Category Archives: Travel

Looking back at the 2017 Oktoberfest in Munich – A Report in Pictures

Auf Wiedersehen Oktoberfest

– A photo of Matthias-Pschorr Strasse from the Bavaria Statue –

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Greetings from the Wiesn!   For more than two hundred years, the Oktoberfest has been the highlight of Munich’s calendar, and is considered the world’s largest folk festival.  This year, the weather has been very cooperative so far, with mostly fair weather greeting the estimated three million visitors to the Theresienwiese in just the first week and a half.  By the end of the 18 days, an estimated 6.2 million visitors enjoyed the Wiesn.

Typical food offerings like Hendl, Brezn, and Spätzle have been abundant, and a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes are also available in many tents.  In the Ochsenbraterei, sixty (60) Ox were already cooked and served by the Fest midpoint (in comparison to 55 by the same time last year), and by the end of the Fest, 127 had been served!

This was my second time auf die Wiesn;  I was out here last year for the marriage of two dear friends, and their celebration coincided with Oktoberfest, so it was practically a requirement that we make a trip to the Wiesn part of my visit.  I immediately knew that I’d be returning again and again, and that I would want to share my experience with others.

A quick tour of the perimeter to get a feel for the Stimmung of the fest revealed the usual revelry and an abundance of souvenirs including the famed Gingerbread Hearts (Lebkuchenherzen).

– One of the more robust offerings of Lebkuchenherzen –
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We then made our way to the Ochsenbraterei for lunch and a Maß, and while the Ochsenbraterei is best known for its meat offerings, there were substantial vegetarian offerings noted on the menu.

– The front entrance to the famed Ochsenbraterei –
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– Interior of the Ochsenbraterei, which seats nearly 6000 people (with another 1600 outside seats) –
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– Rows of empty mugs await filling –
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– Hungry fest-goers are served –
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Our next stop was the Löwenbräu Festzelt, where we enjoyed a bit more food and a change in atmosphere.  Even at 5pm, the mood in the tent was starting to change, but it was almost on cue at 6pm, when the tent felt more crowded, and more and more people began singing and dancing on the benches.  The “Oktoberfest-Barometer” (available via the official Oktoberfest App) can predict when the Wiesn might be busiest, and the App can also inform on how full various tents are.  The App can be downloaded from http://www.muenchen.de/app .

– The front entrance of the Löwenbrau-Festzelt, which seats 5700 inside and another 2800 outside) –
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 -The interior of the Löwenbräu-Festzelt –
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– A tray of food headed to hungry fest-goers at the Löwenbrau-Festzelt –
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 – Traditional breads, including the giant Breze –
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– Festgoers in Tracht in the Löwenbräu-Festzelt –
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–  The servers working hard to keep everyone happy, with just a few of the estimated 7.5 Million Maß served –
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One of the treats this year was the Oide Wiesn – a traditional and historical corner of the Wiesn.  An estimated 480,000 visitors enjoyed this look back into history as well as the constant cultural performances in the Festzelt Tradition like partnerdances, Schuhplattler Dances, and the Whip cracking (Goasslschnalzer).

– Festzelt Tradition, with a capacity of 5000 inside (and an additional 2700 outside) features a large dance floor for performances –
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– Festzelt Tradition offered more traditional feel and plenty of Tracht –
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– The Alphorn performance was a crowd favorite –
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This year’s Fest ended on 03 October 2017, and I’m already looking forward to kicking off next year’s event on Saturday, 15 October 2018.  For more information about Oktoberfest, you can visit the official site at http://www.oktoberfest.eu.

Until then, Prost!

All Images: Copyright ©2017 http://www.splitsecondimaging.com

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Christopher Chin is an accomplished underwater videographer and writer who has traveled extensively and speaks several languages. He studied German at the University of California, Berkeley, and quickly fell in love with the German language, culture and people. In early 2006, Christopher co-founded The Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research, and Education (COARE), and currently serves as its Executive Director.

Christopher is an internationally recognized expert in ocean policy and conservation issues, and has provided valuable and persuasive testimony to various governing and legislative bodies in the U.S. and in Canada, and he has had the privilege of addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on two separate occasions.

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Old Masters, Modern or Contemporary Art – Visit LACMA for Free

Old Masters, Modern or Contemporary Art – You can have it all at LACMA

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Nothing is more refreshing on a scorching hot summer day than walking the air-conditioned aisles of LACMA!

Well, …nothing except for cooling off at the beach perhaps.

But, hey, you can’t let the beach monopolize you, right? There is so much more to do and see in LA! Like visiting the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – LACMA, the western United States’ largest art museum.  

