Chicago Vacation_a much deserved Reprieve

August 20, 2012 - Leave a Response

This past August Jill and I took a much needed vacation to Chicago.  The trip was sparked by my friend’s visit to the U.S. from Switzerland.  We spent 5 days in this amazing town, visiting friends from back home in the high school days as well as from abroad more recently.  We took in the sites, visited Oak Park to get our fill of Frank Lloyd Wright, and even caught a Cubs game!  This city has so much to offer and I am very jealous of all my friends that ended up there.  But there’s still time to make the move I suppose, and definitely plenty going on architecturally to spike my interest.

Trying to navigate the crazyness that is downtown Chicago.  So much to see in so little time!

Carson Pirie Scott & Company building by Louis Sullivan!

Park of Frank Gehry’s “Millenium Park”.  Way to add to my rainy day Mr. Gehry, thanks.

What’s that, a Picasso in front of a Mies building?  Amazing!

Buckingham Fountain, first noticed by yours truly on “Married with Children”, such an appropriate show for a young child, don’t you agree?

Getting ready to ascend the John Hancock building.  I had climbed the Sears Tower in previous visits, but never had a chance with this one.  Well, let’s see what this feat of engineering has to offer!

The Marina Towers in Chicago, first noticed by me on the cover of Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot” album of course.  Still one of my favorite sites in town.

After visiting Navy Pier and taking the obligatory Ferris Wheel ride, we made our way South to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House.


A classic example of Wright’s emphasis on the horizontal, executed here by dying the vertical mortar joints to match the brick, allowing the horizontal joints to help elongate the building.

Following this trip, we headed West to Oak Park, home to so many of Wright’s early works, from the Winslow House to his home and studio to Unity Temple!



The world famous Sears Tower, which I forced Jill to climb so we could experience the fairly new “Skydeck”, four glass boxes which cantilever over the building edge.  It’s actually an amazing experience if you can manage to get through all the kids and self-photographers.

Our classic “Feet Picture”, except this time, without the beach, or the ground for that matter . . . look at that drop!

Next, we headed to the Museum of Natural History to visit “Sue” and the Shedd Aquarium.

The Monadnock Building, I finally found it, and it was just per chance!

The new Trumph Tower . . . right in the middle of everything, how did they get away with that!?

At the Cubs vs. Brewers game, with a friend from days gone by.

Well, that about does it for my time in Chicago.  It was great catching up with old friends and seeing some new sites this time around.  Chicago, I can’t wait to see you again, maybe next timeI won’t be just a visitor!


Philidelphia, PA_Wedding in Amish Country

October 1, 2011 - 2 Responses

During one fine October weekend, Jill and I flew to Philadelphia to visit one of Jill’s close friends from her time in Uganda.  Her friend was getting married in Amish country, but after the festivities, we decided to head back to the big city and see what our founding father’s stomping grounds had to offer!

Intro to “Always Sunny” anyone ? . . .

Penn’s Landing, a really cool part of town right on the harbor . . . reminded my a bit of Hamburg, just not quite large enough.

The historic Elfreth’s Alley, full of tiny shops and homes.

Our approach to see the famous Liberty Bell!

Then City Hall/ Now Independence Hall, where all the magic happened!

View from atop City Hall looking out at the plaza next to the Liberty Bell and Constitution Center.

Speaking of the Constitution Center, here we are, inside!


The steps where Rocky made his victorious comeback, preparing to dominate in the ring for years to come!




Couldn’t resist . . . sorry all of you that thought we were above this, but sometimes cheesy just feels right.

On our last day in town, we skipped across the bridge to see the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey, and yes, it was on the New Jersey side.  Where will our state-side adventures take us next?  L.A.? New York?  San Diego? Maybe Chicago even?  Stay tuned to find out.



Goodbye Munich . . .

