Archive for September, 2007

Your Questions, Part 2

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

(Originally posted on Blogger.com on Saturday, July 22, 2006)

Apparently, you liked the previous “Questions” post, where I picked your well formulated questions from my server log files, trying to answer them as good as possible.

So, here is another set of recent questions.

deHavilland Beaver Floatplane
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

1. What is a deHavilland Beaver?

The deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver (or more simple: the “Beaver”) is an airplane that was built between 1948 and 1968 by Canadian plane manufacturer deHavilland. It is best known as traditional tool used by bush pilots, because it is such a solid and reliable plane. It can be used with wheels, floats, or skis, so it can be used basically anywhere. It offers more space than a Cessna, and its strong engine (typically 450 hp) provides more security and comfort during the flight.

Today, the Beaver is still used for scheduled flights in Canada, Alaska, and Australia to connect rural places to the rest of the world. But you will also find Beavers doing their job as tourist attractions. We had the pleasure to have a flight across Vancouver Island in 2002, and across San Francisco in 2003. It was a fantastic experience.

But it still can be a risk to fly such historic planes. One of the few Beavers located in Germany (D-FVIP) crashed on July 2nd, 2006 in Hamburg shortly after take-off, killing five passengers. Our thoughts and feelings are with their family and friends.

Our beautiful flight across Vancouver Island
Our beautiful flight across San Francisco
Neil Aird’s excellent Beaver fan site

2. What about Amalfi, Italy?

Yeah, what about it? Is that question serious, or what? Well, Amalfi is a beautiful little town south of Naples, Italy. It is very popular with Brits and Americans as it presents Italy from its best side. You have it all there in one place: culture, beach, nature, and Italian lifestyle. We definitely recommend this for anyone who visits Italy. A must.

Photos from the Amalfi Coast

3. What is Calle Alcala in Madrid?

That’s a good one, because you need to know what a “Calle” is. As you may guess, it’s Spanish and stands for “big street” or “boulevard”. So the Calle Alcala is just a street named Alcala. When you walk down the street towards the city center, you will pass the Parque del Retiro, the Puerte de Alcala, the Fuente de Cibeles, the Edificio Metropolis, and finally reach the Plaza de la Puerta del Sol, where you will find the “Kilometer 0″ of Spain. All distances to Madrid are calculated from this point.

Photos of Calle Alcala in Madrid

4. Why marry in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas?

Yeah, why marry there? And while we’re at it: Why marry at all? Now, if you truly love your partner, and if you are possibly planning for a family, then you may want to consider marrying him/her. And if you think that Las Vegas is a good place for weddings, then go for it. But I would not want to get married there – it’s too much of a wedding-industry there, too much kitsch, and too un-personal. Remember, this is one of the most important days in your life. Do you really want to celebrate that day in Las Vegas, somewhere in the desert in Nevada?

Photos of Las Vegas

5. What to see in Bologna?

At a population of 382,000, Bologna can be safely called a “big city” in Italy. It sports a popular university, and it is rather unspoilt by tourism. So when you visit Bologna, you will not do it for must-see attractions (there are some – most important the Torre degli Asinelli), but to participate in the typical lifestyle of the Italians. Simply enjoy your icecream at the Piazza S. Francesco, or an Espresso at Piazza Maggiore. It can hardly get any better, that’s for granted.

Photos of Bologna, Italy

6. What to do one day in Tobermory?

For those who don’t know where Tobermory is – it is a small town located on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. Indeed, the question of what to do there for a whole day is good. Well, you can certainly visit the Tobermory distillery, you can eat delicious fish at the harbour, and you can have a nice walk along the old houses, but that’s about it. And that seems to be part of the answer: you can enjoy the peace and silence of the place. Why not have long walks in the surrounding nature of the Isle of Mull? Or just watching the ships going out and coming in. But most importantly – you can relax!

Photos of Tobermory, Scotland

Maligne Lake, Canada
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

7. How to go to Maligne Lake?

Maligne Lake, the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies, is best accessed by car. It is located about 50 kilometers east of Jasper, and you get there by using the Maligne Lake Road from Jasper (go figure). The road is perfectly paved, and invites for stops at Lake Annette, Maligne Canyon, and Medicine Lake. Once you reach the Maligne Lake, you should consider taking the ferry to “Spirit Island”, which is the most photographed single place in the Rockies.

Photos of Jasper and Maligne Lake

8. What to see in Wells Grey?

This georgeous Provinical Park is located north of Clearwater, B.C., and usually is put aside for the bigger National Parks in the Rocky Mountains. Yet, this smaller park offers enough to justify a full day trip. Its major highlights are:

But there’s much more to see while you are there. Make sure to inquire at the information office in Clearwater as they can provide you with detailed information on the park. BTW, the park is spelled Wells Gray (not Grey). :-)

Photos of Wells Gray Provicial Park

9. Where is Amalfi Italy?

Amalfi is located south of Naples, a one hour trip by car, depending on the number of photo stops you put in. It is located on one of the most beautiful spots of Italy, the Costiera Amalfitana. Expect lots of tourists here during high-season, but also excellent photo opportunities! We did not have the best weather while we were there, but I hope to return to this awesome place in the future.

Map showing Amalfi in Italy

10. What to do with old HP scanner?

So you also got fed up with your old HP scanner? My old HP scanner (HP IIcx) was great, virtually not destroyable and providing good scans of photo prints. I purchased it in 1994, and I used it for eight (!) years. Then I purchased the HP Scanjet 5470c, and it was quite a disappointment, especially the slide scanner. But I disgress. Where was I? Ah, I gave the first scanner to my father-in-law who still enjoys the ability to scan photos and stuff (he does not need the latest technology anyway). And the 5470c went to eBay once it was clear that I would never use it again. So, yes, I would recommend to sell your old scanner.

