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EuroTour: Prague, Czech Republic, and Munich, Germany

Prague Castle is seen, June 3, 2012, in Prague, Czech Republic.

Prague Castle is seen, June 3, 2012, in Prague, Czech Republic.

After a great time in Berlin (a city I will be visiting again, if not living in), Dad and I hopped on a train for a quick, one-night stop in Prague, Czech Republic, while en route to Munich, Germany.

Berlin to Prague to Munich

We were now in the country that we both knew the least about. We knew zero Czech words and we had none of their currency either; they aren’t on the euro. As we were pulling into Praha (Czech name of Prague), there was a noticeable difference in the language and writing on the signs. There were also relatively a lot of regular people walking around and across the train tracks. It also looked rather run down. Maybe that’s just what the old communist states look like.

After figuring out the exchange rate of euros (and, in the back of our heads, dollars to euros) to crowns, we were off on the metro in search of our hostel that we got for 12 euros per person! At the time, 1 USD was about 20 crowns. It was cloudy but not too cold, and, knowing we were there for only one evening and were departing to Munich in the late morning, we had to get out and explore. We had dinner at a local restaurant of goulash and some beef with cranberries and drank Budweiser Budvar. Yes Budweiser, but it’s not the American kind. Google ‘Budweiser in the Czech Republic,’ and you can learn about it. With filled stomachs, we went off on foot in search of the Prague Castle which I have been wanting to see for years.

Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Ethan Klosterman.

Prague Castle is seen, June 3, 2012, in Prague, Czech Republic.

I would have loved to have taken a tour or caught the castle at sunrise too, but this will have to do for my first visit there. We kept walking and wandering around the city as we tried to absorb all the sights and sounds we could.

The next morning, we had a big breakfast at the restaurant at the hostel and were off for a few more hours of exploring before we had to grab our bags and head to the next train.

Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Ethan Klosterman.

A general view of Old Town Square is seen, June 4, 2012, in Prague, Czech Republic.

Our stay in Prague was nice, but just too short. There was so much I just didn’t get to see. If I were doing it again, I’d cut out the city completely and spend another quality day in another city instead of hours on the train and just a few hours exploring. Quality over quantity.

A number of hours and a couple of trains later, we were in Munich. I was really surprised at how happy I was to be back in a German-speaking country. I’ve only ever taken about 4 classes of the it in 6th grade, but I remember it quite well. Maybe it’s my German heritage trying to call me back. We had a tasty dinner of sausage and Augustiner at a beer garden and were in for the night.

We caught up with a guided tour of Munich for a brief intro to the city and spent the rest of the day walking and hopping on the metro.

People walk around the fountains in Karlsplatz, June 5, 2012, in Munich, Germany.

Munich, Germany, June 5, 2012. Photo by Ethan Klosterman.

A tasty kebab from an all-hours restaurant near the train station later and we were in for the night. I performed a quick, YouTube-guided surgery* (Hi, Dad), and we figured out logistics for our visit to Dachau in the morning.

Our guided tour of Dachau was an important goal of mine. I wanted to get a better feeling for the horror of World War II and what my grandfather was fighting to end. The stories and history we heard were interesting, but I was surprised at how unemotional the tour was for me. It was challenging to think of the terrible things that happened there and across Europe, even through the pictures and a few of the buildings that were still around. It was hard to imagine something so awful happening from my modern day perspective, but I’m very glad we went and experienced it.

Tourist are led on a walking tour through Dachau concentration camp, June 6, 2012, in Dachau, Germany. Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany during World War II.

A long hallway in a Dachau concentration camp building is seen, June 6, 2012, in Dachau, Germany. Dachau was the first of the Nazi concentration camps opened in Germany during World War II.

We made our way back to Munich, a 30 minute train ride, and checked out some of the department stores near Marienplatz. When I go to Germany again, I’m buying authentic lederhosen.

Munich, Germany, June 5, 2012. Photo by Ethan Klosterman.

The interior walls of the Marienplatz U-Bahn station are seen, June 5, 2012, in Munich, Germany.

A couple days of drinking Augustiner, eating sausage at every meal and hearing some funny maypole stories in Munich were over, and we were off to spend a few in Rome!

Jeffrey Klosterman sits in a first class car on a train en route to Munich, Germany, June 4, 2012.

For more of my traveling adventures and to see the previous EuroTrip posts, click here.

© 2013 Ethan Klosterman


EuroTour: Berlin

Sony Center Roof, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Germany, Ethan Klosterman, architecture

Sony Center Roof, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Germany, Ethan Klosterman, architecture

After a spending a couple of days in Amsterdam, Dad and I were off to Berlin, Germany.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Germany, Ethan Klosterman, train

After another train ride, we arrived at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. This massive station is a gorgeous, glass, German Goliath. Unfortunately we arrived on a nasty, cloudy day, and it began to sprinkle once we stepped outside the station. So just trust me, this station was super nice.

