I went to Seattle for a week of sailing with my friend Ben Lobaugh. I participated in:

The Footloose Disable Sailing Association
The Monday Night Ballard Cup Series II crewing on Breeze
zzZippety Doo Dah haul out and painting
Shilshole Bay Yacht Club Liberty Bay Raft Up!

To say I spent my entire summer vacation on a boat would be completely accurate.

Snowbird Series

Jackson Pollock

It’s not every day a website comes along and truly captures both the imagination and artistry that can be the world wide web.

www.jacksonpollock.org is one of those websites. It was made by Miltos Manetas (with original flash made by Michal Migurski)  way back in 2002, yet I just saw it today in 2016 for the very first time thanks to Amanda Harryman.

Much like the rest of the internet it could be gone tomorrow. So enjoy it while it lasts. It needs no facebook, twitter or app.

But does require flash so is not viewable on your tablet or phone.

RIP David Bowie

I like to make a short post and say rest in peace David Bowie we were better to have you creating art in our lives. From your style, to your music, to your the movie characters most of which I remember from the labyrinth and I just wanted to say farewell.

I think it would be fitting for this Canadian to share another Canadian’s passion for David Bowie’s music by a embedding Chris Hatfield version of Space Odyssey which was recorded and performed on the International Space Station and went on to critical acclaim around the world. I hope the licensing powers that be find compassion in hearts to allow Chris Hatfield’s version on to play opened everyone on YouTube for many many years to come as a memorial to Mr. Bowie.

Canals of Amsterdam on a beautiful fall day.

Amsterdam

TLDR Amsterdam was pretty amazing. This is a long post so here is a list of sub categories.

  • De Wallen
  • Van Gogh Museum
  • Foam Museum
  • National Maritime Museum
  • The windmill that was a pub
  • A Royal Send Off

After a relaxing day of recuperation at the Zuiver Spa I was able to hit the street of Amsterdam and explore this city which is known as the Venice of the North.

As per the trend I got lost trying to find the Mike’s Bike Tour company. But according to our bike tour guide Stuart this is completely normal. The curving streets of and canals of central Amsterdam make it incredibility easy to get turned around.

“You will get lost in Amsterdam this I can assure you”

Stuart ~ Mike’s Bike Tour Guide

One bad ass Amsterdam Bike
One bad ass Amsterdam Bike

Unlike Berlin the streets Amsterdam are a crazy mix of trams, cars, motor scooters, pedestrians and bikes. The streets are a very busy place and cars are the least of your worries (in my opinion). Luckily Mikes Bikes gave us a great preparation and everyone was able to navigate the streets properly.

Stuart absolutely filled our tour with this history of Amsterdam and gave me some awesome suggestions for my stay. His bike was also pretty bad ass.

As you might imagine Amsterdam’s history closely tied to shipping and the Dutch East India Company. With shipping came the prostitution, with the prostitution came the church. Which is why the church is also located in the historic De Wallen district.

Stuart also told me about a brew pub that was in a windmill near the National Maritime Museum which I will be eternally grateful for, but more on that later…

After the bike tour I took the blue boat canal tour that was included in my I Amsterdam pass. I’ve never been a fan of the pre-recorded audio tour, you can’t ask questions, they seem campy and cheesy. I found a spot on the back of the boat to photograph unobstructed. Luckily there was a local who was giving his friends a tour of the canals in english. I have always enjoyed the local perspective and he was quite gracious with his time for the few questions I had.

If I were to do the canal cruise again I would pay extra for a smaller boat tour which takes less people and comes with a tour guide. I feel you get better value for your time and money with a actual human you can chat with.

De Wallen

The historic De Wallen district of Amsterdam with the Basiliek van de H. Nicolaas in the background.
The historic De Wallen district of Amsterdam with the Basiliek van de H. Nicolaas in the background.
The red lit windows of the De Wallen district in Amsterdam on a Saturday night.
The red lit windows of the De Wallen district in Amsterdam on a Saturday night.

I spent Saturday Night walking around the De Wallen district. I hadn’t planned on visiting Amsterdam during a weekend. But that is just what happened. Don’t make the mistake I did if you are going to visit it on the weekend book your hotel well ahead of time. The De Wallen district on a Saturday night resembles Vegas and all of it’s hedonistic pleasure that are available to you.

