London and Munich

April 04, 2001

Another business trip.

I wrote this as a travelogue updated daily during my trip.

(Update for people who were reading as I went: there's now video of the Munch carillon and a couple of audio clips from a street performer.)

Day 1

A smooth flight into Heathrow ... into rain & wind. Oh well. There are several ways to get from Heathrow to London proper, and I elected to take the subway. The subways here are clean, fast and very handy. Day one has been sightseeing, and started off with my getting caught in a rain squall. I decided then that subways were great for a lot more than getting to the hotel from the airport.

It's easy to overlook how deep the underground system is until you take a look at an escalator on the way up or down:

At that particular station there were two such loooooong escalators to get back to the surface.

So of course a couple of the "expected" landmarks....Big Ben:

Buckingham Palace & a Palace Guard:

But there's a new landmark in London, which you can see in the distance here, taken from Hyde Park, not far from my hotel:

The "London Eye" is a 450 foot high ferris wheel that sits on the river Thames, across from Big Ben and the houses of parliament:

Of Course I Did! Here's a shot across the Thames, from roughly the top spot on the Eye:

And a shot down the Thames. The Ferris Wheel consists of several pods, as you can see above. Each holds about a dozen people. This shot is taken over an adjacent pod:

Of the 56 pictures I took today, over 30 were of or from the Eye.

So tomorrow is also a play day before work begins on Friday. As I write this, I've been up for something like 27 hours (and it's not even 6PM here!). Check back tomorrow for further adventures.

Day 2

Today's theme seems to be coffee & rain. I might as well be home. J

You know the world is getting smaller when the police officer sparked at the entry to Hyde Park is sucking down his coffee in a Starbucks cup. Anyway, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens is where I started my day.

It's a huge park, much like New York's Central Park, but somewhat less developed. Wonderful to find in the heart of any city. It includes, among other things, an extensive horse trail (yes, there are even stables nearby, in the city). This morning there were plenty of people walking their dogs (off leash!), but unfortunately no Corgis. I guess I missed the queen.

Off in one corner of Hyde Park is the Rose Garden. It's a little early in the season, but it's quite nice:

Boy, do they seem to love statues & monuments over here. Perhaps it's just a side effect of collect them over hundreds of years, but it seems like they're everywhere. Here's what greets you on entrance to the southwest corner of Hyde Park. No idea what it commemorates, but it's fairly typical of several around town:

One landmark I missed yesterday got picked up today:

You can see that the sky is very gray, and sure enough, driving rain followed again. Back to the subways. One common phrase you'll hear down & see down there in "The Tube":

"Mind The Gap"... in other words, pay attention to the space between the train and platform when you step on or off.

So I found myself a coffee shop to hang out at for a while (with hopes that the rain might let up) at Piccadilly. And what do I see looking at me across the street:

A storefront full of dolls. Some days it seems I just can't get away.

After finishing my coffee, I walked on, and found, around the next corner....Starbucks. (& Burger King & KFC & TGI Fridays & Planet Hollywood & ... ).

And of course, a little while later I ran into a bear store. This poor fella was standing out in the rain:

So for now, it's back to the hotel room to rest the weary feet.

Day 3

Dinner last night, by the way, was at "Wagamama", a Japanese noodle restaurant. It was actually pretty good, even if it does have a funny name.

Well, today was a work day, so no touristy pictures. I can, however offer the following: a shot of my hotel, the Regency:

Of course my room is on the backside, with the view below:

I know. Not exciting.

Day 4

More work. No time for pictures today - sorry.

However I'll offer two observations

  • we've discovered the secret to eating in England...avoid English food. Tonight's dinner was at a very nice Italian restaurant nearby.
  • Much like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", which originated here in England, another show is making it's entry in the US market: "The Weakest Link". If it's anything like the British original, which I watched last night, this one actually has promise for being both entertaining and challenging. Have a look sometime.

Day 5

Turned out to be a short day work-wise, so we got a break in the afternoon. On each trip like this we also go out for some kind of event or something on at least one evening, and tonight was the night for a dinner cruise up and down the Thames. Unfortunately for photographers it was both dark, and raining, so I have only two photos to offer.

The Tower Bridge:

And the sad story behind this picture is that these people are not drunk:

just very, very tired.

Last report from London...tomorrow, Munich!