We made the mistake of not packing food or eating on the train (yes, there was a dining car) so we were very ready to eat. We grabbed a bus and headed to our hostel, St. Christopher’s. It’s actually a chain of hostels around Europe that has a bar, Belushi’s, on the ground floor and then rooms upstairs. We had such a good experience there that we stayed at another St. Christopher’s in our next city, Prague.

After checking in and unloading our stuff, we got a recommendation to go to Hofbräu Berlin. I desperately needed food. I was hangry. Real hangry.

After we stuffed ourselves at the restaurant with mixed sausages, potatoes, a pork knuckle for Dad, and German beer, we dodged raindrops as we walked back to the hostel through a steady rain. I updated my Twitter followers, Dad and I planned out what we wanted to see the next day, and we called it a night.

We woke up to cloudy skies, cool temperatures, and an aggressive, face-numbing wind. We went on an easy-going, 4-hour walking tour of the city where we visited many of the big sites around Berlin and heard some informative history that gave us a solid intro to the city. I’m a big fan of the walking tours — especially the ones in cities that have lots of history, like Berlin. Sure, I learned a little bit about Berlin in school, but nothing close to what I got from the tour guide. It’s a nice way to start a city. I think it ended up being my favorite tour of the whole trip.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is seen June 1, 2012, in Berlin, Germany., Ethan Klosterman

No, I didn’t burn the foreground in post. The sun burst through the clouds to illuminate the trees just beyond the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Currywurst from restaurant Curry 36 is seen, June 1, 2012, in Berlin, Germany.

After doing some research in Amsterdam and asking the bartender at Belushi’s for recommendations on where to go to get good currywurst in Berlin, Curry 36 came up. It was dee-licious. I could eat that once a week. It was very affordable, too.

The United States Embassy is seen, June 1, 2012, in Berlin, Germany.

Ahh, an American flag. This is the US Embassy in Berlin. It’s ~50 yards from one of the most iconic symbols of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate (seen below).

Teams of rollerbladers wait at the starting line for the beginning of the Berliner Firmenlauf, June 1, 2012, in Berlin.

There was a large race (run, walk, and rollerblade) kicking off later that evening when we made our way back to the Gate. The teams above were on inline speed skates.

Ampelmann, East Germany, Cold War, Ethan Klosterman

Fun fact: if you’re in Berlin and see this guy on the crosswalk sign, you’re in East Germany. If you see a more standard type of guy with his arms down, you’re in West Germany.

Reichstag Sunset, Ethan Klosterman

After the race had come to an end and we walked along the dozens of vendors and tents, we walked toward Reichstag to grab a couple shots of the sunset. One full day down and one to go.

We awoke to sunny, much less windy morning. After a bit of wandering, we wound up at Alexanderplatz and under another icon of Berlin, TV Tower.

TV Tower at Alexanderplatz, Ethan Klosterman

A BMW, left, and a Cold War-era Trabi, right, are stopped at a red light, June 2, 2012, in Berlin.

If you know the story behind the Trabi, you get the irony.

East Side Gallery Mural, Berlin, Ethan Klosterman

berlin wall, East Side Gallery, Ethan Klosterman, Berlin, Germany

The next stop on our cross-town tour was the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. It’s about three quarters of a mile long. On the opposite side of the wall seen in this photo is the East Side Gallery. A sample of the actual art is on the photo above this one. It’s amazing to think about this wall-turned-public-art-exhibit causing so many issues just 20-some years ago.

U-Bahn Schlesisches Tor, Ethan Klosterman

After stopping at one of the recommended kebab restaurants for dinner, we were off to Potsdamer Platz, the home of the Sony Center.

The Klosterstrasse station, Berlin, Germany Ethan Klosterman

But on our way to Potsdamer, we passed through the Klosterstrasse Station. We hopped off the train to take a picture of the station. It’s always cool when you see your last name, or at least part of it, as the name of a U-Bahn (metro/subway) station.

Sony Center Roof, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin Germany, Ethan Klosterman, architecture

We made it to Potsdamer Platz and the Sony Center as the sun was coming out from behind the clouds. It has fantastic architecture and design. This photo doesn’t do it justice. It’s a huge entertainment, bar, and restaurant area. The light pockets that shine in throughout the day must be a photographer’s heaven.