I saw many a bachelor / bachelorette party running a muck, lookie loo, but very few actual punters looking for some company. No I didn’t part take in anything the De Wallen district might offer. I just spent the night walking around and had a few drinks and saw the most hilarious yet completely true marketing slogan ever.

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum on a beautiful sunny fall day in Amsterdam
The Van Gogh Museum on a beautiful sunny fall day in Amsterdam

I next morning I woke up early and hit the Van Gogh Museum. It truly was everything the guide books say and it didn’t disappoint I learnt about the strong bond Vincent and Leo Van Gogh had. How if it wasn’t so Leo’s support Vincent really wouldn’t have been able to live and create the way he did. I also was fortunate enough to see the rotating exhibition called Munch : Van Gogh which explored the relationships between the Edvard Munch and Vincent Van Gogh. But what was truly a highlight of the trip was that on one wall you had a a Monet, a Van Gogh and a Munch you could visually see the inspiration of each painter had on each other. I also got to see the pencil colour version of the scream on loan from Oslo.

Robert in front of a wall size portrait of Vincent Van Gogh.
Robert in front of a wall size portrait of Vincent Van Gogh.

I had wondered why the Van Gogh Museum didn’t allow any photographs of the artwork at the time I visited but once I visited The Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay I think I understood why. With everyone running around taking selfies with art work in paris, I felt that people really didn’t even look at the art work, they were just grabbing a poorly captured photo to say they were there. At the Van Gogh there was no camera’s allowed (except for the photo of my left) so people actually had to look at the art work.  I don’t really know if this was the defining factor or if the Amsterdam museums were just less busy but in hindsight it was a fabulous decision by the management. ( ps. I am no better btw I took a selfie with The Rhine the most expensive photograph in the world in Munich when I though no one was watching )

Foam Museum

The Magnum Contact Sheets at the Amsterdam Foam Museum
The Magnum Contact Sheets at the Amsterdam Foam Museum

The visual feast continues at the Foam Museum ( Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam  which is where you get the name foam from)  This relatively small museum in comparison to others in town came highly recommend by the guide at the VVV I amsterdam Visitor Centre Stationsplein. I was also lucky enough to be visiting the Museums during Magnum Contact Sheets show. For a former news photographer this is an treasure trove of art, culture and history. A contact sheet is a look into working process of the photographer during the time he shot the photo. What he first saw, what stuck him as important, how we worked the image.

I had seen many of the photos from my studies in photography. But seeing the contact sheets and having the ability to see the reverse side of the prints that were made and the notes that were made on the back was a view in the comments and annotations made to prints after it was selected. Both of these are gone in the digital era.

Troops landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6th 1944 (Photo Robert Capa / Magnum Photos )

Seeing Robert Capa’s photography from the Normandy Invasion was both impressive and poignant when you find out that a rookie lab tech screwed up most of his film from that invasion. Only 11 frames of 106 could be salvaged… Of those 11 frames 10 were impressive enough to be published in Life Magazine. What is was on those lost negatives only Robert Capa and a few life staffers knows.

Being able to see the works of Henry Cartier-Bresson, Larry Towell, Steve McCurry, Stuart Franklin, Philippe HalsmanRene Burri and Frank Capa was just as memorial as seeing the impressionist masters I had visited in the morning.

The only reason I left the Foam Museum was because they were closing for the day.

The quality of the show and my history with news photography made this a perfect match but I’d suggest anyone with a interest in photography and going to Amsterdam check out this unassuming museum. I think you will be impressed I certainly was. I went back to the hotel full of inspiration but completely spent of any energy.

National Maritime Museum

A panorama of the beautiful courtyard at the of Dutch National Maritime Museum
A panorama of the beautiful courtyard at the of Dutch National Maritime Museum

I was told by Stuart my trust bike tour guide that if I was a sailor I would enjoy the Het Scheepvaartmuseum  ( Dutch Maritime Museum ). So the next day I decided to visit and again I was not lead astray. The museum was located in the old Dutch Navy headquarters in the building ‘s Lands Zeemagazijn (The Arsenal). A large glass roof was constructed over the courtyard in 1997 provides shelter from the elements. The building is absolutely beautiful both in and out.

