Manly in Landshut

Outside the Männer Laden early morning in Landshut

Every Tuesday, I’ve got a teaching gig in one of my favourite places in Bavaria, hell all of Germany.

Whether it’s their infamous Landshuter Hochzeit (wedding) or the Burg Trausnitz (Trausnitz castle), this place is content gold.

Expect many more posts from this beautiful small city about an hour or so northwest of my home in Munich.

You can’t wait, can you?

Let me know in the comments below what you’d like to know about this super cool place. Or if you’ve already been to Landshut and already know if its charm, tell us that instead. Please.

in the valley of ass-whoopin’ (Wuppertal) on the way home after an Odyssean journey

Alas, the top tourist attraction of picturesque and weirdly alluring Wuppertal (© Owner Stadt Wuppertal)

One of the more whimsical items on my bucket list has been sorted.

First, look at this: https://schwebebahn.de/en. Cool, huh?

Left home early on a Friday morning, like Bilbo Baggins in a weird way. Made my way through Upper Franconia (Oberfranken, for the locals), where I visited the university in Bayreuth, and then kept on hauling ass towards Berlin.

Why on earth was I in such a hurry? Well, there were a plethora of reasons, but chief among them was my desire to see my friend Petra the Weddingerin, who lives in the Berlin district of Wedding. She will admit it’s not the prettiest, or even the safest place in the capital, but she and I both agree that it’s the true heart of a sprawling city.

Although I could devote an entire post to my time in Berlin, which I won’t, it was only a few long days later that my dog Amos and I were headed towards my favourite city in Germany – Hamburg!

Met my friend Nico, who I’d until then only known online, and saw one of my oldest Hamburgerin friends Christine, who’s going through a tough time. We ate amazing liquorice, and I inhaled a Fischfrikadelle and Bismarkbrötchen on the Reeperbahn. Soon after our Imperial March through the district of St. Pauli and a quick walk with Amos along the Alster, I found myself in bed earlier than the locals. Seems they’re just starting their shifts in the seedier side of Hamburg right as I’ve lost all will to stay awake.

It was an Odyssean journey, I assure you. It was full of Sturm und Drang, like they talked about in music school. There was snow in Stade (Lower Saxony) and even a lesbian wedding party in Oldenburg (also Lower Saxony)

Yet, here’s where the story gets good. You’ll never in a jillion years guess where I lay my head last night, because:

a. you don’t know about Wuppertal

and b. you don’t care.

It’s ok. I won’t hold your ignorance against you.

Here…let’s let Uncle Wikipedia set you straight:

‘The city straddles the densely populated banks of the River Wupper, a tributary of the Rhine called Wipper in its upper course. Wuppertal is located between the Ruhr (Essen) to the north, Düsseldorf to the west, and Cologne to the southwest, and over time has grown together with SolingenRemscheid and Hagen. The stretching of the city in a long band along the narrow Wupper Valley leads to a spatial impression of Wuppertal being larger than it actually is. The city is known for its steep slopes, its woods and parks, and for being the greenest city in Germany, with two-thirds green space of the total municipal area. From any part of the city, it is only a ten-minute walk to one of the public parks or woodland paths’.

the greatest source no teacher ever wants to actually see cited – Wikipedia

If you’re a loyal reader of this blog, first I must apologise. The Germans with whom I live and work insist that there has to be a “red thread” running through a text. Or a lesson. Or a life, even. I’ll talk in a later post about what the heck they mean, but that’s excellent blogging technique, Wolfgang.

You whet their appetite with a travel post and then you teach ’em about German linguistics and philosophy when they weren’t expecting it. You do it with purpose. You make sure you’re smiling.

And most importantly, in my case, the kookier and more ridiculous the better. A Hero’s Journey if I’ve ever seen one.

Wuppertal is for Lovers (© Owner Stadt Wuppertal)

Walking the Camino to Lindau first…

The shell symbol can be found all over Europe. It leads the pilgrim towards Santiago de Compostela.

So I’m packed and ready to do my second preparation day for the big day. At first I thought I might leave either Thursday or Saturday, but my wife informed me this afternoon when I returned from a decent 15 km walk that she’s planning on me leaving Thursday. Looks like that’s the big day, after all.

