Thursday, March 29, 2007

Berlin (Part 2)

Like the majority of the German nation and indeed the world, I have fallen in love with Knut, the polar bear. So on Tuesday morning I took the opportunity to take a look at him in the flesh and blood. Beware! This blog has a lot of bear in it.

A lot of people come to the zoo every day to see little Knut. You do not get very close unless you are a professional photographer.

One day little Knut will be as big and as dangerous as his parents:

And he will have a butt like this

The male Giant Panda has recently become a widower, but he doesn't seem to be mourning at all. Apparently his attachment to the female was never very intensive anyway.

The baby elephant is almost two years old.

Can you spot the fish that's different?

Berlin (Part 1)

I am back from Berlin. It was good fun, sightseeing, shopping and running. I fear this will turn out to be more a photolog, then a proper blog. I hope you enjoy it nevertheless.

Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

Berliner Dom


I think this is the Palais unter den Linden

They are tearing down the former Palast der Republik

Berliner Fernsehturm

Berliner Dom and Fernsehturm

Street light

Humboldt Universität

Brandenburger Tor

And we are governed from here:

The Kanzleramt (or is it Kanzlerinnenamt now?)


The British Embassy with increased security measures (policemen not in the picture; saw non in front of any other embassy; the USA will probably have some too) and a part of the famous Hotel Adlon

Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche

My hotel was situated next to a little park. A pond, a waterfountain and a duck... I have said it before, I will say it again... it doesn't take much to make me happy.

A bell for world peace

East German "Ampelmännchen"

West German "Ampelmännchen"

I prefer the East German version, but I am afraid it's an endangered species and slowly replaced by the West German one.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Stats of the week - 4 weeks to go

Total running time: 7 h 58 min (plus 1 h on the indoor bike in the gym)
Total distance run: 66.6 k (plus 7.4 k on the indoor bike in the gym)

Today the 20k, which should have been 24k, were slow slow slow (2:15). I am tired and my butt is hurting. Too much information? Sorry!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Am I really doing it again?

Today my Flora London Marathon registration form and running number arrived by post. Am I really doing it again? Looks like it. Flicking through the marathon information magazine that came with the form, I felt a lump in my stomach. The map of the route is spread over three double pages and I can remember exactly where it started to hurt last year, what the boring bits where like (uuh... Canary Wharf... it felt like it would never end) and at what point I thought I was going to starve because they don't feed you along the route.

Yesterdays training didn't go too well. I started too fast and had to slow down after 20 minutes. Then after 6k and 8k I had to take short breaks to drink some water and bring my pulse down from "life threatening" to a mere "has just met George Clooney in flesh and blood". So far Jens has been pleased with my training efforts and he thinks that "everything is still possible". I don't want everything. I just want to run the whole distance and survive again. Right now I am scared, that may already be expecting too much this year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Life on Mars

I did it again. I boarded a plane. This time it took me to Manchester, England. Purely a pleasure trip and it started well with a calm flight. I even managed to take pictures, which I normally only do on long distance flights, when I have had sufficient amounts of alcoholic beverages...

The English coast...


Manchester airport is recommendable for travelling to Britain. It's not too big, but it regarding shops and the lounge it can compete with the larger ones. The train to Manchester city runs frequently, takes only about 20 minutes and costs... ready?... 2.60 GPB for a single trip! Compare that to 15.50 GBP for the Heathrow Express. It's probably cheaper to fly to Manchester and then take an express train to London, then to fly to London... I will investigate that.

My hotel was located in the newest and tallest building in Manchester (23 floors), the Beetham Tower:

It looks like the first storm will make it fall over, but I read somewhere that the architect lives in the top floor apartment, so I guess it is safe.

Day time view from the 13th floor...

Still day time, but weather turning nasty...

And a night time view to give you the full picture...

Friday, Marie, who had come all the way from Stafford to meet me, and I walked around Manchester together. According to the map we made some funny twists and turns, but I still believe we walked straight on... more or less. We visited the Manchester Art Gallery and the Urbis Centre:

The Urbis Centre currently has two exhibitions. One about the IRA bombing in Manchester in 1996, which I have to admit I had totally forgotten about. Nobody was killed but it destroyed a larger part of the city. One of the commentators said that it was actually almost something to be thankful for, because the reconstruction meant a big improvement for the city. The second exhibition was about Hongkong. It didn't impress me much apart from one item which was called "Battle of Britain". It is a map of Britain, decorated with flags. The flags list the names of all Chinese restaurants in the city.

Saturday I was off to Cheshire to meet two lovely Cheshire cats...

and their owner Mark. We had lunch in a pub that looks out over Manchester...

With the weather undecided (spells of sunshine followed by quite a bit of rain), we stayed at home and talked. Man made fire when it got cold...

Should I move again, I will make sure that the new place has a fireplace. It's lovely.

Sunday was meant to be my sightseeing day, but the weather was bad. It was VERY windy and it rained a lot. I did walk around for a couple of hours, but it wasn't a lot of fun.

St. Ann's Church and St. Ann's Square...

I believe these are the two Georgian (see Mark, I learned something!) buildings were moved during the reconstruction that followed the 1996 bombing...

It must be art...

The same art, but in a different place...

I did some serious therapy shopping, whenever it started to rain again. Manchester has an excellent shopping area and what must be the ugliest inner city mall I have ever seen.

Finally I went to Castlefield, which is Britain's first urban heritage park. It's a former industrial area that has been turned into a residential district, but still preserves canals, rail viaducts and warehouses.

The Museum of Science and Industry is located here (amazing collection of engines!) as is the Air and Space Museum, which my brother would have loved.

The weather did not improve, so I decided to go to the movies and watched Hugh Grant's latest offering Music and Lyrics. It brought back some fond memories of the 80s and made me feel a tiny bit old.

Monday morning the weather had significantly improved, so I went for another walk around the city.

The Town Hall...

Footbrigde over the river Irwell...

The river Irwell...

I had been warned not to go for a walk along the canals, which apparently stink. I regret that a bit now, since it is one of the most used shots in Life on Mars and looks quite romantic. Well, maybe next time.

This apparently is the most expensive hotel in Manchester, The Lowery.

And then it was time to go back.

It was a bumpy flight, so no pictures. Next week I am going to Berlin. By train.