Enjoying a rest in a hamock on the East Indiaman Amsterdam at the national maritime museum.
Enjoying a rest in a hamock on the East Indiaman Amsterdam at the National Maritime Museum.

I really enjoyed the maps and atlas dating from 14th century that doesn’t even show North America, to astrolabes from 16th century. The museum also has a huge collection of maritime paintings showing epic battles along with great collection of model yachts both new and old.

Outside the museum is the replica of the East Indiaman ship Amsterdam which is a complete replica cargo ship of the Dutch East India Company. I visited the ship but there is a chilly east wind coming in from Russia so I spent most of my time below decks chilling in a hammock!

I walked into a windmill that was a pub

The windmill that become a brew pub Brouwerij' ij
The windmill that became a brew pub Brouwerij’ ij

It was suggested to me that I skip the Heineken Experience if I was not a devote Heineken Fan or the sports they sponsor.  In addition to those two points the old brewery building doesn’t even brewing the beer anymore. I asked Stuart if there was any micro brew pubs and he suggest one that was housed in a windwill named Brouwerij ‘t IJ It was located just down the street from the maritime museum so I though I’d check out the local beer.

After ordering a flight of beer and checking into Untappd I over heard the distinct lingual tones of a English being spoken near me.

“My girlfriend doesn’t want a full pint can she order a small one”  ~ Richie
“No Sorry” ~ Bartender

Me having a great time in this pub I say:

“Your on vacation, have a full pint” ~ Robert
“That’s right I am on Vacation!” ~ Leanne

And so she did. That struck up a conversation which lead me to join the table and meet a group of scots, brits, irish and Spaniards. Through out the night a number of members of the commonwealth shared our table all we were missing were a couple aussies. I though we are in a pub right? and there aren’t any aussies?  Also Peter a friend of Leanne made an astute observation:

This is the longest I’ve ever spent in a windmill… Can’t say I have ever spent this many hours in a windmill before… ~ Peter

Not a truer wood had been spoken that night. While I had no intention of closing down a pub my last night in Amsterdam It certainly turned out to be the best choice made some new friends.

A Royal Send Off

I I wanted to check out the rights museum on my last day I knew I had made decisions that would only let me visit briefly the museum. So I arrived at the Rice museum in the full baggage in hand and I saw a lot of people gathered around a car waiting for someone to arrive I asked her what all the commotion is about and who is that arriving to the car. She replied in a very proudly:

“She is our Queen”
~ dutch women I was standing beside.

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands waves goodbye before leaving the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Queen Máxima of the Netherlands waves goodbye before leaving the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

I got my cell phone out and captured about a dozen pictures before Queen Máxima of the Netherlands was wisked off down the street. Really there was only about 50 or 60 people who were casually walking buy who waiting to see her off. I just happen to randomly arrive at the exact moment she was leaving. I then asked a member of the media what she was doing there and was told she was opening up a conference being held in the building.

Unfortunately I couldn’t gain entry into the museum with my large luggage. I would have to leave it somewhere and come back. As fate would have it as soon I board the tram to the Centraal Station I found out my transit and museum pass had expired. 😞

I knew leaving Rijksmuseum to the last day was a risk, and I knew I had to leave in under two short hours. So I knew I had to leave Amsterdam without seeing the national museum. But seeing the Queen of the Netherlands in person… Well that will certainly do.

I was happy with the choices I made in my visit to Amsterdam and you certainly can’t see everything. I would happily spend another afternoon in the Foam museum and miss the Rijksmuseum if given the choice of either / or.

Plus this gives me amble reason to visit again, I hope I get the chance.

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The length of pool stretches both inside and out and you can swim between the interior and exterior of the spa. (photo zuiver spa)

The most relaxing place on earth

TLDR If you need a day off in Amsterdam go to the Zuiver Spa. It’s the most relaxing place I have been in the entire world.

I had arrived in Amsterdam from Berlin completely spent. I had made the common mistakes of European Travel. Trying to see too much in a day and not drinking enough water. Museums are dry places as the moisture can ruin exhibits. So spending all day in a museum is kinda like a desert.

Not wanting to leave the bed my first day in Amsterdam I knew I had to recoup or the rest of my Amsterdam stay would be at risk or even worse the dreaded “European Vacation Cold”

I dragged myself downstairs for breakfast and then asked the front desk about a sauna / hot tub. Nothing existed on site. But they told me about this place called the Zuiver Spa.

