Bob Beeker, Calgary, Canada


Posted Dec 1, 2008, 7:40 pm
It's the first of December, so today we start one of my favourite Christmas traditions: the Advent calendar. Everybody has their own, so we get to see two new pictures everyday.

This is my mentor's calendar. She got it from her mom. It shows some palazzos along the Canal Grande of Venezia:
Palazzo Dario (gothic with polychrome marble decorations, built in 1479),
Palazzo Pisani (17th century),
Ca' d'Oro ("Golden House" of 1440, originally it had a gilded front) and the
Palazzo Contarini (from the second half of the 15th century).
You can see me, Curio and Lady Sirina.
We opened the first door today and saw... Basilica di San Marco as seen from the Piazza San Marco.

The second calendar is one with little angels where one can put a tea-light inside and the light will shine through the pictures.
In the first window there's a snowflake. (In reality one can see the snowflake better and the still closed pictures not as well, as in the photo.)

Posted Dec 2, 2008, 9:23 pm
Another day, another picture:
The Venetian winged lion from the gable of the Basilica di San Marco.

A cloud in this one

Posted Dec 4, 2008, 9:08 pm
Let's see what we got today:
a Murano glass vial
and a cookie.


Posted Dec 4, 2008, 9:09 pm
Outside it rains and is windy so that the umbrellas don't help much. I am glad to be inside with a cup of hot tea called Ruhrgebiet's Traum, it's a blend of black tea and fruits with some herbs. It's warming me up nicely.

Today's calendar pictures are:
St. Mark's lion on the column
and a shooting star!

Posted Dec 9, 2008, 1:08 am
Nikolaus Day is here! Children get big bags of chocolate and cookies and small presents. If they put their boots or spcial dishes in front of their doors they will have found thise things in them in the morning. Grandma tells us that when she was young, she got oranges and nuts as is now traditional, but mostly replaced by more modern things. However back then it was a real luxury because import was more expensive and less common.

Today I discovered the statue of Colleoni, a famous Condottiere (leader of mercenaries) in 15th century Italy.

Posted Dec 9, 2008, 1:09 am

Posted Dec 9, 2008, 1:12 am
a present!
A carnival mask is a nice souvenir present if one likes such things.

Posted Dec 9, 2008, 1:15 am
fire, how fitting considering the big candle we placed inside instead of a tea light seems likely to alighten the card board of the calendar, better change it

Posted Dec 9, 2008, 1:16 am
Why is the angel hiding there?

Posted Dec 9, 2008, 10:47 pm
Today I visited the designer outlet center at Zweibrücken. Among many others they have a Body Shop store there and I got birthday presents for a friends who'll be ** this week. (Psst, don't tell anybody the age! :o)

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 2:39 pm
Here I am on the Christmas market in Essen. They have a bit of a fair in one part of the city center. You can see thge Ferris wheel from far away.

There’s the old synagogue. The windows were broken by the firefighters during the ‘Reichskristallnacht’. It was restored as a museum and place of remembrance and is now being restructured as a meeting place.

Part of the Christmas market has a middle ages theme. There are old-fashioned clothes, food, jewelry, etc.

Big stars of light are hung up along some streets,

The main Christmas market is covered by a curtain of lights, it look a bit like there are lots of little stars in the sky.

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 2:41 pm
We are in Düsseldorf right now, ready for take-off to New York!
On the plane, flying over the Atlantic ocean.


Posted Dec 23, 2008, 2:42 pm
There’s a cool screen in the taxi.

My bed:


Posted Dec 23, 2008, 2:44 pm
On the way to the outlet mall in New Jersey, we took the bus from the Port Authority bus terminal.

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 2:49 pm
We are back in Essen. The Adventskranz is nearly fully lit by now. Just one more week to Christmas.


Posted Dec 23, 2008, 2:52 pm
Look, we put up the Christmastree and decorated it. I was the one who put in the things at the top, because nobody else can reach there without a ladder or a chair to climb on. Can you find me in the picture?