And….LACMA is making it sooo easy for you to visit! Especially if you have children.

LACMA has a special membership program for children called NexGen. My kids have been members ever since this program existed. It makes visiting LACMA a fun and enjoyable family outing, that doesn’t overstretch your budget, because … it’s FREE!

Every child 17 years and younger can become a member ! You just sign up at the museum or online. Your kids are then presented with a cool orange lanyard that allows them free entry every time they visit. Plus they can invite one adult guest for free as well! So, guess what? You, as the parent can enjoy LACMA for free, too? 

Still missing the beach? …Because, it’s just a must during summer? Well, with the NexGen membership it’s easy to divide the day and do both in a day! After all, this awesome  kids’ membership makes it possible for you and your child to visit the main galleries and all temporary exhibitions any day, any time, all year! So it doesn’t matter if you stay for 2 hours or 5.

Give your mind and soul a well-deserved break from the fast-paced life around you. I tell you, it’s relaxing and invigorating at the same time to walk LACMA’s various galleries. And, you will be amazed how much children actually like it as well. Check out the modern and contemporary art galleries to visit the oversized billiard pool set, blown-out-of-proportion- comb, and ask your child what he thinks of a Pollock painting! Kids especially enjoy the installation of Chris Burden’s Metropolis II.

We often start out at LACMA by roaming the galleries to our heart’s content and then stop by the museum’s store. It used to be an all time favorite for my children, and even now with only our youngest one in tow it hasn’t lost much of its attraction. You can always find something there that is cool, inspire or else. Sometimes it’s just something small like an all graphite pencil, which turned out to be a hit at my son’s school a few years ago.

Occasionally we stay for lunch or a light snack at the museum’s restaurant, bar or cafeteria before we hit the road to the beach in the summer. 

If you do it the other way around and visit the beach first, then you might catch some of LACMA’s cool outdoor summer concerts later in the afternoon; or choose to attend a talk at the museum’s theater. LACMA is not only about art and design. It’s an overall cultural experience !

I have to say for us the “LACMA outing” has never been boring. Ever! We always find new things to look at, new installations to marvel at, and discover new art installed in some of the galleries; galleries, that we thought we knew already inside out. 


Images: “Art At LACMA” ©CaliforniaGermans


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The Beauty of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)

Walking Through Downtown L.A.

– A Report in Pictures –
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Los Angeles, a fascinating city and a dream destination for many, has so much to offer. Beautiful beaches, legendary Hollywood, famous Universal Studios, iconic Muscle Beach at Venice, eclectic art, amazing museums, delectable restaurants…just to name a few highlights.

For sure L.A. is not only an exciting city for newcomers and tourists alike, but also for us expats living here it is worth dedicating a summer vacation to exploring Los Angles and beyond.

So here we go.

My family loves Downtown L.A. (DTLA). Be it Olvera Street the often called “birthplace of Los Angeles”, Chinatown , Little Tokyo, the contemporary art museum MOCA or THE BROAD museum and of course the Grand Central Market, which is always a must for us when we are in DTLA.

Needless to say our latest trip to DTLA started out right here and should end here as well with some delicious ice cream before heading back home.

Energized, after having had lunch at Wexler’s Deli indulging on their pastrami sandwich ‘The OG’, my son’s favorite, we make our way to the Grand Central Library.

Shortcut Along Angels Flight

There is a great short cut to South Grand Avenue by climbing the stairways alongside the Angels Flight funicular, which is right across from the Grand Central Market’s exit on Hill Street.

On South Grand Avenue we pay a short visit to MOCA, glance at The BROAD, (which is closed on Mondays) and take in the fabulous architecture of the Disney Music Hall before we continue our path to the library.

More art along the way!

Arriving at the corner of South Grand Ave / 5th Street we are finally met by one of Los Angeles architectural and historical landmarks, The Central Library!

The original library of 1926, the Goodhue Building, is an early example of Art Deco. The Tom Bradley Wing was added as a modern addition in 1993 and features most of the library’s collection today.

The Goodhue Building houses the Children’s and Teen department, which we always enjoy visiting.

Upon entering via the Rotunda with its Zodiac Chandelier one feels transported into a different time.

Have we entered Victorian era England or have we teleported into a Harry Potter movie?  Not sure, but it’s beautiful!

On our way out we make sure to walk through the atrium of the Tom Bradley Wing to get back into modern times.