Chains hang down from a bike rack outside the Sony Center, June 2, 2012, in Berlin, Germany. Ethan Klosterman

The roof of the Sony Center is seen, June 2, 2012, in Berlin, Germany. Ethan Klosterman

A general view of Potsdamer Platz is seen, June 2, 2012, in Berlin. Ethan Klosterman

We left Potsdamer Platz and set off for the zoo. We ended up finding it, but unfortunately it had closed for the evening. We did manage to find a random park party/concert with some nice German-ish reggae.

Enjoying the freedom to do what we pleased, we continued walking. We ended up on Kurfürstendamm. It’s the boulevard that’s home to stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Rolex, Prada, Armani, etc. Wikipedia tells me it can be considered the Champs-Élysées of Berlin. $Big money$

baby luxury, stroller, baby boutique, kurfurstendamm, berlin

It’s also the home of the $1,600 baby stroller that my Dad thought my sister Shannon would love.

The top architecture of the Berliner Volksbank on Kurfustendamm is seen, June 2, 2012, in Berlin, Germany. Ethan Klosterman

After walking block after block and still finding more swanky stores, it was now almost completely dark and time for us to head back into the city.

Berlin was one of my favorite cities. I’m not sure why it is, but I’ve made a list of my top ten reasons that I can put my finger on. I really want to go back and explore some more… and maybe even live for an extended period of time.

Nine reasons why I really liked Berlin:

  1. History- WWII, Cold War
  2. Architecture- new & old
  3. Liter beers
  4. Giant soft pretzels
  5. German seems like a language I could get used to. I took maybe four German classes in 6th grade. I still remember how to count from 1-10.
  6. Seems really clean (Subways, streets)
  7. Currywurst
  8. The doors to the S and U Bahns will open before the train comes to a complete stop. Sure it’s relatively less safe, but it’s a more efficient and faster way to unload passengers.
  9. As far as I know, all of my family is from Germany (Oldenburg to be precise). Enough said

With two fun, full days plus an evening spent in Berlin, we were off to our next destination and the place we knew the least about: Prague in the Czech Republic!


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Beginning of the EuroTour: Amsterdam

Amsterdam canal boat The Netherlands

Amsterdam canal boat The Netherlands After all of my exams were taken and essays submitted, it was time to begin a big adventure. A few months before, my dad accepted my invitation to come to Europe to visit me after classes were done. We decided to do a big European tour by train. The specific Eurail pass we got allowed us to travel unlimited miles and through any of the 23 countries in which the pass was valid during ten 24-hour periods within 15 days. With that constraint in mind, we planned a long route through Europe beginning May 29 and ending back in Madrid from where we would both fly home on June 15.

First city: Amsterdam

Our first travel day was spent flying (the only airplane leg of the journey) from Madrid to Brussels, Belgium on May 29. From there, we would start our train adventures and end the day by arriving in Amsterdam in The Netherlands.


We flew from Madrid to Brussels Charleroi on Ryanair. It my first experience with one of the discount airlines. The 3-hour flight north was different. From the minute that the doors to the cabin were secured, a team of flight attendants were on the loud speaker informing passengers about different kinds of things we could buy during the flight. This wasn’t the typical “we have sandwiches and liquor” pitch. They tried to hawk things like magazines, food, water, perfume, smokeless cigarettes, and lottery tickets. To add on to the annoyance of the constant sales speeches, I was sitting in the middle of two people (one being my Dad). Ryanair definitely doesn’t give any more legroom that is likely mandated by law. As a 6-foot 5-inch guy, I had zero room to move or stretch out. Thankfully, the flight was so short.

Rain falls on a commuter train station, May 29, 2012, in Charleroi, Belgium.

After arriving at rainy Charleroi and catching a bus to the train station, we began what would be a journey filled with train ride after train ride in city after city.

After a brief layover-turned-photowalk in Brussels proper, we were on our way to see the Belgian and Dutch countrysides on our train to The Netherlands. It was interesting to see the landscape change from flat farm fields to watery canals as we made our way farther north.

EGM Architecten

A parking lot is seen from train tracks, May 29, 2012, in The Netherlands.

A line of trees is seen, May 29, 2012, in The Netherlands.

A mother and her child ride a bike through downtown Amsterdam, May 30, 2012, in The Netherlands.

We arrived in Amsterdam late, so we found our hotel and grabbed a quick bite to eat, and called it a night.

The first things I noticed in Amsterdam were bicycles. Men, women, old, young–all riding bikes. It was amazing to see a place where bikes greatly outnumber cars by such a large margin. I’ve seen estimates of the number of bikes in the city around 550,000. It’s amazing considering the population is around 720,000.

People walk through a street market, May 30, 2012, in Amsterdam.

