Freitag, 22. April 2011

What a Good... nay... Great Friday!!

As a land animal, we humans are inevitably bound to this surface called earth. It's gotten much more bearable since we found out it's not actually flat as a disc and we started climbing mountains and sailing on the oceans without constant fear of just dropping off somewhere any moment.

However, life on the ground still provides us with a rather narrow perspective and limited view.
In a generous effort to expand my perspective, my Mom gave me the gift of a flight over the Swabian Albs, the area in which I grew up. It is naturally hilly and the types of landscape change frequently between forests and fields, fields on hills, fields on mountains, fields in valleys and the occasional stone quarry next to a field, at least that's what you get from the ground... and that's cool, because it's a lot more interesting than just plain fields like in the US Midwest ;).

So off I went on the little power glider above to see the landscape that I had crossed so many times in my youth: from the Degerfeld airport, close to the small town of "Burladingen" to the Lake of Constance

Anyway, from above ground, things take a different perspective. Everything looks a lot smaller (surprise!), distances are shorter and the world feels a lot more connected. Here are some of the impressions from my flight. Enjoy!

The cockpit of the plane. 3 different systems for navigation are integrated: GPS, ADF a system which uses spots on the ground drawing directional lines from one to the other and VFR (Visual Flight Rules aka sight ;))

Typical for Swabia... "Realerbteilung", which meant that every child inherited an equal amount of land, split up and thus shrank fields for agriculture. On top of this, three different section of a field were treated differently in terms of crops. One year, a crop with high nutriant demand would grow, the following year one with a lesser demand, the third year the land could rest...

In todays modern, technologized economy, the dynamics seem to have somewhat shifted...

"Down" at the Lake of Constance lies the "Flower Island" Mainau. In the summer this island as well as the Reichenau (vegetable island) close by are great attraction for tourists. The yellow stream on the water to the right side of the image is pollen from spring flowers.


From the lake flows Germany's greatest and longest river, the River Rhine. While the Rhine valley in mid Germany is probably the most beautiful part of this stream northbound, the Swabian Albs are also home to Germany's other great river, the Danube flowing East. This is the most extreme bend on our flight through the Danube valley, photographed at a 90 degree angle by the way ;).

Along the Danube are several little castles and other historical buildings. One of them is Kloster Beuron - an old monastery. The monks used to produce cremes, chocolate, liquor and meats after old recipes back when the monastery was mighty. These products are still sold here today actually and attracts tourists this way.

The last famous tourist attraction on our tour was the Hohenzollern Castle. I've been inside the catacombs with the jewels many times and sat on the cannon like any other child growing up in the area. But instead of looking up from this historical castle into the sky where the planes flew, this time, I had the unique opportunity to be on the other side. Purely amazing!!

Montag, 7. Februar 2011

Japan comes in for a visit (well, sort of)

Yesterday, I got a great late birthday surprise from my friend Iris.

Since she had forgotten (!) my birthday, she had to make it up with a special treat.

What she did was not only making it up, it was fantastic!!
When I visited her in Japan in 2009, pretty much all we ate were Okonamiyaki - (check out an earlier post with a picture) a delicious Japanese sort of pancake with all sorts of deliciousness in it! And the best part? The sauce on top!!

This is actually the hard part of it when trying to make Okonamiyaki from scratch, since the sauce is not easy to get (at least not in Germany).
BUT, she managed to find some and here is the magical result!

It looks like the real stuff, it smells like the real stuff, it tasted like the real stuff.
NOW, I gotta get my hands on that recipe - stay tuned ;)