Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Season Photos and Late Night Shooting

Well, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all...Hope it was nice.

This is now the 229th post here at Blogger.  I'm thinking of moving over to a new site, an upgrade of sorts, to try to focus more on my photography, and perhaps morph that into something more.

In any case, we had a nice Christmas here in Germany.  No snow...just some rain and cold (so far), and are enjoying a few days of down time before jumping back into the hectic work schedule.  Upcoming trips include back to Bulgaria, up to Latvia, and a trip home to see family (first time in over 2 years).

Christmas this year included trips to the local Christmas Markets, a big thing here in Europe. Lots of Christmasy knick-knacks, warm foods, Gluwein, and hundreds of carousel rides for Isabella. In our village, they even had a "bake your own dough wrapped around a stick over an open fire" booth where, for about a Euro, you could do the aforementioned activity. Which brought back fond memories of Boy Scout campouts and the unmistakable taste of half cooked (i.e., burned on the outside, raw on the inside) bread.  Bella loved it.

We also hit Wiesbaden and Mainz's markets which were fun.

Christmas Eve, Melody introduced Isabella to the time honored tradition of making Lumpia, Filipino spring rolls...it was great to see her learning how to fill and roll the delicious treats, and Melody looked like she was really enjoying passing on the knowledge.

Now a few photos from the week...

Charlie and Rusty opening their Christmas stocking

Charlie and his bone

Mainz Christmas Market

Christmas stars for sale

Mainz Dom behind the strings of lights

The statue of Gutenberg, focal point for Gutenbergplatz, Mainz
  We also visited with some friends who were in town from Bahrain.  Ian is the son of one of my Army buddies.  His Dad was our Chaplain in my first unit more than 22 years ago.  Now, he works with his family in Bahrain.  He visited back in May, but came to the area for the Christmas holidays with his wife and kids.  We had a great time visiting with them, and in addition to hanging out at the indoor play area Rambazamba, we took a day trip up to Point Alpha, a Cold War border checkpoint in the Fulda Gap.  Anyone who served in the Military 20 + years ago remember this is the most likely route through which the long-expected invasion of Europe would come.  It was also the area that we learned tactics (on realistic terrain models) when I was in school.  Very interesting to finally lay eyes on such an (formerly) important piece of land.
Peace Table and sculpture at Point Alpha

View into "West" Germany from Point Alpha
 There is a preservation organization that keeps the area up, and runs a small museum including examples of the border obstacles (wire fences, minefields, barriers, dogs, etc.)  They also have an exhibit that focuses on the ill-treatment East Germans suffered.  It was difficult trying to explain Communism to the 4, 5, and 8 year-olds of the group.  The 2 year old didn't seem interested in Cold War political systems.
Stop sign on East side of the border

Barbed wire fence with DDR (East German) observation post behind

Border marker with 
 Sunday night, Melody gave me a kitchen pass to go see The Hobbit.  It let out after midnight, and I took a detour to do some night shooting around the bridge into Mainz from the Mainz-Kastel (Wiesbaden) side. I figured everyone would be asleep by the time I got home, and it was simply an opportunity I couldn't pass up.

Party boat on the Mainz-Kastel side of the Rhine

Abandoned Smart Car 

Bridge into Mainz


Bus-stop and grafitti'd tunnel

Graffiti Tunnel with creepy Joker painting...
So, that gets us somewhat caught up.  Wishing all the regular readers who put up with the infrequency of posts a Happy 2014...hard to believe that this year has gone so fast.  They just get faster...

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