Escalator Centraal Amsterdam

I found some great lines in Amsterdam Centraal (yes two As) station.

Amsterdam Centraal Station Ceiling

A car is seen parked on the sidewalk, May 30, 2012, in Amsterdam.

fashion handbag in a window Dam Square Amsterdam

Amsterdam canal boat The Netherlands

This is one of my favorite frames from the whole trip. It was amazing how much light there was at 10 p.m. even with the clouds!

Bike blur, photography panning

HIV sign

This is one way to attract customers to a store.

Amsterdam was a great place to start our adventure. I loved the canals running through the city and the gazillions of bikes around every turn. This visit was a good warm up to a longer stay that I hope to have there in the future.

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Walking the line

Arches on blue sky Madrid

I went out for a walk around town looking for lines. I found some.

Arches on blue sky Madrid

These arches were one block away from my flat in Madrid!

Puerta de Atocha trains

This is the Puerta de Atocha train station in downtown Madrid. It was the site of the terrorist bombing back in 2004 that killed 191 people.

I saw a picture online of this station when I first came to Madrid, and it took me months to finally get to the area. The station and surrounding buildings have lines, lines, and more lines. I highly recommend it to photographers visiting Madrid. And I didn’t even get talked to or stopped by any overzealous, First Amendment-trampling rent-a-cops or police officers like I would surely have encountered in the States! Fantastic!

Sky through the Puerta de Atocha Renfe station ceiling in Madrid.

Puerta de Atocha Renfe station in Madrid

Atocha Renfe station Madrid

Puerta de Atocha Renfe station Madrid

walking black and white Congreso de los Diputados Madrid

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Semana Santa (Part 4 of 4)

Plaza de Espana boats

Easter Sunday Mass at the world’s largest Gothic cathedral? OK, I guess so.

After staying up late with my friends (coincidentally ran into them at the hostel), we were out the door before the sun was even through its last REM cycle. The mission objective: (good) seats. Our recon reported that Mass started around 9. We figured we’d need lead time of maybe an hour to beat the crowd on the most important day of the year at the third-largest church in the world within a very Catholic country. We wound our way through the streets of Sevilla and made it to the cathedral with plenty of time. By this time, the maintenance man was still doing his last-minute power washing of the side entrance.

Lamp at Cathedral

By 8:05 a.m., our side entrance finally opens. We’re there in plenty of time. We walk in and boom. This place is huge! While I haven’t seen the other biggest churches in the world, this one was certainly not your grandmother’s church.

It even is the home to Christopher Columbus’ tomb? Not too shabby.

After a few minutes of ohh-ing and ahh-ing at the tall, vaulted ceilings and seeing the processions pass through the church (see below), we started to think something was up. Why haven’t any priests been seen? There are only 40 people coming to Mass? It is Easter, right? After some murmurs move through the small congregation, we finally get word that our Internet-recon was bad. God gave us bad intel!? Mass starts at 11?! You mean we didn’t have to wake up at 5 a.m.? Awesome.

Brotherhood in costume

After blowing some time by filling our grumbling bellies with food and coffee at a restaurant around the corner, the time had finally come.

This time around, a familiar incense fragrance floated throughout the church as people were packing in and the organ began to bellow.

This time the two girls (two of our friends bailed after breakfast for naps back at the hostel) and I got seats in the second row on one of the wings. Not too shabby.

After songs- some familiar, some not- a few bows, a handful of handshakes, and a few faintly muttered Spanish phrases, I made it. First Spanish Mass= mission accomplished. Bonus points for it being on Easter… even if it does perpetuate the “Christmas and Easter Catholic” stereotype. If only Fr. Gene was still leading Sunday Mass at UD…

After some lunch and relaxing, I decided I had to find a place called Plaza de España that everyone was raving about. (I had hoped to stumble upon it the day prior.)

Plaza de Espana boats

Plaza de Espana arches

Plaza de Espana silhouette

Plaza de Espana from above

Spanish Flag

I could have spent hours there watching the light and shadows change. So many great lines, colors, and architecture. You might have recognized it from Star Wars Episode II.

After sweating it out in the Plaza, my friends and I had reservations for a flamenco show at a museum. Yes, the purists out there will scream and shout about that not being real flamenco, but hey, finding the authentic stuff was harder than it seems. While it probably wasn’t the world’s greatest, it was still an enjoyable way to finish up our last evening in Sevilla.

Flamenco dancer in motion

Flamenco dancers in Sevilla

After a pleasant dinner at an Italian restaurant near the cathedral, we ended up walking to Plaza de España again. I was only able to squeeze off maybe a couple dozen frames while trying to cradle my camera on the curved, colored, ceramic railing before a security guard scooted us out of the park due to closing time. I would have really liked to have had time to run to the hostel for my tripod and spend some quality time playing with the lights and water reflections. Next time, perhaps.