Back outside on 5th Street we realize that we happen to stand right across of L.A.’s famous skyslide which is attached to the top of the US Bank skyscraper. Definitely nothing for the faint-hearted!! So I am quickly moving on pulling my mesmerized son with me down the street to The Last Bookstore on 453 S Spring Street.

The Last Bookstore, an eccentric book store that engages every book lover with tons of books, art galleries, hidden reading sanctuaries and a book labyrinth.

Even if you are not interested in books per se, this bookstore is a must! And if it’s only to inhale the L.A.vibe !

Enough books for today! We are heading back to the Grand Central Market and the Bradbury Building, which happens to be directly opposite of the market’s entrance on S. Broadway.

Not promising anything extraordinary from the outside the Bradbury Building fascinates once you walk through the narrow entrance lobby. Letting our eyes feast one more time on an L.A. architectural landmark, we are walking into the five-story building and are met with an amazing, light-filled atrium brimming with staircases in ornate ironwork and two wrought-iron ‘bird cage’ elevators. The Bradbury Building has been featured in many movies, the Blade Runner being one of them.

Together with the Central Library and the Union Station, the Bradbury Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places .

For everyone still seeking adventure, you could move on to see much more here in Downtown L.A. – After all L.A.’s Union Station is not far away and famous theaters like the Theatre at the ACE Hotel are just down the road.

My son and I, however, called it a day and we went back to the Grand Central Market to reward ourselves with a delicious ice cream and an interesting coffee concoction. The drink called Business and Pleasure at G & B actually consists of three drinks! Iced almond-macademia milk cappuccino, carbonated iced tea and an espresso shot. Give it a try next time you visit Grand Central Market!

Prost! Cheers! À votre santé!

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Images: All Rights reserved ©CaliforniaGermans

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Art Sampling in Los Angeles

Art Walks are calling

These days beautiful Southern California weather and warm temperatures are beckoning us outside. What better time to check out the LA art scene, especially since some great art events are just around the corner.

One is in fact happening tomorrow. The Brewery Art Walk Community opens its doors tomorrow and Sunday from 11am to 6pm. More than 100 participating artists in residence let you experience up close how they live and work. If you see some artwork you like, strike up a conversation with the artist right there and then. At the Brewery Art Walk you are basically breathing art. Anything you can remotely call art, you can find here.

Brewery Art Walk is fun, it’s hip and eclectic! There is a spring and a fall art walk and we used to visit at least one of each every year. The atmosphere is definitely a bit crazy but totally fun and groovy. Even people-watching becomes an adventure.

The famous Venice Art Walk is coming up on May 21st (12pm to 6pm). Contrary to the Brewery Art Walk it is not a free event since the proceeds of the event go to the Venice Family Clinic.  Artists as well as architects are opening their homes and studios to the public and let everyone participate in their creative process. Special Studio tours are often offered and apart from fascinating art you can see some stunning homes. The impressive silent auction features famous names like Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston , Sam Durant and many more.

What’s the atmosphere here? You are walking along the cool Venice community close to the beach with all its restaurants and bars. It’s quite a different setting compared to the Brewery Art Walk which is housed in a previous industrial zone with artists’ lofts in former warehouses. And, yes, people-watching is definitely a must also here… you are in Venice Beach after all!

We started our “art walk season” with last week’s Spring Fling at Bergamot Station. Another art haven, this time in Santa Monica. The venue is easily accessible with LA metro’s Expo Line. If you arrive by car, parking can sometimes become a bit challenging.

The Spring Fling event was a collective Open House of about 30 galleries, welcoming art enthusiasts to check out what’s hot in the contemporary art world. Bergamot Station used to be one of our regular art venues to get our ‘art fix’ quite some years ago. So upon hearing of the spring event we packed up the family and left for LA.

Having not been here for a while I perceived the audience and overall vibe as quite a bit different from the exhilaratingly crazy, creative chaos at the Brewery Art Walk. While still colorful and vibrant the audience seemed to be more on the ‘sophisticated’ side and one could feel that the venue here was managed by various gallery businesses rather than an artist community. But that didn’t mean the art was less intriguing. In fact some of the galleries put on some well curated shows. Walking through Bergamot Station felt more like visiting a bunch of micro museums.

It was quite a coincidence that we stumbled upon the abstract architectural sculptures by German artist, Manfred Müller from Düsseldorf, whose work was featured in a show called “Not From Here” at the Rosegallery.

Taking in all what Bergamot Station had to offer, we particularly enjoyed the art installation “People I Saw But Never Met” by Zadok Ben-David at Shoshana Wayne Gallery. 3,000 hand-cut aluminum figures are installed on the gallery floor covered in white sand (see this post’s featured image).