I did some checking on the Internet and got a deal online for buffet lunch, drink of my choice and access to all facilities for the entire day.

View of the spa building from the other end of the pool. (photo zuiver spa)
View of the spa building from the other end of the pool. (photo Zuiver spa)

I arrived and was asked if I had ever been to a spa before replying no they said the pool and the saunas are fully nude and I was giving a bath robe, two towels and a plastic bag to keep the towels in. When I heard the word nude I really didn’t care, I just wanted to feel relaxed at the end of the day. For those a little shy you can visit on swimsuit day which are on Tuesdays.

I was also giving a water proof rfid bracelet that identified me and my selected package. I would use it for everything inside and then pay for any extra’s at the end of my stay. This way you need to carry no cash, no credit, nothing to impeded you relation.

The unisex showers (photo zuiver spa)
The unisex showers (photo Zuiver spa)

I walked up stairs and had my first real surprise of the day all change rooms were unisex. You also used your bracelet to open and close a locker. Which was both confusing at first ( some instructions were only in dutch ) and completely smart all at the same time.

I went looking for the showers and nope they are down stairs in the main hall and yup unisex as well.

When in Rome… or Amsterdam as the case may be.

Since this was a nude spa no phones or devices were allowed at all. If you wanted to read, bring and old fashioned book, they also had magazines and newspapers available, but all are in dutch. I didn’t see to many people wearing watches as there was two large clocks available.

In this ever connected world all of these “rules” really forced you to disconnect from everything and RELAX.

Whirlpool area with outdoor sauna's in the background. (Photo zuiver spa)
Whirlpool area with outdoor sauna’s in the background. (photo Zuiver spa)

It only took me about 5 minutes to get use to the nudity and really it was only in the pools / tubs and sauna’s that you were out of your robe. I also saw very little fondling / kissing or hand holding between couples. In short time came to respect the fact that this place was only all about relaxation and wellness if you wanted other things go elsewhere.

The outdoor whirlpool was concaved to your fit the curve of your body. (photo zuiver spa)
The outdoor whirlpool was concaved to your fit the curve of your body. (photo Zuiver spa)

During my eight hour stay I tried a variety of pools, sauna’s they were all different temperatures and some played music while others were silent. Some were wet and others were dry.

I also tried a traditional Dutch sauna called a Löyly, also known as aufguss. Which involves water hot rocks and a saunameesters who waves around a large towel on a stick and really gets the air moving around. He also had this giant snowballs that had soothing menthol and eucalyptus that he would throw on to the hot rocks.

Dutch sauna or löyly, also known as aufguss. Which were a wonderfully relaxing. (photo zuiver spa)
Dutch sauna or löyly, also known as aufguss. Which were a wonderfully relaxing. (photo zuiver spa)

It was the godsend I was looking for. After the session they had orange slices and juice provided to replace the fluids you had lost. Their was also a cool mist that was sprayed over everyone.

For those brave enough their was also a cold waterfall you could cool off with.

A look down on the swimming pool from the second story juice bar. (photo zuiver spa)
A look down on the swimming pool from the upstairs lounge. (photo Zuiver spa)

I ended the most relaxing day of my entire life with a couple leisurely laps of their long swimming pool, a rinse under their “tropical rainforest shower” and then a small veggie plate for dinner in the up stairs lounge.

After changing I walked down stairs handed over my loyal rfid companion and was asked how did you enjoy your stay. I replied:

“It was the most relaxing day I have ever had in my entire life and were stupid for not having this in Canada”

Interior pools of the Zuiver Spa (photo zuiver spa)
Interior pools of the Zuiver Spa (photo Zuiver spa)

Price for this day long indulgent experience? € 40 Euros. I couldn’t believe it. I thought this would have cost double. I am glad it didn’t, the way the Europeans take care of both their body and minds is something we could all learn from.

I went to bed completely relaxed and woke up the next morning completely rejuvenated ready to see Amsterdam!

They also have a hotel attached where a visit to the spa is included with you stay, many dutch couples make a weekend out of it.

Since returning to Canada I’ve heard about the Scandinave Spa in Whistler which is a similar experience abet a swimsuit is required for our North American sensibilities. I actually can’t wait to try it out.