Plaza de Espana at night

With that, it was back to the hostel for some sleep, packing up and riding the high-speed AVE through the beautiful southern countryside to Madrid.

Spain = superb.

On the Road in Europe

Guten tag! I wanted to give an update on what I’ve been up to. My dad arrived in Madrid this past Tuesday, and we’re on a trip around Europe. We flew to Brussels, Belgium and then took the train to Amsterdam in The Netherlands and then, here, to Berlin. We’re about to grab another train to Prague, Czech Republic.
I’m actually writing this using the WordPress app on my phone since I decided to leave my computer in Madrid.
After Prague, we’ll be heading to Venice, Rome, Geneva, Barcelona, and finally Madrid. Those cities are subject to change, but that’s the general route. We’ll get back to Madrid around the 12th so I can show dad more of Madrid and get packed up at my flat. We’ll both be flying from Madrid to Ohio on Friday, June 15.

To follow along our route with a couple updates a day, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

The image at the top is an iPhone snap of my Nikon’s LCD. No computer means no processing. My apologies for the quality. I’m not sure how the Snapseed editing app works at larger sizes and not sure how badly WordPress resized the image since I’m resizing, etc. all from the phone and various apps. The actual photo is of the iconic Brandenburg Gate that connects East and West Berlin

Semana Santa (Part 3 of 4)

Military through town

On the heels of a nice day trip to Cadiz, I found myself on another beautiful day in Andalusia with plenty of time. Excellent. Let’s shoot, shall we?

While this may not look like much food, this is my impression of an average Spanish breakfast. That’s a cup of café con leche (coffee) and bocadillo de jamón (Iberian ham on bread).

Before coming to Spain, I had only ever purchased/tried to drink a cup of coffee once before. It was a terrible experience, and needless to say, I didn’t finish the cup. When I got to Spain, I saw everyone always drinking café con leche. Hey, I came abroad to see how people do it over here. One day at school a few weeks back, I mustered up my courage and got myself a cup. After the first sip, my face cringed like a baby that just poohed his diaper. “How can you all drink this stuff?” In a spirit of penance, I finished the cup.

Right before the rain came in Cadiz yesterday, I ordered another cup hoping my mom’s assertion that ‘taste buds change over time’ would ring true. It did! And who knew, sugar helps! So on this morning, I ordered it again. I’m learning to like this tasty way of jump-starting the morning.

Cafe con leche bocadillo de jamon agua

Sevilla Bridge


Church and bird

Metropol Parasol

Red stands

Paso float

Jesus in B&W

Horned reflections

Too loud

Cross and sun

Que tal?
These floats aren’t driven by machine power; it’s all man power. As the floats wind their way through the brick streets, new groups of men trade places with the sweat-soaked ones that have been giving the float its feet.

Military through town

One more post remaining from spring break! Stay tuned!


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Semana Santa: Cadiz (Part 2 of 4)

Good Friday sunrise over Sevilla

If you missed part one, it’s here. I made a friend on the bus coming back from Granada. Mar lives in Madrid, but she’s originally from Cadiz. She offered to show me around Cadiz if I was in Cadiz the same day she was in the area. Personal tour guide? Yes, please! So on the second day in Sevilla, I was off to Cadiz.

I thought I woke up early, but after speaking with the front desk folks at the hostel, they said I’d have no chance of making it to Santa Justa station by foot in time. With many of the roads blocked for the Good Friday procession routes, my choices were take a cab or miss my train. Cool. Although the ticket wasn’t expensive, I didn’t to miss the train. As I was running to the cab corral a few blocks away, I grabbed this frame as the sun was throwing out some amazing light as it was streaming through the streets of Sevilla downtown.

Good Friday sunrise over Sevilla

After a cab ride that seemed to take forever with all the traffic and road closures causing more than enough congestion around the city, I made it to the station, and all-out sprinted to my train. Made it. Whew.

Once I got to Cadiz, within my second cup of café con leche, the ominous clouds that had been rolling in finally exploded. It rained, and it rained hard. Luckily within an hour or two, it cleared up and gave way to some beautiful light and a bright blue sky for me to play with all day.

Yellow Triangle Roof

Beach watch tower at La Caleta

Ocean in Cadiz, Spain

Deep blue skies courtesy of the Nikon 77mm circular polarizer.