At first I’m walking through Andechs towards Lindau. It’s roughly a 2-hour drive there, so I’m curious how different it might be to take a week hoofing it.

I’m getting so many responses over on feckbook to this deal, while Insta? Not so much. If I were a better Social Media Marketer, perhaps I’d have an answer for why. Instead, I’m just posting lots of photos and whatnot. Let’s see what arouses interest.

If you’re on either above-mentioned platforms, please make a comment here first, if possible. It helps my numbers, for one thing, and it’s good to see lively discussion in the comments. I’ll be trying all the tricks to get you to respond both here and over on those social media sites.

In case I’ve not said it recently, thanks for your support. If all you’ve done is come to feckbook and said, ‘I wish I could do sucha thing,’ that’s enough. For now.

If you’ve liked my photos on Instagram, awesome.

Later, I’ll hit you up to buy the book. Or the audio book. Or the pamphlet. Who knows what might come of this Camino lark this time round. Stay tuned!

Forza Italia

The prodigy & her dog

Another year gone & here we are in Italy. Again. Its where we summer.

Our daughter is now talking. You should hear her say, ‘Please’ & ‘Thank you.’ Today she even started saying, ‘Grazie’ and it made my heart melt a little.

Here we are in the land of Forza Italia. The country where people ask you how you are & how you’ve been…when they ask, they truly mean it.

The villagers saw her when she was a wee pup. They smile & coo. She smiles back.

Somehow even though Germany is where she was born, this is her home. It’s where her mama feels most alive.

You could say it was the food or the wine. You might tell the story of our little corner of Liguria. You would turn blue in the face if you tried to list all of this place’s attributes.

And ultimately you’d never quite get to the point. The whole story.

Forza Italia. European Champions. We love your passion. We’ll miss you in our rear view mirror. But not yet.

A few more weeks of homemade pasta. Excellent coffee. And always leave room for dessert.

Don’t even get me started on the dessert.

Dreaming of the Camino de Santiago and how I got into pilgrims or pilgrimages

Good morning Zirndorf

We’ve been all over for the holidays, but we’re finally headed home to Munich today.

Any of you remember my writings/photos from the Camino de Santiago several years back? It was a pivotal moment or set of moments in my life & I’ve not even walked the whole Camino.

As I said then, finishing the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain isn’t the point. Not at all. It’s a lifelong journey.

My mother gave me a copy of Pilgrim’s Progress when I was young, and since then I’ve been obsessed with pilgrims & pilgrimages. Then I studied English literature in college & of course we spent an inordinate amount of time on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. As one does.

So, then I married a woman from Franken, or Franconia if you prefer, and it just so happens there’s a lot of Jakobsweg related stuff, which is what the Germans call the Camino, in this region of northern Bavaria.

We went to Weihenzell earlier today. It’s one of the many Wallfahrtskirchen, which is a word I’ve got no idea how to translate. I was up late & didn’t get enough sleep. Maybe I’ll edit this later. Maybe not.

I’m in full holiday mode can barely string two coherent thoughts together. Here’s a photo of the church. Of course it wasn’t open.

Oh well.

This Metzger has some saucy things going on. Quickies? Really?


What’s going on down in the Allgäu? Place used to be so respectable.

I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for this, but until I hear it?

I’m assuming this butcher is a front for a sex club.

Scharfe Stange? I’m sure there’s more than meets the eye going on here.

third day on the Camino & a return to where I started last year…back to the future, because I’ll definitely be here again


This bridge means a lot to me, and it’ll take some explaining for it to make sense. 

Arrived here in Logroño last year to begin my journey. Meeting all the pilgrims with their injuries that day, I felt like such an imposter calling myself a pilgrim already. Little did I know – everyone walks his own Camino. Where you start is immaterial. Just start. 

Then I looked back over this bridge from the other side and could only imagine what the path from Pamplona to here was like. Now that I’ve gone back and done that exact stretch, I found myself looking on this bridge with a sense of accomplishment. 


The day before, I’d walked through Villamayor de Monjardín, which is nearly as pretty a village as this flower. Needed to keep moving, but I could’ve enjoyed a siesta there. Next time. 