Day 6

A tube ride to the airport, a one and a half hour flight, a 100 mile an hour taxi ride, and here I sit at the Munich Park Hilton!

The skies over Europe are busy. We actually sat on the runway at Heathrow for a while waiting to take off, there was that much traffic. Many aircraft in the air. And for the first time I can recall, we were shadowed by another jet for much of our flight:

That's a shot out the window. You don't realize how fast you're flying either until another airplane flew past in the other direction, about as far away.

Anyway, here's the obligatory "out the window" shot, which here is actually out the deck (the room is MUCH larger than the London room):

Somewhere out there is Munch, Marienplatz, dinner and some good German Beer.

-- Later --

I like Munich. This afternoon we walked around the central city and it was a very pleasant experience. The central city is very pedestrian-friendly.

The "most" famous point in the city is Marienplatz, and the carillon on it's city hall. Several times a day 32 life-size figures rotated in front of the building re-enacting a couple of historical events while music is played on the glockenspeil. Here's a shot of Marienplatz, and a closeup of those figures:

NEW: on Wednesday I was able to shoot a little video of the carillon in action.

You'll note those shots were taken from above. A nearby church, St. Peters, built in the 1300's, allows you to walk the 300 step to the top of their tower:

Part is up a a narrow passageway up (I'm told I fill the passageway fairly snugly). Here's a shot down those stairs:

While up there, I also took this picture:

The tower on the right is the carillon mentioned above. In the distance you'll see another more modern tower. That's the Olympic Tower, in Olympic Park, from the 1972 Olympics. I'm told it has an observation deck, so that's on my agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

First, however, tomorrow is a full work day.

Oh, and yes, we did find that German beer, along with a very filling German meal, this evening in central Munich. And we walked back to the hotel to make up for it.

Day 7

Another day of no pictures, it was a full day of work. Interestingly enough, even though we are in Germany, there are no Germans on the interview schedule; mostly eastern Europeans. Evidently German's like Germany and don't want to leave.

I've come to appreciate better what "German Engineering" means. Little things like thermostats that are calibrated to the tenth of a degree... and the temperature control in the shower is also marked with the water temperature you want. In general the quality of manufactured good here is exceptionally high. Maybe I should rethink that BMW....

Day 8

I have no legs left. After this mornings interview session we had the afternoon off and I went for a walk. A five hour walk. (Had to walk off all the beer & sausage).

I started with a stroll to the site of the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Above I mentioned the tower that is there, here's a closer shot:

That's the Olympic swimming venue in the foreground...which was full of children swimming as I walked by. The tower has an observation deck, so of course I did. Here's a shot of the Olympic stadium from above (through a window, hence through some raindrops):

As you can tell, the weather was dark and often wet. However I tried a few shots from up there. Here's the nearby headquarters of BMW:

Here's the heart of the city in the distance (the center spire behind the church is the one containing the carillon):

My hotel, in the distance (I had a view of the tower, and hence the tower has a view of my room....I was on the 5th floor). That's a park, the "English Gardens" in the front of the hotel. Very nice park.

After returning to ground level, I headed off toward the heart of Munich...on the way I noticed this: that a corner of the Olympic park has been converted into sort of a pea-patch program...small gardens with very nice sheds that (I assume) people from Munich can take on a plot and garden in:

Back into town. Munich has a number of very large & imposing old plazas and buildings. This is just one example:

Throughout these plazas were the occasional street musicians and performers. Unlike other cities these people were good. It really added to the atmosphere in the city.

We stumbled across one of the street performers one evening as we were walking back to our hotel. It sounded as if a pipe organ were being played nearby, but what we found was a young gentleman playing a type of accordion. He had taken up position in a hallway within the building you see above, and the acoustics were phenomenal, at least to my untrained ear.

I tracked him down before we left, and purchased a tape he was selling. His name is Andrij Schamigow. Here's a sample of Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor, and Scarlatti's Sonata in C Major. (Each MP3 is about a megabyte in size.)

Also unique to Munich...there were fresh fruit and vegetable stands everywhere:

(Also everywhere were establishments posted and serving beer. I couldn't go a block without the opportunity to step in and down a cold one. Beer is to Munich as coffee is to Seattle, I think.)

Here's where we had dinner Monday night:

So tonight it's time to pack it in: tomorrow is the long road home.

- Fin -