Kitty on the stairs

Wavy and white at La Caleta beach

La Caleta Beach in Cadiz

Caged bird in Cadiz

Trees on the coast Cadiz

San Antonio church in Cadiz

Cadiz fountains

Sunset over the ocean in Cadiz

After a solid day of picture making and walking around, I was headed back to Sevilla on the last train from Cadiz. It was definitely worth a day trip, but it’s by no means big. One day was enough for me.

Santa Justa station in Sevilla

After a two hour train ride, I was back at Santa Justa station. I finally took time to work with all its symmetry and lines.

Virgin Mary float for Semana Santa in Sevilla

On my way back to my hostel, I ran into a paso (procession). This is what Sevilla is famous for. I’ll let Wikipedia do the talking here. What they don’t tell you on Wikipedia is that if you get caught in one of these processions, you better not have to go to the bathroom or have anywhere to be. A tour guide said he was trapped for hours during one of the pasos. They happen all week in Sevilla, but also to a lesser extent in other cities around Spain.

After a long day of shooting and walking (that seems to be the theme with my trips around Spain), I was beat and ready to hit the hay.

Next up will be from my second day in Sevilla.



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Semana Santa (Part 1 of 4)

Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacion, Sevilla, J. Mayer H.

Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacion, Sevilla, J. Mayer H.
Spaniards call Easter break “Semana Santa” (Holy Week). I was off to Sevilla and Cadiz in Andalusia in the south of Spain for a few days of picture making. This is day one and part one of the trip.

If one was to drive to Sevilla without stopping, it’d take just under 6 hours. I rode the high speed train on the right. At speeds near 186 mph, I was there in 2.5. Fantastic! These trains were smooth-riding, had more leg room than airplanes, two AC outlets at each couple of seats, bathrooms, a dining car, movies, complimentary headphones, and no small overhead compartments that I had to worry about getting my stuffed ThinkTank bag into. To top it off, there were no stops (at least on the trip there), and I got to see the countryside.

AVE, train, blur, window, track, Renfe

ave, sunrise, sun, cloud

The sun was trying to peek out midway to Sevilla on the AVE.


Lighter and a note from a poor person requesting money in exchange. Very often a poor kid will leave a note and a small pack of tissues on the Renfe train or Metro in Madrid when I’m going to the Cantoblanco campus.

Palm tree

Metropol Parasol, Plaza de la Encarnacion, Sevilla, J. Mayer H.

“Metropol Parasol”€ in Plaza de la Encarnacion in Sevilla, Spain. It was designed by J. Mayer H. and completed in April 2011.

This was one of my very favorite parts of Sevilla. It is the world’s largest wooden structure. I watched a video about it a few days ago, and found out there’s a walkway on top. I wish I would have known that was an option when I was there! Oh, and it only cost a cool 90 million euros to build!

Sevilla, costume, KKK, capirote

This is the traditional outfit that hundreds of men, women and children don for processions (pasos) during Semana Santa. Yes, they do look like the KKK. To be clear, these garments were Spanish before they were adopted by the KKK in the early 1900s.

queue, line, wait,

These people were all in line to get into a church on Holy Thursday. The line extended even further than is visible in this frame.


veil, Sevilla

This is part of the traditional outfit worn by many adult women in Sevilla during Semana Santa.

dress, veil, sevilla, semana santa, outfit, costume

chairs, seats

All of these chairs were set out for spectators for the famous Sevilla processions. There had to have been tens of thousands set out around the city.

tram, sevilla


My next post will be all about my day trip to Cadiz. If you have comments, drop them below. Thanks for stopping by.


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Puerta del Sol Protest

Read here for part one of the evening.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, policia

After I was done looking through the four floors of art, I thought I would wander around downtown and see what I could find.

I walked for maybe 40 minutes and happened upon a street that looked much busier than all of the rest. A multitude of blue flashing lights piqued my curiosity. Police cars. For people who know me well, I’m a sucker for flashing lights. I’ve been known to follow police cars or firetrucks hoping to see something and maybe make a nice frame. Call me an adrenaline junkie; I won’t deny it.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, policia, police, riot, armour

As I walked down the bustling side streets in the heart of Madrid, I found myself in Puerta del Sol. As I crept closer, I counted at least 18 paddy wagon-esqe vehicles supporting the 110-or-so observing officers. They were dressed in nearly full riot gear, minus the shields and helmets. They lined the street and surrounded the plaza, ready to quash any violence. I saw perhaps a thousand people in the large, public plaza. Disregarding the cold, no more than 26° F, at least a few hundred of those people were actively protesting, chanting, and yelling. There was passion.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, camera

There was one man, who seemed to be a leader of the demonstration, that got the attention of one of the many news videographers that was covering the event. The videographer trained his camera on the protester. After an impassioned, whole-hearted plea, the man thanked the camera man with a hug and a big, Spanish kiss on the cheek. Without defense, the videographer accepted both.