November 16, 2010 - Leave a Response


Well, my time in Munich has come to an end, but unlike Switzerland, this was a planned departure and my work in the AWA office was completed . . . thoroughly.  We had our AWA 30 year party at Olympia Park during my final few weeks, and I had one last celebration with all of my colleagues before packing my things, making my final treks through the city, and finally flying home.  Munich, you treated me wonderfully, and you will remain my favorite City in Germany (with Hamburg and Dresden being right up there), for both your laid back lifestyle and your proximity to Nature.  Tschüss!









My first and only Bath-house experience.  I went here with my friends from Prague, and this is also the same night that Jill’s adorable niece was born, and she called all the way from the States to share the wonderful news!



After biking along the Isar River for a few kilometers, I came across the Englischer Garten, which was actually really close to my last apartment and I was able to jog through or commute by almost every day on my way to the office.





What’s that you say?  Surfing on a river?  No, surely there aren’t surfers in Germany . . . and certainly not somewhere as inland as Munich!  I stand corrected.



Speaking of gardens, here is the Botanischer Garten, with everything in full bloom at mid-Summer.


And now for the last two art museums from the Arts District intersection, first the Neue Pinakothek, followed by the Pinakothek der Moderne.








They had an exhibit which was all scale models of various German landmarks, either existing or pre-World War II, with sooo much attention paid to detail.  I LOVED this exhibit and wish I could have spent a whole weekend there.





One final glance at the Glockenspiel . . .


One final stroll through Olympic Park and the BMW showroom . . .






The recently made stadium pavilion, constructed by a colleague in the AWA office.  Just wait, our 30 year celebration took place here, and there are pics later below!


The BMW museum and showroom, as seen from the TV Tower at Olympic Park.  Don’t worry, I’ll go down there and get some shots of that too.







Prepare to enter a world of Celebration!!!  This is where our 30 years of AWA party took place, and fun was had by all, culminating in an almost 3-hour dance at the end!





The bosses from my office and the Stuttgart branch, setting the mood.



There he is, the man himself, the firm’s founder and co-owner Fritz Auer, responsible for designing the Olympic Park back in the 1970s!


My final Frühstück.  Everyone came for Pretzels, Coffee, and this time, Oreos and PB&J sandwiches for my proper (daytime) send-off.  I had an amazing experience at this office, and hope that I can stay in contact with my new friends here and maybe even return to work here in the future . . .



The weather is definitely changing, the Christmas market will soon be up and running, and now it is that time yet again, time for me to cross the pond and get back to where I belong . . . Midwest, USA!  Munich, you will be missed, but don’t forget about me, I’ll come back someday.

Reunions Abroad_Back to Prague and Zurich!!!

November 13, 2010 - Leave a Response

I was lucky enough to finish my work with Auer + Weber early enough that I still had a few weeks of travel left before my visa expired.  So, what to do what to do, how about visit my friends at THEIR place?!

Říp, the hill where Czech History began. This is close to Roudnice, where Honza’s grandmother lives, and we visited her for a nice afternoon and great traditional Czech food.





The new student library on the Czech Tech Campus, which was under construction during my whole semester in Prague, is finally complete!!!









My friends knew someone who works at a leading Prague Magazine, and they showed us their new workspace.



This museum houses the “Langweiluv Model Prahy”, a model of the entire city of Praha!


We also found a small gallery displaying an exhibit on recent Architectural Projects in Hamburg, while a similar exhibit was on display in Hamburg about new works in Prague.  This is the housing tower constructed in Behnisch that I saw earlier.



PARTY IN ZURICH!!!!  My friend Morten organized a get-together of all my former colleagues from Zurich at his place the weekend after I visited Prague.  A great time was had by all and I was so glad to see everybody again, even if it was for only a short time.










Leftovers from the FUN the night before.  Time to hang out in the city for the day!







A rowing competition on the Zurisee!


Calatrava’s “Stadelhofen” station . . . still one of my favorite’s of his and one of my favorite metro stops in Europe!







On my last day in Zurich, we visited Monikaheim, the final project I began before my time in the Swiss Office was cut short.  Dani took the project over once I left, and now the pavilion is finished and looks amazing!  Thanks for following through from my conceptual and schematic designs and keeping it so true in form Dani!