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 2:56 pm
We had some last-minute Christmas shopping to do today, just like lots of other people if the parking is any indication.  We went to the Ruhr Park mall.
After that we went to the parrot park in Bochum. The have lots of different kinds of parrots and exotic birds, for sale, for exhibit or for care while their families are on holidays. Some big aras are free in the main room. This one seemed very interested in being where I am: on my mentor’s arm, so he wouldn’t hold still to take a photo.

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 3:30 pm
We made a trip to Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) today. It’s a city close to the border to the Netherlands and Belgium and we heard lot’s of tourists from those countries, but also from the UK there.
It’s an old city, that used to be the center of the Kaiserpfalz, the empire of Karl dem Großen (= Charlemagne).

Some windows have moving dolls in them:

Aachen is well-known for special Christmas/winter cookies, called Printen. Here they have many special shops only for those in all variations.

Aachen has an old cathedral, from the early 9th century. It was first founded as a a court chapel in the form of an octagon that was finished in 805.

In 1414, on the 600. anniversary of Karl’s death the gothic choir hall was finished.

As St. Mary’s church, there were sme baroque changes in the early 19th century. In 1884 the high tower was built and the baroque inside was replaced by mosaic.

In this side-chapel the bishops of Aachen since 1931 have been buried. The skull and bishop’s insignia on the ground are quite descriptive.

This arm relic  was ordered by King Louis XI. It’s gilded silver, with a mountaincristal window that shows the right radius und ulna of Karl dem Großen. Gross, if you ask me.

This is an idealized bust of Charlemagne, probably ordered by Karl IV in 1349. In side is, in the anatomically right place, a part of the skull of Karl dem Großen.
The crown is the one Karl IV wore for his coronation and presented to the Aachener Stiftskapelle afterward. The real crown of the empire was with the heirs of the Bavarian king.
In gold on the chest there is the eagle as symbol of the Holy Roman Empire, on the base the French lily. That combination was interpreted as coat of arms of Karl dem Großen.
This pretty little crown belonged to Margaret of York.
The padlocks aren't all very old, some are dated 1921, or even 1951. But they are all pretty. The mirror below allows visitors to see them from both sides.

There are more bigger and 3 smaller relics in this church. The smaller ones are supposedly the belts of Maria and Jesus and the Geißelstrick of Jesus, visible in here.

Here’s a coronation cloak.

In cellars, a huge nativity scene is built with French-style figures. Christ of course isn’t visible, yet.

my ticket
The Christmas market is mostly located around the city hall. It’s the old building with the towers.
An old pub is built seemingly leaning into it.

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 4:37 pm
Union Square has something of a Christmas market.
One has a great view over it from Filene’s Basement, a store selling designer clothes at cheaper prices.
In the sub way:

On 42nd Street near Times Square:
Some people seem to have rented stretch limos to take them around.
Times Square
The ToysRUs store here is very big.
It has all kinds of fun stuff inside, like a special Ferris wheel, a moving T-Rex, or lego models of famous movie scenes.

Charmin has a restroom with entertainment value here.

In m&m world one can buy anything m&m style.

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 4:43 pm
On a cold but sunny Saturday morning we decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

Skyline of the financial district:

See the Statue of Liberty in the distance?

And the Empire State Building to the north?

Next to us: the Manhatten Bridge.

Lower Eastside

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 4:52 pm
On Sunday we took  bus tours of the city in the open double decker bus.
Columbus Circle

Central Park

Lincoln Center

The Dakota

The American Museum of Natural History, don’t you like their holiday dinosaur?

Supposed to become the biggest cathedral in the world

There is a reason why you warent supposed to stand up while the bus is moving: there just  isn’t a lot of space to the street signs, stop lights, branches or ceilings of tunnels.

Welcome to Harlem!