As you’ve probably gathered if you’ve either followed my travels here, or know anything about the Camino de Santiago, these markers are found all along The Way. Even in my hikes back in the Bavarian Alps, you sometimes see these signs for Der Jakobsweg, which always make me long to get back on the Camino


The morning ‘magic hour‘ is beautiful enough to make you want to leap out of your bunk in the albergue. There’s no such thing as sleeping in when you’re a pilgrim, but it’s moments like this that make early mornings so worthwhile. 


Think this was from my first day, when I was coming out of Pamplona, but I can’t remember. What I do remember is the sweet, delicious smell of these guys. I’m sure those of you who know flowers can tell me what these are. Anyone?

Definitely from day one, coming down off the Alto del Perdón – no idea the significance of this wooden statue in Obanos, but I loved the juxtaposition of east and west. 


In case you needed any encouragement: Don’t  stop walking!


And not too much looking back, either. This is from the bridge in Puenta la Reina glancing from whence I came. Not much time for reflection about the road behind me while focused on the path ahead, but I liked this shot. It’s been well received elsewhere. Hope you like!

Don’t stop walking with or without knowing exactly where you’re going to sleep…or what you’re going to sleep on

There’s this exhilarating moment when you arrive at the albergue after the day’s walk, and you drop your things. This is where you know you’re going to spend the rest of your day and your evening, yet there’s a good chance you’re so tired that you’ll sleep through most of one or the other. 

Suddenly you’re faced with a most pressing dilemma: do you take a shower or first lie down for a short while? That short while can become a long one if you aren’t careful. Once you’ve convinced yourself you’ll feel so much better if you clean up right away, then you remember, ‘Oh, wait! I need to clean my clothes, as well.

In a weird state of singular focus where simple tasks take most, if not all, of what’s left of your depleted energy. Sometimes the decision is made for you in the event that there’s not a shower available when you arrive. If you’ve arrived at the same time as a lot of other pilgrims, getting into the shower first can be an issue. 

Remember, in that state of ‘I just want to refresh myself and lie down‘, every moment seems to count. However, now that I say that, there’s an eerie sense of acceptance that tends to overcome you when you’re that tired. 

‘There’s no shower? Ok, then I’ll just go hand wash my clothes…wait, you say now there’s no one in the showers anymore? Wonderful. Then I’ll go there now.

It was just these sorts of simple decisions I was making when I dropped my pack on my bunk in a room full of twenty or so other pilgrims. As I started pulling my things out, I realised, ‘Wait, where’s my sleeping bag?

No wonder I’d inexplicably had more space in my pack that morning. In a split second I replayed my early morning, remembered stuffing my bedding deep inside its cover, but I must’ve left it sitting next to my bed back in last night’s albergue. Damn! 

What was I going to do?

Luckily, the place I’d just arrived had sheets on their beds, which can be quite a luxury under the best of circumstances when you’ve been in your sleeping bag night after night for weeks on end. In this case, having sheets was fortuitous beyond description. 

This reminds me of something you hear again from pilgrims: 

The Camino provides…’ in that moment of hopelessness, where you simply don’t know what to do next…in exactly that seemingly hopeless situation, something or somebody magically shows up with an answer. 

Or you do without that thing that even a few moments ago seemed essential. In this case, I didn’t even need to go without. I was going to be sleeping in regal comfort on these sheets — real sheets with a pillow and everything. 

Called the woman at the previous night’s albergue and she assured me she’d not only seen my sleeping bag, but she’d decided she would go ahead and wash it. This she a) didn’t have to do – that was undeniably kind, but b) a very clean sleeping bag 30+ km behind me wasn’t going to do me much good. 

Thankfully, there’s a cottage industry of services along the Camino to carry one’s bags when a pilgrim has been injured. Or even to carry pilgrims to hospitals or the nearest town if the injury is serious enough that it needs medical attention. 

She asked me where I’d be the next night and assured me she could send it along via one of these services, but all I needed to do was call the number she gave me and arrange it with them. 

Ok, got it. 

Called the number and what he said was such a tremendous relief. Yes, he could take my bedding from last night’s to tomorrow’s place, but it’d set me back a cool €10. That’s roughly how much you pay per night to stay in one of the albergues, so one might think that’s pretty steep, but trust me…as a pilgrim, you need a sleeping bag. 