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The Statue Staircase of the Bode Museum in Berlin

Berlin

A piece of the Berlin Wall stands in Leipziger Platz (once no mans land between East and West Berlin ) with the Canadian Embassy in the background.
A piece of the Berlin Wall stands in Leipziger Platz (once no mans land between East and West Berlin ) with the Canadian Embassy in the background.

I arrived in Berlin from Munich on the night train, having a decent sleep. After doing a red eye from Toronto to Paris I certainly slept better then that horrible 3 hours of fitful unconsciousness where my feet froze. (Why I was so cold on the exit isle of an airplane I don’t know.)

But I’ve digressed.

I used a AirBnB for the first time and wanted to try it out. The stay was great and the host named Tee was accommodating had a large room and was in a nice local neighbourhood, I also found a decent place for breakfast near by.

The thing about Berlin that is very apparent is it’s still very much in the metamorphosis. Yes all cities are constantly changing, but it’s more prevalent in Berlin then any other city I visited in Europe. Potsdamer Platz was the largest construction site in Europe while it was being developed in the 1990’s but the city is still very much under construction and still healing old wounds from the city being ripped apart during the East German Occupation.

After visiting Juno Beach in Normandy and the German National Museum of Contemporary History  in Bonn ( Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland ) it was important for me to see as much history as possible while I was in Berlin.

Bike Tours

Biking in the Tiegarten Park. (trying to take a picture smile and cycle at the same time)
Biking in the Tiegarten Park. (trying to take a picture, smile and cycle at the same time)

Berlin also started a bit of a trend I really tried to stop:

  • Take a bike tour on the first day
  • Get completely lost getting to bike tour company
  • Arrive horribly late
  • But still make the tour with minutes to spare.

Bike tours are a great way to see the city, especially on a beautiful sunny day, but only if you are an experienced cyclist as you will be cycling in traffic . They give you a great reference for the city you are visiting and give you a decent experience in the layout of the city center.

I like bike tours because you can cycle trough parks and squares and places where buses can’t venture. I really like Tiergarten park, once inside the park it reminded me of the interior of Stanley Park with it’s tall tree’s, gardens and grassy areas.

I found visiting central Berlin emotionally exhausting, the entire city was in some way effected by the either the Second World War or the Berlin Wall, or reunification.

The Alte Nationalgalerie seen through the columns of the Neues Museum.
The Alte Nationalgalerie seen through the columns of the Neues Museum.

I visited Museum Island which is very much under construction. But I saw the egyptian collection at the Neues Museum. The Museum building itself was heavily damaged in the war and the renovations of the building and the vestibule and main staircase show the scars from that damage. There seem to be a really sense in Germany and Berlin not wanting to forget the mistakes of the past and showing the scars of the past is one of those ways.

The main entryway of the Bode Museum one of the most ornate entrances I have ever seen.
The main entryway of the Bode Museum one of the most ornate entrances I have ever seen.

I also visited the Bode Museum which has one of the most ornate entrance hall of any museum I visited. The Bode Museum is huge and I made the mistake to try and take it all in, but I really enjoy seeing a sculpture by the renowned carver Donatello. The grand staircase was just as impressive as the entry hall and it really takes a while to take it all in.

One of the top must seas I heard about was having breakfast on top of the Reichstag at the Käfer Dachgarten-Restaurant. It does required reservations at least 24 hour in advance and my breakfast wasn’t the cheapest in the world, but the view is spectacular on a clear day and after your meal you get to leisurely visit the dome at the top of the building. ( Yes you can visit the dome for free, but I hear the line ups are long and you have to reserve a head of time for security reasons anyways. )

I thought after seeing present day Germany I would remember the past by visiting the German Resistance Memorial Center ( Gedwnksätte Detscher Widerstand ). I wanted to see the BendlerBlock after watching the 2008 movie Valkyrie as I though it was important to see what inspired the very true to actual events movie. What I wasn’t prepared for the was the emotional impact visiting the center would have on me. The shear amount of people who were involved not just in the July 20th resistance but in all resistance movements was far greater then I ever believed.