Read more on the HP Scanjet 5470c

Questions, Questions, Questions…

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

(Originally posted on Blogger.com on Thursday, May 25, 2006)

I had a look at my server log files today, and I stumbled across an interesting phenomenon: While most of the visitors just hack in a few keywords, like lake garda italy, some of the users actually enter full questions.

Here is my personal top 10 list for the month of May, along with my answers:

1. How long does it take to drive from Rome to Italy?

Actually, Rome is located in Italy, so technically speaking, it just takes you seconds to get from Rome to Italy. But the question is indeed valid and almost philosophical. Each Roman will proudly claim that “Rome is the heart of Italy”, so he sees little need to leave Rome at all (except maybe for the big holidays in August when it’s getting very hot in Rome). And if you are looking for the “true Italy”, which is by far not identical to Rome, you will find that it takes you about an hour or so by car to get there. The time obviously depends on the number of traffic jams and road incidents you encounter on your trip. However, once you have left Rome behind, you will find that life gets very peaceful and quiet, and completely different from the chic, loud, and hectic Rome. In case you are still puzzled: Sabaudia may be a good target for your trip away from the capital.

2. When Rome is called Italy?

Ho-hum. This question seems to be linked to the question above and indicates that some people have a problem understanding the meanings of Rome and Italy. Now, Rome is a city, and Italy is a country. Rome is located in Italy, like San Francisco is located in the United States of America. And you surely wouldn’t ask a question, like, “when San Francisco is called USA?”, or would you?

3. How much do restaurants cost in Rome, Italy?

I can tell you this much – it’s not as cheap as outside Rome, but you can still find many affordable restaurants everywhere across Rome. It’s hard to recommend a certain place, or to quote actual prices because it varies on your meal. But you should try to avoid the tourist traps directly at the main Piazzas, as these are charging extra for their touristy location. A good indicator for a rip-off is whether the menu offers pictures – then you are probably facing a tourist trap. Another idea to check the value of your money in the Eurozone, or in fact anywhere in the world, is the The Economist’s Big Mac Index.

4. What do they use the Neuschwanstein Castle for today?

It’s a museum. They are showing, erm, the castle and that’s it. More correctly, they are telling you about King Ludwig II, his weird ideas and bizarre lifestyle. You will get to see all the rooms that have been completed or almost completed before works were stopped (thirteen in total, if I remember). You can see some photos of the castle in our Neuschwanstein Gallery.

Detail of Cape Agulhas Monument
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

5. What is the southernmost point of Africa?

The place is called “Cape Agulhas” and is just 12,745 km away from New York. To be more concrete: The tip is located 34°49’58″ south and 20°00’12″ east, and it can be found about 1 km west of the Cape Agulhas lighthouse. Despite being the southernmost point of Africa, there is actually very little you can do there except wondering why you can’t go further down south. But when you are there, make sure to have a camera ready to make a photo of you and your loved one next to the mark like we did. See the proof in our Cape Agulhas Photo Gallery.

6. How to find girls in Munich?

Good question. How do you find girls in other cities in the world? Maybe you just meet them on the street or on the bus? Or you look through the ads in the newspaper? The Internet? Or you go to the Oktoberfest, which can be a good point to meet Munich girls. But make sure to wear the right clothes (see next question) – otherwise they might just laugh at you, and you walk home alone again.

7. What to wear to Oktoberfest?

Another good question, and I would say, that’s a frequently asked question when the topic comes to Oktoberfest. If you are from Bavaria, you should come in a Tracht, the traditional clothing for boys and girls, men and women. The male clothing consists of Lederhosen (leather trousers), a white shirt, grey socks, and black shoes. The female clothing offers more options. You may come in Dirndl (a long or short dress), a white blouse and flat shoes. Alternatively, you can also wear a female version of the Lederhosen, but this is typically frowned upon. Which is true for all non-Bavarians wearing Tracht anyway, so if you are asking this question in English, you better come as you are. And no, I do not own a Tracht. I am from Northern Germany.

Update: Please see my ultimate answer on this question here (including sample photos).

8. Where is Hundertwasserhaus in Austria?

It is located in Vienna, Kegelgasse corner Löwengasse. You can reach it using tram line N. And here is a photo: Hundertwasserhouse.

Mark Zanzig's Bachelor Party
Jörg Weissbach/whitecreek.de

9. How is a bachelors party?

Like, weird. You know, this is supposed to be your last night as a “free man” before you enter the holy state of marriage (other words spring to my mind, but I don’t want to ruin your fantasy). Your friends will hopefully take you out to have a huge party, and they will pay for everything, but these savings come at a price: you have to fulfil certain tasks, like getting addresses or phone numbers from unmarried women. You might as well have to wear a certain shirt (they will call this funny) or be lead around in the city in rather revealing clothes. If you are lucky they take you out to places you will most likely never see again for the rest of your life. It all depends on your friends. Here is a photo report of my bachelors party.

10. Where is Lake Garda in Italy?

I see, vacation season is coming again, and questions about Italy are piling up in the log files. This question, however, is easy to answer. Lake Garda is situated in Northern Italy, and it can be accessed from Milano if you come by plane. If you want to get a better picture, here are two links for you:
Lake Garda Photos
Lake Garda at Google Maps