Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

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

Shocker at the Oktoberfest

This one is for my Skydive Orange peeps. Some of whom will be here starting tomorrow, for Oktoberfest 2010 (200th anniversary)! This shadowy shocker is compliments of the Nikon 35mm f/2.

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A tasty beer at Hacker-Pschorr near the Theresienwiese.

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I love this picture of my buddy eating a Steaksemmel. Blurry-background-girl must have been wondering, “Why is that guy aiming such a huge camera at someone eating a sandwich?”

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I’ve posted a few other pics from this day on the Guided Munich Blog.

Can’t wait to see Scott, Amy, and Eric here for Oktoberfest – it’s gonna be a blast!

Posted 11 years, 1 month ago at 1:00 pm.

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Contrasts of Singapore

This city is full of contrasts. For example, here’s one at a food center near a government-subsidized housing block (where Singaporeans can buy a house cheap, 2x in their life). I had local coffee in a bag, with a straw. I’ve since been told it’s more traditional to have it served in the condensed milk can, but how can you beat this?

Singapore - coffee in a bag

My friends, on the other hand, had McDonald’s Cafe cappuccinos and hot cocoa just next door.

Perhaps the cutest picture I've ever taken

In the afternoon of July 17th, I went to the new Marina Bay Sands casino/mall/hotel/skypark complex. To me it’s quite silly. They want to draw international visitors to spend their cash. But Singaporeans (and permanent residents) must pay a $100 SGD/day surcharge just to enter the casino. That’s basically forbidding them to gamble, because… well… gambling is bad.

Unless you are taking the d*mn foreigners’ money.

I also skipped the Skypark: $20 entry, no description of what’s up there, no food/drink/pro cameras allowed. Because then they couldn’t sell overpriced soda, snacks, and postcards!

Anyway, enough about that; it doesn’t matter because I don’t gamble and I’ve been up much taller buildings. Here are some cool contrasts I saw on the boardwalks by the bay. Tall vs small,

Which one of these two is TALL?

Some people have such high hopes for their children:

Red dress string quartet

Others are just happy if they can avoid losing them. Yes, you’ve put your child into a giant hamster wheel.

Water-hamster-wheel for children

Today was the dry run for the first-ever Youth Olympics opening ceremony. Knownst to these people but unbeknownst to me, there were flybys planned. Two pictures are worth…

"Look! Up there, in the sky!"

Opening ceremony practice for the Youth Olympics

I won’t include a shot of the jet flyby, because it’s not interesting at 35mm. But let me just say, afterburners over a city of skyscrapers… LOUD.

I’m going to save some of today’s pics for another post, because there are just too many good ones. So here’s one last shot with the f/2 at ISO3200, in the Pump Room brewpub at Clarke Quay. I thought there would be 4 beers in the sampler, but in fact there were 8!

Lots of beers in the Pump Room sampler!

What was the most beers you ever ordered with those three magical words, “the sampler, please?”

Posted 11 years, 2 months ago at 3:56 pm.

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Cool Old Dude

I must admit, I didn’t take many photos on July 1st. And most of what I did take, I can’t post here. The Modern Art Museum in Tokyo allows photos (very cool!), but they do not allow posting or public use due to copyright laws. I do recommend the museum to art lovers: it’s not huge, but the admission is cheap (about $4) and they have interesting paintings and photos.

A lot of the art was very similar to Western styles. You can very much see the influence of European and American artists on the Japanese artists of the 1800’s and 1900’s! Even a non-art-expert like me could feel it, and my Turkish friend from the hostel (minoring in art, if I remember) confirmed my suspicions.

Later in the day I went by Akihabara, an area on the east side of Central Tokyo with 10,573 shops: electronics, anime, appliances, manga, hobbies, maid cafes, pachinko parlors, and more. Pachinko is a kind of somewhat-legal gambling, where you win dumb prizes that you sell back for money in a shop next door (at least so I read in a guidebook). I guess it’s about as exciting as slot machines (woo… hoo?).

Pachinko parlor, a bit like slot machines

I was trying to be discreet by not photographing any people in the pachinko parlor, but I still just got one this one photo before being yelled at. “No photo, no photo!”

By the way, what’s a maid cafe, you ask? One of the many things I didn’t try: it’s a cafe where the waitresses are dressed up like pre-teen hookers. They stand on the street handing out flyers, wearing high heels and fishnets, short skirts flying as they giggle with the foreign guys they lure in. I’m pretty much against such things, so I’m glad no one dragged me to one. Though I am curious, (ahem), purely from a societal-interest standpoint.

Someone stole the radiator from my car as a CPU heatsink

That photo changed the subject right quick, didn’t it? Okay, so electronics are not super cheap in Japan, but you can find absolutely anything. Prices are a wee bit higher than the US, but probably below Europe.

I particularly liked this sign: “Cool Old Dude” – “I Love Akiba”

Cool Old Dude in Akihabara

A nearby shop brought back reminders of childhood. It was filled with plastic and pewter models of giant humanoid robots. Anyone remember Voltron?

One thing that impresses me about Japan is the variety of beer. Sure, the standard beers aren’t that exciting. But for about $3-4 a bottle, you can get micro-brewed beer of all different varieties. Made in Japan, no less!

Tokyo Great City Beer

I tried a stout a few days ago that was a bit like Mackeson, one of my favorites. Today, however, I went for nigori sake, a cloudy/unfiltered sweet sake. Delicious!

Tomorrow’s post is one you won’t want to miss. I learn street photography from Alfie Goodrich, one of the most-known (and I think most-talented) photographers in Japan. Sign up with the orange RSS or Email buttons in the left sidebar to be notified when the post is up!

Posted 11 years, 3 months ago at 3:16 pm.

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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:

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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 11 years, 7 months ago at 9:58 am.

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