegaarden Rose
  • Lindemans Old Gueuze
  • Leffe Blonde / Jupiler
  • Maredsous Donker 8*
  • Affligem Christmas
  • Moeder Overste (Mother Superior)
  • Blanche de Brugs
  • Timmermans Woudvruchten (Fruits de la Foret) WINNER – tied as best beer of the weekend
  • Black Hole
  • Chimay Blue
  • Bon Secours Brune Perle
  • Mort Subite Gueuze
  • Orval
  • Leffe Blonde
  • Brugse Zot Blonde
  • Mystic Kriek
  • De Garre Tripel WINNER – tied as best beer of the weekend
  • Brugse Zot Blonde (should’ve been Brown, but they gave us a free Blonde after the tour, so we drank this one twice)
  • Stella Artois

Getting to the Belgian Beer Weekend:

  • Here’s the website for the festival, Weekend de la Biere.
  • Look here for a Google map view of the Grand Place, where the festival takes place.
  • What to do while you’re there besides drink at the festival? There are MANY museums around Brussels, even a sewer museum. I’ve visited a brewery, the comic museum (which is mostly older European comics, NO DC or Marvel superheroes!), Atomium (which was a bit disappointing for the price), and many other sights. But honestly, I was not overly impressed by anything, so don’t get too excited about the city itself. The small city of Bruges was much more charming – and made a very nice side trip for one day.
  • Food: eat some mussels with fries, “Moules Frites,” one of the signature dishes of Belgium. I think they eat more mussels per capita than anywhere else? Once when I was there, I was lucky that a mussel festival coincided with the beer weekend – SOO tasty. And of course, you have to try a Belgian waffle with your choice of toppings. I also highly recommend a stew made with dark beer; this common dish always has a fantastic flavor.

Enjoy Belgium and their wonderful beers. There is something for everyone: even those who normally don’t favor beer might enjoy a mild Lindemans peach lambic! Have fun, and don’t drink TOO much…

Posted 7 years, 8 months ago at 9:58 am.

10 comments