South Street Sea Port: We took a cruise with the Zephyr (see in the back)

(more pictures of the cruise and the Statue of Liberty and Skyline to follow later)

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 5:16 pm
Inside the central post office:

Madison Square Garden and the Empire State Building

Looking up Wall Street to Trinity church

The New York Stock Exchange

South Street Sea Port
view on it from the bridge
The restored area of South Street Seaport, now a shopping area, I esp. recommend the MET shop.
The Brooklyn Bridge again, we are on our way to Brooklyn today.
Still on the Lower Eastside
Crossing the Manhatten Bridge, a lot like flying for me but nothing for people with a fear of heights, at least not at the edge of the open top deck of a double decker bus.
See the south of Manhatten and the Brooklyn Bridge.

We are in Brooklyn, basically a city of itself.

Parking has to be done like this:
a tennis court on the roof of a building:

The court house

That’s a job for me!
I'd rather stay in my seat. I'm just glad I'm not flying low, so many obstacles in the way, I don'T know how the local birds do it.
The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

See Manhatten over there?

Governor Island and Liberty Island

Some pretty row houses

Back to Manhatten
A little bit of Queens
Chinatown again
We drove over this bridge
Near Wall Street
Ground Zero

It was very windy when we had lunch here. Aerodynamics must also have changed with this big hole between sky-scrapers.

The Big Piano in FAO Schwarz on 5th Avenue

5th Ave

Apple Store

The same design as on the bags, is also on the store

At Cartier, little red boxes moved in and out to show one tresure at a time.
These are next to the windows:
SAKS 5th Avenue, the stars blink to the melody of Carol of the Bells regularly after dark.
The angel belongs to the decoration at Rockefeller Center.
a look at the angels and the tree at Rockefeller center
Rockefeller Center
Mounted police
and the police station at Times Square

Posted Dec 23, 2008, 5:23 pm
And the view from its steps
The atrium (kind of a funny double edge effect in the first picture)
And hall of statues

That’s it for us, now we need to hurry back to get the luggage and then take the subway to JFK airport.

Posted Dec 31, 2008, 12:41 am
In Germany, Christmas is celebrated mainly on the 24th of Dezember: Heiligabend (holy evening). It's not an official holidays, but most shops only open until midday.
All our presents were wrapped and we packed them up for the trip to grandma's house.
She has an old nativity scene. The light above it burns all the time it is set up, even at night.
In the evening, everybody goes into the den to open presents. These are all mine!

Posted Dec 31, 2008, 1:11 am
We used the nice weather on this holiday to go for a long walk in the Schellenberger Wald (forest Schellenberg). I was fascinated by the mossy trees and the miniature waterfalls.

Posted Dec 31, 2008, 1:12 am
I hung out with the cats today.
Antigone is already a mature lady. She wasn't bothered by the little bell around her ear.

Little Penelope wanted to play with me.

Posted Dec 31, 2008, 1:14 am
Because of the cold days, we started using the oven in the living room. One has to heat it up with a fire in the evenings and the stones warm up and slowly warm the room over the days.
When the air-vent is open, the fire roars.
When the air is heated and the big wood pieces are alight, the vent in closed and the fire just smolders for a long time.

Posted Jan 3, 2009, 8:32 pm
Shortly before midnight we got ready. The fireworks were already unpacked and ready for transport outside.
After first well wished and sips of prosecco, we started the fireworks in the garden...
...and watched other people's displays.

Posted Jan 3, 2009, 11:31 pm
Tonight we went to see a movie called 'The Women'. It wasn't bad and I found it amazing that they managed not to show any men (not even the husbands) in the movie. Those were only redeemed slightly by the baby-boy born at the end of the movie.
We took no pictures in the movie theatre, because it's not really allowed. But here I am in the subway station: the escalators to and from the platform.
the ticket machine
Here's the place in front of the Grillo theatre.
The lights of the Christmas decorations were already turned off when we got back from the movies.
These old-fashioned street-lights are only in this area. Elsewhere in the city the lights are higher up and uglier.