The National Musem, where we had coffee right before I hopped on my train back to Munich.  On the ride back, I stopped by the always scenic Bodensee.  Sadly, I’ve never had a chance to get out and enjoy this place, but it sure looks breathtaking everytime I pass through.







Herrenchiemsee und Salzburg with Pat and Jill

November 12, 2010 - Leave a Response

During Jill’s final week in Deutschland, our friend Pat came all the way from the States for a one week adventure!  It was his first time in Europe, so we showed him Munich, Salzburg, and the Bavarian region, while he and Jill made their way to Berlin while I worked through the week.  I know it was a lot to take in, but I think we gave him a great sampling of German life and hope he finds his way back in the near future.  Thanks for visiting Pat!

Our first stop outside of Munich was Herrenchiemsee, a large lake outside of town that houses yet another palace of the great King Ludwig II.  I had never ventured out this way before, so we all experienced this place for the first time together.

The next day, we used the regional pass to get to Salzburg, Austria early in the morning.  This was my second time here, and I think I served well as tour guide to my two grateful visitors.  We trekked through town, climbed to the Festung Hohensalzburg for some history and views of the town, took the Sound of Music tour due to my mother’s unrelenting recommendation, and checked out the night life, starting at the bar in our hostels basement.






There lies the Festung Hohensalzburg, the fortress atop the hill that housed the Hapsburgs and was the seat of very important people from Austria’s hay day as a world power.




We climbed yet another hill, while inside the Hellbrunn Palace grounds, we tried to visit the museum . . . shop was closed, but view was WIDE open.


Here we are on one of the many stops of the “Sound of Music” tour, stopping at the Mondsee at Salzkammergut village.

Here we are in town, across the plaza from the Pfarrkirche where the wedding scene took place.  Both our tour guide and my mother highly recommended Cafe Braun for their scrumptous strudel.  We, of course, partook.




Now, sadly, it is time to say goodbye to Pat, say goobye to Jill, and live through the colder months.  But don’t worry, there are still more, and somewhat local, visitors to come!



Linderhof and Stuttgart . . . allein

November 3, 2010 - Leave a Response

I made it to my third and final King Ludwig II landmark, Linderhof.  Unfortunately, the tourist season was over, so all the beautiful gardens were desolate, the fountains were closed, and the grounds were otherwise bleak.  However, it was still a great hike, as I took the train to Oberammergau and walked the 13.5km to Linderhof.

I begin the 13.5km hike to Linderhof, the last castle of King Ludwig II that I have yet to see.

A few weekends before, I made the small trek to Stuttgart, the final large city on my German tour Must-See list that I never managed to squeeze in before.  I was actually impressed with the arrival and energy of this city, and was sad that I couldn’t come earlier in the year when things were more lively.  Speaking of lively, I had just missed the protests and riots (at least the violent ones) concerning the new Hauptbahnhof to be constructed in the near future.  Apparently, the majority of the town likes the current historical station and doesn’t want to see it demolished for this “High-Design” station which “won’t even function.”  Still, all in all, good side trip and nice relaxing weekend.

Katholische Kirche St. Maria

Johanneskirche on the Stuttgart Feuersee

Back at the Schlossplatz

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Weissenhofsmuseum, also known as the Corbusier House, where Corbu, Mies, and several other leading architects of the time met during the Bauhaus era to form a new urbanism and new way of viewing the built world.

The Mercedez Benz Museum, highly recommended by Ingo from the AWA office.

Even the revolving door is part of the unified branding of this radically designed  museum.

The Hauptbahnhof whose demise is stirring up all of the controversy in Stuttgart.

Some leftovers from the crazy riots earlier in the year.


Oktoberfest and Visitors from Prague!!!

September 28, 2010 - Leave a Response

Well, that time of year is finally upon us, Oktoberfest 2010!!! And I am living just mere blocks away!  Although I was excited about all the hype around town and in the office, I soon realized that this huge festival located on my route to work was going to attract way to many (drunk) people, and for the next 5 weeks, after many flat tires from broken beer bottles, I rode a new route to work every morning and night.  However, all the mess was finally enjoyed by me when my friends came to visit from Prague!