I ended my Berlin trip with a visit to the Potsdammer Platz. Where I remember there was a huge Roger Walters The Wall Live in Berlin in the 1990’s. I saw a Canada Flag and realized that this is where the Canadian Embassy was located, sadly the Marshall McLuhan Salon is only open on Friday’s but I took a picture of the Embassy none the less.

While the Spy Museum looked interesting the topic was touched upon at the DDR museum they weren’t part of the Berlin City Pass and gave no discount so $20 ($30 CDN) entry fee was a bit steep for me and I was exhausted. So I left for my AirBnB and a good night sleep in preparation for my trip to Amsterdam.

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The Allianz Arena in Munich illuminated in red the color of the home team, The FC Bayern. Photo is a collective effort of Johannes Mirtschink and Robert Dall

Munich

I spent my second day in downtown Munich and checked out the out the beautiful and ornate Rathaus-Glockenspiel at lunch time.

The Ornate Munich Rathaus Glockenspiel at noon.

I then Immersed myself into Pinakothek der Moderne which is a feast for the eyes.

Go on Sunday it’s only a single euro for all four section of the museum: Art, Design, Architecture and Design.

I was able to see a number of works of art from Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and a print of Andreas Gursky Rhein II the most expensive photograph in the world. I also really enjoy the works of Joseph Beuys He was really playful with this art and he was a new artist for a foreign like me.

I also learnt about the works of Otto Freundlich in the Degenerate Art exhibit and how he was denounced as a jew murdered on the day he arrived in the concentration camp Lublin-Majdanek. It was horrific the effect National Socialism had on every spec of life in Germany at the time.

Skylight feature in the main lobby of the Pinakothek Der Moderne. What a gorgeous building.
Skylight feature in the main lobby of the Pinakothek Der Moderne. What a gorgeous building.

The building is quite impressive and I really enjoy the architecture, The cafe was busy but really decent. I shared a table with local who in seeing my camera invited me to his table. It made for easy fun conversation over lunch.

The English Garden of Munich
The English Garden of Munich

I closed down the Pinakothek der Moderne and decided to walk to the English Gardens of Munich near by. There I had a conversation with Johannes Mirtschink who was photographing the park. I asked if he had got some decent photos.

I didn’t have plans for the rest of the evening so Johannes invited to go see the Allianz Arena as there was a large football (soccer) match happening that night and it was lit up.

Johannes had a tripod and suggested we get some long exposures from a highway overpass.

In something that is just really unique to photographer, I spent my last night in Munich hanging out on a highway over pass with someone taking some night photos.

Time exposure of Johannes setting up for the next exposure sequence.
Johannes setting up for the next exposure sequence.

We working on the photo together to get the best photo we could, It had been a long while since I did any real long time exposures and Johannes was still learning the tricks of the trade. There was a lot of trial and error but working together we got a really decent photo.

While hanging out on a highway overpass on your vacation may not sound like a lot of fun. But making new friends and creating awesome photographs, for me, it certainly was.

While I came with the mission of seeing Octoberfest and I was happy with what I saw. I really didn’t see enough of Munich or the surrounding area. I hope to return.

The Allianz Arena in Munich illuminated in red the color of the home team. The FC Bayern. Photo is a collective effort of Johannes Mirtschink and Robert Dall
The Allianz Arena in Munich illuminated in red the color of the home team. The FC Bayern. Photo is a collective effort of Johannes Mirtschink and Robert Dall

I left Munich for Berlin on something I really had an interest in taking. A night train, where you go to sleep in one city and Boom wake up in the next and true to form both the quality of sleep and the train wasn’t that bad.

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Wunderbar evening at Oktoberfest outside of the Paulander Tent

Oktoberfest

One of the big events of my trip to Europe was going to Oktoberfest with my brother and visiting the relatives who live just outside of Munich.

Seeing Oktoberfest on a beautiful sunny Saturday was an awesome experience and a fun highlight of the trip.

But OMG going to Oktoberfest on a beautiful sunny Saturday is an absolutely crazy idea.

A packed Oktoberfest on a Saturday Afternoon from the top of the Ferris Wheel.
A packed Oktoberfest on a Saturday Afternoon from the top of the Ferris Wheel. Approximately 200,000 people in the festival grounds.

Luckly our relatives had a contact who worked with Paulaner and got us reservations to the Festzelt Winzerer Fähndl.

Very little had prepared me for an experience of a Beer Tent at Oktoberfest. It is the largest party in the world.