It was sheer good fortune that I had sheets at this place. There was no telling how things would be at the next place, but I didn’t want to risk it. 

How would I get the money to him, though? I’m not actually *at* the next place, where he’ll be dropping it off. Here’s where the story gets good, from my perspective: 

This courier would be coming through this place where I was staying tonight, but he wouldn’t be here till sometime mid morning. That’s exactly when I’d be out walking, so? What to do? How would we make this work? 

Simple, he assured me. I should give the woman where I was staying that night the money. She put it in an envelope for him, which he’d pick up as he swung by in the course of his day. 

And I’d keep walking, which was the whole point to begin with. Don’t. Stop. Walking. No matter what. 

a lapsed Quaker walking…I’m relatively sure you’ll get what I’m trying to say at some point


Ok, I told you about the dog I met the first day and how I was missing my dogs, so there’s that. The whole dog thing. I’ve even started Dog Spotting pretty obsessively, which is something I always did, yet now I’m taking photos and adding whimsical captions and/or stories. We’ll see what comes of that. 

I deliberated for some time about whether I wanted to go into more detail about walking the Camino de Santiago, and once I’ve gotten over the whole ‘imposter syndrome‘ thing, I think I’ve got some ideas about how I can present it. 

Here’s what I’ve decided: assuming you’ve come here to hear my take on things and you know I’ve been walking on and off across northern Spain the last few years, you just have to expect that at some point I’m going to rattle on about the pilgrimage. 

Now first of all, I can imagine some of you saying, ‘I don’t give a damn about some ridiculous pilgrimage. It’s the 21st century and anyone worth his or her salt, at this point, is either atheist or at the bare minimum agnostic, so why stumble along some ancient path with a bunch of other dogooders?’

For one thing, I’ll get to my affiliation and perspective on all of that in a moment, but I’ll quickly point out that what’s now called The French Way (Camino Francés) is actually a pre Christian pilgrimage, or whatever those heathens called such a thing before they had the word ‘pilgrimage‘. 

It’s something I read at the airport last year, while waiting for my flight home. Starting somewhere in modern day Italy, or perhaps in what we used to call Yugoslavia, there was a path cut across northern Italy, the south of France, the Pyrenees (including St. Jean Pied de Port and Roncesvalles in the foothills), Pamplona and ultimately Santiago

Who cares? Why are you even still reading at this point?

My reasoning is that because you’ve never been on the Camino and likely wouldn’t make such a journey, this is the ultimate travel writing opportunity. I’ll try giving you a feel for walking this thing, while fully aware that you might never entertain the idea of doing so yourself. You’ll go about your daily life and every once in a while, if I’ve done my job right, you sigh and think to yourself, ‘All that’s well and good for that kind of person…’ or perhaps even, ‘Maybe someday…’

If I can give you an impression of taking the pilgrimage without even leaving your armchair, then I’ve done something worthwhile. Let me be your Bilbo Baggins, and taking that analogy to its logical conclusion, go ahead and ask yourself, ‘Who’s his Smog?

Or better yet: 

What Ring is he holding onto and might he eventually hurl into the smoldering abyss?’

Good questions and I’ll get to them in due time. As for my above mentioned affiliation, I’m not walking the Camino for religious reasons. Not per se, anyway. That’s not to say I’m an unbeliever. Far from it. 

Not a Roman Catholic, though. Although I’m in awe of the Church and the beauty that it’s either inspired or sponsored, there’s no part of me that wants to walk to Rome or Canterbury or any such preposterous locale. If that’s your thing, more power to you. Just not for me. 

We humans need labels, so I’ll just put this out there, and you can categorise me as you see fit. I’m a kind of a lapsed Quaker…walking The Way trying to get a better understanding of why we keep doing all of this. 

One of my favourite bumper stickers I saw in Austin years back was:

Don’t believe everything you think.’

I like to think I’ve taken that one to heart. Oh, and if you’re a pilgrim or once we’re and are reading this thinking, ‘What an imposter!‘, just keep walking. I’m relatively sure you’ll get what I’m trying to say at some point.