Another highlight was William Turner Gallery’s “Chance and Circumstances”, an exhibition that featured new works by 91 year-old famous and prolific Los Angeles painter, Ed Moses, a central figure in post-war West Coast Art.

One Show that really captivated us long after we had already left for home was Stephen Wilkes’ “Ellis Island- Ghosts of Freedom” at the Peter Fetterman Gallery. The photography exhibition took you on a trip through an abandoned hospital on Ellis Island that the early immigrants to this country had to pass through before they were allowed access to the ‘land of the free’. Stephen Wilkes captured the eerie atmosphere and its history so perfectly that one was literally pulled into each picture’s story.

One picture was taken from such an angle that the Statue of Liberty was visible in the mirror over a sink in a room, where some Eastern European woman might have had to stay to get her health monitored. Wilkes writes in his remarks next to the image, that he was wondering if this was perhaps the closest she could ever get to the freedom she so had longed for…

Striking, thought provoking compositions left you wanting to find out more about this part of history. Apparently Wilkes just came to visit the hospital for a one-time article assignment but it turned into a 5-year project. You can feel his fascination with his project in his exceptional capturing of the various moods and energy in every image. History comes alive under his camera and we seem to become an invisible witness of the many impactful moments that might have had occurred at that time in history.

Still in thought we solemnly made our way back to our car and were grateful for the appeasing pictures by Tamayo and Diego Rivera at the Latin American Masters Gallery before we found ourselves back on the freeway chaos of the late afternoon traffic.

All Images: ©CaliforniaGermans

Sponsored by ADOLESCO.ORG

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Adolesco – Your Ticket to the World!

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A non-profit language immersion and cultural exchange program  – ADOLESCO

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17-year old Sacramento-area teenager Gemma B. has lived in Germany, France, and Spain in addition to her native California thanks to Adolesco, a non-profit exchange organization that matches American children and teens with exchange partners in Europe for short-term language-immersion and cultural exchanges.

Unlike typical ‘one-way’ foreign exchange programs, Adolesco only offers real exchanges: each carefully matched partner has the chance to both host and travel, taking turns to live with their exchange partner and family for up to three months. This reciprocal exchange experience typically results in close friendships and life-long international connections on both sides.

“When I arrived at the airport in Germany, it wasn’t hard to find my exchange family: they were wearing matching grins and t-shirts that spelled out ‘GEMMA’. Johanna’s family was so welcoming that I quickly felt at home.”

You Can Participate With Little To No Foreign Language Knowledge

With Adolesco’s guidance, children and teens with little or no exposure to a second language are often able to gain remarkable fluency. As Gemma recalls, “I’d only studied German for a few months before going to Germany. During the first days of my exchange, beginning to understand and speak German was alternately frustrating and hilarious. Eventually, speaking German became Adolesco gemma-and-johanna_goslarsurprisingly normal.”

And there’s no reason to wait until college for the opportunity to study abroad. Living a new culture as a member of a family rather than visiting as a tourist is a tremendous opportunity that Adolesco makes available for children as young as 9 (and up to 18). Parents on both sides are encouraged to treat the visiting child not as a guest, but as another sibling. This true integration offers a unique opportunity for developing real understanding and appreciation.

“I enjoyed experiencing life in Germany and learning about its culture and history. I also had the opportunity to re-examine and better understand my own country’s culture and relationship with the world.” -Gemma B.

How Does It Work?

Adolesco is based in France and staffed by a network of representatives and volunteers across Europe and North America whose children have benefitted from these exchanges. Interested families must complete a thorough application process that includes a home visit and interview. Candidates are only matched with exchange partners when the team feels like an exchange will succeed. In many cases, the connection between the two families and the two exchange partners will be life-long.

“The girls have a perfect understanding… this exchange opened new horizons for Emma but also for the whole family – thank you!” -Sandrine, French mother

In Latin, Adolesco means ‘I’m growing’ and the Adolesco team believes that learning a new language, understanding another culture, and growing beyond our cultural boundaries benefits our children, our families, and our world.

Learn more about Adolesco:

Adolesco is accepting applications for this summer! To travel or host this summer, apply by March 31 – visit www.Adolesco.org to get started.

Watch a short video about Gemma and Johanna’s exchange:

Follow current and past exchanges at www.facebook.com/adolesco.org

EXPLORE YOUR WORLD!

 Contact Adolesco’s Exchange Coordinator in California at kristin@adolesco.org

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Text & Images Copyright ©Adolesco                                                                       (Sponsored Post)
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