Prezels the size or steering wheels, Huge Lebkuchen Hearts with a variety of messages hung from your neck and litres and litres of traditional Bavarian beer.

So how do you get into a tent in Oktoberfest without relatives who have contacts with a brewery?

  1. Don’t go at the start or end of the festival.
  2. Don’t go on a weekend if you can help it early weekdays are best.
  3. Arrive very early Tents open at 10:00 and can be full by 10:15
  4. Be prepared to wait hours to get into a tent.
  5. If you can’t get into a tent try a beer garden. Their are both tents and gardens.

You can have an awful lot of fun without going into the tents and there is a variety of family fun available. One of the most uniquely Munich things we did was the Teufelsrad or Devil’s Wheel which has been part of Oktoberfest since 1910.

Teufelsrad (Devil's Wheel) has been part of Oktoberfest since 1910
My niece takes on the Teufelsrad (Devil’s Wheel) which has been part of Oktoberfest since 1910

To survive the Devils Wheel you need to have a strong sense of balance a good start position on the wheel and some good luck. I tried my hand at the wheel and well I don’t think the two litres of beer before hand helped my chances and I was flung off in quite short order. But my niece Morgan did far better surviving to be the last girl on the wheel. (Being 10 at the time she was also far more sober then I )

Oktoberfest tourist hat
Don’t buy this hat. You’ll just look like an idiot.

Also an attire suggestion. Don’t buy one of these hats. You’ll just look like an idiot.

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The Compass Card Snafu

Compass Card and Faresavers
One of these things is not like the other.

Update: While I still found the entire experience frustrating Translink has updated there website to mention the Sea Island Add a Fare on the Compass Card page.

~~~

I had a frustrating experience with the Compass Card recently.

Translink promotes and markets the card just to be like FareSaver tickets. Which I have used for years. So when I set up my card I was told by Translink Staff that yes putting an amount on the card would be just the same as a FareSaver ticket.

But there is one place this isn’t true: Sea Island and YVR and to be fair to Translink they do mention this on there Canada Line YVR AddFare page. But these passes are not FareSaver tickets then. Which is horrible marketing on the part of translink. Other then the specific AddFare page on Translink’s website there is little to no mention of this change on any other page.  I brought this to the attention of Translink and when I checked the website on December 15th, 2015 Translink has changed the verbiage to read and I quote:

Compass Cards can be loaded with the fare product of your choice including Monthly Passes, DayPasses and Stored Value. Travelling with Stored Value gives you the same rate as FareSavers and allows you to pay-as-you-go. Please note, the $5 Canada Line YVR AddFare is applied to Stored Value trips departing Sea Island and continuing to Bridgeport and beyond.

~ Translink 

The AddFare Zone is not new either. It’s been around since the opening of the line in 2009. But those who used the FareSavers were exempt from the extra fare and you still are if you use the paper ticket.

I went to a movie with my friend Rebecca and she asked me if she could drop me off at the Templeton station beside the McArthurGlen Vancouver Outlet mall. I said sure.

On our way we passed the Bridgeport Station and drove the extra 1.5km to the Templeton Station. In doing that we crossed into the AddFare Zone and I added $5 to my fair. Which came to a total of $7.10 from Richmond to Downtown Vancouver.

I was shocked, very annoyed and felt Translink had wronged me because “hey my FareSaver tickets never did this to me. They told me this was the same. It’s not.”

I understand that Translink wants to charge more to the Airport. Cities all over  do the same thing. I have no problem paying more to go to the Airport, it’s very convenient. But I wasn’t going to or coming from the Airport. I wasn’t going out of my way to use this station.

So if you don’t have a monthly pass or a UPass and want to go to the new McArthurGlen Vancouver Outlet mall, Iona Beach Regional Park get ready to pay $5 more for leaving the island.

Only those with:

  • Monthly Pass holders
  • Program pass holders
  • Customers travelling with FareSaver tickets
  • Customers using DayPasses not purchased on Sea Island
  • Customers using single-use Compass Tickets not purchased on Sea Island
  • Customers travelling between Sea Island stations

Anyone else is completely out of luck and as Translink phases out the paper FareSaver tickets in 2016 you’ll be charge a lot more to go anywhere on Sea Island.