Sunday morning, getting up an hour earlier, we got into Schottenhammel Tent, the oldest and most important (because it starts the festivities) and found a seat!


Ein echt Bayern Fruehstueck: Brezeln, Weisswuerste, Suesssenf, und ein Mass Bier.
A proper Bavarian Breakfast: Pretzel, white wurst, sweet mustard, and a liter of beer






Entrance to the Historical Wiesn, since this year marked the 200th anniversary since the first Oktoberfest.




Inside the Historical Tent, with exhibits and tons of info. of how the event has evolved throughout the years.




Hamburg und Dresden_Revisited

September 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

During Jill’s final weeks in Germany, we finally found the opportunity to use our Saturn Pass (promotional train ticket offer for 2 trips to anywhere in the entire country for only $40!).  So, we went about as far as possible from Munich (Hamburg) one early Saturday morning, and stopped by my favorite little town of Dresden on the way back.  I showed her all of my favorite sites and we stumbled upon a few new ones along the way.  I love revisiting my favorite places, and coming back makes me enjoy them even more and like them for new and different reasons.  I hope these cities hold as much meaning for Jill as they do for me . . . ah to live in Hamburg!

While in Dresden, we toured the Semper Opera House, ate at the Watzke Brewhaus, climbed the Frauenkirche, found the Kunsthofpassage, and went out for a Spanish dinner at Espita’s for a nice change of pace!

Dresden Neustadt Station

The world famous, or at least European-wide famous Semper Opera House!

Dinner at Espita’s, a really awesome upstairs where Jill and I finally caught a moment to just relax and enjoy the atmosphere.

An awesome map of the area, showing the facades you see from street level, looked and functioned great!

Lunch at Watzke Brewhaus, where the bottom of the glass says “Just one More”, but auf Deutsch of course.

Making our climb up the Frauenkirche, and around and around we go.

On the descent, with one final pass through this, my favorite Eastern Germany City.

Darmstadt and Frankfurt w/ Christian und Esther

September 18, 2010 - Leave a Response

With only a few weekends left in Germany, Jill filled up all of our weekends with trips to nearby cities.  First stop, Frankfurt am Main, with a side trek to Darmstadt to visit my friend Christian, whom I met while working in Zurich!  Darmstadt was a smaller but still lively place with an awesome swimming hole, some modern works, and an awesome Artist’s Colony!











After Darmstadt, Christian went with us to the big city, Frankfurt a.M., the only German city with Skyscrapers and a truly diverse skyline.  We saw what the city had to offer, walked along the river, and ended with a trip atop one of the tallest towers in town.  Enjoy the views!
















Oberammergau (Passionspeile) and Schloss Neuschwanstein

September 14, 2010 - Leave a Response

Hooray for FAMILY!  My mom and brother made it safely to Munich, and they came during the early Fall, just in time to see the world famous (and always well publicized by my grandmother) Passion Play in Oberammergau.  We made an exhaustive early morning series of train rides to this tiny village–with no tickets to the performance–to get in line for potential last minute available seats.  After an almost 4 hour wait, we were awarded 3 of the long awaited tickets and got in the door to this amazing and time-honored tradition!


At intermission, we explored the town a bit, had some local cuisine, and visited the museum that talked about the origins of the play and its significance.  Apparently, during the Black Plague, residents of this town vowed to God that they would put on this performance in his name every 10 years for the life of their town in exchange for sparing their people the terrible losses ensued by the Plague, and God honored their plea and they have put on this amazing show of Jesus’ life and resurrection every decade since.

A day or two after Oberammergau, Mom, Sam, Jill, and I made our way to Hohenschwangau to see the legendary Neuschwanstein Castle of King Ludwig II as well as his parents lesser know but more complete and totally furnished castle next door.  It was a beautiful september day and we had a great time hiking through this area to the sites and brushing up on our Bavarian History.  This was the 3rd visit to this amazing place for me, the 2nd for my mother, and Jill and Sam’s first, so we all had a great time sharing this experience together.