Posted Feb 5, 2009, 3:57 pm
We're back home and it's freezing cold here. It seems to be dark nearly all the time. I want some sun!

Posted Feb 5, 2009, 3:59 pm
We're back in Essen really quick to drop off the loquacious monsters and get ready for the flight. Apparently we're going to the USA again, but to Texas this time.

Posted Feb 16, 2009, 11:00 am
In Atlanta we had to change planes. Here you can see our's being prepared for the journey. We could even see the bag the others were traveling in. It was standing in front of the plane. I hope they pack it in late, so it comes out early but they must not forget it.

Posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:47 pm
We started out early in the morning. It was still a bit dark outside. Here's our plane to go over the Atlantic. We couldn't use the flash because of the reflection in the window.

Posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:48 pm
I had an unusually good view from the plane. The UK was covered in snow.

Posted Feb 16, 2009, 7:50 pm
I watched the movie 'The Duchess' and spent some time trying to get comfortable and to sleep. Now  there's no more blue outside the window. We're over Canada.
Which lake is this? That is big!

Posted Feb 17, 2009, 1:23 am
Here's our neighborhood:

Posted Feb 17, 2009, 7:23 pm
The skies can be quite dramatic here. Just this week we had a tornado warning. The sirens went off and told us to stay away from the doors and windows and go to the save place in the house until the storm front had passed by us.

Posted Feb 24, 2009, 7:57 pm
This is our new dorm room. It is quite a big one actually and it has its private bath. But the hospital bedsheets have to go!

Posted Feb 24, 2009, 9:05 pm
We are back in Germany to grey skies and temperatures around freezing. Yuck!

Posted Mar 12, 2009, 5:49 pm
What a nice light at this time of the day. We just got our cruise tickets.
Here we are getting o the boat:
There are water taxis here:

We drove over it, now we are crossing under it.

After a turn we are passing the south of Manhatten again.
There's the ferry to Liberty Island
We drove around the tip of Manhatten and up the Hudson river.
Can you see the docks and the Empire State Building?

Manhatten and New Jersey
A beautiful sunset
Jersey City

An old train station where immigrants coming from Ellis Island started their journey to a new home.
Ellis Island, the buildings are actually quite beautiful.
And finally I got a good look at Miss Liberty. She looks a bit grim but the colors are amazing.
One last picture and we're heading back to Manhatten.
It's getting dark quickly now and we need to go look for a place to have dinner.

Posted Mar 12, 2009, 9:09 pm
I got tired of sitting around in a little room all day long while my family is either working or traveling. So I decided to take another trip. I found myself a host via the forum and told my mentor to pack me up in an envelope and carry me to the postoffice. She did... I have to say it seems much less comfortable than traveling in her bag or jacket pocket everywhere but it is an adeventure. I hope I'll arrive soon.

Posted Mar 23, 2009, 4:37 pm
Bob beeker arrived last wednesday, March.18/2009 just in time to help us move. So far we haven't been able to get out much or see much because i've been packing, moving, unpacking, and cleaning. But he's been a good little birdy and has been waiting patiently. Yesterday on March.22 we went to my parents house for a birthday pot-luck for my brother and sister. My mom runs a parrot rescue called Birdline and currently has approx. 10 parrots in her care so I tried to get photo's of Bob with all of the birds, and quickly so they didn't run off with him thinking he was there new toy :) He sure looked tiny compared to some of them but he wasn't scared! IT's too bad I have to send him out in a couple weeks though as he's not going to be able to join us at our city's Pet Expo where my mom will have a table to raise awareness about the mistreatment of exotic birds!!
Unfortunately at this time I do not know where my usb cord is so I can't get pics up but when I find it i'll have pictures up right away.
Well I should get back to unpacking and cleaning. I will get pictures up as soon as I can!! Caio for now!