Public Transportation

THE OTHER DAY I was sitting on the commuter train minding my own business when a 20-something male plopped down on a chair directly across from me.  He placed his bookbag on the seat next to him.  He unzipped it and pulled out two giant plastic rubber gloves, like the kind you might see a cleaning lady wear. He carefully stretched them over both hands...and then, extremely slowly and deliberately, he used his right gloved hand to gently lift open the trash receptacle below the window next to our seat.  His approach was so cautious that it was almost as if he expected a horrifying creature to jump out at him.  He lifted the lid only a centimeter or so - wincing sideways as he did, and then suddenly, as if satisfied it did not contain said creature, flipped it close, took of his gloves, and then promptly got comfortable and went to sleep. 

Public transportation has its idiosyncrasies.  That's actually a part of the commuter train experience I look forward to - the Train Culture.  And as I look back, it seems like our children have had plenty of opportunities to experience that too.  I was looking through our photos not too long ago and was surprised to see how much we've experienced.  

Waiting for a regional train in France. 

A day's worth of subway tickets in Paris. 

Camden checks out the sign and the board (not pictured) at an U-bahn (Subway) stop in Berlin. 

A Subway zooms buy....I am honestly not entirely sure where, I think also Berlin. 

Waiting for an Italian regional train to take us to Ostia Antica in southern Italy. 

First in line for a Vaparetto - a Venician water taxi - in a late evening tour of Venice.  

A glass-covered Water Taxi in Berlin on the Spree river.  It was so hot inside of that glass Tylenol pill....

Zooming along the causeway from Padua to Venice on an Italian regional train.  

The expansive Nation subway station in Paris.  

City XPress, and ironic name for a gondola ride to the top of a mountain in Austria. 

A toy explodes in a powdery white mess on an otherwise pristine Roman subway.  

On a Deutsche Bahn short hop train to Deidesheim for the Christmas Market. 

Funicular!  Don't remember where, but it is fun to say Funicular! 

Horse and Carriage in the birthplace of Mozart - Salzburg

Frankfurt Flughafen, watching the 767 load up and waiting to board.  
Taking the ferry across the IJ in Amsterdam. 

Waiting for the metro in Amsterdam's Central Station. 
Riding a cog train to the Mer de Glace in France
A large nearly vertical gondola in Chamonix, France

On the Ferry across the channel

The famous red double-decker busses of London (see the telephone booth?)

On "The Tube" in London, arguably the worlds most well known subway. 

Aboard the Renfe Spanish regional train

On the Barcelona metro. 

This is really just a sampling of the times when I had my camera handy.  It doesn't include the French TGV, or the Deutsche Bahn ICE trains, or the gritty public buses in Rome, or the time we were jammed into a French regional train and Jazzy screamed for mommy (who was crammed into a distant corner) for 20 minutes straight, or the time a bus broke down in Rome and we got kicked off and stranded, or the time I had to have Melissa and the kids come pick me up at a small town train station an hour away from our house because the track was suddenly and mysteriously closed.

Public transportation has its idiosyncrasies.


The Spring weather is in full tilt, and after a long, cold gray weather it feels nice to be in the warm sun again. Today we day tripped over to Wachenheim an der Weinstraße, just a few minutes up the road.  They bost the region's most well know Sekt (sparkling wine) and also a castle ruins that sits in the hills above the town.  Great way to spend a warm spring day.

Above Wachenheim at Wachtenburg

Jazzy wanted a family picture too ;)

There's a tower above Wachtenburg, and when there's a tower we climb it....

...even when there are a lot of stairs. 

The ruins and local grape vines. 

The grape vines stretch as far as the eye can see. 

Wachentburg from above. 

The castle was hosting a fundraiser: Buy a balloon, sign a postcard with a return address, tie it on and let'er fly.  The one the comes back from the farthest distance wins. 

Even with the prospect of winning a prize, Jazzy had a hard time letting go. 

Goodbye balloon! 

Wait! Come back! 

Hiking back to the car. Dad always walks, but Jazz prefers to fly. 

Almond Blossoms

The sure sign of spring in the Rhineland valley are the almond blossoms.  When they bloom, that weekend the area kicks off the season in the small hamlet of Gimmeldingen, where 10,000 people descend upon the tiny town to celebrate the Mandelblütenfest - the Almond Blossom Festival,  the first official winefest of the year.