The videographer looked at me and the people surrounding him and gave a shrug. It was like the protester broke through to the human behind the video camera, and he had to play it off to the people around him. From my perspective, it felt like the protester broke through the videographer’s emotion-resistant shield that many journalists wear when doing their job.

All of the protesters were chanting in Spanish, but from what I picked up, this was about their lives, their freedom. The protester’s on-camera plea gave me a feeling that something important was going on and they felt compelled to fight it. I could feel it, the videographer could feel it. Their pleas were engaging, even with the language barrier, that, for a second, I forgot I was there to document the event.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, mask

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, policia, police, riot

The crowd was generally peaceful. There were no bottles being thrown or people who crossed the line between passion and aggression. However, there was a subtle hint of tension between the 100+ cops and the large group of protesters. They seemed to be getting closer to one another. I think the other dozen or so photojournalists that were there could feel tension rising. There wasn’t anything blatantly obvious, but there was a certain hum among the journalists.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, sign, spanish

Not expecting to be out in the cold covering a protest, I was not dressed for the weather. Sensation in my fingers and toes was slipping away. Nothing big seemed imminent and having no desire to deal with numb fingers and toes due to serious frost bite, I decided to call it a night.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, protest, austerity, social, urban, metro, El Corte Ingles, policia, panorama, panoramic

My first protest was a fun experience. I’m looking forward to shooting more. I’ve got a long way to go. Hopefully next time it won’t be -3° C so I can take more time to see and shoot.

Museo Reina Sofía

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, Picasso

A couple of weeks ago, my roommates and I figured we better begin hitting museums while the weather was still less than ideal. Nighttime lows around 26F aren’t the best, but at least it rarely gets any colder than that during the whole “winter.” There’s plenty of more fun things to when it’s 75F than be in a mostly static museum.

All of us are in a course called Spanish Art in the Museums of Madrid. Class is one day a week. It’s essentially a high school-level art appreciation class. For example, on our first day of class, we talked about how to describe a painting. Mind blowing, right? I’m not complaining. Anyway, we had heard from various people, including our prof, that we have to see the Reina Sofia Museum.

Pros: We could talk about the art in class, could check it off the list, it is free at certain times, the building architecture is cool, it would us out of the apartment.

Cons: It’s “art,” it’s not very interactive, it’s guaranteed not to get the adrenaline rushing.

Well, the pros win. We went.

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, Picasso, gallery

For the sake of brevity, it’s a museum. It’s much like any other place that is the home to hundreds of pieces of art. It’s white, sterile, and smells funny. Typical.

Some things that were cool. It did have cool architecture. From my observations, there was an old part and a new addition. The old part had large stone supports, decorative wall pieces and more. The new part features a fourth story patio that is a nice place to watch the sun set over Madrid through 7 foot high glass panels that surround the open-air deck that overlooks a courtyard ~40 feet below.

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, Picasso, patio, architecture, metallic, balcony, sky

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, Picasso, terrace, patio, sunset

The museum got me thinking about the meaning of art. It got me questioning what is art? I found myself shaking my head numerous times throughtout my hours in the building. Some pieces just look like trash. Does this really belong in one of the most famous museums of Madrid? I guess that’s the beauty of art; its value changes with every person.

I struggled to make pictures inside the museum. Partially because of my opinions on the pieces. One piece did strike me as awesome though– Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica.” I had heard a few times that it’s big. Yeah, so what? Let me tell you, it’s huge! It’s around 25 feet wide, and over 11 feet high. It’s massive! How does one person even paint something that giant?

You’re waiting on my picture of “Guernica?” There’s the catch, the museum does not allow the general public to take photos of the painting. Why? Don’t know. There are two employees eying the whispering, awestruck crowd. They see you bring your camera up to your face? They’re quick to start walking over to you as they shake their finger and tell you “no photos.” I’m sure people get shots all of the time, but I held back. Plenty of images online. Here’s an image from the Museum’s Flickr page. They’re stingy with pixels; forgive them.

I did find one piece I liked. George Brecht is the artist.

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, "george brecht", "sign of the times"

Simple and witty. My kind of art.

Museo Reina Sofía, art, museum, Madrid, Spain, Espana, culture, exhibit, courtyard

After looking through the courtyard a bit and snapping a few frames, I was finished with the museum.

Reina Sofia Museum: check.

Little did I know that some exciting things were happening just a few blocks away… See next post for deets and frames.

Monochrome Madrid

I got out of class last week and saw some light I couldn’t resist. Peter, my roommate, must have already left our downtown school so I figured I’d go out and get some sightseeing done. The temperature was pleasant, and I (of course) had my camera and a 17-35 with me. Winning combination. After asking a few of my classmates where they recommended, I got on the Metro a block or two away from school and headed toward the Puerta del Sol station.

Having no guide except for my offline map app on my iPhone, which is less than great aside from looking up Metro stops, I walked and wandered and chased the light. No time-consuming extra-currics to go to. No homework thanks to syllabus week. Freedom.

Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments

Since I was just walking wherever I saw things that looked interesting (and the light was right), I don’t know the name most of the things I saw. Feel free to help me out by leaving a comment at the bottom, and I’ll add them in.

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Plaza de Espana, Cervantes, Don Quixote

Why did I go black and white? I’m not sure. The light was changing a bit and B&W made things a bit more unified. Now that I think of it, it was probably the other way around. I put one shot in B&W and it only looked good that way, therefore everything needed to go B&W. I don’t hate it.Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Plaza de Espana, Cervantes, Don Quixote, fuente, fountain

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Egypt,

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, Palacio Real, Royal Palace

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, trees, park

Madrid, Spain, Espana, Metro, monumento, monuments, cars, traffic

I’m always carrying at least one camera with me. More shots and stories to come.

Chicago, Chicago


Chicago, skyline, Sears, willis, tower, Lake michigan

For those of you who may not know, starting January 20th, I’ll be leaving my easy-going life in Dayton and moving to Madrid until the middle of June for study abroad. From Dayton and its 165,000 people English speakers to Madrid and its 5.1 million Spanish speakers

Crazy/awesome, I know.

My trip starts Jan. 19th and first takes me to Chicago for a five-ish hour layover and then finally off to Spain. Luckily I’ll have a travel companion the whole time. My friend, Brenda, from high school is also going to Comillas Pontifical University. We’ve coordinated our flights so not only do we have the same flights from the 937 to Chi-town and Chicago to Madrid, but we also are supposed to have seats right next to each other. Oh and we’re going to be in the same apartment!

So, does Chicago relate to this trip in any other way? Indeed it does.

If I were to describe the process of getting a Spanish visa with one word, I’d say it’s a breeze. All one has to do is make a trip to the nearest Spanish consulate, attend a five minute appointment, sign a few papers, pay the fees, and wait until the joyous day when you get the consulate’s notification that your visa is ready. There’s only one catch. Where is the nearest consulate to Dayton? Ding ding ding! Chicago, Illinois!

Dayton to Chicago

So let’s do the math, that’s 5+ hours up, 5+ hours back (that’s the first trip), then 5+ hour trip up, and yet another 5+ hour trip back. I’m no math whiz, but last time I checked 5 x 4=20. Twenty hours of driving just to get the visa. Wonderful!

Today is Jan. 10th. I leave on the 19th. I’m still awaiting my email from the consulate. In full disclosure, I didn’t apply for my visa until Dec. 16. My fault. Pardon my rant, it’s just that if I don’t have a visa, I don’t go to Spain!

I’ve been working on figuring out what we’re going to do for housing once we arrive and making sure my classes are being taught in English. (Yes, I know. I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to live in a city that speaks Spanish. Who am I kidding; I’m not going to get very far on my three years of high school Spanish. Sorry Señora Adcock and Regan.) Flights booked? Yes. Passport? Yes. Visa? Hopefully, maybe, possibly, but technically no. Packed? I’ll plead the 5th on that one.

The shots above and below are from Dad and my first trip (ever) to the Windy City on a nice Friday in mid-December.

Garrett Popcorn, food, Garrett's

Upon recommendation from multiple Chicago friends, Dad and I made the stop into Garrett Popcorn. I recommend the caramel.

The lake from Willis Tower, Lake Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, skyline, Sears

Pops and I went up in the Willis (Sears) Tower. We lucked out on it being such a bright, sunny day.

Posts and photos from my European adventure are just a couple weeks away!

Hello World

A new year and a new start. This blog is my first go-round at sharing pictures and stories on my own non-social photo-sharing site.

I’ve read many blogs and have caught on. They all say something like, “I’m going to post at least once a week.” Once February rolls around, they remember that forgotten resolution about a blog they made have posted a grand total of maybe two times.

I don’t make any promises with this blog. I will post when I have photos and/or stories to share. That may be once a day or once a week, or maybe once a month. Regardless, the things I feature here will hopefully be visually interesting, insightful stories, or a thing or two that I have learned.

I’m foreseeing lots of changes in the look and feel of this blog as time goes on. Bear with me.

Happy New Year! Let’s begin!